Back to ranch work.  After all, ranch work is never done.

Armed with the million “shopping carts” that I had secretly filled up in my dream home file cabinet called my brain, I had plenty to sort through.  Let’s be honest, I had always teased my Father-In-Law and Mother-In-Law that the minute something happened to them, I was gutting the place.  Little did we know that day would come much sooner than we ever thought.  Sorry Bill and Deanna!  I think you would love what we have done with the place though!  And Bill, I would still get after you for not pushing in your chair.

Picture it…while we were in the full renovation of the ranch house, in between decisions of paint colors, carpet samples, window treatments, also came the decision of tile flooring.  Now remember, I wanted to still keep certain elements of the house that I knew were important to my in-laws.  It was my way of paying respect to them.  The ranch house, when first being built, had a design element that was never going to change.  It has stained, etched concrete floors in the main part of the house.  It was staying, it has a real character to it, little veins running through spots, and small flaws in the original “smooth” concrete where it has bumps, stuff like that.  The only problem I could ever see with the stained, etched concrete was that it was too close in coloring to UT burnt orange.  HISSSS!!!!  But hey, I could lie and say it was Princeton, or Syracuse, or Auburn orange for that matter.  Don’t know which of those is worse.  I could actually really stretch the truth and say it was for Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, that’s close to Texas A&M, which is probably, almost, really maroon.  Yeah, that’s it, it’s modeled right after Texas A&M maroon.  There you have it, silver lining.

Anyway, with that standing design characteristic, I had to select tile and carpet.  Carpet was fairly easy, going only in the bedrooms, but with wall colors to consider, cabinet colors to take into regard, furniture colors, tile was a going to be a little more difficult.  I spent about a month going to various tile stores, ultimately deciding on a wood look tile from family friend, Jack Fitzpatrick, of Jack’s Carpet.

Jack allowed me to purchase the tile from them, and pick it up at the warehouse and take it to the ranch.  I drove hubby’s dually truck on a clear day to the ranch, the tile palletized, shrink wrapped, ready for installation.  It took two different loads to the ranch.  Once at the ranch, Mike and I had to hand unload it.  It was my CrossFit work out for the day.

The tile had a bit of a rustic look, and I ordered it in two different sizes, a 9×36 and a 6×24 which makes it real interesting for installation.

Poor Paul Raley (Paul Raley, Texas Remodeling Solutions,  He knew when I said I wanted all the tile to go in one direction through the entire house, including bathrooms, that he had his work cut out for him.  He also knew that when I said that I wanted the tile to look like real wood, and how real wood would have had different plank sizes that he had to make the look interesting.  Poor guy.  He made it happen though.  Paul is a craftsman like no other.  I tell you, the man has a talent.  I will tell you more about him and using his craftsmanship in different areas and applications throughout our remodeling process.

Here’s the deal though.  When our builder, John Winsborough, Winsborough Construction, ( gave us the bid for flooring, let’s just say, we threw up IN OUR MOUTHS.  We were like “No way John, that’s crazy expensive to lay tile flooring.  You have got to be kidding.  You have to rebid that man.”  You see, us city slickers have every corner around Houston filled with tile layers.  What’s the big deal?

Here’s the big deal.

I’ll let John explain the process.  I took this from his explanation to us.

“We float the sub-floor (concrete in your case) out where there are dips and grind down high spots. We use a laser to ensure it is flat.  Then we install Schluter Ditra ( with Bostick Ditra Set and tape seams with Ditra tape to water and vapor proof.  The Ditra acts as an uncoupling membrane which doesn’t allow the tile to move with concrete or plywood sub-floor, ensuring it won’t crack or have any movement.  We use urethane grout for the tile floors, it never has to be sealed and won’t crack like sanded grout.

We use a tile leveling system on every project, clips and wedges to make the floors and walls perfectly flat. Paul uses Rimondi.

I use Paul for all our high end tile work because his standards are as high as mine and he doesn’t need to be reminded about quality assurance.”

Well, “high end tile work” it was folks.  I tell you this with every ounce of fabric that hubs and I have.  We watched Paul lay that tile in between a few visits. We remarked to ourselves a few different times “Damn, Paul’s time on this part of the job is killing us cost wise.”  We thought several times about asking John to take him off the tile job and let him get back to handling more craftsman type stuff, and getting some “laborer” to finish the tile. If we didn’t have that conversation three times, we had it 10 times.  Here’s the deal though, when you develop a relationship with the builder, there are just sometimes you bite your tongue and trust the builder that he knows his job.  What we discovered in learning to keep our mouths shut, and our thoughts to ourselves was this, first, that uncoupling membrane thingy is the bomb.  Serious ya’ll.  There is no movement on that tile floor; no feeling like you could roll a golf ball on an unleveled surface.  There is no sound of echoing from hollow tile sitting on unlevelled grout.  That stuff is incredible.  Second, Paul’s attention to detail with laying the various sizes, and making sure that every piece of tile was perfectly cut, man, it can’t compare to anything I’ve seen.  Our house, our regular, every day, living home, not our second home, our first home is a dump compared to the craftmanship in the ranch house.  We see so many design flaws from lack of attention to detail by a regular home builder.  John, you were right.  AGAIN.

Yes, those words are hard to say, it’s like vinegar John…you were right.  And Paul was the right guy for the job, even if I still throw up in my mouth on that price.  It will just be a quiet throw up sound.

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