Why So Complicated?

I’m having my bathroom remodeled. I just bought a 1975 brick built one level house in town. I let the bath and closet go to accommodate a four foot wide shower and bidet. The contractor, who is fitting my project in between others, sent a guy to grout the newly tiled area surrounding the bidet and paint the bathroom. I was lucky that the previous owners left spare ceramic matching tiles. I supplied him with paint and grout I found in the garage which I thought would match, but the color was not quite the same and the ready mixed grout had dried a little, so he left while I was out, leaving a polite note that he’d gone to another job.

So I thought I’d have a go myself because it’s such a small job and when I was younger I did all my own decorating. I bought new paint, “Antique Lace” just a tone darker than the existing pale yellow, so the whole bathroom will need repainting, but the parts I could reach with a two step ladder and a brush look fine. And I bought powdered grout in biscuit color for the new tiles.

Hoping to save the not very experienced builder time (which is costly) when he arrives, I searched the packet cover for instructions on powder to water ratio for the grout. It told me in three languages in a print so fine I had to squint, how to clean the tiles, grout with a sponge, cautioned about the carcinogens in the powder and so on, but nowhere did it mention the grout to water ratio.

However, there was a website to consult and I consulted it. Pages of beautiful pictures of vast tile installations in public buildings dazzled me, with products galore associated with their use and maintenance. I read about effervescence and cleaning fluids, techniques for repair and troubleshooting, but the grout/water ratio was still a closely guarded secret.

Wandering from one website to another with casual clicks of the mouse, I searched for information. The website designer was bent on selling me products I wasn’t looking for. I filled in an application with multiple choices about the size of the job, the materials in question and so on. The grout/water recipe I yearned for was not on their lengthy options list. It was almost tearing-my-hair-out time. I gave up and left the site. I longed to enlighten the manufacturer about the glaring omission on his packet. If necessary I was ready to grab him by his lapels and speak to him through gritted teeth.

Ask.com was a lot more helpful. I found the water/ratio issue quite quickly and they didn’t try to sell me anything. Here’s what it said (contributed by a blogger, not a manufacturer): “There is no formula for the mixing, just stir it in to a creamy consistency like cake mix.” Ah. That I can understand, but how many builders are cake makers?

I used to use a filler that advised on the packet “two scoops of powder to one scoop of water,” using anything from an egg cup to a bowl as the scoop, depending on your project. I didn’t need to consult a website or spend any time at all searching the packet in three languages with graphic illustrations, to no avail. Should life be this complicated?

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Image: licensed by LikeTheDew.com by dgm / 123RF Stock Photo
Eileen Dight

Eileen Dight

Eileen Dight is a retired British specialist on trading in Spain, now resident in Ireland. Spanish- and French- speaking, graduate (at 46) of International Politics and History; former editor, interpreter and fundraiser. Her five sons and twelve grandchildren live in four different Time zones around the world. She has lived in England, Wales, Spain, France and Virginia, North America for 11 years. In 2012 she self-published her memoir Plate Spinner and Only Joking, 200 pages of collected jokes categorized for easy reference, as well as What’s On My Mind, her first 50 essays published in Like The Dew. All available on Amazon.com.