I Would Buy Stock in Howard Products

All the windows are complete.  I finished the last two in my office in time for the final inspection.  I caulked the hell out of the window frames before putting on the moulding.  I know air was seeping in around the edges and through a seam in the middle of the frames.  I could see the curtains blow.  Granted we haven’t had any arctic cold temperatures, but I’m seeing a market difference in temps on the first floor now that all the window moulding is in place.

Upstairs floor moulding was a piece of cake/walk in the park as compared to downstairs.  The top edges are caked with paint, caulk, and tape.  They are extra filthy, smelling of animal urine, caked in roach waste, cracked, or junks missing.  I found the living room pieces first, but once unwrapped I thought no way they were usable.  Howard’s Restor-A-Finish is a miracle product.  The end result, is truly amazing.

The first piece I treated per the instructions from the video that first introduced me to the Restor-A-Finish product.  I washed off the dirt, attempted to clean with the denatured alcohol, before applying the product.  Unfortunately the paint was so thick on the edges that I was scrubbing hard with the steel wool and it wasn’t budging even though it was slurring the stain.  I took a paint scrapper to it.  I noticed that the areas that were still moist from the alcohol did not scrap as well as untouched areas where it seemed to pop off.  I decided to change my game plan, scrape first, even before washing off the dirt.  Scraping removed the top layer of stain, but that turned out to be advantageous as it made the denatured alcohol step faster.

Every piece needs to be fully scrapped and the majority of the pieces also need some type of mending.  The easy mends were gluing pieces that were cracked or completely broken off.  Amazing how many broken pieces I was able to not loose as the piles were jockeyed around.  I pin nailed were I could and clamped until glue dried.

The harder mends were those where the broken off piece was missing.  Only one so far and for that I made a splice out of moulding left over from upstairs.  I had to sand the patch piece down to the wood, to remove the wrong color stain.  I lined it up with the damaged piece and clamped them together along with my straight edge set at the angle I needed to capture all of the broken area.  I used my mini circular saw to make the cut.  I impressed myself with how this mend turned out.  I used the custom colored Zar stain on the patch piece.

The other difficult mend was filling the holes from where the electric outlets were located.  The living room only had two outlets (today’s code I have 8), so I employed some of the technique I learned from the This Old House video I found.  I did not make a jig or use a router since my pieces weren’t attached to the wall.  Instead I used my jig saw and traced the shape of my patch piece onto the piece I was cutting.  I did sand after gluing, so the dust would fill in the slight gaps.  Again I impressed myself although moving forward I will be mindful of the grain of wood used for the patch.  The second one didn’t match as well as the first.

With the pieces mended, cleaned, and restored installing was a breeze.  I used my Walabot stud finder to make sure I was hitting studs and I used 16 gauge, 2″ nails loaded in my nail gun.  Finding studs was key because the pieces were warped and bowed from not being stored flat.  This was corrected by the force of the nail pulling the board into the wall.  Hitting drywall only would not correct this.  The only wall that I had to treat differently was the exposed brick wall.  The moulding originally went into plaster, now it had to attach to brick.  For that I marked the mortar area in 4 spots and drilled a countersink hole in the wood.  I used masonry nails to attach to wall.  With the nails being black they blended perfectly.

I’m about 50% done with the floor moulding that must be restored.  The guest bedroom will be the only room to get new moulding because fire destroyed the original on one wall.  The moulding for the other three walls I’ll need to ensure the other rooms are complete.  In some areas the original pieces will be too short due to doors that were permanently removed or I’ll need to place it where it didn’t previously exist.

Next post will be pictures only when all restored floor moulding is complete.  I have an ambitious goal of having the entire inside complete by my birthday in January, which includes making my dining room table.  If the doors go well it will be completely possible.

Stair Railing Installed, Ready for Final Inspection

With my father in town for Thanksgiving I was able to have him help me install the last element stopping the scheduling of final Building Permit inspection for my occupancy permit; the stair railing leading to upstairs.  The railing I got from Hyde Park Lumber 20191022_195914because I wanted to have the curved ends that meet the wall.  I didn’t know code required this anyway, but I was at the historic General Denver Hotel in Wilmington, OH and I took a picture of their stair rail in hopes I could find something similar.

