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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Kitchen Progress

After days of work that did not show lots of results, today progress was made. First job was to connect the kitchen drain. The cabinet is now closer to the side wall so I thought I should move the drain over but realized after gluing a couple of new pipes that there was not enough room for the drain to go straight back. So I redid the pipe to give the drain an angle that allowed for the full p trap’s length.

Kitchen sink drain

Kitchen sink drain

The sink was already installed and caulked yesterday but today I put in the drain connection and the faucet. I cleaned up the faucet and soaked the sprayer parts in window cleaner because I couldn’t find vinegar. I scraped off the crusty calcium that clogs the sprayer so it’s like new.
I couldn’t find the faucet tightener so I had to wriggle a wrench up into the area to tighten the bolt for the water control. The spout was easier as it has two screws to tighten from underneath. This is the Delta faucet that rang up for 1 cent at an Arizona Home Depot and they sold it to me for that saying that is what it is marked, and you bought it! Hooray for me.

Sink faucet installed

Sink faucet installed

The next project was to install the upper cabinet. This cabinet is actually a media stand that is hung upside down so that the doors are on top and the shelves below. I think it looks pretty cool on the wall and is quite an unusual upper cabinet.

Although I didn’t think there were a lot of results in the last few days labor, at least I was able to do laundry again because the washing machine was hooked up.

Upper cabinet installed

Upper cabinet installed

I put two large containers on the lower counter with 2 x 4’s over them to hold the cabinet in the right position as I screwed it in. I made a hanger bar with a 1 x 2 that is screwed to the cabinet and then to the wall. The pocket door behind it complicated the installation, but I was able to find and hit a door framing piece on the left side and on the right side it is screwed into a 2 x 4 stud. Then it is screwed into a stud across the top of the door. It feels sturdy.
This side of the kitchen is coming together. The next cabinet needs to have the epoxy finish poured and it also needs a piece to make it line up with the sink cabinet. Apparently the wall is not square. What is new? It will look fine once everything is in place.

Sink with upper cabinet

Sink with upper cabinet

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Another Wet Look Bar Top Counter

For the second counter top I scaled back the sanding and left the original finish mostly intact, and I decided most of the damming of the sides was unnecessary. So I only taped the edges and let the first seal coat drape the sides. I smoothed the sides with a foam brush to eliminate drips.
The bar top epoxy requires quite a few materials and supplies.

  • Klear Kote resin and hardener
  • 220 grit sandpaper
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Tack cloth
  • Measuring cup and mixing cup
  • Mixing stick
  • Rubber putty knife (7″)
  • Foam brushes
  • Protective gloves
  • Paper towels
  • Plastic drop cloth
Bar Coat Materials and Supplies

Bar Coat Materials and Supplies

The instructions and tips I read all said measuring equal amounts of resin and hardener by volume was the most important step. I purchased too large a measuring cup which made measuring difficult but so far the mix has been accurate enough to harden.
The mixture is hand stirred for at least 1 1/2 minutes in the measuring cup, scraping the sides and the mixing stick regularly. Then it is poured into a second clean cup. I used disposable drinking cups and a clean one for each mix. It is again mixed for at least three minutes. I used a timer for the mixing.
My solution never became clear in the mixing cup again as some instructions suggest, but again it has hardened so far. It is poured across the entire top without scraping the cup. I let it linger a bit to have the last few liquid drops pour out. The next step is spreading the epoxy evenly on the bar top. The liquid is supposed to self level which means some high spots may lose their coverage as it dries.
Although I did not experience many bubbles in the drying epoxy, a propane torch is best to produce the CO2 that pops bubbles in the finish. I used the torch each time to spread a thin layer of CO2 over the top, moving the torch constantly and holding it high enough that there was not smoking of the surface. The polymer is not flammable but the under layer of wood still can get burnt.

Popping bubbles with CO from propane torch

Popping bubbles with CO2 from propane torch

The drying time is supposed to be about 6 hours and if re-coated in that time supposedly does not need sanding. But I always waited longer until completely dry and then sanded it a bit with 220 grit paper to have the next coat adhere better.
This is the second coat that is drying on the second counter top.

Second coat second counter top

Second coat second counter top

After use, I clean the putty knife with paper towels and wipe out the residual mixture in the measuring cup. Gloves are very important while working with the epoxy as the solution is extremely sticky. Although drips can be cleaned with denatured alcohol, laying plastic under the work surface is strongly recommended.

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Decorative Cracks in the Concrete

The steamer works great to get the blobs of paint and dried compound off the floor. There were some unprotected areas like in this closet that really needed work.

Pantry closet floor before

Pantry closet floor before

I used one of the small bristle brush attachments to scrub with the steam and wipe the dirt away with a rag and it was not too onerous a task to clean it up.

Pantry closet floor after

Pantry closet floor after

While I was steaming the concrete floors I tried hard to get the white powder from drywall out of the cracks. But after it dried some white remained and I didn’t like the way it looked. So I wondered how to treat those cracks when refinishing the floor.
I looked up ways to cover and repair cracks in the stained concrete floor and found recommendations to accentuate the cracks to create a rustic old world finish!

