Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I Ain't Afraid of No Manual Labor!

Alright, Gina...this one's for you!

A couple years ago, I got so sick of the astroturf (yes, I said ASTROTURF) that someone had long ago laid on our front porch, that I ripped it off. And was left with a giant glue-stained slab of concrete. It wasn't pretty. We needed a new plan. I went to the tile shop and was told that porcelain tiles work just fine on outdoor areas. So I jumped right in. I rented a wet saw, bought the tile, thin-set & grout and was on my way.

This past winter, the corner tile came up...maybe because I've bumped into that corner with the lawnmower countless times. Anyway, you have to wait for a certain type of weather (no rain for 72 hours, temps between 55 & 80) to work with tile, especially if you're an amateur like me. So while I was waiting, the tile next door also popped up. Too many piano students walking on my porch, I guess.

But this past weekend, I finally had the right weather and enough time to do the repair. And if I can lay tile, YOU can too!

The only stumbling block I had was not being able to get the same color grout, because they discontinued it. But it hadn't really dried true to color anyway, due to my husband using way too much water washing the grout off the tiles when I originally laid them. So I picked a grout a couple shades lighter, and I don't think you'd every know that the two corner tiles had to be repaired.

The hardest part about laying tile is mixing the thin-set and the grout. They should be about the consistency of peanut butter. And in order to mix them in large batches, you have to buy this giant beater thing that you hook to a drill (we burnt out 2 drill motors mixing like this, so I don't know what we were doing wrong.) But it's next to impossible to mix large batches by hand. For the repair though (Thank God), I mixed up just a small batch by hand. The whole repair took less than 20 minutes on two consecutive days. (The thin-set has to dry 24 hours before you can grout). The lady at the tile store asked me if I had used the new mortar that is supposed to be better for outdoor areas, but when I bought supplies at her store two years earlier, no one had mentioned it. But if you want to do an outdoor area, you might ask about it. Also, you should use sanded grout (as opposed to un-sanded) for outdoor tiling projects. The wet saw was a little intimidating, but you have to use one for porcelain tile. For ceramic, I guess you can just score it with a utility knife, then knock it in half. But I think the saw made really clean edges, and it wasn't hard to use. So don't be scared to tile. Brain surgery it ain't...but your body will be hurting the next day!

1 comment:

a witt said...

Seriously, Nic, thanks! I think you did a great job! I'm keeping this to consult when we get a house. Someday.