It came in three parts, the rail and two end pieces.  It would take some precise measuring and drilling to get the ends to align perfectly once attached.  I figured my father would be up for that task.  One end fit perfectly, the other I had to sand a bit, all in all it was a fairly easy project.

Installing window trim allowed me to find the pieces of trim that ran on top of the stair string and also under the bead board short wall surrounding the stairs, so I tackled putting them in place also.  I knew I would have two issues I’d need to work around.  The first was I knew the pieces would run short.  Originally there was a door that closed off upstair and the trim stopped at the jamb.  I had about a 5-6″ shortfall on both sides to contend with.  The style/design of that trim was unlike any other trim in the house.  I didn’t want to risk breaking it by taking it to Hyde Park Lumber to see if they had anything to match, so instead I used a piece of original trim not used on the Master Bath windows.  I put the splice at the top of stairs since my Master oasis is not public space.  Close enough in my opinion.

The second issue was dealing with larger gaps around the bead board and floor moulding created because the drywall was thinner than the plaster in some areas.  On the top of the left side of stairs there was an obvious gap that bothered me every time I went up the stairs.  Thanks to watching Tom install the last of the crown moulding I got the perfect idea to conceal the gap; an end cap which I made from a piece of leftover moulding from upstairs.  The piece was small and all I had to work with was my coping saw as I attempted to cut the shape to match the profile of the floor moulding.  A friend found a used scroll saw for me at Habitat ReStore for $15, all it needs is a blade.  Sure wish I had in operating for this.  All in all not a bad remedy.  The right side was not as intricate as the gap was much longer and wider.  More left trim from the bathroom windows took care of that.

The bottom of the stair string posed a different problem due to the removal of the jamb.  Each side had different lengths.  The left ended approx. 3/4″ from wall, so I decided to just fill the gap with a piece of wood that would allow me to run the floor moulding to the end of string.  The right side had about a 3″ gap, so I cleaned up the edge and decided to wrap the floor moulding around the corner.  Since moulding in that area didn’t exist I sanded down a piece left from upstairs and stained it to match the other first floor moulding and stair risers.

With the fixes in place installing the original trim pieces was a piece of cake.  Clean up was just water and Restore-A-Finish.

Before and After.  What a transformation.

 

Road Trip for the Elusive Office Door

20191123_114730Saturday I made a quick trip up to Columbus, OH to pick up the only missing door in my house; the elusive, 2-panel (vertical), approx 32″x 80″ door for my office.  You cannot restore old houses without having an arsenal of salvage stores to shop.  I found Columbus Architectural Salvage‘s website months ago when started searching for doors for my house.  They have always had the 2-panel vertical style I needed, but not until last week did they have one in the size I needed.  I paid for it in advance to ensure it would be there.

What a super cool store and so well organized, I could spend hours.  It was sensory overload.  The budding up-cylcer in me was roaring to come out and buy, buy, buy for project ideas.  I resisted and came home with just a door, a mortice lock to fit it, and a couple of hinges I will need for my master bedroom refreshment center project, stay tuned for that one.

The door will need to be stripped and stained to match the others in the house, but this won’t be my first stripping rodeo.  It will also need to be reversed as it is currently 20191123_151632oriented to swing in the wrong direction.  I’ve already solicited Scotti, from the Wavepool Wood Shop to tackling getting it fitted for the door jamb.  One day I will learn the process of retro-fitting doors and jambs, but at this stage of the project I’m invoking my old time is money adage.  At my current skill set (which is advanced and getting stronger) I would take days to fit the door and that’s not time I have to give at this stage.

Having that door allows me to truly see the light at the end of the tunnel.  The first floor trim, moulding, and setting of five doors is all that is left from calling the inside of the house complete.  I’ve put myself on the clock to have the inside complete by my birthday in mid January, so no holiday trim the tree gathering again this year.

