09 June 2010

never underestimate what a little ingenuity can do

Or maybe not ingenuity, but at least stubbornness.

When we left off, we were doing everything we could to avoid renting a tile saw to lay the floor tiles in our master bathroom renovation. And we were sticking to our guns.

Since the tile cutter itself wasn't doing the job, we decided to try some drastic measures. Our first idea: score the tile with the cutter, but instead of trying to snap it with the cutter, lay in the edge of a table, put a big dictionary on it, and smash off the unneeded piece with a mallet.

The rubber mallet did nothing -- apparently not enough concentrated force -- so we switched weapons.

The mighty hammer

The piece scored, we gave it a whack

Success... a nice clean cut

So piece of cake for the two tiles that needed only minor, straight diagonal cuts. Now we had to figure out the two tiles with more complicated cuts. The first one needed either an arc, or two right angles.

After scoring both lines...

Abject failure

Then came Mark's brilliant idea, the drill.

Our handy cordless drill, fitted with a special masonry bit

Sadly, our porcelain tiles are too tough for even a masonry bit with high torque.

The drill tip just jumped around but didn't cut

I did not capture pics of what came next, since by this time we were a little exasperated. But we figured out that the toilet base would cover up a lot of tile, which gave us a pretty sizable margin of error for the cuts. We just had to be sure that the exposed pieces were whole. We both came up with the idea simultaneously that if we needed approximately a right-angle cut, we could score one of those lines (not both), and give the tile a whack, expecting it to fracture in a larger arc, but hopefully following the rough direction of the score line.

And it totally worked!

After lots of toiling with our cutting experiments, we finally started to lay the floor.

Mark lays it down

We went slowly and worked into the night to make sure that there were no bad transitions between tiles, making the underfoot experience as ideal as possible. Along the way, we realized we were going through thinset at an alarming rate (the cost of making the floor very level, apparently), and had to dash down to Anawalt to get more... our first major cost over-run.

$63 worth of extra thinset... if only we had bought the big $40 bucket from Home Depot in the first place

So several hours later, we had all the tile laid. And best of all, we never even laid eyes on a tile saw!

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