Saturday
Jan012011

Week 4 - a lesson in how not to do things...

I'm now halfway through week 4. I've done three weekends in a row whilst working full-time in the week. The commute is a total killer. On the up-side I've started on kitchens.

I'm guessing that at this point our syllabus says we should be encouraged to be autonomous. So in the spirit of letting us get on with it, we were handed (metaphorically speaking) a kitchen, some tiles and told to brick-bond a splashback. Then we were left alone to get on with it. It wasn't until I was half-way up the wall that I realised things were going pretty badly. It seems the 'rules' (I use this word in the loosest sense) for tiling kitchens are a bit different to those of tiling a bathroom. It seems the proper way to do it is to ensure there are no cuts to the work surfaces, whereas in a bathroom you put cuts along the bath. When you think about it, this makes total sense and if I'd actually stopped to think about it a bit longer I may have got the answer before making the mistakes I did this weekend. So that was my first mistake. My second mistake was that I totally miscalculated how high to do the splashback and in doing that, had to make really tiny cuts to fit under the cabinets. HORRIBLE, I will never, ever do this again. So, anyone reading this blog and looking at my kitchen photos, this is a lesson in how not to do it so don't worry, your kitchen won't look like this!

So for future reference a full tile to the kitchen surface (they're usually pretty level apparently, unlike a bath) and best to calculate the layout before starting in on tiling it all. Some hard lessons that I found extremely difficult (being the perfectionist I am).

In addition I'm being encouraged to be a bit faster. This entails not using spacers, much better and I prefer this, not putting my trowel down between each tile and generally being a bit less scared of it all. Again, hard lessons.

In the end though, I'd rather have a reputation of being slowish and accurate than a reputation of being fast and shoddy. Maybe one day, once I've had a lot more practice, I'll be able to tile an entire kitchen splashback in a day but I get the feeling that might take me a while...

Saturday
Jan012011

Pre-tiling course thoughts

I start my tiling course on Monday 19th July. I'm nervous. Will it be really difficult? Will I get there on time? What will the other people on the course be like? Will there be any other girls? This isn't helpful to me so in an effort to still the voices I printed out a train timetable, decided that it doesn't matter if I don't like anyone else on the course and if they're all blokes I'll give as good as I get. (The voices are still there though).

My life coach, Inga, says that that I'll be a brilliant tiler. We'll have to wait and see!

Saturday
Jan012011

More pre-course thoughts...

One more day of work to go. Then the weekend. Then a very early start to get to the tiling centre on Monday next week.

I'm a bit less worried about it all today and bit more realistic (or maybe fatalistic, I'm not sure). The course is paid for and I've decided to enjoy the experience rather than worrying about it endlessly. And, frankly, I've done scarier things than this in my life. It's only a course! I've lived in Slovakia, Poland and Singapore. I've scuba-dived, climbed, been to China, Laos, Australia, Thailand, Malaysia, taught literally thousands of students and passed my degree.

Learning to tile a wall really isn't all that scary compared to any of that!

So, I've got some perspective, I'm going to give it a shot and best of all, I'm going to enjoy it.

Saturday
Jan012011

End of week 3

Well, I'm officially half way through my tiling course now. Only 3 weeks to go or fifteen more days. I've learned a lot over the last 4-5 days in relation to floor tiling patterns. I started out with straight tiling, moved onto brick bond and diamonds and finished with tacos (if that's how it's spelt?) last weekend.

I much preferred floor tiling to wall tiling, I find it really satisfying and quite fun laying out the patterns on the floor, you can 'see' it more easily than when you're working on walls. I learned how to cut around the shapes of the base of the toilet and the base of the sink. You cut piano keys on the wet cutter first, knock them all out (I like this bit) and then use the nippers to refine the shape. You have to keep trying it out against the curve to see if it fits and this can be a bit laborious especially as I'm so careful and pretty slow. I finally laid the tacos yesterday with adhesive and then grouted it over. In the end it looked really great and I'm quite proud of my achievement.

The only drawback with floor tiling is aching knees, I've invested in a decent pair of workwear trousers (see my links pages for where to get women's workwear) which have knee pad spaces in them. Wearing knee pads or using a kneeling pad is absolutely essential when doing floors, otherwise you'll be in agony after about 2 hours. I've also invested in a pair of decent shoes, my trainers have started to disintegrate, I think the grout eats away at the plastic or something but they've got proper holes in them now. Again see my links pages for steel toecap trainers in smaller sizes for women. They're actually quite funky and don't look to heavy duty.

My tutor, Paul, was telling me that there's another girl on the course too, she's also doing the 6-week course but I haven't met her as she's doing it during week days rather than weekends but her kitchen looks really fantastic. It's kind of nice to know I'm not the only girl doing this. My tutor is excellent, really knowledgable, patient and has a sense of humour when I'm being stupid about something (quite often).

Next week is week 4 and I'll be practising wall tiling around the bath again, I think I'm going to try beading and tiling the entire wall. I'm looking forward to it.

Saturday
Jan012011

Liking the floor tiling

Well, it was a busy Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday I did a straight cut tiling job on the floor in my little bathroom. That included learning how to use a special tool to mark out around the pedastal. I worked on perfecting the use of the nippers on my floor tiles and now I know how to use the nippers, I find it easy.

On Sunday I did brick style on the floor which I took some photos of and I'll post in the gallery. I found it pretty easy and enjoyed the way the tiles looked in the brick style. Then on sunday afternoon I started the dreaded diamonds again. I thought it would be easier on the floor. It makes absolutely no difference at all. It's really difficult, time consuming and a nightmare. I'm still not confident about doing this pattern so I really need to work on perfecting this and working faster. I'm going to try harder on this probably next weekend.

Another breakthrough came when my tutor told me that the scary wet saw wouldn't chop my fingers off if I did happen to get them caught in it. Apparently it 'chews' rather than cuts through tiles which means if it encounters something soft it can't cut it. So, although it would probably break the skin and give me a nasty burn it wouldn't actually chop my fingers off (as I was imagining). This new information has made the world of difference to me! I'm not frightened of it at all now.

I haven't fixed any tiles down yet, I'm working on learning how to do things like cut around the pedastal and making accurate cuts on the edges. Next weekend, I think I'll have to stick down and grout two patterns (have a feeling one of them will be diamonds).