Sunday, December 28, 2014

Eau de Toilette

You remember Boyfriend?

There was a mosquito.

Well, Boyfriend had family come stay from out of town over the Christmas holiday. So we had to get a guest room and a bathroom that were functional and comfortable. The guest room was mostly a decorating issue. The bathroom however, had some issues. See, there was a leak in the wall when Boyfriend bought the house. So he hired a plumber. And while the leak is fixed, and the pluming looks good... Well, take a look.

The plumber told Boyfriend it would look just fine once we painted it. 

It's an "expansion gap"

Ok, so the plumber sucks at drywall. We can fix this right? And the toilet rocks like a hobby horse, and the plumber reused the old wax ring. Ok, gross but fixable. We won't be using that particular plumber again. And perhaps Angie's List has a new review.

Step one, assess the damage. For some reason there was an air vent cover (no air vent here) covering a large hole in the drywall.
Let's just get that out of the way shall we?

This is where it got kind of hard to maneuver. So we pulled the toilet out.

We turned off the water, and flushed the toilet. 

Boyfriend bailed out the bowl and then we used a sponge and some rags to get ALL the water out.

We removed the nuts on these bolt thingies that hold the toilet in place. I'm sure they have a real name. 

And we disconnected the water hose from the tank. An aluminum casserole dish is perfect to catch any drips. Then Boyfriend lifted straight up on the toilet, we scrapped the wax off the bottom, and slid the whole commode into a closet on top of a towel that we fully intended to throw away after we finished this project. 

We were left with a gaping hole in the ground that leads to the sewer. If you're doing this, you want to plug that hole up with a rag to avoid any sewer gas coming up into your home. 
Water go down the hole.  Nothing come up the hole. 

Next I got to work ripping out the "patch" that the plumber put in, and squaring up the preexisting hole in the wall. This took quite a bit of work. Turns out, plumber guy didn't bother getting joint compound to fill in the seams of his patch. Instead he used bathroom caulk, which is stretchy and very difficult to remove from drywall and wood. 

I look like a hunchback because I'm pulling on a bit of caulk with all my might.

Then we clean up, and measure the opening.
Remember to flare out your fingers for dramatic effect. 

We chose to go with mildew resistant dry wall, because we're in a bathroom, and what's more, this is a wet wall. There was very obvious damage to the drywall and the wood inside the wall where water had leaked out. We checked, and the leaks are gone, but you never can be too careful. Mold can make you very miserable.

Measure twice, cut once.

There's a big hole in it for a reason. We decided that in the event that anyone needed to get to the pipes again, an access panel would be more convenient than ripping out the wall. So we did that. Sand your edges smooth when you do this.

After a couple of dry fits, we screwed the drywall into place. Be sure to counter sink all your screws. That means the head of the screw needs to be below the surface of your drywall for you non handy people out there. This is so your wall will be smooth with no screw heads popping up.
Counter sunk screw. Notice the expansion gaps. Of about 1/8 of an inch. 

Now we were ready to mud and tape the joints. You use joint compound for this. Not bathroom caulk. Just saying. 

Spread a generous layer of compound over all the seams.
Action shot!

Then get joint tape, and press it into the wet compound. Use your putty knife to cut the tape to length.

Then carefully spread joint compound over the tape. Try not to move the tape as you do this. I found it best to start in the center and work my way to the edge of the seam before running up or down the seam.

Messy, messy, messy!

Let this dry for 24 hours before you do anything else. When you're done you shouldn't really be able to see the tape.

No tapes!
Now, the rest of the wall was textured so we needed to texture the patch, so it didn't stick out like a sore thumb. We did this by spreading joint compound over the entire area, and then taking a barely moist sponge, the kind you use for grouting, and pressing it into the wet compound. I would squeeze the sponge and roll upward. It's not exactly the same as the rest of the wall, but you can't really tell where the patch is without really looking.

Again, it needs to dry for 24 hours. And then we painted. Because, how often do you get to paint behind your toilet? 
Patch? What patch? I don't see a patch.

Now we removed the rags from the sewer pipe, and scraped off all the old wax, and got it clean as we could. We put in some new bolt thingies to hold the toilet, and made sure they were aligned properly.

Then we tightened the bolts holding the tank to the bowl, because that was rocking precariously, and set the toilet back in place, with a BRAND NEW wax ring. We had to shim it with plastic shims, because when the plumber poured the concrete for the floor, he didn't get it exactly level. Hence the hobby horse. We tightened the bolts by hand and then with a wrench. Make sure when you do this that you go back and forth from the left bolt to the right bolt to make sure you're level. Once the bowl was level and tight to the ground, we cut the shims and caulked around the bottom of the tank. 
Somewhere in there we popped in the access panel. 

Then it was just a matter of connecting the water, turning it on, letting it fill and checking for leaks.

