Story #25 about our renovation appears in today’s Times-Picayune.
GROUT IS STICKING POINT IN SHOWER REDO
Saturday, October 13, 2007
By Stephanie Bruno
NOTE: Progress quickened last month on the raised-basement house Bart Everson and Christy Paxson own in Mid-City. Now, near-completion of the tile job downstairs means the couple may be on track to meet their end-of-the-year deadline to finish repairs.
Bart Everson is a man on fire. He’s determined to finish the renovation of his home by the end of the year. This year.
“If it weren’t for the baby, I’d be perfectly happy to let it drag on indefinitely,” he said. “But we want to get it finished by the end of the year so that we have a couple of months before the baby comes to panic about other things.”
Everson and his wife, Christy Paxson, are expecting their first child in March, and completing the repair of their formerly flooded downstairs living area is a necessary first step in freeing time for preparations. Everson’s determination paid off a month or so ago, when his contractor returned to complete a list of tasks necessary for moving ahead, and when Everson at last selected and ordered the tile for the downstairs floors and bath.
“It took longer than anticipated for the tile to come in, so that kept Juan waiting,” Everson said, referring to his tile contractor. “But he came out within a few days of the tile’s arrival and started doing a bang-up job.”
Adhering to the post-Katrina rule that no progress goes unstymied, the tile job ground to a halt when the crew was ready for grout, and Everson had none to give them.
“My co-workers had succeeded in striking fear of mildew into me, so in the bath, I wanted to use Spectra-Lock, a special grout that resists mildew,” Everson said. “Of course, that product was special order, so we had to wait a long time for it to come in. At last it did, and the guys got to work.”
But the grout aggravation didn’t end there. Everson said his tile crew started at the ceiling of the shower and worked its way down. About a third of the way into the job, the special-order grout supply was exhausted.
“It would have taken weeks to get the Spectra-Lock grout, so I asked about regular grout and if I could get it in the midnight-blue color I wanted,” he said. “Not only would the Spectra-Lock have taken longer, it would have cost more than four times what regular grout costs. I could order it, wait and pay more, or I could get the regular grout and the guys could get back to work.”
Everson chose practicality over principle, and the tiling resumed.
Nonetheless, Everson isn’t giving up on his quest to banish mildew from his new shower. He immediately began researching alternatives to the special grout and now has a new strategy.
“It’s called ‘M-1 Sure Kote,’ and it’s a mildew-resistant sealant that you spray on,” he said. For $10 per can, versus $90 per sack for the mildew-resistant grout, Everson figures it’s worth a try.
Grout issues aside, the tile job has gone well, Everson said, and he likes what he sees. “The bluish mottled tile is down on the floor in the back room and laundry area, and the midnight blue grout is in,” he said. “It’s the shower that looks really great.”
Everson had planned a two-tone shower of 1-inch square tiles: 85 percent mottled blue tiles and 15 percent reddish-orange tiles.
“Then I found out the price difference between 1-inch square tiles and 2-inch tiles. So I went for 2-inch instead,” he said. “Then they told me the 2-inch reddish-orange tiles were on back order, but that they were available in 1-inch. I figured that since they were only 15 percent of the shower area, I’d go with the more expensive reddish-orange in 1-inch.”
Most tile installers would be flummoxed by the prospect of installing sheets of 2-inch blue tiles interspersed with sheets of 1-inch orange tiles in a single shower, but not the crew that Everson hired.
“I told them to be creative,” Everson said. “I said they could do it any number of ways — all blue low, then orange at the top. They could put an orange stripe through the middle of a field of blue. Or two stripes. Or they could install it like a patchwork, putting the orange tiles here, there and everywhere. I left it up to them.”
The crew chose a patchwork approach, and Everson couldn’t be happier with the result. “Now the grout is in, and we are ready for the next step.”
That would be the plumber, he said. “It’s time now for him to come in and tell us we didn’t do X, Y or Z, so now all the tile has to be ripped out.”
Barring such an unfortunate event, Everson said it won’t be long after the plumber’s visit that he and Paxson will again have a functioning laundry area in their home. Unlike most who visit Laundromats by necessity, Everson said he has enjoyed his weekly ritual.
“It will mean my days at the Laundromat will come to an end,” he said ruefully. “I’ve made friendships there that will last a lifetime.”
. . . . . . .
Stephanie Bruno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.