Slow But Sure

As I continue to scrub, seal and polish the stained concrete floor, my system has continually changed. The steamer is definitely the effective tool here. I’ve been steaming the whole floor with the standing attachment and wiping after steaming an area that I can reach to get the dirt off.

Steaming master bedroom floor

Steaming master bedroom floor

Then I went over the spots of paint and sticky stuff which I think was Great Stuff drips with mineral spirits and a razor blade in some spots then attacked the remaining stains with the steamer hand brush again wiping after steaming an area.

Hand steaming spots

Hand steaming spots

After cleaning the whole floor again with the recommended Zep neutral cleaner, I finally sealed the floor using a natural lambs wool pad which was much better at spreading the sealer without bubbling than a mop or fiber pad.

Sealed floor

Sealed floor

The last step is four coats of the Zep Wet Look Polish. These are easy to put on with the disposable microfiber pads as they dry in 30 minutes. The master bedroom floor and closet floor have been finished. There will be tile on the bathroom floor so it was only sealed not polished.
I cleaned and polished the floor with an 18″ Rubbermaid microfiber flat mop. The mop base is covered with heavy duty velcro which holds the different mop heads. To mop the floor I used the reusable blue pad and to polish I used the disposable white pad. I just poured the polish directly on the floor and spread it thinly with the mop. I have the commercial mop head but I can only find it now on the spray mop. It is a sturdier head than the new model on the plain mop.

Polished floor

Polished floor

The last room to finish is the living room. Instead of starting with the standing steamer attachment, I started with the hand brush attachment on the spots. I found that if I used the steamer on the spots first there would be fewer to try to clean with mineral spirits. I also tried denatured alcohol and acetone, but mineral spirits seemed to work the best although not perfectly.

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Some Little Improvements

During the floor scrubbing and prep for sealing and polish there are some other small projects to keep things interesting.
For some reason the drain pipe in the family room bathroom required a huge gash in the drywall to fit through the wall. I saw a light fixture at the Restore and it occurred to me to use the base plate to cover the gash and make a decorative statement. I used the dremel tool to cut a large enough hole in the plate to slip over the pipe. I don’t remember why the supply lines are offset from the drain. It looks wrong but there might have been a reason!

Bathroom drain hole

Bathroom drain hole

Bathroom drain plate

Bathroom drain plate

I wonder if I’ll ever finish cleaning up drywall dust. It was stuck pretty badly in the bark of the log bed footboard. I had to use a scrubbie, a brush and eventually even the steamer to get it looking clean again.

Dusty bark footboard

Dusty bark footboard

Cleaned footboard

Although most of our stuff is packed away, I found a magnetic knife bar in a box of tools. I bought it from the Ikea discount room back in Arizona. I had one of these in the Arizona house and it worked well for storing our good knives close at hand. So I took a little time and put it up under the kitchen wall cabinet.

Knife magnet bar

Knife magnet bar

Undercabinet knives

Undercabinet knives

I can work all day on little projects but the big ones are making some progress too.

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Light Fixtures

A few more light fixtures were installed. The closet light was reused from the original house and it took all afternoon and three tries to get it working. First I had to find screws that were long enough to fit into the box, then another set that were long enough to hold the light fixture against the ceiling. I have a collection of screws to reuse from other light disassembly. I used a plain cross piece wall plate and that had one screw hole that was a bit reamed out so I had to move one screw over to another hole.

I turned on the switch the first time I got the base and the bulbs in and the light worked, but when I put on the glass cover, it stopped working.

I took it down and made sure the wires were tight. The black was a little loose, so I tightened them all. I put it all back together but it still didn’t work, then I tested the switch. It had power to the bottom but with the switch on it did not have power at the top. Bad switch? I replaced the switch with an older one and hooked up the light to test it and it worked. Then I put the wiring in the new casing extender that lines the switch up with the wall and connected it.

I had a very difficult time finding the two screws through the holes in the base that tighten the light to the ceiling. Arms over my head made it uncomfortable and it was hard to see in the darkened closet. After the first and second times I put it up I guess I had it figured out as I got it back together the third time quickly enough to go for my daily visit to my mom.

Master closet light

Master closet light

Before our trip I had ordered the wall plates for the last two sconce lights for the bathroom. I had to use a special wall plate that was not available at the box store. I bought five of them from ebay for about $13.

Wall plate for sconce light

Wall plate for sconce light

Yesterday I got the last two sconce lights installed in the master bathroom. I had to use some alternate connectors at the top of the lights because I didn’t get enough of them when I bought the set. The connectors were smaller so I put a washer and nut on the screws first and then capped them with the smaller connector. These are above the lights so not noticeable from below.

