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Incoming BYTES
contains highly variable subject matter including commentary on the mundane, the extraordinary and even controversial issues. At Incoming BYTES
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Friday, May 25, 2012

Renovating: Tile took a While !

The Ceramic Tile is Done!

From 30-year old vinyl composite floor tile to modern ceramic tile in a flash!  That's what I thought would happen. Oops.
 At Incoming Bytes, all DIY'ers are advised that when you choose to do a renovation project, seven other essential projects immediately line up and get in the way first.  Par for the course. To be expected. *sigh
Loyal readers will recall the ceramic wall protection we installed to keep our wannabe escapee team  --Tilly the Tall  (T.T.T)  and Ebony the Short  (E.T.S.)  from shredding the drywall  and trim around the door (and the door itself!) for the third (or was it the fourth? ) time.
We did it. Turns out it was a fantastic idea!  Uh-huh...
 Don't you think it's amazing how something shiny and new makes everything else look worn and tired?  You got it.
So--we tackled the floor. That was a fantastic idea too, it really was looking kind of dull. A couple of pieces of  the flooring were showing cracks and signs of loosening, -- and the old self-stick tiles had even shrunk just a tiniest bit, allowing water staining of the sub floor plywood.
Onward we went.

The floor managed to go from this;

  It only took seven days.
( to just after grout sealing, tile complete,  but before all of the baseboards were reinstalled.)
To This.
Tile's Done! (before baseboard install)


Tile took a while.

 It seems in any do-it-yourself project there is a lot of digression, putzing around, and injected in-between stuff that can be both necessary and a genuine challenge. 

 This is "all"we had to do to complete  this simple  DIY'er tile project!
  •  Measure the area carefully and best-guess extra required for tile cuts.
  • Go shopping, choose tile, haul it home. 
  • Clear the area of all boots, shelves and closet stuff
  • Remove all of the baseboards
  • Remove all of the brittle old composite vinyl tile bit by bit
  • Cut off bottom of all door jambs, door trim, etc. to allow for tile installation,
  • Scrape off  hardened glue lines left by the old self-stick tiles
  • Test the sub-floor plywood to make sure it is solid.  (It was stained but perfect).
  • Sand the floor and joints, 
  • Remove loose nails, set raised nails, add screws where necessary.  
  • Procrastination and Delays and Preemptive Strikes: Executive Decision to upgrade insulation in crawl space below floor which required:
  • Accessing crawl space by cutting hole in floor (Remove  a section of sub-plywood and plywood)
  • Removing old, inefficient, damaged fibreglas insulation from crawl space

  • Power vacuuming out all dust, bits and pieces, spiders* and cobwebs.  The garage shop vac worked perfectly.
  • Disposing  of all old tile, old insulation and other bits of wood and trash; 
  • Re-insulating under the floor and walls
  • Closing up the access hole in floor   

  Progress resumes!  

After the minor delay and annoyance created by executive decisions,  we had to:

  • Reinstall plywood on access hole:  plywood and sub-floor plywood with screws.
  • Prepare floor, screwing down all areas tightly where required, final inspection for squeaks, movement, clean, and vacuum
  • Loosen and lift stairs and prop up temporarily
  • Contemplate the dry layout of tiles; decisions, decisions.....
  • Plan and pre cut to fit tiles
  • Forge a mixer blade for the  electric drill on the anvil by heating steel rod red hot. What!?
Making stuff !........a perfect distraction for the quintessential do-it-yourself  tile-worn type!   
About that time I wanted to hammer on something nonchalantly for a while anyway, practice smacking moving targets with BIG hammers, mop the brow,  etc.  
Bottom line,  'a change was as good as a rest '  to  'distract the troops with R&R' ,  to 'use built-in ingenuity',   'create something' --and all that. 
We digress....back to tile for a while eh?  We also had to:
  • Mix up a half bag of thin set  (acrylic-modified dry cement, looks like gray, gucky pudding)
  • Lay tiles using spacers and straight lines.
  • Keep the  T.T.T. and E.T.S.  C.P.B. (curious puppy brigade)   and all curious comers off of the tiles for about 4 hours.
  • Clean grout lines of all excess thin set before it becomes set like a rock and was too hard to remove;
  • Mix coloured grout (This cool stuff looks like chocolate pudding!)
  • Fill grout lines, both floor and wall.  (We pointed (finished) the grout  using my favourite custom  tool made from 1/2" copper pipe.)
  • Clean floor tiles using the two-bucket system which works beautifully, for the record.
  • Admire floor for 24 hrs as everything sets hard as a rock
  • Seal grout lines (including wall tiles,  remember those?)  with special grout sealant
  • Set stairs back in position and re-trim
  • Reinstall baseboards, including replacement of broken, ugly, or scratched sections.
Finally, we were able to  relax, admire the tile job completed, have coffee and wonder how come it took this experienced DIY'er team 7 days. 
um..........I know. Any excuse in a pinch.
We apparently work diligently and do good work...or something, I bet!

