December 13, 2010

TileRama in BiancaVision

Don't even think about speaking to me this morning. I am crabby as hell!
Every joint and muscle in my body hurts. My knees are killing me and my fingertips are raw. If we still lived in New York City I would say... (think very New York Jewish Mother here) "Oh My God, I've got to see a podiatrist."

Why all the complaining you ask?

Let's start with a 1912 craftsman bungalow, in South Pasadena, California, that I owned and restored twelve years ago. It was a piece of cake compared to 227 north street. Mostly stripping, refinishing and replacing woodwork, floors and bits and bobs that had been "updated" in the dreaded...
Duh, duh, dum, duh.... yes you guessed it... the 1970's. Ah what a tasteful and beautiful decade that was.

During that renovation I did my first and only tile job. Pretty craftsman tile counter tops, laid with mastic (a premixed tile adhesive), and for those of you who DO know how to do these things, I should not have used mastic on a counter top, but what did I know, this was in the days before the world wide web of easily accessible porn... Oooops, I meant information. Would I put tile on a counter top again? No Way! But it was a nice look for that house and the tile was beautiful.

The point of that sentence was not the counter tops, or the porn, but the "first and only tile job" part. So there I was yesterday with an under floor heating mat, a roll of Ditra, a sea of white marble tile and bags of two different types of dry thin set.
(little tiny voice here) 

"help me"

"Suck up and bust"!  I know that phrase does not really make sense, but it does kind of express what had to be done. First mix the modified thin set... "How do you do that?" Then spread some on the floor and comb it with a trowel... "comb it?" Lay the heating mat on top of the modified thin set, and rub down with a rubber float. "Gulp", then repeat process using unmodified thin set, unroll the Ditra onto wet mortar, and again rub down with a rubber float... Eeeek! 

 "help me"

Ditra is that mysterious orange stuff you see being put down under tile, on television shows. It is a membrane that is impervious to water and allows the tile floor to move separately from the structure, "uncoupling", so as to avoid cracking of the tile or the grout joints. It is a cool, high tech, product and we managed to get it down fairly easily, thin set and all.

Heating mat laid onto the wet mortar.

 Phillip with the mysterious orange stuff called Ditra

Butt shot... Hee Hee, at least he wasn't showing crack, Hee Hee Hee

So now the Heat mat is in place, and the Ditra is ready for the beautiful, pristine, WHITE, marble tile.
12 x 6 inch tiles laid in a running pattern like brick. White marble tile? I couldn't choose something else to learn with? I am certain that a journeyman diamond cutter does not practice on the real thing... 
Back to an earlier statement, Suck Up and Bust!

With trowel and thin set in hand, I took a deep breath and...

The first Tile, well two actually, its hard to remember to take pictures when your blood pressure has has just gone through the roof!

Well, the first couple of tiles were not too bad, time to move on.

In case you are wondering, the orange Ditra does not show through the stone when finished, or so we have been told... 
"help me"

Six hours after laying the first tile, I was only halfway across the room, it was eleven o'clock at night, and I could not stand up.  I am sure it is not advisable to stop the tile job in the middle, but, I could not go on any longer. It is very fussy work as the tiles are not perfect, nor of exact even thickness. The spacers are only 1/16th of and inch and my sore and raw fingers could hardly hold onto them after all those hours on my hands and knees. My eagle eye scanned a gazillion for imperfections, and I cleaned the mortar really well from around the tiles in preparation for tonight's sequel.

TileRama in BiancaVision, part deux
The day after the night before


  1. Go check out Picardy Project's blog for tiling fun - they repeatedly stopped during the tiling of their bathroom walls and the finished pictures look great. They also did a lovely basketweave tile on the floor with tiny pieces. I think they just finished several weeks of tiling heaven - and kept statistics - crazy kids!!!

    Your marble tile looks wonderful - as does everything about the house. Consider yourselves patted on the back.


  2. Mark! I LOVE IT! SOOOO beautiful even if your body paid for it! I can't wait to come see it (when it's done - ha ha).

    So, get this. Our house sage might not be over after all. I know. Serious rollercoaster. Turns out we CAN put the house on the city sewer IF we can get the easement and right of way approved. I had to tell you first because I knew you would be most excited. :-D
    More to follow.


  3. Hey man...kudos to you for taking on this task. Looking great.

    Santa Rosa

  4. How did I not hear your Screams for help across the street? would have thrown over a can of beer or had massimo run over a box of SalonPas. these are great for sore muscles and peel and stick pads of soothing medicated something.
    I am making you and Phillip meatloaf/mashed potatoes dinner for Monday to come over for. see you here 7pm monday. Breathe Breathe Breathe. It is looking Marvelous.

  5. Hi Mark! It's Meryl over at Picardy Project.

    Thanks so much for your kind tiling words! Tiling really totally sucks the big one. We stopped like 9 times or something like that when we were doing our (mounds and mounds and mounds) of wall tile and it turned out okay. It's just really important to make sure that there isn't a lot of thinset squirting out on the edges that will make laying the next round of tile difficult. We would scrape off all the thinset we could, and then go back with a damp sponge and wipe away as much as we could. That seemed to do the trick and our tile was still fixed properly and all level. It probably isn't the greatest thing to do, but what the hell are we supposed to do when we feel like our backs may break in half?

    May the tiling be with you! :)

  6. What an awesome job!!! Perfect tile is way too de rigueur. Those uneven places are additions of charming aesthetically pleasing tactile thingamagigs.

  7. Amazing job of designing tiles. Tiling in a house is highly engineered when you do it right. Thanks.

  8. OMG - this is so funny. Gary is doing the same thing to our bathroom and we have all the same stuff piled all around! Too too funny


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