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Tile Job Gone Amok

Cepac Hexagon Tile

Have you ever started on a DIY project, thinking it’s going to be a piece of cake, only to have it take you down? Well, that’s hubby and me this week. Although we consider ourselves pro DIY’ers, we often get in over our heads, only to have to eat some humble pie to swim back out. I’m going to share this story with you because hubs is out of town and won’t see this for a few days and I figure if the editor of This Old House can write about his goof-ups on his home renovation, then I can too.

It started quite innocently. We’ve been planning our bathroom renovation for 5 years (okay, I HAVE been planning our renovation for 5 years) and finally decided to get to it before we headed back outdoors to finish our exterior projects that we’ve been working on for the last two summers. So, we looked for and found the “perfect” tile – Cepac‘s pricey hexagon sheets for a mere $15.80 per square foot. If you know me, you know I do not spend a lot of money on any one thing (I love beautiful things but I’m a serious bargain shopper) so this was a hard pill to swallow for me. I guess I should state here that I did manage to finagle a pretty nice discount but only because we have bought our tile at the tile store before and I am “in the business.” Oh, and because no one had ever ordered it before because it’s so expensive.

We ordered our tile, waited a week, then  hubby finally ripped out the antique heart of pine plank floor-don’t worry it will be reused later in this project-laid down a new sub-floor and the heat mat (I am so excited about this!). Now stay with me because here’s where things start to get ugly. My husband is great at many, many things. But, he is not good at mudding sheetrock which as it turns out, is very similar to spreading thin set. The thin set became a several day nightmare, and finally Pete decided to get self-leveling thin set, which he had avoided doing because it is expensive and time consuming for preparation. He gets the new, time consuming thin set all prepared and within an afternoon, we have a beautiful floor, all ready for our tile made of gold. So much for saving time and money with the cheap stuff (I know this but sometimes you have to pick your battles). And now, we have at least a 1/2″ of thin set on the floor, on top of the sub-floor, under the tile – we’ll need a step stool to get into the bathroom!

We’ve laid many, many square feet of tile in our 9 years of renovating houses as well as a very intricate herringbone patterned patio, so we were unprepared for the nightmare that is laying hexagon tile. Thankfully I was downstairs with my boys when I heard the swearing begin. I turned up the TV and ran upstairs to see what was going on. Hubs had laid several sheets of our tricky, custom border when he realized things were out of line. So, I helped him pull it up, and he started over. The boys and I high-tailed it out of the house to get a Paper Jamz guitar.  A few hours later, I return to see the furrowed brow of my beloved and the face of a man who has been beaten down. Turns out he had laid another set of tiles but the mesh had become wet, began disintegrating and was moving around in the thin set so once again, the spacing was off. Again we pulled up the tile-I was assigned “clean the million tiles” job. Did I mention this was my 40th birthday? We decided to clean up and start again the next day. I did get a surprise party later that night so the whole day wasn’t lost!

Sunday. Pete does some research and comes up with a new plan. The tiles go right in; they look lovely; he’s as happy as can be. For the moment.

Monday. Pete does a tile check and discovers that several tiles are coming up off the floor. Of course, none were the ones that will eventually make up our florette pattern-that would be way too easy. He and my 5 year old pull up the loose tiles and my husband is once again a broken man (and Ben tells on Dad for the tiles coming up!).

Tuesday. Hubs goes out of town and there sits the floor, tiles popping up all over the place.

Thursday. I can’t say we’ve solved this problem yet, but as with all of our projects, we will figure it out and it will look amazing. And, we’ll have a good story to tell at our next BBQ!

Have a renovation or remodeling story from hell? Please share it below or head over to my Facebook page and leave it there!

Farmhouse Bathroom Renovation

Farmhouse Bathroom Before Renovation

The farmhouse bathroom renovation was done in stages, to accommodate a tight budget. The mismatched shower/tub surround were replaced first due to a large crack in the tub. The new shower was installed with gorgeous subway tile and farmhouse fixtures. Later, the rest of the bathroom was gutted.  The floor received a heated, black and white hexagon floor, custom-milled beadboard wall treatment, custom made vanity (from the old pine floor boards) with distressed finish and Pietra Cardosa granite with lots of historically appropriate colors and touches.