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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Floor Tile in the Family Room Bathroom

I ordered the Schluter Ditra underlayment through ebay and it seemed to take a long time to arrive. But it finally did and I cut it to fit the guest bathroom and mortared it down. The Ditra might be super expensive but the unmodified mortar that it requires is the cheapest that can be bought, it was only about $7 for 50 lbs. The type of mortar is called thinset but the actual way to tell if it is the right type is if it meets the ANSI standard 118.1. I read this on the Schluter website and in the Ditra installation handbook and the description of the mortar at Home Depot includes the standard. Modified thinset is standard 118.3 or 118.4.
The Ditra is made from a stiff thin plastic grid that is backed by what they call fleece but reminds me of interfacing material.

Ditra on bathroom floor

Ditra on bathroom floor

It cut easily with a box knife. I would have used scissors if I could find them quickly but the box knife was closer to hand. The mortar is mixed by adding the dry powder to water. I used a 5 gallon bucket that I had to clean dried paint from first. After filling the bucket about a third, I added mortar until the mixture was fluid but held a notch. Fortunately I have all the tools for this job. I tiled quite a bit in Arizona and have a 1/2 inch electric drill that can easily mix concrete with a spiral metal mixer attachment and the 1/4 inch v notch trowel for laying the Ditra and a 3/8″ square notch trowel for laying the tile. So these were tools I didn’t have to purchase again.

I let the mortar sit 10 minutes and then spread a generous amount on the bathroom floor and pressed the Ditra into it with a small steel roller that I also already have on hand.

Ditra with mortar bucket

Ditra with mortar bucket

I had enough mortar left over to begin laying the full tiles on the diagonal pattern. I both spread the mortar on the Ditra and back buttered each tile as recommended in the Ditra installation instructions.

Laying tiles

Laying tiles

The next day I cut the rest of the tiles to fit and laid them out. It took all my work time to just cut the tiles, so it took another day to get them laid. The mortar mix was a bit less stiff this time. I like it a bit stiffer but this worked. It is supposed to be wet but firm enough to take a notch and this was.

Soft mortar mix

Soft mortar mix

Then it took about two hours to lay the odd shaped tiles in place. It took a little longer because where I was sloppy at the edge of the tile with mortar, I had to chip it out to lay the tiles next to the ones that were already installed. I chipped it with the box knife and vacuumed the edges before applying more mortar. Otherwise the mortar kept the new tile from laying flat against the mortared tile. I was more careful not to leave mortar at the edges for the rest of the install. I ran out of mortar towards the end and had to mix a little more.

Bathroom floor tile

Bathroom floor tile

Since I completely used one bag of mortar and needed more to do the job, I decided to wait to lay the door trim pieces. I have epoxy grout for the tile so I will have to learn to mix that accurately and apply it before we can reinstall the toilet.

Unfinished tile near shower and door

Unfinished tile near shower and door

I may need to ramp the tile a bit at the door and at the shower to minimize the change in levels. I left out the tiles nearest to the shower and I didn’t mortar the Ditra at the shower edge so I can place a waterproofing layer at the transition. I will have to figure out the shower tile later.

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Building a Bed Foundation (Box Springs)

We didn’t buy a box springs with our queen mattress because we had a platform bed which didn’t need one. But the new log bed for the master bedroom requires that the mattress be elevated about 7 1/2″. I could have bought a metal box for about $120 and put it together to lift the mattress into place, but it seemed like a simple project for which I already had all the wood so I decided to build one instead.

My inspiration came from instructables, as well as photos of bed foundations including a nice photo of one for sale on Craigslist.

