One great thing about a slab foundation is the opportunity to use bare concrete as flooring. This could not be done with pier and beam without lots of work. The main thing our concrete guys got right was the finish. It was smooth as glass, level (for the most part), and pretty in a raw concrete sort of way. We did lots of research and looked at a lot of stained concrete floors before we decided on our color. That’s a one-shot deal. Of course I suppose a person could layer stains if they didn’t like the first application, but only before the sealer is applied. After that, it’s a done deal. To change it would take an act of congress (good luck with that). You can cover it with tile or carpet or wood or laminate down the road if the stain doesn’t appeal to you anymore, but no more staining.
We decided on bottle green. Green you ask? I’ll admit it is an unconventional floor color, but I wanted a soothing relaxing color that would compliment glass block. Glass block has a light green tint to it when viewed at an angle, and I loved it.
Our contractor got out his spray rig (a plastic pump-up affair), and after a little prep work, just squirted it on and let it sit a while. After an hour he ran a water-soaked lamb’s wool mop looking thing over it to blend it around. We decided it wasn’t dark enough so he added another coat, waited a while, then mopped it again. It turned out perfect! The floor looks like the water at some tropical beach locale. Its a bottle green with swirls and a natural design only concrete can offer. We couldn’t have been happier with it.
After covering the newly stained and sealed floor with cardboard to protect it, the guys went to work putting up the glass block partitions for the shower and potty area. It took what felt like ages to get there, but it was worth the wait. It was just what my mind’s eye saw. He next wanted to tile the shower stall. Too bad I hadn’t found just the right tile for the job.
I hate tile. For some reason I couldn’t find the right color combo, or texture. I devoted so much time on the internet browsing for what I hoped would suit me, only to find it, determine how much I needed, place it in my “shopping cart”, calculate shipping and freak out. I have been an internet shopper since the dawn of time, but try to only order if the shipping is free. No where on the entire world wide web is shipping on porcelain tile free. The cheapest shipping charge I found was $120.00 for 40 square feet of tile. The tiles themselves were only $45.00. Sure, O dot Co had tile, and shipping was $2.95, but what they had to offer was insanely hideous. On to plan B.
A day off. The Super Mega Floor and Wall Tile Outlet Extravaganza Warehouse. Surely there would be something there I could scoop up for an Unbelievable Low Price!? Surely! My Mom and I went out to this Super Mega Outlet Extravaganza Warehouse only to find chipped, broken, butt-ugly, no-class, mis-matched, & lame (but cheap) tile. It was a warehouse of rejects- both quality and cute wise. We wandered the store for hours, trying to find something I could live with for the next 40 years. It was looking dismal for the tile search. Until…..
There it was. On the last aisle. Way in the back corner of the Outlet Extravaganza Warehouse. A pallet of perfection. My tile!!!! It’s just the right color of bottle green! It’s a smooth texture that will be easy to clean! It will look nice with white grout! It’s all I could ask for in a bathroom shower tile. But wait!!! What’s this? It’s 47 cents a square foot! There’s something wrong here. How can it be that the tile I like is the best price ever? That never happens to me. Ever. But sure enough, that price was right. Great, I’ll take 80 square foot of it. Who knows, I may tile the whole doggone bathroom.
Mom and I raced away from there like bandits. We were so proud of our purchase. We celebrated with a Chinese Food dinner and cocktails. All in all it was a great day.
Too bad it didn’t last.
The GC came in early to start the tiling on the shower because he was going on vacation in a few days and wanted it behind him. Great. I showed him the tile, and even he was impressed with it’s color and value. I went to work while he got started.
As usual I came home during the lunch hour to check on progress. He and his wife were cutting and mortaring tiles like there was no tomorrow. It looked good. Kinda. I noticed what looked like a shadow on a few of the wall tiles, but didn’t see what was blocking the light. It didn’t make sense because there were random shadows all over the wall inside the shower. I pointed it out to my guy. After closer inspection we discovered that what we thought was a shadow was actually water seeping in from the unglazed side of the tile discoloring the glazed outer surface from behind. Water from the tile saw. Either the tiles weren’t fired properly to make them water proof, or there was something else going on. I studied the back side of the tile for the first time. It had “DRY AREAS ONLY” written on it in teeny tiny letters. My shower walls were half way covered in it (insert cuss words here).
