Tuesday, January 1, 2013


I began 2012 at the top of my stairs, shellacking the landing of the 2nd floor hall.  I ended it at the bottom of the same stairs in the 1st floor hall, laying down 1/16" car striping tape to mask out the "joints" of the tile pattern I'm painting on the stairhall floor.*

Lo these many years ago I always thought I would be laying down ceramic tile in this space, but unless and until I get the money to drop the subfloor between the joists, that's a no-go.  I don't have enough height at my bottom riser to avert a tripping hazard.  So, since I can't find solid color vinyl or linoleum in the colors I want, a faux tile paint job is Plan B.

I've meant for months to take care of it over the school Christmas vacation, and here I am.  With apologies for the bad quality of the photos, here's the saga.

Wednesday, December 26th:  Rigged the baby gates to keep the dog out.  Vacuumed everything and divested the hallway plywood, which I filled and sanded down last August, of the plastic drop cloths,old sheets, and heavy cardboard that had protected it since then.  Started taping off the woodwork.

Thursday, December 27th, just after midnight:  Damn.  Should have realized this gap at the foot of the stairs wouldn't get covered by the quarter-round.  What was covering it before?  Oh, yeah, the boring sheet vinyl.  Cut a piece of wood for backer and shoved in a first layer of Zar wood filler.

 December 27th, early evening:  The patch has received two more applications of wood filler, it's level, dry, and sanded. 

 Time to roll on a coat of primer!

 December 27th, still early evening:  Wait a minute.  What's this?

Not only is it a bad rotation code on my crappy camera, it's another gap I should have filled last night. And there's another one just about as wide on the other side of the doorway.   There was never any quarter-round here and no chance of any.  What was I thinking?

I begin filling them both and that's all I can do on the Thursday.

 Friday, December 28th, early afternoon:  The latest patch jobs are done and ready to touch up with primer.

Much later that evening:  First coat of Valspar latex Floor and Porch paint, tinted "Slate Gray."  Can says light foot traffic after four or five hours.  I spend the night on the couch in the front room.

December 29th, noon:  Second coat of the Slate Gray is on.  I go out for the afternoon and evening and let it dry in peace.

 Monday, December 31st, early evening:  The fun begins.  Time to lay out the faux tile pattern.  It's not going to reproduce the 8 x 8 modular ceramic tile layout I drew up back in 2008, but being a 6 x 6 plus 2 x 6 repeat I figured it could be adapted to work in the space.

What I don't understand is how I could set my datum lines and start the first 2 x 2 corner piece on center at the south wall, and not have it come out even and symmetrical.  Is it the house being out of square, or my measuring?  All I know is that I longed to pick up the whole floor surface, slam it down on my drafting table, and knock the whole pattern out using my parallel bar and the giant 45 degree triangle I don't have.  But by a little after 10:00 PM,. the pencil layout was done.  And it's pretty uniform at the bottom of the stairs and along the long wall, so I tell myself it'll do. 

Now for the car striping tape.  The kind of Victorian encaustic tile I'm emulating typically has very fine dark gray joints.  My idea is to mask out the gray base coat with the skinny tape, carefully brush on the "tile" colors on either side of it, pull up with tape after it's dry, and hey presto! I've got my ersatz grout joints.  Except for the finicking business of landing the tape on the guidelines where they meet a vertical surface, I find it goes on more easily than expected.  But it has to be burnished down, and I hope the roller texture in the base coat (which I wanted), won't lead to bleeding.  Other things may lead to bleeding, but I hope not that.

I found it hard if not impossible to maintain a straight line, even with the guidelines.  Guess I'm laying down unrectified tiles, right?  Which you wouldn't do with 1/16" joints, but oh, well.  The effect will be organic.

Tuesday, January 1st, the wee hours:  I keep working until all the northwest-southeast lines are taped.

I have kept the dog and all but one of the cats off of this floor and I only walk on it when it's absolutely necessary, and then only in sock feet.  So I'm amazed how much gunk it's picked up just in the past couple of days.  Pet hair I can understand.  But unidentified crumbs?  The shop brush is in constant use.

Which leads me to the bleedin' casualty part of this post.  I was wielding the brush at one point and backed my hand into the point of the X-Acto knife I cut the tape with.  Laid open the second knuckle of my right ring finger. 

Artistic bandaging job, what?

Not content with that, my left hand had to get into the act.  That was a mere poke, not up to my previous accomplishment.

January 1st, evening:  I begin laying down the crosswise grout line tape.  Meant to get to it a lot earlier, but I slept till after noon and a little matter of a clogged upstairs toilet drove me out to buy some supplies I would rather not have had to invest in on a New Year's Day. 

I keep at it till after 10:00 PM, or until I run out of tape on the first roll.  I'm pleased with how it's holding out.  According to the take-off I did when I ordered the tape via Amazon.com, three rolls would just barely suffice.  But it looks like I'll have a whole roll to spare once the job is over.

(Anybody need something pinstriped?)

Took a break and made coconut macaroons.  Had some egg whites that needed to be used up.  While they were in the oven I did a few more stripes, enough to get me into the southwest corner.  Knocked off then, the idea being that I would get to bed at a sensible hour and get up and resume work in the daylight.

But as long as it's taken to write and illustrate this post, "sensible hour" isn't a term I can use.


 But there's no school in the county tomorrow, so a repeat of this morning's performance won't be entirely out of line.
*Well, OK, if you want to get technical, I was outside with the dog at the stroke of midnight, but for all intents and purposes . . .

1 comment:

Sharon @ Laurelhurst Craftsman said...

That's a creative solution to a difficult floor problem. I'm looking forward to the after photos.