August 27, 2009

Day 19, late report, or “Close, but no cigar.”

Posted in Home Improvement, Uncategorized at 9:13 pm by bethmillett

I’m calling it quits for the night. Though fueled on Junior Mints and loud ’70s and ’80s music, there are just too many things that require another set of hands. I did get the toilet, cabinets and countertop with sinks installed. I also got the sinks plumbed, though the faucets still need to be tightened down a bit more. I had to buy a deep ratchet bit, but even with that I couldn’t quite do it, and really, it needs someone up top holding the faucets still while I’m down there, furiously ratcheting in the two inches of space I have to maneuver.

I had to do a little wall repair where we banged things up wedging the countertop in, so I have to wait for the glue on the texture to dry before adding a couple of coats of paint.

I was all set to install the backsplash and side splashes, but I’m not happy with the backsplash. It appears to me that it has a bit of a warp to it, both front to back and top to bottom. There is quite a gap along the bottom edge over near the right sink. So, I’m letting it sit for a couple of days and will look at it again on Sunday to see if I need to go to Home Depot and pitch a fit. It’s also possible that the countertop is sagging a bit across the span between cabinets, and a rail fastened to wall might support the countertop and raise it a bit to reduce the gap. But that’s another thing that will be more easily accomplished with two people.

All that’s really left, aside from some minor touch-ups stuff, is to hang the mirrors. (I think… I might be overlooking something.) The hardware did not come attached to the mirrors, so that has to be installed, and then they have to be hung level to one another. I decided I just wasn’t fresh enough, either mentally or physically, to tackle that. It might take some patience that I don’t have at the moment.

Hopefully I’ll be able to say I’m done on Sunday!


Day 19, early report

Posted in Home Improvement, Uncategorized at 4:49 pm by bethmillett

Well, it’s 5:50 on Day 19, which was my hope to be finished. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel — I need to install the toilet, plumb the sinks, and install and caulk the backsplash and sidesplashes. I also need to do some touch-up paint on the walls and the ceiling; that may or may not happen tonight. I will also need to rehang the towel bars and doors. The last thing to do, which I was never considering part of the 19-day plan, is to re-install the baseboards. Dad will be back on Saturday and I’m borrowing a chop saw and air compressor/nail gun from a friend in order to do both the master bath and guest bath.

So, it might take a diet Coke in a little while, but I’m going to push through to try to complete it all tonight! Wish me luck!

August 25, 2009

Day 17: A work of art

Posted in Home Improvement, Uncategorized at 9:49 pm by bethmillett

In just four hours, I got the new floor installed! First, I used Jeremy’s fantastic jamb saw to cut away a little of the trim moulding around the doors so the new flooring would slide underneath it. (Thanks for the loan, Jeremy!) Then a quick vacuum and mop and I was ready to place the “tile.” I used a product called Allure, which I found at Home Depot (in-store, it’s only about $50 per box, not the $72 the Web site says). The saleswoman just raved about it. It is a vinyl flooring that can be installed right over the existing floor, called a floating floor because it is not fastened down to the subfloor. The tile pieces are in 36-inch strips, and look like three 12 x 12 tiles. An adhesive edge is exposed on one long edge and one short edge, and the tile strips interlock to create a waterproof bond.

It probably took me longer to do the two doorways than it did to do the entire rest of the room! It was very easy to cut — I scored it with a utility knife and then was able to fold along the cut to break it off.


August 24, 2009

Day 16, The countertop is in the house!

Posted in Home Improvement, Uncategorized at 8:13 pm by bethmillett

So, I was thinking the 19-day plan was out the window, because although I placed the countertop order on Day 6 (a Friday), the order didn’t reach the countertop manufacturer until the following Monday and they said it would take 15 days. So, I figured I’d be lucky to get this finished in 22 days, and not until after my parents return from Utah. But imagine my joy when Home Depot called today to say it was ready! So, I bagged the plan to lay the floor tonight and instead borrowed Phil’s truck to take it home.

When they opened the box for me to inspect the countertop, I squealed like a woman in ecstasy (which I was). The guy said, “I’ve been married twice and I never heard a woman make that kind of noise.” I explained that maybe that’s why he was no longer married, twice. I love the staff at the Carmel Home Depot. Everyone is so much fun! So, they packaged it all back up and loaded it in the truck.

I’m very happy with the color and style. It’s so hard to make a decision about color when all you’ve got is a two-inch-square sample that is glued to the store wall. So, I always place the order and then sweat bullets while I want for the product to be delivered. But this is a lovely mottled cocoa color, and the square sinks are really cool. By the way, it’s huge — 88 inches long.

Now it’s happily resting in the garage until I’m ready to install it. Tomorrow night is the floor and the toilet, then the cabinets and countertop, then the sink plumbing!


August 23, 2009

Days 14 and 15

Posted in Home Improvement, Uncategorized at 7:38 pm by bethmillett

This weekend has been a bit of a blur! I went to Bloomington for a lovely happy hour celebration with Robyn, Jonny and Ariana, and met some fabulously fun people. On Saturday, I timed the last Sprint Triathlon (third in the series) at Eagle Creek Park and stopped at the Home Depot on the way home. I caulked around the tub, filling the gap between the tub walls and my hideously ragged drywall job. It’s amazing what a little (or a lot of) sealant will cover.

Speaking of covering, I also applied the texture to the walls. Five years ago, when I first removed atrocious wallpaper from the guest bath, the walls were horribly scarred. I got lots of advice from lots of people about how to remove wallpaper (it was in all 2.5 bathrooms, the kitchen and nook, and one bedroom), and none of it seemed to work. Dif, no luck. Half water, half fabric softener, no luck. Steamer, best luck, but still not great luck — it pretty much worked the way I imagine a spa in hell would. The steam opened my pores and burned my fingers as I meticulously picked fragments of paper, often taking off layers of whatever was underneath.

So, when I had the paper removed, I looked around and thought, “No way am I trying to get these walls back to a smooth texture.” I had seen a tissue-paper technique at a friend’s house, and it seemed to be the way to go. So, I bought a bunch of tissue paper and went to town. You mix equal parts of Elmer’s glue and water, then roll that onto sections of the wall. Crumple up the tissue paper, then spread it out over the glued area. I also rolled another layer of glue on top, to hold down all the edges. I figured in a high-moisture environment like a bathroom, it wouldn’t hurt to have a shell of glue over the tissue.

Once it’s dry, you can paint as usual, but it will definitely take two coats. The first coat sometimes interacts with the glue to create a crackled effect. The second coat covers that right up.

On Sunday, I was able to get both coats of paint on the wall, then removed all the tape and installed the light fixtures for good. I also spent quite a bit of time planning out the floor installation. I am such a geek — I ended up laying it all out in Illustrator to be sure I was maximizing the placement of the seams and also wasting as little tile as possible. More on that tomorrow — assuming I get out of the office on time, I hope to get the floor down tomorrow.

The tissue paper texture up close.

The tissue paper texture up close.

The lighting doesn't do the color any justice. It's "Biloxi," whatever that means.

The lighting doesn't do the color any justice. It's "Biloxi," whatever that means.

August 21, 2009

Day 12: Like watching paint dry…

Posted in Home Improvement, Uncategorized at 6:22 am by bethmillett

After a quick sanding of the joint compound I slathered on Wednesday night, I covered all the purple with a coat of tinted primer. It’s a gallon I had around the house, so I hope it’s not too dark. (Thanks to Cindy D., who gave me a bunch of paint and plumbing supplies when she cleaned out her house before she moved to Iowa.) But, last week, I painted a test swatch and then put the real paint over it — with two coats, it looked fine.

I’m having drinks with friends tonight, so I think I am taking the night off. (Probably shouldn’t paint after a couple of margaritas!) It’s just as well my arms are pretty sore from all the drywall cutting, joint compound slathering and sanding, and the painting. I’m going to have guns like Michelle Obama by the time this is all over!


August 19, 2009

Day 11: Not really photo-worthy

Posted in Home Improvement, Uncategorized at 8:40 pm by bethmillett

Tonight I replaced the drywall I had to remove in order to remove and reinstall the tub, as well as to run the electrical for the second light fixture. I absolutely loathe drywall work. Maybe I’m just not good enough at it, but it’s such a pain in the butt to get the piece cut correctly, then install it flush with the existing drywall, then get it taped and mudded into a nice smooth finish. The only reason I even contemplated it on a 19-day schedule is that the walls in the guest bathroom are finished with a tissue paper texture that means I don’t have to endlessly sand and mud the seams. So, tonight I threw a lot of mud up on the wall, taped and smoothed. Tomorrow (assuming the thick mud is dry), I’ll just do a light sanding to knock down any huge ridges and then prime the wall before putting the tissue paper on.

