The Dart: Mechanic helps tile for friend

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 15, 2010

VIDALIA— Measure twice and cut once.

When The Dart landed on Byron Circle in Vidalia, it found Elmo Thompson cutting ceramic tile for a friend’s home.

Thompson, a mechanic, learned how to cut ceramic tile when he worked at a local carpet and tile business but now he only does it for family and friends.

“I’m doing it dirt cheap, for family,” he said. “I’m not the fastest, because it is just me working, but I get it done.”

The saw, which Thompson borrowed from a neighbor, has a pump pulling water up from an attached tray to keep its diamond blade cool.

“It’s a pretty cool saw,” he said. “It’ll cut the tile, but it won’t cut your finger. It makes nice straight cuts.”

A good saw would cost approximately $800, but you could get them as low as $200, Thompson said.

“But you get what you pay for,” he laughed.

The weather has also become a time consuming factor.

“I just went and got a cooler full of hot water,” Thompson said. “The water on the saw had gotten so cold that it was slowing me down.”

Since the saw constantly sprays water, there is a risk of pencil marks getting washed away. But a trade secret keeps the pencil marks safe.

“You get a really tough cut and the saw will wash your marks off,” he said. “But if you spray some hairspray on, that will stop it.”

On Saturday, Thompson planned to finish laying the ceramic tile. He planned to come back Sunday to put grout in between the tiles and then finish up a few days later with a sealant.

“You paint the sealant on with a foam brush,” he said. “You apply the sealant so if you spill some tea on the tile, it wont stain it.”

Thompson designed most of the tile patterns himself. A previous contractor had worked on in one of the bathrooms.

“He laid the tops, but I did all of the backsplash,” he said. “And I got them to widen the bar another foot to accommodate the 45, the tile pattern.”

Theresa Berry, a friend of the family, is having Thompson come in and add the finishing touches to the home. As soon as he gets through sealing, Berry will have the home appraised and she will move in shortly there after.

“Putting in ceramic tile adds a lot of value to the home,” Thompson said. “It is a good investment.”