Feeling GROUTchy; or, PUMice, ice, baby.

We finally repressed enough of the unpacking trauma (impressive, considering we arent even really done) to summon up some motivation for a NEW project in the new house. I thought I would be clever--and I love a good Zooma--and post a little photo hint of what that DIY might be on my Instagram and Facebook, to see if anyone could guess what these pretty lines meant:

Shocked that no one guessed DIY New York Yankees Pants.

It was such a total stumper that only 11 people guessed it was tile cement within the first minute. I felt like the creator of Gold Case (aka Kenneth Ellen Parcell). Whatever, super sleuths, nobody guessed what it actually, ACTUALLY was. 


So, yes, tile. Tile on our master bath tub surround!

 Beforesville McSnoresville

Let's be clear: I LOVE this bathtub. It's HUGEGANTIC and bright white and smooth and dreamy. I love that it is separate from the shower (which is to the left), and that it is next to a big old square window. I take baths a lot. Like that is exclusively how I clean my JohnMayer'sWonderland. Only in the direst of circumstances will I take a shower; RE: at someone else's house--because too intimate, or after giving birth when my OB is like "no submerging your lady parts for 4-6 weeks," and I'm like, "yeah right, try to stop me," and she's like, "your junk will get gangrene," and I'm all, "SHOWERS IT IS!"

So this massive (Jesse can lie down in it flat--you should probably picture that right now) boat of a tubby tub is a happy place for me--even in its original builder beige and bottom of the line chrome fixtures state. But as I spent time in there I thought it could really be glammed up and made to look fancy and chic and modern with a tile surround. 

Also this made me nervous since the house is less than 2 years old and my tub addiction was already dissolving the very walls. FORTIFY THE REDOUBT!

We have done tile before and found it a really easy project (RENT THE WET SAW, FOR THE LOVE OF DRAKE), so we felt very competent to tackle this. I went with a yummy and affordable charcoal and grey striated oversize Metro Gris  tile from Home Depot. Since we needed less than 60 square feet, the tile was only a little over $100. 

Tiling is a 2 day process. The first round is cementing the tile to the wall. You wait 24 hours for it to set and then go back and grout (those rough cement lines between the tiles that you love to scrub when youre high on nesting hormones).

Night one was Jesse cutting the tiles and me affixing them to the walls (with the mystery lines above--so pleasing!).

It's important that you see these exquisite precision cuts that Pastor Jesse Dukes accomplished on the wet saw--which is a fixed-blade table-saw-esque set up. Mucho impressive.

I was pretty sure I wanted to go with a brass/gold finish on the fixtures, but was too chicken to actually shell out the money for them before I knew how it would look (those things are NOT cheap!). So of course, when in doubt: SPRAY!  I just spray painted the originals (whose shapes weren't offensive to me as much as the finish) because it was cheap and easy and I ain't afraid of no ghosts.

Shiniest metallic gold I could find.

Day two dawned with the promise of me setting sail in my new luxury vessel by sunset! Jesse was at a church event with the big kids and when Noa went down I started grouting. Trowel the grout in, sponge off the excess. Wait a few hours and then wipe off any remaining grout residue (haze, they call it. EFFING HAZE).

When it was all grouted up, there was a good bit of the haze from the white grout left on my delicious gray and black tile (we'd only ever done white tile + white grout). 
Like a Beijing sky.

No matter! I am a good girl and have all the necessaries from my supply list, including:


As far as I could tell, this was a $6 bottle of water for all the good it did. Panic started rising in my throat as NONE of the white drips and hazy clouds came off when wiped with this stuff.

Jesse came home about this time, and since there was another adult around to be sane, I let my irrationality off the chain. I may have cried and declared "Oh Lord, what have I done?! We have to move again!" The only progress we saw was when I grabbed my pedicure brush and Jesse tried scrubbing with it with all of his manly might and after like 5 sweaty minutes produced this result:


The thought of having to exert that much effort on every square inch of tile was crushing. Especially since the haze problem (like the aliens in "Signs and "war of the Worlds") had been 100% curable by SIMPLE WATER just hours earlier when it was first going on (aka do this project with two people: one whose only job is wiping behind the grouter while it's still wet...especially when your grout contrasts with the tile color!)

Enter a 5 day period of buying and trying every different method that anyone has ever posted on the internet about how to remove grout haze (except the really scary chemical ones used by professionals). We knew that grout has a cure time of 10 days so it felt like a big scary countdown to solving this horrible mess. Have you ever prayed about tile? We have. It's a strange place to be, life-wise.





Only useful for scratching up the glaze. NO GO

This was the hardest core combo we tried: a super stiff nylon cup brush attachment for the power drill  coupled with dissolved sulfamic acid crystals.

On night number whatever of feeling defeated and thinking we were going to have to call professionals (the bane of an empowered DIY'er!) or start over, we were sitting there, in my acrylic love boat, dust and debris and failure pheromones all around, and our nerves more scoured than the tile. In desperation I grabbed the pedicure brush again, but instead of the brushy bristle side, I rubbed dejectedly for a few seconds with the pumice stone side.


with very little effort and maybe 5 seconds, this much hope dawned upon our hearts.

We kept going and after maybe 20 minutes, had 4 full tiles crystal clear! (and no more pumice because it was getting powderized as it worked).


We went to bed praising the virtues of that humble scourer-of-calluses! The next day I bought 5 of these guys and prepared to go to work:


Friday afternoon Jesse and I took turns pumice-ing and watching the kids. In a little less than two hours, the haze had cleared and we were finally at our AFTER moment!

I kinda didnt hate the no-spout look. Sort of a throwback. 

Turning on the water and washing all the dust and grime and pulverized (noble) pumice dust down the drain was the best feeling.

Putting the fixtures on was even better!

Totally digging the combo

indecent amounts of celebratory grunting!

Quite the Tile-uh Pair-y, no? (OMG I'm sorry I had an extra shot in my coffee today).

So that was an expensive lesson (in time more so than in actual money) learned: Really address the grout haze runoff BEFORE IT DRIES.

But if you are left with impossible, adamantium-based dried on grout haze after the fact: PUMICE!

There ya go: our first DIY in the new house was a total success. AHEM. A TOTAL SUCCESS, I DECLARE. Shut up about it.

One last note: though I waited many moons for it to cure and applied it perfectly, the spray paint finish is doing some weird thing where plain old water leaves stain-ish things after a bath. I can rub them off, but it's going to eventually annoy me so I will start looking an saving up for the real deal. I think the spray paint trick work wonders though on a darker finish like nickel or oil-rubbed bronze.

that's okay. a little splashy residue can't stop my flow. (GET IT!?!?!? BEST.)

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