Friday, October 9, 2009

What I did on my vacation

I took a few days off recently to get a break from work. I've rarely taken time off since last winter, often working weekends, and I could feel the stress building. So I arranged for a few guest editorials and scheduled last Thursday and Friday off. My wife was sure I'd be firing up the computer and working a bit, but I really tried to avoid that.

So I tiled my bathroom.

DSCI0007 This was my bathroom last week before I started. An ugly, gray carpet that the builder had put into the house. It was in the whole house, including the 4 bathrooms, when we moved in. I had tiled the other 3 baths the first year we lived there, but had avoided our master bath since the room is used so much.

And it's a big project, about 95sq ft of floor space. But I thought I could get it done in 4 days, Thur-Sun, if I had nothing else to do. My wife was planning on being gone to some horse event, and the kids were in school a couple days, and could hang out with friends over the weekend.

As I started to write down my plan and get a list ready to go shopping, my wife asked if I really wanted to spend my vacation working around the house. Wasn't there something else I'd rather do? Go out, do something, see a ball game, etc. There are some things I'd do, but what I was saving vacation for was to do a lot of snowboarding this winter. Since it's too early to do that, and I needed a break, I thought this would be simple, mindless work that would give me a sense of satisfaction.

Tile_20091002_01 I ended up losing all of Thursday to other chores and shopping for supplies. That meant that Friday was devoted to ripping out carpet and getting the underlayment down. Then Saturday was cutting and gluing tiles. I didn't finish, and that actually moved into Monday to get the last few tiles done, but I had started grouting and here was the current state on Sunday night when I knocked off.

My wife asked me if I felt better, and was it a good vacation? I said it was. Despite a sore lower back and knee, despite some nicks and cuts, and a lot of up and down the stairs, I felt like I accomplished something.

I still get satisfaction from going in the other bathrooms, and seeing the work I've done, and I still like driving by the 1000' fence I built in our last house. Those projects stand out to me and give me a sense of accomplishment that pushing bits around doesn't.

I'll post a more detailed look at the project on my personal blog for those that are interesting in how an amateur lays tile, but the final total looks like this:

  • 5 days (I'll count Monday, still some small stuff that leaked into Tue/Wed/Thur)
  • about $420 in supplies
  • 96sq ft of tile (approx) laid in the main bathroom, linen closet, and toilet room
  • 4 gallons of water run through the wet saw
  • 100 trips up and down the stairs
  • 2 trash cans filled with carpet, pad, and tack board
  • 5 cuts on my hands
  • A project that will stick out in my mind for years

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