Friday, January 30, 2015

Bedroom floor

The Master Bedroom
Or something like that. Look, you are going to have to put up with some pretty crummy pictures in the post. If you follow my posts somewhat regularly, you are used to this! If you are new, well, you'll get used to it! Many of my pictures are taken while I'm working and I realize "oh yeah! I should share this!" So please forgive me.

Our bedroom is really the last room in the house that needs flooring. We painted before we moved in, but we figured we would redo it someday. The problem is that because it was already so crummy, we didn't much care how clean it was on a regular basis. Once a month or so I would try to dig my way out of the piles of mail and clothes, but normally it looked like...

THIS! Yes, blurriness was part of that look. Shhh

And our dresser looked like this. Sort of hiding a huge tangle of 
cords that were for a no longer connected modem? I have no idea
 why we left that all there for so long. We've had a portable wifi 
device for 6 months!
My desk often looked like this. Covered, un-accessible because
it is blocked by boxes of mail that needs to be shredded or filed....
And our closet was regularly overflowing with our clothes
and other assorted junk
This is my night stand. Books, mail, purses, shoes,
everything I might need in the next ... never.
Another terrific picture of our closet. I just couldn't take it anymore!
We went on a trip in October and I was really enjoying living out of 

a suitcase! To come home to this was more than I could take! Add 
that to the other projects and messes in the rest of the house, 
and I was just about ready to pitch everything on the front lawn!So I started purging clothes, but I knew that wasn't going to be 
enough. What I really wanted to do was clean up the room and 
make it a space we might actually enjoy being in. 
My husband hated the room too.
It's difficult to care about a space that you have nothing invested 
in. I started thinking about how I was going to get it done,
 knowing thatthe room would need to be gutted to do 
ANYTHING towards improving it.  
What we needed was new flooring! 
The floor was the biggest eyesore of the room.

Really, there was no flooring. It was Kilzed subfloor with a couple 

of rugs thrown over it. And it was dirty. I knew I had to start at 
the bottom and work from there.

As luck would have it, my oldest boys were asked to house/dog sit
for my dad over a 3 day period. I decided that I could probably get 

flooring in this room in that amount of time. What I could NOT 
do was expect my husband to help me during his busiest time of 
year - Mr. Ireland is a HVAC repair man, so winter in Alaska 
is THE busiest time of year for him! He works extra long hours, 
weekends, late nights for no-heat calls and has ZERO energy to 
put toward our house. He also neglects to rest and take care of 
himself, so I knew that not onlycould he not help, but he NEEDED 
a peaceful, clean space possibly more than I did!

So I hatched a plan - I convinced my husband that they boys 

should not be left over night at their grandpa's house unattended 
and asked him if he would stay with them over there.
I would have 48 hours to do the whole thing! 

I set to work planning.

Step 1: Order my lumber. Simple enough. I ordered three sheets of 1/2" certified sanded plywood and asked Home Depot to cut them into 11.5" widths down the length, 4 planks per board. I had 11 boards left from our living room flooring project to add to it. So 5 and 3/4 full sheets of plywood went into this room. I ordered them the day before I needed them and then picked them up the next morning.
Step 2: Gut the room.

YUCK. That is grime. *shudder*
Closet purged, now to empty it.
Yuck. You know, you might think that as bad as that looks I would paint it again before laying floor, right? But no. I had 2 days!! There's no time for painting! I did attempt to mop. It wasn't working, so I moved on.
I started laying planks in the far corner. Just me and a nail gun, laying wood planks.
Things went pretty well until...I realized that some of my boards were NOT cut to the magical 11.5"! Oh yay!
See those gaps? Got a few of those. We're going to call them "character" and "authenticity". I love this room right at this moment though. I do.
I thought you might want to see what a dining room stuffed with ALL of my personal belongings STUFFED into it. (I lie, there is another room upstairs with JUST my stuff and another in the basement with JUST the Mr.'s). It was a pretty tight fit, getting in and out of that hallway with boards.
View from the kitchen
View from the hall.
Clothes stacked up high.
WHY do we have so much STUFF?
Can't look anymore.
Back to work. Actually, done staining and all the stuff piled, I mean NEATLY arranged in our room. A good portion of it never came back. :D
I don't love the gaps. But I can live with them because I have FLOORING.
So here is the deal with the stain. I used an all in one Minwax, stain and seal. There is a funny story that goes with this, but I'm going to save myself some embarrassment. Remind me to tell it someday.
And now a few pictures of what our room *should* look like on a regular basis. But I won't lie: its 6 months later and my room is cluttered. It's not nearly as bad, but it could use a purge. Anyway, keep scrolling.

I have one plank yet to lay. I couldn't decide if I wanted to pull all the trim out and lay it now, so I left it. I guess I didn't want to mess with it.

