Tilting the Tub

The phrase “tilting at windmills” comes to mind after multiple attempts to fix the leaking tub drain. The solution seemed elusive for a long time. We had to tilt up the tub on its side to get to the drain. For some reason I was convinced that the piping under the tub was the cause of the leak. Especially after tightening the metal washer on the drain part as far as Dave’s strength could do it. I even replaced the plumbers putty once the leaking drain was disassembled. But I concentrated on the piping below the drain believing that the tub shoe was not able to get tight enough because the drain threads did not extend below the tub bottom.

Tilted tub with tub shoe drain

Tilted tub with tub shoe drain

My first attempt was to extend the tub shoe below the bottom of the tub.

Extended tub drain

Extended tub drain

The new configuration leaked as much as old. Plus it was so long that I lost the slope of 1/4″ to a foot of drain.

Leaking drain with extended pipe

Leaking drain with extended pipe

So I thought to try a shorter extension pipe and a regular 90 degree angle. In theory it would gain a 1/2″ of space underneath. In practice the slope was still gone.

Ninety degree elbow below drain

Ninety degree elbow below drain

I gave up on extending the drain and decided to try replacing the plumbers putty under the lip of the drain and at the rubber washer underneath with 100% silicone caulk. That was finally the solution to stop the leak. I did try the extended pipe one more time but could not get it tight enough to allow for the required slope. I even put the tub up on 1/2″ plywood to gain a bit of height. But I finally gave up and went back to the tub shoe connector.
I spent quite a bit of time trying to find another tub shoe since I had cut the pipe and the shorter pipe required a straight connector that made the pipe a bit wider just under the tub. My hunt for this usually common part was unsuccessful. Home Depot, Lowes, Ferguson Plumbing. Nobody had the full size pipe for under a tub. Amazon had a non-prime offering where the shipping was almost 8 times the cost of the part! I could only find kits that included an overflow and that type of drain pipe is a different width from regular schedule 40 plastic pipe.

Tub Shoe

Tub Shoe


I gave up and used the one I had with the connector that made the pipe wider, but with the silicone on the drain itself, the shoe did not leak anymore and the fact that it could be tighter no longer mattered. Whew!
No leaks now

No leaks now

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More Tile

Unfortunately the tub drain still leaks but I decided to tile the second half of the bathroom instead of taking it apart again first.

Rows of tile in master bath

Rows of tile in master bath

The wall near the sink plumbing was not square. Squaring the tile with the brick wall meant cutting partially diagonal tiles to fill the narrow space.

Back edge of tile to fill in

Back edge of tile to fill in

I think the sink and the wall tile will camouflage this area though.

Slanted narrow tiles

Slanted narrow tiles


I had extra mortar when I finished the tile in the bathroom so I started the tiling on the edge of the slab.This area is xps foam with an air barrier made of painted roofing tape. I used Kerdi membrane narrow banding mortared to the top of the air barrier. and I laid tile over that. I will use the epoxy grout here. The grout was specifically purchased for this border as I read that it is a good grout to use over foam.

Tile at front door

Tile at front door

When I turned the corner I did not recognize that I hadn’t laid the Kerdi there yet. So several tiles were installed without the Kerdi then I finished using up the mortar laying a strip of Kerdi again. I will be able to see if there is a difference in performance for the area that is missing the Kerdi underlayment.

Air lock entry tile at edge of slab

Air lock entry tile at edge of slab


It will be a big job to lay these tiles all around the border of the slab where it meets the foundation wall. But it was worth it to have the foam insulate the sides of the slab all the way to the top.

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Finding a Ceiling Fan

I saved a relatively new ceiling fan from the Arizona house. Before we sold it the real estate agent recommended that I replace the old antique brass fans with something more modern, i.e. oil rubbed bronze. But I could not find the box with the fan inside it until I went through every box in storage in our garage. I finally found the fan body although not the light cover or the blades.
I also wanted to find the copper light fixture I saved for the dining room but did not see it in any box out there. Climbing over boxes and furniture was quite a sweaty and dusty feat and I would love to bring things in and find places for everything before winter arrives. I did find the lamps and candle pieces to a wrought iron chandelier I also saved so installed that in the dining room instead.