Full bed frame for sale

Full bed frame for sale

This was similar to one I found that someone put together from a kit on Amazon, but I couldn’t find a wooden kit. And I thought building it would not be too difficult.
Instead of 2 x 6’s, I used a couple of 1 x 8 pine boards that we had from the trim in the house that I knew I wasn’t going to need for the post since I plan to cover the exposed one in rock. The old 1 x 8 pine was actually 7.5 inches wide, the new stuff is only a bit over 7. Maybe 7.20?
I had two newer pieces and two older pieces and several 1 x 4’s from a bed I bought for the logs. I cut them to 78 inches and 58 inches for the new frame and used the nail gun to tack them together.
When I started to use the nail gun, it wouldn’t work. I read the instructions again and noticed that the right light was blinking. That meant a jammed nail. But when I opened the door part, I didn’t see a stray nail. So I put it back together and got the same error. When I took it apart again, I noticed that the punch that pokes the nail into the wood was not back in the gun so I tapped it back into the slide and the jam was repaired. I was worried I would have to take it in for service just when I was getting many projects to use it. But luckily I was able to fix the problem.
I cut 2 x 4 pieces to reinforce the corners and screwed them to both boards with two screws each.

Boards tacked with 2 x 4 corners

Boards tacked with 2 x 4 corners

Then I put in spacers and cut 1 x 4’s to carry the crosspieces and nailed them into the sides. I also used a 2 x 3 as a middle support, screwing it into both boards.

Frame with mid and side supports

Frame with mid and side supports

We brought the whole thing in and it was just about an exact fit. Then I put the cut crosspieces about equidistant across the top and screwed them in.

Crosspieces for mattress support

Crosspieces for mattress support

The bed foundation is sturdy and works well with the queen mattress bringing the mattress right up to the bottom bar on the headboard.

Mattress meets bottom of headboard

Mattress meets bottom of headboard

I had reinforced the headboard because it was put together with plywood keys and some of them fell out as the rounds expanded or cracked. I repaired some and then nailed a 1 x 2 frame around the slices of wood.

Back of headboard

Back of headboard

I had to shim it a bit to account for the varying thinkness of the slices.

Shimmed boards for backing

Shimmed boards for backing

I bought a 4 x 8 piece of 1/4 inch sanded plywood and had a piece cut that was 60 inches by 36 inches, then I shaped it to size with a circular saw when I got home. I stained and polyurethaned the back on the good side and then attached it to the back of the headboard with nails and screws.

Backing stained and polyurethaned

Backing stained and polyurethaned

With the bed made up you can see the wood between the slices of wood that holds them steady. This reinforcement will allow us to lean against the headboard to read etc. without worrying that we are loosening the wood rounds.

Bed made up with head and footboard

Bed made up with head and footboard

Bed with quilt and shams

Bed with quilt and shams

Bed on oriental carpet

Bed on oriental carpet

The bed is a piece of art. It was built by our friends Lewis and Steve Fender, brothers who live on each side of their meat processing shop in Spencer, Indiana. It is made of cross sections of local wood both common and rare. The middle round is a piece of angel grained maple that inspired the construction of the bed. There is also walnut and ironwood and poplar, and oak and several other local tree species. They have made numerous carvings, turned wood, several pieces of furniture, and wood strip canoes. Whatever project they come up with it is a wonder to behold when they are finished. I feel privileged to own this beautiful bed made by them.

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White Brick

I’m painting the concrete brick walls in the master bedroom and bathroom. They were dirty and marred by splatters of concrete from the floor.

Painting the brick wall

Painting the brick wall

I used the left over low VOC primer from painting the walls and the Yolo no VOC paint from a craigslist purchase.

Bedroom brick wall

Bedroom brick wall

Before painting I had to caulk the space between the brick and the drywall walls.

Open edge between drywall and brick

Open edge between drywall and brick

I used foam backer but had purchased 1″ diameter because the space seemed so big and that was way too wide so I cut it in half and in some places in quarters. The caulk line was thick but better than the open space.

I taped the walls and ceilings to get good paint lines and not mar the tan surfaces. We moved a wall in the bathroom and that unpainted space had to have mortar and old caulk chipped off. It is not very visible with just the primer on the wall.

I also cleaned up the floor behind the tub to start laying the tile so that I can install the tub and start tiling around the toilet and sink so they can be installed too.

