back to the drawing board

Today was devoted to the kitchen island.  We were determined to have it completely done before the sun went down.  And thanks to an extra hour of daylight, it certainly seemed possible.

So we grabbed something to eat from the fridge and set to work cutting the tiles. 

Well, truth be told, Mike did all the tile cutting, but I did help fit them back into the mosaic that is the island after he cut them to size.  And once all the tiles were cut, it was time to move them to the coffee table while we spread the mortar to set them permanently. 

Unfortunately, we dropped a few of the edge pieces, breaking them into three parts.  My first reaction was to be upset, but after a few moments of thought, I realized it would be ok.  Once they were down and grouted, it would be hard if not impossible to tell where they had broken.  Mike said it might also give the island a little vintage patina, and who doesn't love that, right? 

We managed to get the rest of the tile set out without breaking any and Mike mixed up the mortar for the next step.

I insisted that Mike carefully read the directions before spreading the mortar, which he did.  But even after following the directions to the letter, it was almost immediately evident that something was very wrong.


The mortar was setting up faster than we could put the tiles down...and once they were down, we couldn't shift them even slightly to level.  By the time we realized how bad the island was going to look, the tiles were almost set. 

We had to remove each one, scrape off the now hardened mortar, and start over.

Mike was about to throw in the towel.  First the water pump yesterday, then three broken edge pieces ($27 each if we had to replace them) and now the mortar had set up too fast.  Our simple little island had become a disaster!

But, like I always say, some things happen for a reason.

While we were popping the tiles off the mortar (far too easily) Mike decided that this little disaster was the best thing to have happened.  The mortar was brittle, and scraped off easily, and therefore, probably wouldn't have held the tiles.  It didn't even take us that long to scrape the cement board base and created a clean slate. 

We lost a little time, and the cost of a new bag of mortar, but in the end the marble turned out better than we could have imagined. 


We didn't get it done by sunset, we still have to do the grout, finish the beaded board accent, add the shelves to the bookshelf niche on the side, and then I will have to paint the whole thing.  But for the first time, I can see the finish line.  And I am very pleased with the results so far. 

Until the next time...I'll be cleaning the mortar from the floorboards!

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Posted on March 13, 2011 .