I Told You She’d Be Beautiful

October 2017, armed with 2 PB&Js, Vitamin Water, and Gatorade I freed this hand-crafted, almost 100 year old built-in from the wall it was encased in.  It was one of the many vintage/cool elements that vandals left relatively untouched that made me fall instantly in love with this house.  I knew before the house was mine it would have a relocated home in my kitchen and today marked the day her restoration was complete.

Picking up where I left off with moving her back to the kitchen I completed restoring the doors.  The two smaller doors at the top were a simple clean with Murphy Oil Soap water to remove the dust, followed by denatured alcohol, outside only with alcohol.  Once dried I applied Howard’s Feed and Wax.  Like the bottom door, I decided to sand the glass doors, apply the Zar’s Early American stain, followed by the Howard’s.

Most of the door hinges were rusted, so over a year ago, I cleaned them up by soaking them in vinegar.  I sprayed them liberally with WD40 and placed them in labeled plastic bags waiting for this moment.

The drawers were missing from the beginning.  When I picked up my bathroom vanity from Homestead Furniture I noticed shelves of drawer boxes, so I asked if this was something I could purchase from them.  The answer was yes, so when I returned home I took measurements and ordered them.  I already had the plan for the drawer fronts in my mind.  The original closet shelves in the attic space were in the same stain/patina as the cabinet.  I just had to cut to size four fronts on my table saw.  The sharp edge from the saw I did not think was fitting of a 100-year old cabinet, so I used my palm sander to round over the edges.  I applied the Zar stain to the edges and sides due to the fresh cut and again applied the Howard’s.

To attach the fronts to the drawer boxes I drilled counter-sink #8 holes in each corner of the drawer boxes, applied wood glue, and screwed 1”, #8 screws through the boxes and into the fronts. The bottom drawer is the only drawer I did not glue as I that drawer may get altered in the future. It is also the only drawer to get drawer slides.   I did have to alter the drawer box to accommodate the slide, but my JobMax tool made easy work of that.

The top three drawers I am operating the way they were built, sliding on the wood frame, although I did add Nylo-Tape to make the slide smoother and to stop further deepening the wear groove. To stop the drawers from being pulled completely out I added plastic drawer stops, both found at Rockler Woodworking.

The  bottom drawer got special treatment because it now my hidden dog feeder.  I saw this idea on many of the HGTV/DIY shows.  I thought it was an awesome idea.  I never measured my dogs, assuming the bottom drawer was low enough.  The height of the drawer box I based off their current bowls.  It is almost too high for them, so I bought new shallower bowls and even though I had the scrap piece of plywood, I purchased a 2’x2’ piece of thinner wood to lower it more.  They took to the new meal location with ease and already stand in front of the drawer when they know its time to eat.

The final touch to the drawers were some vintage pulls I found on Ebay.  I searched vintage/antique built-ins on the Internet and all seemed to have cup pulls.  The wear pattern on these I thought was fitting.   They didn’t come with screws, but I found antique copper specialty screws at Lowes.  The Phillips head is the only thing that speaks modern.

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The shelves were covered in red gingham contact paper.  It was filthy and not fully in tack on all the shelves.  The idea popped in my head to look for blue gingham contact paper on Amazon and I found it.  My motto is Ask Google, Shop Amazon.   I will say it was hard to work with, very difficult to separate the peel off paper.  Luckily one roll was enough as I bought it December 2018.  Blue is no longer available.  I applied it to all the shelves and the top of the dog’s pull out tray.  The bottom stationary shelf I didn’t try to remove the remaining old adhesive and the new did not go on smooth.  For the three adjustable shelves I took a damp dish towel and applied heat from my iron.  The old peeled off in relative ease.

With all the doors, drawers, and shelves installed, all that was left was the counter top. The original was just a piece of thin metal covered with contact paper.  I knew when I freed her I wanted to put on a piece of soapstone.  Nicole Curtis used soapstone in one of her renovation and I it was so cool.  Over a year ago I found a remnant piece at Ohio Valley Solid Surface. I paid for it in full, less than $300, and they have stored it in their yard until I was ready for it.

I picked up a scrap piece because I knew I would need to notch the cabinet in order for it to fit.  I wanted to put stain on the cut areas and have the space completely ready, so all they’d need to do was slide the top in place.

