Saturday, March 24, 2007

Arbor Day

It’s like I’ve planted a tiny forest of toothpicks in the bathroom. I’m using the toothpicks as spacers on the Subway Ceramics tile on the walls in the bathroom. The toothpicks are a 16th of an inch in diameter and make for very good spacers. Because the Subway Ceramics tile has flat, perfectly square edges, I can get down to a very thin grout line for a historically accurate looking tile installation. I’ll probably use the same method when it’s time to put the Oberon Saloon tile down on the floor.

Being that I’m not a highly trained professional tile setter, I’m not sure that I’m the one to be giving tips & tricks for tile setting. Not being a highly trained professional has never stopped me before though, so what the hell.

I started setting tile on the least visible wall in the room. It’s a small bathroom, so really, everything is very visible, but I chose the wall with the sink and toilet on it. There is a learning curve to everything, so the logic is, when I get to the open wall opposite the sink and toilet I will be more proficient at tile setting.

The other thing I did was mix small batches of thin-set mortar when I first started. Using the notched trowel took a little getting used to. I’ve actually set tile before, but it’s been a few years. I didn’t feel as rushed with the small batches of thin-set and could take my time with the first few rows.

I set two rows at a time, so I snapped a chalk line 6-inches above the base tile as a guide for the first two rows. After the first two rows were in, I snapped another chalk line 6-inches above those rows, and so on. I made sure the base tile was level before I started, and then checked the tile again with a level after I finished every two rows. I’m dead on level after 10 rows. Whew!

I chose the transition from the 4-foot high tiled wall to the 8-foot high tiled bath surround as the focal point for the tile. It’s important to chose a focal point where the tile will look good. You don’t want to end up in a very visible spot and have a lot of odd sized pieces of tile. I didn’t want a series of 4-inch and 2-inch pieces of tile running up the leading edge of the bath surround. Choosing this as a focal point means that the leading edge on either side of the bath surround will have 3-inch and 6-inch tile as the first tile on every other row. It may not sound like that big of a deal, but it’s the little things that can sometimes stick out like a sore thumb.

I also laid down rosin paper (kind of like butcher paper) on the floor in the bathroom I’m tiling, and a path through the house to the working bathroom. The thin-set occasionally missed the mark and there’s no sense in tracking it through the house. Beyond that, setting the tile is a bit time consuming, but not exactly rocket science.

I was able to finish the base tile and set about 20 sq ft of the field tile today. I think that took about 4 or 5 hours. Working at floor level was slow, and I also had to cut tile to fit around the pipes for the sink. I think I can pick up the pace tomorrow. I think I might be able to finish this up by Tuesday or Wednesday, which in reality means Wednesday or Thursday.


Kathy said...

WOW! It looks great!

Greg said...

Thanks! It's hard to believe I'm really setting tile. It didn't seem like I would ever get here.

Sam said...

Really nice. And the toothpick art is great too, as long as you don't back into it.

Mark said...

Looks great Greg. Very professional in appearance. Can't wait to see further progress pics. It really is amazing how all the prep work to get this far seems to take forever. When you get to doing the things like painting and installing toilets and such you see the light at the end of the tunnel. The other thing I find is you tend to forget all the headache within a few months of the task being done as you get to appreciate the fruits of your labour if not perhaps take them for granted.