Fixer F’Upper

Fixer F’Upper

When I was in the height of my artistic days, people would often look at whatever piece I was working on and exclaim.

“Wow! I can’t even draw a straight line!”

“I can’t either,” I would answer them.

Remember this – it’s important later.

Part of the reason I bought my house is because it has really good bones. It’s been well maintained with a nice layout, and I thought I could do a lot of “little” things to improve the overall aesthetic for an eventual resale. It’s not that I specifically bought a Fixer Upper, but I did buy a house with the long term plan to improve it and hopefully pocket some money in the future.

As I moved into the house, I started seeing “projects” everywhere I looked. Some I knew better than to tackle immediately, like painting my kitchen cabinets or arbitrarily knocking down walls. Other things demanded to be done promptly, like painting.

Painting... fixing people's poor decisions easily
Painting… fixing people’s poor decisions easily

Here’s the thing about painting – with $30 and a few hours, you can completely transform a room. That kind of power is intoxicating. Add the high you get from painting (not counting the fumes, although they certainly do contribute) with the plethora of HGTV shows like “Fixer Upper” and suddenly you’ve convinced yourself that you’re basically a general contractor and can do anything.

So that’s how I found myself wandering down the tile aisle at Home Depot.

First off, the next time I say to anyone, “Yeah so I’m thinking about re-doing the flooring this weekend,” please stick me in an Uber and send me home. Not Home Depot, but home home. I’m obviously drunk and need to sleep off my bad decision making.

Second off, have you ever watched Fixer Upper? What does Joanne do? She doesn’t do shit. She picks out pretty accessories and has fucking amazing hair. I’m great at picking out accessories and I have above average hair. Know what I’m not great at? Flooring.

None of this mattered as I stared up the wall of tile options at Home Depot.

Peel and stick tile? Like stickers! I love stickers! I put two boxes in my cart.

Back in my laundry room, I sat cross legged on my fugly linoleum and primed the floor for its future greatness. I scrubbed the priming liquid on with a dry sponge I found in the back of my car, and waited approximately half the time the instructions suggested before wiping up the excess with a kitchen rag.

Not being one to slouch with my research, I watched two YouTube videos before starting to apply the actual tile. They both suggested to measure out, draw lines on your flooring and start in the middle of your room. Beyond that, the instruction was simply “put down tile”. I’ve never been one for measuring or lines, but I started in the center of my laundry room, peeled off the paper backing and plopped a tile down.

Great! My amazing redo is off to a great start. I leaned on the tile I just placed, and it slides across the floor.

So much for peel and stick.

To fix this, I go back to Home Depot and get adhesive. I slap thick, toxic adhesive on my tiles and re-plop them back down on the floor. There! Problem solved. Feeling accomplished, I went to bed to sleep off the 12-24 hour adhesive setting time. The next morning, I trotted to my laundry room to step on my ironclad vinyl tiles and they slipped right out under my feet. After pulling up one of the squares, I found the adhesive was just as wet as when I first put it down.

I cursed. I pouted. I read the instructions. Turns out, you have to let the adhesive dry and become tacky before sticking down your tile.

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After flipping all my tiles up so they could dry, I had the center ones officially set the next day. At this point, I had all the full sized tiles glued down in the center of the room but still needed to cut the edges to flush out all the sides.

Remember that thing I said about not being able to draw a straight line?

Turns out I had multiple factors working against me in the tile cutting step. I hate measuring. Straight lines aren’t really my thing, and my house also is crooked in almost every way. More than once I would sit there fussing with a tile for twenty minutes cutting again and again to take slivers off each side to make it fit. If by cut number three it still didn’t work, my answer was to smash the edges with a hammer.

And that’s why you shouldn’t drink wine while DIYing kids. Also, it’s why you’ll see more than one cracked tile in my laundry room.

When I thought I was nearly finished, I realized I was six tiles short. That may or may not had something to do with breaking several, but involved another trip to Home Depot to pick up extras.

Finally all my tiles were laid and stuck to the ground, and I surveyed my handiwork. Rather than following a traditional geometric design, I’ve decided the lines are a little more alternative. Staring across my room, some of the tiles are completely butted up against each other properly while others have a more waved distance between them.

The answer was simple – grout.

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After my fourth and (for the love of god) hopefully final trip to Home Depot, I picked up small container of pewter grout. A week after I started, I sat cross legged in my laundry room floor. With a yellow kitchen rubber glove on, I stuck my index finger into the ground and mushed the gray putty back and forth across the seams of my tiles before wiping the excess away with a damp paper towel. I can’t show you a completion picture, because the project still isn’t quite done.