The same men that delivered my kitchen and master bath counters brought the soapstone.  Their first task was remeasuring the cabinet.  They determined that more needed to be shaved off before bringing it into the house.  After shaving it off they cleaned it with alcohol.  That was the first time I saw the huge veins, beautiful, I was giddy with joy.

They carried it into the house, but had to remove a bit more wood from my notch before it would completely slide in.  Once in they applied the first of what will be many coats of mineral oil.  From what I’ve read it will take 5-6 coats before it stays dark.  The edge of the stone is beveled.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that as I assumed it would be rounded like the other counter.  However Emily, my sales person, had in her notes that we discussed a beveled edge would be more fitting given the age of the cabinet.  That was a conversation I did not remember, but glad she did.

It’s absolutely beautiful, everything exactly as I envisioned.

 

 

 

A Pile of Shavings from a Perfect Fit

With the master bath complete I turned my energy on the kitchen built-in.  It’s been in my basement awaiting stain ever since Tom added trim to make it look finished on the outside.  Not having it in place is stopping the installation of the last of the crown moulding install and the completion of the kitchen (minus the floors, still an issue that I want to fix, but doesn’t stop the function).

I have so many different combinations I’m using on my wood projects.  For this I first applied a coat of Minwax Prestain.  I can’t say I’d ever buy this product again, but I had it left over from the front door project.  Then I applied a coat of Zar’s Oil Base Stain in Early American.  I needed to get the outside (new and previously unexposed) wood to match the aged patina of the inside of the cabinet.  Until I started my head board project I had planned to put poly acrylic on the outside, but now that I’ve been introduced to Danish Oil I ended the process with two coats of neutral.

 

Now this is where got ambitious.  The crew from Two Men and a Truck took those pieces down to the basement for me.  I needed to get them back upstairs.  This is the downfall of being a solo act in this phase of the project and in life.  I got the dresser from my Pinterest project upstairs by myself.  It was just as heavy as the bottom of the built-in, but not as wide.  I decided to give the bottom a shot.  The width proved to be the obstacle.  I couldn’t get a grip, so I literally somersaulted it up the stairs to the top landing where I then became trapped in basement.  The movers took it through the front door and around to the back door to get it in the basement.  It was not going to make the turn, so I had to climb over it, lean it back down the steps enough so I could open the back door, I got my car, loaded it in the back, drove it to the front door, somersaulted it up the front steps, and got it reloaded on the wheeled dolly.  She suffered some scratches in that ordeal, which I applied Restor-A-Finish to help blend out.  Worked like a charm.

 

Of the four doors (all drawers were missing) of the built-in, the bottom one was in worst shape; faded and dried.  I decided to sand the outside down (inside was fine, just needed cleaning) before applying the stain.  It also got a coat of Danish oil.

 

Now it was time to move the top part.  I assumed I couldn’t do it by myself given its height, so I did solicit help but my neighbor was out of town and Tom (carpenter) 20191101_171410couldn’t help that day.  I decided to try it by myself.  It was actually lighter than the bottom and the top shelve location was at my shoulder, so I treated it like a cane, taking one step at a time.  This time I had the door open and my car ready.  However when I drove to the front, another neighbor was driving by so he stopped in the middle of the street, hopped out and helped me carry it in the house.  No scratches!

Now the moment of truth.  During the framing phase of this project, my father helped me put in a bulkhead that the built-in would rest under, similar to how it was when it was built-in the wall.  With the two pieces combined would it fit.  The answer was a crushing NO, I was about 3/4″ too tall.  Knowing that the floor sloped and thinking that I needed to make the base level before putting the top on, I had purchased adjustable furniture glides.  I ended up removing them and putting on felt pads just to protect my floor.  In the end I ended up removing them too.

 

Ultimately what allowed the cabinet to fit was using my hand planer and shaving off some of the top.  When Tom installed the trim pieces, he extended past the top of the cabinet by about a 1/2″.  The pile of shavings was created by planing down until I was flush with the surface.  With that the piece slid into its space, wedged on the left side as it appears the drywall crew made that side extend down longer than the right side.

