After work on Monday Rob dropped by and gave me a quick jump-start on the tiling. Unfortunately he didn't have a lot of time so the actual doing was up to me, myself and I.

The only tiles I've laid before were the mosaic on the kitchen walls (= simple and small), so the sloping floors and large tiles were a new challenge. Nevertheless the floor worked out reasonably well.

First Rob did part of the shower drain cut (2/3 of a circle at the tile edge), then I did the rest. No breakage, and my angle grinder with the cheap diamond blade works beautifully.

The shower tile set-out ended up without having too much height difference but of course things are not fully flat. Rob left after that layout was found and I got cracking (sort-of). Laying out the outer floor took a lot of puzzling but in the end I only had to cut three tiles length-wise, alas an 18mm strip. Amazingly I didn't waste a single tile on that cut; rob's new tile cutter worked really well (and I'm not stupid: I put a metal ruler on top of the narrow strip before pushing down on the breaker). The quality of the floor tiles also helps: fully vitrified porcelain, "Architek Dotti Dark Grey R9 300x300mm" made by Vitra (in Turkey). (Downside: the tiles were by far the most expensive item for this renovation.)

 tile layout puzzles shower tiles freshly laid vanity tiles freshly laid

Because I had mixed up too much tile goo I ended up doing a bit more than half of the remaining floor on Monday as you can see above.

Tuesday I prepared the cuts for the remaining floor tiles: the tile-in drain and the round hole for the vanity drain pipe. The tile-in drain was not much of a problem, with all being straight cuts and the drain situated across two tiles. The round 44mm hole for the pipe was more work, especially with a 10cm (or thereabouts) grinder disk. Judiciously cutting from both sides I did again end up with a nice hole and no breakage. The dremel knockoff with diamond bit was used to deburr the edges a little.

 fit of the tile-in drain hole cutting az holds holed tile

My short stubble didn't go grey-haired overnight, that's the transmogrified tile (which also gunked up one computer fan via the laundry window, sigh).

Tuesday late arvo was then spent on tiling the remaining floor bits, and the horizontal surfaces around the tub.

 tile-in drain tiled-in holed tile in place bathroom floor tiled tub frame tiled

Thursday I went for some more cheap thrills: Aldi had a rotating laser level with tripod, reduced from $60 to $39, and I couldn't resist. I consider this buy a great decision, because the level helped a lot with setting up for the wall tiling. I definitely needed a few decent plub lines and a good horizontal baseline, and my cheap spirit level isn't really long or precise enough for large jobs.

I planned a bottom strip of 15-20cm with floor tiles, and then the lighter(-coloured) wall tiles from there. A lot of fiddling went into the decision exactly how much of a strip I should do. In the end I went for something like 18.5cm, because that way I needed exactly one row of wall tiles for the tub front. Here are some pics of that setup process. (NB: I did of course not drill into my new waterproofing, that's why there are the props in the shower.)

 laserlevel tub front tiled prep for wall tiling

In the late arvo and evening I then proceeded to follow all that pencilling on the walls with deeds and glued up the tiles around the vanity. On eye-level I put a 6cm strip of mosaic tiles (leftovers from the kitchen) in a simple 2-1 pattern: Conny (and Barbara) said that I definitely must put up something coloured to break the boring wall. Well, I did!

 wall tiled but holed deco strip shower corner

Today was not much fun. First I proceeded with more hole cutting, lots of small ones this time.

 the tile mice were here

The three above were relatively unproblematic (despite the small size and having to do lots of cutting on the back); but one of the larger holes for the shower mixer handle cost me two tiles in shards before it worked out, because the hole was located closer to the corner.

It seems that the wall tiles, being Italian, are substantially more high-strung than the Turkish floor tiles (Wall: fully vitrified porcelain "Point Grigio, shade R62, 300x300mm" made by Marazzi).