I talked to Home Depot today, and am sorry to report that the 19-day schedule is already out the window. The countertops won’t arrive until Day 21. I’m still going to try to have everything else done before then, but I won’t be able to say that I went from a 19-month project to a 19-day project. Bummer….

August 18, 2009

Day 10: Tub and lighting complete

Posted in Home Improvement, Uncategorized at 9:33 pm by bethmillett

The problem with doing all this work and then blogging is that by the end of the night, my brain is mush. So, these entries might not be quite as exciting as they could be. Thanks for hanging in there! At least tonight I’m not as frustrated by difficulties as I was last night. Marie gave me a hand with the tub wall and we got that snapped into place. Then I installed the rest of the plumbing fixtures, including the hand-held shower head Mom picked out. I put one of those in the master bath, and it’s a a huge help in rinsing out the tub after each use. So, there was no question about putting one in the guest bath too. So, if you know anyone who wants a nice Delta showerhead, I still have the one that came with the shower fixture.

Finishing that up only took about an hour, so I decided to tackle the light fixtures, which was supposed to be complete tonight, based on my original schedule. I had to take out the old one (again, if you know anyone interested that….), cut holes in the drywall to run more wiring, and split the original line into two in order to feed the two new fixtures. I drilled a lot of holes in the studs to feed the wiring through, and everything went according to plan. I suspect the fixtures are not quite level with another, by maybe a quarter of an inch, but due to the configuration of the room, you’ll never be able to tell. (Well, except that I told you…) So, tomorrow the fixtures come back down so I can repair all the drywall.

It’s tough to take pictures in such a small space. I laid down on the floor in the tub/toilet room in order to get a shot of the left wall and the plumbing fixtures. I couldn’t get a good shot of both light fixtures, so one will have to do!



August 17, 2009

Day Nine: Frustration sets in…

Posted in Home Improvement, Uncategorized at 8:54 pm by bethmillett

I had hoped to get all the plumbing complete and the left shower wall installed. The plumbing is all set and leak-free, but I can’t get the left shower wall to fit quite right. It’s supposed to pivot and snap into place, and something’s just not right. After futzing with it for a long time, it was getting late and I was getting frustrated. Rather than taking a hammer to it, I decided to wait until tomorrow. Maybe with a fresh approach it will all fall into place.

I was very nervous about cutting the holes into the walls where the plumbing comes through into the shower. But I measured about 17 times and cut only once. I made a cardboard template to double-check my measurements, made a minor adjustment and then was good to go!

So, hopefully I’ll get it finished tomorrow and have more photos to show you!

August 16, 2009

Day Eight: Swim, Bike, Run, Plumb

Posted in Home Improvement, Tuxedo Brothers, Uncategorized at 8:52 pm by bethmillett

It was a busy weekend! On Saturday, I timed a 5K run in the morning, had a couple of hours break and then worked the packet pickup for Sunday’s TriIndy. It’s a unique triathlon held in White River State Park. The swim is in the canal, which always gets a lot of attention, because the general public is always grossed out by the algae and vegetation in the canal. However, the water is as clean as Eagle Creek and Morse Reservoirs, where we have other triathlons. And triathletes are a hardy bunch — they never complain.

I was up this morning at 4 a.m. to be downtown by 5 a.m. and ran nonstop until about 1 p.m. The race went off without a hitch, or at least without any more hitches than usual. It’s a bit of a three-ring circus, since there are essentially four events to time: Olympic distance, Olympic teams, Sprint distance and duathlon.

So, after a nap and a shower, I got back to business in the guest bathroom. With Marie’s help, I installed the back wall of the tub and one of the short walls. The tub is engineered to have caulk-free seams, and it was very easy to put in place. Then I worked on the plumbing, trying to get all the joints to line up for the new mixing control on the shower. I’m almost done. I love, love, love SharkBite plumbing fittings. They are solder-free and the copper pipe just snaps in. With a little tool, you can snap them back off. This gives me a lot of flexibility in my measurements and placement, because I don’t have to cut off a whole chunk of copper pipe that’s been soldered in place when (I can’t even say if, because it’s bound to happen) I make a mistake. Plus, if I get stuck, run out of energy or have to go to Home Depot, I can pop a cap on and the whole shebang will hold under pressure when I turn the water back on. They’re expensive — $4 to $6 per fitting compared to the 50 cents or so for copper fittings — but have made my plumbing life so much easier!


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