Ready for tile behind tub

Ready for tile behind tub

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Stove Hood Light Fixture

After a frustrating afternoon trying to snake a light cord through the wall behind the stove, Dave suggested I try getting a camera. Seemed like a good idea to me so I went to Amazon and bought an Endoscope/Borescope which happened to be a lightening deal.

Goodan Endoscope

Goodan Endoscope

This little device has a flexible but stiff cable so that it could be manipulated in the wall somewhat. It has a lighted end to see what the camera is seeing and although I didn’t need the length it is 5 meters long. The image is projected to a phone screen through a wifi connection directly to the device. It can also be attached to a USB port on a computer. The application that is downloaded to the phone to see the image also allows for photos or videos of what is on the screen.

Dropping the wire

Dropping the wire

I used a flexible piece of wire to catch the camera wire and pull it through the hole drilled above the stove. It took several tries and once I got the wire through to the attic but when I tried to push the electric cord through the gap, the tape tore and I lost the connection and had to do it all over again! So I tried a couple of other methods, none of which worked as well as sending the camera down from the attic to below the level of the stove hole and then catching the cable with a wire hook and pulling it through the hole.

The wire hook

The wire hook

Then I attached the wire to the camera with tape and pulled them up through the drilled holes. In the attic I taped the cord to the wire, the second time securely enough to get it back down through the two drilled holes and out the hole that connected to the stove light. It was easy to take a photo of what the camera was seeing with the app.

Taking a photo

Taking a photo

I plugged the end of the light cord that came with the fixture into the connector. I also taped it to make the connection less subject to pulling apart. Then I plugged the cord into an outlet in the attic. Two screws hold the fixture in place over the stove and the light is an LED tiltable version so the light shines down on the stove not in the eyes.

GetInLight Swivel LED Fixture

GetInLight Swivel LED Fixture

Unfortunately this fixture did not allow for rear wiring and I didn’t want the wire to show at the side, so I cut open the back with a dremel tool and moved the wire from the side to the rear. The on/off switch is on the light fixture.

Rear connected light

Rear connected light

I first bought a 22 inch straight LED fixture that could be direct wired or plugged into an outlet with the wiring through the bottom or side, but I had to mount it on the rear wall not up under a cabinet so the light shone directly in the eyes of the cook. The tiltable model is only 12 inches but it seems to light the area adequately without shining its light in my eyes.

Stove light fixture

Stove light fixture


It was not easy but it was nice to finish this small task. I also vacuumed the floor to set up the old guestroom again and cleaned and placed a decorative table. I keep working on projects large and small to create a more finished home.

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To Ditra or not to Ditra?

I’ve decided to lay the floor tile before reinstalling the family room bathroom toilet and sink. I don’t really want to install them and then later take them out again to tile. Why not tile first? The question was whether to use an underlayment on the concrete or not. Ordering the substrate delays starting the project and adds extra cost.

That bathroom floor has several cracks in it. I’m not sure whether the bigger shower and its thinner concrete has caused more cracking or if it is just a weak area for some other reason. In the upper right corner I have one of the tiles I am using laid out. It is hard to tell it from the stained concrete floor.

Bathroom Floor Cracks

Bathroom Floor Cracks

There is even a crack that went through the base of the toilet when it was installed before the walls were up or drywalled. We took it out to finish the drywall.

Toilet Base Crack

Toilet Base Crack

The toilet crack made me believe that if the floor continues to crack, the tile will also crack. I’m using Schluter products in the showers and it seems like a good preventative to use the Ditra uncoupling membrane on this bathroom floor.
This layer is mortared into place first before the tile is set. The Schluter site explains how the membrane works to minimize or eliminate cracking even on OSB plywood.

DITRA provides uncoupling through its open rib structure, which allows for in-plane movement that effectively neutralizes the differential movement stresses between the substrate and the tile, thus eliminating the major cause of cracking and delaminating of the tiled surface.