There's nothing like a bathroom reno to make sure your relationship was meant to last. I think he's a keeper.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Antique Sideboard

There are a number of names for it. Sideboard. Credenza. Buffet. Cupboard. Press. Cabinet. Hutch. It's a narrow piece of furniture for holding articles of table service. It's top is convenient for preparing dishes or storing hot dishes you're about to serve. They tend to be found in the dining room. I bought mine in a desperate attempt to extend my counter space before the fabulous kitchen overhaul of 2013. It was on craigslist for $150.

The top is solid marble, and the cabinet is 100% quarter sawn oak. It is put together with mortise and tenon joints, dovetail joints on the drawers, wooden pegs, and very little hardware. No glue, no nails. and the only screws are there to keep the drawer hardware on. This is a true antique. I'm guessing - and I am no expert - due to the way it's made, the hardware (which I think is original) and the art deco designs on the front, that it was built around 1920-1925. If you are an expert, and I'm wrong PLEASE contact me. I'd love to have an accurate date for this beauty. 

And I scooped it up for $150. 

Now. Don't get me wrong, when I bought it only one of the drawers had a drawer. The other drawer face had just been screwed into the frame to keep it from moving. The door moulding on the front was cracked and in danger of falling off. The paint was chipping and awful. There's a couple holes in the top where pegs obviously once fit to hold two long since broken and discarded shoulders in place. The backsplash rocked and wouldn't stay put due to the shoulders being gone. It was in crappy shape.

My dad built me a drawer for the other drawer face and I used wood glue to fix the moulding on the front. But other than that, I pretty much just used it as it was.

Until now.

See that? That's the back of the sideboard coming away from the side. Because of the amazing craftsmanship of this piece, it's survived for almost 100 years. And yet, because it doesn't have any fasteners at a lot of the joints, as the wood ages, dries and shrinks, the joints don't fit together quite as strongly as they once did. And that marble top weighs like 150 pounds. It's not connected, and the rocking back and forth has caused a few of the joints to become loose. I knew if I wanted to keep this piece for another 100 years, it needed some attention.

Some idiot had spray painted the entire cabinet this steel blue - including the hardware. I painstakingly removed the hardware and saved the tiny little slot head screws in a  cup. Then I sent all the hardware for a bath in boiling water.

When the water was cool enough, I pulled the hardware out and started to rub them. The paint came right off with no stripper, no chemicals, no stink. Yay! Underneath they were a very shiny yellow brass. I didn't like that, so I hit them with a metallic spray paint in a dark color. 

Next, Boyfriend helped me remove the immensely heavy marble top. I added the tiniest amount of wood glue to the joints, and Boyfriend held the joints in place while I added the smallest finish nails I could find. You can barely see them, but they are holding the joints in place very well. Once I got the piece square again, the door started to swing a lot better. 

I wanted to fix the paint job without stripping it, and without sanding away all the neat detail work on the front. So that meant I had to paint it. But I sanded anything that was flat back down to nice clean oak and stained it. A coat of mustard yellow, and voila!

While I was at it I removed the lock from the cabinet, and took it to my local locksmith, Brian and Sons. I wanted to have a key for the lock, so I could use it as a liquor cabinet or something. I don't know. I just felt weird having a lock that wouldn't lock. t really thought they would take one look at that lock and laugh at me. Or tell me it would be a monstrous amount of money. 

They calmly took the lock, fit a key to it, and told me it would be $15 for the first key and $7 for any key after that. I bought two, and it was ready in a day. Amazing! They're professionals who do good work and I would highly recommend them. And they didn't pay me to say so either. 

The only thing left to do with this piece is replace the shoulders on the countertop. I would probably never match the marble, but I'm thinking if I can find a nice thick piece of oak, that would serve. Problem is, finding a nice thick piece of oak lumber of the correct proportions these days will take some doing. But I have not given up hope. 

I've been looking for some similar sideboard from a similar era to try to see what it might be worth - not that I could ever sell this. But it seems to be fairly unique. Everything that's anywhere near close is between $1000 and $1500, and none of them seem to be a similar construction. So I'd say I struck a pretty good bargain, wouldn't you?

Friday, June 20, 2014

Refurbished Coffee Table

I acquired this coffee table as part of the great coffee table swap of 2008. A friend of a friend got a new coffee table. They gave my friend their old coffee table. My friend gave me this coffee table. And I gave away my coffee table, which had cost about $20 at Target and was mostly made of cardboard.

Not made of cardboard = upgrade.

I spray painted it this lovely turquoise color. I did a pretty crappy job. Lots of people are out there looking for ways to make new things look old and chippy. Frankly I've no idea why. My technique for making my coffee table look old and chippy is a bad paint job and about 7 years of putting my feet on it. 

So first thing I did was sand the top, and only the top. There are lots of little details on this coffee table, and I didn't want to ruin them with my detail sander or spend hours sanding by hand. So, top gets sanded to bare wood, everything else gets a very light sanding. Then we stain.

