When we bought our house, the den was carpeted a thick, plush, navy blue. But we had one problem with this set up: a side door opened off the den with direct access to the kitchen. Basically, our carpet had its own version of a game trail worn from the door to the steps up into the rest of the house.
Tile it. No big deal. Right?
First (January, 2010) we had to get rid of the current flooring situation. The carpet was easy…we sliced it off in a ‘straight’ line with a utility knife. Underneath we found a layer of vinyl…and it took us weeks to scrape it all up.
A couple hundred blisters later, it was finally time to lay tile. First, we had to do a ‘dry’ run to make sure we had everything measured, cut, and straight. We made (and remade) a grid of chalk lines on the concrete to help keep our tiles square with the walls…and tiptoed our way around the area for weeks trying not to rub away any chalk dust!
Throughout this process, Tim did so much of the research and work! He is amazing. Neither of us had done this type of thing before, so we had everything to learn. My approach tends to be a ‘just do it’ type of tomfoolery where I think I know way more than I really do and can just figure out the rest on the fly. Tim takes a much more thorough, studied view of such things; he spent hours researching the hows and whys of all aspects of tile, adhesive, grout, and procedure. In the long run, his way of doing things produces much, much better results than mine, and I’m so thankful for the way he went about our project! But in the midst of the mess, I would get so impatient with him!!
It’s been a difficult process (that’s not finished) for me to realize that we don’t see eye to eye or work smoothly together in every area. In my head I have a picture of how our marriage should go–and it involves us working together seamlessly, with one mind and heart and destination. The reality is, though, that while there are areas of our marriage that come close to this goal, they are much fewer and farther between than I expected.
Expectations have become one of my main enemies since we got married, because I have discovered how true to my heart Paul speaks when he terms them “selfish ambition and vain conceit”. Our story doesn’t measure up to many of the pictures I paint(ed) for myself of ‘the way things should/will be’–largely because I paint those pictures with very, very self-centered strokes. (Plus, in my expectations, Tim does way more of the ‘coming over’ to my point of view than I do to his…how hard it is for me to admit that my way isn’t the best way!) And then I miss the wonderful things God is doing with the ‘harsh reality’ of our day to day life together, like Him using this tile project to strengthen our marriage…to help us know and understand and love each other better.
After our dry run, we began to actually lay tile. We could usually work for about 2 hours before we either got tired of the tile, each other, or both. I can’t find pictures of the adhesive spreading/tile laying process…I’m not sure if that means I didn’t take any or they’re just hiding from me. Basically, we mixed up about 8 cups of powdered adhesive with the right amount of water (we bought a huge mixing paddle that attached to Tim’s drill) in a 5 gallon bucket. Then Tim would take a special ‘comb’ and spread the adhesive on the concrete in grooves. Then he’d lay the tile and press it down so the adhesive smoothed out underneath. I’d be there with spacers to keep the tiles equal distances apart, and finally Tim would level it off with some light taps of a towel-wrapped hammer head.
Again, we had to mix up a powdered paste…this time of grout. Tim used a rubber ‘sponge’ to spread the grout across the tile into the cracks, and I came along behind with a wet rag to wipe off the excess.
Now we just have to seal the grout before it has a chance to get too dirty! Always something, I tell ya…