Adventures in tiling: return of the grout*

*Not a return. The first appearance ever. But that doesn’t really work as a sequel title.

After a week of procrastination (I got ‘The girl on the train’ from the library on a seven-day loan. I had to reorganise my priorities), I finally got down to the dirty business of grouting. The big book of DIY told me to mix the grout to a trowelling consistency – this must be a well known consistency as my beginner’s guide to tiling did not feel any need to elaborate on what that might look like. So I guessed. I imagine a bit lumpy and a bit watery is pretty close to what they meant.

Again, I found the tools for the job a bit unwieldy and ended up slapping on the grout by hand. (And then probably clogging up my sink pipe by washing my hands.)  It was surprisingly satisfying to then push the grout around the tiles with the squeegee implement, with small amounts finishing up where it should.  I put on extra just so I could do a bit more of that.

I then regretted the extra squeegeeing, as that meant the next bit was a lot messier. The next bit was removing the excess grout from the tiles so they looked pretty. Initially I didn’t think it would take that long, and made a cup of tea before I started. By the time I had finished, I had got through my entire stock of rag socks and had a lukewarm, extraordinarily strongly-brewed cuppa. But by the time I had finished, I was also mildly proud of my efforts.


This blogpost was brought to you by ‘U can’t touch this’ by MC Hammer.

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Adventures in tiling

I am new to tiling.  A tiler novice.  But as the walls behind the stove was shedding their tiles like a…..I’m sure there’s a dandruff joke in here somewhere, but it’s not forthcoming at the moment.  (Maybe I’ll have one by the end of the post.)  So master tiler was about to be the next addition to my aspirational ‘Jack-of-all-Boat-Trades’ CV.

The big book of DIY gives the impression that ideally your first wall should be easily accessible.  Flat.  No large obstacles in the way.  The big book of DIY was not written on a boat, and I did not have those luxuries.

Fortunately what I did have was a Martin.  I quickly realised that I did not have the tools for the tile-cutting job, and so my almost-uncle was my first call. I didn’t even have to offer biscuits with the cup of tea before he had volunteered to help.  Thank goodness.

The big book of DIY has step-by-step instructions about how to lay tiles, but nothing about removing old ones.  My good friend Google eventually suggested I try a wallpaper steamer to melt the old adhesive to make it easier to chip off.  The new tiles better last because I never want to have to scrape off adhesive ever again.  (But I was potentially overly generous with the new adhesive, so if I have done a mediocre job, I will pay for it with a fortnight of adhesive removal.)

Applying the new adhesive was a messy job.  I gave up on the official scraper pretty early on and just smeared it on by hand.  (Very satisfying if not exactly how the big book of DIY instructs.)  And while I tried to squash the tiles into a level-ish surface on the wall, Martin had the trickier job of cutting the tiles to the right size for the edges.  I had not had the foresight to extra tiles in case of breakages (and I did my best to drop every tile at least twice) so it was just as well Martin did not snap a single one in the wrong place.

So this is now what my fireplace looks like.  (The matchsticks were used to space the tiles as I was too cheap to buy the official plastic spacers.)  Soon these lovely grey slabs are going to be slathered in grout.  That’s right, adventures in tiling has been commissioned for a sequel.  Happy days.

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This blogpost was brought to you by ‘If you could see’ by She Drew The Gun.

OK, back to the dandruff simile…

But as the walls behind the stove was shedding their tiles like dandruff in a Head and Shoulders ‘before’ advert.

But as the walls behind the stove was shedding their tiles like a dry scalp shedding dandruff on a windy day. (Hmm, a questionable one.  OK one more for the road.)

But as the walls behind the stove was shedding their tiles like a cat moulting hair just to annoy me.  (The dandruff thing was running out of steam.)

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it.

Last week I finally admitted toilet tank defeat. Despite not using the pump out loo, the top of the tank was still leaking. Quick-setting putty metal was my latest bright idea to fix this, and as you can see that didn’t work either (maybe this post should have come with a pre-read warning of graphic scenes of sewage?)

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What’s more, when I unscrewed the top off the pump out tube, the tank was overflowing. Despite minimal use. I hand-pumped out some of the contents (as unpleasant as it sounds), and barely got a litre before it appeared the tank was near empty. However, when I looked the next day, there was once again unpleasant fluid leaking out the top.

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So I gave up. I cannot for the life of me work out what is going on with the boat waterworks and so reluctantly started asking round for a reliable marine plumber. (About time, I hear so many of you cry.)

I thought an empty tank would not leak while I was waiting to get it fixed so this morning I went to pump out the tank with the proper equipment (hand pumps really weren’t intended for such dirty work).  It was not without incident.  I thought I had manoeuvred beautifully into the bay next to the big hoover device only to realise it was a little shallower than I had realised and I was about to get stuck.  As I was trying to drag my 12-tonne boat out of the mud, one bloke who had been watching the whole time shouted “careful love, you’ll get stuck in the mud if you moor up there.”  Thank you sir for your timely words of wisdom.  (Though he did then help me extricate Double Fracture from the ground so I could park the other side of the pump out.  And then lend me a hosepipe for the next part of the adventure.)

So I pumped out the tank.   It wasn’t very full.  And then filled it with water to try to flush out any , well best not to go into details really.  The unhelpful-turned-helpful man on the side had listened to my toilet woes and thought it was possible that the pipe that you stick the pump out hoover into might have been blocked – some of them do reach to quite near to the bottom of the tank and so can become easily blocked.  And as I was watching the plastic tube emptying the contents of the tank I saw a black lump shooting out.  It was difficult to identify, but I have a sneaking suspicion it may be a reappearance of the (formally) pink gloves that accidentally got flushed down the toilet a few months ago.

I am once again filled with optimism that I have fixed the toilet.  I’m sure they are wise words indeed from W. C. Fields, but I am going to continue to be a damn fool for a little bit longer.

This blog post was brought to you by ‘Everybody needs somebody to love’ by the Blues Brothers.