Shangri La

Shangri La

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Twister in a Closet: The Tiling Continues

There’s nothing like the prospect of guests to force you to get your house (cabin) in order. Having completed the kitchen tile and a good chunk of the trim, the front tile was nagging at me: If I could get it laid prior to their arrival in late May, we could grout it the day before they arrived and have the place looking less constructiony and more cabiny. It’s futile to be ‘house proud’ while you’re still building, but there you have it. Adding to the ‘work in progress’ ambiance were the mounds of dirt thrown up by the winter plowing that needed to be raked down and re-seeded.

And so it was that I found myself back in Shangri-la solo on a sunny and temperate mid-May Friday for what I thought would be just a few hours of work. You know how that goes.
Pulling in, I was pleased to find that Ivor Stevens – who does our mowing and plowing – had already taken care of the dirt mounts and mowed for the first time. Next winter we’ll minimize the damage by marking the driveway better and limiting how much plowed. We only need space enough for one car, after all – winter guests are unlikely until we either expand the place or build a heated guest cottage.
The tile work, however, was rough. Unlike the kitchen – which was basically a rectangle, required minimal tile cutting (due to careful selection of accents) and had an entry at both ends – the entry space was such that the first tile had to be laid furthest from the walls and closet. This means that I basically had to work from the most accessible location to the least, struggling not to:
  • Move freshly laid tile while standing on them
  • Drop mastic on the same while prepping new sections
  • Contort myself into impossible positions to complete the work in the entry alcove and closet 
Imagine playing twister in a small closet. Sux. And my leg muscles were sore for the next two days as a reminder. And to make matters worse, I realized when nearly done that I had used the wrong trowel for both the entry and the kitchen – laying enough mastic for 6” and smaller tiles rather than 6” – 12”. Big or small oops? We’ll see, I suppose.
In the end, what I thought would be a 3 hour job took almost 6 (“twice as long and 3 times as much”), and I was on the road before 6. Should have stayed overnight and enjoyed a beer and burger at the Saxtons River Inn.
A couple of other quick notes:
  • I remembered to turn on the water properly this time – first the well pump, and then the water heater after the tank was full. I left the water on figuring the freezing was over; I was proved wrong 3 days later, but I suspect 2 nights of 30-degrees between two days in the low 60s won’t prove a problem.
  • The knob on my hose bib turns, but no water comes out – what gives? It’s not like this is a complex piece of machinery. I’ll have to fix it for our guests, as they’ll be using a hose connection for the pop-up we’re renting.
  • In the end I was able to return 4 boxes of tile and recover about $100. I left 1 box of each type in the crawlspace, just in case any of them are damaged in the future.
 Next up: Hardwood floors, guests, food, beer and campfires!

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