This is just the thing for my design style so I bought some concrete dye at Home Depot and had it colored Cinnamon Brown. Once the concrete was clean and steamed, I used a lambswool dauber to draw a line over each crack and then rubbed the dye into the crack and the surrounding floor area to blend it in with the existing stain.

I have not etched the cracks first, but since they are cracks since the original sealer I was hoping the dye would stick to the inside of the crack and make them stand out. The effect is subtle

Concrete Dye

Concrete Dye in Cracks

After treating the cracks and rubbing dye on some of the stained areas–didn’t make a big difference there either, I re-sealed the concrete with the soy based sealer that was left over from the original job.

Sealed Floor

Sealed Floor

The final step was to mop on four coats of Zep floor finish. Although this polish is not recommended by the manufacturer for stained concrete floor, mostly because removing it might remove stain, it seems to work well over the water based sealer that I used. I believe the stain is more permanent on our floor since I have used the polish in the past and it came off without removing stain. I didn’t use the Zep stripper though. Just scrubbing and steaming. That and the wear it got from being down on the floor seemed to remove any shine from former applications of polish.

Four coats has given the floor a lovely shine. Too bad I know it will wear off and get dull again.

Four coats of polish

Four coats of polish

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Kitchen Sink Sound Proofing Decor

I’m going to start spending more time on decorative touches and less on large building projects. We have all the finish work to complete now that the drywall is installed.

The kitchen sink bottom is visible under the open cabinet in the kitchen. It is a deep single sink that was an entry laundry/clean up sink in the original house. As part of the new cabinet finish project, I decided to add to the sink soundproofing with a plastic coating spray paint. The product I bought for the desired color options is Plastidip spray. Rustoleum also makes a rubberized paint spray.
I wanted a coppery finish so I bought the dark brown camo color and the copper metal finish spray.

Brown camo colored paint

Brown camo colored paint

I took off the faucet and detergent pump and the drain. Although I broke the sealing ring for the drain trying to take it off. If I can’t replace the broken ring I have another drain saved from a replacement I made in our Arizona house in one of the plumbing supply boxes .

Then I cleaned the underside and taped the drain area and the underside of the sink rim. The original soundproofing layer was black.

Taped sink bottom

Taped sink bottom

After the prep I sprayed two coats of the plastidip spray which covered the old coating very well. I waited about 3 hours between coats becuase the first seemed dry. We had a door open and the ventilation system going because the painter is working in the house too.
I waited overnight to spray two coats of the metallic finish on top of the brown. This is the sink with two coats of copper metallic finish over the dark brown.

Copper Bronze Sink Finish

Copper Bronze Sink Finish

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Wet Look Counter Top

The kitchen counter next to the sink was starting to turn grey and rot. Despite the silicone coating under the sink rim, water was collecting in a low spot on the pine counter.

I read about finishing the wood with an epoxy wet look counter surface. This bar top finish waterproofs and creates a solid plastic-like coating on the wood. The surface is applied in at least two coats and “floated” onto the wood. I researched the best epoxy coatings for this and almost bought some from Amazon. But I found a craigslist ad for Klear Kote which was one of the recommended brands so I bought two gallons at a discount from someone who had leftover materials. That should cover 47 sq. ft. of counter space.

First I sanded the sink cabinet top and reglued the joint between boards that was creating the low spot.

Sanded and glued

Sanded and glued

The next step was to use water based stain on the sanded surface so it would look like the other cabinets. Water based stain was recommended in the epoxy instructions. I used light oak color MinWax in a tube. Then I taped the sides and the inside of the sink area. I tacked a frame around the cabinet edges to hold any runoff of the epoxy solution at the taped edge. This preparation was for the first seal coat. The high sides were to suspend a cover over the surface to avoid bugs and dust, but it didn’t need the extra protection in the house.

Edges dammed

Edges dammed

This is supposed to be a thin coat but I got it a bit thicker. I had mixed a half cup of solution. I spread it with a foam brush and that made the surface uneven. After several hours it still looked wet so I left it overnight.

Uneven first coat

Uneven first coat

My first thought in the morning was that it was still wet! But when I touched the surface it was dry to the touch. So it just was fooling me.

Looked Wet!

Looked Wet!

So I removed the dam and all the blue tape so that I could sand the seal coat with 220 grit sandpaper and retape the edges for the second coat.

Finished First coat

Finished First coat

The second coat is supposed to finish the job. The solution is poured at an 1/8″ depth over the whole piece and allowed to run over the edges. I dammed the edges again, this time covering the wood dam with plastic. I redid the painter’s tape around the hole for the sink.

