Saturday, 18 January 2014

A little help

I'd wanted to finish off the front landing for some time now by completing the tiling in that area.
I'd been putting off the project because of other more "important" projects that somehow always jumped ahead.
Not only that but our local tile company had closed unceremoniously, and it was rumoured to be starting back up its operations so I had waited, because I'd wanted the same tiles from that company to match the others that were already in place.
Then to add injury to insult, my inquiries made me aware that my only source for terra cotta clay tiles on the island were now an imported tile from Trinidad and Tobago.  
This meant I would have to purchase the imported tiles which were of a redder hue and not as big and heavy as our local tile, due to the different clay makeup of that island. 
Oh well......
As with any other project when I need help, I just have to "say the word" and my help arrives in the form of my male friends who are always there for me.
Many weekends ago, back in November, my dear ex-hubby and I started laying the tiles.

Getting started

BrownBerts was doing his usual Overseer job
and I was begging him not to walk in the mortar

That first Sunday morning the rain kept on falling and impeding our progress.  We gave up around 11am.
In between working I baked a rum and raisin bread pudding as a thank you for ex-hubby for his help.

The following Sunday, we were at it again, but after two hours, my poor ex-hubby's back was paining him, and we called it a day.

I knew that I wanted some kind of medallion pattern in the centre and I spent some time designing and creating a sun design for that area.

No special angles or protractors, compasses or T-squares needed....everything was drawn free style to add to the rusticity of it all.

It all started with the hexagon centre piece
(there's no denying who the ruler belongs to....)
I continued drawing a pattern and putting it together until I was satisfied with the effect.  It actually looks like a cross between a sun and a star.
The finished template with the numbered pieces
Next it was time to transfer the pattern on to the tile to cut out.
 Concentration and a steady hand is needed to make all the intricate cuts
Making sure that the pieces fit

The grouting was the hardest...since cleaning mortar from terra cotta tiles can be VERY tricky.
After cleaning up the grout, and removing the mortar residue with full strength vinegar and a little muriatic acid in the harder areas, it was time to seal the tiles.  The only thing getting in the way of this process was the rain which continued to fall whenever it felt like in between lots of sunshine.
Sealing the tiles was put off again and again and again.
When the sun finally came out HOTT HOTT HOTT a few days ago, I decided to take a chance and take care of the tile sealing.
 The easiest way to seal terra cotta clay tiles is to use a 50:50 mix of oil paint thinner and raw linseed oil.
The paint thinner acts as a vehicle to get the oil into the clay tiles.

Clean the area thoroughly to remove all debris.

Use a clean paintbrush to apply the thinner and oil concoction to both the tiles and the grout lines.
The smaller container was used as my measurement and I used one container full of each of the paint thinner and the linseed oil.

Make sure your Overseer does not get in the way of your progress.
I had to keep moving him as I continued to seal the tiles.  He would not go away....maybe the smell of the linseed oil reminded him of peanut butter.

The Big Reveal!
Ta Daa!!  Finally it was finished....about time too.
One project off the list....just another 300 to go.
N.B: In the photo above the oil mix has not been totally absorbed as yet.


  1. It looks terrific, Virginia. I love your medallion. I am thinking of filling in one small garden bed next to the house and will have to pave or tile over it, so you have inspired me. (And yes, I too have the to-do list that never seems to end, so I will add it on and get to it one day.)

    1. I hope your "Get-To-It" list is not as long as mine.
      I'm hoping that you get the tiled area completed this year....I'm rooting for you!!

  2. There's some handy tips there that I didn't know about sealing terra cotta tiles. It's nice to know that you still call your ex-hubby 'dear'. Relationships like that are so rare.

    1. Me and ex-hubby get along just fine. It's no sense getting all bent of shape because we are no longer together....we are great friends.
      Yes, you are so right, many folks find it incredulous, and it is a rare phenomenon.... but it works for us.

  3. I love that medallion in the center - you did a great job designing that. What would you do without your overseer? He does seem to be part of every project. :)

    1. Thanks for your kind compliments.
      The Overseer gets "paid in full" with treats and snacks.....he does a great job.


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