Laying day! Lots of photos, because you must be sick of me waffling on about it.
We started by dry-laying it all – working from a corner, cutting the edge pieces to size, and working along two edges. That way, a lot of the cuts were predictable repetitions.
Laying the ‘complete’ tiles (the ones that didn’t need cutting) was a delight – quite therapeutic, like an easy puzzle. There was a bit of movement when laying them, but as more were laid and pieces were surrounded on all sides by other pieces, then the jigsaw held itself together – they interlocked and held the structure.
Full credit for the labour should go to my father-in-law – I tried to help, but I suspect I was more of a hindrance. He watched me lay some wood adhesive, but after seeing how I performed on the first few tiles he took the scraper from me and wouldn’t let me do any more.
Our idea was to lift up sections of the dry-laid tiles, apply the adhesive to the floor, then relay the tiles. However …
To glue the tiles down properly, you obviously need to cover all the floor a tile will cover before you put it down. The tiles are hardly a conventional shape, so when you’ve put down a tile there’s still a lot of adhesive open to the air … so you need to put more adhesive down so that you can put another tile down. And so the problem repeats.
Also: the tiles can’t really be guaranteed to be in their ‘final’ place until all the neighbouring tiles have been laid (remember what I said about pieces interlocking?). So you don’t want to leave a tile without any neighbours for too long, or it may set in a less-than-perfect position.
All together, this means that when you start laying the tiles: you have to do it all in one go. No stopping for a break, or for lunch. I’m recovering from a shoulder replacement and have a knackered back. My father-in-law – thanks to multiple motorbike accidents, falling off a crane, a career working with fibreglass – has knackered arms, legs, carpal tunnel, knees, and industrial asthma.
So I think if I had to give advice to anyone who was thinking of doing this, I’d suggest:
- have multiple people on the job at once, if it’s a big room (buy more than one scraper), or have multiple people who can work in shifts
- have workers with a full set of working limbs
Fair play to my father-in-law, who spent the rest of the day popping pain killers!
Laid and stuck down! Not varnished yet, but still looking fantastic! The contrasting grain directions really work well!
Various other family members were on-hand to stand on any tile which didn’t seem to lay flat, while it all set. The final floor still isn’t completely flat – but actually, I really like that, It reinforces that it’s made of individual tiles, rather than just tongue-in-groove laminate with a pretentious pattern.
And here’s a shot of applying the final (third) coat of varnish. We went for a satin-finish, as tough as we could possibly find. It was quite expensive – but it felt like a foolish and false economy to go to all this trouble to cut and lay it, and then just slap any old cheap rubbish on it.
When calculating how many lizards to cut, I arrived at a figure of 195, which I then rounded up to 200. This was to cover a floor measuring around seven metres long by about three metres wide. I arrived at this figure back in the days when I tried to get a professional company to cut the tiles – I was paranoid about commissioning not quite enough. When it came to edges, I assumed “worst case” – that each lizard cut for an edging would only be used once.
In practice, lizards were cut with very little wastage. If you needed a head here, then you’d use a back leg over there, and the tail over there. Also, my dad had the foresight to use some leftover wood to cut some incomplete lizards (so we used those for edging before cutting up any complete ones).
Now the floor is laid, we still have 57 complete lizards surplus to requirements!
No idea what I’ll do with them – it seems a shame to throw them away, when someone could use them as a ‘feature wall’, or for the floor in the spare bedroom. Maybe I’ll stick them on eBay – I’d be happy if they only went for 99p, if it means they wouldn’t be wasted.
For those of you who have been following this saga as I’ve documented it – I hope you’ve enjoyed it. I’m terrible for starting projects but not finishing them, so I’m delighted that I’ve seen this one through.
Having a definite timescale and goal has helped – too many of my projects haven’t been finished just because I had never defined what “finished” would be! It’s also fair to say that this project wouldn’t have happened if I’d done it alone – without the help of my dad and my father-in-law, it would have been another one of my half-baked unfinished money pits.
Now I must think of other daft projects I can do with a CNC router. Stay tuned …