Saturday, August 7, 2010

Tile and Error

After three years in the house, we finally decided to do something about the upstairs bath, which had been remodeled on the cheap by a previous owner, and was a weird mashup of 50s-era tile and 80s fixtures.

We had a pretty complete plan: install new lighting, a new vanity, and new low-flow toilet; pull the old tile off the walls and put up put up bead-board wainscoting; pull two strata of linoleum off the floor and put down new tile.

I really liked the look of some tile we'd seen at Lowe's:  long, rectangular porcelain tiles designed to look like hardwood.  Since we'd never installed a tile floor before, though, we figured we'd better hire a professional to do that part of the work.

We talked to some folks at a local kitchen and bath place, who were very nice, but didn't know anything about the tile we'd picked out, and who gave us an estimate for materials and installation that neared the four-digit mark.

I've done a tiny bit of tile installation before, and the bathroom is only about 6 x 7 feet. How hard could it be? And my old grad school pal Jim Brown encouraged us to do it ourselves: his suggestion was to read a book about how to do it, which sounded like advice only an English professor would give.  So, we special-ordered the original tile we'd liked from Lowe's.

We ordered the tile about a month ago, and were told it would take about ten days for delivery. Sure enough, ten days later, we got a phone call from Lowe's: the tile had arrived, but it was all "busted up" and Lowe's had refused delivery. They reordered. In the meantime, Rose had gotten online and ordered us a new light fixture for the ceiling, a new faucet, and a new toilet. We also special-ordered a couple other things from Lowe's--a vanity and a medicine cabinet.

Well, several weeks after I knocked the tile off the wall, almost all of those things have arrived, and are now sitting in various places in the house: the new toilet is up in Rose's office; the new vanity is in the garage. The ceiling light is already installed.

Part two of the Lowe's saga began with a call yesterday, saying that our special order had arrived. We didn't know if it was the tile or the medicine cabinet, since we were waiting on that, too, so I called them up to ask. Here's what the conversation sounded like from my end:
Me: So I got a call yesterday that a special order had come in. Could you tell me what it is?
Clerk: Is it tall?
Me: Tall?  I'm not sure.
Clerk: Tall, you know: T-I-L-E.
Oh, yeah, we're in West Virginia, already.

So, we drove over today to pick up the tile, excited that the real remodeling work could begin, since the floor will have to go in before anything else can.

We waited about fifteen minutes for them to bring the tile out for us to load in the car...four little boxes that hardly looked like enough to cover the floor. So I pulled a piece out of one of the boxes, looked at it for a moment, and then said to Rosemary, "Hey, didn't we order the tile that was six inches wide? This is only four inches."

Sure enough, what we ordered was not what had turned up at our store. Since we'd already had to sign for it, we then had to take it back into the store, return it, and re-order the right stuff. At least the tile guy gave us a ten percent discount for our trouble.  

But on the upside, twenty minutes after we got home, Lowe's called us again to tell us the medicine cabinet was in.

And we thought we'd get it all done before school started up.


Beth said...

I admire you both for doing this on your own! I've found Lowe's to be really good about giving discounts on problematic deliveries or scratch-n-dents. My washer and dryer came from their scratch-n-dent section.

Pam said...

*tall* LMAO. I know exactly what that would sound like!

Erica said...

I must confess, I laughed quite a lot at "How hard could it be?" I hope the installation process is smoother than the ordering process!

Historiann said...

Walls are really overrated, and as long as they're opaque, what more do you need? So, there's no rush.

Good luck with the installation.