Let me preface this post by noting that this incident is what lead me to start this blog. It’s nice to have a place to look back to remind myself of the progress we have made on our house. Especially in the midst of our 6 year long (and counting) DIY renovation. I don’t expect many people will ever find this blog, but if you’re like me and you find yourself frantically searching the internet to find stories of other home-remodel-near-disasters, I hope you find some comfort in knowing you’re not the only one out there!
When this tile nightmare happened during our bathroom renovation I immediately began searching the internet to see if others had this happen, and if so, how they dealt with it. When I found other blogs that told stories of similar situations, it was a comfort to me.
House Tweaking: “Sometimes DIY Sucks”
Old Town Home: “At the End of Our Floor Tiling Ropes”
Smart Girls DIY: “Guest Bathroom 7: DIY Hex Tile Floor”
And so our hex tile nightmare begins…
I knew I wanted a hex tile floor in the bathroom. Before we began the renovation I thought my biggest problem was deciding on matte versus shiny hexagon tile.
I thought about this a lot. I compared samples. I took photos of the samples in different light. I contemplated how slippery one might be vs the other. And then I finally decided: shiny hexagon tile! Problem solved, or so I thought…
After we set the tile and let the cement dry the nightmare began. As I tried to gently remove the cement that had crept up through some of the cracks, the tiles started popping out. One by one, and then entire sections. I went though by hand and checked each and every one. The telltale rattling noise they made when I tapped on them let me know that they were about to pop out. The thin-set mortar that we mixed must have been too dry.
We then had to decide what to do. It wasn’t in the budget to buy all new tile and hire a professional tile installer. We were in the midst of a renovation, we were overwhelmed with everything, especially money, so we chose to fix the tiles ourselves. We mixed more thin-set and I began placing each individual tile by hand. This took hours.
I finished around 4 in the morning, in tears. And my fingers were swollen and bleeding.
I carelessly didn’t wear gloves. The tiles were so small that it was easier to handle them with my bare fingers. I had no idea that tile cement was a caustic substance, and some people (like me!) are highly allergic to it. My hands and fingers were swollen and blistered for days.
The Finished Tile
I notice the imperfection in the hex tile floor every day. We used a dark, gray grout that emphasizes each crooked, little tile. It was impossible to get them all set back into place perfectly. Impossible. But at the end of the day I am ok with this. Because I have to be. Although I consider myself a perfectionist, I also realize that when you take on a DIY project you have to be prepared for some imperfection. And sometimes you just have to let go and make peace with the flaws…and smile even when you don’t want to!
And now on to tiling the shower…
And, you know, more tears…because I hate tiling!