 

I put the bottom door on and called it a night.  Almost two years ago I found a piece of remnant soap stone at Ohio Valley Solid Surface.  They’ve been holding it until I reached this point in the project.  They’ve come out and made their template to cut the stone to the opening; I’ll have it next week.  To make it fit the way my mind’s eye envisioned, the cabinet will need to be notched, so check back to see how the finished project turns out.

 

Freakin’ Awesome

I had my mind set on a cast iron tub, given the age of the house.  I had selected several from the Signature Hardware website, when a friend who had bought an acrylic tub from them said I should go to their showroom.  At that point I didn’t even know they were a local company.  I learned of them from watching many HGTV shows that use their products.

Most important for me was getting a tub that would allow me to fully extend my legs, something I could not do in the tubs of my old house.  I was so focused on length, that I did not take into account width and it turned out all the cast iron tubs were narrow, I felt trapped sitting in them.  The showroom person pointed out the acryllic, Renlo model, which comes in various lengths, but the 70″ happened to be on display.  It was perfect, wide and long and its style I thought would fit.  While the house is old my master bath was a new creation in it.  I worked hard to replicate the 1st floor bathroom, but I felt free to “design” this space.  Plus I knew it would be difficult getting a cast iron tub upstairs.  I was swayed.

Signature Hardware, from the showroom, will sell returned merchandise, its been so long I forgot the exact term they used.  Another person had ordered the 67″ version with a chrome overflow and drain, but cancelled the order before delivery.  Since the drain had already been attached it was sold at a discount, 40% off if my memory serves me.  I had not planned to do chrome fixtures, but could live with it for the savings.  I didn’t jump right away because the 70″ fit so good; even leaning back my knees did not need to bend.  I left, called my father, to share my findings.

 

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About an inch gap between tub and linen closet door, so the extra 3″ would have been problematic.

Since he had been studying my plans his first question was are you sure you have room for 70″.  I went to the house (this was pre-drywall, amazing) and measured where I thought the linen closet door would swing.  He was right.  I called the next day and paid for the discounted tub.  They stored it for a month before I had to take delivery.  That tub stayed in its box, which i put on wheels so it could be easily worked around by the drywall crew, until I laid the tile in that area.  18 months after purchase its connected and I enjoyed my first bath.

Lights dimmed, music playing, it was freakin’ awesome.  Exactly as seen in my mind’s eye almost two years ago.

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Tub half-full, I’m sitting up, knees completely submerged
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Tub about 3/4 full, I’m leaning back, knees out of water.
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I’m leaning back, knees submerged at the sacrifice of my feet

 

Master Bath, Functionally Complete

What a journey. I still need to find towel racks and get them installed, but it is an official 4 piece functioning bathroom and tomorrow I will call the city to get my final plumbing inspection.

The shower has been reworked and refitted. The Signature Hardware knobs, which match the sink and tub filler, and hand held sprayer are the only remaining reminders of what went down. If you look real close you can see where I nicked a few pieces of the surrounding tile, but all and all removing the body sprays completely was fairly simple. My Ridgid JobMax tool with a grout grinder attached made quick time of the work.

I decided to rework the diverter valve. Of the three ports on the top, I caped off the middle (housed the wall shower head) and moved the wall shower head down to the single port location where the body sprays once were. Doing this 1) put the head I’ll use daily on a port by itself, so easy direct access, and 2) I can now have the wall and rain shower heads work simultaneously.

I replaced the Signature Hardware shower heads with Hansgrohe Raindance S models. I didn’t leave it to chance; I actually went into a local showroom and tested several before selecting these units. I saved over $200 by ordering them through Build.com and not purchasing them from showroom retailer.

The wall shower unit is Raindance S Multi Function 2.5 GPM Shower Head. There was nothing wrong with the Signature Hardware wall shower unit, but since I lost the multiple body sprays I wanted a multi-function shower head. The WhirlAir massage setting feels awesome and the RainAir setting has a tingling sensation on my skin. Like taking a shower in club soda. The rain shower head is the Raindance S Rain 2.5 GPM Shower Head. Again, nothing wrong with the Signature Hardware fixture, but I wanted the two heads to match. I washed my hair last night and tried running both heads. Slight reduction in water flow, but still a nice shower experience.

