Friday, February 17, 2017

La Petite Mortar

I can't tell you how long I waited for this day to come! We are laying the bathroom tile.

Since we had already made all the cuts, we figured that mortaring them into place would probably go smoothly. Even so, we were a little nervous because once you mix up the mortar, the clock starts ticking! You only have so long to work with it before everything hardens.

The time pressure leads to some interesting time-saving shortcuts. For example, we invented an entirely new unit of measurement! I give you...  the Applejuice. As in, mixing one bucket of mortar (about half a bag) needs 1.5 Applejuices of water.

Also, 1/2 Applejuice = 1 Nalgene.
We needed a container to measure and transport water to add to the mortar. Some empty apple juice bottles in the recycling bin fit the bill perfectly. They're disposable so it's okay to get them dirty, we know exactly how much they hold, and they're easy to carry up the stairs with the top on.

We are clearly geniuses.

While the mortar mixed, we had to pick up all the tiles that were laid out on the floor dry, and stack them in such a way that we'd be able to put the same piece back in the same place later. Luckily, I'm a librarian and this is my superpower.

Then it was time to spread mortar and set tile!

I could tell it was all going well when my husband literally started to make sexy moaning noises at the floor. "Oh yeah baby... that's right. Right there. Come on, right there. Oooooh, YES!" All I can say is that I hope I'm as satisfying as a well-placed floor tile. Isn't that what all good marriages aspire to?

I admit, it's a pretty sexy sight!
We used a plastic trowel to avoid scratching or nicking the heated floor cables, and we kept the alarm plugged in just in case. Thankfully, we had no problems there, and I'm looking forward to toasty toes. We did hit a snag when we discovered that the sensor that talks to the thermostat wasn't well positioned, and it stuck up enough to interfere with one tile laying flat. It took some last-minute coaxing to get it all to sit right.

But we overcame the little obstacles and frustrations that popped up along the way, and finished up with a floor we're proud of.

Nothing is sexier than a finished project!
We still have work to do. Once this is dry and we can walk on it, we'll go back in and do the shower pan and the baseboard tile. Then we'll grout and seal it all. But for now - we have a floor! That we will be able to walk on! In 24 hours!

We lead such thrilling lives.

Monday, February 6, 2017


One step closer...

We're cutting and laying out the tile before mortaring it into place.

After much debate over the best place to start the tile (centered on the shower pan? on one corner? for the minimum number of cuts?) we decided to center the first tiles on the doorway. That added a few more cuts (and therefore time), but the real challenge is that, of course, there is not a single right angle anywhere in the entire house. We basically have to decide what looks most like "straight" - and what will best hide the room's oddly trapezoidal shape - and then make it work. I think we've invented a whole new theory of geometry, in which shape is more a function of willpower than actual space.

 I'm still madly in love with our tile. The pictures don't do justice to the gorgeous texture and tone, like tumbled unfinished marble. Just laying it out already makes the room feel like a spa!

Hermie hopes we'll spend lots of time in the new bathroom, so it's easier for her to steal the bed.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Skim Coat

Our floor lasagna has yet another layer. After laying down the heated floor mats, we applied a thin skim coat of mortar to protect the wires as we tile. This also gave us a chance to have the electrician and the inspector test the system. If something wasn't working right, or if we made a nick in the wire too small to trigger the alarm, we'd catch the problem before installing the tile. It would still be a giant, expensive pain, but at least we wouldn't have to rip out the floor.

Happily, we did it right! Testing and inspection went smoothly.

Next up: Laying the tile! That's going to be a huge change. And it will be even better because it's toasty warm! 

We expect this toasty warm pupper to be pleased.