Sunday, July 06, 2008

My unique contribution to the house

Since we can't seem to let a day go by lately without making some progress on the house, today I laid the slate tile floor that will be the hearth area around the wood stove. We chose natural cut slate over ceramic tile, partly because ceramic tile requires more processing and thus more energy to produce, and partly because it looks beautiful and natural! I didn't realize there would be so much color variation, but I love how it all looks like a subtle patchwork quilt. Do you see the symmetrical tiles, bottom center? I think, with the eye spots, it looks like a moth.

I was sweating it out, literally and figuratively. It was about 85 degrees here, the hottest it's been all summer and maybe finally close to normal. The sweat was dripping from my forehead onto the tiles. And for some reason I was very nervous about starting this whole process. What if a row started going crooked, and by the time I found out, everything was literally set in stone? I might have to look at my error for the next thirty years or more. But my fears were really unfounded; natural slate tile has so many variations, not just in hue but in thickness and even size, that it does not need to be perfectly straight, and the tiles do not need to be spaced precisely. As long as I worked all 72 tiles into the prescribed area, all was well. And I think all ended well.

I can see myself sitting there in my rocking chair, staring at that stone. For a long, long time.

UPDATE- There have been many good questions in the comments about the placement of the stove, etc. So I'll give all the details. The stove is going to be on the left side of the tile floor. We are going to build a half wall at the back of the tile floor to enclose the stove and act as a heat collector. I will be finishing this half wall with thin stones collected from around here...some day.

For placing the tile, we put down a layer of cement board, bonded to the subfloor with Ultraflex mortar, and we used the same mortar for bonding the tiles to the cement board. I still have to grout the tiles to fill in the spaces.

We have been planning for this hearth since the beginning. All of the floor joists are doubled (4X10 instead of 2x10) and we added extra pillars under the floor where the stove will be.

16 comments:

Laura said...

Beautiful! You're really going to love the slate. We put it around the fireplace in our last house and I just adored it - so much warmth and vitality in all those colors. Way to go!

jan m said...

I love the array of colors! You did a nice job.

pablo said...

That looks gorgeous.

What I don't understand is just where you're going to place the stove. Isn't that a functioning glass door there?

Jen said...

I think it's really beautiful too. And Pablo asked my question already. That's very confusing to me...

Lynne said...

BEAUTIFUL Deb!

barefoot gardener said...

Purty...but I am with Pablo. I don't get it...

But very purty, for real.

MojoMan said...

Well, I was going to ask the question that everyone else already asked, so here's another one: What are you using as a base for the tile and what kind of adhesive? (OK, that was two questions!)

I love the look of that natural material. great choice!

Deb said...

Okay, since the majority asked, I'll answer first. On the left side of the tile floor, where there are two angled pieces, we are going to construct a half wall, which I will eventually face with flat stones collected from here. Just in front of that wall, towards the sliding glass door, will be the wood stove. So it will be more or less in the center of the house, and the half wall behind it, as well as the slate floor itself, will act as a heat collector.

Laura- I think we will like it a lot.

Jan M- Thanks. Actually Calvin did the initial layout; I pretty much agreed.

Pablo- thanks. A round rock would just be the finishing touch for this project!

Jen- thanks, and I don't remember if you've commented before, so welcome to Sand Creek!

Lynne, Barefoot, and MojoMan- Thanks. It's nice to hear that others see the beauty in this beautiful stone. I can see all kinds of stories in each tile...

Deb said...

By the way Mojoman- I forgot to answer your questions. For the base we put down cement board, which was adhered to the plywood below with a bag of stuff we mixed together...I'll have to look at the bag to see exactly what it was, it was some kind of mortar. That's what we used to cement the tiles in. I like working with the stuff; it's like spreading the icing on a cake. :)

Floridacracker said...

Nice!
The slate really has variety.

Starflower said...

Starflower say: I really like it I can't wait till we get the whole house done.

Jayne said...

Just beautiful Deb! What a handywoman you are!

Erica said...

Gorgeous! Looks very inviting :)

Deb said...

Starflower- you and me both. :)

Jayne and Erica- Thank you! I decided early in the process of house building that I would have no part of framing walls, or anything that required measuring and sawing boards. But when it comes to painting and tile...that's where I shine. :)

RuthieJ said...

I love those beautiful slate tiles! Good job Deb!

nina said...

That slate is beautiful.
Appropriately natural for your house.