Dining Room Chandelier

Dining Room Chandelier

Even though I didn’t have blades or the light cover for the fan, I forged ahead hanging it in the master bedroom. I went to the Restore and bought a $2 light cover that fit and I ordered fan blades from eBay although they were not wide enough. I couldn’t find the blades to the living room fan either and bought new ones that did fit that fan so I thought I could do it again. Nope.
The master bedroom has a bit of a slant to the ceiling and the fan is a ceiling hugger so it installed at an angle.

Hugger Ceiling Fan

Hugger Ceiling Fan

I was willing to accept this for the time being but also looked on craigslist for a possible cheap replacement and found this one not too far from home. The seller took $30.

 

Craigslist Ad for Fan

Craigslist Ad for Fan

I picked the fan up and installed it right away. I was not happy with the tiny halogen light bulbs that the light kit used so I cannibalized the hugger fan light kit for the medium bulb holders and screwed them into the new fan’s light fixture. Then I could use a couple of LED bulbs in the reassembled light.
The fan has an interesting shape. It reminds me of a Romanesque style with the edging.

Rustic Venetian Style

Rustic Venetian Style

It hangs from a ball fitting so the slight angle of the ceiling still allows the fan to hang straight.

Fan in Master Bedroom

Fan in Master Bedroom

I believe the fan was meant to be controlled by remote as it has no pull chains to set fan speed. Only one speed, but it is quiet and does not wobble. It is a DLG model from 2003/2004 but I can’t find any information regarding the model number, except that maybe it was a Home Depot brand.
The fan’s light is a reasonable brightness for the space, however, the smoked glass shade gives off less light than the white one I bought at the Restore.

Master Bedroom Ceiling Fan with Light

Master Bedroom Ceiling Fan with Light

I also looked for a new more energy efficient fan and found the one I really want for the room. It is a Haiku from Big Ass Fans and is lightyears beyond the efficiency of most ceiling fans. The least expensive model is about $600 though and that is a bit pricey.

Haiku L Series Fan with Light

Haiku L Series Fan with Light

I’m very tempted to order one except that I would prefer the wood look blades to the all black fan and that combination is almost $100 more expensive in the L series and even more in the H or I series. I’ll have to think about it. But it would sure be great for LEED energy efficiency.

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It’s Curtains

I have several bolts of cotton/polyester and vinyl material that I purchased at auction from Repurposed Materials. I had in mind that I would sew window quilts because the house originally had them as extra window insulation. I also wanted to have plenty of material to sew outdoor cushions and to cover the dining room chairs, etc. Believe me I have more than enough!

We are having guests next week and now that the master bedroom is set up, I am going to have them stay there. However the bedroom does not yet have a door and the room faces the street and I thought they might be self conscious to sleep without privacy.  I decided to use the material I have to make a few curtains. I started with some rough burlap like material, but I was not too fond of the flaws in the weave. It is a cool material just not for curtains. I put a piece over an outdoor chair and found it is waterproof!

I switched to a roll labeled pack cloth. From the way this material behaves I believe it has a lot of cotton in it. It is a heavy shirting type of material in a bright white and I think it made really nice weight curtains. I have a relatively new sewing machine, a Singer Quantum Stylist 9960. It is a very nice machine and has several stitches to choose from. I even experimented with some of the decorative stitches but the curtains seem too large to decorate with the small stitches. With the family room furniture in place, I was able to use the new table as a sewing table.

Sewing machine

Sewing machine

Basically I wanted something simple that I could hang from shower rods. I bought some snap together cut out rings for the window curtains.

Window Curtains

Window Curtains

I had some clip on rings that I used for the outside door curtain. I just hung this one from four small brads nailed into the trim above the window pane.

Curtain on outside door

Curtain on outside door

I bought more rings to hang a curtain at the interior door to the bedroom too. One of the hardest parts was ironing all that cotton! It required a hot steam iron and elbow grease.

Ironing cotton!

Ironing cotton!

The material is 56″ wide so one width worked fine for this doorway.

Privacy curtain closed

Privacy curtain closed

The rings allow the curtains to open and close quite easily.

Privacy curtain opened

Privacy curtain opened

I will add a curtain to the family room bathroom too. That makes it easier for guests to use.

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Tub Leaks!

The master bath tub had a couple of leaky places. The plumbing under the tiled step was oozing water and the drain was leaking worse.

