Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Looking Forward

It took almost a month longer than we planned, but Tony has officially moved into the Little House.  The main bedroom, bathroom and living room are all but complete, with just a few minor details to finish them up. The focus is now on the small bedroom and kitchen.

The best thing we could do with the kitchen cabinets is rip them down and give them a proper burial. However, the money is running out so it looks like we are going to have to go with just painting them and adding new hardware with the plan of replacing them down the road.

The small bedroom is not without it's own challenges. The floor sags, dips, slopes, -- you name it. It wasn't all that noticeable when it was buried under shag carpet, but once we removed it and the sub-floor my-oh-my what a mess. This room and the bathroom are the two rooms I would have liked to have taken down to the studs and joist. I think that both these rooms are going to come back and haunt me in the end.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


I bought some trim for the bathroom and bedroom closet.  I  bought the wood finish pictured here for the closet. For the bathroom I bought white with the plan of painting it with the Semi-Gloss White I have been using for all the trim. WRONG. both of these have a PRE-FINISH. They are meant to be used as is because they do not take paint well. Another lesson learned. 

Even after sanding and priming the paint would still pool in spots. I should have just junked it and started over with the right stuff, but I persisted and finally got a finish I could live with but much to my disgusts the paint does not adhere well. This is one of those that is going to come back and haunt me for sure. I doubt if it will last a year.  

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

All Nighter

Tony pulled an all nighter last week and finished up the wood laminate flooring in the living room. It looks great with the new baseboard trim.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Roller Beware

I had used a small sponge roller for the primer and first coat of paint on the laminate I used for the ceiling above the tub and and the exposed wall above the tub/shower surround. This was probably a no no but I just cut and used the old laminate that we took down.

All was going well until I got in a hurry and grabbed a budget regular paint roller for the final coat. BIG MISTAKE.  The Cheap roller left a bunch of fuzz when I first started. I didn't catch it until I was done. Luckily I was able to sand most of it out without having to repaint. It really does not pay to try and cut corners when painting.

I had picked up the rollers out of the budget bin while out buying something else. It was also a brand I had never used before. Lesson Learned.   DO NOT BUY CHEAP PAINT, ROLLERS and BRUSHES and expect professional results.

Monday, April 22, 2013

60 Day's of Learning

This weekend marked 60 days into our remodel of the Little House. In that time my son's and I have had some good times with a few lessons along the way. So here are some of the highlights.

Paint - Humidity does matter even when using a quality primer.

Rushing or trying to do things in a hurry usually leads to wasted time and money.

It's time to take a break when aggravation instead of satisfaction becomes the main focus.

There are different shades of white and when buying fixtures for your shower and tub you need to pay attention and make sure you get the right finish.

Having the right tool can make the difference in making it a 5 minute job vs an hour or more.

When cleaning the stove -- be sure to unplug or flip off the breaker for the stove.

Don't be afraid to throw in the DIY towel and bring in a pro when needed.

Trim is expensive.

Everything takes longer to do then you think it will.

Spouting Off

I had to remove the old bathtub spout in order to install the new tub/shower surround. It was so tight that I was afraid of breaking something so I had the plumber check it out while he was back again trying to stop the toilet leak.  It took a little of the thread with it but it did come off.

The remaining stub was 3/4 inch instead of the common 1/2 inch. I was able to buy a universal spout that would work with either. Well that almost worked. The instructions said at least 1/2 inch of threaded stub required. Well it was going to be close but I thought I would give it a try. Long story short it leaked and when I tried to tighten it the plastic adapter cracked. So much for that $25 fix.  To add to my woes I bought satin nickel instead of chrome. So I bought a $10 replacement chrome spout with diverter, a 3/4 to 1/2 brass reducer and a 4 inch 1/2 inch stem.

Problem solved right. Well almost. The 4 inch stem was 1 inch too long. Another trip to the store for a 3 inch stem.  Now everything is all set to go.   Wrong...The tub spout worked fine until I used the shower. The added pressure brought back the leak at the base that I thought I had solved. UGH!

I took a deep breath or two along with a few choice words and gave the reducer a few more good turns. At long last it all worked leak free and looked great to boot. Thanks to persistence, more hours than I care to admit and $55 later I had finally achieved success.

Oh and the plumber got the toilet leak fixed too.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Door for Crooked Frame

The door frame for the bedroom was not square, nor was it a regular door dimension.  I was not up to tearing into the wall and squaring it up and making it a standard opening.  After checking around I decided to go with a folding door. It was easy to cut to fit and it functions and looks pretty good even though it's not square. Not bad for a $25 fix.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Mulch Color ????

Spring is here and while there is still quite a bit of work to do on the inside, the nice weather has us starting to look at the outside. The original flower beds looks to be black mulch. I was curious what color would go best with the white house black accent look. I did a Google search and found this useful article by Donna Frasca an interior decorator and color specialist. According to Donna it looks like Black Mulch is indeed the best choice for this house. Check out her post What Color Mulch to Choose to see what mulch color works best with your color scheme.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

I Stink At Caulking -- Until NOW

No matter what  newfangled gadget I tried that promised to make me a caulking expert -- I always failed. I had given up on the whole contractor perfect bead look until I came across this tip on a Google search.  Using painters tape to mask both sides of the bead has made my caulking blues disappear. I now no longer cringe when I have a job that requires caulking.

Here is a link to just one of many post I found on using Painters Tape to make Professional Looking Caulking Beads. homerepair.about.com

Friday, April 5, 2013

Different Shades of White ???

So when is white not white? When I went and got a replacement toilet I made sure the box said WHITE. Unfortunately it was not the same white as the sink and tub. What makes it worse is we didn't notice until we had the toilet mounted. The difference varies with the amount and type of light your viewing in but the difference drives me nuts. I am living with it and just counting it as a lesson learned ... just cuz it say's white on the box doesn't mean it's really white.

I wish I had seen this YouTube Video before I made my purchase.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Bathroom Electrical

The bathroom did not have a light switch or outlet. The light and outlet was integrated into the old medicine cabinet. There also was no ceiling vent/fan/light. We spent a lot of time on this and my son Tony had to spend a good amount of it in the attic for the vent/fan portion. It was not easy as there is practically no room to move around up there. The space is so tight that we couldn't even get the vent/fan installed in the middle of the ceiling.

This one was a little out of my comfort zone but between some expert advice and trouble shooting on my son Tony's part we got this all to work. First I bought 25 foot of 14-2 Romex cable which is rated for 15amp circuits. I used a fishtape to run a line of romex from where the Ceiling vent/light/fan would be down through the wall where the original main feed was. I then cut a hole for the light above the medicine chest and ran another line of romex from the light fixture down the same route giving me enough length on both of them to reach were I was going to install the switches and outlet. Last but not least I wire nutted the original feed to another length of romex to run to the new box.

Cutting and install the 3 gang box for the 2 on/off switches and electrical outlet was easy, but I had to drill holes through the 2x4's that were used to frame the medicine cabinet so that I could route my wiring to the new box. I used my new fishtape tool to pull the wires where I needed down and through the new gang box.

Here is a YouTube Video on explaining what a fishtape is and how to use it. I would not of been able to do this job without using a fishtape.

I will try and give a better explanation on the wiring below: After removing the old medicine cabinet all I had was the main feed (Black and White) wires coming through a hole in the back of the medicine cavity. I ran my fish tape up this hole and up through the attic where my son attached the romax for me to fish back through. I then used my hole saw I used earlier for the bathroom door, door knob install to cut a hole where I was going to mount the light above the medicine cabinet. I used my fishtape using the same route taken earlier to fish that length of romax down. I then twist nutted the black and white wires from the main feed to another length of romex to lengthen the cable. So I now had three strands of romex (1 for the light, 1 for the vent/van/light and 1 for the Main Feed). I used my hole saw to drill another hole in the side of the medicine cavity to run my wires down to my 3 gang box. After cutting out the drywall for the box I found that I had a 2x4 running horizontal between me and the feed hole I had made above so I had to use a 1 inch spade bit to put a hole in it. I then ran my fishtape up through the gang box cavity through the 1 inch hole and out my access hole to fish the wires back down.

Shower Valve Replaced

When the plumber applied as much force as he could to try and get the shower stem to turn all he succeeded in doing is bending the copper. Good thing I called instead of trying to force it myself when I couldn't get it to budge. He had to cut out the drywall and install a new valve. I was surprised when he installed this vs the old copper and solder sweat fittings I am use to seeing.

Bedroom Updates

The small bedroom is pretty much on hold while we work on the other three rooms. It has become the catch all room and getting pretty cluttered. But we did get the ceiling trim installed and primed to be painted.

The is the main bedroom with the flooring we are going to install.

Living Room Update

Just a quick preview of what is going on with the living room. Replaced the glass and cleaned up the frame for the ceiling light. Still not much light but it looks much better than when I started. Three walls are a tan/tea color with one wall chocolate brown for contrast. We should be installing flooring this weekend.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

New Tool Addition

Needed a little something to help with cutting the flooring. This little baby fits the bill nicely. While it would be way to small for large projects it is well suited for our needs. $149 at Lowes. So far so good. No complaints other than a bit of a pain to put together.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Revised Punch List April 1

Living Room
  • Install Cafe Doors
  • Install Kick-Plate on Front Door
  • Touch Up Paint etc.
  •  Paint Storm Door, Screen Frame and Windows Black
  • Spackle and Paint Nail Holes
  • Install Laminate Flooring
  • Install Wood Floor Trim (prime/and painted white)
  •  Room Transition Trim to Bedroom
  • Tear up Old Flooring
  • Paint Kitchen Doorway Trim White
  • Install Thermostat Wiring and Raceway
  • Replace Receptacles and Covers  
  • Fix Front Door Trim
  • Trim Closet
  • Install Closet Door Curtain
  • Touch Up Paint, etc.
  • Door Trim
  • Replace Attic Access Panel 
  • Spackle and Paint Nail Holes
  • Room Transition Trim to Bathroom
  • Cut Door To Fit
  • Install Laminate Flooring
  • Install Wood Floor Trim (prime/and painted white)
  • Install Bedroom Door
  • Install Electric Baseboard Heater 
  • Drywall Outside Corner 
  • Install Push Light in Closet
  • Buy and Hang Shower Curtain Rod and Curtains
  • Hang Bathroom Towel Bar, Toilet Paper Holder, etc.
  • Touch Up Paint, etc. 
  • Install Hook Latch lock
  • Partition Screen for Hot Water Tank 
  • Spackle and Paint Nail Holes 
  • Install/Paint wall Laminate around the top of the Surround.
  • Install new Shower Stem and Shower Head
  • Trim Shower
  • Caulk Trim
  • Caulk bathtub
  • Clean bathtub
  • Clean window
  • Dremel old window frame flush
  • Fix window sill
  • Caulk window
  • Install Bathtub/Shower Surround
  • Trim Window (After Surround Install)
  • Extend Vent Fan Exhaust to Attic Wall Vent
  • Trim Floor
  • Install Privacy Plastic Panels on Window
  • Install / Paint Ceiling Laminate above the Tub/Shower 
  • Toilet still has small leak
  • Mount Medicine Cabinet
  • Paint Window 
  • Replace Tub Spout
I am now just focusing on the three rooms I need to complete.