Saturday 6 February 2021

House: tiling the loft

Following on from House: foiling the loft, I come to tiling the loft. If you have any sense you will say "WTF?" and I will mostly agree with you: this doesn't really make sense, on its own terms. But! It does make sense in that I want practice in tiling; I have ambitions in the kitchen and possibly in the bathroom. How it went: I had some spare paint, so decided to paint over the end wall:

This was as much to seal it and remove the last few cobwebs as anything else; but it does make it somewhat brighter, too. As you can see, though, that wall is pretty roughly masoned. And so I thought - rather later on - "you know what, I could tile it. That would hide the cracks". And so off I popped for the cheapest white tiles (150x150x3mm, £6/m2) and some perhaps-surprisingly-expensive glue/grout (you seem to need a surprising amount per m2, according to the tub. I got the premixed stuff).

But, back in the loft I realised just how rough that wall it; it isn't close to flat. I might come back to it in a bit, but for now I thought "aha! I could do the chimney instead". The chimney is rough-plastered, but is somewhat flatter than that end wall. And it is annoying, in that you brush against it and some of the sandy plaster comes off on you. I started on the garden side, out of view from the hatch. And here's the results of an hour or two.


4x4 is 0.6x0.6 is 0.36m2, so I've got a way to go before I run out of tiles (I got three boxes of 44 each, aka 1m2 each). If you look very closely you can see I've slightly missed my mark, which I drew on the wall, so the whole array is slightly tilted. I think the std.trick of screwing a batten onto the wall at the lowest level would be a good idea; the tiles also have a slight tendency to slide downwards, and it would stop that too. Now I look, you can see the underlying pattern of bricks through the plaster.

The next day: I had a brilliant idea for doing the end wall: rather than spreading the cement, and tiling on top, I could "blob" the cement on the four corners. That way it could plausibly be thick enough to deal with the end-wall's irregularities. Also, I used the "batten trick", but just laying wood of the rightish height on the nearly-flat floor. And after a bit I had:


Which is a start. After this I grouted the chimney tiles, but didn't take a picture. But I did the next day. Side view. And on the end wall:


With the 16 on the chimney, I've now used up the first box, and perhaps 2/3 of the cement / grout. The end wall is kinda going OK... the cement is blobbed on pretty thickly where the wall is uneven, well over the nominal 3 mm max thickness, so it may take a while to dry.


Going up from behind the beam is tricky. I first thought it might be easiest to stick two tiles together, and tried that with cement on their backs (the third is just to align them), but while it worked for a bit, it didn't hold for long enough to use.

In the end I just did them one-by-one, being somewhat hopeful behind the beam; I think I scraped some excess mortar so they could lie flat.

Here's a pic looking down; you can see the spacers in place. Putting them onto the lower tile was tricky. Obviously I won't be able to grout these tiles unless I try really hard, which I won't.

My pic shows you that I have a new pot of cement+grout, about twice the previous size, this one from Unibond and consequently more expensive (£37). It feels "fluffier". You can also see my "megatile", bought because it was there, for £2. It is 300x600mm. I did think about using that to span the gap, but it was awkward to place, because of the roof angle.

I also bought a tile file (£10) and tile nippers (£15 ish) but haven't used either yet.

I don't know how enthusiastic I'm going to get about tiling around the wires. I wasn't terribly precise about painting around them...

I also got some coloured tiles from Topps, who appear happy to sell them individually (I bought in 10s) as well as per-box. This was... somewhat less than £60 for 7x10, so ~85 p per tile. That's considerably more than my plain-whites-per-44, but those were really cheap.
I haven't used them yet. We're thinking of using them in the kitchen.

Tiling continues: I'm getting to the end of the second box. I'm now moving right. It is chilly up there at the moment - there's a cold snap - so it isn't too attractive to be up there. From that pic things look quite good - if you look in detail there are flaws.


2021/02/19: I've done a bit more at the end but, more excitingly, I've put some coloured tiles onto the chimney stack.

This (I now realise) reminds me of Elmer the Elephant.

Anyway... I took great pains to mark these level with the ones on the garden side - this is the neighbour side - and wired on a batten at the bottom. This side is only just wide enough for three tiles and a tiny amount of slack which will make cutting tile pieces 7 mm wide wide fun I imagine. and I'll need to get some "edging".

But it looks pretty good, they are very nearly rightly spaced, and very nearly horizontal / vertical.

After that, I added another four rows, below. Adding below is a pain, to make them join properly; motto: always start from the bottom. But they look OK. The join, whilst imperfect, is good enough for a chimney stack in the loft.

To do the bottom, I decided to use white tiles. At which point I discovered that the white ones I'd bought (first; separately) were actually 150 mm, whereas the coloured ones were 150-including-spacers, i.e. 148 mm. Looking closer at the website, i see that while the headline size is given as 150, they do say 14.8 cm lower down. another useful lesson. I tried using the 150 anyway, but it just wasn't good.

Eventually I realised the obvious solution: buy some white tiles from the coloured tile people. And since I was doing that (and the delivery charge is a flat £9) I might as well get a few others from the range too. Incidentally, prising off the white tile after a day was easy, too easy: the cement hadn't fully set. Perhaps because I put it on too thick? I'm hoping that given longer the others will set.
So those are "teal", pale rose, pale sky blue, and steel grey. I used the three pale shades above / below the coloured ones. See here. I'm not quite happy with the result, in that the contrast isn't as much as I expected.

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