And that problem was only the overture to a real nightmare arvo: to the left of the pic above with the many untiled wall areas you can see The Power Outlet from Hell. Looks very innocent, but it cost me more than a few of my few hairs. All it needed was a 100x45mm hole, situated in a single tile with the long side 40mm from the tile edge and the short about 25mm from the edge. Try as I might I couldn't keep the tile corner from breaking. And I tried just about everything I could think of: I cut from the front, the back, or both, with and without diagonals, only smaller holes, or only a diamond-shape, or a narrow slit hole; every single time the bloody tile corner broke off in the same, obnoxious manner: a beautiful, doubly-curved break taking away the corner and part of my hole. The biggest insult was the last tile I tried: I cut three linear slots, and on cutting the innermost one, the corner broke off - nowhere near the place I was cutting!

(Thinking back it seems to me that there may have been a resonance issue somewhere with the grinder rpm, the measurements of the hole vs the tile and so on. I can't think of any other reason why I had so very much of the same trouble while trying so many very different cuts.) Adding to the insult, I did actually manage a complete cut once - but that was a desperate sanity test in a trash tile where the three other corners had already been broken in unsuccessful attempts.

At that point, having wasted (part of) 7 tiles and oodles of effort and time I was close to giving up and adding an ugly grout line. So I glued up the other tiles, continued to the third wall and (still leaving the power hole unhandled) had a well-earned soak: as you can see on the first pic below the tile cutting left lots of shards on the ground and lots of dusty dreck in the area, the air and on me.

 blood sweat and...shards vanity tiles shower tiling with holed tiles next wall tiled

And then, lying in the tub, I had a "DUH!" experience. Somehow the universe must have planned some revenge, what with me telling students to "stop doing things that don't work" (an MIT computer/admin maxime). As it turns out, all I would have needed to do to spare me the horror was to move the damn power outlet about 10cm centimetres up (can't move sideways: stud) so that the cuts end up on tile edges. WAAAAAAAAAAAAH! AARRRRRRRRRRRRGH!

So I did that: moved the power outlet, took about 20 min with cutting the villaboard and plastering in a filler for the old hole. I did, however, leave that tile cut for tomorrow (as it was dark by now, and once again raining outside).

The next bit of work tonight was to move the light from the wall to the ceiling; unsuccessful because one fitting broke and the new location looks shite and the light output is insufficient with no bulbs lighting the ceiling. (Tomorrow I'll go to Ikea, get a nice new light and a mirror cabinet - that's the reason why the old light location was not good.)

And, to top off a somewhat crappy day, I then decided to do the cornices, because they need to be in to spackle and paint the ceiling, cut in the last row of wall tiles etc. pp. Rounded plaster cornice strips suck: while they are cheap, they are not very sturdy and loaded with heavy cornice cement they have the strength of a wet noodle. Very unnice for somebody working alone, let me tell you. Still, I didn't break any, hell no - I made worse mistakes.

First mistake, yesterday or so, was mis-measuring one of the strips and not remeasuring it before cutting (which I usually do; must have been too impatient or tired). Net result: one strip is 10cm too short, and no spares of sufficient length. So I cut off some more and set up for a butt joint.

The next mistake was not understanding exactly what Rob meant when he uttered the cryptic words "first thing with this, mark the top or you'll be sorry". I thought he meant the cornice, but he also meant the damn mitre box. As it turned out on installation (with all the damn goo splattering me, the sagging cornice noodles just about to break and not to forget that cornice cement sets fairly quickly), I learned that I had managed to cut two of the corners wrong, subtly wrong: I didn't turn the mitre box around when necessary and ended up with the correct 45° cut but with an extra "bow" in the cut. And of course I realized this only after the offending piece was successfully glued up and the cement had set. Damn.

In the end I opted for brute force and ignorance and plaster-filled the ugly almond shapes on the cornice corner, but it's not perfect; I'll have to do more filler work on that. (Actually you won't see much wrong on the following two photos but trust me, the problem is there.)

 new cornice wrong cut new cornices in but old light

And with the damn cornice gluing, the scramble to get the stuff up without breaking any, getting not too much goo where it would set too quickly and/or getting temporary nails in to finetune the cornice position etc. pp., the bathroom ended up looking very much like a disaster zone, with dirt, tools, blob globs and sundry mess everywhere.

 disaster zone more disaster zone

So I finished this crappy day off with a room clean. Tomorrow will be a better day.

[ published on Sat 04.04.2009 00:55 | filed in interests/au | ]
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