Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tile Time Update

Dean has reminded me that not only have I not authored an entry lately, but I haven't updated on the bathroom tile project. Time to remedy that!

My last entry on the tile project we were in the process of getting those first few courses of tile up. That is a critical step in the process. If you 'goof up' and those rows aren't level then the rest of the wall will also be off. Time is well spent in getting that first part right! Once things were hanging level on the wall then we were limited only by the time we had available - between work schedules, etc. If I hadn't mentioned it before, we had salvaged the soap dish from the original tile. Once it was cleaned up it was in great shape and ready to be put back up! Forgive me if I'm repeating some of what we had posted before.... The 'medallions' of Talavera were a challenge to apply. Talavera, being hand made, is irregular by nature. It's supposed to be that way. That means that no two tiles are the exact same, which translates into a headache when trying to match them up for a medallion, and fit them into the factory made tiles.

"A Bit of Whimsy" I had heard on one of the home makeover shows, many years ago, that you should always try to include "the unexpected" in decorating. There's some value to that, in my opinion. Keeping that in mind while we were shopping for tiles we found multiple variations of the shown crescent moon and stars tile, as well as some variations of the sun tile. The sun tile just didn't do it for us, so we decided to be a bit creative! Dean saw sun ornaments at the store where we bought the sink. Talavera, of course, but a bit three dimensional as well. I bought one and then had to figure out exactly how in incorporate it into our project. In the shopping around for tiles I have amassed a small cache of assorted tiles being given to me as samples by various sales persons. I picked up the creamy while Talavera tile that I had, set the sun on it and knew I had a winner! Some well applied "Omni-Set" and a bit of centering - viola`! Dean left it up to my discretion as to where the sun and moon would be placed, I chose the head wall for the sun - tail wall for the moon (no pun intended!).

Once all of the tile was on the walls we had to wait it out for a couple of days (accommodating work schedules and drying time) before we could get to the grouting process. In the picture you can see that we also installed a ceramic corner shelf. I really like that - no bottles of shampoo on the ledge around the tub -- no wire shower caddy! Since we don't plan on redoing this again anytime soon, this was the time to put in those little conveniences! This picture was taken before Dean cleaned the tiles in preparation for the grouting process. He did a great job cleaning the tile - which sounds easy, but it wasn't. Cleaning the tile is imperative in ending up with beautiful tile at the end of the project.

Finally, we did the grouting and after a day of "dry time" I caulked the nooks and crannies that had to be caulked and we were "ready for business" .... or so we thought..... We had a friend coming for the weekend, so she took the inaugural on Sunday morning. Before she showered she was given explicit instructions to make a mental note of what worked well, what didn't, etc. so that we could take care of those issues. We waited patiently for Donna's report....and then "the news". It seems that more water was coming out of the faucet handles, the tub spout, and the shower head extension arm joints than the shower head! Yikes!! The 'gravest' of those was the water coming out of the faucet handles. That was a clear indication that the faucet valves needed replacing. Have I mentioned? I hate plumbing. After doing some reading, and chatting with "Alice the plumbing lady" at the local Ace Hardware I was armed to tackle this situation. Alice sent me home with a loaner set of valve pullers, preferable to having to buy a set for this job. After many trials and errors the solution that I feared the most became more and more clear. Tile would have to be removed. Seriously! So, getting out the trusty chisel, I proceeded to try and remove just the two tiles where the valves are located. That dominoed into a total of 8 tiles - 4 blue tiles, 4 Talavera. Fortunately we had enough for replacement, but we did our best to not damage any more tiles! We had done such a great job of putting those tiles up, initially, that it was nearly impossible to get them down. In doing so, we destroyed the underlying cement board (just behind those tiles). After much deliberation we decided to get a piece of cement board or Hardibacker and fit a new piece in that area. That was our task on Veteran's Day. We affixed the Hardibacker in place with Omni-Grip, as well as Hardibacker screws. Today I was able to put the new tiles (newly cut holes...much bigger this time) in place. We'll let that adhesive dry throughout for a few days, with plans to grout the area on Sunday. Whew! Also, I caulked around the top and sides of the tile, where it touches the ceiling and the area of drywall outside of the tub. Yes, we did test the valves before reinstalling the tile - they seem to be working fine now. As for the leaky shower arm, just needed a bit more tightening - easy peasy!

Every job, whether it be here in Tucson or in St. Charles, carries an educational experience with it. This project should qualify us for some sort of "Home Improvement Degree"! Next up....the vanity and installing the new sink! Stay tuned for more excitement!!!


Shannon said...

First of all, it is unbelievably beautiful! Secondly, what a pain to have to deal with those leaky faucets. I just would have keeled over.

Anonymous said...

wow! i love the dark blue backdrop to all the quirky accent tiles.

Melinda said...

Thanks ladies! Yes, Shannon, I wanted to cry when the faucets were leaking - but learned how to fix them! That's worth something! I'm looking forward to the sink/vanity portion of this project. That will really do wonders for the room!

Anonymous said...

Looks nice. Are you planning to pre-treat the tiles with something to prevent or reduce hard water scale that is inevitable? Just curious... could be more obvious on dark tiles than busy or light colored tiles. is there such a treatment? some kind of silicone wash?

Melinda said...

To Anonymous:
I haven't planned on treating the tiles with anything, though I think you have a really good point regarding hard water marks. I have, in the past, used paste car wax (Turtle Wax, to be specific) on shower tiles. That worked great, repelled water, etc. Since this shower doesn't get used much (it's more of the "guest bathroom") I'm not going to worry about it until the rest of the work in there is done (new sink put in, etc). Thanks for making me think about that though! It reminded me of something I will need to attend to in the future!