 Hmm....now the next floor looks kind of worn too. *sigh.   Imagine that.

Is that incoming I hear?

 *Worth noting:  A  DIY'er and Homeowners Caution

 During the insulation upgrade portion of this project,  I chance-encountered  a *Brown Recluse spider in the  crawl space. They are not supposed to be in this geographical area, but in the last few years, clearly do NOT follow the rules.  
All DIY'ers and homeowners must be aware this is a dangerous North American species of spider. 
Necrosis of human flesh can occur if a bite from this species of spider is not treated in a timely manner. 
The range of  this spider has clearly expanded northward into Canada.
  Also known as the 'violin spider' or   'fiddle back' spider for the violin-shaped marking on it's back,  the Brown Recluse spider is typically found in undisturbed,  enclosed spaces but can be encountered in woodpiles, closets or undisturbed, unused clothing such as gloves or boots. 
Caution is warranted.  If bitten by a Brown Recluse spider, seek medical advice.


  1. Nice Job RK.....Looks very professional...Spiders and all. You must feel good. Now its on to the next room. It's just like painting, when you get done it makes the next room look old...Happy tiling! Glad you didn't get bitten.... VK

    1. Thanks, Vk! VERY happy it is finished, we have to get on with the 'next' are, it really does make everything else look older. We're also glad that I actually knew about the Brown Recluse spider last year --it was quite a surprise to say the least. As you say, onward, see the Light, and keep on tiling! ":) Thanks for commenting! ~R

  2. It looks awesome, and I say this, because it looks identical to the tile and grout I chose for my home. I'll have to get pictures and post them for you.

    1. Hi Storm, it may well be the same source of tile, it's quite beautiful and popular too. Please Do post some pictures, I would really like to see them! Thanks for dropping in! ":) ~R

  3. Nice floor! Now come over and do that at my boy's new house. Cookies will be waiting for you. ;-)

    1. Thanks Glory! Awe...I would if I could! And being closer, with cookies as a lure, I would be there with tile for sure! ":) Thanks for dropping in! ~R.

  4. Your flooring came out great! We have a ton of those recluse spiders down here for some reason. I just kill all the spiders.

    1. Hi, CYW, thanks! That tile did turn out much better than I expected! It was encouraging, except now I'm expected to tile everything including the kitchen sink. ":))
      Down in your area is where these Brown Recluse spiders are supposed to be, but apparently some are up here full time now with the weather getting warmer annually! I'm guessing it's a clever idea to be careful, I have a friend in Arkansas that has been bitten a couple of times--and suffered greatly for it, so it's best to be careful-especially if there's lots of them there. Thanks for dropping in! ":) ~R

  5. Disturbed to here about the recluse. The warm weather is driving them here. I have a mix of recluses and black widows here. The last recluse I killed in the house was about a centimeter in diameter bigger than the palm of my hand. She was magnificent, but at that size could have killed the dog.

    Congrats on the floor. It came out fabulous. So where is the picture of your DIY tool? I like inventions!

  6. Hi Red! Yes, we've haven't had recluse spiders here until a couple of years ago apparently, I'm guessing the weather changing is responsible for that too. We don't have black widows here at all--yet. Apparently they do get pretty big --cats and dogs watch out.
    That ceramic tile job did turn out amazingly well, thank you for the great compliment. Sooner or later I will post a picture of that DIY tool-it really works well for finishing grout lines. Thanks for dropping in! ":) ~R

  7. Raymond you can give yourself a pat on the back! Well Done.. and I know all about those quick DIY jobs which we take on only to have half a dozen more that goes with them.. It really does look Great and worth all the effort..
    And so pleased I live in the UK where I dont think too many deadly spiders reside.. :-) .. So glad you shared this project with us.. and you must now walk on that floor with a prideful step!

  8. Hi Sue! Thanks for the encouraging comments. The project did turn out well even if "delayed" an 'bugged' by 8-legged details and 'in-between additional tasks' that always seem to show up. I don't know if you have deadly spiders in the UK or not, but be careful anyway...Thanks for dropping in! ":) ~R

  9. Love the tile. It looks great. And I appreciate the list. Most people see the before and after shots and don't think about the inbetween much.

    1. Thanks, Lorre! This job did turn out amazingly well.
      Experienced DIY'ers that do enough DIY projects recognize the necessity of prep work, -and they know it's the in-between prep and oddball, unexpected stuff that takes up most of the time. Amateurs can start a project and end up throwing up their hands in despair half way through when they realize how much difficult work they have committed themselves to. Have you ever installed ceramic tile? You would love it, it's interesting and not that difficult. Thanks for visiting and commenting! ":) ~R


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