Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The rail's in, the paint's done, off to Erin's place...

It rained most of the weekend at Deepcreek, so was a good time to to work on the place without feeling guilty for not spinning up the boat. Cherie took on painting the guest bathroom, and I tackled the iron pickets and railing. We spent most of the day Saturday getting paint and running errands and Sunday was wall to wall work.

The interesting thing about the place is that none of the measurements are the same anywhere. The distance between the support 4x4 were 36, 37, 38, and 42 inches wide. I swear the builders were drinking Iron City throughout the job! But it was my job to make it work. Everything went as plan and the install was fairly easy until the very end.

I decided to use two different types of end shoes for the pickets - a plastic shoe for the top of the picket and an iron shoe for the floor. Good idea because the plastic shoe is much lighter than the iron shoe and is a little less likely to give over time. Now the issue... the anchor screw in each of the shoes has an odd "star" opening - but I had my star bits so I was still in business - but over 50% of them were totally welded in on the iron ones and painted in on the plastic shoes. SO trying to tighten them only stripped them. Since they were already on the picket, and the pickets were already epoxy'd in, it's not like I can return them or anything, so I decided to epoxy them on. They are permanent now - but since the pickets are also epoxy'd in, I guess it's no different epoxying the shoes too. Here's a couple of pics of how things turned out...

... the next time we are up there I'll stain and poly them to match the floor.

Cherie, on the other hand, did a great job on the guest bedroom - it looks fantastic! We used Walmart (yes, Walmart) paint. Their "brand" is Kilz, and it's actually a very good paint at a very affordable price. I like it better than Home Depot's Behr which spreads like Elmers glue and is tons cheaper than Lowes Valspar - which is my second fav brand. Kilz is alot like Dutch Boy in how it covers and it probably is the best for the money.

Now that we've finished the painting, just about done with the railings, and waiting for the remaining kitchen pieces to arrive, we're off to the College Park condo this weekend to get it ready for the comming school year.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Let's try Iron Railings...

We finally finished painting the kitchen and family room this week and now have a couple of days of downtime while we are waiting on the final shipments to arrive. All that remains before I can start the before/after photoshoot is the pecan counter, sliding glass door, the basement door, counter stools, the correct doors for the cabinet above the beverage center, and the hardware for the ceiling light. Those should be trickling in over the next month - so we should be wrapping up in September.

In the mean time, my Deepcreek railing project is underway. When the floors were replaced last year, the 4x4 load bearing beams got a little torn up in the process. I basically had two options... 1. replace the beams, or 2. wrap the beams to create a fresh outward appearance. Since the beams are tied into the structure itself, that chore seemed like a little more than I wanted to bite off with the kitchen going on and all. So I decided to wrap them.

The picture below has a montage of before and how I did the wrap. The leftmost image is what I started with - some pretty old 4x4s with rips and holes all over it. The second image reviews how I did the wrap... I used a 4x8 sheet of 1/4 thick red oak plywood, cut 4"x8" strips with the edges at a 45 degree angle, then used PL375 as the adhesive. The far right image is how I attached the wrap - just a bunch of painter's tape using elmers wood glue for the 45 degree cuts to make a seemless edge.

The images below are the taped up job on the left and the final product on the right...

What I did was actually create what appears to be 4x4 solid oak support beams. The PL375 when mooshed against the original 4x4 created the solid feel when you tap against the wood.

Now that the support beams are complete, I'm going to do the oak railing and iron pickets using a style like this...

Iron railings will be a first for me, but you have to start somewhere!!!

Friday, July 30, 2010


The silence is deafening! The contractors finished up yesterday and everything on our punch-out list has been completed. Here's a little before/after pic of the job...

...there's still a lot of touch-up to do and it will be about a month until we have all the pieces in place. Cherie and I will be finishing things up... still left is the clean-up, the sliding glass door install, the pecan top install for the kitchen/family room divider, the basement door install, stools for the counter, more painting, and a weekend run to Costco for more Advil.

A lot is ahead of us, but having a fully functional kitchen after several weeks of various states of disrepair is fantastic!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What a week!!!

It's been a week since my last post and has it been a big one. Seems like we have been on an episode of Battle on the Block. Here's what things look like now....

And here's a peek at the beverage center...

Today the replacement microwave was installed first. We are GE customers for life - great customer service and got a replacement out to us in a week's time. Next Brian from Dundee corporation (our contractors) came by and started with the handles and then moved on to the backsplash. About 9:30, the granite people came by and installed the counter tops. At about 1:30 the counter was complete and the rest of the day was backsplash work.

Things are looking really good!!

Last weekend and through yesterday "late" night we painted, and painted, and painted - and then painted a little more. In order to make painting the ceiling (in both the kitchen and the family room) we went out and got a Wagner Power Roller ($25 at Wallmart). This is a pretty slick way to do a ceiling and really cuts down on the mess and the amount of "dipping". Now for the downside... fully extended it's about 4 feet long and fully contracted it's about 4 feet long. Walls it works well on, but ceilings, it's your stairmaster workout on the 6 foot ladder for the day. Also, this thing is pretty light (about 2 lbs) without paint. Once you fill the chamber with paint (especially the thick Behr ceiling paint), the thing weighs about 5-7 lbs. Quite a shoulder workout to go along with you stairmaster!!! So don't go to the gym before you paint!

Wednesday through Friday got us to this point...

... where we had the floor grouted and the cupboards installed.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cabinets are up...

The cabinets are up and look great (I really like the saw sink, too)!! After putting up a couple of pieces of backsplash, Cherie thought that cabinet lighting under all the cabinets would best showcase the backsplash and granite... time for an internet run for 3 more CounterAttack lights. We also had the granite "templater" in this morning to do the measurements. The granite should be ready late this week or early next (my bet is early next). Also, the sliding glass door should be in this week - so hopefully that will roll in before the grout is put down so the door gap can be grouted with the rest of the floor is.

We were excited to finally have a microwave to cook with again - but this is not a good message to pop up on your brand new microwave when you plug it in... after giving GE customer care a ring (their call center is in the USA - yea!!) we'll be getting a visit from their technician between 1 and 5 tomorrow. BTW, the person who programed the message did a good job with the explaination - but shouldn't they they have asked themselves how a touchscreen "ok" button would work if the touchscreen shorted out? Hmmm.

Given the lack of a microwave, we rolled the oven in.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Week one - done...

The floor was completed yesterday and really looks good. We picked 20" tiles using a 1/4" grout line staggering the tiles to center of the adjoining rows. I made sure to order 10% more to account for breakage and corner/edge waste. Guess what, we have 5 boxes - or 10% - left over. Anybody need some spare tile?

Stayed up late on Thursday and ordered the Counter Attack lighting online. We're just going to put under counter lighting on the beverage bar.

We are planning on relaxing a bit this weekend before week 2 starts.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Half a floor is better than none...

Ditra is down, half the kitchen floor is in, and the second layer of mud is on the walls. Cherie got a call from the granite fabricator today and found out that the granite templating has been delayed to Tuesday which adds an extra day buffer to get the crown molding in and install the upper cabinets before the lower ones. As it was planned, the bottom cabinets would have been installed first so they could do the granite templating before the the upper cabinets would have been installed. This would be a real pain because you have to reach over and above the lower cabinets in order to install the upper cabinetry when the lower ones are installed - so things actually worked out well with the delay. The floor looks fantastic!!!!

Cherie did a great job of finding a water purifier online today with 2 day delivery so we have it here when we template on Tuesday. The fabricator has to have the exact hole dimentions for the purifier when they cut the granite, so timing was once again is on our side! I ordered the pecan counter top from Texas today and it should be here in about a month. I still have to order the under-cabinet lighting for the beverage bar. I'm looking at counter attack lighting just because it's a cooler light and doesn't need a separate voltage regulator. Hopefully I can order those tonight and get them early next week.

More tomorrow!!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Feeling a little stressed...

It's been a hard couple of, well, months. We actually started the planning process and purchases way back in March and the last three days have been an immense drain. The hard part is that I can't take time off from work due to some work projects being in distress and need daily attention - so it's multi-tasking to the Nth degree! And Cherie is also out-of-sorts about the discombobled nature of our current existence. Time for both of us to suck-it-up and drive through the situation! Glad we subcontracted it all out (except for paint) instead of trying to portions of it ourselves. If the day was 32 hrs long, we may have been able to handle some of it ourselves.

Today things are starting to pull together. The electric runs are in, drywall is up, and the spot patches are on. Glad I was here today to make sure a 2x4 cross support was put into the kneewall to support the support arm for the banjo granite overhang! Also, some electrical runs needed significant input to make sure everything fits to spec.

Looks like tomorrow consists of a second layer of drywall mud and laying the ditra and tile.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Starting the buildout....

To start with, we need to repair the sins of the original builders by burying the wires and re-routing the pipe in the bulkhead - this took nearly half a day. No wonder they the builder let both dangle in the bulkhead!