Drain leak

Drain leak

The faucet hookup was leaking at the brass elbow couplings. These were too close together to tighten properly as the elbows touched when they were being tightened. I wanted the connections to be stable but decided to change from brass to shark bites because they rotate easily and I could connect two elbows side by side. That meant taking the whole assembly apart and removing the brass elbows and connecting pipes.
Luckily the tub supply has shut off valves installed and shark bites that make it easy to move piping out of the way. There is a fancy water balancing valve installed for this faucet. It was required by the plumbing inspector although the whole house water is tempered so that it would not be hot enough to scald anyone. The water balancing valve prevents that by tempering the water if another faucet in the house pulls hot or cold away from the faucet. The valve is impressive although it is behind the access door and not in plain sight.

Tub faucet piping cover

Tub faucet piping cover

The replacement shark bites were relatively easy to install and I used copper instead of Pex to stabilize the hot and cold “arms” that connect to the chrome stand pipes.

Chrome standing pipe connection

Chrome standing pipe connection

The chrome had been scratched badly when I got it and the scratched part is under the step now so it doesn’t show. I used drop eared Sharkbite elbows even though I didn’t end up fastening them down, they have little legs that help stabilize the connections.

Drop Ear Sharkbite Elbow

Drop Ear Sharkbite Elbow


The rest of the supply piping went back into place relatively easily and I replaced the access door cover.
Tub faucet supply piping

Tub faucet supply piping


The faucet is now installed so that it does not leak.
Reinstalled tub faucet

Reinstalled tub faucet


Notice the can of Waterlox on the mantle shelf–still need to apply that. Also I need to tackle the tub drain leak which may prove more difficult than the faucet due to accessibility.

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Tub Shelf

We are using an old barn beam as a shelf over the soaking tub. It needed to be installed while I could still stand behind the tub. I bought the beam from another very nice Craigslist seller. Amazingly the beam was exactly the right size for the space.

Beam shelf in place

Beam shelf in place

We thought the grain of the beam looked like oak but it was much too easy to drill into to be aged oak. So it may be poplar or even pine. I am not a good enough woodworker to know.
I originally thought I would drill all the way through the beam to mount it. But the 3/8″ bolts I already had were too short. So I thought I would hang it from a cleat, although routing the back for a cleat seemed difficult. Then the Internet revealed this method. The recommendation was for 1/2″ bolts or steel concrete stakes but only two were used in some cases. I decided to use what I had and sink them into every 2×4 in the wall.

Bolts in studs

Bolts in studs

The bolts were inserted a little more than half their length into the 2x4s. That put them almost all the way through the wood for good stability.

Depth of bolt in stud

Depth of bolt in stud

The protruding bolt is about 2/3rds of the width of the beam. Just what was recommended in the instructions. After the bolts were set the heads were cut off with a grinder.

Cut off bolt head

Cut off bolt head

Then I used the burred head to smooth the rough ends of the bolts.

We held the beam up to the bolts and marked them with a sharpie. But the first holes I drilled were a little too low and the beam hit the tile and that created a large gap between the beam and the wall. So I had to drill a second set and these were a little high to have the beam meet the tile underneath exactly but it won’t be very noticeable. The beam is nice and level and I’ll just caulk the gap. Luckily the Liquid Nails takes some time to set.

Liquid Nails adhesive on bolts and wall

Liquid Nails adhesive on bolts and wall

The beam is shoved onto the bolts and the holes and bolts lined up well. Some instructions say the adhesive is not even necessary. I ordered some expensive low VOC formula sealer (Waterlox-a mixture of tung oil and resins) to protect it from the moisture of the bath.

Waterlox Low VOC

Waterlox (Low VOC can is green)

The next step was to move the tub into place and hook up the drain. My son who is visiting from California helped with this task.

Tub installed with beam shelf

Tub installed with beam shelf

And before the end of the day I was able to install the tub faucet. I also did a passable job of cleaning out the poor construction dirty tub.

Tub faucet

Tub faucet

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Master Bath Tile Started

Before tackling the tile in the master bath I put the thin Schluter membrane over the foam edges of the floor. This is installed with unmodified mortar. The east side strip is narrow because we used 1.5″ polyiso over the concrete foundation to hold in more heat.

Narrow edge treatment

Narrow edge treatment

The plan for the master bath tile is to finish under and behind the tub and the faucet step. Then after putting the tub in place the toilet and sink side can be tiled. With the tub about in the middle of the room there was enough space for two rows of tile.

