Saturday, April 07, 2007

Tiled Window, How Do I Fear Thee

As I started to tile around the window today I began to realize just how many ways there are to screw this up, and as I started, I didn’t even know about the worst of it yet.

I first realized I never checked to see if the window was level. What if the top of the window was slanting an inch or so. The row going across the top would look really wacky. Given that this window is directly across from the door, it would be something people would notice. I should have checked that before I started tiling.

As it is, one side is about a quarter of an inch lower than the other. It’s not too noticeable, but had I thought about it sooner I could have easily adjusted for it by making a few gaps in earlier rows a hair higher. A rookie mistake.

Also, if you count the little piece of tile inside the sash, there are nine tiles to a row. Six of those had to be cut on each row. It took forever. I’m using a crappy little $80 wet saw that I borrowed from a friend. The fence is not accurate, and it’s just not suited for this much cutting.

I was obsessed with not having anymore droopy tiles. As I said, this wall with the window is directly across from the door, and I’m working at eye level. Mistakes will be very noticeable. I did get the new tile in to replace the droopy tile. It looks good and I’m glad I fixed it.

The worst part, by far, was the quarter round. I had never worked with it before and it took a little getting used to. It’s difficult to explain why I felt I was having trouble, but I just did. The worst of the worst was doing the top corners with the quarter round. I basically had to do compound miter corners on a crappy wet saw that didn’t even have a miter gauge, let alone a tilting blade. It was brutal.

To make matters worse, if it’s possible, is the fact that I didn’t really order extra pieces of quarter round. I accounted for waste but I didn’t account for complete screw-ups. I had to get these cuts perfect or I was going to be calling and ordering more tile. Man, I was sweating bullets making those cuts.

To compound the problems, the quarter round that goes across the top of the window needs to be supported while the mortar sets. You can’t just slather on some mortar and stick it to the wall and hope it stays up there, because it won’t. I didn’t really realize any of this when I started.

As I approached the top of the window, these issues started to dawn on me. I ended up dumping a half pale of mortar because I knew by the time I built a wooden ledge to support the quarter round, and cut the compound miters, that stuff would be way too old.

Honestly, it was really a lot of work. I’m glad I kept the window, but had I known how much work it was going to be, I may not have. Ignorance is bliss, as they say.

A few times today I went back to the pictures of the tiled shower window at House In Progress’ site. To be honest, I don’t think mine came out quite as good. From what I can see in the pictures, that is a top-notch tile job. Mine is maybe a few notches below top-notch. I think it’ll look better once it’s grouted.

Tomorrow I’ll finish the last 3 rows after the mortar sets on the top quarter round.


Mike said...

I had the same thoughts on my first tile job....till the grout was done. That really brings it all together and hides the little things. Looks good to me!

Anonymous said...

Wow! I love huge fields of tile and that shower is going to be gorgeous once the grout is in place.

Regarding our window over at, I can guarantee our tiled window surround wouldn't be as nice if we had done it ourselves--kudos to you. ;-)

Anonymous said...

the window, in combination with the tile, makes the bathroom. it looks beautiful.