Friday, December 21, 2007

The nightmare isn't over yet....

OK, so tiling isn't really a nightmare, I'm just being melodramatic. We'll blame it on a lack of sleep. We got to the house first thing this morning and our friend Barb was waiting for us. She wants to tile her kitchen so she figured helping with ours would be good experience. She came with her own kneepads and great tips from her handy mom about making tile cuts. The first thing was to snap center lines and dry lay the tiles. This enabled us to look at the variation in color and pattern of the tiles across the floor and stage them as we eventually want the room to look:
It also let us know where the tiles would fall from center and we adjusted our center starting point by moving it forward so that we'd have full tiles from the archway and the smaller cuts by the back door. We're using 18" Italian ceramic slate-look tiles that we purchased from the Tile Shop. We identified 3 distinct designs in the tiles and sort of arranged them with random patterns in mind. Once we liked what we saw on the floor we divided them into even piles along each wall in backwards order so that we could start from the center and work our way across selecting the tiles from each pile and having them fall in the pattern we liked. It helped that we're only laying the body of the room today with the full tiles. We'll save the cuts around the border of the room for tomorrow. Here are our waiting to be laid tiles (insert your own joke here):
Next we opened and arranged our SunTouch radiant heat mats (special ordered from Lowes):
When we began reading the instructions (I know, we should have done that a week ago) is about when it started to get interesting. First, you need an "ohm reader" to determine whether your mats are functioning. If you don't use this device to make, like 3 readings, your warranty will not hold. Then we realized that we have a gazillion metal nailheads and we're about to put down electric mats. When we took our tile class many months ago we had not planned on the radiant heat flooring...this was a more recent fantasy of warm tile floors in our kitchen and our instructor skipped over that part, but I vaguely remembered the term "short". The great thing about the Tile Shop is they told us to call whenever we had a question so we did. Tracy (our fabulous tile rep) was awesome and had immediate answers. First off, bad news, we SHOULD HAVE countersunk all of the screws last night. Then you set them in thinset and tile right over them. So we traced the outlines of the heating mats on the backerboard and Barb and I set about countersinking them. Meanwhile, Eric headed off to the Tile Shop for a "Loud Mouth". This ingenious little device tests the mats to ensure that they are working AND notifies you if you accidentally (god forbid) cut one of the wires while tiling. Here's Barb ruing that she volunteered for this duty: So as I was countersinking and cursing, once again, our porch contractor (and soon to be trim carpenter) Justen arrives with an awesome pneumatic drill that kicks those puppies into the denshield with the greatest of ease. So I took over the screw sinking with the magic drill and Barb siliconed all of the holes. At long last (too long for Barb, she had to take now-bored son Mack home) we got to start tiling about noon. Eric prepped the thinset and troweled it. I laid, secured and spaced the tiles (his job was definitely harder). Here we are at row one:
We got about 25% done and decided (at 3) that it was lunchtime:
The formidable Mortar Man:
About 10PM we decided to call it a night. We've got 2 full rows to set tomorrow before we start on the edge pieces that need to be cut. Justen is the hero AGAIN today as he brought in his larger tile saw that should make this go breezily. This photo looks a lot like the first one, but what's different? Tile spacers let you know these have been set!
Must sleep now.

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