Building My House

I have always wanted to build my own house. I am retired now, so I have the time. I found some land, designed a house that would fit the land and my needs and got started. I am doing all the work myself, so progress will be fairly slow. To read this blog from the beginning, start with the oldest archive and read posts from last to first.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Something Different

I was in Lowes one day awhile back and found some really cheap ceramic floor tile. I liked the pattern and bought a bunch of it; like 24 cases of the stuff (16 pieces per case). The girlfriend got one look at it, and she wanted it too, buying 16 cases of it for her kitchen and laundry room. I had done a little research on “cheap tile” in a couple of forums and got opinions all the way from avoid it like the plague to go on and give it a try. We unpacked and inspected every piece after getting it home, and returned about 40 broken, chipped or otherwise unacceptable tiles, which Lowes replaced with no questions. Forty bad out of 640 wasn’t bad, and now that they had all been inspected, we knew we would have enough tile to finish the job. We bought 10% extra, but didn’t need anywhere near that much (at least on this project).

So, over the Memorial Day weekend we put down ceramic tile in girlfriend’s kitchen and utility room. We had bought the tile installation book written for Lowes, but in all honesty, all we needed was the instructions on the mortar and grout bags. In retrospect though, the book did tell us that if the vinyl flooring was stuck down well and that it wasn’t the “resilient” type vinyl we could put the tile down directly over the vinyl (which we did). So, from a time savings viewpoint the book was probably worth the bucks.

Her vinyl was a wood pattern, and according to my measurements had been layed square, so I used her pattern as my layout lines. That helped speed the project along too.

On the first day we got about 80 full sized tiles layed in the center of the room. We probably could have done more, but we “back buttered” every tile before laying them. On the second day we got the rest of the full sized tiles down. So, now we had about 60 edge pieces to cut, some of which were going to be complex cuts as they had to fit around door frames. I asked around and several people told me I could use the diamond blade (see previous posts) that I had used to cut all my concrete block. I chucked it up in the table saw and it cut very well, but it did leave the edges a little ratty. Still, it worked more than well enough as all the ratty edges would be covered by wood floor trim anyway. I still can’t believe it, but we didn’t break a single tile, nor did we miscut a single tile in the whole job. So, all our extra tiles were left over when the job was complete. On the third day, we layed all the edge pieces except the complex pieces that went around the door frames and under the stove and dishwasher, and we grouted all the fullsize tiles .

We chose a bone color grout, which should have come out a shade darker than the tile. Well, it was exactly the color we wanted, when it was wet, but after it dryed, it was the same color as the tile. It doesn’t look bad, but it also isn’t exactly what she wanted either. Still though she is pretty happy.

On the fourth day or so a friend loaned me his Harbor Freight tile saw which I used to cut the pieces that go around the doors. I think my diamond blade in the table saw method worked just as well as his tile saw and it had the added advantage of not spraying and dripping water all over everywhere when in use. Still though, I can’t complain. The job went well.

We had to run six tiles up under the range and dishwasher and in the process found a plumbing leak which shut us down during the middle of the project. I isolated the problem to a leaking water valve on the dishwasher and ordered a part over the internet. It came in four days later and the change-out took about an hour. Now, keeping fingers crossed, we had no more leaks, so the next day the remaining tiles went in under the stove and dishwasher.

As we had never installed ceramic tile before, we are very pleased with the installation. From start to finish, it took about 8-10 days, but a lot of that time was waiting on a plumbing part.

We debated whether to seal the grout or not. Then something spilled and discolored the grout in one spot. Next morning we sealed all the grout. It took about an hour. Here’s a tip for you: If your grout is light in color, it stains very easily.
So now we have some experience in laying tile. And we get to see what the tile will look like in my house when it’s finished.
Update - a month or two later. The tile has performed well. Though we have dropped one or two heavy things on it, none of the tiles have broken. I can't say the same thing for the pyrex dish that we dropped on it.


At 9:27 AM, Blogger Tony said...

Here's another update on the tile, as of June, 08. It's been down now about 13 months, and everything is fine. Nothing has broken any of the tiles; and none of the grout edges have cracked loose. So, we are still quite happy with the results.

If you are any kind of a DIYourselfer, you can lay tile like this.

At 9:22 AM, Blogger Tony said...

June 2009 Update:
Tile has now been down over two years. No tiles have broken. However, girlfriend didn't follow tile cleaning instructions (no harsh cleansers) so all the tile sealer went away and the light colored grout got stained.

So, she bought a grout paint/sealer which she applied with a small paintbrush. Now, the grout color is what she desired in the first place. It's been down now about two months and still looks really good.

Will update again next June (2010).

At 7:50 AM, Blogger Tony said...

May 2010 update:
Tile still functioning perfectly. No tiles have broken, no grout has cracked. We have been lucky and not dropped any more dishes (they shatter real well upon hitting the tile).

Girlfriend likes the kitchen tile so much, she did the master bath too. This time we chose a grout color that contrasted more with the tile color, so they wouldn't both be the same color after grout dried.

I just hope the tile install in my house works as well. It's over floor joists, so I know it will be harder.


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