Sunday, September 16, 2012

Shower Pans, Garage Door Openers, and Kitchen Sinks... Oh my!

I apologize for the length of time between updates... it has been a crazy couple of weeks.  Last Thursday night, just as Mike was getting all geared up for a busy DIY weekend, the garage door opener ground to a halt.  Actually, more specifically, it made a horrible grinding noise, stopped, and dropped the chain.  Mike and I stared at it, then at each other, and then back at the opener.  Finally Mike said, "I will buy a new one on the way home from tennis tonight and install it tomorrow."  Little did we know it would take 3 hours to install, with the last hour consisting of mostly cursing and flipping through the three different manuals to determine how to program the thing so that when you pushed the button, it actually opened.  Novel idea.

Once the install was complete, the programming accomplished, and we were happily pushing the button and enjoying the almost silent belt-drive on the new garage door opener, Mike said, "You know, it was really only twelve years old, and we don't use it that much.  It really shouldn't have broken."  I nodded, and thanked my lucky stars that my verbal filter was functioning well.  If the filter hadn't been in top form, I might have blurted out a reminder that there was that one time a few years back when I drove into the garage with the bicycle on top of the roof rack, and subsequently the garage door itself had to be replaced, and really the opener was never the same after that.  But the filter worked, so I said nothing.  I guess this is where I find out whether or not he reads this blog.

He did manage to get quite a bit of work done over the weekend, with the cement board going up in the shower and on the floors, and the waterproof membrane going in to the shower pan.  Mike built the curb for the shower, then put in the second layer of the shower pan and built up the height on the curb.  This weekend, he started laying the tile on the floor of the bathroom while we are waiting for the shower pan to dry.  It took 5 days for the first layer of the pan to dry, and it isn't even supposed to be as warm this week.
The waterproof membrane
The finished (although still wet) shower pan and curb

So this morning, we get up bright and early, grab a bite to eat, and get ready to start the day.  I start doing the dishes, and the next thing I know, there is water pouring out from under the kitchen sink and soaking my feet!  Of course, I do the only logical thing:  turn off the sink and holler for Mike.  Fortunately, it turned out to be an easy fix.  We had a large container of 409 cleaner shift and knock a pipe connector out of place.  Mike replaced it, tightened the fitting, and we were good to go. 

We borrowed a tile saw from Mike's Mom (thank you, Charlotte!) and started laying out the tile and making cuts.  I was actually somewhat helpful in this phase, since Mike decided we should put my overly-detail-oriented (some might say "anal") nature to good use, and he put me in charge of running the tile saw.  He made the measurements and marks, I made the cuts.  Even though we worked as a team, it was still slow-going.  We did manage to get some down, though.  Here are some pictures for your viewing pleasure. 

And just so nobody gets the wrong idea and thinks that I am just sitting around eating bon-bons while Mike works, I managed to get some stuff done these last couple of weeks, too.  I finished the top of the charity quilt I was working on and am now putting the backing and batting on so I can quilt it this week.  I also canned 50 lbs (28.5 qts) of peaches with my friend, Kristi, got quite a bit of cutting done on the red and white quilt I am working on, dried 5 lbs of apples, and made Steak and Ale Pie for dinner.  So there.  :)
The top for the charity quilt

Steak and Ale Pie... it's what's for dinner!

Monday, September 3, 2012

"Is that a Crack?"

It seemed like such a simple question.  As I was showering one morning, I noticed a line on the floor of the shower.  I bent closer to get a better look.  And then I asked "Is that a crack?".  As it turns out, yes.  There are several cracks.  Our builder grade fiberglass surround in our master bathroom has bit the dust.  It is time to replace it. 

After much discussion we determined that we didn't like the idea of replacing it with another fiberglass surround.  If we are going to go to the trouble to replace it, we should replace it with something we actually like.  There is a novel concept.  :)  And you know, if we are going to tile the shower, we should tile the surround for the soaking tub, too.  And we should probably put in shower doors that we actually like, instead of the ghetto ones we currently have.  And you know, we might as well tile the floor while we are at it...

