Jay's House Remodeling


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Jay's House


  • 5/29/2006:  What a fun Memorial Day weekend...  We began installing the new hardwood floor, and things went amazingly well.  On Friday evening we moved all the furniture out of the living room, and used the spread on moisture barrier on the bare concrete.

    By Saturday morning the moisture barrier was dry and we were ready to lay the floor.  We started by laying out the frame that went around the fireplace hearth.  Working off of the front of the hearth we had a nice straight edge (I had measured from the wall when we laid the hearth to make sure it was square).  With 3 sets of hands we made quick progress, and the boards went in very well.  We used lots of blue tape to keep the boards together (using straps can lead to buckling the floor).  Of course the glue got everywhere, so  we spent a lot of time wiping off the boards.

    We finished the entire living room in by 4:30 Saturday afternoon, and then sealed the bedroom/office floor in preparation for the next day.  Sunday morning Jay pulled all the blue tape off the living room floor and polished it up nice an pretty.  I was amazed at how well the hearth blends with the new wood floor.  The overall effect is just spectacular, and the room is very warm and inviting.

    We spent Sunday laying the floor in the office, and were able to relax all day Monday.  We hope to finish the rest of the house this coming weekend.
  • 5/24/2006:  New projects talk about, and new pictures to show.  Here is a quick peak of the kitchen with the cabinet hardware installed.  We also installed a cool light over the desk area.  For those of you who did not follow all the kitchen improvements, you can read about it here.

    After getting the kitchen looking so nice, Jay wanted to continue along with the rest of the house.  I figure if his checkbook can handle the supplies I am glad to do provide the labor.  We ripped up all the old carpeting from the house.  There was also a very ugly 12" tile under all the carpeting that needed to go.  After removing all the flooring, we were left with a nice smooth concrete floor that is ready for the Peruvian Walnut flooring to be glued down.

    Before we could start on the hardwood floors there were a couple of minor changes to make in the living room.  The hall closet originally was the first thing you saw when you opened the front door.  We removed the door, and built a nice little niche in its place.  We will put a can light in it when we run new wiring to the living room.  The closet door has been relocated to the other side of the closet, so you can open it in the hall (where it should of been in the first place).

    Another big change is the eyesore of a fireplace.  Jay wanted to remove the raised hearth, so that it provides more walking area.  Of course, the painted brick also had to go.  First HardiBack backer board was put on the bricks of the fireplace to provide a smooth surface.  We had several 18" travertine tiles left over from the kitchen, but there was a big variation in their looks.  We cut several of the tiles into 3"x15" strips.  We surfaced the fireplace with the strips, in a well planned (for the most part - stupid math) random pattern.    Of course when you are fighting gravity, nothing helps more than a lot of blue tape.  We kept 4 of the best and most consistent tiles to be the hearth.

    The plan from here is to grout the fireplace tonight, and start laying the hardwood on the weekend.  We are going to put a moisture sealer on the concrete, and then glue down the flooring.  It will be an interesting process, but it will certainly be worth the effort.  Check back soon for some flooring pictures (I hope).
  • 4/9/2007:  After 7 weeks of heavy duty construction, the kitchen is put back together, and functional.  We don't have all the finishing touches done, but those will be completed over the next couple weeks.  Some of the items left to do are install the new back door knobs, cabinet hardware, and touch up some paint.

    We completed grouting the countertops and backsplash early in the week, so that the tile surfaces could all be sealed before the appliances were moved in.  With the grout in and everything polished the counters came together very nicely.

    Over the weekend the sink installation was completed with the faucet, and stainless steel air gap for the dishwasher.  The appliances were moved in.  The stove was a very tight fit, but once we squeezed it in, it looked like a custom fit.  The refrigerator went in next to the pantry, and slid in with no problem.  The dishwasher is a flush front with the controls on top of the door, and looks very sleek.

    Once it was all put back together, the final look was just what we planned.  From the entry of the house you get a nice view into the kitchen.  The dining room is all put back the way it belongs, and received a new light fixture.  The bar area is not only very functional, but it looks great to boot.

    For those who don't remember what we started with, here is a before picture.  Here are some of the final shots - After1, After2, After3.  I won't be making any new posts to the site for a couple weeks.  Around the first of May I hope to have some new stuff to post.
  • 4/3/2007:  The push to get done continues.  Lots of little things were done in the evenings after work (hooking up the sink & garbage disposal, cutting the desk top piece, making templates for some tile cuts,  getting the pendant light in over the bar that matches the one over the sink, etc.).  The weekend was spent getting the counter and backsplash tile installed.

