Friday, December 31, 2010


Yesterday was arguably the coldest day of the year. Did we cuddle on the sofa with our Cuddlies and a nice cup of hot chocolate? No. The result of what we did you can see in the picture below.

To be exact, that's actually the result of prior days of work. We started on Sunday, but it was kind of late, so we only got to remove 4 rows of tile, that is 48 tiles. Tuesday we removed a lot more: 140. Yesterday we removed everything else - that means another 184 tiles. As you can see in the picture, some of the tiles were laid on a vinyl sheet floor, which made it a lot easier to remove. There were some tiles that were almost impossible to remove, and instead we had to scrape them off, in a process not unlike carving in stone.
Needless to say, Mark did most of the work, but I also helped as much as I could. We got me a lighter drilling hammer (only 2.5 lb, as opposed to the 4 lb Mark was using) and I managed to remove with it quite a few tiles.
It was a long day of hard work, and it kept us warm. When we finally finished we were completely dusty and all of my muscles were exhausted. Just opening and closing my hand to a fist was painful. My left shoulder was crying for help. But after a good night sleep, all the pain was gone.
We now have a mountain of broken Saltillo tiles in the back yard. We'll see if we can do something with larger pieces - maybe use them as pavers.
We still have to scrape off all the thinset that was not removed completely with the tiles. Some of it is extremely stubborn. Hopefully we can finish that tomorrow, so our floor will be ready for some new tiles.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Why So Quiet?

It's been a long time since I last wrote about our work in the house. This is not because we haven't been working. Though we did slow down quite a bit, we also did accomplish a thing or two.
First, we finished the windows. After installing the windows, we needed to plaster around them, caulk inside and outside, prime and paint the plastered area. So we did that, and with the exception of the bedroom, where we still need to paint (the problem is the paint for the bedroom no longer exists! But we will paint it with a similar paint and pretend it was intended), we finished everything.
Outside, we needed to take care of the garden: remove summer plants and plant winter plants. We planted snow peas and sugar snap peas, spinach, kale, lettuce, artichokes, and maybe a few other things that I can't recall. The peas seem to be doing fine, but we'll see what else grows in the future.
We also bricked the path from the driveway to the house, where there used to be a large, dangerous blob of concrete.
In addition Mark did lots of relatively small projects, such as caulking around the roof to prevent crickets from getting into it, and adjusting the seat of the AC on the roof.
Back inside, we started painting the office, and we still have 1.5 walls left, but that can wait.
We are still in the process of deciding what to do with the floor.
First we decided to get rid of the Saltillo tiles and put something else. Then we realized that it will be a lot of work. So we thought maybe we can clean them. However, an expert tile cleaner came over and said the oil stains will not be removed. Well then, what's the point of cleaning? We decided again to rip them off. It's going to be a lot of work, but I don't think we have any other option at the moment. We have to decide what to put instead of Saltillo. One option was hardwood floor, leaning toward stranded bamboo. The other option is tile. At the moment we are seriously considering tile because it will probably be easier to install and be a lot cheaper. I also think it will befit the house better, because it already has lots of wood, and it's harder to match another one that will go along with the existing wood, without being exactly the same.
Hopefully the process will be done in a few weeks...
Now, about Saltillo tiles. These are non-glazed ceramic tiles that are intentionally uneven and non-leveled. They are supposed to be sealed every 6 months to a year, depending how used the area is, and how good the sealer is. Of course, our tiles were sealed with the worst sealer ever. It doesn't seal at all and is impossible to strip, which is what you're supposed to do if you want to remove the stains. If a peanut falls on the floor - it's stained for life. It is also easily chipped and cracked. Possibly the worst floor option one could ever make. It might look nice in the beginning - as all the visitors to our house indicated - but it's bound to look bad eventually - and eventually doesn't take long to arrive.