DIY – Don’t do it people….

It seemed like a brilliant, money saving idea. I mean really, how hard could it be? "Nah", I say, "We don't need to get the tiler in, I can grout the floor tiles in the kitchen, dining room and conservatory myself". "Are you sure?" says Mr Vicola, wearing that expression that suggests this might possibly be the worst idea to surface since the dawn of time. "Course I'm sure" I assure him, determined now to prove that I am up to the job for the simple reason that it's obvious he thinks I'm not. Sometimes I'm my own worst enemy.

So off I head to B&Q to buy in supplies. I get a bit overenthusiastic in the tools department and come home with 3 bags of grey grout and a bag full of little gadgety things, whose purpose defeats me but who were in the 'tiling accessories' aisle and so must surely be vital to the job in hand. After much grunting, swearing and yanking I finally manage to detach the drill bit from the electric drill and attach the mixing thingy I've bought. Bingo – I have conquored the world of power tools, I am truly a woman of the 21st century. Then I read the back of the grout bag. Well actually there's quite a lot of writing on the back of the grout bag and it all looks really dull so I just look at the quantity diagram to see how much water I need. 0.65l, ok, I can do that. I put my water into the bucket and…fuckity fuck, it all comes out of the bottom because Mr Vicola had been mixing the adhesive with a wide drill bit and had drilled a hole in the bottom. Good effort. Ever resourceful I drag the mop bucket out of the cupboard under the stairs and measure out another 0.65l then wang in the bag of grout powder. A mushroom cloud of grey dust rises majestically into the air, coating me, the floor, the work surface and the dishwasher. Once I've washed the worst of the dust out of my eyes and I can once again breathe and see I re-read the back of the grout bag – "Add grout powder gradually, mixing gently". Oopski. Ah well, done now. I whizz the lumpy mixture for a bit with my mixey thing attached to the drill and I'm ready to go.

Now I have to work out how to get the grout into the hole between the tiles. I could do with an icing bag really but since baking is the only thing I'm worse at than DIY I don't own one so decide to improvise by cutting a small corner off a sandwich bag. This works well for a couple of minutes until a rather too vigorous squeeze sends grout flying at high speed in several directions as the bag explodes. While picking grout out of my hair and the toaster I contemplate other ways of getting the bastard stuff into the holes. Eventually I settle for squashing it in with a sponge then scraping over it with my credit card to take off the excess, since in my large bag of gadegty things I do not have anything as useful as a grout scraper. This is more successful but then I come to clean the excess grout off the tiles I've gone round the edge of which is without a doubt the biggest ball-ache of a task I have ever encountered. First the sponge just smears the excess grout around the bloody tile in a big cheerful swirl, then I take half the damned stuff out of the joint while pursuing a particularly tricky bit of splat. Eventually I get the tiles clean (and bear in mind that 'clean' is a relative term, the bloody things are still a complete mess, it's just that they don't have any actual lumps that will later require chiselling off) and I sit back to admire my handiwork. Brilliant. 2 hours works and I appear to have grouted the toaster, myself, 3 kitchen cupboards and the princely sum of 14 tiles. Which by my reckoning leaves me only approximately 260 tiles left to do. So at 7 tiles an hour that's  a mere 37 more hours of work. 

Oh crap.

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23 Responses

  1. .. which is why I always pay someone else to do tiling. I'm fine with decorating and have even been known to change the odd plug and/or fuse without electrocuting myself. Making and hanging curtains – even putting up curtain poles – simple. But grouting, sealing along the edges of sinks and bath and the like – like you, I get more stuff over myself and surrounding areas than ever seems feasible.

  2. What I don't get is how the tiler manages to get a whole room grouted and the tiles spotless in a matter of hours. How?? It's ridiculous. Because I spent hours on my knees on the hard tiles I have a massive bruise on each one and I'm fairly sure the IT department are sniggering at me as I walk past. Plus as I was putting slap on this morning I noticed that I still had grout in one ear. I think I'm going to have to admit defeat and get the tiler in to finish off.

  3. You are a brave/crazy lady. DIY is something that both Tim and I have agreed that we don't have the necessary skill/desire to do and have never really attempted, convinced as we are that we'd probalby end up destroying our house!
    Good luck with it though…

  4. I can tell you with 100% certainty that I will never volunteer to grout a floor again. Ever. Not only is it a bloody awful job but I appear to have no natural aptitude whatsoever. It's not going well….

  5. It's my husband who thinks he can do these things, "It's simple – you just x, y and then z!", which I roughly translate into "ex, why? and zzz". He replaced a light switch once – an operation so simple that it still isn't finished 3 years later. I now know, when I'm told how simple things are, that a call to the professionals is the only way to go.
    Respect for trying though – imagine how smug you'd have been if you'd pulled it off?