    Saturday we started by dry laying the counter top.  When the installation started I tried to be very careful about making sure each tile was at the same height.  These tiles have a bevel along the edge that acts as the grout line.  By butting the edges together the bevels create a 1/16" grout line.  However by putting the tiles that close together, any difference in height is very noticeable.  By checking the level on each tile as I went the surface stayed pretty smooth.

    Because of all the small trim pieces needed to complete the countertop, I got Jay to give the tile saw a try.  We worked into the night, and installed the edge trim pieces to the counters and bar.

    Sunday morning brought the big unveiling and cleaning of the tile.  The lines all looked good, and once the grout is in it will really finish it off.  One of my favorite touches is around the sink.  I bought a 2 1/4" diamond tip hole saw on E-Bay to cut out the corners for the sink.  I made plywood templates, and used those as a guide for the hole saw.  I then made the straight cuts with the tile saw.  The final look is very clean, and the fit is just right.

    Sunday was dedicated to the backsplash.  What I thought would be an easy day turned into another all-nighter.  Fortunately, Jay was feeling very comfortable with the tile saw, so he cut the tiles as I set them.  It took a while to figure out how to get around all the receptacles in  the wall.  It took us about 5 hours to do the sink side of the kitchen, but we were able to knock out the stove side in just under 2 hours.

    After we had finished, Jay decided to make a small change on the window sill (not 'siell' - Jay is from Louisiana and I like to make fun of his little accent).  We decided to continue the nice flat finish  one tile up the side walls of the sill.  That entailed pulling about 5 tiles off the wall, and taking one last tile to EdgePro in Loomis (which we needed to do anyway, because I had made a bad cut earlier in the day).  Except for the 3 missing tiles on the sill, we were able to get the backsplash completed.   Sunday night was finished when I completed the installation of the desk area.
  • 3/28/2007:  Another big weekend is finished, and we are moving right along.  I had spent the week getting the counter tops ready for their tile.  Since we are flush mounting the sink, I also had to get it installed.  However, on Friday, we discovered that we had missed getting a tile bull nosed in the correct direction for the side of the counter.  Rather than laying the counter with a missing tile, we decided to go with plan B and tackle the floor.

    Saturday morning Jay began to lay out all the tile for installation.  Although we were just doing a random pattern, we wanted to make sure it looked good, and put all the prettiest tiles in the main walkway.  Jay set up all the tiles in the back yard to get them in order.  I marked a center line down the floor which was our guide for laying the tile.

    We then began to carry the tiles in for a dry lay.  It is a little  more time consuming, but I like to get all my cuts done before I start setting the tiles with thinset.  We (I) decided to push on into the evening, and get the floor completed on Saturday.  After picking up all the tiles, we began to install them.  Finally, at 10:00PM we were done setting the tiles.  It was a long day, but the final product was certainly worth it.

    Since we had finished laying the floor on Saturday, the only thing that had to be done on Sunday was grouting.  While Jay took care of removing some of the construction dust from the house, I put the grout on the floor.  We did a 1/8" spacing on the tiles, so the grout line is nice and thin.
  • 3/20/2007: Week 4 is done, and we are sore!.  We spent the entire weekend installing cabinets.  It took a little while to figure out a good system, but we finally got the routine down.

    Before starting installation, we spent Friday evening leveling the floor.  There was about a 1/4" drop from the center to the outside wall.  We bought some self leveling compound at Home Depot, and mixed up a bag.  This was my first time using a product like this, and I give myself a C+ grade on the final product.  Next time I will mix it a little thinner, and use my float more to smooth it out (I mainly used a 6' screed to smooth it).

    I was also able to mount the under-cabinet lights to the uppers.  I gave myself an A+ on this project because every light fixture matched up perfectly with the wire I had left in the wall.  Before closing up the walls, I made a map of the wires I needed, and each hole I drilled exposed the needed wire on the first try.

    We started mounting cabinets first thing on Saturday.  We started with the lowers, so we could determine exactly where they ended.  We then started at this point and worked back to the side wall with the uppers.  That allowed us to make sure that the distance to the window was equal on the uppers.  We finished one side of the kitchen on Saturday.  We even were able to get the pantry installed on the other side which gave us a jump on Sunday's work.

    Sunday's work went very smoothly.  We had a good system figured out for the installation, so we were able to get all the rest of the cabinets installed.  I was amazed that the vent pipe for the microwave exhaust was exactly where I needed it to be, and the exact length that I needed to boot!  We were even able to get the microwave installed on Sunday.

