Friday, July 12, 2013


I recently completed tiling the downstairs guest bathroom/future mancave bathroom when not being used and thought I would do a wrap-up of that part of the project. It turned out fairly well I thought but don't look too closely. What you see in the photo above were most of the tools of the trade. I had the dremel tool and bought a few diamond wheels for it but for cutting full 12" tiles, it just wouldn't cut it, pun not intended. I looked at renting a tile cutting machine but the machine rented out for almost $20 per day with tax and with my time constraints, I didn't think I could do it all in a day or even two. So I shopped online and ended up settling on a cheapo 7" tile saw by Skilsaw. (I also looked for used ones of better caliber but they went quickly and for high prices I thought.)

While it wasn't handy to use, it worked flawlessly for my tiling project and I'm sure I could do several more with no problems and even then, I suspect if I took care of the thing, it would last for a long time. All told, it cost only $80 shipped to my door which was only four days rental. It cut well, cut fast, had ample power to cut through the ceramic tiles we were using. It made accurate cuts and was easy to use. The drawbacks were that the reservoir for the water to keep the blade cool splashes out at a fast rate and at most, I could cut two tiles before having to refill the thing. I used that plastic mug seen in the picture and with a full reservoir and a full mug, I could generally gut about six tiles before needing to refill things. The reservoir is under the right side of the table top near the blade and was inset so it required intent of action to fill it. You couldn't just dribble water in in other words, you had to pour or it would end up all over the concrete. If I were doing a lot of tile back to back, I think I would simple wire a garden hose into the reservoir and just crack the water valve so there was a continuous flow to keep it full, letting the excess flow out. But since I was only making one cut every ten minutes or so and only needed to refill the mug maybe every twenty minutes in the very room I was working, I didn't use a continual water supply.

The fence on the thing was pretty chintzy but got the job done. You had to fiddle with the nobs at each end to loosen and tighten for each different cut which was time consuming but with the stamped measurement scale in the table on each end, it was easy to ensure that you were making a square cut. Since I was using 12" tiles, there were times when I thought it was just as easy to freehand the tile through the saw and probably cut most of the tiles that were singletons that way. It was easy to guide through without any guides. Those edges are going to be covered under baseboard trim anyway so no one will ever see them if they were a little uneven. All in all, I liked that saw and for $80, I feel I got my money's worth out of it. It certainly beats the old scratch and break tile cutter that I bought at a garage sale many years ago and used it to tile my hearth at the old house. I ended up breaking half the tiles in the wrong spots with it.

Above is the finished project, the tiling portion of it that is. We decided on kind of a slate gray tile with those glass and stone accent tiles. I was actually planning on wider grout lines between tiles but ended up kind of matching the lines in the accent tiles and I think it turned out great. It ended up taking me a full day and a half to lay the tile down and then another few hours to grout everything later, so call it a two day project. (Note: the rental would have saved me $40 bucks this time around but I'll get my savings in future tiling projects which I am planning on doing since this one went so good.)  It certainly went faster than I expected but I had spent a lot of time measuring and drawing the pattern to scale on a piece of paper first so I just had to lay down a couple guide lines and start in when the time came.

One last thing I thought I would mention is that I bought the tile at one of those large box stores. After sifting through a stack of tile there, I bought five cases, two of which had at least one broken tile on top of the package. The cases I rejected felt like there were more than one tile broken in them. Of the four cases I ended up opening, that supposedly held 44 whole tiles, I probably only had around 30 that were indeed whole. The rest were broken. Fortunately, I needed quite a few less-than-half tiles around the perimeter and in the closet and the tiles mostly had the corners broke from the some I was able to use most of them in the project. The fifth package that had at least the top one broken in a perfect diagonal and felt like probably more of them inside so I returned it for a full refund and they didn't give me any trouble. That is the one nice thing about big box stores, they usually don't give you a hard time if you have a recent receipt.

I didn't keep exact records but if memory serves me correct, I ended up with about $90 in tile, cement and grout for this project plus another $80 in equipment which I can depreciate out over the rest of my tiling career. I consider that a fairly cheap do-it-yourself project. I'll have several times that into the overall project before all is said and done but compared to the way it looked, it is worth it.


edifice rex said...

That looks great! Allen bought a tile saw similar to yours and hey, we've been using that thing for years. The fence is a little cheap but it does get the job done and is still going strong after all this time.

Ed said...

Edifice Rex - I wasn't too hip on shelling out any money for something made by Skilsaw because I've had plenty of crap made by them but this thing seemed made sturdy enough to last for awhile. The thing I was worried about the most was that the motor would be severely under powered but it seemed to have more than enough power to cut tile as fast as I cared to push it through the saw.

Ron said...

When we lived in our old house, I tiled our bathroom floor and tub surround right before we moved (hardly got to enjoy it). At the time, I bought a little cheapo 4" saw, and those sure do make tiling easier.

Since then, I haven't used it, but I'm sure the occasion will arise eventually.

Anonymous said...

Many years ago a friend of my moms who was a Master in the plastering trade. Them days when he apprenticed tiling was part of the deal as was making those fiddly things the women love in the middle of ceilings.
Anywoos, I got shanghaied into helping him tile the main kitchen and 15 bathrooms of his guesthouse. Bought as his retirement investment and to keep him occupied. One of the tricks with tiles I got from him was that unless you make a haimes and break the thing, the grout will conceal any errors. Another, forget about those dividers you buy. Use coin, or washers. You cannot squeeze em, and you can pull em out with a pliers if you have to vanish temporarily for some reason.
While doing one floor on my own once for some reason. I had a total freak attack. I simply couldn't find a straight wall. I must have laid the tiles 4 times using different walls. Lifting the muck each time. Martin came back and picked up the meter level and drew a line on the floor. Which I followed leaving a headland all round the room, cut and fitted later in the week.
I view than saw table with jealousy. It sure would've made those days far far easier. And I really like what you've done.

sage said...

I tiled our downstairs bathroom when I lived in Utah and was able to borrow a title saw (commercial one) and it was great! I still have all the other tools--just as I have the drywall tools, but hope there isn't going to be another tile or dry wall project anytime soon

Ed said...

Ron - Part of me hates fixing up this home knowing that my time here is only temporary until I find that acreage and build my dream home. I overcome that part of me by telling myself that this is good experience so when I do build my own home, I will have all the kinks worked out.

Vince - I just eyeballed everything when it comes to aligning floor tile. The inconsistencies, even the ones grout can't hide, give it a charm that I like. Plus there are always areas that I need to give and take to make things work right. Also, I've been around tiling enough to know that you always start in the middle and work out to the edges. In this case, the bathroom is on a concrete floor in the middle of the house so the walls were still square to each other. But I wanted a row of full tile right down the center when you enter through the door so I started there and worked out to the edge only worrying about centering my pattern.

Sage - I had lots of tools gathering dust with hope that I never have to use them again. But circumstances brought a move to this house and I've had to blow off the dust while being glad I still have them.

Leigh said...

I'll say it turned out great, well done! Having watched my husband tile two bathrooms, I know it's a little tricky, but I love the tile look. Yours is a good choice of color and the smaller tiles are really classy.

Bone said...

Looks good to me, too. I really like the color. It's like Tool Time with Ed Abbey :)

Ed said...

Leigh - Thanks! I love the tile look too especially when dealing with cement floors as was this case. The hardest tiles were those accent ones especially where the corners meet. It took some head scratching but I finally figured out how to weave them together so they looked nice.

Bone - I'll give you my best Tim Allen aw aw ah!