I Love Mud!

By Malcolm “Mudduckk” Campbell
Today, just finished a mud shower floor with waterproof pan liner. Once this cures, the shower is essentially ready for tile, a dramatic moment on the job where every nook and cranny of the job seems to go from rough to finish. Colors begin to pop as the drywall elsewhere go from sanded to primed and from primed to painted. Like the first flowers of spring, so too does the intense dust and filth clear like snowshowers and dirty snow pack meltaway down the drain, never to return till summer has had its full riot of green growth.
an ode to MudBut its the mud I like best.
Yep along with the complex inner workings of the preslope,
the rubber upturned the wall studs nailed up high
never down low
folded with care and tucked into corners.
Hanging the durock over plastic lapped over rubber,
taking care not to drop any screws or tools onto the rubber,
and never ever putting screws along the bottom edge of the board – defeating the point of zen waterproofing in its entirety – leave the final slope of mud to lock in the bottom of the board.
Oh how I love the eternal flexibility and usefulness of mud.
But before I pack you in place
and before I establish control screeds
high and low
left to right
and front to back.
Nay, before I strike my screeds
and pack your bed
and cut you to grade.
I carefully cut your rubber pan and place your drain’s clampping ring – always a cast iron by Zurn
never those cheap PVC jobs with the tin strainer like some cheap pop-metal car toy that would not pass for a Matchbox.
Oh Zurn how I love your heft,
your large weep holes
and your robust threaded strainer with the brushed metal top available in nickle bronze and/or brass
and with four real screws to secure your strainer plate.
Craftsmanship you become thee, Zurn.
And mud pan, let us not forget your curb,
concrete throughout formed with lumber
but no wood inside to get moist down the road
and pop the grout joint in the tile bullnose,
and render the shower door useless as you heave.
No never ever wood inside for that is the place for rubber upturned toward top of curb.
That is the place for a few sixteen penny nails or 3″ screws driven partway into the deck – outside the rubber of course – acting as gentle reinforcement
to protect your elegant tall thinness from being toppled by some short sharp shock.
Curb, I pack you in your form with my very fingers,
the butt of my trowel handle making sure your rubber stands tall, upright and in the middle of your body.
Integrity.
I pack you just as I pack the body of the shower floor pan below you, beside you.
Yet you and the floor are all one.
And now I strike thee toward the drain all 1/4″ per foot.
Finally I smooth you
troweling back and forth
sprinkling dry pack as I go
closing your face
smooth
beautiful
like a porcelain doll.
And now you are done.
And so am I.
Happy tiling!
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About:  Malcolm “Mudduckk” Campbell is a tile installer in Toledo, Ohio and the president of Midwest Mosaic, Inc.  Tilers play in the mud!  Toledo is home of the Mud Hens minor league baseball, sometimes call the Mud Ducks.  So you know a tile setter from Toledo would have to go by the nickname “Mudduckk.”  In fact, there could be many, but only one of them is tops in Google Search and that one is Malcolm.  Got Tile?  Google: Mudduckk.
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