There you have it. Flooring on the cheap in 2 days. My husband really loved the room and I do very much enjoy not looking at the yucky, dirty, Kilzed subfloor. That's me there, by the way, in case you ever see me around town and think "Hey, isn't that that lady who does half cocked projects on her house out of strange materials?" Yes, that is me, the lady that torments her family with unusual projects, never ending, still not completely unpacked after 4 years, never quite happy with complicated. SIGH.
I started a new project just after this one, by the way. About 2 weeks later. Yep. It's coming along....

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Bathroom Remodel: Part 3 - Finishing the bathroom

This is part 3 of our Bathroom Remodel. Click here for part 1 and here for part 2.

At the end of my last post, I had just finished laying my penny floor and discussed my supply list for doing it. I am going to pick right back up where I left off... Sealing the floor!

This is a freshly sealed floor. It has been sprayed thoroughly
and wipedwith a terry cloth bar towel to remove the extra sealant
from the pennies. I have no intention of slipping on slick pennies
as I step out of my claw foot tub!
After the floor had dried, I started cutting my baseboard.
Yes, I used pine. Why didn't I use the prefab stuff from HD?
Because I have this unique, beautiful hand cut 5 and 1/2" baseboard
in my hallway that I intend to duplicate throughout the house.
We love it. So I cut the top of 6" boards at a 45 and
then sliced another 1/4" off to create a shelf for
my paneling to sit on.
Then I started adding paneling. Why didn't I place my
paneling and then add baseboard. Money! A full 4X8 sheet of
wainscoting could be cut into 2 pieces that were theheight I needed
with an unusable scrap left over ORI could cut it into 3 equal pieces,
no scrap, and choose to set it on top of the baseboard and the rail above,
not over, the paneling. It made sense to me to use every bit I could.
Also, I marked out all my studs where my chair rail would sit,

so I could see them while installing the panels.
A better view of the project.
Lamp stand bought at flea market this summer. Pure brass.
$20. Awesome.
Brass switch plates - 3 years ago at yard sale for $2 for the bundle.
You can't see it, but you should realize that NO house is square,
certainly not mine, so my panels gapped in the corners.
Nothing wood filler wouldn't fix :)

Brass floor grate. What do you think of brass and copper together?
Ah, the fun part! I got to measure out my plumbing stub locations
for the tub and sink and use a hole saw to cut out their places.
I'm glad I did it right! That could have been an expensive mistake.
You can also see below that base board trim that there is a relatively
large gap below it. This would be the problem I was referring to in
my last post. Either we needed more subfloor or more shims
before pouring leveling compound
A terrible corner! SO glad this is in the corner behind the sink!
I had to cut some biscuits from extra chair rail to fill that gap.
Wood filler, paint. Nearly invisible.
So this is my hand routed chair rail.
Again, I am matching existing molding in our dining room
and hallway. The man who did all that work was an 

AMAZING carpenter, so buying this prefab just wasn't
going to happen. AND molding and trim are CRAZY expensive!
Plain old wood is in my budget.

Bonus: I got to use the router more and worked it like a boss.

In this picture I am about to place my last piece of chair rail molding.
It's mid afternoon and I am determined to be finished today!
I finished filling nail holes, gaps and seams with wood putty and
was frustrated because I really thought I would be done...
And then Niki came to by!
I was so tired, but having a friend come to help made it enjoyable.
She is always there to help me just when I can't take much more!
Thanks Niki!
So it's painted. Roll on one coat, brush the second.
Finished by 6pm? Sounds right.
The next day? I applied a second coat of grout sealer before the tub and
toilet went in again.
Isn't it pretty? Too bad I have to put things over my floor...
But I'm done! That means it's tub time!
And that means I get my kitchen back!
I made a template for our tub on cardboard.
 The tub has to have the feet removed, anchor them to the floor
(we used carriage bolts because we have an open ceiling in the basement,
but toggle bolts would work), then place the tub back on.
Which means that where it's installed is where it stays!
So the tub is in the room, but not hooked up at this point.
This is a couple of days before Thanksgiving.
Mr. Ireland did get the toilet and sink put in on that Wednesday,
which was nice for us to have 2 bathrooms over the holiday.
In my next post you will see the bathroom as it is today. We are not totally finished, but it is livable. Which is kind of the point. If you haven't noticed, we aren't going for a decorator-finished house here. We want the house to be a reflection of the people living in it. Quirky, a little off maybe, but you know - fun. Ha! We like to complete our projects to about 95% and then say " 's enough, lets move on". (We're not really trying to do that, but it seems to be our thing)

This bathroom represents a milestone for us. With this room "completed", we are down to just a handful of projects to complete inside the house. Namely, the kitchen remodel, the dining room ceiling, and master bedroom flooring  scratch that, I did that in December! Next post ;)  We do want to replace windows, but that will probably be one of our only projects that we hire out.

