Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Last Time I Ever Tile Something. I Mean It This Time.

I know it's been an age and a day since I last posted, but I have some feelings to process, and what better place to do so than the internet?

Never fear, we're not going through any serious family turmoil or anything; no one is dying or even majorly ill.

We are, however, in the process of some semi-major home renovations, which I know many would greet with the feelings appropriate to the situation:  excitement!  anticipation!  gratitude!

Because I am me, however, a decidedly non-Joanna Gaines kind of girl in an HGTV-obsessed country (no offense to the Magnolia empire.  Please don't have me smothered in my sleep with a perfectly on-trend designer pillow.), I am not feeling any of the emotions listed above.  I am instead cranky and teary and overwhelmed and even sending some not-so-loving thoughts to our beloved old house.  (I don't really mean it, House.  It's those Suspicious Previous Owners and their utter lack of regard to bringing ANYTHING up to code in their tenure here.)

It all started, as these things do, with a nasty old shower.  Our nasty old shower.

Because I am also apparently, um, nasty and old (?) I was more than happy to continue on with this shower of ours, as long as I had the thought of a someday-new shower to sustain me.  Emphasis on someday, which is evidently where I prefer our home improvement projects to remain.

Derek, however, is a go-getter, a doer, a today kind of home owner.  This is the kind of person every house deserves, especially a charming old dear such as ours that just needs a thing or two (OR ONE MILLION) done to keep standing well into its second century of life.

This meant a new shower.  Yahoo!  Huzzah!  Hoo-to-the-ray!

I can say with no false modesty that Derek and I are experienced tilers. You may remember that we tiled our kitchen backsplash a few years ago, and prior to that we'd tiled the floors of several rooms in a previous house. This was our first time tiling a shower, however, and that meant all kinds of waterproofing and sealing and fun, fun, fun.

Before any of that could happen, though, we had to tear out the old shower walls.

Do you remember that horror film that came out years ago called What Lies Beneath?  I don't really, either, but those are words that come to mind and I certainly get that horror movie feeling every time we set out to reveal anything that's been covered up in our house.  Hard experience has taught Derek and I that if there was a shortcut to be had, the previous owners of our house took it.  So I knew that when Derek went to rip out those shower walls,
we would not be greeted only by well-preserved, modern drywall.  And lo!  I was right!
We did find other things, though.  Like mold.  And a senseless mix of old insulation and new.
That's warm, cozy, no doubt terrible for the earth modern insulation on the left, and planet-friendly but barely-keeps-our-shower-warm lathe, plaster, and lambswool on the right.  Golly, old houses are fun.  (Okay, so they really are.  I found the lambswool as charming as I did maddening.  No wonder I flinch every time my arm accidentally brushes against the freezing walls of our shower!)

 Let's just take a quick moment and thank God for Derek's constant willingness to learn new things, and for YouTube.  After watching the appropriate instructional videos, Derek has rewired parts of our vehicles, fixed busted pipes in our basement, and now ripped out, rewired, and installed all new everything in our bathroom.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

So:  DensShield went in (oh, you don't know what DensShield is?  Neither did I, a few happy months ago), and then we got to tiling.  Derek cut the tiles in the basement, I did most of the mortaring.  I couldn't very well take a picture of myself doing that, though, and didn't care enough to try and set up a shot of myself doing it, so here's a picture of Derek doing one of the sections he completed, because I know this is terribly important to you:
We went with gray glass subway tile.  You may notice we kept the tub, because it's in good shape and we don't generally replace things unless they're already halfway dead.  The fact that it likely weighs half a ton also factors in here.

We put it in shelf holder thingies, and a tile mosaic.

Then we grouted, which I did take a picture of myself doing,
and then we took a break to go to church and do an Easter egg hunt, because we did all of this Easter weekend!  Jesus is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Time to undertake a home improvement project so you can question His decision not to just forego the cross and relegate us all to the fiery depths because that's starting to sound preferable to spending another minute in this Godforsaken shower!
I think this is the closest we got to family photo this Easter, or as it will no doubt be known in the future:  "2018:  The Lost Easter."

That final sentence in the previous paragraph rather precisely communicates my attitude on the down slope of any DIY project, by the way.  Derek speaks very carefully and gently to me, reminding me that we do still care about this, and that it does matter where this tile goes or how we go about finishing this row.  The Bible is full of verses about finishing strong and not giving up but I think God may have decided to withhold those traits in me because two days in to these kinds of things and all I can say to any question Derek asks me is, "I mean, fine.  Whatever.  I'm sure whatever is fine.  Yep, that looks good.  Or that way.  Any way it gets done is fine because I no longer care about anything."  

Thankfully Derek is good about keeping end goals in mind, or our entire house would be in shambles.  I did get it together long enough to do things like caulking (a duty of which I have since been relieved because it turns out one can be almost comically bad at caulking) and sealing the grout- something I wasn't exactly bad at but certainly wasn't smart about.  All I remember is lying on the floor of the bathroom, ceiling swirling above me as Adelaide reads the instructions on the bottle in a scolding manner:  "Mom, it says right here that you should work in a well-ventilated area, that there MUST be a cross-breeze, that you should be wearing a mask and gloves and to remove contact lenses before use!  DID YOU DO ANY OF THESE THINGS?"  

No.  No, I did not.  In fact, I ducked under the plastic sheeting we had up so that we could still shower but not get the tile wet while it cured for a couple days, so it was just me and my sealant fumes occupying those few inches of space, which is how I ended up dizzy and swaying and pawing my way out of my chemical tent, then laid out flat and in trouble with our then-11 year old.  But the grout is now waterproof!

And look!  We have a grown-up shower!

In the next edition of "Kristy is a Terrible Person to Work With," Derek decides the rest of the bathroom looks like comparative garbage, and something must be done about it!  Kristy wails in anguish!  Do their children even still exist?  Who knows?


  1. Ooooh! Beautiful! You are going to love it every single day. And my admiration for your ability to stay married through a DIY knows no bounds. I do have one question: Is that a small tub or is Derek quite large?

    1. You are very observant, I hadn't noticed how comparatively large he looks there!

      But yes, Derek is quite large. He's 6'5", which isn't monstrously big up here in the Land of the Giants (why is everyone in upper central Iowa so gigantic??), but still quite tall, especially in an old house that wasn't exactly designed with bigger people in mind.

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