Damming the counter for a second coat

Damming the counter for a second coat


Then I mixed about 2/3 cup of solution, equal parts resin and hardener. The solution has to be stirred thoroughly. After the first two minutes of stirring, it is transferred, scraping the sides to a separate container. Then it is mixed another three minutes and poured on the surface without scraping. I used a graduated container for the first mixing–which has to be accurate, and a disposable plastic cup for the second mixing.
I used a 7″ wide rubber putty knife to spread the second coat evenly across the first. The epoxy is self leveling but I found I had to push it around to get it to cover the entire top and then run it over the sides. There is only so much pushing that can be done before it starts to set and the putty knife makes marks in the surface. I think I got a decent second coat done.
Second coat filling in gaps

Second coat filling in gaps


When I remove the dam tomorrow, I’ll start on another cabinet.

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List for my month of recovery

I’m working on a list of low energy tasks for post-surgery progress on the house.

Once we are sure the drywall and painting is completed there are several tasks that are pretty easy and should not take much effort. Shopping for stuff is also low effort if I can predict what we will need.

  1. Put on outlet covers
  2. Hook up vacuum outlets
  3. Put on vent covers
  4. Put clear coat on sink cabinet
  5. Prepare for stuccoed areas. Buy tint and wall conditioner.
  6. Mortar Schluter trim to concrete edges
  7. Steam clean floor
  8. Apply sealer and zep floor finish
  9. Clean medicine cabinet
  10. Install light fixtures
  11. Vac dust and wipe off surfaces with wet sponge.
  12. Seal up air conditioner line through exterior wall
  13. Buy supplies for air conditioner installation
  14. Reinsulate kitchen sink
  15. Take new door knobs for powder coating
  16. Sand and seal the rest of the kitchen cabinets
  17. Clean paint off plumbing connections

There are also big chores to be done, like moving the furniture back in, but I’m not going to be able to help much with that.

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Cleaning the Concrete Floor

AFTER Drywall Cleanup

AFTER Drywall Cleanup–Swept and Vacuumed

The drywall and paint process made a big mess on the concrete. Although they vacuumed and swept, and they put paper on the floor before sanding and painting, the whole floor has ground in drywall dust on it.

I contacted a couple of concrete sealing companies to find out if they could clean and re-seal it. The bid we got back was $2000 just for cleaning. Seemed we should try cleaning on our own for $2000.

It was mopped twice, once with plain water and once with the Zep floor cleaner added to the water. I had read that steaming will clean ground in dirt so I used my little steamer to clean off part of the floor. It took off some spots but it dried with surface dust still showing. I realized I should have wiped it after I steamed while it was still wet. Steamers loosen dirt but don’t pick it up.

Steam cleaned

Steam cleaned

Then I tried buying a carpet/floor cleaning machine. I put it together and cleaned a portion of the same kitchen floor but it also dried with some white spots and didn’t seem like it added much to the previous mopping job. So I returned the cleaner. Buying it, reading the instructions, putting it together, then trying it, taking it apart, cleaning all the components and putting them all back in the box to return was pretty time consuming too.

Trying a floor cleaning machine

Trying a floor cleaning machine

I tried to use my little steamer again but the heater would not turn on! I think the steamer worked well to clean out the cracks and some of the gooey spots from before they did the drywall but apparently mine was at the end of its life.

Dave is doing the mopping and we thought a scrub brush might help. After another pass on hands and knees with the brush the floor is finally looking clean. I think it still needs steaming in some places so I ran out to Harbor Freight to replace my steamer.

AFTER Brush Scrubbing

AFTER Brush Scrubbing

All the floors need to be mopped, probably twice, then scrubbed with a brush, then steamed in the worst places and finally have the new floor coating put on. I feel a bit bad that Dave is having to do the scrubbing but my body is not up to it right now.

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From Primer to Paint with Detour to Hospital

I didn’t go to the hospital because of the painting, but because I developed scar tissue from the August surgery and had to be cut open again to alleviate a blockage in my intestine. Another Friday night emergency, although Dave could take me to the hospital. I actually went to the closer hospital but only their emergency department takes Kaiser so I had to transfer to Good Samaritan, the same hospital I was in for the surgery. In fact the same surgeon was on call and the pain meds worked so I was able to wait until Sunday morning for the surgery. Now I can’t do much for a month or so. Which is a another setback.

Hospital Info Board

Hospital Info Board

Hospital Instrument Wall

Hospital Instrument Wall

But the painter finished while I was gone.The paint for the walls was the Sherwin Williams Whole Wheat color. I had the second 5 gallon of white eggshell tinted to match the first five gallons.

Light tan ceiling

Light tan ceiling


But I thought the flat white can was flat white, but it was a light tan, that coordinated with the whole wheat. I had him use that where the ceiling did not need to be bright for the light shelves and Dave ran to Lowes to get the Valspar no VOC white satin paint for the rest of the ceilings.
White ceiling

White ceiling


I actually love the tan walls and light tan ceilings and we have enough paint to finish the old bathroom when it gets remodeled.
More white ceiling

More white ceiling


Now the big job of cleaning up and bringing the furniture back in without me being able to help will be a challenge.

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