29 January 2012 Tiling

How not to lay tile.

We’ve been thinking about refinancing the house. Which was great, because it motivated me to get moving on the mudroom. Open permits + half complete construction = low appraisal.

We’d already insulated and hung the drywall on all of the walls but the one where the dryer vent is (needs mechanical inspection). But progress has been slowed on the rest, as I’ve been waiting to take a day off of work for inspections. When I started thinking through what was left to complete, I realized I could easily get started on the floor before the inspection, to move things along.

So I sealed up the old crawl space trap door, cut the Durock to size, and mortared and screwed it all in place.


When I did the bathroom floor, I bought enough tile to do the laundry room as well, as I knew I’d someday want a new floor in there. So I took up a few of the doorway tiles, and got to work tying the two rooms together so there weren’t any awkward seams.

With that done, I snapped a square line across the room to use as the guide for all of the tiles.

And then using spacers, I went around the edges of the room, and started filling in. And that’s where things went horribly wrong. After two full days of doing squats, I sat on the half finished floor in agony, realizing that I’d messed up big time.

So I returned the saw, and tried to figure out what to do next. For a week. And I realized that only thing I could do is tear up the floor to the point that the misalignment started. So I did. I pried up the tiles, and when I realized that Durock isn’t exactly reusable… I got the circular saw, attached a masonry blade, and cut through that, filling the entire house with dust. Since all of the screws – which are placed every 8 inches – were covered in mortar, it was impossible to simply back them out and lift the piece in one section. So I started prying. And pebble by piece of sand, 6 hours later, I had taken up the 3×5 piece of Durock, and was ready to start again. I cut a leftover piece to size, mortared and screwed it down, and started my tiling job over – this time working across the room, rather than from the edges in.

And well, even though I can barely raise or lower myself out of a chair, I’m glad I did. The grout lines are perfect, and the tiles fit in the center of the room without having to be cut. I did have to adjust the cuts on the edge tiles, but it was minimal.

So, morals of this tiling story:

  1. Work across the room. Starting from your straight line, tile outward toward the edges of the room. Never start at the edges and fill in. Spacing will be wrong.
  2. Don’t be a mother effing cheapskate. Want to know why I did the edge tiles first? Because I didn’t want to have to rent the saw for another day, so my cheap little brain thought, “Oh, if I do the outside tiles first, I can return the saw and be done.” And what did it mean? I had to tear up the floor, use an extra piece of durock, an extra bag of mortar, buy an extra box of tiles, oh… and rent the saw for another day. (By the way, you tightwads… If you rent a saw from Home Depot at closing time, you can pay the 4-hour rate, and return it the next morning by 9 a.m.)

Any other tiling horror stories/pointers out there?

Posted by Kevin 1 comment
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