Sunday, June 03, 2007

My Final Petch House Project

Yep, this is it. The bathroom will be the last project I ever work on on The Petch House. Oh, it’s not that I don’t want to work on any other projects. It’s just that the bathroom project will never end. I’ve come to the conclusion that I will be working on the bathroom until the end of time.

After some serious butt dragging I finally started installing The Oberon Saloon tile. Honestly, I never thought I would write that. One of the reasons for the butt dragging is because of one of my personality traits. I’ve been here before many times. This weekend I was at that point of no return on the tile installation. Once I started there was the chance it wouldn’t turn out well, so in my warped mind, if I never start, then I’ll never screw up. There’s that, and my whole attitude is in the crapper this week.

Well, I sort of pushed through that mental barrier and started this morning. Actually, it was more like this afternoon when I started. Anyway, it was very slow going at first. I’m doing the shower area first, and I will finish it with grout before I move on to the rest of the bathroom. Once the shower area is done I can move the tub in to that area and get it off the floor of the rest of the bathroom.

I started by laying one row of tile along the back wall to see about spacing. I was very close to having no partial tiles on the first row. I then laid two rows in mortar. After I laid the tiles in mortar though, it wasn’t as close as in my test run. I had to quickly try and nudge all of the tiles to make up a half inch near the wall. It didn’t work as well as I hoped, and some of the gaps between the tiles are wider than others.

I almost pulled it all up and started over but I decided not to. You won’t see any of this because it will be behind the tub. As I moved out away from the wall I’m able to slowly fix the problems with the first two rows.

I found one-sixteenth inch spacers at a tile store, so I started using them for this installation. I started and then I stopped. They are really time consuming to put in. There are 6-sides to each tile, and putting in all of the spacers really slows down the process. After 3 and a half rows I just started doing it by eye. I’m able to move faster and the results are the same.

I think that’s probably how they were put in originally. The original installation had an organic property to it. The tiles weren’t all evenly and perfectly spaced. I recall that when I was pulling up the tile, I thought the installation looked a bit amateurish in places. Now I see why. Even with the spacers, it’s hard to keep everything lined up perfectly. It’s hard to explain why. Maybe there is a little too much mortar in places and it prevents you from getting the tile in close, or it could be something else. It’s very odd.

Because I’m creating a giant honeycomb, subtle variations in the grout lines can get magnified over several rows. Just as quickly the variations disappear, or sort of move over and end up someplace else.

Definitely, the first two rows being a little wacky has caused problems in later rows. The good news is, I’ll get a second chance to start over. There will be a divider of quarter-round between the tub and the rest of the bathroom. I will pay closer attention to that first row once I’m on the bathroom side of the divide. The tub area is good practice.

This is all I have to show for my retched self.


Kathy from NJ said...

Absolutely beautiful.

StuccoHouse said...

Looks good. The 1920's hex tile in my bathroom is anything but uniform in it's spacing.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's impossible to get perfectly even spacing because the tiles all vary just a little bit in size?

We're all rooting for you!

Angus said...

If it was perfect it would look like modern mass manufactured 'sheets' of tile. I think it looks good so far.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

It looks great! (Probably even better with violet light reflecting on it.) With the color variations caused by the web picture, it is way too time consuming to find any misalignments. You are being too hard on yourself again; taking the tub off the ceiling has skewed your perspective.

Jocelyn said...

Honestly, you are my renovation hero. You inspire me to want to do more with salvage.

and you will finish! If I could finish my kitchen, you can finish your bathroom. :o)

Alicia said...

I like the color variations.

Anonymous said...

Your project reminds me of my 1927 bathroom that has original subway tile and 1 inch hex tile. The tile on the floor was damaged due to someone replacing a tub drain all the way to the closet bend and then laid blue tile over it in 1954. I removed the linoleum, chizeled out the cement and then laid the new small hex tile one by one and it wasn't evenly spaced nor was some of the original tile. Looks great to me and I preserved the original floor. Your tile looks beautiful and I admire you for going the extra mile to use old tile. That would be something I would do.