The scramble to remove the beautiful, cheap, sponges of tile off the walls began. Some of the mortar had begun to set, and prying them off the wall was a messy process. There were chips of cheap spongetile everywhere, but we finally got them off. Another lesson learned, and learned hard. Take time to read everything written everywhere on everything!!! Rats.
Now I had to find new tile. The tile guy was bothered because he was getting behind schedule, and now had to wait for the difficult, no-tile-back-reading customer to find new tiles that not only matched the floor, but were waterproof enough to go in a shower. I could feel his frustration in the air. I jumped in the truck and drove to the only tile store I hadn’t been to on my search. It was 50 miles away. Any major retail store is at least 30 miles away from our little town, but that’s okay. Large crowds of people are also at least 30 miles away,& that’s a good thing in my book. Anyway, this little Mom & Pop home improvement store had a tile section way in the back. It was small, and everything had to be ordered, but the lady working that department was friendly and very helpful. I explained my dilemma and she helped me sift through a zillion samples. We finally found something I hoped would work. I took the sample home to view it in the surroundings, and was delighted that it was perfect. Why didn’t I go there first? Why did I think driving to Austin and spending all day at the Super Mega Floor and Wall Tile Outlet Extravaganza Warehouse would be a brilliant and fruitful excursion? Because I’m a cheapskate, that’s why. It has never worked before, but for some reason I fall for the “outlet warehouse” trick. I wonder if that will ever change?
MEANWHILE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WALL
The laundry/stained glass studio project was going nicely. The room was going to be tight, but if I organized it properly it should be just fine for indulging in my passion (stained glass ~ not laundry). I found some marvelous wall cabinetry from IKEA to store necessities, and some cute lighting and shelving for sheet glass. The half bath (professionally called a powder room) was tiled (a great dirt colored suede brown tile from the SMF&WTOEW) and my husband was diligently working on the vanity top. He cut and sanded a giant, thick slab of cedar wood to attach to the wall. I had a green glass vessel sink in storage to go on top, and thanks to O.co, the perfect faucet and sink stopper combo. An old timey beveled edge mirror completed the look.
We needed the plumbers to install the toilets in both sides of the addition. The camper’s shower and bathroom was nice at first, but knowing how roomy and convenient a real bathroom was going to be, made us long for completion.
Every week we were told “two more weeks and we will be finished”. It was at first going to be done by Halloween, then we were told Thanksgiving, and now it was looking like a Christmas gift from the contractors…. Frustrating to say the least. NPS was in the later stages. My husband and I were tired of it all. Please finish!!!!
CABINETRY & STORAGE SPACES
I wanted nice storage everywhere possible. One can never have enough cubbies, closets, cabinets, shelves, hidden compartments or attic space for storage of all life’s essentials (not to mention the fun stuff). Our contractor was on board for the basics. He was not really too interested in planning for or creating storage spaces in places more easily covered up with gypsum board. I must admit we had a hard time convincing him it could be done. Thankfully, through the power of the internet and a printer, he was inspired with examples of storage spaces he would not have otherwise considered creating for us. And we got about half of them. I now have a nice shelving area for my countless nick knacks and other collectibles in the powder room (that would otherwise have been a dead wall space). Of course it came with a price, but what else is new?
A word about trim boards. If you feel the need to put a trim board up between an expensive custom cabinet (in this case a linen closet) and the wall on which it is butted up against…. what did you do wrong? Most especially if you are a PAID PROFESSIONAL? In this case the cabinet was perfectly square (I watched them check it), but why (after it was installed) was there a one inch gap at the top and absolutely no clearance at the bottom? Could it have been because the wall was crooked? So– a silly looking trim board is the obvious answer — but just on one side of the cabinet, not both sides?! I hated it. It screamed MISTAKE MISTAKE LOOK AT THE MISTAKE! I’m now used to it, but that doesn’t make it better, just familiar. Sure, my husband and I use trim boards on boo-boos, but only as a last resort. Okay, that’s off my chest…. onward!