Oh yeah. Looks better already.
Then, everything that's turquoise gets painted a blue that matches the rest of the room, and two solid coats of polyurethane on the top, so that my cups and feet don't do a number on it. 
Not terribly exciting, but there you have it.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

New Shutoff Valves

This is Boyfriend.

So, Boyfriend bought a house a few months ago. It's an adorable late 60s home that seems well constructed and reminds me so strongly of my parents' house, that I felt instantly at home. Boyfriend's new house had had one owner, and elderly woman who had recently passed away.  Which means that the house hadn't been well maintained in about a decade.

So it's got it's quirks and it's problems, and it's overgrown trees, a few of which the home inspection didn't find. And while Boyfriend has helped me put in a laminate floor, a whole kitchen, shelves, tile, trees, paint, etc., Boyfriend is not confident when it comes to home ownership and his own handiness. (He is actually quite handy - though not as much as my fabulous self.)

So when his shutoff valve was leaking for his washing machine, he waited for me to help him fix it. All I really did was sit on the floor and tell him what to do. 

First thing we had to do was turn off the water. You can either get the city to do this, or you can buy a key to do it yourself for about 10 bucks.  
It's called a curb key and it looks like this.
An easy way to test if the water is actually off is to set up a lawn sprinkler you can see from the shutoff, which is generally in the front of your house. You know the water is off when the sprinkler goes off. 

Then you need to remove the old fixtures. Luckily, they were screwed on, not soldered on, or we would have probably called a plumber. (I could have fixed it, but Boyfriend doesn't trust me not to burn down his house yet.)
Righty tighty, lefty loosie.
Boyfriend used the vice grips to hold the pipe still. This is important, so you don't untwist any pluming lower down in the wall, and cause a huge leak that you can't get to, and have to rip out the wall. He then used the adjustable wrench to twist counter clockwise on the shut off valve. 

Then you take the old valves to the hardware store and find new ones that match. This process can be sped up by looking cute and stupid and ditching your boyfriend to ask whatever young male employee can be found near the plumbing section. 

Or, you know, you can know what you're doing. Either way. 
Shiny and not corroded!
We took off the plastic nut, because we didn't need it. Then it's just a matter of screwing the new fixture in, and using the vise grips and the adjustable wrench to make sure it's good and tight.

Does anyone else see an angry robot face in this picture?
And then you hook up the washer and dryer, turn the water back on, and test for leaks.
No leaks! First try! Woohoo!
Boyfriend did really well with this, which was his first real home repair. Apart from instructions, I barely helped at all. I think he's feeling more confident about home ownership now.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Kitchen Reno Part Deux

See? I haven't forgotten you! I promised you a photo of my new hard hat, and here it is!

This is my first ever selfie!

Ok, so no, I haven't been without a kitchen sink for months. But my kitchen was far from finished. Now it's finished, and you can see it.

So. First thing I did was cut my butcher block to length, and cut a big ol' hole in it for the sink. I tried free handing this by dropping in a circular saw. That was a mistake. 

I ended up cleaning up the edges by using a fence to guide the edge of my circular saw. My undercounted sink is held in place with some clips and some heavy duty wood screws (since my countertop is wood.) 

I don't have any pictures of this part because... let's just say that emotions were running high that day. 

Next I needed to drill a hole through the counter for the sink. Which I did. Now my faucet was purchased online for a grand total of $38 bucks. Comparable models were about $200. It came from overseas and all the directions were in Chinese. So that was exciting. It's a good thing I'm handy. When we initially attached the faucet, we found that the countertop was so thick, that there wasn't room for the hardware to attach properly.
Does not fit.
Notice how the nut in the front is not fully on the bolt. So the solution was to carve out some space for that little metal flange thingy to sit below the bottom surface of the counter. I drew a circle around the flange and used a forester bit to carve out the surface about an inch down. This would not show from the top side. 

I smoothed the edges with my chisel, another Christmas present. Then we reassembled. And it fit!
Trust me, it's supposed to look like that. 
Now we flip the counter over, tighten everything up, and check for leaks! And we take it off again, and find the nut that the Chinese directions clearly pointed out that we should tighten, that we completely missed, flip it back over, tighten everything up, and check for leaks again! And it works! So I screwed the countertop down from below.

Yay for running water!
Then we cut the rest of the butcher block for the other counters and the window sill. I spread lots and lots of mineral oil onto the wood, and let it soak in, for a beautiful shiny, protected countertop.

Miles of counter space!
Then I attached the backsplash. This was literally as easy as using tin snips to cut the plastic to size, and sticking it to the wall with adhesive. It looks like pressed tin, but it's really just plastic.

After that, it's just a few paint touch ups, a little trim, a few quirky touches, and BOOM! Hello dream kitchen.
This is the same trim as on the cabinet - to cover an ugly place where the wall meets the backsplash.

What's a dream kitchen without an appropriately disturbing knife block?

Total costs ran me about $1200. Not bad. Not bad at all.