A few more no shows and several people who wouldn't call back so we decided to just settle on The Granite Center who actually did show up to give us an estimate (aside from the $6,000+ estimate). It was still more than I wanted to spend $2,100 (plus tax), but I just want this thing done, and since no one will show up we didn't have a ton of options. The Granite Center sent us down to the slab yard 45 min away to pick out our granite and while down there I asked the guy about different prices to make sure I didn't pick out some expensive, exotic stone. He pointed us to an area and said they were all about the same price and reassured us when I showed him my choice.
The Granite Center called us to come down and fill out the paperwork (and get money) so they could get started. As soon as we sat down the guy said it actually is going to cost $400 more than the estimate I gave you...
I don't remember my exact words, but I don't think they were very nice. I got up from my chair and made a b-line out the door. When Chad caught up to me outside we both agreed that we are sick of being taken advantage of. These contractors give you an estimate to rope you in and then take you for every last dime they can. Coincidentally the $6,000 guy called back wondering if we had made a decision and after we told him it was way too much he told us he could negotiate. So basically he was going to rip us off for as much as possible. No! No! No!
So we decided to tile it ourselves. I am not handy. The biggest home improvement project I have ever done was strip the paint off of our built in china cabinet and shelac it. Chad has also never done anything like this, so we got a book from Home Depot and bought the supplies to get started. Plywood, thinset, screws, a level, Backerboard, fiberglass tape, 2"x4", etc. Oh boy this is going to be a challenge!!!
Day one we framed the inside of the barbecue with 2x4's so that we would have something to anchor the plywood to. Cinderblock is quite tough to drill into, but we bought a special drill bit that made it possible (not easy but possible). At this point we realized that the guy who built the barbecue did not measure very well because nothing lines up. One side is one length the width changes, it isn't level. This is going to make this job very difficult! Doesn't anyone take pride in thier work anymore?
We also cut and fit plywood on one side. A very successful day in my eyes.
Day two Chad finished cutting the plywood to fit over the entire countertop and also cut the cement-backer-board to fit over that. It is not the easiest to cut in odd shapes, probably because it is cement. The cement backer board can be cut with a saw, but that process creates clouds of choking dust. And in our case it ruined the blade completely. You can score the cement backer board with a hand tool that has a carbide tip. You make numerous passes along the cut line, and then apply pressure to the other side of the cement backer board along the scored line.
I got home at this point and I was ready to do something (even though Chad was ready to call it quits). We then mixed up the cement based thinset. Once thinset is mixed with water, it makes a sticky mortar that tenaciously grabs onto anything it touches. So after we were mixing and mixing it finally looked like it was ready to spread over the plywood. You spread the sticky, gloppy mess around with a special square-notched trowel. Then we screwed the
backer board onto the plywood and to make a sandwich with the thinset in between. I then taped the joints and edges with fiberglass tape and more thinset. We finished up around 10 last night. Tile next!