A city licensed plumber installed the tub for me. I’m very glad I did not decide to install it myself. I didn’t have the tools they used, would not have known how to properly cut the pipe, so a very good $300 investment. I need to give the caulk tonight to set up, but I’m taking that puppy for a test ride tomorrow night. It’s been a long time in the making. This was the very first fixture purchase.

BEFORE

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Master Bath (Future walk-in shower/free standing tub)

AFTER

Did reality match the caption of the before picture typed almost two years ago. I think so!

I Could Have Been Showering Upstairs Sooner If Not For….

During my plumbing rough-in inspections the City inspector told my father we had installed the fittings for some of the shower fixtures wrong.  He said when I got ready to install after the tiling they’d stick out way too far.  My father studied the installation instructions for my Signature Hardware Exira Shower System in great detail.  After accounting for the tile, cement board, and thinset he felt this elbow would fall about 1/2″ short from the desired location.  We bought extension to make it longer and had that in place.  We took the inspector’s advice, removed the extensions and reinstalled the drop ear elbow fitting by itself per his suggestion.

Move forward a year, tile is in and none of the body spray fixtures can attach because all the fittings were recessed too far back.  My father was right, the inspector wrong.  Now what to do.  Believe it or not I’m not mad at the inspector and he’s not the reason I’m not showering upstairs.  He was very helpful throughout the rough-in process and if not for his suggestion to create a crawl space behind my master shower, so I could access the plumbing if needed, I’d be tearing out drywall and/or tile right now.

The true blame lies with Signature Hardware.  When the connections didn’t meet I called them immediately to see what suggestions they had.  They had none, stating that is why they give specific instructions on where to mount fittings.  I was told my only recourse was to reset the plumbing once I shared I had access to it from behind.  She pointed out that if the body sprays weren’t in the proper location that the diverter probably wasn’t either.  The inspector didn’t have any issue with it’s location, just the body sprays, so as soon as I hung up the phone I raced upstairs to install the diverter.  The face plate fit perfect.  I thought I had dodged a bullet until I placed the last handle.  It stuck out by about a 1/2″.

Once again I had been given another defective part.  Clearly the stem for the top knob and bottom were two different lengths.  I sent these pictures to Signature Hardware and they accepted blame, AGAIN, and provided me with a free replacement cartridge and instructions on how to replace the part.  For those that have not followed this journey this was not the first defective part from them.  This was actually the second diverter.  The first was mis-threaded and leaked during the rough-in testing.  They replaced it.  I got bad aerators in both master bath sink faucets (get to the video at the bottom of Blue Is My Favorite Color post), a defective toilet with missing parts, defective porcelain sink, and mis-threaded tub drain for the 1st floor bath and master sink.  They are super friendly in replacing the defective parts, but enough is enough.  Their stuff cost too much to have such a poor quality control check.

20190929_194105It was a relatively easy fix, although I had to buy a deep socket to remove the defective piece which clearly was too long.  With that repair done I turned my attention to the body sprays.  I crawled into the crawl space and was able to feel with my hand that there was a gap between the cement board and wood that the fitting was screwed to.  I thought, easy, peasy…..free the wood, push the fitting forward, anchor the wood again, done.

With the pex attached the fitting still wouldn’t meet the fixture.  Per my father’s calculation over a year ago it was about 1/2″ short of the their required set back.  I called Ferguson Plumbing (owner of Signature Hardware), went to Keidel Plumbing, and my father scoured the Internet trying to find a pex 1/2″ elbow with a longer head.  It doesn’t exist.  So I put fault back on Signature Hardware.  Why design a fixture with such a short thread length.  They could easily have made the length a 1/2″ longer.  If the industry fitting only extends 5/8″ and cement board is 1/2″ and tile is 3/8″ minimum plus your thinset, clearly there is not enough margin to successfully attach directly to the fixture.

