Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The End (The Best Part)

This is the end! If you haven’t read the previous 3 posts, you should go back and check them before you start this one.

At this point all I have to do is build a glass block wall and tile the walls! That’s it!

Fortunately, building a glass block wall is really easy and I had tiled before, so it should be no problem. But remember, I could write a book on how to be a dummy for dummies. I’m bound to mess it up somehow!

The glass block wall was the most fun I’ve had. All I needed was a couple tubes of their silicone, a caulking gun, some spacers and some anchors and I was golden. It was really easy and makes for a really nice feature on any home improvement project. I hope I have more opportunities to work with glass blocks. The only downside is that it can get expensive fast, but it really isn’t too much to spend if you don’t have to do too many end blocks or turns, that’s where you spend the real money!

The tiling wasn’t too bad either. Apparently Jennifer was paying attention to the hardness of the tile when I was just looking at how the tile looked. We ended up picking the hardest class of tile, which is a good thing when you are working with it. I dropped a couple pieces from working height and it didn’t so much as chip the edges. This was rough tough tile I had. The problem was that it was a bear to cut through with anything other than a wet tile saw. I had a handheld saw that didn’t do me any good and I had a masonry hole saw bit for my drill that did little more than scratch the surface. Those small annoyances were very pale in comparison to the fact that in over 150 tiles that I went through, only 2 were broken in the boxes.

I got to spend a little money on a new tile saw for this and future projects. My original intent was to rent a saw, but when I found out that it was going to be over $50 per day and that it would take me 2 days to do this project if I really busted my hump, I decided I’d rather take it at my own pace and purchase a good saw. I also knew that I would have to tile the kitchen, entry way, and the whole downstairs at some point and it would cost a lot more in the long run if I just rented. Plus if I bought it I’d at least have something to show for the money I spent!

When I was looking for a saw there was a huge discrepancy in prices, anywhere from about $80 all they way up to $800. I took a look at the $800 saw and understood why it cost so much. I fell in love with it, but it wasn’t meant to be. I had to go with something I could justify and so I got a good saw, but it was less than half that big number. I also bought a good blade to go along with the saw because the one that came with it was not going to hold up through the project, especially with such hard tiles. I really have to say that a tile saw with a laser is a must. The blade on my saw is very hard to see and without the laser light shining on the tile it literally would have taken forever before I got all the cuts done.

Another plus on having such a big shower was that I was able to cut the tiles right there in the shower without having to worry about making a mess. The water would just go down the drain and the mess would just get wiped off. And oh what a mess I made!

I did some prepping to determine what the tiles needed to do to be level. We decided to put the tiles on a 45 degree diamond pattern rather than the typical square pattern. So I had to find level and plumb lines to make sure that the corners of each tile went through the lines. It made things a little more difficult to go on the slant, but I think it was well worth it in the end. Since the walls were on a slant I decided to throw a little contrast in and make the backing on the shelves a square pattern, but add a few cuts so that it wasn’t just a whole piece with filler around it.

The whole time I was laying tile I was working on the fly. I had the mortar mixed and would put it on the wall and figure out the cuts I needed to make while I was laying the tile. Typically you would lay the pattern down before you even thought about mixing the mortar, but you really can’t do that with a wall. There isn’t any way of holding the tiles on there without using the mortar, so you have to work quickly and get things right! After all was said and done two of the tiles had to come off and be redone. One didn’t adhere well and I didn’t want it to possibly fall off in the future, the other had a bad cut and wouldn’t be covered by the fixture and I had to re cut it.

The major problem I had on the tiling part of the project was the first night of grouting the tile after the mortar had dried. I took the morning to try and clean the grout lines free of excess mortar and otherwise prepare for the grouting. To me, grouting is the fun part of tiling because it is so easy. You rub it in, you wipe it down with a sponge, and you wipe it down again. Unfortunately I decided to do too much grouting before I wiped the first time and it got hard. I further compounded the problem by taking a break to get a couple kids out of the house and let Jennifer have a break. She told me that she’d wipe it down while I was in class that night after the kids went down for the night and it would be ready for me to finish grouting when I got home. This was a huge faux pas on my part. Grout hardens quickly. And it is near impossible to get off once it does.

Again I am thankful that we had such hard tile because we ended up using chisels to scrape the grout off of the tile. I had about a wall and a half of dried grout to clean off the tiles. This is the part that Jennifer really pitched in and worked her elbows off. Don’t get me wrong, she did a lot of kiddo watching to let me work on the project, but she really worked her tail off on this part. We both did! It took 3 days to get all the grout off. We left damp paper towels on the grout left on the wall and a half of tiles to try and keep it from setting. In the end, the best thing we could have done was used acid to help remove the grout. We got the tip online that Muriatic acid (HCl) works to remove dried on grout if you get it soon enough. It did help and it even fizzes to tell you it’s working. I’m so glad it came off without damaging the tiles.

After that we finished grouting the shower and this time Jennifer was about 5 minutes behind me with the sponge and it was a breeze. It took about one hour to finish two walls versus the 3 days for a wall and a half. Word to the wise: if you grout, make sure you wipe... quickly!

When the grout was dry the next day I sealed the whole wall. Tile, grout and all got a shot of sealer and even though it says not to spray it, I did, and it was horribly volatile and smelled terrible. I shot it and ran out as soon as I could. But it got done quick and all that was left was to put on the fittings, caulk it and clean the mess I had made of mortar and grout on the floor.

The fittings went on just fine and the caulking wasn’t too much trouble, but the mess I had made on the floor was overwhelming. It turns out we had to scrape it and even then we didn’t get everything up. Jennifer again jumped in and did the clean up work. I truly have a understanding and hard working wife. We ended up damaging the nice stain job and in some cases couldn’t even get enough of the stuff off the floor to get to the stain. So we re-etched, re-stained, and re-sealed the floor and it turned out just as nicely the second time as it did the first time, except now it has a little more character!

So that’s my story, and this is my

product.I hope you

enjoyed my tale and if you have any questions or want any help with your own project… please… don’t call me!

The shower is too big for one final picture, so here are a couple of them. Enjoy!


Daryl & Diana said...

It's beautiful! I bet neither of you ever gets stuck in it!

cheryl said...

Crazy amazing! Glad to know all those great tiling etc. tips in case we need to use them in the future.
Way to hang in there!

Cynthia said...

Uh, wow. Was the two head shower done to be incredibly romantic or out necessity? :)

The Wilcoxson's said...

both. I have always wanted a two-headed shower and when you do take a shower with your husband only one person gets the water and this solves that problem. Also the kids will like it when they get older.