Tile Month Continues ~ Floors And Walls II ~ Plus Cynthia’s Lamp Shades

Hanibal and I completed the floor tile in the kitchen, the little office space (closet), and the half bath under the stairs:


I still need to install baseboards and install shelves under the counter top under the TV. And nothing is where it will ultimately be as we are still in shuffle-stage of moving things here and there while we tile the floors.

There was a problem area between the kitchen floor and the bathroom floor; the kitchen slab is three-inches-thick and the bathroom slab (poured with the living room) is four-inches-thick. I absolutely hate the tiny steps that are so common in local construction. You have to watch when you are going from room to room because there is frequently a little trip-over inch or so. To resolve our issue, Hanibal and I built a gentle ramp at the transition. You hardly even notice it:


Christine in Oregon and Lynn in Ohio take note: the bathroom under the stairs is getting closer to completion:


The floor needs a few more washings to remove the grout film. I took some time and installed wiring at the west end of the kitchen and bathroom.

We grouted the angle wall at the staircase. It looks really sharp:


Next we moved into the bedroom pod (two containers separated by a twelve-foot stick built space). We laid out a forty-foot-long row of tiles and adjusted them east-to-west to get the best layout for each room, hallway, and doorway. This took a while but when we were satisfied, we snapped a chalk line guide. We did the same floor leveling that we did in the kitchen and then mortared the row of tiles into place along the chalk line.

In the next photo we have progressed beyond that single row of tile, but you can see how useful it was to have this guide to provide a floor pattern that flows through the spaces:


Ignore the colors; miss-matched light bulbs lighted the area differently.

Hanibal’s brother Bolivar has been helping us a few days a week when we need an extra hand mixing and hauling. Here he is sifting sand:


After the long row of tiles, we moved into the walk-in closet:


Chaos reigns with all our belongings as we move around the job. Although the color in the photo isn’t a good representation of what really is, we have decided that we don’t like it. Good thing that paint is relatively cheap. There will be base boards added before it is all finished.

Next up was the second bedroom (east end of the bedroom pod):


Being able to open the container doors in the bedroom allowed us to bring a wheelbarrow-full of mortar right into the house.


The hallway to the living room is done, too.

In the next photo I’m marking a tile at the edge of the landing to the second bedroom so that I can cut the edge profile. Here I have overlapped one tile on top of another. Then I set the dividers (they were my grandfather’s) for the amount of overlap plus a tad. Then, keeping the dividers in line with the tile, I scribe along the wall contour:


I taped a Sharpie to the dividers for a darker line.

Then I cut the tile. I have a new tile saw — my old one died. I think that August has also been National Tool Die Off Month as this month it was the tile saw, a saber saw, the switch on my reciprocating saw went bad, and one or two others tools died that I can’t remember right now. I hate to have to replace these tools so near to the end of the project. Here I am at the new tile saw:


Safety glasses photo-shopped out for vanity reasons.

Looking for something else to do, we tackled the laundry room. On day-one we laid the floor. On day-two we moved the machines onto the completed floor and tackled the wall and the elevated base for the machines:


First thing tomorrow we’ll remove the board that is supporting the wall tile and install the remaining row of tiles. The little sticks at floor level are holding up the front edging tile while the mortar dries. Cynthia will be buying new paint for the laundry room and dry room/closet in the morning.

After the laundry is finished and grouted, we’ll move into the (Christine in Oregon and Lynn in Ohio take note) master bathroom. This is the first time we have seen this space in a few years as it has been filled to the brim with boxes of possessions. Too much stuff!

There is a lot to do in this bathroom — wall tiles, floor tiles, two glass block divider walls, and Armando will make a partial wall of stones. Plus I still need to cut out the container siding at the end of the room and install a glass block window wall as we did in the kitchen:

P1010536-001In the last bit of current tile news, Elmec had a 15% off sale last Sunday so we ordered tile for the front steps. The main tiles are the same ones that are on the stairway wall in the living room. We also bought some large, square, dark gray tiles that I will cut into strips to make a border at the front of each step; the steps are difficult to see so the edging will delineate the edge of each step:


Jabo points to the tiles for the front steps.

Cynthia has been burning the midnight electricity, keeping her kiln filled and cooking glass for the lamp shades in the kitchen. Just as she had a learning curve with how much powdered/colored glass to use to get her desired color, she also had a learning curve for slumping the lamp shades over the form. Trial and error then success is pretty much the only way to go about this process. She had to take into account the thickness of the glass plus the time-duration and temperature of each of the eight segments of the approximately ten-hour slumping in the kiln.

Here is a sheet of glass in the kiln, resting on top of the form that the glass will slump over:


Her first attempt tore the glass — too much heat and too long at the slumping stage:


The first go — lifting the cover of the kiln after ten hours was disappointing but she learned a lot.

The next photo shows another almost-but-not-quite attempt (the front-left one refused to drop her arms and the glass split). The one on the front-right is the torn one. The three others were successes. Now she has the electronic controller programmed correctly and she can go ahead with the remainder of the ten lamp shades. After she has all the shades finished, I will need to drill a hole in the top of each shade and install a socket and cord. Stay tuned:


The failed test piece on the front left and the reject with purple will become opportunities to practice drilling holes for the wiring. The purple one is an aesthetic reject.

Armando has finished one portion of the rock work border at the east side of the driveway. Here he has all the stones in place plus form work for the concrete topping:


And here is the curb all done:


And finishing off this post is a pretty hibiscus:

P1010518That’s all for now. Thanks for stopping by.

17 thoughts on “Tile Month Continues ~ Floors And Walls II ~ Plus Cynthia’s Lamp Shades

    • Tough question Jon.

      If you build inside, you lose space. Valuable space. And I really like seeing the container wall corrugations inside the room. But insulating inside would give you a straight wall and would make adding a baseboard much, much easier than cutting ceramic tiles to fit the hundreds of corrugations as I am doing. Probably easier to run wires and plumbing if you build inside.

      But if you insulate outside, you lose the corrugations and I like seeing them on the outside, too. If you insulate outside, you won’t have to battle heat gain (hot summers) or heat loss (cold winters) at the container siding. Also if you insulate and stucco outside, you won’t have any rust issues on your exterior paint job.

      Either inside or out, I think that I would use two-part spray urethane foam as the insulator. The foam would bond to the metal siding and prevent condensation on the opposite side of the container wall. Air spaces left by foam panels could cause an opportunity for condensation. Beware of condensing surfaces is the byline of the Building Science profession. (Google building science — it talks about applying physics to habitable spaces.)

      I think it comes down to a tough decision as to what aesthetics you want to have inside vs. outside. Pick you poison!

      • Thanks. I’m leaning towards rigid foam/stucco on the outside. The thermal mass of the container then helps if you open the windows at night and close things up during the day. On the other hand, it makes brief uses of AC less efficient.

        I wonder if there is some type of moulding design that would eliminate the need for so much tile cutting. For example, a 2″ high steel strip with concrete poured into the corrugations behind it.

  1. Looking good. I love the glass. Good job on the bathroom progress too Fred! I won’t be satisfied until it’s finished though, you know, and Cyn doesn’t have to go to the outside bathroom in the middle of the night.

  2. It is incredible the amount of work that you have done, yet, there is still plenty to do… I think that I am most amazed at your ability to make it all come together! Congratulations on being one step closer and having done such beautiful yet functional work… as always! 🙂

    John, Ximena, Sarah, and Emmita in Chile!
    The “true” deep south!

    • Thanks John,

      We moved into the master bathroom today and already the change is significant. We roughed in a really nice shower valve, planning its location with the wall tile layout so that the only tile cutting is at the edge of the tiles — no tiles cut in half to fit around the shower valve. Thanks for your comment John, Fred

  3. Hi Fred and Cynthia. The transformation since I visited last year at this time is stunning! What great vision, nice to see some of the finishes, best of luck with the rest. Cynthia

  4. Hi, really impressed by your work, my husband and my self also built a container home( now thatthechildren are married and away) . Well we love our place but just did not know how to tile the walls of our bathrooms, don’t know how to stick the tiles tothe container walls( metal) could you help. Thanks a million.
    Zeenat fro Islamabad .Pakistan

    • Hello Zeenat,

      Thank you very much for the compliment.

      As to putting tiles on the container wall, that is a difficult one. I have not had to do it myself, so I cannot speak from experience. But if the wall is in good condition, that is to say that there are no big dents that distort the metal siding, then I would think that you could use a good quality urethane adhesive (in a caulking gun tube) to glue tile backer board (also called cement board) to the wall, then tile over the tile backer. You could use some braces against the tile backer to hold it in place while the glue dries. Good luck with your project! Regards, Fred

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