Kitchen Floor Tile And Garden Bonanza

At 10:30 on Monday morning, I got a phone call from the woman at Elmec where we ordered the floor tile. She told me that the tile would be arriving at 1:00 and asked if I could be there to transfer the tile from the large delivery truck directly to my truck. This would save a lot of handling and potential for breakage. I told her yes.

I knew that it was more than our half-ton payload Honda Ridgeline could carry, so I set out to find a larger truck. Friend Jim gave me the number of a potential person, but he didn’t answer his phone. Looking for more advice, I drove to Aramis’ (the man who has been welding for us) house about two kilometers from our house. Fortunately for me, Aramis was home and suggested that I go to the kiosko where Cynthia and I buy fruits and vegetables. I went there and pleaded my case. They had a one-ton pickup truck that would be available, and I agreed to come back at 12:15.

I returned at 12:15 and we headed, each in our own truck, down the mountain to Coronado. The large delivery truck and our two pickup trucks pulled up to Elmec simultaneously. We loaded the 65-square-meters (700 square feet) of tile plus 20 bags of mortar into our two pickups and drove back up the mountain. At 3:00 after unloading, I paid the driver $60 for his time and fuel. For having had no idea where I would find a truck, the process couldn’t have gone better.

I’ll get back to the tile, but first, on Sunday a neighbor of ours came by to visit. He told us that he had just rented his weekend house for six months, and that he had some hibiscus plants in pots that he wanted to give to us. Cynthia and I got excited, because he is a hibiscus collector.  Beyond the standard red hibiscus, he has a wide range of exotic colors and flower shapes and sizes. We drove the short distance to his house. By the time we left his house, we couldn’t fit another pot in the overflowing pickup bed. Most of the plants aren’t flowering now, but I’ll post photos when they are in bloom.

Cynthia and I decided to dedicate most of the west side of the yard to a giant hibiscus garden. Armando started his week on Tuesday, and spent most of the day putting the plants in the ground and giving them a good drink of water. Here is a photo of one of the plants that had one flower on it:


Here Armando has a few planted and a few to go:


In addition to the 25 hibiscus (called papos in Spanish), our neighbor also gave us a couple bonus plants including a raspberry bush, a giant elk horn, and a giant variegated cut-leaf philodendron. We planted the cut-leaf near the front gate:


I labeled this post Garden Bonanza not just because of the plants that our neighbor so generously gave us. This week another neighbor gave us seven large clay pots that they were no longer using. All we have to do is clean them and find some plants to put in them:


While Armando was planting the hibiscus on Tuesday, I put some foam building panels on the west end wall of the kitchen. I also ran wires for electrical in the wall and for an outside security light high on the shipping container wall. On Wednesday, Armando applied the first coat of repello (stucco). He works elsewhere on Thursdays and Fridays, so he applied the second coat of repello on Saturday. Here is the wall ready for paint after the mortar cures a bit more:


We’ll mount the TV on this wall. The two holes will allow me to run all the wires to and from the TV behind the wall for a nice clean look. I’ll build a cabinet below the TV so the bottom hole and the electrical receptacle will be hidden too.

On Wednesday I wanted nothing more than to start laying the tile. But there was still some prep work to be done. When we poured the concrete floor in the kitchen, I was sure that we would put a baseboard around the room so we weren’t too neat about the concrete. But the more I tried to design a baseboard that would work with the corrugations of the container walls, the uglier the end product became.

I could affix a piece of tilebacker to the container wall (how???), then tile the tilebacker with the floor tile, then fill all the spaces with mortar where the container wall bends outward. If not tile, then whatever material I could think of still had to have all the outies filled with mortar and it would be a dusting nightmare for the person cleaning the floors. It was just arduous and ugly in my mind. The only conclusion was to go baseboard free. No baseboard was the decision. But as I said, when we poured the floor, we didn’t figure that the tile would hug all the innies and outies of container wall corrugations.

So I spent all of Wednesday on my hands and knees with a hammer and a chisel cleaning the line where the concrete meets the container wall. This made a lot of dust and debris.

I woke up Thursday morning and couldn’t open my right hand, the one that had held the chisel all day Wednesday. I had no choice but to take the day off. But I planned to start the tile on Friday!

Friday arrived and I was anxious to start the tile. But wait, I still had to clean up all the concrete debris, so I got out the shop vac and cleaned the entire floor. After that, I noticed that the container walls were quite dusty from all the chiseling and also from sanding the counter tops. So I washed the walls, changing the water in the bucket umpteen times. Now that the walls were nice and clean, I noticed that the white paint on the walls needed some touch up where I chiseled the floor. I got a paintbrush but really didn’t want the brush marks. What the heck, I hauled out the paint sprayer and not only touched up, but gave the container walls an entire third coat of white. Wow, now they gleam!

Armando arrived Saturday morning expecting to see half the kitchen floor tiled. Sorry to disappoint, but no Armando, I am only now going to start the tile. I set up the tile saw and finally, FINALLY got to work. I took my time establishing a straight and true first two rows of tile.

Here is what I got done on Saturday:


I had to go slowly so that I didn’t disturb the first two rows while the mortar set. I also wanted to make sure that every tile was level with its neighbor. I hate tripping over the edge of a tile.

The downside of no baseboard means that I have to scribe each and every tile where it meets the wall. I rigged a Sharpie marker on a pair of dividers to scribe to the wall:


I left a little space at the wall for grout.

So that was the week. Next week — MORE TILE!

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

13 thoughts on “Kitchen Floor Tile And Garden Bonanza

  1. Wow, hope your hand is better and that doesn’t happen again.
    I love those huge clay pots. 🙂
    Amazing progress! That’s going to be an amazing kitchen!

    • Hi Lynn,
      Those pots were made just down the mountain a little way by one of the artisan pottery families along the side of the road. Theirs is one of the largest facilities, and they offer some huge pieces for sale. Having toured their operations a few years ago with another potter friend, we learned that the pots are constructed using a coiled clay technique and then fired in their wood-fueled kiln. Just a bit of pottery trivia for you!

  2. That’s a ton of work cutting each tile to your wall. I think I would need a holiday afterwards. It’s definitely a labor of love.

    Good on ya!

  3. So exciting to see the progress since I visited you in August. All of Cynthia’s beads were a big hit with the friends and family I gifted them to. The house is really taking shape, best of luck to you, your hard work is really paying off. Time to paint pictures soon enough!

  4. You certainly don’t do things in a small (and easy) way! Another HUGE job of cutting the floor tiles to fit the ins n outs … wow! However, we could picture standard baseboard and nothing could work as well as THIS labor of love and dedication ! Nice idea that would have cowed the rest of us mere mortals! You continue to be an inspiration, so thanks!

  5. That kitchen is going to be gorgeous! and how lucky you guys were getting all those gifted hibiscuses and clay pots!

    I know the feeling about your hand… I hand nailed about 100 feet of privacy fence back in the states one weekend and my hand and wrist joints were swollen and stiff (not something I was/am used to doing).

    Saludos from Chile!
    Life in the “true” deep south!

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