Friday, January 12, 2007

The Big Smack Method

I got another 5 boxes of tile today. I'm trying all kinds of things to get it up as best I can. The floor has moods and variations to it so there is no one way. If one method works well in one area then it doesn’t work at all in another. It can be frustrating.

The building is mostly deserted and I work alone. I don’t mind working alone, so it’s ok. The cold is a bit of a problem, though. The building is across the alley from the building that burned down last month. When that building burned down they shut off the gas to the whole block. Since the building I’m working in was empty at the time, no one bothered to relight the pilot light on the heater. Normally that wouldn’t be too bad here in Eureka but we’re smack-dab in the middle of a freakish cold spell. Over-night lows are in the 20’s and daytime temps stay in the high 30s to low 40s. So I’m in this building sitting on a tile floor and it’s just above freezing. Not an ideal circumstance.

The couple that owns the building also run a business 2 stores down. When I go down to work on the tile I first go to the business and get the key from the woman running the store. We haven’t talked much but today she seemed curious about why I was getting the tile. She asked me how I was getting it up and at one point she asked, “So do you score it with a knife between the tiles first?” Ding! The light bulb went off over my head.

As I said, I’ve been trying all kinds of things. This scoring method made it in to my bag of tricks, but doesn’t always work to keep the edges from chipping. Nothing works every time. Some methods are slower than others but the loss percentage seems to be the same no matter what I do, so I decided to get more aggressive.

There are some tools in the store. One of them is a 6 foot long pry bar. It weighs 10 or 15 pounds and has a ball handle at one end and then a flat, 2-inch wide pry bar at the other. It is heavy and very solid. I started using it with very good results today. I slide it back and forth along the floor and smack the leading edge of the tile field in several places along a 3 or 4 foot wide face. It demolishes the tiles it hits, but it loosens large sections from the floor. I then have to deal with separating the tiles from the grout. This is where the real loss occurs.

This Big Smack method has similar loss percentages as the other methods, but it works much faster. I able to free more tile quickly, and in a frigid room, that has become very important. I think I have 13 boxes now. I’m going to go back tomorrow and try and get another 5 or 6 boxes. I’m supposed to work on the plumbing on Sunday, and Monday I may not be able to get anything done anywhere. We’ll see how much more I can get.


chicago said...

Curious how your marble is holding up in the kitchen. I desperately want a big slab on my kitchen island, but I have 3 kids and intend to use the island for everything. I loved your tests, but would like to know how real life is treating the precious stone.

Greg said...

Go Bears, indeed. This is going to be a good Super Bowl I think.

The marble is holding up beautifully. I do not baby it in the least and frequently find spills on there a few days later. If the truth be told, I'm a bit of a slob when I'm up to my neck in a project. Just yesterday I cleaned the kitchen for the first time in a week. You could hardly see the marble under the piles of newspapers, dirty dishes, chopping boards, and just about everything else. The island is THE place in the kitchen for eating, food prep, and a general dumping ground. After I cleaned everything off and wiped it down it look just like new.