Master bathroom sconces

Master bathroom sconces


I won’t be able to install more fixtures until I get them unpacked. But I still have outlets and switches to adjust with the extenders.

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More Kitchen Cabinets

The oven cabinet was completely unfinished and I wanted to put a finish on it so that it would match the other cabinets and be easier to clean. I have been using Minwax “Express Color” water based stain in light oak and water based Minwax Polycrylic finish. Both are incredibly easy to use and dry extremely fast. Instead of wiping the stain on and off, I used a wide foam brush to apply both the stain and the polycrylic. I got the whole cabinet finished with stain and two coats of poly in one day.

Oven cabinet stained

Oven cabinet stained

The drawers and the cabinet were well scrubbed before the stain was applied.

Drawers washed

Drawers washed

The finished oven cabinet was shoved back in the corner and leveled.

Finished cabinet

Finished cabinet

I also put a second coat of epoxy on the fourth cabinet, the one in the foreground. i haven’t trimmed the edges yet but it is put in its former place. Actually I was getting used to the more open kitchen so I may move this cabinet to a wall in the dining room. We have the additional cabinet top under the wall cabinet now and in this position it really limits access to the kitchen.

Kitchen so far

Kitchen so far

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Stove “Hood”

Before we left for Indiana I lined the stove hood with copper colored metal tiles and placed it over the aged copper backsplash. The backspash is 36″ tall and 48″ wide and the highest recommended height for a stove hood was 36″ so although it seems a bit low, it fits really well over the stove and the side cabinet.

Hood Over Backsplash

Hood Over Backsplash

This wooden arch was the top of a storage cabinet that I bought just for the arched top. Although I hope to use the doors and some of the other wood from the cabinet.

Pine Armoire

Pine Armoire

I wanted the inside to be washable so I used some copper tiles I had left over from a project in Arizona, plus some used tiles that I bought from a craigslist ad. I thought the used tiles would be real copper but they were just metal like the ones I had.

Glued copper tiles

Glued copper tiles

I used liquid nails and the tiles took about 2 1/2 tubes of glue and lots of creative clamping to get the lining done. I had some help holding it up to screw it to the wall. We used the bathroom metal sink cabinet that is 36″ tall on the stove. The plastic wall anchors were not strong enough by themselves to hold the hood tight to the wall.

Needed to Find Studs

Needed to Find Studs

Screwed Tight to Studs

Screwed Tight to Studs

Once I found the studs to screw it into, I was able to get the hood straight and tight.

Although the hood does not exhaust, the stove has a downdraft exhaust that has a large charcoal filter installed under the cabinet. The ventilation system can be used to clear cooking odors and possible smoke. I plan to wire a light in the hood for task lighting over the stove.

Copper tile in hood

Copper tile in hood

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Our Indiana Home

We took a week to visit our friends and family in Indiana and Illinois. We need to go out and check on our vacation house which is what we call our first passive solar home.

Indiana Passive Solar

Indiana Passive Solar

The house is in need of maintenance after several years of renters and is now serving as a place for us to stay when we visit Indiana. We have not lived in the house since 1999. So it has been neglected for almost 20 years. The porch seems to be sinking and the windows need repair or replacement. The siding is natural unfinished boards and could be replaced.
When we designed the house, we planned to be able to leave it unheated during cold weather. The plumbing all drains back into a pit under the water heater where the water comes into the house. There are three drains for separate areas of the plumbing. The one in the rear empties the most water and it is the one that drains the pipes that go to the upstairs tub.

Front Drain Valve

Front Drain Valve

Rear Drain Valve

Rear Drain Valve

Broken Pipe

Broken Pipe

Sharkbite Fix

Sharkbite Fix

This is the drain that is hardest to see and get to and it was left closed by accident and the pipe to the tub froze and split. I used CPVC pipe when the addition was built and copper in the main house. The same pipe split once before so it was relatively easy to cut a hole in the drywall in the ceiling to reach the broken pipe and behind the tub faucet to replace the pipe. I had the other half of the pipe from the former fix, and this time I used sharkbites in case it has to be repaired again! Then the holes in the drywall were patched and I even got the upstairs repair painted.

But the best part of going out to Indiana is visiting our friends and family.

Friends at the Harrimans

Friends at the Harrimans

Steak at the Hallas

Steak at the Hallas

Antique Tractor Show

Antique Tractor Show

Enjoying the Day with Angie

Enjoying the Day with Angie

Fender Grandkids at Weinie Roast

Fender Grandkids at Weinie Roast

"Strawberry" Full Moon

“Strawberry” Full Moon

I forgot my camera when we went up north so no photos to remember our trip by, but we sure had fun seeing a travelogue of photos by my brother who just returned from a tour of the Rhine River with his wife. We also enjoyed a visit and overnight at my cousin Jackie and her husband Grant’s home. Then it was back to Spencer to winterize the house, sit on the porch with our neighbors and pack up to go home.

