The floor tiling on the roof terrace. It’s finished. It’s usable. It’s looking rather good: ready to be kitted out with garden furniture and a few well-chosen plants. All that’s for sure. The other thing that’s certain is that neither of us will willingly do floor tiling ever again. Never. And Vicki and Marc aren’t all that keen either.
After cleaning the surface carefully, there’s the tile cement to mix. Even with a mixer attachment on the electric drill, this is punishing work. Ask Malcolm. In the manner of Goldilocks’ porridge, the mix must be not too thick, not too thin, but Just Right.
Then the laying of the tiles themselves. This involves long hours on creaking knees and dermatitis from the cement: gloves and tile laying don’t mix. Is the tile level? The spirit level says ‘no’. Yank it up and start again. Keep it the right distance from its neighbours with spacers which somehow get clarted up with cement. Work quickly! The sun is getting high in the sky, and soon we’ll have to knock off and erect complicated shelters so the cement doesn’t dry too quickly and crack.
Are the tiles clean of cement? No? Get it off quickly, before it sets and resists all attempts to shift it. Stop! Don’t press too hard – you’re de-stabilising the tiles! Oh. Too late.
Finished at last. Now we can uncurl our protesting bodies, clean the tools, and knock off for a couple of days while the cement sets good and hard.
Noooooo. Unexpected rain threatens. Quick! Improvise plastic sheeting, lengths of wood to prevent water getting under those tiles……
But now, 48 hours later, we’re ready to do the grouting. Same story. Grout mix is difficult to get Just Right, and it goes off in about 2 hours. Get the team going – one to force grout between the tiles, the other to clear, clean and check there are no air bubbles, troughs, mounds…..
By now, we feel as if we’ve been on a long pilgrimage on our knees in the manner of a medieval penitent, weary, sore and with aching and crippled backs as well.
Anyway, it’s done. Are we suffused with a satisfied glow of pleasure at a job well done? No, we’re simply relieved. Next time we come across a floor tiling job chez nous, we might just have to settle for lino.