Sunday, August 18, 2013


I know. What about the beading? Or even knitting or spinning?

Not quite yet, I'm afraid.

So unless you're incredibly lucky, the dimensions of your floor and the size and number of tiles and the width of your grout lines mean that you have to cut some tiles if you intend to cover the entire floor with tiles. (I don't know, perhaps your aesthetic has its own dictates).

And in order to cut tiles, you need a tile saw. And if your tiles are on the larger side (say sixteen inches square), you need a great big heavy tile saw requiring two brawny young men at your favourite big box hardware store to get it into your car. (There were false starts. These guys did not have Amy's getting-things-into-tight-spaces skills. Or even mine).
There's a pump which gets submerged in a bucket of water which is used to keep the rotating blade very wet so that it doesn't overheat as it cuts through the tile. The dusty water falls into the white plastic tray underneath the cutting table, though I think the saw is designed to make you think it's going in there, when really it sprays in a neat line from your nose to your crotch. Awkward!

(I should add that as I was packing and cleaning it up to return - it was a rental - I discovered that the blade hood was raised, which you can see in the picture above. I suspect that if it had been lowered, this may not have been quite such a personally messy business).

Given that I was tiling a rectangular room, and that many of the pieces I was cutting were of similar sizes, I labelled them all, like the grids in those map books you used to buy before Google maps. You know, you'd look for a street in the index, and it would say "Page 5, G17". So my tiles were labeled L6↑ or C1↓ - the arrows pointed towards the garage because (and I learned this on YouTube) each tile has an arrow underneath in case you need to match the patterns. My tiles are slightly random abstract faux-stone patterns, and I got tired of trying to sort-of-alternate them, so eventually I just went with the MRD (manufacturer recommended direction).
 This is a tile just after making the first cut. In the interest of not requiring another two boxes of tiles, I didn't worry too much about direction for the cut pieces. At least half of them were right.

This is my Pile o'Tiles partway through a cutting session which lasted as long as the water in one bucket and two basins (used to refill the bucket).
On the right and front of the picture are the pieces that have been cut (as it turns out to slightly less than perfectly exacting measurements - you try and do better one hundred percent of the time!) At the rear is a piece waiting to be cut, and on the left are, well,  left-overs.
I don't usually do selfies but my outfit was killer, so I thought you'd be interested/amused.

My hair (well, actually, most of me) by this time (I'm about to pack up) is crusted with fine pale terracotta tile dust (most effective hair product ever), I can barely see through the protective eyewear despite the repeated wipings-off, my hands are thoroughly water-logged (the gloves are for protection and padding rather than water-proofing), and my handy dyer's apron sadly could not prevent the water that sprayed on my face from dripping down my neck inside the apron though it did avoid the whole wetting of the pants thing.
The tile saw was pretty amazing actually.

I'd read that you can't cut small amounts because of chipping, but I was even able to shave off less than a quarter inch when I grossly mismeasured. There were a couple of strips with widths less than two inches, so I cut them into small rectangles (randomly, I measured nothing) for cabochons. Too bad the tiles are so neutral. Good for floor, less so for jewellery.
 This is my left-overs pile after I'd cut everything. Not a colossal amount of waste.
 The above and below pictures show the only untiled areas left at the end of the day. Actually I lie. The very edges of the room, except for one long side, have small pieces not yet attached.

I was most worried about the ares around the registers, as the concrete is slightly raised at the openings and I was concerned about stress on the tiles. It turned out that it was easier to cut rectangles than L-shaped pieces, so even though the tiles around the registers may not form overall perfectly flat surfaces, each tile is on a fairly flat piece of concrete (with a thick layer of thin-set underneath). I think it'll be OK.
 If I hadn't hurt my back, I'd have completed them after returning the saw.
This is the tray that supposedly collected the tile spray. what it really collected was the stuff that was too heavy to spray at me on account of having a particularly high concentration of tile dust (hence the respirator in the selfie). In the front corner you can see a large handful of goop, a slurry of tile dust and water that did not drain out and that had to be scraped out. It was a little disgusting, quite frankly.

In spite of the fact that this project has taken me at least twice as long as I'd imagined, and in spite of the fact that I really had no freaking idea of what I was doing (and I knew it!) when I started, and in spite of the fact that I'm not quite done yet, and in spite (or perhaps because) of the fact that I'll probably never do this again EVER, I'm remarkably impressed with myself and overall pretty pleased with the way it's turning out.

I'm ready for something a little less physical though.

1 comment:

Sara said...

Nice job! Looks arduous and dirty, but clearly you managed well.

The cabochons should be interesting/fun/nice to work with? Anyway, looking forward to seeing what they will be.