Tile on the Floor

I’ve said it before, progress on the bathroom is slow.  We’ve got a million and ten projects we’re working on, some more pressing than others.  First removing the water heaters to make room for the geothermal.  Then installing a new dishwasher.  And a whole house fan to keep us cool.  All necessary things that have taken focus off the bathroom.  Such is life, I guess.  In the video tour, you caught a glimpse of the newly installed floor tile.  So here’s how we got to that point.

Before we could install the tile, we had to determine the layout.  We knew we wanted a brick pattern and preferred the look of it running parallel to the door.  Then, Ben measured the distance between the wall and the bath tub.  Centering the middle of the first tile on this portion looked best, instead of centering the first tile over the entire room length.

More of the room is this width, not the full 8 foot span.  Ben marked the center of the tile with a pencil, making it easier to line everything up.  After nailing that down (figuratively, of course) Ben measured and cut the rest of his pieces.

Including this hole for the floor vent.

Sometimes tiles are finicky and break while cutting.  Well, not these.  Ben said these tiles are crazy strong and a dream to work with.  A happy Ben means a happy tile job and very little complaining.  And, this is his best toilet cut out to date.

Turns out a paint can is the perfect template.  Knowing this is a small space, Ben pre-cut and fitted his tiles before mixing the mastic.

Install was crazy quick because of this.  Seriously, I watched him set the first few, walked down the hall to clean up a few things, came back and saw this:

Sure it helps that the tiles are 1 foot by two feet, but it went fast.

The following morning, V helped me pull out the 1/16 inch spacers and I got to work cleaning the floor.  Wetting the mastic with a rag makes clean up super simple.  Then I used a utility knife to scrape the higher sections of mastic out of the grout lines.

Bring on the grout!  And a toilet, please.

Safety Dance; Safety Book

One month ago, after meeting up with my blog pal Jen and local readers, we offered up a Goodwill Challenge.  I bought a thick hardcover book.

I know, it’s not much of a make over, but I’ve always wanted to make a book safe.  A 15 cent book is a good tester, too.  Jen’s challenge was an even better excuse to get started.

First, I separated the first few pages and the front cover, keeping everything bound with binder clips.  Then I mixed plain ol’ Elmer’s glue with a little bit of water and brushed it all over the edges of the book.  Mod Podge would work for this, too, but I only had glossy and I wanted this to look as realistic as possible.

With the edges glued together, I put a few pencils between the front pages and the glued pages.  To help the pages dry tightly, I popped Ben’s jug of wine on top.  Twenty or so minutes later, the glue had completely dried.

To get started cutting, gather a pencil, ruler and a sharp utility knife.  Draw a border on the front page (I used the text as my guide).  Use the ruler to cut a straight edge, going through as many pages as possible.

Pull the pages out and keep on cutting.

Don’t stop now.  Cut along the edges.

As I cut, my edges got messier and messier.  This doesn’t matter.  It will all be covered up.

After about 15 minutes of cutting, I had removed enough of the inside to fit my iPhone inside and close the cover.

Once you’ve hollowed the book to the depth you’d like, cover the inside edges with the glue mixture.  Spread more glue along the top of the hollowed border and let one page out of the clips.  Set the page down and cut out the inside for a clean top page.  Put something heavy on top to dry.  Now you’ve got a handy book safe to keep all your worldly possessions inside.

I have to admit, after cutting to the iPhone depth, my new camera arrived and I quit working to fiddle around.  And I haven’t gotten back to cutting yet.  But you get the idea.

Now, let’s do the Safety Dance.

Have you ever made a book safe?  Wanted a book safe?  What’s your favorite book?

The Big Splash

Warning!  This post is filled with over enthusiastic commentary and gratuitous tile pictures.

Along with installing most of the trim, we’ve finished another item on our long to do list.  Along with the drawer fronts, I think the marble backsplash has made the biggest difference in the kitchen, making it feel more finished.  I guess it kind of almost is finished.

First, take a look at our old back splash.  A four-inch tall piece of oak topped laminate.  Not. Pretty.  And, it didn’t function well protecting the wall from water.  In fact, the laminate covered a piece of particle board.  Particle board and water are not friends.  When wet, particle board swells more than my feet when I was pregnant.

So, we decided to make our new back splash pretty and functional in a wet area.  And that’s why we chose 3 inch by 6 inch marble subway tiles (from Home Depot), taking the tile up to the ceiling.

Before I get to the big back splash, lets take a look at the smaller one behind the stove.  We had to approach this one a little differently.  You see, our floors aren’t perfectly even, so the space between the counter top and the bar top varies about 1/2 inch from the far left side to the right end.  The wood tops are 3 1/2 inches apart.  If we had used the same 3 by 6 tiles, this difference would have been much more noticeable because the cut slivers would vary.  Luckily, Home Depot also carries four packs of 6 by 6 inch marble tiles.  The perfect solution to our uneven problem back splash.

Now for the install.  We started by measuring and marking the center of each wall space and the first tile.

Back butter the tile, line up the marks, and press firmly into place.

Because our first four tiles tuck behind the stove, we decided to leave them the full 6 by 6.  Then Ben measured each opening, cutting one tile per side, installing, then measuring for the next.

I’m guessing the marble tile cuts like a hot knife through butta because Ben made very nice detail cuts, like these around the outlets.

And he joked the he’ll start carving chess pieces from marble when we finish the house.  Here’s another shot of the tile behind the stove.  Once it’s pushed back in place, it won’t look any different.

Bright and pretty, just the way I like ’em.

Now that we’ve gotten the little ‘splash out of the way, let’s get to the main event; the back splash behind the sink.  Our starting process was similar, but Ben had some cutting to do first.  We agreed the first full row of tile should start at the counter, so Ben had to cut pieces to fit in the lower sink area.

Thanks old back splash for leaving so much ugly junk behind.  That’s why water and particle board are a bad combo.

With the sink row cut, things went up really quickly because Ben installed the full tiles, then moved to the smaller, detailed pieces.  Here’s a little space under the window sill.

And after, with the tiny pieces stuck forever.

Tons of one inch pieces on each side of the window and we made it to the top.

Instead of back buttering each tile for the part above the window, Ben spread the mastic on the wall.

Putting in some of the final cut pieces.

Because we’re putting crown moulding along the tops of the cabinets, we decided we’ll continue the crown across the front of the marble, covering the gap near the ceiling.

Before going to work the next morning, Ben pulled the spacers so I woke up to this pretty wall ‘o tile.

Pretend all the shelves are painted and we’ve got crown at the top, okay?  Oh, and pretend we’ve got doors on the upper cabinets, too.

Is it wrong that I want to stare at it all day?  Maybe I’m turning into a tile stalker.

The blue-gray works so well with the stainless, gray cabinets, and the warm wood counters.  Which is why I love this shot.

Just a detail shot of the cuts around the sink.

Now, a before and after for added drama.  Before:

After:

Ahh, the magic of the internet.

What do you think?  I’m in love.  Like seriously, in. love.  I’m just visualizing this shot with trim and doors and I have a dopey, just-fallen-in-love smile on my face.

Of course we still have to grout the tile, so we’ll be back to share more info on the install and pictures when we’re done.