I racked my brain trying to come up with options.  I purchased straight 1/2″ pex fitting, which allowed for the fixture to be attached, but because it couldn’t be anchored I couldn’t acheive a tight fit and the knob moved around.  In the end I resorted to purchasing the same20190925_114454 fittings we installed a year ago (not the piece in center).  It added almost 3″ in length to capture the 1/2″ needed, but also created two new possible leak points due to the added connections.  Unfortunately I didn’t reach this conclusion before the shower glass door was installed.  I didn’t have access to the inside of the shower for two days.

Friday, Oct 11 was the first day I regained access.  I was determined to have all the fixtures connected , but I still had one big obstacle and that was this was a two person job.  I needed someone on the outside to tell me when the fitting was at the right location.  Thankfully my neighbor Paul took a break from his own house project to come over and help.  I got the body sprays set, so he can return home and then spent the rest of the evening reconnecting the pex pipes.  About 10 pm I reached the moment of truth, ready to turn on the water.

The two bottom body sprays leak.  I cry uncle and will call a plumber at this point.  But before doing so I will contact Signature Hardware because even if they didn’t leak, I don’t like the force of the stream they project, it’s weak, nothing like the force of water the body sprays I had at my old house.  The wall shower head is weak too, very disappointing.  Remembering the bad aerators from the sink faucets I decided to to remove the aerator from the shower head and the difference is night and day.  So if the aerator wasn’t bad and a weak stream is their expectation, I will operate mine without the aerator or replace the unit altogether.

I did officially take my first shower Saturday night.  Despite all the issues with the fixtures the space is the sanctuary I thought it would be.  The texture of the tile under my feet is exactly how I hoped it would feel, almost massage-like, and not remotely slippery.  The position of the rain shower head is spot on as I can sit on the bench and have the water hit the back of my neck and cascade down my shoulders feeling the stresses of the day wash down the drain.  Not planned, but I love the halo affect created by the shower light reflecting off the fixture too.  The wall shower, with the stronger force, is at the perfect height.   The original 6″ shower nipple that came with the unit I replaced with a shorter, 3″, nipple to gain more height.   The hand sprayer will be perfect for washing the dogs and I’ll be able to sit comfortably while doing so.

I truly regret not putting in a steam shower unit (cost overruns, so I gave that up), but once the last two pieces of glass are installed by Ryan’s All Glass the shower will be completely enclosed to keep the steam from the water inside.  It got pretty steamy without, so I can’t wait to share the post of their completed work and my shower experience with it fully enclosed. 

Ryan’s has been awesome to work with thus far even giving me stainless still screws and a drill bit I used for mounting the hand held spray rod and eventual heated towel warmer.  When their work is complete I will be able to install the tub and I’m hopeful I will have no issues with the final uninstalled Signature Hardware fixture.  With the tub installed my master suite and an entire floor of my house will be complete.  Let the final inspections commence.

 

 

Like It Came With The House

My house is transformed.  To know where it started and to see it today is unbelievable.  That is why it may sound strange when I state hanging a salvage door to close off the 7527basement, laying tile on the landing, and refreshing the steps has made the biggest change to date.  It is going to be an extreme pleasure to use the back door as my entrance once the garage is built.

I found the door at Building Value, my favorite stop for reclaimed material.  It was just the door, no knob or jamb.  I paid Scotti from the Wood Shop to build the jamb out of extra jambs I had.  He had to reverse the swing and rip the width of the jamb to just 3″.  He finished it much faster than I needed, so the back entrance became a priority because I didn’t want to add to my pile of projects already in the basement.

Before I could hang the door I needed to put the tile down on the landing.  Timing was perfect as I had just finished the master shower and knocking this out now meant I could retire my wet saw for a long time.  I like laying tile, but my two bathrooms wore me out.  I had a few pieces left from the tub area in the master bath and I thought it would be great in that area, but I didn’t have enough to cover the entire surface.  I most certainly was not going to order more, so I got the idea to border the sides and use the tile in the center.  I found the perfect match at the Tile Shop, Workshop Desert Wood Look Porcelain 4 x 47.  I only needed four pieces.

