Wednesday 25 September 2013

Bathroom Tiled

Moving on to the next phase of our build we started fitting out the bathrooms. Inspired by the opportunity to make the bathrooms really interesting I chose to do a mosaic for the tiling in the shower of the small bathroom. As the design of the house has been influenced by traditional Japanese architecture and I have always loved Japanese woodblock prints I chose to do Hokusai's Great Wave off Kanagawa as a mosaic in the shower. About two months ago I started. The first sections involved blocks of the same colour and progressed quickly.

A good start to the "Great Wave" mosaic
However, as I got into the intricate part of the design progress slowed. I think I must be crazy to take on such a time consuming project when I am already so busy trying to finish the build, but the potential to create something really interesting and unusual inspires me to continue.

Slower progress on the detailed section
By luck I found that Johnson tiles produce 100 x 100 mm wall tiles in a wide range of colours and found colours that almost perfectly matched those in the Hokusai print. Our next dilemma was what colour to choose for the floor tiles, we considered blue or white and even looked as greys. None of the greys looked any good and we discovered that there are very few blue floor tiles currently on the market, this made our decision much easier - it had to be white.

With such a striking tiling in one bathroom the issue was what to do in the other bathroom. My idea of doing another mosaic was abandoned when I realised how long the first one will take to do, but we did not want the other bathroom to be dull in comparison to the mosaic. Ben suggested Moroccan tiles. I have always been a fan of the intricate geometric designs of Moroccan tiles. A search of the Internet led us to Kasbah Imports, who as the name suggests import items of Moroccan decor. We chose to use the Moroccan tiles for a waist high border and also on the front of the bath. The rest of the bathroom was to be white. We have concerns about keeping the white tiles clean, but the white tiles make the small south facing bathrooms much brighter.

Not confident that I could get the floor levels right I got a local contractor, Peter Dempsey in to do the floor and wall tiling, (with the exception of the mosaic). Before the tiling could be done I needed a bath hob. I approached this task with some was with some trepidation as I had not done anything like this before. I had to get the height of the hob just right to fit two whole Moroccan tiles on the front. Conveniently Peter Dempsey came around to confirm the tile layout just as I was about to start the job, he gave the right spacing for the various gaps I had to leave and from there I just had to make sure everything fitted, perfectly.

I probably over-engineered the bath hob, creating in effect two self supporting timber surrounds - one to support the bath and the other to lay the MgO board on which would then be covered in tiles. The timber to be covered in tiles had to be a precise distance from the lip of the bath, so that the bath appeared to sit on the finished tiles. To get this distance right I sat the timber surround supporting the bath on the upturned bath, used spacers to add the required gap then attached the outer timber while resting on the spacers, as a result the gap was just the right distance.

Checking that bath sat level on the hob
Bath hob with separate supports for inner and outer timbers
The shower recess was against an external hemp wall on one side so I lined the shower recess and area where the wall would be tiled with MgO board. I did not used the MgO board on the small section of tiling above the bath as the window reveal was 10mm out from the wall and the 9mm MgO board plus the tiles would have made the tiles sit proud of the window reveal. The tilers did not express any difficulty waterproofing and tiling the hemp wall.

MgO board in shower recess and where wall to be tiled
Bath resting in finished hob
 The tilers did the waterproofing, Council inspected, then they did the tiling while I was off sight. So it was delightful to arrive back on site to a beautifully tiled bathroom, complete with grout gaps matched up and to my delight I had made the bath hob just the right height.

Shower recess tiled
Moroccan tiles on front of bath
Detail of Moroccan border tiles
Tile left off bath hob to allow plumber to cut access to attach bath waste
Progress also continues with the pouring of the slab for the water tank. We used left over reo mesh from the slab for the house and just overlapped and wired the pieces together. We had also kept the bar chairs left from the pouring of the house slab and these were used for the water tank slab. We also had some oxide left over from the colour tests we did for the house. Even though the slab was only for a water tank I decided to colour it with the unused oxide as I wanted to try out the dry shake method of colouring the concrete. I mixed up 1 part oxide to 10 parts off white cement then sand was added to this mix at the rate of 1 part oxide/cement to 2 parts sand. When I made up the mix of cement and oxide it did not look very coloured so I added a little more oxide, but when I added the sand it looked very coloured, so did not need the extra bit of oxide. The sand I used was courser than I would have liked and some small rocks in the sand dragged in the concrete when I wood floated it.

We were originally going to mix up the concrete on a mixer ourselves but when we costed out how much it would be for 1/2 a cubic meter the hardware store advised me I would be better off getting a mini trick from Eziway. Even though I had only ordered 1/2 a cubic meter it arrived in a big truck as that was all they had left, since we only booked it the day before. The concrete was barrowed in, levelled, screeded off and steel floated. Then, after the bleed water had evaporated, half the oxide mix was sprinkled on, steel floated, the other half of the oxide mix sprinkled on and steel floated. When the concrete was a little drier it was finished with a wood float to give it a rough texture.

Formwork in place
Sandstone coloured slab


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