Two tiles wide behind tub

Two tiles wide behind tub

With only two rows of tile I would end up trying to tile and grout under the bathroom edge of the tub. That would not work very well. Instead we moved the tub as far as we could toward the sink and toilet side and added another row of tile so that the tub will sit on three rows of grouted tile and completely cover under the tub.

Three tiles wide behind tub

Three tiles wide under tub

I screwed the stand pipes for the freestanding faucet through the plywood cover of the plumbing step. The seem to fit well. I have to remember to put on the connector and the floor flange when they are installed.

Freestanding faucet on step

Freestanding faucet on step

I started tiling the wall even though the third row of floor tile wasn’t dry. I decided to glue the tile to the wall with tile adhesive as it is very sticky and does not slide down like mortar can. The adhesive recommended using up to 6 inch tiles but it is possible to use with up to 13 inch tiles if more time is given to dry before grouting. The adhesive dries slowly and the middle of larger tiles don’t get enough air to dry quickly.

Tiling the wall behind the tub

Tiling the wall behind the tub

I tried to square and level the rows of tile but didn’t get them exactly straight. Most of this wall is hidden behind the tub so I’m not going to worry about it.

There are only a few boxes of edge tiles but I decided to use them on the step to overlap the tile on the sides and create a more finished edge for the step. It was also easier to cut holes for the stand pipes in the narrower tiles as all the holes were at the edges of the tiles.

Tiled step

Tiled step

Cutting tile for the step took far longer than laying the tile on the floor and the wall. The job is a bit sloppy but after grouting it should look fine.

Back wall and step

Back wall and step

After cleaning two times with the Spectralock solution and once with a vinegar solution, the wall, floor, and step are looking pretty good.

Step mostly finished

Step nearly finished–need to complete the back side.

Now this side of the bathroom is finished and ready for the oak beam shelf to get installed. Then the tub can be moved and the drain connected.

Back wall finished

Back wall finished

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Family Room Furniture

I decided that we really need the space in the garage that the family room furniture was taking. We moved the cabinets into the room so they will have to be removed when I can get to installing the perimeter tile.

Cabinets

Cabinets

We brought in the big couch. This makes a reasonable single bed for an extra guest. I used the leather seat cushions from this couch in the living room so it has the seat cushion from the old hickory couch. It all matches pretty well.

Family room couch

Family room couch

On the other side of the room we have an antique chair from my mother that I had recovered probably twenty years ago. I was curled up in this chair when it was covered in gold brocade with a  fluted back. I was snuggled under a heavy knit afghan burning with fever and waiting for the doctor’s home visit to treat me for a case of measles.  That memory of a doctor’s home visit sure shows my age!

Plus there are more black cabinets. These cabinets were in two rooms in our AZ house. It seems like this room is now dominated by them! But there is so much storage for sewing and craft work and other hobbies. Perfect for a family room.

Bathroom side

Bathroom side

Ideally I would like to have a work table and chairs in this room but I’ll have to get something and I’m not sure what will fit.

I checked on Craigslist and found this small table that should work great for games and sewing. And it is a nice match between the pine couch arms and black cabinets. It will do.

Small folding leaf table

Small folding leaf table

Posted in -Chronological Recent Posts, Design Style, Family Room | 1 Comment

Do I Need a Summer List?

I just realized I have not made a summer list. I’ve been thinking in terms of cleaning up from the drywall and setting up for guests later this summer instead of progress on the house.
But as summer rolls around, well has been here for a few weeks, I think I need a list of imminent projects to make headway on the completion of the house.
Turns out many things depend on others to be completed.

1. Move more furniture back into the house to clear up working space in the garage.
Before the drywall the furniture in the family room was sitting on the foam area that needs to be prepped for tile. Should I move it back and then have to move it to do the tiling or should I do the tiling first?
2. Set up master bath.
This requires finishing the wall paint job, I did clean the medicine cabinet but I might need to just remove it and reset it.
3. Paint master bath brick wall.
4. Remove and reset medicine cabinet in master bath.
5. Lay tile in master bath.
6. Hook up tub drain and faucet.
7. Find ceiling fan and install in master bedroom.
8. Install header over window in master bedroom. Seal with polyiso and siga membrane.
9. Bring the doors and trim wood into the garage for storage.
10. Install more light fixtures.
11. Finish family room outlets.
12. Arrange furniture in family room.
13. Install family room bathroom sink and new faucet.
14. Install safety bar by guest toilet for Mom.
15. Put rug in second bedroom and place futon against wall with pillows.
16. Reinstall trombe wall glass and solar panel.
17. Hook up mini split air conditioner

That is enough because we are also going to take a couple of small RV trips and have visitors in late July and August so time (and lists) keep on slipping into the future.

