First floor tile project part 3

So we waited a week after grouting for the clean up.

In the meantime, the thresholds for the front door and garage door needed to be sanded, stained and varnished. This was a small detour.

Replacing the base shoe trim went rather smoothly. A few grout clumps to clean out, but otherwise it went well.

Laundry sink went back in well. Looking at the dryer vent hose it was discovered it was torn on both ends and needed to be redone.  Washer and dryer went back in with help from David.  My left hand still not quite up to pulling the cart up and reconnecting.

Teal did the acid wash / grout haze removal and buffing of the tiles.

The weatherstripping on the garage door needed to be replaced as the bronze on the hinge side had broken. I tried flat bronze on the garage door but was not satisfied with the results and will need to redo. Holding the tiny nails with fingers that can’t grip worth a darn was a joy. When removing the front door threshold, half of the weatherstripping was damaged as well. The v-shape, folded weatherstripping is rather hard to find.  I had it ordered from Ace.

The main frustration was the foyer closet doors. These are sliding doors. They had not been working well before the tile job so I picked up replacement rollers at Ace. However when reinstalling I discovered that that the offset for each door is different! so the new rollers did not work. The old ones would not stay on the track and I discovered that I could not reinstall the retainer in the middle as the floor was now ever so slightly higher.  Argh!.  So the 6 panel doors were taken downstairs and cut about 5/16″ shorter.  Now the bottom guide could be installed but the doors would not stay on the tracks and I could not adjust the rollers well to close the gaps along the door edges. So this meant a trip to Home Depot for a new sliding door track kit.  This installed easily and the doors now work well. All told, a 3 hour detour (with 2 trips to the store) for what was to be simply rehanging 2 closet doors.  The bathroom door also needed to be shortened as well.

Finally the thresholds are caulked and reinstalled.  The only thing left to do is to finish the weatherstripping. Done.

First floor tile project part 2

As I mentioned previously, we had gotten notice that the tile was ready earlier than expected.  Tile shop also provides the order weight (to 3 decimal places) so we went to pick up the 1300+ lbs of tile, mortar, grout and assorted accessories.

So next step was finishing  the tile removal, including the last bits of thin set mortar.   The new air chisel worked out very well. My air compressor is complaining a bit (air chisel requires 10 cfm @ 90+ PSI) . It has not worked this hard since I built the boat.    At the end, we have a full big rubbermaid wheelbarrow full and countless cat litter buckets of old tile.  It will probably take 6+ weeks to get this taken as part of the garbage. Here is a shot after the first 3 loads have been “given” to the garbage men.

So we pick up the tile and deposit / stage the boxes near where they would be used.   The woodwork trim also got 2″ masking tape  applied to minimize mortar and grout being stuck on the woodwork and possibly staining it.

This was after the first day of tile removal.   You can see that the majority of the mortar has come off with the tiles.  The rugs are in place so we don’t track huge amounts of grit around the house.  There is no bypassing this area.

Thursday afternoon. All of the tile has been removed and the last bits of mortar have been removed.   Lots more time spent with the air chisel to scrape the entire floor to get the mortar off. HEPA rated vac was used to get most of the dust & grit picked up. However, we still needed dust masks while we were doing it.

Laundry room area.  Teal wanted to paint it a new color: mint-chip ice-cream green. This was another of the project “detours”.

The next day (Friday) the tile work starts.   Plan of attack is to proceed down the hall towards the foyer and then work into the closet and back round the foyer.  This was the first time I had a spiral mortar mixer paddle – what a treat compared to doing it by hand as we had in the past.  Another huge help was a big old box fan. Teal kept moving it to cool me off. This was hard work on a humid day. Given that I was kneeling down, bent way over leaning on my left hand, annoyingly sweat kept dripping into my glasses.

Saturday is spent cutting and laying the rest of the tile.   On Friday I had bypassed laying some of the tiles with the more complicated cuts so as to stay ahead of the hardening of the mortar. However, there were 2 tiles that were impossible to get in under the door jambs without splitting as the cut was basically U shaped and the tile had to fit under the door jamb.   A partial plunge cut with the wet saw into the back of the tile made for a clean break and nearly invisible joint line.

Sunday was spent grouting. I was able to get the entire area done with just one bag of grout (3 batches).  This is another time where having good quality tools paid off. We had bought the premium QEP grout float rather than the economy foam ones we had used originally. The firm rubber edge meant I could squeegee off most of the grout. This both saved material and greatly simplified clean up as it took fewer passes to clean off the excess.     As I was grouting, I had on some sandals that I don’t like (not caring if they got all messy ). However after an hour,  my toes became irritated – little toe hooking on the sandal. So I had the bright idea of doing this barefoot.  This were going well for a while but the tops of my toes were starting to hurt and I was getting pink streaks on the tile. I looked at my feet and the tops of my big toes had been ground down leaving dime sized raw spots which were now bleeding and getting grout or cement grit in them.  The sandals went back on.

