Monday, April 09, 2007

Oops, I Did It Again

I guess that should be, F*ck it! I Did It Again.

I tried to convince myself that the tile job around the window was ok. I don’t think I ever posted a picture of it, and for good reason. I knew it looked bad, but I didn’t want to do it over. Several times last night, and even a few times this morning before work, I went back to the bathroom to look at it. The sides were ok, but the top was hosed up bad.

The problem, or at least one of the problems, was the top part of the window jamb. It sags a bit, from age I guess, and I didn’t really notice when I attached the cement board to it. I also didn’t do a very good job building a temporary wooden ledge to support the quarter round while the mortar set. Instead of building the ledge and making sure it was level and straight prior to putting on the quarter round, I tried to level the quarter round with shims after they were in place. It just didn’t work.

In the picture above, you can see how thick I had to make the gaps just above the quarter round to try bring the next row level. Even with that, all of those tiles just above the window sag a bit. It’s only about 3/8th of an inch, but I noticed it a lot. Especially considering how level all of the other tile came out. In the picture, I’ve already removed one tile, but look at the wooden lath above the tile and you can notice the sag. Also, look at the top of the window sash where it meets the quarter round. You can see how it all sort of swoops down from left to right. It's really bad.

The other thing that bothered me was the sizes of the quarter round. Notice the 3 horizontal pieces in the middle. There are 2, 6-inch pieces, and 1, 4-inch piece. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I really wasn’t thinking when I did that. When I was putting that all together yesterday I knew it was coming out crappy, and just wasn’t paying attention. I was kind of in panic-mode. That should be 3 pieces that are all about 5 & 3/8th inches.

I got home today and couldn’t stop looking at it. I started to put on the wood screeds for the plaster on the walls, but after about 15 minutes I started ripping tile off. The mortar was less than 24 hours old, and while the tiles did not come off without a fight, most of them came off without breaking.

I also decided to fix a third issue with the window. If you’ll notice in the top picture again, I had to cut the tiles down for the first row above the quarter round. Also, I had to cut the tiles on the left more than the ones on the right. I had to graduate the tiles from one side to the other. It didn’t work that well, and that’s another reason from the screwy gaps in the first row. I decided to fix this at the same time.

I shortened and evened up the vertical pieces with the compound miters. Now, I can use full pieces across the top and have them level all the way across.

I used a piece of ¾-inch plywood for the temporary ledge this time. I first drilled holes in it that were much larger than the screws I would use to secure it to the top jamb. Because the holes in the plywood were so much larger than the 3.5-inch screws I used, I could easily adjust the height of the plywood a fraction of an inch in either direction.

Also, I have more quarter round that is going to go on the floor to separate the tub area from the rest of the bathroom. I can use the 4-inch piece for that, which enabled me to use a fresh 6-inch piece so I could have equal length pieces in the middle of the horizontal run across the top of the window.

I tried to take my time and not rush this time. It’s still not perfect, and if I had more tile to re-cut those compound miters, I might try those again. It’s much, much better than the first time, though… this point, anyway. It’s level, I know that. I’ll let that set up over night and tomorrow I replace the missing field tiles. If you don’t hear from me tomorrow, that probably means it came out bad again, and I took a sledge hammer to the whole damn room.


StuccoHouse said...

The redo looks very nice.

Just curious about one thing. Is there a reason why you didn't do the plaster before the tile? I know nothing abou tthe order of those things, just was wondering.

Anonymous said...

Good post for us tiling enthusiasts. It always amazes me how the eye can always pick out and focus on the slightest crooked element in a room. We had to correct for a crooked window apron around subway tile we installed in our kitchen. Over 6' the apron piece of wood had to be shaved about 1/2" on the right. The thing the eye really cares about, though, is maintaining an even 2 1/2 rows of subway under the window, not the angled piece of wood. The link is below. With another crooked bath window, instead of tiling around it, I would find a way to NOT have to tile around it- maybe put tiles up to a chair rail next time around, then trim the window out with wood.
Good save, but you will still notice it every time you go in there.

Greg said...


It is funny how you can do something very close to being right, and you obsess about the subtle details.

Also, this window is in the shower, so it pretty much needs the tile. I almost tiled over at one point, but then decided to keep it.


I decided to do the tile first because due to my inexperience I couldn’t be sure exactly how thick the tile would stick out from the wall. I could estimate, but I wasn’t sure how good of an estimate it would be. I can now make sure the plaster comes out the same distance. The cap that covers the gap between the tile and plaster will sit on top of both. If they both aren’t the same thickness the cap won’t sit flush.

John said...

I think the tear-out was the best thing to do. Sure, you can still see a hint of a sag, but I think it will be less pronounced (invisible in plain sight?) once you finish the bathroom. I was looking at some of the pre-tear-out pictures, and, even with the monster sag, it didn't standout all that much non-close-up pictures.

Anyhow, good save and I think the tile work is looking good. I'd let you tile my house for whatever that is worth.