Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Thanksgiving Progress

We took some time off over Thanksgiving to work on the house. We spent Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Monday working on our big push and we got quite a bit done!

Wednesday we finished trimming out the closets by building some shelves and clothing racks. We also started preparing for crown molding which we started on Friday.

Friday my dad came to help us out. The plan was to try to get all the crown molding done on Friday and Saturday. I built a jig for the miter saw that allowed us to make all the crown molding cuts with simple miter angle cuts rather than compound miter angle cuts. This saves a lot of time. We actually were able to finish all the crown molding before dinner time! We put crown in the master bedroom and bathroom, hallways, entry way, living room, dining room and kitchen. The trickiest part was taking the crown around the outside corners (we had 5) because we used rounded drywall corners.

Saturday I had help from my soon to be brother-in-law. Since the crown molding was all done, we started by finishing the molding above the kitchen cabinets. There is not a lot of molding there, but the ends need to be scribed to fit against the crown molding. It's also nice not to see the exposed plywood anymore.

After that, we moved on to finishing up the closet units. I needed some special hardware to finish a vertical hanging piece that will support the lower clothes rod. The challenge was hanging this vertical piece that stopped well short of the floor but could support the weight of a rod full of clothes. This vertical piece is bolted to the shelf above, doweled to the horizontal upper shelf support and doweled to the lower shelf. Hopefully this will be enough.

After that we tore up the rest of the linoleum from the old kitchen. This needed to come out before the new floors go in and we are quickly approaching the point when we will start working on the new floors.

We still had some time left in the day so we installed the radiant heat mat in the bathroom that will heat the tile bathroom floor. The mat gets glued to the floor using thinset - the same cement based adhesive that glues tile to a substrate. The mat went down pretty easily. The key is to make sure you are careful not to nick the the wires.

Monday my dad came back to help again. We rented a tile saw to try to finish up the bathroom tile work. We needed a tile saw to make some long straight cuts that are visible on the shower curb and half wall. The curb, half wall and shelf took much longer than we anticipated. All the cutting time really adds up. Even with two people working, we spent most of the day working on the shower and only got to starting the floor a little before dinner time.

The floor tile goes down a little differently than the ceramic wall tile. We used travertine on the bathroom floor which is a porous natural stone. The edges are sharp corners rather than an eased edge like on most tiles. We decided to install the tiles with a very small grout joint (1/16"). With a small joint and sharp corners it is very important to get the tiles level with each other. Any irregularities will be obvious to the touch, especially when walking on the floor with bare feet.

To do this the process is a little more involved. You need to start at the highest point in the floor. You can always add more thinset to the bottom of a tile to build it up, but you can't (easily) lower the floor to make a tile line up. After applying thinset to the floor with a notched trowel in the normal manner, thinset also needs to be applied to the back of the tile. This serves two purposes: to fill the voids in the porous stone so that it is fully supported and won't break and to add an appropriate buildup to keep the tiles all level as you move away from the high point of the floor.

We only finished about a quarter of the floor on Monday. The rest would have to wait until the next weekend. In fact, getting the rest of the floor installed was all that we've gotten done since then. The following week only afforded us one night to work on the house and last weekend was Natalie's 3rd birthday party and the Yahoo! year end party.

Over the Thanksgiving week we also had the exterior of the house painted. I highly recommend David & Co. Painters. They did a great job and pay great attention to little details that really make a difference. We just had the new parts of the house painted since there is a lot of work to do on the old parts before it can be painted. We'll get to that after this winter and then have the rest painted to match.

The next steps are grouting the tile in the bathroom, installing the toilet, caulking all the moldings and casings, painting the trim work and starting on the living and dining room floors.

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