Monday, January 6, 2014

Project House Update: A Million Tiny Cuts

It's been a while since I've updated you on the progress of the world's most infuriating fireplace. Here's what it's looking like right now!

But let's start at the beginning. When we last left it, it looked something like this:

We'd finished the dark tile edge and were about to start on the top.

In true Dan fashion, he began to question our decision to do tile. We both knew it was going to take many very precise cuts to make it look good since the surface is curved. I thought we could pull it off, but Dan wanted to fully exhaust the idea of using just one piece of stone, like a countertop. We agreed if we could find a company that would do it for less than $700 we would talk about it.

I sent emails to at least a dozen stone and countertop places in town and the lowest estimate I could find was about $1500. So, begrudgingly for Dan and happily for me, we went back to our original plan of marble subway tiles with a square border.

After laying the tiles out, Dan was more on board. We couldn't find a company that sold 4x4 inch marble tiles, so we bought 8x12 inch ones from Home Depot and cut them ourselves.

From there, Dan began setting all the tiles that wouldn't need any cuts. The spacers are 1/8 inch.

I'd really thought I'd taken more progress pictures, but apparently not. When cutting the tiles, the cuts along the rear edge of the fireplace don't need to be perfectly precise since the edge of the vertical tiles will cover any gaps. However, against the wall and the edge of the front curve, those edges can't be hidden, so they need to be absolutely perfect.

To achieve this perfection, Dan's plan has been to cut a handful of tiles at a time and set them before moving onto the next small batch. This ensures that any small tolerances can be accounted for in setting of the adjacent tiles. Fortunately, Dan's developed a strategy of making a template on the desired tile in cardboard, cutting it slightly larger than the template, and sanding it to fit. It's been taking a lot of time, but given how much of a perfectionist he is, it's paying off.

[Sidenote: the front edge is spaced differently than the subway tiles. The back edge is space using 1/16 inch spacers and the front edge is eyeballed to fit with the curve of the step. Dan wanted to use some sort of uniform spacing, but since nothing on this fireplace was made how it should have been, that turned out to be impossible.]

So, slowly but surely, progress is happening. Maybe, just maybe, the room will all back together by next Christmas.

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