And so it begins.

We drew a diagram of the bathroom and started measuring.  We measured in inches, and calculated square inches.  Then, over a fabulous lunch of Panda Xpress, I attempted to convert to square feet so we could buy the tile.  I ran the numbers and then proudly announced to Mike that we were going to need 1300 square feet of tile for the shower walls.  Mike just stared at me.  Finally he pointed out, very calmly, that our entire house was 2600 square feet.  How could we possibly need 1300 square feet for the shower walls?  I rechecked my calculation.  "Well, I take the square inches and divide by 12 to get square feet.  I get 1300 square feet." Mike smiled and suggested I google to see if there is a conversion chart for that.  Turns out we needed 88 square feet.  Should have divided by 144.  Who knew?

After that initial set-back, we have finally procured all the tile and supplies for this project.  Travertine for the shower walls and tub surround, mosaics for the shower floor, and tile "planks" for the bathroom floor.  We had Dreamline shower doors (all 237 pounds of glass) delivered and they are waiting to be installed.  We have more grout, thin-set and cement board than I ever imagined would be necessary.  So it is time to demo.

Here are some "before" shots:
The original vinyl floor
The horrible shower doors and shower with the cracked floor.

The soaker tub with the current boring white tile surround.
The toilet and shower doors are out.

Mike, hard at work with the sawzall.

Mike's handywork.

The shower is out!
The vinyl floor and toilet are gone.

The first layer of the shower pan has been put in.  You can see where Mike has built the curb and reinforced the studs in the walls. 

The carpet (yes... our builder put carpet in our bathroom in front of the sinks and tub.  Gross.) and the vinyl floors have come out.  I helped with those, because as I mentioned in an earlier post, I am an expert at pulling staples, flooring nails, tack strips, etc.  The fiberglass surround has come out.  The studs have been reinforced, and the curb has been built.  This weekend Mike has poured the first layer of the shower pan, and he has been working to install the cement board flooring.   I stripped the old caulking off the tumbled marble tiles above the shower, tried not to complain about the dust and debris, folded five loads of laundry, pieced together a quilt top, and in general, I have done an excellent job of staying out of the way.

Stay tuned for the next installment, where cement board will be installed, the moisture barrier will be put in, and the second layer of shower pan will be installed.

In the Beginning... there was DIY

For as long as I have known Mike, he has been doing "projects".  Anything that he can do himself, he will.  He does all the maintenance on the cars, bicycles, motorcycles; he has painted most of the rooms in our house, the trim and the shutters, when something doesn't work he takes it apart to figure out why.  He cuts his own hair, and he has recently started brewing his own beer!

It started with his car.  Most people just go out and buy a car.  Not Mike.  Mike bought 3 cars that didn't run and put them all together to make one car that did.  It ended up being mostly a 1983 Ford Probe that he painted "inorganic yellow".  That is what the manufacturer of the paint called it.  In reality, it was the same color as a highlighter, and it almost glowed in the dark it was so bright.

When we had our house built (yes... he did agree to contract that one out!), he ran some wires, added some extra insulation, and negotiated to have the bonus room over the garage left unfinished for him.  He turned that room into his first major DIY project in the house.  It became a theater.  Complete with tiered seating and the nifty movie theater seats with the cupholders and the armrests that go up and down.  The room also has a wet bar, crown molding, six speaker surround sound, a projector, and a screen that is 98 x 56.  Mike likes to use this room to play video games (nothing like Halo life-sized!) and watch DIY shows.  And movies... of course.  I tried to help with this one.  I was allowed input on the sink that is in the wet bar.  And I was allowed to stain the furniture black.  I rocked that job.