Midway through I noticed the holes that were going to be used for the pendant lighting and it just didn't look right. Couldn't put my finger on it, but something was amiss. I told the contractors to work on something else while I spend a bit of time trying to figure out why I had a gut feeling that it wasn't right. After getting back to my real job, it came to me out of the blue while working on a budget spreadsheet - the cupboards wouldn't open without whacking the last light! So after conversing w/Cherie we decided on a staggered look like below...

O          O ... as it looks if you look at the ceiling holes...

with the following pattern...

|   |   |
|   ^   |
^       ^ ... looking head on ...

done deal. For the remainder of the day the kneewall, buildout for the fridge, and the electrical for the peninsula was completed.

Many thanks to Cherie for reminding me that we still have to order counter stools, water purifier, and the pecan top for the family room/kitchen dividing cabinets. Got a quote for the pecan top from that I need to roll with tomorrow. The water purifier has to be a Home Depot purchase (or quick internet delivery) at this point because we'll need it by next Wednesday. Counter stools are not on the time critical path and we'll get to Direct Buy sometime in the next week or so to get them ordered.

Here's a bit of advise if you work at home during this process... mind your mute button during meetings! At the tail end of a meeting today I forgot to press mute and the contractor walked in and asked if he could cut power. After a back and forth instructing him to selectively cut breakers for what they were working on so they wouldn't cut my DSL, I realized I wasn't on mute when the meeting went dead silent. The only thing I could say was "hmmm, I guess I'm not on mute, huh?".

Monday, July 12, 2010

Demo Day

Ok, now the bulkhead BS that we were given when they building the house now makes sense. In '94, we lived across the street in the townhouses and I pretty much took a tour every evening of what was done by the work crew. After they framed out the kitchen, some bulkheads appeared just before the cabinets were installed. We didn't know any better, and bought the builder's excuse that the cabinets were not the ceiling height cabinets and we really needed the bulkhead to fill the space. BS... we tore those bad boys down today and they were lazy and used it as a conduit for pipes and wires! Never believe a builder!!!

Anyway, the floor is up and Cherie booked the reservation for the Granite today and are set for a Monday template. I decided to go with ditra instead of a hardy backer board underlayment for the water barrier factor (and Holmes on Homes uses it all the time). Tomorrow our contractors will be doing a bit of drywall, building out the kneewall and fridge area, and some electrical.

Warning to everyone... work at home or take vacation for the demo part of the job... lots of weird stuff shows up when you tear out cabinets, floors, and bulkheads that need your input!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

After 3 nights, the wallpaper in the kitchen is now off. I still like the steamer, but Cherie's old school method with the sponge worked pretty good around the window. The ming green pencil tile came today and will look fantastic as an ending boarder for the backsplash.

One thing I did forget about was the pecan top for the family room/kitchen counter top. This will probably push us a little over budget, but it is a custom piece that will add a bit of character to the area. Tomorrow I'll request quotes.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Let the renovation begin...

For the last four months Cherie and I have been selecting and staging the materials, doing the architecture, and preping for the mess that will be our kitchen once the demo begins. Doing everything in budget with mostly high-end materials has been the challenge. The lion's share of materials have been purchased through DirectBuy, tile exclusively through the internet (Cherie undercut all competitors by 50% with her backsplash find), and the sliding glass Pella door was the only purchase through a "big box" retailer. Now that everything is purchased and in the garage, we are under budget by a little less than $800 - enough to buy paint and incidentals. Cherie was like a kid in a candy store with all the shopping!

The plan is that Cherie and I will be the general contractors and the misc. do-it workers. Demo, construction, electrical, plumbing, and installation will be sub-contracted out. Most of the sub-contract work will be with a single company in order to keep the continuity in place. We are a "go" for the demo starting on Monday the 12th.

The first activity is to strip the 12 year old wallpaper form the kitchen and family room. Luckily, we hired a good installer back then and used top-of-the-line strippable wallpaper. I like to use the steamer to get the paper off and Cherie is "old school" with the sponge and scraper. Both work (although I think the steamer is better) and we've been at it the last 3 days and are about 1/3rd of the way done (only can do this when we clock out from our day jobs). With the white walls being exposed, we can hardly believe that we lived with this "look" for a little over 3 years before we put the paper up! Looks bad!

The new kitchen will follow a similar architectural line as the past kitchen with the removal of the ugly island and installing a peninsula. We'll also be moving the fridge to where the pantry used to be and installing a sliding glass door in the place of the current french door to eliminate the "swing-in" open dead space required. The concept of changing the architecture crossed our mind to create a more open space, but had multiple hurdles to overcome and ended up to be cost prohibitive within our budget.

This is what we started with:

And what we are planning looks something like this:

Let the renovation begin!