Things I will Never do Twice= Tile a Floor
When I bought my house last year I knew that it needed alot of work and I was ready for the challenge. The house has good bones, it just needs alot of cosmetic repair and updating. I didn't have the money for major renovations, and in this market the value wouldn't hold anyway. So, I have attempted to do several large projects on my own and with alot of help from friends. The results have been extremely satisfying for the most part, but the means to the end has left alot to be desired.
Today, I am referring to tiling my kitchen floor. I have a great friend named Valerie who knows how to lay tile and has alot of experience doing it in a home of hers that she later sold. I had watched it done on HGTV lots of times and thought that with her help, we could get the job done. The floor in my kitchen slash dining area was a horrible mess of mismatched and torn, multi-layered linoleum. Once it was all ripped up, we had discovered three layers of linoleum in one area, and four layers of linoleum plus a layer of particle board in another area. The two areas were "joined" in the middle of a high traffic walkway by a strip of wood meant to tack the two sections together. It was awful, and ugly, and I couldn't wait to get started.
I went and bought all the tile at a nearby home store. I chose a tile that was only .99 a sq. ft., and picked a few accent tiles to make a design in the middle of the dining room. I bought the grout and cement-board and other supplies and loaded it into my Expedition. As we were loading, a pigeon added his two cents by sending down a gift of poop from the rafters of the loading area right onto the tile I was holding. My little son and I laughed so hard that I almost dropped the heavy tiles! Over the next few days, which became weeks, my friend Valerie and I got off to a great start. She had showed me how to cut and lay the cement-board. She showed me how to spread the underlayment, space them properly, and go fast enough so that it wouldn't dry before we got to the next spot. We were going along great, but my body was starting to really hurt. Crawling around on my knees, bent over, swinging my arms was really tough. I began to wonder if we would ever finish.
In the kitchen area, I discovered the reason why someone had previously laid the particle board under the last layer of linoleum. The floor was uneven and had a hump and a dip. I had to stop the project and figure out how to use a floor leveling paste to fix it. We started up again a few days later laying the rest of the tile. She was cutting, I was mudding. We had a good little swing of things going, till I broke a tile by accident. I figured we had enough left so it would be okay and I set the tile on the counter near where I was working without realizing that I left the edge of it sticking off the counter. Unfortunately a few minutes later I stood up too close to the tile I had broken and it sliced my upper arm wide open like a knife through butter. The wound was about three inches long and instantly blood was streaming down my arm. I started to grunt in frustration when I felt the first sting of pain, but the grunt turned into a scream when I looked at it and saw all the blood. My kids ran in and started panicking. I'm yelling at them that I need a towel to sop up the blood and put over the wound. I couldn't put my hand over it cause it was covered in tile cement. My friend had been outside cutting tile with the saw and came running in when she heard the commotion. She helped me clean up the wound in the bathroom and we could see that it was going to need stitches. I didn't want to stop and go to the hospital, so she offered to run to the drug store and get some Steri-sitches. She got back quickly and used the specialized tape strips to button me up, good as new. Man, what a night. We actually went back to work, and finished what we could for the night before leaving the rest to finish another day.
When we finally finished the floor about a week later, I was already swearing off any and all other tiling jobs that I had been imagining I would tackle before my virgin tiling experience. My arm healed in about 2 weeks and left a scar about one and a half inches long. But my back and my rib cage were all out of alignment from the physical exertion of the job and I was in alot of constant pain. Another friend recommended her chiropractor to me and I started going right away. Apparently I have loose cartilage though and the adjustments wouldn't hold very long. It took almost six months of weekly adjustments to get my ribs to stay in place again. I am very proud of my floor because my friend and I did it all ourselves and I added my own blood, sweat and tears, literally. If I had had a contractor do it I would be disappointed because it doesn't quite look professional, but my friend and I did our best, we worked hard and it looks ten times better than it did before so I am pleased. Mission accomplished!