Bathroom floor dilemma finally solved

#541 in a series of true experiences in real estate
October 2007, Hills Newspapers

We noticed the stain on the bathroom vinyl right away, a kind we’ve seen before, pink-colored, next to the tub. Someone told us recently that this blush is caused by water hitting the glue that is used to hold the flooring. I don’t know, but I do know it is permanent, and on this black-and-white-pattern vinyl, it was very noticeable.

We were pretty sure that the floor would be called on the termite report even if there was no actual damage to the wood underneath, plus we felt a floor with less bold contrast in the pattern would make this large and nicely appointed bathroom look more elegant.

Replacement didn’t seem to us too hard. We had enough money in the budget to use ceramic tile rather than vinyl, and we had enough lead time to have a tile floor installed. Anet and I went to Import Tile in Berkeley and walked the aisles, gazed for long minutes at gorgeous, but expensive, glass tiles. Our favorite ceramic tiles were more reasonable in price but had to be special ordered, and we didn’t have the time. We happily settled on a beautiful porcelain tile in softest gray and asked for a sample.

Over the following few days, we tried out the sample tile, found it perfect, measured carefully, and went back to the store to place our order. It had been in stock but today they had no more. They would be getting more, but they didn’t know just when.

We tried other tile shops without luck. Disappointed, we went to the Armstrong store on Broadway in Oakland to see if maybe there was a vinyl we might use. We’ve looked at vinyl many times over the years but have not found any we like. We don’t like the shiny, wet look, nor are we fans of the pretend-something – fake cobblestones, brick, wood planks, etc.

Marmoleum is beautiful but expensive to lay, in part because it must have new underlayment. Also, at my own house, Marmoleum in a bathroom was damaged by water. We’d rather use another material in a bath.

Hanging on display racks at Armstrong were a couple of vinyls we liked, how very surprising, new ones since we’d last looked, I guess. But they are no longer available. We asked why discontinued products remain on display – just to torture us? There was no answer. About the time we were going to give up, we chanced on a very interesting ring of vinyl samples. These were not sheet vinyl, but 18-inch squares, in lovely colors including a dove gray similar to the porcelain tile we’d liked so much. The pattern is subtle, just a hint of the look of marble, but without a direction in the pattern.

Best and most wonderful of all, these tiles were available and we could get them in plenty of time for our contractor to lay them. We borrowed a sample and took it to the house. Perfection. We placed our order. The company that makes the tile is in Georgia, they’d fed-ex the 2 boxes we needed to arrive within 5 days. In fact, they did arrive at the Armstrong warehouse but they’d sent the wrong color. A new order was placed.

Meanwhile, Shaun, our contractor, in town for a few days to work on this house, was making minor repairs at the house, trying to get all done by the time the painters would begin the interior paint. The new shipment didn’t come in time for him, and when it did arrive, one of the boxes was damaged. Half a dozen corners of tile were broken; we needed another box. The warehousemen were helpful though. We talked each time we went to the warehouse and on one of our visits, they mentioned that the mastic needed for the job would have to be ordered ahead. We added mastic to the order.

Back at the house, Shaun had removed the toilet and the pedestal sink and had them sitting in the tub, the painters had the painting almost done, cleaners and window washers were scheduled in a few days, Shaun had an emergency at home that delayed his return, the termite inspection was about to happen, and we still didn’t have enough flooring.

But it all worked out. The painters finished, including the bath. The window washers and cleaners did everything except that room. The stager hung curtain rods and curtains. The termite inspector came and did his inspection noting that the bathroom floor was in the process of being replaced.

The tile did arrive and we laid it out on the floor so its temperature would match the temperature in the house. Shaun came and laid out the floor and cut the tiles that needed to be cut. There was a problem there for a few hours when the mastic didn’t set up as Shaun had expected, but it finally got sticky enough and he was able to finish the floor. The next day he put back the fixtures and I did the last minute cleaning.

The floor does exactly what we had hoped for. It looks sleek and soft in color, doesn’t call attention to itself at all, and fits into a beautifully prepared house just right.

This entry was posted in Seller Stories. Bookmark the permalink. Comments are closed, but you can leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

  • Sign up to receive our newspaper columns: