1.31.2013

More Bathroom Updates

We've been working on little bathroom tasks along the way to completing larger and more exciting ones (like tiling the bathroom floor).

First up: the trim. We've got a window and door in the bathroom that needed to be trimmed like the rest of the windows and doors in the house



The crappy thing about trimming our windows and doors: it's FUCKING expensive. Our trim is rounded on the corners and there is only one local hardware store we've seen that carries it. The previous owners cut corners and installed mismatch trim in the bedroom, so Chris and I have made sure to maintain the original trim whenever we have framed in new windows and doors. The price: about $75 per door and a it varies per window (depending on how big they are). Why is it so expensive? The curved corner pieces are $23 EACH, and the linear trim is about $2 per foot. Fuckin' A. But, it's really important to Chris and me that we maintain our house's character, so we grin and bear it. And then we spend 5 million hours priming it and painting it with 3 coats of our water-oil hybrid



For some reason the water-oil hybrid is painted and rolled on really thin, which sucks. When we've sprayed it two coats is more than enough, but we've needed at least 3 coats with a roller or brush. Which results in another hour+ of painting.

While the paint has been out I've also painted the cubby (this time we did 2 coats of primer to see if we'd need less of the water-oil hybrid, but no, we'll need one more coat for 3 total color coats)


And to keep the fun rolling I'll be working on painting the pocket door next (it's primed and ready)


We've still got to do another coat of the frost to make it even, but I think the pocket door is looking snazzy. Chris put on the door hardware so it locks now too


Chris also added some bracing inside the pocket door framing


The framing for the pocket door has these 18-24" sections separated by a horizontal brace and Chris added a piece of plywood to each section that he attached with pocket screws. He did this because the framing is a little shaky and not nearly as strong and stable as we would like. Normally, this wouldn't really be a problem, but because there will be a wall of tile on the bathroom side of the wall we want to make sure that the door is as stable as possible so that it doesn't lead to cracks in the grout.

And the last little update? A grouted shower floor! Well, almost all grouted




Why almost? Welllllllll the grout ran out at the very end. Boooooo


Yup, totally lame. The good thing about using (expensive, grrr) urethane grout is that it was okay that we ran out and will save the last bit of grouting for another day and there will be no color change when we come at it again because we're not mixing it by hand which might result in a slight color variation. So we'll have to spend another $83 on another container of it. Sigh. At least it's almost looking gorgeous.

1.30.2013

Chris' Tool Obsession: Barwalt, Ultralife Tile Trowels

From Chris

A quick note: we weren't compensated in anyway for this post, but if Barwalt (or anyone else) wants to send us free stuff I'm not going to send it back. ;)

Since I have a seemingly unquenchable thirst for new and exciting tools, I figured I'd put that obsession to some good use by reviewing some of my favorites. I'll try to do one review a month and hopefully I'll never run out of tools to review. Without further ado:

The upcoming Kerdi membrane installation in the shower gave me the opportunity to look for the required 1/4" x 3/16" v-notch trowel. I have a smaller v-notch trowel that I used in the last bathroom, but it was a bear getting the membrane to get proper coverage, so the search for a new trowel began. 

I had heard of the Barwalt trowel system before and bookmarked it for another date. I took this opportunity to revisit the system. Lucky for me it comes with 7 interchangeable trowel sizes, including the one I needed to install the Kerdi membrane. The system also comes with a case for all the trowels and a handle.


The system is simple. The handle attaches to any of the 7 trowels that come with the kit (you can buy 2 additional trowel sizes) by simply sliding the handle onto the trowel which has a piece of V channel welded to the top.


You can slide the trowels on either way you want, which is nice for lefties who usually have to hold trowels upside down to scrape thinset on the substrate left to right.


There is a locking piece that slides on the bottom of the handle, but I found that it works just fine without the locking piece.

When done, all the trowels nest in the yellow carrying case.


With the handle attached to any of the trowel blades, you can use this to create the top of the case which locks in place thanks to three grooves. This then doubles as a handle for the entire set. It's a very elegant and simple system.


Clean-up for the system was one of my concerns going in, but it turned out to be a breeze. There aren't a lot of nooks and crannies for the thinset to get caught in so clean up is very easy. Just disassemble the handle and trowel blade and clean with a sponge as usual. I haven't noticed any rusting on any of the trowel blades so far, so it seems that the stainless steel is of good quality.

The assortment of trowels is great. It's pretty unlikely that you'll need anything outside of the 7 trowels included in the set for any DIY tile setting needs.


The only downside to the system that I see is that you can really only use one trowel blade at a time. If there was some need to use both a flat trowel and square notch trowel, for example, you would have to swap the handle off and on in order to use them for the same project. That, or buy another handle (which is sold separately).

It's this kind of simple and effective system that, as a tool junkie, makes me giddy (relatively speaking). I only wish I had purchased this earlier as it would have saved me a couple purchases.

1.29.2013

A Cabin in the Woods

When my dad was about 12 years old his family built a cabin. As in, they purchased an acre of land, poured their own foundation and built every wall themselves kind of built-a-cabin. The process took them about a year a half and it's been enjoyed by my grandparents, my 4 aunts and uncles and their families, our family and many, many friends for the last 40 years. Despite going up to "the cabin" ALL THE TIME when I was little, I haven't been up there in about 15 years. Yes, I know, downright crazy. Chris is a wilderness boy, so I've always bragged about how my family had a cabin in the wilderness, but I never took him to it (despite us being together for almost 8 years now). Finally, a few months ago I told my dad we had to make the trip up so Chris could finally see it and I could finally enjoy it again. And in a simple twist of fate when my cousin was up there a couple months ago there was a small fire, so we made the pilgrimage to survey and repair the damage this past weekend.

Now, I love our cabin, but it's not a mansion and it's not nearly as beautiful as I'm sure you're imagining. Sure, the river that runs about 50 yards away is beautiful...



...but the cabin is 40 years old, hasn't been updated, and unfortunately doesn't get visited much anymore, so it's in need of some loving


But I still love it anyway.

We've already got plans to head up again sometime this year and take a power washer to it and repaint (it hasn't been painted in about 15 years and gets a beating by the cold winters and very hot summers). Plus, it'll be awesome to bring Cashew up when she's a wee little baby just like my parents did with me and my brother and all my aunts and uncles did with all of their kids.

Me, Chris, my dad and Wendy had a lot of fun this past weekend. It brought back a lot of fun memories for me as a kid and I know my dad loves to reminisce about all the fun and trouble he used to get into when his family would head up and stay for a large portion of the summer when he was a kid and for lots of skiing when he was a teenager. I always love hearing the stories. It doesn't matter how many times I've heard them, I still love hearing about all the fun they had and the adventures they went on.

Our visit this time was centered around making sure we repaired the small amount of fire damage, but we made time for some games


An attempt at a bonfire


We also made it up to the snow for some pregnant saucer-ing :)


Where I conveniently ripped a hole in the butt of my pants after Chris and I bailed out on our sled because we didn't want to take out some idiot lady at the knees who kept standing RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE of the sled run despite us constantly telling her to move (stop being a weenie and take the sled from the top of the hill!)


And the cabin gave us a super big treat when it snowed the last night we were there (we don't get much snow at the cabin because it's not too high up)


The river was even more beautiful in the snow


And I even made a teeny, tiny snowman


On the drive home through "town" (there are about 80 people who live there and my uncle jokes that you have to drive through with your window rolled down holding a beer to fit in) about 5-10 minutes from the cabin was pretty picturesque with the light dusting of snow


But higher up in altitude we stopped off on the side of the road to play in a nice field of light, fluffy, fresh snow




But of course, the whole point of going up there was to repair the fire damage that happened when my cousin was up a couple months ago, so of course we got some work in. It wouldn't be a weekend for us without a little bit of work, right? We were a little nervous about how bad the damage was because we didn't really know too many details, but it wasn't too bad



We figured that what most likely happened was that over time the grout behind the potbelly stove failed, once the grout failed the cement backerboard became charred, this allowed the wooden frame members to be exposed to heat and basically become charcoal and my cousin was just the unlucky family member that had the interior of the wall light on fire when he had a fire lit in the stove


(like Chris' ear protection? Pink fuzzy ear warmers have to do when you forget to bring personal safety equipment)


Like how you can see into the cabin through the "grout line?"


We decided that because the paint was failing in so many other parts of the siding that the exterior needed more work in the future than just this small patch, so for the time being we'd just do something temporary. We added a new stud (the other one got burned out)


Put in some insulation


Put up new tar paper


We added a z-bar at the seam between the old siding and the new siding to help keep water from seeping in


Then we cut down the siding and nailed it up



Then we caulked the sides and gave it a good coat of primer to help protect it from the rest of the winter elements


We would have liked to have gotten a second coat on, but it had snowed the next morning, so that obviously wasn't happening. For a small patch over the weekend though, I think we did a good job


I'm already looking forward to our next trip up: give the cabin some more well deserved love and introduce Cashew to some great family memories.

1.28.2013

A Pretty, Pretty Shower Floor

Well, all the tiling madness has begun! Now that the mud job is complete and the kerdi has gone in, it's time to tile the shower floor and tile allllllll the walls. First up, the shower floor

We started with this orange gorgeousness


And over the course of only about 2 1/2 hours we got the floor tiled. Chris and I have a pretty good teamwork system down by now: he lays out the thinset, I cut the sheets of tile and he puts the tile down. We're able to actually blast through things pretty quickly with this system because Chris can get a bunch of field work done while I cut down a bunch of sheets to the necessary size.

In the shower we decided to go with a different kind of tile than the rest of the bathroom floor, just to make it stand out a bit. It's not too much different, it's just a light green mini subway tile mosaic (the same shades of green as the dots in the basketweave)


Once the thinset got mixed up and we gave it some time to slake, things got started


We decided to start with a full sheet in the corner because that will be the spot where your eye gets drawn to most. So while Chris started spreading out all the thinset I took several sheets out to the backyard to cut down one edge of the sheets so they lined up flush against the right side against the wall



It got complicated real quick when we got to the drain area


Because the tiles are so small we had to be really careful about our measurements


I worked on the drain area (measuring for what the cuts should be) while Chris laid out more of the field


It took a little while, but I finally finished it


It's not perfect, but it'll do


The top and right look great, but the left and bottom don't look nearly as good. Unfortunately for both of the less fortunate sides there really wasn't much we could do about it. On the left, the tiles were just ending on one row and if we tried to make it more flush with the drain, it wouldn't really be possible because of the grout line. As a result it looks like a larger gap than it should be. And on the bottom, it's such a tiny sliver that the tile would break down if you cut it down that absolutely tiny skinny. So again, a gap that looks bigger than it should be. Sigh. If that's the worst that happened, it's really not too bad.

Meanwhile, by that time, Chris had laid down so much field tile we were actually just working on the borders, so we were nearing completion. Once we got to the angled part of the shower we had some smaller areas to be filled in so I cut down a sheet or two with the utility knife so we could more easily figure out what crazy angle things needed to be cut down to



That angle was not super fun. At the top of it I had to cut down about 10 pieces one by one (just because of the way the sheets hit up against it), but lower down we got to cut down a full sheet, so it made it a lot easier


After laying that last sheet down and cutting down about 2 individual pieces to fill in a spot here and there, we were done!


I really like the way it stands out as just slightly different from the rest of the floor


It looks so tasty


And that angle looks pretty good too


I LOVE the floor and I'm glad it didn't take too long. Now it's just time to get to those walls...