Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Baby's first tiling job

After an amazing 9 hours of sleep Friday night, we were ready to learn some serious new skills.

Materials: tile, thinset, spacers. Plywood on the tub to make it like a work table. Since we're doing a brick pattern rather than a grid, we needed T-shaped spacers but accidentally bought crosses. So one little job was to use a utility blade and cut off one arm from each spacer.

Also, our awesome friend April came over to volunteer for the day, so we set her up with vice grips and asked her to take out the rest of the screws from the ceiling joists in the kitchen.

After much procrastination, we finally got down to it. Mixed up the thinset, put a batten board on the wall to support the first row of tile, troweled some stuff on and set in Tile #1! Worked outward from the center until we hit the edges, at which point John measured up for the first two cuts he'd be making with the wet saw.

And it went on from there--we developed a rhythm where I'd lay down whole tiles and John would cut the little ones for the ends. He was back and forth to the saw outside the kitchen door; I was up and down grabbing tiles, spacers, screwdriver and trowel. It went pretty smoothly; the bricks climbed up the wall. The more we tiled, the more exciting it was to behold!

Meanwhile, April was mowing our entire yard. Did I mention she also brought over a big excellent meal of sandwiches, potato salad and green salad? She did. It felt like the first real food I'd had in weeks.

Tiling is slow, at least for us. We've had it with these tiling books that say "leave most of a day for tiling a tub surround" and then it winds up taking two full days. Maybe it's just because we're newbies at it, but I'm not sure how we could have gone faster. Anyway, it was late in the evening by the time we finished the big wall. April, after joining in the tiling for a while, wisely went home. John and I slogged through four rows of a short wall before calling it quits.

We were exhausted, but it was one of those nights where we finish a task and then get really happy and excited envisioning how the house will be in a year or so. We stood out in the yard, looking at our tile through the window. And I also realized that, when we get around to tearing off our back screened porch and making it a patio someday, it will make a perfect amphitheater. We can have music or movies (!) there and the yard makes a nice natural bowl sloping down to it. Start practicing yer banjos, folks.

Here's a big shoutout to our patient and helpful friend April! Thanks!

- Erika

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