I seriously considered not writing this post. But it would have been dishonest. For me, this blog is all about sharing my ideas, passions and home with the hope that they will inspire others. It’s never my intention to show perfection or a glossed over view of DIY and renovating. (Although, I’ll be the first to admit to loving good eye candy.) It’s easy to leave out the bad stuff online but in real life it’s impossible. We’re human. We make mistakes. It happens.
And it happened to us this weekend.
I picked up the noir hex tile for the bathroom floor last week and the plan was to lay it this past Saturday. An early morning phone call on Saturday skewed our plans. A family member was in the hospital (it turned out to be nothing serious, thank goodness) and our help was needed. Persons we love in the hospital trump DIY projects so Saturday was shot.
No big deal. Steve said he would lay it Sunday afternoon while I tended to the kids.
On Sunday, I helped Steve measure and snap a chalk line on the floor to get things started then I stepped aside to keep an eye on the kids since no one was volunteering to babysit. (Where are all the volunteer babysitters when you need them?!) When I checked in on him later, things were looking good. He was two rows in from the longest wall and working his way around the plumbing fixtures for the tub.
I took a few progress shots then Steve said, “Now’s not a good time.”
Oops. He was on the verge of pissed and I could tell. Everything seemed par for the course from my viewpoint. The tile reminded me of scaly reptilian skin and I loved it. But Steve said the tile mats weren’t lining up well. He was doing a lot of eyeballing, using spacers occasionally and removing individual “trouble” tiles and placing them by hand when necessary.
Now I should mention this wasn’t our first tiling rodeo. We’ve tiled several floors and walls over the course of 10+ years of homeownership. I should also mention that Steve is an engineer and a bit of a perfectionist. He would rather not do something at all than do it half-assed. What he considers mediocre work is probably more like meticulous to others. In this way, he is so much like my dad it isn’t funny. You know that line about women marrying their fathers? There might be some truth to it.
A while later I was making dinner when Steve started unloading buckets of tile in the front yard. Loud scraping noises were coming from the bathroom. I knew something was up and I knew it was bad. I also knew that asking questions wasn’t going to make anything better so I waited until there was a break from the scraping before I peeked into the bathroom.
Five hours into laying the floor tile, this was our progress. One step forward. Two steps back. As I had guessed (I wanted to be sooooo wrong), Steve had pulled up all the tile and was scraping away the thin-set.
In response to my meek “what happened?” he replied, “I failed.”
I left it at that while he went outside to scrub and salvage the used tiles covered in thin-set. Later on when he was able to talk about the incident, I learned that something went awry in the third row of tiling and the 12″ x 12″ tile mats weren’t matching up properly. I never actually saw the third row so I have no idea if it was really that bad or just Steve’s version of bad. (Two very different definitions of bad, btw.)
At any rate, we were back to square one. I asked if I could help him work on it after the kids were in bed for the night and Steve pointedly stated, “I’m not stepping foot back in there today.” Um, okay. Me neither then.
For the rest of the night, Steve was so down. He was mad at himself more than anything. I reminded him it was just a bathroom we haven’t used for two years anyway but, I have to admit, I was a little disappointed, too. Not in him, but I had anticipated sharing a tiled bathroom floor on the blog Monday and that clearly wasn’t happening.
Feeling defeated (I know because he said it more than once), Steve called up our contractor friend – who’s just as meticulous as Steve – to ask for guidance. He was *sort of* happy to hear that something similar had happened to our pro friend. (Just to be clear, that’s pro as in professional contractor not as in professional friend.) And he was more than happy when our friend offered his hands-on help for this upcoming weekend.
So, yeah, many projects don’t go the way we plan – even projects we’ve done before. Like this one. Sometimes DIY sucks. But for some strange reason we keep coming back. We went to bed last night feeling like we wasted an entire day of our lives. I can think of a hundred other things we could have done yesterday that would have been way more fun than un-tiling a bathroom floor. Scraping my fingernails across a chalkboard comes to mind.
Have you experienced any failed projects that took the wind out of your DIY sails and left you feeling completely defeated? How did things shake out? Luckily, we were able to salvage the tile so we’re hopeful we can forge ahead with the help of our friend. But until next weekend, we’re shunning the bathroom and putting it in timeout. It probably won’t even notice. It’s been in a perpetual state of timeout for the last two years anyway. Grrrrrr…
P.S. – WOW!! You guys are really into laundry hampers! I wish I had accidentally received 2,000 of them to give away. Haha. Click here to see who won the one extra hamper I do have.
images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking