Kitchen Floor ~ Five Days In

One day last week plus four days this week makes five days working on the floor so far. Although the going is slow, we are really happy with the progress.

There is one tedious part to the floor tile installation and I have resigned myself to taking the time that it needs — when abutting the end of one tile to the end of the next tile, I have to make sure that the joint is at the correct elevation — that is to say that it is all too easy to have that joint be too low or too high in relation to the neighboring tiles, thereby creating a spot to trip or stub a toe. And I often can’t tell if the height is correct until the next row of tiles is in place, so I’ve had to remove a few tiles here and there to adjust the thickness of the mortar. To help me remove an already surrounded tile I made a tile removal tool; I doubled some baling wire and made a small “L” bend at one end. I can slip the wire into a grout line, turn the wire 90-degrees, and lift out the tile. This saves a lot of mess and I don’t have to unnecessarily remove other tiles.

As I said, we are really happy with the progress and we like how the floor is warming the space. Here are a few progress photos — remember that I still need to apply the grout, so the floor doesn’t look finished yet:




Yes, that’s a lot of tiles to scribe and cut along the container wall. But it is going surprisingly well.

So far I have about sixteen of the forty-feet of floor completed. This has been the most difficult part because in addition to the walls, I have to cut around the islands, too. I’ll pick up speed when I get to the open area of the floor.

To give my old knees a break from the floor, I spent some time installing adjustable shelving brackets on the kitchen wall (other side of the wall from the stairs). I made two aluminum shelves; there will be a lot more shelves and four, large sliding doors. These shelves will be the pantry for food and dishes:


In other news, In another day off from the floor, Cynthia and I went to the city and bought a dishwasher. I hope to have the kitchen up and running, although not finished, within the next two weeks. Although we will still be “camping,” it will be great to have the kitchen out of my workshop and to have a sink actually inside the house! And without the wind constantly blowing the burners out when Cynthia is trying to cook, as happens now in the shop/kitchen.

And finally, some pretty orchids are in bloom. Along with the hibiscuses, our “plant angel neighbor” also gave us some Espiritu Santo (Holy Ghost) orchid plants. Armando planted them in pots, including in the dirt mix some rotting pieces of wood and some charcoal from our burn pile to make the plants happy. Already, one of the plants has flowered:




And in the dead tree in the front garden, two orchids are in bloom. One with large brown flowers:


And one with tiny, tiny white flowers:


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

15 thoughts on “Kitchen Floor ~ Five Days In

  1. I really like the look of the tile waving in and out of the wall. Lots of work but it really finishes it off nicely. Great choice in tile as well.

  2. High on my list of reasons to move to Panama? The variety of orchids that one can grow with little effort. Thanks for the flower pics.

    • Hi Scott,

      Down in town, El Valle, there is an orchid center. Hundreds of orchids! They also have a good selection of medicinal herbs growing in their garden.

      Some people here will go into the mountains, pick the wild orchids, and sell them. This is unethical at best and possibly illegal. There is a breeder at the public market that has a good selection of legal orchids, quite proud of his ethical business.


      • Fred, you didn’t mention the orchid conservancy center here in El Valle! Their mission statement:
        APROVACA is a non-profitable organization dedicated to the conservation of native species of orchids in a charming little town of Panama, El Valle de Antón. APROVACA is the acronym for “Asociación de Productores de Orquideas de El Valle y Cabuya,” that is, Association of Orchid Producers in El Valle and Cabuya. It was established on 15 May 2001 with the view to protecting endangered endemic species of orchids and thus contributing to the conservation of the amazing biodiversity of the region and the Republic of Panama.

  3. We are in debate as to whether or not to take the floor out of our container and installing another foundation before pouring concrete on top? We are going to have concrete floors. We just dont know if it makes sense? we are concerned the wet winters here in Costa Rica will mold the plywood from underneath and cause havoc. We ahve also heard the plywood is treated w/ lots of pesticide and is super toxic and should be sealed with poly before doing anything to it to seal in the toxins. Any thoughts on any of this? Thanks so much – julie

    • We left the wood floors but they are wood, not plywood. I suspect that the plywood is treated to be durable for many ocean voyages in worse conditions than on land. Also, we are up on columns, at least a foot and a half above ground. We poured the concrete directly over the wood, then tiled the floor. Sorry, I can’t make a recommendation for what you should do.

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