Sunday, December 28, 2008

In which I become a butch contractor

Occasionally, I take off the cook's apron and put on the contractor's apron. Today, I wore both. I made chicken fajitas for dinner and some fresh guacamole that really rocked. We were both very happy with them.

Later, however, we began discussing the fact that we may be having several guests for New Year's Eve, and this would present a problem if some of said guests were to sleep over and occupy the upstairs guest room, since the upstairs shower has a bit of an embarrassing eyesore. You see, because our fuck-up contractor didn't do the tile job right, a problem has arisen within the last 8 months where the grout began cracking and crumbling out of the tile joints. This led to tiny amounts of water seeping behind the grout. And because aforementioned loser contractor didn't install the bathroom ventilation fan I specified, but instead used an inferior cheap-shit it's-what-I-could-get-at-Home-Depot-because-I-was-too-lazy-to-go-to-the-
specialty-store-and get-what-you-specified model, we have an issue with getting moisture out of that bathroom easily.

So all this leads to mold and mildew issues. Well, eight months ago, I had to re-caulk the tiles to the shower pan because the grout was beginning to crumble and the caulk was starting to peel. Yes, only three years into the remodel, and we're already having to play fix-it. Four months ago, the re-caulked area was peeling in a couple of places (because that's what re-caulking often does), so I (re-)re-caulked. When I was doing that caulking, the grout had so deteriorated that I had to dig much of it out of the seam. I made the mistake of not re-grouting, but instead filling the seams with caulk. Caulk is difficult to work with and sets up very quickly, so you have to work very fast when applying it. Apparently I didn't get the caulk to completely fill the seam to its full depth, so there were air pockets that allowed moisture and air to be trapped behind it, and within three months, I noticed that there were particular areas of the caulk that were beginning to change color. I scrubbed with Soft Scrub with Bleach, with bathroom cleaner and Lysol Mold & Mildew remover, but to no avail since the mold was behind the caulk and coming through it.

So tonight, I had to dig out all the old caulk and remaining pieces of grout and start over again. Having learned my lesson regarding using caulk as filler, I went to the garage and found the bag of caulk that the contractor had left, mixed it up and grouted the tile to the shower pan, taking great pains to squeeze the grout into the joints and get them filled completely. And it looks damned good, too. In a couple of days when it has cured, I will then caulk over the grout to give it water protection at the edge where it needs it most, and let that cure for 24 hours, which will be just enough time to have it ready for guests.

Sometimes the butch side of me surprises even me. If my dad were alive, he'd take the credit for that, I am sure, because from my childhood to the day he died, I can count on one hand the number of times he had to call a contractor for anything. He did everything himself: fixed cars, installed sinks, installed lighting, hung crown molding, laid linoleum flooring, installed tile, put new Formica on my mom's countertops and dining table, unclogged drains, built our TVs from kits, rebuilt carburetors, assembled and finished furniture, laid brick, poured cement expertly for driveways, steps and patios, built a fully-engineered shingled and guttered patio cover, and hundreds of other projects. He often asked me to help him or watch him do these things so that I could do them later, but I was not interested in most of these things and had the attention span for them of a gnat, so I learned very few of them. I am sure if he were alive, he'd remind me that if only I had paid better attention when I was a youngster, I could have saved a lot of money doing things myself; to which I would probably reply: "I'd rather pay someone to do it than have to do it myself." But for little jobs like this one, it feels good to know what to do and how.


At 11:09 PM, December 29, 2008, Blogger Jess said...

My Bokey is a big, butch stud! But I knew that already. This only would be news to the ignorant of the world! :)


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