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IS A NEW TILE FLOOR? ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS
Ever since my daughter, Megan, was a little tyke, she saw me take on numerous handyman projects around the house. She’s watched as I added an entire room to the house — concrete, electrical, and all — installed a complete gabled roof, built arches into doorways with stucco to transform a space into a Spanish-style hideaway, and outfitted the entire yard with automated sprinklers and drip systems. Megan has seen me work with brick, concrete, wood, and even metal as I welded together a wrought-iron fence. And then, finally, she’s seen me do tile work, decorating the kitchen floor of the second family home with diagonal cut tiles and custom border inlays. Last year, Megan was fortunate enough to buy her first home. It’s a bit of a fixer-upper, but a great place nonetheless. Apparently, all that handiwork she’d seen me do had instilled in her a desire to do the same. “Dad,” she said to me, “I want you to teach me how to lay tile.” Of course I agreed, and we got to work. Last Thanksgiving weekend, I went over and, with a little bit of help, Megan and I tore up the old, sticky linoleum, some partially laid wood floors, and
partial carpet. After we’d finished and cleaned it up, the place was looking pretty good, if unfinished. Luckily, the floors were level, and we were ready to get started. Megan went out to a place in Corona and picked up the tiles, planks with the feel and texture of quality wood. We began laying some of them out and decided to go with a 12-inch offset with a return to the baseline every fourth tile. So Friday after Thanksgiving, we laid out an intricate pattern across her floors, mixing our thinset and slapping it on carefully, making sure each tile was level. After dozens of hours working over the weekend and the following week, we got it ready to be grouted on Sunday. Throughout the process, Megan got steadily more skilled and confident in her abilities. It was cool to watch her and her boyfriend, Sean, laying the thinset, scraping it, and placing the tile level. She even learned how to use two different types of tile saws, cutting everything up to spec. Then, when it came time to grout, it was just Megan and I, on our hands and knees, exhausting ourselves to ensure everything was done right. By Christmas, the whole thing was done, and it looked great, if I do say so myself. I may be blessed to have the opportunity to sit and use my mind for my career, but when I’m not at work, I seek out the physical aspect of life — racing mountain bikes, working with my hands, and, of course, laying tile. In my opinion, modern life gets a little too easy sometimes. It’s important to get your hands dirty every once in a while to remind you of everything you take for granted. This time, I was just glad to have Megan working right alongside me.
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