Sunday, March 5, 2017

Floored!

The bathroom floor is done! IT'S DONE! DONE, I SAY!

AAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!

(Can you tell I'm excited?)

The last few steps have actually taken a couple of weeks, but I've been too focused on powering through to stop and write about it. So this will look like a "yay, we finished it all at once" post, but that's not really how it all went down.

When last I left you, dear reader, we had just mortared down the main floor tiles. Our next step was to tile the shower pan.



The shower pan floor is the same material as the rest of the floor, but in a smaller 2x2 mosaic. Each little tile is mounted on a webbed mat to make a 12x12 square. I found it incredibly satisfying to set these - you plop down one sheet, and suddenly there are 36 perfectly-aligned tiny tiles in place.

Unfortunately, between the size of the shower pan and the unusual hidden drain system (see the tiled cover on the floor next to the shower pan), we had to cut practically every sheet in some way. We were a little worried about cutting the mosaic evenly, without chipping or knocking tiles off the mat backing. So, as we do whenever the world is an uncertain place, we turned to the collected wisdom of the ages known as YouTube.

We found a tip that said to tape the mosaic sheet to a full piece of regular tile, so the large piece serves as a stiff backing to send through the tile saw. Also, the tape all the way along the cut edge would help prevent chipping. I've used the tape trick before, so this made a lot of sense to me.

But there was one problem... we didn't have enough tile to waste whole pieces as backing. And most of our scrap wasn't big enough to fully support the mosaic sheets.

Here, our habit of never putting anything away came in handy. (See, I KNEW there was a good reason to procrastinate on cleaning up...) Brett spotted a stash of rigid pink foam insulation left over from an earlier project. It was stiff enough, plentiful, and wouldn't turn to mush in the wet saw.

By popular demand, a rare photo of me. Here, prepping a sheet of mosaic tile for the  saw.
By the way, Donald, this is how I #dresslikeawoman. 
This worked like an absolute charm. It cuts smoothly, the edges look great, and the sheet stayed together. We feel like total pros now. (Which is great, because our next project will be cutting really, really tricky and extremely expensive mosaic for the back of the shower, so now we're slightly less terrified.)

The shower floor uses a special epoxy mortar, to make it extra-super-duper waterproof. I believe that is the technical term.

When the shower pan floor was dry a day later, we cut tile for the sides of the shower pan. We mocked that up, along with the baseboard tile for the whole room. This basically took a day by itself.

Our Smaug-like hoarding of blue painter's tape finally pays off.

At this point I would have skipped over the bit about mortaring the tile in place, because you know the drill by now. But. BUT.

I need to pause at this point and explain a little bit about how our brains work. I'm great when it comes to words, ideas, and patterns. Need some creativity or synthesis? I've got you. Want a bunch of steps arranged in a logical order? On it. But when it comes to anything spatial...  I am not your girl. I could get lost in a phone booth. I heard an NPR show once on people who have some kind of brain damage that makes them get lost in their own house, and I almost made a doctor's appointment.

Enter Brett. I imagine the inside of his brain as some kind of 4-dimensional Jenga Tetris Rubix Cube. He's a smart guy all around, but spatially he is brilliant. The way he packs the trunk of the car for a road trip is literally art. He can tell you what cardinal direction he is facing at almost any moment, like some kind of human homing pigeon. Once, we were given a free freezer and I swear to God he got it into our basement despite it being taller than the ceiling height.

So, when it came time to lay out these intricately arranged tiles to mortar them back into place, he did this.



He unfolded the shower pan tile. Imagine starting at the bottom edge of the tile, closest to the shower pan, and hinging everything up and over so it would fall perfectly back into place.

This breaks my brain. He thought it was just the most obvious way to do it.

Another 24 hours of drying time later, my aching brain had recovered, and we finished by grouting the seams.

DONE!! 
The floor is finally 100% complete. We're getting so close!

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