Before I could lay the tile I had to level out the surface.  No pics to show, but I used Mapei Novoplan Easy Plus self-leveling underlayment from Floor and Decor.  Mixed and poured in the low areas on top of the cement board I had installed.  Amazing how well it worked.  I also decided that a pretty landing would pale next to the worn out steps, so I decided to cover themwith RetroTreads I found at Lowe’s. I did the prep work for those as I knew it would generate a lot of saw dust.  I had to cut the overhang off each step.  I knew the tile would create a need for a reducer going do into the basement.  I bought one before I knew the width I needed to cover and it was way too narrow, so I bought a Stairparts 11.5×48 Stair Tread, which I was able to rip down to the right width.  It was the perfect height, butting up perfectly to the tile.

With a close enough level surface I started with the border tile.  I wanted it to meet on the corners with 45 degree angles and 3 of the 4 angles would be impacted by the door or steps.  This tile project would have been 100% perfection if I had not forgotten to account for the new riser I was putting on the steps.  The most complex corner ended up being off by 1/2″, so I ended with a much thicker grout line in that corner.

I used my triangle square to make show the box was aligned correctly and then I did a dry run with the center tile.  If all went well I would have two pieces to spare.  Key was finding the center as it would allow me to get two spaces from one tile once I got to the perimeter pieces.  I didn’t miss a cut until the last piece of tile, so I ended the project with one piece to spare.

Next day was grouting, followed by cutting the treads to the right width.  With the dry fit of the steps down, I stained them with the Early American stain I had to match the kitchen door and added two coats of Bona Floor sealing.

I’ve never hung a door by myself.  The entrance to the basement wasn’t close to being square.  I knew the door was not as wide as the original, but it was the right height and style.  I’ve been looking for that door (and office) for two years.  I needed to close up the opening, so I got a 2×4 and ran it down the hinge side of door.  I knew it was import to make that side level.  To do so I had to shim out the top while the bottom was flush to the wall.

I also needed to cut off some of the top of the entrance.  I used my 4′ level to strike a line.  To make it level I cut almost 2″ from the left side and only an 1″ from right.  No pics (down fall of working alone) I did a plunge cut with my circular saw and my job max tool to get the corners the circular saw could not reach.  I went old school and used 10d, 3″ finishing nails to set the door.  I drilled a hole for the door knob to catch, but need to find a strike plate to finish it off.  I amazed myself by how well that went in.  The door was in really good shape.  Dusty, like my other trim and doors, so I went back to my Howard’s Restor-A-Finish stand by.  One day when I’m bored because EVERYTHING else is finished I may paint the other side to match the walls.  For now the pale yellow will be just fine.

With the door hung, tonight I turned my sights on the steps, which was a piece of cake to install.  I kept the top step riser original as the nose of the top step feeds into the kitchen flooring.  I put new risers on the bottom two steps (bottom step I actually installed before the tile) and used denatured alcohol to clean up the stair strings.  I was out of the correct tint of Restor-A-Finish for the strings, so I rubbed them with the Early American stain.  I put down Liquid Nail first and then used the 10d nails for added measure.  Just beautiful.

 

 

 

 

That Section Looks Good

It’s going to look awesome when complete.  The wall tiles are 4×16 and I purchased them from the Tile Shop, Imperial Bone Gloss Ceramic.  The skirting around the tub also came from Tile Shop.  The grout is Superior Pro-Grout Excel in Dessert Sand.

The floor tile is the mosaic tile that matches the hexagon tile I put in the tub area.  I fell in love with the Isla King Wood tile when I stumbled across it on Pinterest.  It’s an Italian tile and it was a splurge that I justified because I put in the labor.  I was fortunate to find the tub floor tile online at Mission Stone and Tile.  With shipping it was several hundred dollars cheaper than JP Flooring, a local vendor.  I had selected a 2×2 hexagon tile from the Tile Shop that would compliment the tub area, but Mike Tanner’s installer suggested that I go with a square shape tile, less waste and time to install.  The Tile Shop had a 2×2 square mosaic, but it was only a couple of dollars less than the King Wood mosaic, which is what I really wanted.  I only needed 23 sf.  Even though I had to pay for installation, it was less than $100 in material cost increase, so I went for it.  Unfortunately Mission Stone and Tile did not carry the mosaic, so I ordered it from JP Flooring.

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