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Laticrete Spectralock Pro Premium Epoxy Grout

Spectralock Contents

Spectralock Contents

Epoxy grout has several advantages over cement grout. It is stain proof, the colors are consistent, the grout is crack resistant, and it is easier to clean than cement grout. Its disadvantages are that it is expensive and gives limited time to work before it sets up especially in warm weather.

My brother used epoxy grout in his shower and he thought it was great stuff. I needed grout that was resistant to cracking especially for the tile on the perimeter of the slab where it is over foam insulation.

I purchased 500 square ft of brown porcelain tile through a craigslist ad and I figured that the commercial size of Spectralock grout would be adequate if I used it all. These boxes contain four full sets of part A and B and four containers of the fine colored sand used in the grout mix.

Because the epoxy grout sets up so quickly, a beginner definitely needs to mix only a small amount at one time. The Laticrete site has a spreadsheet calculator for various sized tiles and grout lines. I downloaded it and a full unit of Spectralock Pro would cover about 176 square ft of 1/8″ grout lines for 13″ x 13″ tile. A mini unit of grout covers about 44 square ft. which is perfect for the bathroom.

I found a website that explained how to split a full unit into four mini units. So that is what I did. It was important to weigh the material to ensure an exact amount of each part. I used our kitchen scale.

Spectralock Part A

Spectralock Part A

The epoxy parts are not easy to work with as they are sticky and don’t ooze out of the packets that easily, especially part B.

Spectralock Part B

Spectralock Part B

The grout is sanded but the sand used is very fine. It is combined with the color in an exact mix so that from batch to batch the color is consistent.

Spectralock Part C

Spectralock Part C

After dividing the full unit into three smaller parts to keep and one to use which I left in the original packages, I was able to mix Part A and Part B from what was left and then add Part C, the sandy part. The website that I read said to mix well only about 75% of the dry sand and then add the remainder to get the final consistency.

Mixed Epoxy Grout

Mixed Epoxy Grout

The mix seemed on the dry side so I didn’t use all the Part C. But I used most of it. The texture is supposed to be like peanut butter but mine was a little stiffer. The instructions say to dump it all out on the tile but I thought that would be difficult to move around, also it is supposed to be applied with the rubber grout float but I found I could squish it into the grout gaps easier with a trowel and then cleaned the excess off with the rubber float.

After the grout lines are filled, it is a 15 minute wait to wipe off the excess. Another way to measure is from the time the process started, so the first wash should be within an hour of mixing the grout. The wait time is longer if it is colder, but these days are warm at 85-90 degrees so I waited about 10 minutes and started the first wash. I used the included cleaner for the first wash but instead of using a sponge, I used a blue microfiber pad. It was easier to rinse out often and I could feel the excess grout through the pad when I could not feel it through the sponge.

First Wash

First Wash

During this wash the grout is still malleable and if there is a gap in the lines extra grout scraped from the tile or from the original mix can be pressed into the empty spaces. I just did this with my fingers and then wiped the grout line to make it look even.

This is the grout that was left over after I finished the tile. I just discarded it. The instructions say to count on at least 10% waste and that looked about what I had left over.

Left over epoxy grout

Left over epoxy grout

I cleaned the floor the second time with just vinegar and water and a white 3M pad which scraped off the grout that stuck to the tile followed by wiping with the microfiber pad. I had to rinse the pad often and I felt it start to get gummy before I was finished. When a sponge gets gummy they say to throw it away and use a clean one, but I was able to soak the pad in a bucket of vinegar and warm water and the gumminess rinsed away.
I used the sponge on the final vinegar and warm water rinse instead of the pad and the water stayed very clean, one of the ways I could tell it was finished. The floor looked great without any epoxy haze left on the tile.

After third rinse

After third rinse


With the toilet installed again. Finally a two toilet home again.
Guest bath toilet

Guest bath toilet

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