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Recovery List

Today is the one month anniversary of my latest gut operation. This one was much easier to recover from, although my recovery list is not nearly finished.

  1. Put on outlet covers–about 2/3’s finished but didn’t realize I’d have to reset most of the outlets and switches.
  2. Hook up vacuum outlets–I’m using the vacuum regularly.
  3. Put on vent covers–I found them but didn’t install
  4. Put clear coat on sink cabinet–Completed three cabinets with two more to go.
  5. Prepare for stuccoed areas. Buy tint and wall conditioner.–Just got one bucket of stucco opened and did some research on how to tint. Know the store that carries the tint but it is in Denver
  6. Mortar Schluter trim to concrete edges
  7. Steam clean floor–half done
  8. Apply sealer and zep floor finish–half done
  9. Clean medicine cabinet
  10. Install light fixtures–Installed many of the fixtures. I couldn’t find the kitchen fixture or the bedroom fan. These are packed away and I should find them eventually.
  11. Vac dust and wipe off surfaces with wet sponge. –Cleaning always comes last.
  12. Seal up air conditioner line through exterior wall–This was done before the washer and dryer were reinstalled.
  13. Buy supplies for air conditioner installation–I bought all the supplies and tools that I need to hook up the minisplit.
  14. Reinsulate kitchen sink–This was completed with the bronze plasticoat and metal finish coat
  15. Take new door knobs for powder coating
  16. Sand and seal the rest of the kitchen cabinets–Finished the wall cabinet but not the oven cabinet.
  17. Clean paint off plumbing connections–So far just in the kitchen where I installed the sink.

Of course I also worked on some projects not on the list. But now it is time for a little break–another distraction.

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Aged Copper Kitchen Backsplash

I decided to try to get some finish work done in the kitchen. We brought in the piece of copper I bought from a craigslist ad ($65) from storage and I didn’t want it to get it beat up and moved from place to place. I wanted to get the stove hood installed and out of the way too.

The copper had some staining on it that I couldn’t get off and it seemed a bit too shiny so I decided I’d like to age it. I found some good information on aging copper and decided the easiest would be heat from a propane torch and plain vinegar.

First vinegar coat

First vinegar coat

It took several coats of vinegar, and because I didn’t want the green color, I washed that off after each coat. I used a scrubbie sponge and dishwashing soap in water. I gave up using the torch after the first coat as I couldn’t tell it was doing anything. But I do have a nice pinkish streak in the copper that was probably the result of the heat.

After several coats of vinegar and scrubbing off the surface it was time to mount the sheet as a backsplach. I thought I might glue the copper sheet to the drywall, maybe with liquid nails but didn’t really have a way to hold it in place while it was drying. Then I discovered that I could use contact cement and glue the copper to a thin piece of plywood (I used underlayment) that was cut to the same size. The copper is 26 guage, so a bit too thick to bend over the edges, but of all the ways to mount the backspash, it seemed like using a thin board and just screwing it to the drywall seemed like the best and easiest.

Copper glued to thin plywood

Copper glued to thin plywood

I wasn’t sure whether to mount the backsplash just behind the stove and put the hood up really high or to mount the board horizontally.

Vertical

Vertical

Horizontal

Horizontal

I posed the question on Facebook and the votes were for horizontal. That meant I had to measure and cut out a hole for the outlet. I was worried about doing that to the copper but it worked out OK. My brother suggested the Dremel tool and that was perfect.

Cutting the outlet hole

Cutting the outlet hole

I had drilled the holes for the corners and put in a screw to hold the board to find the corner of the outlet. I went ahead and put in the plastic anchors, but when I did get the hole drilled, the plastic anchors were about an inch off horizontally. So I just drilled new holes with the outlet lined up. I don’t understand how it happened, but it doesn’t look bad an inch further over.

Backsplash with hood

Backsplash with hood

I never had any control over the coloration of the copper. The vinegar tended to pool on the surface and make the curvy lines. I had a hard time getting the edges colored and eventually turned the sheet over and poured vinegar underneath the edges. At some point the aging in the middle turned bright again, now sure how that happened but I left it that way. It is random art.

The outlet cover is also a copper finish. I picked up a bunch of them on clearance a while back so had enough for the kitchen and dining room and a few more. It is exciting to finally get to the finish work.

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Hanging the Living Room Fan

It took a couple of days to figure out the pieces to hang the fan. It is a large heavy one that I bought for $20 from a Craigslist ad. It is a Monte Carlo Great Lodge Fan with a fake antler light fixture which goes perfectly with the log cabin type of decor.
I had stored the fan in the garage and close at hand with all its parts nearby. Except at some point I moved the fan blades and an exhaustive search today did not turn them up. So the fan looks a bit funny without its blades.