    Jay is very happy with all his design choices, and the colors seem to be working well. Even Molly was impressed with how the kitchen is coming together.

  • 3/14/2007: We continue to move along with the kitchen remodel.  By putting in a couple of long evenings after work, we are back on schedule for cabinet installation this weekend.  We have purchased all the tile we need for the backsplash (black), counter tops (mutli-color), and floor (brown).

    The order of business for the last week was finishing the walls.  I had to fill in all the small wallboard pieces.  Then I started all the taping, mudding, and texturing.  By doing a coat of mud each night, I was able to let the stuff dry, so I could add more and feather it out.  After reading some tips from the pros on the Internet, I started to get the hang of what it took for smooth seams.  I even added a little cubby so the oven gas connection wouldn't keep the stove from being flush with the wall.

    Rather than replacing all the ceiling, we just decided to skim coat the surface.  It took 2 coats to achieve the smoothness I wanted, but I think the final product was worth it.  Here is a picture of Jay after he was done doing the final sanding of the ceiling.

    With all the walls looking good, the time came to add the texture to them.  I hadn't been very successful with my texturing in the past, but with a little thought and prep we did the walls and ceilings, and I was very happy with the outcome.

    This week we are spending our evenings getting the paint done.  Jay did all the priming, and yesterday we started adding the color.  Jay is bringing the Monarch color from the dining room onto 2 of the kitchen walls.  The 3rd wall will be the same color as the living room area.  We touched up the transitional areas into the living room, and now all that is left is adding another coat or 2 of the Monarch.
  • 3/5/2007: Week 2 of the project comes to an end, and we got a fair amount of work completed.  We are a little behind schedule, but I hope with a couple of evenings this week, we will be ready for the cabinets when they get here.

    After a bunch of running around, I found a great deal on 18" square travertine tile for the kitchen floor.  We got it a Home Depot for only $1.97/ square foot. 

    One thing I figured out this week, is that it is best to make sure all your connections are glued before you turn the water supply back on.  If you don't you might have a big mess to clean up.  On the positive side, it did get the floor nice and clean.

    The weekend started by starting the new wiring for the kitchen.  Jay's house is 50 years old, so we tore all the old wiring out of the kitchen, and added new grounded wiring.  I added 3 dedicated 20 amp circuits for the new appliances, and 2 new 15 amp circuits for lights and GFCI plugs.  This was the first time that I worked inside of an electrical panel box, but all went well.  The only confusing part was determining the best run for the 300' of wire we used.

    The new layout includes 5 new plugs at counters, 6 ceiling can lights, under cabinet lighting, and a light over the sink, bar, and desk.  The porch light box also came into play, so Jay installed a new junction box, and light.

    I also had to move the vent for the stove over about a foot for the new cabinetry  placement.  I used some 4" flex tubing and tied it in to the existing vent system.

    After 1 days of wiring, we added insulation to the outside walls, and started putting up sheetrock.   This week will be spent finishing up the sheetrock, adding patches and corners.  Taping, texturing, and just making a lot of dust.
  • 2-26-2007:  Oh Boy!!!  A new project!  My roomie, Jay, has been courageous enough to let me try my hand at a kitchen remodel.  He is living in a 50 year old house, and has started the process of updating the look.  I figured I would earn my keep by offering to help redo his kitchen.  The goal is to have it done in 8 weeks.

    We spent lots of time at Lowe's deciding on cabinets, and he ordered those last weekend.  Since they will be delivered in 3 weeks, we decided it was time to get to work.

    Here is what the kitchen looked like before we started.  Our plan is to tear down to the studs.  Update the wiring, add a dishwasher and other new appliances, and put some nice lighting in.  This area that comes out into the living room will become an counter bar.

    We pulled the cabinets out, and created a little kitchen are in the dining room so we can still have the fridge and counters.  Then the demo started.  I was able to tear everything off down to the studs in just a few hours.  The house had termites in the past, so Jay was not surprised when we found this damage in the wall and ceiling.  While Jay loaded up the trailer for a trip to the dump, I pulled out and replaced the rotten wood.  The space for the counter bar is set up and ready for rebuild.

    Day 2 started with heading to the dump, and then a 3 hour trip to Home Depot.  When we got back to the house, we started on the plumbing updates.  We are adding a line for the ice maker, and are using CPVC for the line.  The new connector box was added where the refrigerator will live.  The old kitchen sink and counter have a new home in the garage.  I plumbed the sink into the existing laundry system, so now we have a good utility sink to use.


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