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.
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.
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.
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.