Then there was the bicycle.  I went to the bike shop and bought a bicycle.  Mike spent a long time researching and sourcing parts and built his bicycle.  Including the wheels.  I am used to the wheels showing up with a hub, spokes, a rim, a tube, and a tire.  Mike's showed up in pieces.  With a truing stand.  And a lot of other tools.  And he built himself a bicycle.  The frame was a Look, fire-engine red.  Beautiful.

And then Mike had a pool table delivered.  Did he go to a showroom and buy it?  No.  This one came from Craigslist.  And I had high hopes... really I did.  One day, I came home from work and there was... stuff... in the garage.  Right where I was expecting to park.  It looked like wood, only something had gone horribly wrong with it somewhere down the line because it was baby blue and white.  Mike proudly introduced me to our new pool table.  "Oh no.  Uh uh.  That thing is not going in my house.  Mike, it's UGLY."  He laughed at me and said "Just give me some time."  So I did.  And it was beautiful.  He stripped all the paint off it, sanded it down to the natural wood, refinished it, had the slate set and new felt put on.  It really was beautiful.

And then there was the shed.  With all the projects he was doing, he needed toys, I mean TOOLS, to do those projects.  And of course, he needed somewhere to store those tools.  So he determined a shed was in order.  He sat down and started sketching.  Then went to the hardware store.  Then built a shed.  A 12x12 shed, with rafters.  And skylights.  And a ramp so the motorcycles and lawnmower could be rolled in and out.

And then came the hardwood floors.  And I am proud to say I actually helped with this one.  We pulled up all the carpet in the living room, dining room, hallway, family room, stairs, office and upstairs hallway.  We pulled out the vinyl in the entry way.  Turns out a specialty of mine is pulling up staples and tack strips.  Who knew?  I can also dig a mean ditch, in case you are interested.  After the old flooring was out, the tar paper went in, and then the wood.  For the upstairs and downstairs hallways and the stairs Mike chose a maple with no stain, just a clear coat on the natural wood.  For the remainder of the rooms, dark maple stain.  It turned out beautiful. Two years later.  Yes.  I said years.  Turns out there were a couple of really difficult parts to this project.  The biggest one being the stairs.  Mike had to build each riser and tread, and hand router and sand the edges of the tread.  I can't do it justice with the description, so here are a couple of pictures:
The stairs with hand-built treads and risers.
The two-toned floors.  The natural maple isn't actually yellow, but I can't figure out how to use the camera, so hopefully you get the right idea.

Mike also has an acute interest in alternative energy and saving money.  This has resulted in another very interesting project... the thermal siphoning solar hot water heater panel that is on top of the shed roof.  It is piped to a holding tank in the shed, and then connected to our natural gas hot water heat in the house.  This was a great source of amusement for me during the entire project.  And then, to Mike's delight and my amazement, the thing actually works.  In the summer, it consistently heats the water to over 130 degrees F., meaning our hot water heater doesn't kick on at all, and our natural gas bill is non-existent.  This year, we have had no bill for the last 3 months.  It is still confusing to some of the neighbors and the people who come to visit.  They stare at the panel on the roof of the shed and try and figure out just what we are growing in there.  :)

The latest project Mike finished was the kitchen sink.  I kicked off this project with what I thought was a minor complaint:  "Mike, I don't like the faucet on the kitchen sink.  It is too low and it makes it hard to fill pots or do dishes."  Mike agreed and we started shopping for a new faucet.  We found one we liked, purchased it, and brought it home.  Mike removed the old faucet and put in the new one, only to discover that the weight of the new faucet was too much for the flimsy stainless steel (builder grade) sink in our kitchen!  Something was definitely going to need to be done about that.  So we decided on a graphite composite sink.  We purchased this and brought it home.  During the installation, we managed to crack the garbage disposal, so I got a new one.  And while we were at it, we put in an instant hot water heater for my tea and pasta needs.  We were smart and stopped short of new countertops and cabinets, but boy was it tempting.

So that is pretty much the history of DIY in our house... and with the next post, I will fill you in on the latest project.