plump snakelike rolls
Saturday, December 13 2003
Since the kitchen is my first real tiling project, there are all sorts of things I've had to learn as I've done it. I'd read as much as I could, but when it comes to hand-on exercises, there's no substitute for familiarity with materials. Already I'd found my lack of experience with thinset to be a major handicap.
This morning I edited various mistakes in the tiling I'd done yesterday. Most of these edits involved replacing undersized tiles with larger substitutes. In some places I'd thought I could get by using slivers remaining from other cuts when in fact I'd really needed to cut larger pieces from virgin tiles. These were things that couldn't really have been known at the time of tiling, when thinset was spread and time was of the essence. While I was editing yesterday's tile array, I also redid on of the tiles out in the middle of the floor after noticing one of its corners was sticking up just a little too high. Though the tiles all seemed to sit firmly in place after a day of underlayment curing, they could still be easily pried up, revealing thinset that was still soft and moist.
Gretchen drove down to New York City this afternoon, leaving me to continue kitchen floor work on my own. Part of the reason I had begun when I did was so I could do much of the project while she was away, since she is the kitchen's main user. (The only things I use in it when I'm by myself is the toaster oven and the microwave.)
This evening I commenced work on the grout, which (like everything else tile-related) proved harder than expected. At first I couldn't figure out how to effectively squeegee the surplus grout off the grouted tile with the imperfect tool I was using (a six-inch metal spackle knife instead of a special rubber grouting knife), so when I went to sponge away the excess, the floor turned into a mud bog. Later I figured out that the grout turned rubbery if allowed to set for ten minutes, coming up easily in plump snakelike rolls when scraped (similar to the way your dead skin behaves when you're hot and sweaty and you rub it back and forth excessively with the palm of your hand).
Somehow I'd miscalculated the amount of grout I would need, and I ran out when the grouting was about three-fourths complete.
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