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Apr 04

Great Room: Redoing the Entry Way

Tile in PlaceKaren and I have been slowly making our great room great.  For a little over a year we have had half of it done, but along came our first child and progress had slowed to a halt.  About two months ago we got back to work on it because before too long our little baby girl will be zooming all over the place and we wanted to make it as safe as we could for her.  We textured and painting the walls and put in new lighting, but it was the floors that really needed to be done. When redoing the entry way our first step was to remove the old porcelain tile that was in the entry way.  It was not a large area so I thought it would be a simple quick project, but like many times previously those words have been proven a false hope.Old TileAs I was removing the tile large chunks of what I thought were concrete was coming up with it.  My first thought was, “great now I will have to level another floor again,” but as I investigated I realized it was thinset.  My second thought was why in this world is there this much thinset in the front doorway.  It must be at least three inches thick.  When I finally got it removed I found out that the cement slab the rest of the house is on is on a different level than the one in front of the door.  The entry way at least the 4 by 4 feet square in front of our front door matches our front porch in height.  We did not want to use that much thinset when laying the travertine so I built that small area up with some level quick self-leveling underlayment.Taking out the TileOnce the underlayment was down I removed the threshold and measured the total space to figure out how we were going to lay our tile.  Karen and I discussed how we were going to design our tile placement which she sketched onto a piece a paper did the math and then it was time to cut the travertine.  After getting all the pieces cut, we did a dry run laying the tile into place making sure everything was going to fit just like we wanted and we were ready to go, or so we thought.DryfittingAfter mixing up the thinset our precious little girl M thought it was time to join in on the fun by insisting that she was over there by us.  Of course, how does a then 8 and half month old baby do that, by the only way they know how, crying.  So Karen picked her up and carried over and we thought no big deal Karen will hold her while I put the tile down should be a piece of cake.  I got my thinset ready and back buttered the first piece and laid it into place, but it just would not get level.  I pulled it off and looked at what was going on when to my horror I piece of the foundation next to the wall was jagged and sticking up.  Originally I thought the tile would just go to the right of it, but when we measured we made the tiles fit within a quarter inch to the wall not the half inch I thought it would be.  If I did not remove the jagged concrete the baseboards and tile would not match up like we wanted and it would just be a mess.  So now I am getting angry with myself for the error, Karen is holding our baby girl and every time she would set her down M would start crying again.  We wanted to give up right then and there but we persevered with some big help.Laying the TileIt has been a blessing for us to live close to Karen’s parents and that day luck was with us that her mom was not busy, because normally, even though they are retired, they are very busy people.  Karen gave her mom a call and she graciously came over to help us out.  While waiting for Karen’s mom to come over I scrapped up the thinset that was on the floor and off the tile went to get a hammer and chisel to take out the old jagged piece of concrete that was sticking out.  It came out relatively easy and I cleaned up the mess.  When Karen’s mom arrived she held M while Karen and I worked on putting the tile into place.  It did not take long because it was only a dozen pieces, but having the extra set of hands sure saved the day.   Being the third time that we have laid tile it was not as hectic or hard as the first, but each time we do it sure makes me never want to do it again.  When it was finished we were extremely happy with how it turned out even though we wish the process would have gone a lot smoother.

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