Tiling a worthwhile project for the winter months

Posted Dec. 11, 2009, at 7:38 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:28 a.m.

As winter slowly starts to grasp us in its chilly hand, I quickly direct my activities to the interior of the house. One project that I have come to enjoy doing is tiling.

About 35 years ago, I met a German tile guy named Klaus. He was a professional tile man who had moved up here from Boston to work for a small tile shop.

One thing led to another, and he happened to start out on his own with a small store, which was right next to a restaurant that I was operating. (Yes, I have a checkered past.)

We were building our first house, based on a great book called “From the Ground Up,” written by John Cole and Charlie Wing. It was a bible for DIY people who wanted to design their own homes in the 1970s. It is probably a little dated now in terms of insulation and heating standards, but the basics are solid and you can find it in the Bangor Public Library. It is an excellent read.

I was not smitten with vinyl flooring. It was something that I could easily gouge when moving appliances, and it did not take too much convincing from Klaus to tile the floors in the kitchen and bathroom in our new house.

If we fast-forward to 2009, there are even more good reasons to install tile.

The first, with a bullet, is the availability and cost of materials. Places like The Home Depot and Lowe’s can bring in tile from faraway places at bargain prices.

They are also a great resource for all the tools and mortar and grout.

I would not even think about tiling today without buying a water-cooled tile saw.

The small saws are so inexpensive that they are worth the cost — just in terms of the loss of mental anguish and frustration.

The box stores have a reasonable variety of tile choices, but you also must check out the smaller tile shops like Klaus had. There are usually several tile stores in any given city with people there who have many years of experience. More important, they have a lot of exotic materials that you might not find at a mass marketer.

And, of course, it is always good to shop quality and cost.

The second reason for tiling is the durability. Tile floors just last. I like to use natural stone or tile that is all the same color through the entire tile. This helps minimize the Goober Effect of my dropping something on a tile and chipping away a surface that exposes a completely different-colored substrate.

I have been there too many times.

The third reason for tiling is to use it in places that are prone to water damage. The kitchen and bathroom are prime locations for tile. Another place that I like to use tile is in front of any door that goes to the outside. These areas can occasionally leak rain and snow inside. They also are going to see wet shoes and boots. Tile, be-ing water-resistant and permeable, will take the wetting and drying without any problem.

Last, after 35 years of tiling, I can usually get a decent-looking job. If I can accomplish a decent tiling job after 35 years of not following directions properly and still finishing the job, imagine what you might accomplish! And there is still time to do this before Christmas. Or, perhaps, giving someone a tile saw for Christmas is the perfect tool to while away those long winter nights.

It is not instant gratification, but it is close.

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