Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hearth & Home

The hearth tile installation went well, I guess. I had to go rent a tile saw because there were some mitered corners. There were a few minor issues to deal with, most having to do with the fact that it was salvage tile being installed on an old mortar bed. The mortar bed had sagged a quarter inch in the middle. The real problem, though, was the old indentations from the original tile. The backs of tile are not flat, so there were a lot of hills and valleys in the old mortar.



So yesterday I skim-coated the old mortar bed to even things out. You can now really see the ghosts of the original 1895 installation. The skim-coat gave me a smooth bed on which to set the “new” tile. Another issue with the tile that caused problems was the fact that I had 3 different thickness of tile. To try and even things out, the thick tiles are set on a thin bed of mortar, while the thinner ones are heavily “back buttered” to try and make them level with the thicker tiles. It was challenging, and a few pieces had to be pried up and done over.



The new installation fit the old space well. The original design was about an inch wider and a half inch deeper. To get everything to fit I had to go with almost non-existent grout lines. This is the way it was done back in the day, so it looks more original this way. The problem with this was that the large green tiles are the same width as the 1.5X6, but when everything was installed there were gaps at the top and bottoms. Four rows of 1.5 inch high tile came out to more that 6-inches. Go figure. I knew about this beforehand, because I had laid them all out, but there was not much I could do about it. I tried to make gaps at the sides to balance it out, but that was not easy.

I’ll do a white un-sanded grout in a few days and that should make the gaps less noticeable around the big tiles. The other issues was some of the 1.5X6 tiles still had minor remnants of grout. It was very little, because there was little to start with, but it made the design a little uneven in places. This is probably only noticeable to me.

Once the grout is done I’ll add a fluted wood molding around the perimeter to hide the half inch gap around the edges where the old mortar bed is still showing. After that I can finish the rest of the floor. Then all I need to do is install the base molding where the floor meets the walls, and then give all of the woodwork a good shellacking. I should have the drapes in a week and a half, and with those hung, this baby will be done!

8 comments:

HPH said...

It looks really nice! You also did a great job working the design to fit with the beautiful woodwork.

Candied Fabrics said...

Looks great! It's been my experience that grout really helps minimize those "huge" flaws you see in your tile job...so it'll be perfect once that's done!

purejuice said...

god i feel almost the way i did when you were headed down the home stretch on the exterior paint of mount everest. woo hoo!

Pandora said...

That came out great! You did a fabulous job on the tile! Yes, the grout will make all the little imperfections disappear. Love it!

Mick said...

Looks great Greg! You wouldn't know it wasn't the original form the pictures. Are you sure about white grout? I'm thinking - firstly, its a fireplace where you plan to burn coal: it wont stay white for 5 minutes and will show up the dirt. But secondly (if my memory serves me) white grout is not period for this kind of thing - silver gray might be better if you want people to think this is not repro.

jtjgvle said...

Looks beautiful, and like it has always been there!

Greg said...

Hmmm, yes, white grout with coal might not be a good idea. I do have almost a full box of Antique White grout left over. I originally bought that for the bathroom floor and then went another way. It is like a dirty, off-white color.

NV said...

That looks great! i'm also wondering about white grout. (i shunned away from white in my bathroom, much less a HEARTH!)

I don't envy you the varying tile sizes. After doing my first tile job with hex mosaic (and BLACK grout) I'm looking forward to a nice 12x12 job with a beigy grout!