Monday I woke up and I can barely move my left hand. No grip strength, some tingling in my little fingers.  If I had been scuba diving, I would have thought I had gotten bent.  Checking with my daughters who are both NPs the initial diagnosis was tendonitis. Googling for more info I found that it is common in house painters and tile setters.   The odd stance of kneeling and leaning way over on my left hand for 3 days in a row must have triggered it.   Lets see how long this takes to recover.  One week later it is still weak but getting somewhat better.   We had to wait a week before cleaning the haze off the tile and then putting on the trim, etc.


First floor tile project part 1



When we built our house 25 years ago we did a lot of the work ourselves.  This included all of the hard surface floors – ceramic tile and hardwood, which make up all of the flooring aside from the bedrooms.  We were on a hard schedule and basically treated like any of the subcontractors. The foyer, hallway, half bath and laundry room were all tiled. However the color of the tile was not exactly what we thought we had ordered (much debate here). Due to the time constraints, we put it in and hoped for the best.  However the color was always a sore point for Teal.

Now as a proper engineer I had laid down the substrate -two 3/4 ” layers of ply wood glued and screwed together with a zillion screws. This proved to be substantial and after 25 years of abuse there were no cracked tiles or grout.  So the thought of ripping it out and replacing it was never on my list of fun projects.   The tile was set in thin set mortar as well.

Tile Project Start

Teal is persistent however and wanted it replaced.  So my thoughts turn to how do I minimize the back breaking work and get this done?   The answer was “more tools” . After a fair amount of research I stumbled across the Harbor Freight Long Handle Air Scraper –   The reviews were good, so I got one. I also needed a better wet saw as this area has an amazing number of required cuts and my old “toy” wet saw was not up to the task.

So we get home and I try out the air scraper in a closet and it WORKS GREAT.    So the next day we rip out the foyer and hallway tile.  The thin-set mortar adhered well to the tile and the plywood.  However, the topmost layer of plywood (not an entire ply) would usually pull loose. So about 80% of the mortar pulled up with the tiles.

Note that the tile edges are extremely sharp, much like shards of glass and work well for removing skin from finger tips or slicing them open even with gloves.

So, now armed with the knowledge that the tile removal was feasible without professional help and now being committed, we proceeded to shop for the new replacement tile.  We were disappointed  with the selection at Home Depot and Menards and went to the Tile Shop, where we had gotten most of the tile when we built the house (not the pinkish tile which was from Lexco).   We made our selection and ordered it along with all of the other goodies (thin set, grout, spacers, etc.).  The tile we wanted was on  back order at the time so we thought things would work at a leisurely pace.

Detours 1

Now the “detours” would start. No good project plan goes unpunished. The next day Teal says the “washer won’t spin”.   It had been noisy for a while, but now it was unusable and we had just spent a pile of money on the tile.

So it was back to the internet and Youtube to see how to fix a Maytag  Performa washer that won’t spin.   Videos look good and a parts order to Appliance Parts Pros is made.  A few days later the parts arrive.  Washer is disassembled, tub and transmission removed and the new parts installed. Not too bad to do except for re-installing the darn e-clip on the end of the shaft. More bad words and damaged finger tips. However, it is reassembled and works. I should add that a second detour did occur as well. The faucets for the washer were locked up and better yet the wash sink next to it had no shut off valves. So 4 new valves were procured and installed. It “only” took 2 tries- still had a leak on the first one.

The next day we get a call and the tile is ready for pickup – about 2 weeks earlier than expected.

To be continued…



New bathroom countertops

The first to go was the powder-room on the first floor. The old countertop came off easily. I had already installed shut-off valves for the faucet and had new a new P-trap and extensions ready as the drain holes would not line up.

I was able to carry this top by myself. Teal helped to guide it into position and hold it up while silicone seal was applied to the counter to glue it in place. We then carefully lowered it down and slid it the last little bit still at an angle. The backsplash is mosaic tile on top of Hardi backer board so that it is not too far recessed behind the marble pencil trim.

To drill the faucet hole I placed the template and clamped it down. This makes starting the ore drill / hole saw easy and prevents it from skittering around and damaging the top.   I tried adding water but immediately sprayed out all over.   Just place the vacuum nozzle nearby to catch the majority of the dust.

Similar process for the master bath. However when I pulled out the old tile top, the backsplash was about 1/4″ too low to fit over the new top.   So I had to pull off the old tiles and broke two. Fortunately 24 years ago when I originally installed the tile I had saved the spares in a dark corner under the basement stairs.   The old tiles needed a bit of clean up on the stationary belt sander. So now the”new” backsplash was installed and matches that around the shower.

Sinks are Kohler, the top  faucet was a Kohler Toobie, and the master bath has a Hansgrohe.    The savings on the tops paid for the tools and upgraded fixtures.

Funny point. Teal was sealing the granite and we wondered about using the sealer on the quartz.  She looked it up and came away laughing. It is not needed as the only thing that stains it is permanent marker, which is why I had to polish off my measurement marks.