tile project ................. 0 2 / 2 4 / 2 0 0 2

So, after a year of ignoring the obvious, I finally did something about my bathroom. My bathroom, that is, the three-quarters bath that periodically suffers from mildew attacks I have to bleach out with, well, bleach. The same one in whose wall I knocked a hole in the drywall back in, oh, December 2000, and immediately repaired -- and stopped. (Oh, as to why it's my bathroom: in the name of Domestic Tranquility, Helen has her own bath, which prevents international diplomatic events over toothbrush location, over-vs-under loading of toilet paper, &c.) You see, the real problem with fixing the hole was it initiated a chaos theory nightmare of flapping butterfly wings that launched a medium-sized remodel of the bathroom. Once I patched the hole (conveniently hidden most of the time under the towel rack, so it's inconspicuous unless you move the towel), I then had to repaint. But repainting just that one spot would have no way been acceptable -- the paint elsewhere was showing its age and demanded a fresh coat, too. And repainting the room would have meant removing the old gypsum board above the shower that the idiot contractor installed instead of greenwall or Wonderboard -- which was duly crumbling in place and would have been unpaintable.

So, yeah, it was a Project. And like all Projects, it deserved proper attention -- which I did not give it for another year. (Those of you who know how Helen and I met and fell in love will find certain, um, similarities here.)

Meantime, more paint peels off the walls, so much so that if you looked at the ceiling from the floor just the right way, you can see Jesus' face in the old paint. (Or maybe it's a mid-ranking member of the Gambino family, I forget.) And the drywall rot over the shower kept a-gettin' rottier. So faced with the inevitability of either fixing the bathroom or waiting for the inevitable collapse of the outer load-bearing wall from water damage, I called in Dad, who knows how to do many things householdly, and some of them well, even. Now, Dad's talents are unevenly distributed. Dad has had his struggles against the mechanical in his lifetime; I recall his cursing at the brake pads of our '69 Ford XL, which he did manage to install correctly, or if not, we never found out by playing a game of full-contact-Ford-football with a telephone pole at 40 mph. Like Dad, I frequently find myself with "extra" pieces at the end of a reassembly of something-or-other, which we both find disconcerting. (Hint: I no longer fix my own brakes.) But, I digress. Most home repair tasks he can handle. So when I told him I needed a little help with "the bathroom", as this opera unimaginitively came to be known, I just penciled it in for this weekend past.

So -- Saturday I had most of the fixtures off the walls, and we proceeded to rip out the old drywall, and install the Wonderboard, the latter a comedy of erroneous measurement, screwed up screw locations (gee, how about if we mark the location of the studs before we try drilling into them?), and forgetting of basic measurement principles (it's not gonna fit in the wall if you can't get it over the shower first -- unless you wanna disassemble the shower).

Then, the trip to Lowe's for actual tiles. Oh, yeah, I wasn't going to put up with any second-rate greenboard -- this time it's ceramic tile on Wonderboard. Nothing and nobody's going to get any water under that seal, and even if it does leak, you can't rot Portland cement. Well: you might think a home improvement store like Lowe's would actually have a paltry number of tiles, especially something as pedestrian as white tiles, for a job like this. I mean, we're only covering the area immediately above the shower, which is no more then fifteen square feet or so. You might think that, but you would be as mistaken as that guy who wrote the headline "Dewey Defeats Truman". For some reason, they were utterly out, and so I was stuck going to the tile store down the street. Back home now, hauling thirty pounds of regular tiles and things called "bullnose" tiles for the ends, and up goes the thinset, the mortar-like stuff that holds the tile to the Wonderboard, and about a hundred plastic spacers to keep everything nice and rectilinear. And today, grout, grout, glorious grout. So, damn, I say, stepping back from my newly finished handiwork, it looks pretty decent.

So now Helen wants her bathroom done in tile, too.

There is no such thing as a win in home improvement. There are only tactical victories.

(By the way, honey, I love you!)

more gruntles rlm@scareduck.com
Last modified: Sun Feb 24 21:49:50 PST 2002