  6. Oooh, I would have been all sorts of smug if I'd pulled it off. Sadly I didn't and now I just look like a bit of a twat.

  7. Ah yes. The tiles.
    I have been around construction literally all my life in one way or another. the only other thing I have been around more is guns, martial arts and well…naked women, which really is the best of the lot, but even I would never attempt actual tiling.
    Fording a river – check.
    Building a wall, a bridge, a concrete foundation for weird ass towers in the middle of the desert where there is only shifting sands…yeah. no problem.
    But tiling and grouting? It's just not done.
    It's a secret and necromantic art and it's only passed down from father to creator of an amorphic blob of humunculousness that will create the next tiler and grouter.
    You should read more HP Lovecraft. Then you would know of the horrors that come with tiling. Which incidentally I just bought a whole big book of. (HPL, not tiling, though it's close as it's called the Necronomicon, a collection of his works). Came complete with squamous snot as I described on my latest blog…

  8. I know! Bonkers isn't it?

  9. Great story Vicola. I understand every bit of the frustration.However, by the time you get to relate it to your (or someone elses) grandchildren, you will probably have modified and embellished it, and they will know about how grandma once laid 400 tiles in one day to such a level of perfection that Home beautiful magazine featured it on their front cover.Well that's how it works with my previous handyman disasters anyway 😉

  10. Sure, 37 hours. But look how well it will be done? And you'd have the total feeling of self-satisfaction, the feeling that you did this.Mind you, 37 hours, that's almost a full working

  11. Bloody fantastic story Vicola. I had a right laugh (not at you obviously…) reading it and I give you the utmost respect for trying it at least.At my old gaff I did the entire en-suite tiling from floor, to wall, to shower enclosure and by god when I'd done it I was happy, however it was one of those jobs that when I'd started it I wished I hadn't. I've hung up my grout trowel, sponge and the like and now only ever go back to them when father-in-law to be decides he's going to retile another room. He's a DIY expert, and when he turns his hand to something it gets done and finished properly. I am in awe of him where that's concerned, and I wish I had the same talents.Presumably Mr Vicola hasn't dared utter "Told you so"? I can imagine that ending with you taking the grout mixer to his bollocks.

  12. hahahahahabahbahhahahahaah!!!!!!!!!! that was a great story,thanks for the laugh,but you have got past the hard part,made all the mistakes,don't give up,when your done you will have years to gloat that you are the one who grouted that floor. if nothing else just google it and find a video of someone else doing it.cmon wheres that british stubberness????????? again thanks for the laugh………..

  13. I may be obliged to get the tiler in to finish off the job and then pass the work off as my own….

  14. Trouble is that I'm working full time so I can't be arsed dealing with it after work and have to leave it till the weekend. I'm going to book Friday off to try and get another chunk done so I'll probably be a drivelling idiot with ruined knees and a twitch by Monday.

  15. Mr Vicola certainly hasn't uttered told you so which is fortunate because if he had then I'd have had plenty of time to swot up on the theory of tiling while completing my life sentence. I wish I had a father in law who had a tiling talent. I've got 2 FILs, one is an eccentric inventor and the step-father-in-law is a lush with shaky hands and a borderline personality disorder. My dad is quite good at these things but when I asked him if he'd finish my floor he just laughed at me and wandered off. I took that as a no.

  16. Glad to be of service Ken! I tell you, when that bastard floor is finished I'm going to put a picture of it up here for everyone to admire/ laugh at, dependant on the results…

  17. I love it when dads do that. Mine has done it to me on many occasions and I'm looking forward to being able to do it to Aston when he's older.Best of luck, whichever way you decide to get the flooring finished.

  18. Ha! Bet that's the joy of being a parent, being able to do all the stuff that your parents did to annoy you. to someone else. You need to crack open the champagne the first time you utter the phrase 'Because I said so"….
    I suspect I'm going to need luck, a prevailing wind and a miracle to get the floor finished…

  19. LOL – this had me seriously giggling here at work (where I'm not supposed to be social networking!)….. Grouting looks like it should be easy – doesn't it come in a tube all ready mixed with a nice nozzle on the end and all that's required is a point and squeeze action? Oh – perhaps that's caulking! LOL – this is why I don't do DIY.

  20. I have a good friend who renovates houses and can do EVERYTHING, but if there is one thing he hates, it's grouting.

  21. Balls, the rest of my comment went awol.

  22. that is very good post!!! and funny to you are very talented

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