My floor is not Chip & Joanne approved. It’s wild and unruly and decidedly me.

25 thoughts on “Fixer F’Upper

  1. BAHAHAHA. Oh man, having just purchased our first house, I laugh and commiserate with you. There’s nothing quite like a “simple DIY project” to make you feel like a completely useless idiot. I’ve mastered painting walls, but other than that I’ve got nothing.

  2. Long time reader, first time commenter.

    Because I love doing things myself too, and have gotten myself in for a bit more than I bargained for a time or two. Like the time I decided I’d redo my trailer by hand instead of paying for sandblasting and painting… And needing to get the entire thing (including rewiring – no new floor, thank god!) done in a week.

    For all the difficulties getting there, your floor does look pretty good now! And there’s (for me, at least) always the satisfaction of looking at something and knowing you did it.

  3. omg girl I feel you on this!!! you have my sympathies!

    I decided to gut and remodel our master bathroom about two years ago when I was unemployed. Between YouTube videos of some Russian painter in Idaho, HGTV shows, and a class at my local tile store, I was READY.

    Yeah, master bathroom is still not done. And don’t even get me started on the hallway bathroom that had a TOILET GROUTED TO THE FLOOR.

  4. If it makes you feel any better, we were scared to tile and so paid a handyman to do our tile. Apparently though, being “handy” at house jobs does not qualify you to lay down intricate(ish) tile work. While it’s still better than the previous (shitty white scratched-to-hell) linoleum, it’s definitely wonky. Here’s hoping prospective buyers don’t look too closely!

    PS I LOVE fixer upper. I mean, obviously.

    1. I’m convinced the only way to do tile is to hire a pair of engineers: one electrical, one mechanical. One of whom built his entire house by hand, and one of whom has renovated four kitchens. Let them duke it out and you will have a floor that is a mastery of precision, and also have been told that everything about your house is wrong and you should probably just set it on fire because it is clearly going to collapse tomorrow because WHAT IDIOT WOULD PUT A CHIMNEY THERE?

      These guys are both related to me, and they DEFINITELY need an HGTV show.

  5. So everyone told me I would LOVE Fixer Upper cause it’s my style (farmhouse stuff) but to be honest Joanne and Chip annoy the crap out of me and I really can’t deal with them for a full episode. I don’t have great hair, I’m always a hot mess when I’m working on a project, and I drink a LOT of wine to get through it so I’m not sure why you said wine and DIY don’t mix…. But yeah our stick on tile project looks great from a distance. And yours does too. Especially if your guests are also given wine. Wine. Wine is always the answer.

  6. No home improvement project is complete without multiple trips to Home Depot. Once, I went so many times in a weekend that the cashier said ‘oh, you’re back again’. Um, yeah. Sigh.

    1. They don’t even start to notice me until my 5th trip and certainly don’t start judging me until at least trip 8 or 9.

  7. Hahaha and if you think putting it down is bad, YOU SHOULD TRY TAKING IT UP.

    Not even kidding. That shit is sometimes my actual job and it is not a highlight. 😉

    And as someone who can and has and will again do tile, just hire someone. They’re worth it.

  8. I once did this project where I was hanging all these pictures and I measured from the ceiling and floor to make them all in a line. Only to discover later that neither the ceiling or the floor were level. I think your floor looks fine in the end. But yeah, I’d stick to painting. Painting is easy and fun. Flooring is a PITA.

  9. I’m too lazy/impatient to even try something of this magnitude. I know I mentioned it last post, but seriously, coming up on 10 years in my house and I only accomplished painting half my bedroom. Which needs to be done again at this point. Kudos to you! And from the photo, it looks great!

  10. Lol my DIY to do list and what is realistically gonna get done have a wide gap in between. I call the dealing with my errors, learning to MacGyver the results into working.

  11. As the owner of a fixer-upper, I approve of this post. I also approve of grouting those peel-and-stick tiles… have you seen our kitchen floor?

    Also, you need a wine fridge for the amount of wine you’re going to need to get through all those projects. Just FYI.

    1. As another owner of a fixer upper, I think she needs hard liquor. Skip the wine. hahaha. Though mine was the uninhabitable kind of fixer upper so maybe there are levels. 😉

  12. So much LOLZ. I feel your pain. We did the floor in our whole condo ourselves. It was a nightmare! DIY flooring is the worst!!! I think yours looks pretty good.

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