Monte Carlo Ceiling Fan

Monte Carlo Ceiling Fan

We should find them at some point but I was hoping to be able to use the fan to help cool the living room. I downloaded the instructions to hang it and I had a difficult time actually following them. I think it was the photos. They were not very clear to me without an overview of the parts fitting together.

Hang assembled fan

Hang assembled fan

I also looked at other instructions for hanging a ceiling fan from a cathedral ceiling and found that the opening for the ball should point to the high side of the ceiling. Makes sense but I may not have thought of it. It is a heavy fan and the electricians put in boxes that were ceiling fan rated. I had help lifting it into place.
I took the fan extension pole apart and put it back together many times. I wasn’t sure the yoke and the cover would work on a cathedral ceiling so I left off the yoke and then realized it was needed.
The same was true for the light fixture. I had to put it together from pieces and found that some were bent and I had to pound them a bit to get them together. Again the instructions were not very helpful as they only showed how to pass the wires through the switch housing, not how the entire light was assembled.

Switch housing

Switch housing

But it was not too difficult to figure out how to wire the four lights to the actual switch inside the shaft and to bolt it together properly.
I also installed the two family room bathroom sconce lights. These were originally from our Tempe house. I changed them out for two stained glass lights and then gave these to my daughter thinking they might be able to change the outside lights on their new house. But they needed four matching lights so they gave them back to me. These have a rustic style so I’m glad I had them.

Bathroom sconces

Bathroom sconces


It seems that every step is more difficult than it needs to be. In the case of the sconces, the boxes were behind the drywall and they were mounted between the studs with extension bars. These allowed the boxes to rock back and forth. I tried using longer filial screws and they were too long, in fact tightening the filial pushed the screw back into the box and it hit the ground post and burst the mounting plate right out of the electrical box! So everything came out and I started again. I finally had to screw the mounting plate in not quite all the way to have the shorter filial screw come through the base so I could fit the filial on the light to hold it against the wall. The final installation was tight enough but it was not easy task getting there.
I have some very low wattage LED bulbs in the sconces. These were the first LED bulbs that I bought way back in 2005. They were very expensive too. Over $200 for 12 regular bulbs and 12 nightlight bulbs. They are an almost blue white in color. But the low wattage limits where I can use them. I used some of the nightlights in the ceiling fan fixture and they are only 7 watts but they were the only candelabra bulbs I had. I’ll replace them with brighter LED’s.
7 watt bulbs in fixture

7 watt bulbs in fixture

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Outlet and Switch Repair

Unfortunately due to my incompetent electricians who put the electrical boxes in crooked and at any depth they chose, and perhaps some of the drywall shimming, the outlets and switches almost all have to be shimmed out to install the covers.

At first I purchased the blue outlet extenders from Home Depot and tried to cut them to size to fix the worst offset boxes. I also used tile shims and washers on some of the boxes. But these extenders are meant for boxes that were installed square and and an exact distance behind the surface. And they are heavy plastic so I was cutting them at angles with the multitool.

Blue box extender

Blue box extender


I decided to check Amazon for a different kind of box extender but was not too successful. Then I tried ebay and found these.
Arlington electric box extenders

Arlington electric box extenders


Since I couldn’t really tell if they would work, I ordered just 5 for about $3.50 a piece. These are meant to slip inside of the box at the drywall surface. If the drywall is cut exactly around the box they work great, if not some finagling is required but not too much.
The power can stay on when using these boxes. But be sure not to let your fingers slip and hit the screw connections. Tingle and ouch is the result.
Hot electric connections

Hot electric connections


This is an example of a crooked and too deep electrical box.

I guess you could just use really long screws and leave it like that! But it seems pretty dangerous and ugly.
Some of the boxes are metal because the electricians were required to use conduit in the ceiling. A metal box means this wire was run through the ceiling.
Crooked metal box

Crooked metal box


As an additional issue, some wires in this box were poking in from the side of the box where the extender has to slide into the box.
Wires inserted from side of box

Wires inserted from side of box


So in this case, I had to cut a wire chase in the extender box. But for the plastic boxes I didn’t have to do this. The box itself slips over the outlet and the wires behind it when the wires are bent down away from the box.
Box extender cut for wires

Box extender cut for wires


The box extender is then slid into the electrical box and it should stop at the drywall, unless there is too large a hole!
Outlet and wires pushed back

Outlet and wires pushed back


This one ended up just a little crooked but certainly much better than without the adjustment.

I used all five boxes and ordered another 25 even though I probably need only 14 more, the box of 25 cost only $1.60 each and fewer cost up to $5 each. I may go back and add these to some of the boxes where I just used washers.

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