A newly married couple buy an approximately 175 year-old farmhouse in Westchester County, NY, and work to make it home. Neither is exactly handy. But they want to do as much as possible themselves, and to keep as much character and old house charm as possible. Much to learn and do.
March to the finish: Bathroom Renovation Project 21 - Tile and grout
This was the long, long day we laid the tile. I say "we" and this time I mean we. Every step of the way, sick with a cold.
I also started thinking seriously again about color. Capel and I have a standing disagreement about color for this room. He wants to match the grey of the tile on the plaster wall above the beadboard. I want to match the cream color of the door and window trim with a very pale turquoise sky blue. So, at this point, there are dueling choices. I hung them both up on the wall, against the beadboard--here's one set (the pale grey on the right and the cream to its right):
And that was pretty much the end of the fun. So, here is the subfloor Dan laid the day before, and the now hard grey thinset that he floated in a few places to help level out the floor, where it wasn't possible to level up the joists:
The first step, then was to lay this backer board. It's called Durock. It's a good substrate for tile, and won't mold or mildew. It's also moisture resistant. Dan lays it dry over the subfloor, to fit the whole floor, like a giant puzzle, cutting out around the pipes as he goes.
We'll go back and cement it down with thinset, he tells me.
This was a hot and dusty job. Cutting it makes a lot of dust. And cutting in the angles around the pipes can be tricky.
As we get to the door, Dan says, "So what about this carpet in the hall?" Finally! I think. It is time to take up the first bit of carpet. It is the ugliest, oldest, goryest carpet you ever saw. But it does a great job of protecting whatever is under it. And so I have patiently waited an entire year. "It's gone the minute you go," I say.
"No time like the present," he responds, and starts cutting away. I'm a little nervous that there might be a layer of plywood down there, but in fact, as I hoped, it is a light colored, very thin slatted oak. Very pretty.
"Fabulous!" I say.
Then its back to work, putting down the thinset under each piece of Durock. It's hard work. Dan lets me do one small bit, and it's heavy, like sludge, and has to be scraped along into just the right thickness.
Then, when the whole floor is reset, all of that is nailed down with galvanized roofing nails.
Finally, after a bunch of vacuuming up dust and grit, some lunch and a very short break, we're back at work, this time with tile. Dan lays a straight light across the exterior wall--the back of the room, and then measures a center line across the center of the room.
"We'll try to stay even," he says, making no promises. As he goes, he cuts out tiles around the pipes and lays the cut outs down next to the holes. He'll go back at the end and cut in all the bits.
This part goes fast, and the rows line up even. It's pretty amazing to see a white tile floor there, where there was basically 1920's linoleum.
When we get to the intricate corner, we lay it out dry and then put it onto a piece of plywood, like a puzzle, while we put down the thinset.
By this point, Dan has been working pretty much 48 hours with just a break for a shower and some sleep, with a head cold. The pile of tools in the hall starts to amuse us.
And, we're down to the last rows.
I get assigned another job--can't remember what--while he finishes up the very last bit by the door. When I come back upstairs, he's done. And wonder of wonders, it lines up just as even at the front as it was at the back.
"What are the chances of that?" he asks, amazed.
Then, that has to sit for a few hours. There are errands to run to the hardware store for supplies, and I make a last minute run to the tile store, thinking we might not have enough grout. Late that evening, we finally start grouting. I get the job of washing the sponges, and I'm so busy and tired, there is no more energy for photographs. The text will have to do.