‘Bonfire of the Vanity’ or ‘Return to Render’


Is it art? No, it's just spilled plaster, but stare at it long enough and ghostly faces start to emerge.

Bathroom Chronicles, Part 8.

“Are these tiles coming off, then?”

There can be few more chilling words from a tradie’s mouth to a home renovator’s ears.

“For God’s sake, man,” I blurted. “We’ve just had them laid.”

I took a few minutes to blank out the horrific thought of what would have happened if we’d come home too late, to discover our newly cut, laid, glued and grouted tiles had been dug up and trashed. 

Then, having dismissed that imaginary anguish, I felt a pang of regret and shame that someone would consider our new tiles so awful that they thought they should be excavated and replaced.

“OK, boss,” he says. “It’s just, I’ll need to cover them up before I start rendering.”

Ahhh, so that’s it. If the tiles were coming up, he wouldn’t need to cover them with plastic sheets.  He was thinking two steps ahead of my reno-numbed brain.  Panic over.  Shame and regret packed away for later use.

The plasterers’ caution was well-placed. Plastering – or rendering to give it its Sunday name – is the messiest of all the trades, with the possible exception of demolition.

After a few hours rendering in an enclosed space like an apartment bathroom, it looks like you have left half a dozen four-year-olds with a bucket of pancake batter, some wooden spoons  and a giant bottle of sugary drink … and then they are visited by the ghost of Jackson Pollock.

At least everything is protected, although the thought of what it would have done to exposed tiles still haunts me.

This week also saw our first serious setbacks:  the plaster – sorry, render –  hasn’t been drying fast enough and somebody somewhere forgot to order an essential element of the bathroom, namely the vanity benchtop on which the sink will sit.

The issue of the non-drying render is as simple as the lack of natural light and very little warm air flowing through the bathrooms, added to the fact that some of the render is on top of old tiles.

The problem was resolved by having electric fan heaters going full dinger for a few hours.  The render is dry but the reno’s carbon footprint has gone through the roof.

The vanity benchtop – basically an inverted shallow wooden box, covered in some outrageously expensive fake stone – isn’t due to arrive until five weeks after the rest of the bathroom fittings and furnishings because someone at the supplier misread “must arrive by mid-November” as “order by …”.

So Chris the Builder and I have concocted a cunning plan whereby he will build a box to the specs of the posh vanity and our tiler will put floor tiles on it. 

We’ll drill a hole for the sink, et voila! A bench-top vanity that actually matches the tiles on the floor and in the niches.

Hopefully the renderer won’t get an urge to lift those tiles too…

But with just a week to go before the bathrooms are supposed to be finished, we’re taking nothng for granted.

2 Replies to “‘Bonfire of the Vanity’ or ‘Return to Render’”

  1. LogicprObe says:

    Rendering over tiles sounds like a problem in the future in regards to cracking and render exfoliation.

  2. Jimmy-T says:

    If you want to start a discussion or ask a question about this, log into the Flat Chat Forum (using the link above). More people will read it there and you can more easily keep track of responses.

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