Monday, July 01, 2013
Well, I finally have a house post for ya'll!! I finally got up the gumption to start the fireplace tile and have been steadily working on it for the past week or so, in between pottery, gardening and such. I am actually a little further along than what you see in this photo. About 2 more runs of tile and I have started the mosaic that will be in that blank space over to the left. Yes, all that smashed pottery will be put to good use. There were a number of reasons that I chose to break this up with a mosaic. First, I think they are pretty and I wanted to do something different and creative. Secondly, in placing these tiles out so that they wrapped the corners the way I wanted them to, it was going to make the spacing between them just a fuzz larger than I really wanted. 3/8" was really the max that I could justify with looking right. By laying the ends the way I wanted and working inward, I could leave a strip in which dimensions didn't matter. Oh, and I didn't want to cut tiles if I could get away with it. There is nothing wrong with cutting them but with the area etc. I would have come out with pretty small cuts and just wanted to avoid that. I wanted to stick with whole pieces for the looks.
As it is, the spacing didn't quite come out as I imagined, although it's close. See, natural tiles are...well..natural. Even cut they may not be exactly the same size or totally square. I have found differences of up to 1/8" and I really didn't expect that. Maybe a better quality tile would have been more accurate, I don't know. I will use a dark grey grout on this so that will also minimize how much you notice the irregular spaces. For the most part I have been able to use these cool little spacers to keep it all in line but I have had to fudge some here or there. I made sure to establish at least 2 control lines (1 vertical, 1 horizontal) before I ever started to help keep the tiles laid level and plumb. Actually, I have 4 lines at this point but it never hurts to keep a check on that. These spacers, by the way, just pull out when the adhesive is set up and you reuse them indefinitely. They are also 2-sided; one side is a space just for a slot and the other is a spacer for intersections of 4 corners. The adhesive also sets fairly quick so I only spread enough to set 4 or 5 tiles (6x6) at a time. You have about 10 minutes working time, maybe. That may seem like a lot but when you are adjusting and tweaking it goes pretty fast. Or it does for me anyway!
You can also see from this photo what I meant about the corners. I did not want the edge of the tile that turns back to show. The edge of the face tile shows from the side but that is more attractive, to me, than the other. Basically, when you are standing in front of the fireplace wall, you will not see any of the edges of the tiles. There are many ways to do corners though. You can run some type of edge cap of another material such as wood or steel corner molding, another type of tile etc. etc.
In this photo you can see a bit more of the unevenness of the spacing but it will be covered up by the fireplace unit. See, I don't have any problem showing my stuff that doesn't come out exactly right. Everybody makes mistakes or has things that don't do exactly what they thought they would. I honestly thought the tiles would be more accurate in size so that was a learning lesson for me. At any rate, I have been able to control the spacing better in areas that will show more, now that I understand the material more. Plus, it's a natural stone. It is just going to have variations. Don't want variations?? Use a manufactured tile. I had to cut a few tiles to fit around the gas lines and anchors that hold the unit in place. This was very simple just using a 4" side grinder with a diamond wheel. You can use it dry too for such small cuts. I just had to nip out a notch here and there. For whole cuts I will use a wet saw for tile.
So, there is the beginnings of that. I'll have some more on it soon. Hopefully. If you would like to see a more in depth or closer look at how I did something please let me know. I'm not sure how well I explain things so please ask questions if needed or tell me to clarify.