Jan 19, 2009

Tile Tales

Tiles are going in this week. Yay! Suddenly, the whole look is taking shape. A long time coming, and a lot of rough water under the bridge.

Perhaps the most difficult part of the building is the selection of the tiles we are using in the palapa. They are so permanent.
Some basics first.
The whole floor is being laid with ceramic tiles. For us that is about 60 square metres (650 sq feet). The bathroom walls are getting tile, another 18 M2. The bathroom counter and the kitchen counter are both covered in tile. Then there are the decorative tiles added to the mix.
There are numerous tile stores in Playa, as well as three places that sell the rustic hand-painted Mexican televera tiles. There is also a large televera tile store in Cancun as well as a selection at the Home Depot.
We started looking months ago. We were advised that if you find something you like, you should get it as there seems to be an unreliable supply. Of the five main tile stores in town, a couple have crates of tile stacked around the store or stored in the back. The others have single tiles in racks, or on display boards. Often the lighting is poor, so it is difficult to know exactly what you are seeing. It seems that our eyes too, become programmed to be seeing some, and missing others. Like when you buy a brown jacket or a blue car, and suddenly you are seeing brown jackets and blue cars that weren’t there before.
We checked them all out and then on the second go round, we found a floor tile we liked. We paid a deposit, and were told it would be here in 2 weeks. Close to a month later, the tile arrived from the warehouse in Mexico City, but when we went to pick it up, something was wrong. It didn’t seem right.
We checked it against the sample and sure enough, they had sent the wrong colour. Aiyee! After some debate, we got our deposit back and started again. Over and over, we made the rounds of the tile stores. Now we were restricted to finding some thing that was in stock. We even bought a couple of single boxes to take home and look at on site. Finally we settled on a tile and it was delivered just in time.
The bathroom is another story.
The baƱo all started with the sink. Hand-painted sinks widely available throughout Mexico. Very bright and colourful, they are all made in Delores Hidalgo, in the Mexican interior.
At Joben, the televera store in Cancun, we found another style of these sinks, finer detail in the painting, and in the style that sit on top of the counter. We found one we liked, and then proceeded to look for tiles that would go with it.
We eventually started carrying the sink around with us, holding it up to various tiles to see the match. Besides the wall tiles, there is an opportunity to add some colour with trim. For these we were back to the televera shops. Choices, choices.
Suddenly the guys were ready to install. A couple of quick trips into Playa and away we went. They need a few more of the decorative colour, so I scoot into town first thing in the morning. Oops, they ran short of the solid blue. Another quick round-trip. And then it was time to get the tiles for the kitchen counter and backsplash.
In four days last week, we made seven trips into Playa and Cancun, to many tiles stores and including a warehouse in Puerto Moreleos, and I think, I hope, we are set.
And now it is time to choose the grout -- more colour choices, and only days to decide.

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