February 6, 2013

Nightmarish!

Today has been absolutely horrific. I always knew that it was going to be but in reality it turned out to be even worse than I’d expected, by an order of magnitude. Today was the day when I cut out the damaged floor tiles in front of my fireplace in my living room.

I knew that it was going to be awful because of the amount of dust that I knew would be generated and I knew that try as I might, there was no way that I’d be able to stop it. I tried to make an enclosure over the area I’d be working on using my big black tarpaulin that I bought to make covers for the X-Air from, but it was impossible to seal all the gaps up. And when I started grinding the joints away around the damaged tiles the amount of dust that was generated was tremendous. That wouldn’t have been a problem if the house had been empty, but it wasn’t, and there wasn’t even the option of moving stuff temporarily outside because of the incessant rain storms that kept passing through today.

I thought that I might reduce the dust level by using a thinner blade rather than the edge of the grinding wheel that my ‘meuleuse d’angle’ came with so I stopped work immediately and nipped down to ‘Les Briconautes’ in Montignac to get one. I also bought some protective goggles but when I went to use them, I found they were useless as I had to wear a dust mask and when I breathed, my breath came out of the top of that and immediately steamed up the goggles. Although the dust level was lower with the thinner wheel, it didn’t seem to be by much so in the end I just had to bite the bullet and carry on regardless, having covered as much of my stuff up with every bit of suitable spare cloth that I could find.

But before continuing, I’ll back-track a little because I was unable to post yesterday due to an Internet outage as a result of a huge storm that went through in the afternoon. I managed to complete the rendering on my wood-burner platform as planned and was very pleased with the results which are shown below.

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I achieved just what I’d hoped for – level surfaces, a nice sharp straight front edge and a vertical front face – things that will make it easier to tile and get the sort of finished job I’m looking for. But now back to today. Here are some pics of the horror story that was my living room today.

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When I emerged from under the tarpaulin, I found that even though I’d opened the doors and windows on both sides of the house, the place was full of thick clouds of dust. It got everywhere. Even things I’d covered up were plastered with it when I removed the covers, especially if there had been any chink in them, through which the dust had penetrated with ease. Everything in my kitchen was covered with the stuff and although I’ve already done a bit of a clean-up, it’ll take ages to get rid of it all. I’d left my bathroom door open and it had even managed to double-back on itself and get in there. It’s got a gritty kind of texture to it and seems to stick to anything. I left one of my mobile phones out on a ledge between the living room and the kitchen and when I picked it up, not only was it plastered with dust on the front but it was also covered on its back. I could hardly believe it 😐

But at the end of the day, the job is done, well the bulk of it anyway. There’s still some tidying up to do before I can press on, concrete the floor and tile it, but at least the bit that I knew would be awful is now behind me. Here are a couple more pics of how the floor now looks.

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Because of the poor conditions I was working under and lack of visibility, I have nicked the edges of a couple of the good tiles that were next to damaged ones. I think that I’ll be able to repair them using some ‘terre cuite’ paste that I’ve now got quite a lot of in my tile cutting machine. But after the event, I wonder whether I really should have followed the advice I received to cut away the joints surrounding the damaged tiles as I did. That’s what created all the dust and led to me nicking the edges of two good tiles and I suspect that I could have done just as well if I’d just taken a bolster to the damaged tiles and lifted them without cutting away the joints around them. It’s always worked for me in the past but it’s too late now and I just have to plough on and try to get the job finished as soon as possible. Then I’ll be able to get back to some sort of normality 😉