Sunday, January 08, 2012

My Very First Tile Cuts

I have been talking about tile and thinking about tile for quite a while now. I obsess a little. I've been waking up in the middle of the night with new problems to solve or solutions to ones I thought of in the middle of other nights.

But this weekend, I decided it was time for some action. I've never tiled before so the first step was to get a familiar with the tile saw Troy bought. On Friday night I boldly told Troy that I was going to cut some tile on Saturday if it was the last thing I did.

And I did!
I cut a few of the Mexican tiles and I cut some of the cove tiles down so the whole thing would be the right height to fit. I just did a few to try the pattern out, and Troy and I decided it was going to look fine.

I stopped cutting tile because I had some trouble with the tiles chipping at the end of the cut. Troy "fixed" the saw Saturday night so I could cut a little on the back side first, and that stopped the chipping. Yeah, Troy!

I also unpacked all the Mexican tile and did some sorting. These will go in my kitchen:
These will be saved for later:
I will work the blue and white ones (bottom row) into a bathroom. I think blue and white tiles are neutral enough you can match them with most anything.

The tile saw is very, very messy.
I set it up in the appliance room. (Ok, I had one quick trial run in the kitchen where it was warm, but I quickly realized that that was not going to fly.)

Not only is the tile saw a mess, but I am a mess too:
All that red on my sweater? That is splash from the blade. Red from the terra cotta Mexican tiles. Troy insisted on the mask so I wouldn't breath in lead dust, but somehow it didn't keep me from grinding stone bits in my teeth later! When I complained of it to Troy, he said it was ok to eat, just not to breath it. That wasn't really the response I was looking for....

After cutting, I sanded all the edges to take the sharpest bits off, and being me, couldn't help but sort them again:
Mostly blue on the left side, greens towards the right. I got to do this part while watching the NFL playoffs and in front of the wood stove where it was warmest. That's my type of work environment.

Once I had the pieces cut, I tried a layout on the counter:
The uncut square tile is sitting on top of the others, just to see if I wanted to add that detail.
Here I let it sit til Troy had a look and he confirmed my opinion that we did want the square tiles. And I thought that might be as far as I got today because I was tired and hungry and didn't think I'd be able to get myself to do more.

But after two dinners of my favourite comfort foods (first, two pieces of toast, one with peanut butter, the other with cheese; and then popcorn) and some overtime NFL playoff action, I decided I was going to try to do the cut outs for the square tiles. This was at 9:00 at night and just when the Downton Abby Series II was starting, so I hope you can see how serious I was about getting this done!

I made my lines and cut my cut outs, one section at a time and had it done in about an hour. This is me after staring down a saw blade to make sure I was cutting on the line:
Yes my hair is wet through the rag, and can you tell I sight with just one eye?! Anyway, it all washes off. I just had to do it several times to make sure I could see what I was doing.

After the hour, I had a true mock up of the back splash on my counter top:

Now that all the planning is done and pieces are figured out, this will be easy to put up, right?

I didn't really think I would get this all done this weekend, but my initial decision to just cut a tile led to the rest. (Of course, having Troy to help me over the rough spots helps a lot too.) In this house we talk often about fooling yourself into getting things done by not looking at the whole job but just telling yourself that you'll do only the first step, or just start, or just do 20 minutes. But by the time you do that, you either realize you want to keep going or that you're practically done already. It's a good trick on yourself. And if it doesn't work, at least you've gotten a start. Win, win.

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