Monday, June 14, 2010

I Think I'll Write a Book...

All I Need to Know About Tiling, I Learned from Sewing, Baking, and Changing Diapers

That's kind of a long title.  How about this?

Tiling for the Domestic Goddess


Homemakers Can Tile Too
The jacket cover would have to be something like this:
The plumber said we needed new toilets.  (You mean, we shouldn't have to flush 3 times for every toilet deed?)  So we decided that since the master bath toilet was going away, we might as well remove the ugly 17-year-old linoleum and tile the bathroom floor.  We tiled the smaller bathroom a couple of years ago, so we had an idea of what we were getting into.  Brent and I removed the baseboards then painstakingly sliced and scraped away the old linoleum.  Now to the tiling part...

Step 1
Measure and cut the cement board.  This I did using my trusty plastic measuring rectangle that I use for ALL sewing projects.  Measure, draw pencil lines, score, and cut.  Just like sewing.

Step 2
Mix up the thin set mortar in a bucket, spread it on the floor, and lay down the cement board.  This is so much like mixing a homemade frosting, then frosting a cake.  You have to mix it to the right consistency (about like frosting), then push the stuff around with the right about of pressure so that it sticks - just like frosting a cake.  Then you must scrape away the excess.  However, unlike frosting a cake, there is no licking or tasting.  Frequent hand-washing is important for both tiling and baking.

Step 3
Lay out the tiles so see how they'll fit best and see where the cuts will be.  This is much like laying out pieces of a quilt.  A little trial and error, moving pieces around, stand back and squint, adjust your pieces, repeat.

Step 4
Measure and mark the tiles.  Hand them over to Brent for cutting with the rented tile saw.  Again, we're back to 1) measuring, like sewing 2) mixing the mortar, like making frosting 3) spreading the mortar, like frosting a cake.

Step 5
I know you're anxiously awaiting how I'm going to work diaper changing into this.  Sorry, not yet.  Next is the grout.  Again, you have to mix it up like frosting, push it into the cracks, then scrape off the excess.  With a wet sponge, you have to lightly go over and over the tiles, smoothing out the grout lines, and rinsing out the sponge in water.  This takes a huge amount of patience and repetition.  Have you ever watched a pro get the frosting on a cake perfectly smooth?  I'm no pro, but I've used the special frosting spatula, and water, and gently spread and scraped and dipped over and over.  I'm telling you, it's so similar to getting that frosting perfectly smooth.  (I never can get the frosting just right.)

Step 6
The baseboards have to be reinstalled.  Then you have to caulk above and below the baseboards and fill in the nail holes.  This is where the diaper changing experience comes in handy.  You see, you must deliberately wipe away the slimy caulk gunk, trying not to let it spread anywhere it shouldn't, discard it, then start again.   Smearing and rubbing is NOT okay, and you must use just the right amount of pressure for the wipes.  If you've changed a stuck-to-the-skin poopy diaper, then you know exactly what I mean - wiping that stuff takes skill!

And finally, you must fill in the nail holes.  This is much like applying the diaper rash cream.  Squeeze a little out, dab it around just a bit, let it dry.

Step 7
Seal the grout.  I don't have a good comparison for this one.  This is like some ordinary, boring cleaning task.  Takes no skill whatsoever.  It just has to get done.

So you see, you don't need to be the rugged handyman to install a tile floor (although, I do consider myself rather handy with a power drill and a level).  All you need are some basic domestic skills, some YouTube videos, a couple hundred bucks worth of supplies, and several days of hard labor.

By the way, my brand new, perfect-flush toilet is dreamy.

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