Saturday, November 7, 2009

So close, yet so far

I should have new bathroom pictures to share. We were so close to having a tiled shower this week. So close I could feel the hot water of my very own shower just steps from my bed...but alas, it was not yet to be. Something always goes wrong in remodeling. Clearly, we know that by now. The key is to have people you are working with who will see it, own it, and solve it fast. Thank goodness, we have those people!

I had peeked in at the tile as it was going up, but hadn't gone into the shower until just after the glass border went in. So the whole shower was tiled from the floor to about 4 feet high. At first I just looked at the tile and thought - "yep - these are beautiful!". Then I noticed the grout lines. Or maybe I should say the lack of grout lines. There were spots where I couldn't fit my fingernail between tiles. Now, the manufacturer of the glass tile, Oceanside, recommends sanded grout. Clearly, sanded grout was not ever going to fit in these spaces.

So, I called our folks and since our contractor was out of town at a meeting, his wife Beth came by to check it out. She and the tile guy and I all agree that the glass needs to be moved up. Sounds like a done deal. Except that when I went in to look at that after he had moved it, he had left the trowel lines in the thinset under the tiles. That's fine with regular tile, but with glass the lines need to be flattened or the tiles need to be back buttered so the lines don't show through. So I call Beth again, and she says she is coming over to help me pull tiles off the wall and try to save the glass before it is stuck. This is great news, as I have two little ones begging for attention and dinner needs to be cooked and I just can't imagine washing tiles while I am roasting squash.

So, I go into the shower to get started with the work, and as I am standing there, the recycled subway tiles catch my eye. I look up, and a whole section of tile is obviously crooked. OY! Then I start to inspect further, and lots of individual tiles are akimbo. Now these tiles are not totally uniform, which is fine, but they are seriously not level or plumb. When Beth got there, I showed her what I had saved so far and pointed out the new issue - she saw it too and we agreed that it all needed to come down.

OK. So I buy all recycled tile and now there is a risk that we won't be able to get it off the wall in good enough shape to reuse it?! Why not just go to Lowe's and get some random tile made in China and shipped around the world three times before it gets to me? So now I am hoping we can save at least some of the tile. The glass liners were fine (Thank goodness - they were also the most expensive of the lot!), the mosaics washed off fine, but came off the paper backing when we washed them of course, so now they are a pile of little puzzle pieces. Beth likes them, so she took them for a project at her house, and they will buy some more sheets of them for our bath. SO the glass is not a total loss - as long as it will be used for something I am happy.

The next day, the subway tiles come down. Unbelievably, only four tiles were broken. The rest came off and washed well enough to reuse! Thank goodness the guy who is doing our tiling has a sense of humor since he has spent like a week in a 4x3 space. On Monday, the subway tile will go back up with several sized spacers to keep the tiles level and the grout lines large enough for the appropriate grout. WHEW.

So the thing about all of this, is that this is the first project that we have completely handed over to someone else in this house. Last time we had tiling done at our old house, we had an issue with the border as well, and I didn't say anything until it was done - I kept thinking they knew what they were doing and "never show a fool half finished work". This time, I have tried hard not to meddle and to remain out of the details, and to not be controlling. Of course, this is the time that I should have meddled - I had emailed the installation and specs information before we started, and had the manual from the tile company there for them to see, but did not point out the things that I thought may be issues as I didn't want to seem condescending. If I had pointed out the grout specifications and the flattening of the thinset lines, we would have never had these issues. So you live and learn. Thank goodness I said something right away instead of waiting. Sometimes being a bossy chick may be a good thing!

No comments: