Crawls Backward (When Alarmed)

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What goes down, must (sometimes) come up

With the main wiring and the priming done, I can finally finally FINALLY move on to finishing the tile. I see the light at the end of the tunnel, we have almost reached the summit, we are near completion.

If you know what I mean.

Way back after I did the drywall, I had actually started on the tile - by laying the pattern that will be in the center of the floor. The centerpiece, the main focal point, the choo no say "qwah" of the room.

Then I got to thinking, which in my case, is always a problem. I realized it might be better to work on the heaters and the wiring and wait to finish the tile. Now that all of that is done, it's back to the tile.

I discovered, to my chagrin, there were a handful of goofs in the small tile that goes around the center pattern. One of the goofs is that there are two tiles that are inexplicably a bit above the others around them.

Actually, I can explain what happened. I made a goof.

I pondered over whether or not I should leave them. After all, what's the worst that could happen? Could someone trip over the them? Would a 1/4 inch height difference cause a problem?

The real answer was: I would know they were not right and it would make me crazy.

So, I need to take them up and re-lay (relay?) them.

I also discovered another, more serious goof that also had to be fixed.

At this point, I should digress a bit and explain about the small tiles. They are made by Oceanside Glasstile. We were looking for a tile to use as a border and one of the helpful folks at Architectural Ceramics suggested them. Most of Oceanside's tiles are glass (as their name implies...), but these are a combination of glass and ceramic tiles. The glass tiles themselves are made in the US, and the others are Indian and Mexican. Hopefully I'll get some shots in different lighting, but the variety of colors is quite dramatic. The glass tiles have different hues - gold, green, purple - depending on the type of lighting. Way cool.

Anyway.

The Oceanside tiles come on 12 x 12 inch sheets. They're glued to a paper 'backing' on the top surface of the tiles. Technically, I suppose the backing is a 'fronting,' but whatever.

What I did was cut the sheets into strips of 4 tiles and lay them instead of laying full sheets. It was straightforward to do for the most part.

I feel a 'but' coming.

But after you remove the paper, some of the tiles shift a bit, and need to be straightened out. This is part of the process - Oceanside indicates this in the instructions. In the case above, you can see where I overcompensated a bit and left a gap of about 1/4 inch off square. The green arrow shows it clearly. The silver thingy is a straightedge.

Some people (our infamous DPO) might just leave the gap and grout it. But I can't have a gap that large. So I'm-a-gonna take up a few rows of tile and lay them straight. It's a pain, but we gotta do it.

So we break out a chisel. A couple of thwacks brings the two "too-high" tiles right up.

And for the corner that needs to be straightened, I'm fortunate enough to be able to get under the whole group of tiles and bring them up as a group. Then I can break them apart and realign them as needed. Considering I was a little uptight about the whole thing, it worked out easily.

After the tiles are out, I can clean up the concrete. It all turned out pretty clean. One problem was some of the 'ceramic' tiles are mica. Those pretty much disintegrated on contact. But surprisingly enough, the glass tiles came out intact.

I had a bunch of tiles left over from the original install, so with those and the ones I was able to salvage, I have plenty to work with.

The only pain about this is I have to mostly lay one tile at a time. Which means I have to carefully line each one of 'em up.

But it could be worse. I could be sanding drywall joints on the ceiling. That was the worst task imaginable.

It's pretty easy from here on in. Lay some mortar onto the floor - I just use a wide putty knife. Then use a trowel to 'groove' the mortar (cue Mike Myers...'groovy, baby').

Then take the smooth side of the trowel and smooth the mortar.

These tiles are so thin that we only need a thin layer of mortar - I probably had only a sixteenth of an inch on there.



Then it's just a matter of laying the tiles. Just press 'em down into the mortar.

It ain't brain science. If I can do it, anyone can.

After pressing the tiles down, a bit of the mortar comes up between them. The gap between the tiles is real small, and I have a special tool (lol) to clean some of the mortar out.

The tool is an old Craftsman screwdriver the PO left in the house. I've used it on a ton of jobs - anything except driving screws. Makes a great multi-purpose tool. I call it "Destructo" because I've used it for so much demolition.

I also went through the whole process on the corner group of tiles. Got them to line up straight. The gap is gone and now I can sleep at night and now worry about it. I exaggerate just a little.

Seriously.

It wouldn't keep me awake at night, just make me crazy every time I looked at it.

Digression That Is Related: On the back sleeve of one of Don Dixon's albums (I think 'Romeo At Julliard' but I'm not 100% sure...) he says something like "being in the studio is a little like staring at yourself in the mirror for a long time. Pretty soon that pimple on your chin starts to look like a tennis ball."

And so it is here. If we don't fix it, it will bug us to no end.




You can see the paper backing on the tiles. That will come off.

After about 15 to 30 minutes, we wet the paper lightly with a sponge, "over a period of 5-10 minutes" as the instructions say.

The first waiting time gives the mortar a chance to set up and begin to dry. Although in reality, it will stay a bit wet for a few hours.

We go over the paper a few times with the sponge. After about 5 minutes, the paper begins to lift. It's just a matter of carefully peeling it off and straightening any individual tiles.

All of the adhesive won't come off now, which is ok. After the mortar is set, and before grouting, I'll come back with a stiff brush and scrub the tiles clean.

Can't wait!

 
 
 
 

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