Handyman, My life

Tiling the dining room

I spent Sunday afternoon and evening tiling my dining room. The first decision was whether to put this medallion at the entrance. I had this great idea of using half of it at the front entrance and the other half at the back door. But when I folded it and set it in place, it didn’t look as spectacular as I had imagined. The height would be a problem for a welcome mat. And it would be a dirt trap. I regretfully put it back in the garage. Maybe we’ll use it on the stoop, where at least it can be hosed off.


Tearing up the old vinyl and getting rid of the adhesive was a huge amount of work. I used a solvent I bought at Lowe’s. Did you know that in a pinch, shopping bags make good shoe covers? I wear size Publix. After I got the floor clean, I painted a concrete adhesive where the glue had been so the mortar will bond better.


I tiled the entrance first. The trickiest part was the curve.Β  (Yes, the mortar has dried out at the top. I worked it over with a fresh trowel-full before putting tiles there.)


I did it by dead reckoning, cutting off a corner so I could hold the tile in place and using my speed square (propped up by the glue bottle) as a point of reference. Then I drew on the underside of the tile with a grease pencil. Cutting a curve like this with a tile saw requires a lot of cuts close together to get a ragged semblance of a curve. It’s a lot easier with wood.


In order to tile diagonally instead of the usual horizontal/vertical, I measured 11′ along the wall, 11′ out across the room, and calculated the hypotenuse, which was something like 186.68″. When the three measurements all work together, you get a right triangle with two 45-degree angles. Occasionally geometry is helpful. With my first bucket of mortar, I tiled the entrance and followed my chalk line over to the kitchen door.


By the end of my second bucket of mortar, I had about half the dining room done. The rest will have to wait until after my Colombia trip, which starts tomorrow and ends December 9.


Last night I cleaned upΒ  the grout lines, and tapped the tiles to see if they were well adhered. One at the foot of the stairs sounded hollow. When I looked at it a few minutes later, it had cracked across the hollow corner. So I had to pry it up and scrape the slab clean under it.


The family room is looking really nice, now that the bookshelves and baseboards are back in place. I love the look of the oiled cedar.


If you ever have a section of carpet that won’t get clean no matter how you steam or shampoo it, it’s probably because it has an accumulation of sand underneath (at least in Florida). This is the bottom step of the staircase when I pulled up the carpet. No amount of vacuuming will pull that dirt up through padding and carpet.


When I was putting a cover over this phone utility box, I discovered this remnant of the original wallpaper. Truly horrible. The paper they covered it with was much classier.


Tomorrow afternoon I fly to Colombia, and then Thanksgiving Day is Alicia’s concert. Her sister and niece will also sing. I’m looking forward to it.

Have a most blessed Thanksgiving.


11 thoughts on “Tiling the dining room

  1. Ha! I DID know that about shopping bags! Also, if you cut the bottom open, and use the handles for shoulder straps, they make great “aprons” to put on kids who are doing art work/painting. πŸ™‚ Keeps their clothes clean! πŸ™‚

    Love the photo of your covered foot! πŸ˜€

    Your tile, and your tiling work, is beautiful! πŸ™‚ The oiled cedar is gorgeous! πŸ™‚

    Good luck to Alicia on her concert! I hope she has fun! If you have time, let us know how it goes! πŸ™‚

    Prayers for a safe flight for you! Have a blast! and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your precious family! πŸ™‚

    Thank you, Tim, for being a friend! πŸ™‚

    HUGS!!! πŸ™‚

    • Thank you. Your punctuation cheers me up but exhausts me at the same time.

      I tried a different airline this time. It leaves at 1:45 so I can go to work in the morning, leave my car there, and get a ride or a taxi. The airport is close by my job, fortunately. Only problem is I land at 8:45 p.m., which means getting to MedellΓ­n around 10:30 or later.

    • We’re planning to sell the house, so I’m not as motivated to be creative as if we were keeping it. But in any case, the medallion seems like it would be a problem. Maybe we’ll find somewhere else to use it.

  2. RuthG says:

    That IS a huge amount of effort. Good for you–you’re getting fantastic results. Family room is utterly gorgeous. The eventual buyers will be very lucky.

  3. digitalgranny says:

    Things are coming along nicely and the floors are looking wonderful.
    Your family room looks amazing and you will surly appreciate it when it is done.
    There is nothing better than doing it yourself and sitting back and looking at the end results.

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