Ramblin’ Man

It started with a loose piece of grout. But fixing it was like pulling a string on a sweater.

In front of our shower, the grout between the ceramic tiles was cracked and a few pieces had worked their way up and out. Little by little, the loose grout covered about two feet.

Several months ago, I bought some grout to fix the problem but didn’t get to it right away. The grout continued to deteriorate. One day, I didn’t have time to fix it, but I thought I could at least pull out the old grout to save time later. Each new piece led to another loose piece. Then I noticed that the 12-inch tile next to the grout void was loose. I pulled up on it and it popped right up.

I cleaned out the loose grout around it and noticed the next tile was loose, too. And the one next to that one. Pretty soon, I had 10 or 12 tiles up along with all the grout.

I ended up pulling the whole floor up. But the old cement – the glue that’s supposed to hold the tile down – was still in place. If I put new cement on top of that, it would raise the tiles above the ones that I didn’t take up.

I pondered how I might scrape the old cement up but decided it would be easier to take up the subfloor beneath it. That way, the replaced tile would be on the same plane as the existing tile.

What started out as a small repair job was now a major project. Nobody’s got time for that.

The subfloor, known as cement board, was not an easy thing to remove. It was screwed to the original floor, but the screw heads were covered by the cement. It took awhile to pry up the old cement board and locate all the screws. The next step was to screw down new cement board then to spread a bucket of cement over that and then place the tiles back down.

After a day to dry, it was time to grout the floor. Now we have a good-as-new bathroom floor that looks just like the old floor. All it took was about a week of my time, about $200 in materials, two bruised thumbs, a stubbed toe and an aching back. It wasn’t exactly how I wanted to spend my weekend or my cigar budget.

I’m sort of the king of unfinished projects but my wife made it clear that she was not going to live with the floor in disarray. A happy wife is an effective motivator.

Now I can get back to my other unfinished projects such as refinishing an antique cabinet and repairing the side rail on an old bed. I’ve been told I have until winter to finish those projects because my wife wants her garage back.

Lesson learned: If you have a loose piece of grout in your bathroom tile, fix it today. It will be a lot cheaper in the long run.

© Copyright 2017 by David Porter who can be reached at porter@ramblinman.us. I wonder if I can write-off the floor expenses as research for this story. Note to self: Call the accountant.