I chose to order the Ditra through an ebay site because it appeared to be the most convenient way to get it, although it is about the same cost at our local big box store, It is not in stock and would have to be shipped to the store. Big box stores take as long or longer to ship to store or home as online stores.

Ditra Underlayment

Ditra Underlayment


So I can lay out the tile and cut pieces but wait to install it until the membrane arrives.

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SPT Dishwasher Repair

We use our small dishwasher regularly and over the past months we noticed the dishes have not been getting as clean. I cleaned the filters, took apart the arms and cleared them of debris and cleaned the stainless steel interior. I ran an empty load with vinegar in the bottom and in a cup on the lower rack. Doing this maintenance helped get the dishes cleaner but it seemed that something was wrong. Finally we got an E1 error just after the start of a load and the dishwasher stopped running. The owners manual said that meant the water input was too slow.  The manual lists low water pressure or partially closed faucets or restricted input as causes, but upon further research it appeared that the most likely culprit was the water inlet valve.

It was not difficult to take the dishwasher apart. The bottom comes off with four screws and the pump and inlet valve were located behind the kickplate which is removable. The dishwasher has a heavy concrete bottom but the workings are above and in front of that.  I had to take off the back and loosen the side to reach the two bolts that held on the inlet valve.  I broke the valve’s connection to the hose that supplies the water to the machine but I was replacing the valve anyway.

Unfortunately, the parts for the SPT seem to only be available from Suppentown and the inlet valve was not listed as an available part. I read several SPT repair questions and at some point I saw that a Frigidaire 154637401 Inlet Valve would work as a replacement. I ordered one from Amazon because although a bit more expensive, I can get delivery in two days.

Frigidaire Inlet Valve

Frigidaire Inlet Valve

Frigidaire Inlet valve 2

Frigidaire Inlet valve 2

This valve was very similar to the broken one from the dishwasher however its attachment plate was too long so that if bolted in the same place as the original, it crimped the inlet hose. So instead of bolting it on the side, I screwed it to the metal bottom above the concrete and attached a 3/8″ IPT male to 1/2″ sharkbite instead of the original dishwasher hose.

I think the Danby portable 18 inch dishwasher valve would have fit exactly. But it was only later that I found that part and Amazon didn’t carry it.

Danby Inlet Valve

Danby Inlet Valve

The Danby 18″ dishwasher is similar to the SPT and I found a service manual for the built in model. So in the future I may be able to use that to help make needed repairs.

I have enough left over 1/2″ pex to use through the rear of the dishwasher and I hooked the pex up with more sharkbites at the wall. I added a ball valve as the outlet did not have a valve, although there is one not far away, I prefer to have one right behind the machine. I put all the panels back on and only ended up with four extra screws. Then I ran the short cycle without dishes and it worked fine.

Dishwasher repaired

Dishwasher repaired

I was very pleased to get our $500 dishwasher that I bought used for $150 repaired for only $20. The internet is a wonderful tool.

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Whoa! Living Room Put Together

We have been pushing ourselves to get the house together after the drywall installation. I finally finished the rest of the concrete floor with steaming, washing, staining spots and cracks, sealing and polishing.

Living Room Floor

Living Room Floor

Today we were able to move some furniture back in and finally lay out the Persian rug from my grandmother. I love the rustic Old Hickory furniture with the plush wool oriental rug.

Living Room Furniture

Living Room Furniture

Even without trim and baseboards the room looks wonderful to me. I also had to clean the drywall spackle and dust from the large TV cabinet. And I had to purchase new blades for the ceiling fan. I could not find the original blades and I really wanted the fan to help cool the room. So I bought a set of Kichner blades that were on clearance and redrilled two holes to get them to fit. There are several time consuming steps to the finished product.

Living Room with cabinet

Living Room with cabinet and fan

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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

Posted in Design Style, Finishes, Kitchen | Comments Off on More Kitchen Cabinets

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.

Posted in Planning | Comments Off on Recovery List

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.

Posted in Finishes, Kitchen, Trim | Comments Off on Aged Copper Kitchen Backsplash