I’m happy to report that our floor tile was laid this weekend without any major issues! We got our tile saw ($80 on Amazon) on Thursday and Nik went to work assembling it. It has a little water trough under one side that you fill with water and as the blade turns it dips into that and throws water up on the top, to keep your tile wet and reduce friction.
We grabbed a small test tile to see how it cuts, and it gave us great results:
So now on to figuring out our layout. We laid out tiles in a straight set and offset pattern, and agreed we liked the offset better for such a small space. We thought it would be easiest to start in the corner, with a half tile, then go from there. It seemed that this would make the cuts around the toilet the easiest.
But then we started thinking that if we did it this way, there would be a seam in front of the toilet that would not be centered on the toilet. Would this look weird? I have no idea, but we changed our thinking and instead decided to center the tile on the toilet, so the seams on either side of the toilet would be symmetrical. This also meant we’d get 3 different width rows of tile going the long way…but we decided this was acceptable.
So since we started with the toilet, we had to cut our circular areas first. We did this by making parallel cuts into the circular area creating a row of cuts that looked like teeth. Then we just knocked out the teeth and cleaned up that edge with tile nippers. The circle came out perfectly!
Next, we worked our way from there, around the toilet then the whole back wall, then the middle row, and finally the row along the door. We were just cutting and laying tile, with the 1/8″ spacers we bought, not actually adhering it to the floor.
We had EXACTLY enough tiles…we should’ve had 1 extra, but I made a mistake cutting one and made it an inch shorter than it was supposed to be. We do have a lot of scrap tile left over, so maybe we’ll use it for a fun project in the future.
So that was our progress on Saturday. On Sunday, it was time to actually lay the tile with mortar. Again, we used our 1/4″ mortar comb spreader tool, spread the area we were working on, back buttered the tile (meaning a thin layer of mortar spread onto the tile as well, like gritty butter on toast) then basically plopped the tile onto the floor, gave it a light smush, then moved on. After each adjoining tile, we’d add in the spacer, and check for levelness – more so levelness of one tile to the next rather than the actual floor being level, to prevent cracking. There was only one tile in the whole floor that was just higher than all the tiles around it (no idea why) so that one took a little adjusting of adjoining tiles to keep the floor as even as possible. Overall, it went very smoothly and we got the whole floor done in a couple hours:
So the tile is down…what’s next? We’ll remove the spacers and mix up our grout, which is a medium-dark gray color that has grout sealant already in it, saving us that step. We’ll fill all the cracks with that then wipe the tiles down with water and let the grout dry. Next we need to add our baseboards around the rest of the room, and tile our back splash (which seems much less complicated than the floor!) and grout that. Then the toilet and the vanity go back in and this project will be wrapped up.
Other news around the house is that we’re trying to make way with our vegetable garden. There was a little hiccup in this process since we found out our HOA ‘requires’ an official survey to put in an application for any exterior changes. We never got a survey since we have no intentions of building a fence or any structures near our property line, and I’m not eager to pay $300 to get one for this garden application. So, we did our best to download accurate plot plans from the DurhamMaps website and do some measurements to prove the garden will be over 9′ from our property line, so we’re hoping the HOA will grant us permission with this.
But in the meantime, I can show you the plans! We were originally thinking of using landscaping stones to make a raised bed garden, but then we thought proposing a raised bed garden simply made out of wood would seem less “permanent” to the HOA, and perhaps make them more lenient with our application. So I think we’re going to use 6″ cedar planks to make an 8′ or 9′ by 5′ box, with a U shape and a small gate to get into the garden.
I made some simple sketches for the application using graph paper. I forgot how much fun graph paper is. Seriously, when’s the last time you used graph paper??
It’ll go along the side of our garage which gets decent sun, and there is a slight slope there so it’ll be higher on one side than the other. We’re planning to get garden fill dirt delivered – the whole reason for building it raised bed is because our yard is total clay, so getting some nice soil will be important. Keep your fingers crossed that the HOA lets us continue with this since spring is on it’s way and it’ll be time to plant soon!