And then we tried again.
I'm kidding. Sort of.
Some of those are just scraps from really great score-and-snap cuts, but several of them are from failed attempts at something more than we could handle. So we rented a wet saw. Have you ever seen one of these contraptions? Just the name "wet saw" seems like a bad idea, doesn't it? And the directions from the gentleman who helped us with the rental: "Just pour water in here and plug it in ..." gave me the heebie jeebies. It's a good thing I've watched so many episodes of This Old House so I knew the basics of how the thing worked.
And it worked splendidly, by the way.
Especially for thin little pieces like this:
It has been an interesting few days around here. We - myself and Sue, my partner in crime - have tiled about 300 square feet of floor space (resulting in both of us feeling like we've been hit by a semi) and the process has taught us many things which must be retained if we are to ever take on another home improvement project.
Um. I keep typing "we" like Sue lives here, but she doesn't. She does help me a lot while Steve is traveling, though, and after this latest project I have to keep telling her what a gem she is or she'll never ever help me again.
No seriously, she's awesome. I adore her.
Fortunately for me, she's quite adventurous when it comes to the DIY home improvement stuff.
Here are a few valuable lessons we learned this week, in no particular order:
- Buy more supplies than you think you could ever possibly need. The hardware store will allow you to return any unopened containers. I measured the space a bazillion times. I was sure three buckets of pre-mixed mortar would be enough to cover it, so I bought four just for good measure. We ended up using all four buckets and then had to mix up more from some leftover powdered mix I (thank God) happened to have for the last seven or eight tiles. That was a close one.
- Be prepared with all the tools the books tell you you might need. Don't go all "what the heck would we need that for?" Just trust me on this. And those workshops they offer at Home Depot? Attend them. Seriously. We did, and the hands-on experience was invaluable.
- Eat a good breakfast before you start, and have plenty of caffeine of some sort handy, and water to keep you hydrated.
- Also keep handy your favorite pain meds. Take some before you start. Take another dose as soon as you can. Lather, rinse, repeat. Unless you are a triathlete or do some sort of physical labor for your regular job you'll want to trust me on this one, too.
- Have a plan for the kids and animals. My kids are old enough to make something for themselves for dinner while I was busy, but not quite old enough to be truly helpful with laying tile. Since our house has an open floor plan and the tile couldn't be walked on right away, I put the kids to work creating barricades to keep the dog out of that room. They had fun with it and did a great job. (Speaking of the dog ... last night when I opened the front door to take some tiles outside to cut with the wet saw, Ladybug shimmied right past me out the door, bolted out into the woods behind the house and didn't come back all night. She finally showed up this morning around 10:45. *sigh* I may be asking Sue to help me install a fence in the back yard next.) Oh, and on the subject of animals, cats don't like wet mortar on their paws. FYI.
- Perfection isn't necessary. Strive for "95 percent of people won't notice this imperfection and I don't care about the other 5 percent." If I had sought perfection on this particular job I a) wouldn't have done it myself, and b) would have been thoroughly disappointed. As far as I'm concerned this floor looks great. Is it perfect? No way. But it has character, and I can certainly appreciate that.
- Pick the right person or people to help. Friends who can take some ribbing and who can be encouraging even after you royally screw something up are important. We had a huge job to accomplish, but Sue and I had fun along the way and I will forever be grateful for the help. And we're still friends, so we must have done something right!
Then I'll wait a few days before I ask her about helping with that backyard fence.
In the meantime, my least favorite part of home improvement projects: cleanup. Ack.