It's been almost 5 years! Being this close to DONE has me beginning to focus on the smaller details - painting the stairs and stairwell, trimming out rooms, hanging pictures, changing light fixtures... I honestly believed we would never get to those fluffy details! The end is in sight! I have hopes of being able to work on other projects in the not so distant future - sewing, painting, and so many other hobbies that we just haven't had time or energy for because of the remodel. Mostly, I'm looking forward to a clean, de-cluttered house because I will finally be able to PUT THE TOOLS AWAY!

Hey, I can dream, can't I?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Our Penny Floor

Bathroom Remodel, Part 2
This is a continuation of Part 1 of our bathroom remodel.

We are jumping right into this. The room has been cleared, all the sheetrock, mud and paint work has been finished, and the floor has been cleaned as much as possible.

I have my pennies ready - 255 pennies/square foot,
requested from my bank in increments of $25 dollars.

Now its time to make the floor suitable for tiling.

I will give you a list of tiling supplies at the end of this post. I'm not giving it now because I wouldn't do this project again the same way. Scroll to the bottom if you just want the run down.
Step 1. Make the floor as level as possible. I used self leveling compound to do this.
With pennies being such a small tile, it is incredibly important that the floor is very level. They will not sit flat on even a slightly bumpy floor and your floor will look silly and you will lose pennies later as they get bumped and knocked by normal foot traffic.
Build guards  out of cardboard or other materials to go around the toilet flange and inside the air duct (which I did NOT do, so trust me on this) to keep compound from running down into things... Also, if your walls to not meet the floor, you will need to put some kind of shim where there are large gaps (more than 1/8") to prevent the compound from running down to the next floor. We have wood slats under our sub floor, so the compound just dripped down to the basement until it hardened enough not to! I had shimmed some of the gaps, but apparently not well enough.

This is looks to be my second layer of self leveling compound.
When is it appropriate to do more than one layer of self leveling compound?
NEVER, really. If you have to do more than one layer, than you either a) didn't use enough the first time around (that would be me), or b) should probably put in another layer of subfloor material.
My bathroom is 50 sq ft. One bag of compound covers 48 sq ft.
I *should* have used 2 bags the first time around, but I thought I could make it work. I was wrong. I ended up pouring three layers and realized later that I should have
put down an additional 1/4 inch subfloor material (like the durarock we used
in the remodel of our upstairs bathroom) to raise the floor,
since my layers brought the floor up to where it should be.
Tip for adjusting subfloor for finished floor height:

You will want the top of toilet flange and floor to be nearly flush when you are done tiling.
The thickness of the subfloor, mortar and tile should not be above the flange.
Its all good, but could have been much easier had I slowed down and thought about it more.
Classic me.

Last layer of self leveling compound setting up.
Step 2: Adding floor primer for glass mortar. This is a latex primer that will help my mortar stick to the new compound. I did 2 coats over the whole floor.

Before I began, I sorted my pennies by color. One box for light, one box for dark.
I laid the darker pennies mostly face down (my son insisted I check for wheat pennies and they tend to be dark) and the lighter ones mostly face up.

Step 3: Draw out your design.

What is missing here is a picture of the full design drawn on the floor in pencil.
You can see a little of the lines around this pennied section.
I guess you'll have to wait to see the finished floor at the end of this post!
At first, I used a pizza box to draw out my wave design, but after standing back and looking at it,
the quick movement of the design (the short waves makes your eye move quickly over the design)
made me feel like it might make me dizzy if I were sick. So I got out some cardboard and made a
bigger template (a circle), to make a bigger wave design. The circle over lapped the previous row half way to make the consistent wave pattern.
Something to consider when doing a design or pattern: how does it make you feel, how does it make the space feel?

Step 4: Gather appropriate gear to for tiling. This includes knee padding or a low seat to keep you comfortable while working. I quickly realized that I needed knee pads or a short stool to do this! It was hard on my circulation to be squishing my knees like this.
Knee pads were okay, but not much better.

Step 5: I started laying pennies in the back left corner of the bathroom and put down a
thin layer of Glass/Metal tile mortar inside each wave I had drawn,
working only in that area before the mortar could dry. I applied mortar with a trowel, removed excess and then combed it with the teeth. If you have ever made anything out of clay, this step is just like cross hatching to join two pieces of clay - like a handle to a cup.

Just like painting a floor, start at the farthest point away from the door
work your way across the room to the door or you will back yourself into a corner.

Before laying them, I had labeled the waves with a "D" or "L" for dark and light.
You will see that I flipped the pattern halfway across the floor.
I intentionally did this, to break up the movement and give the eye a break. I really like it.

I alternate between being a perfectionist and trying to figure out how to use what I have  and make it really great, so this project challenged me to do both of those. The pennies were never consistently light or dark but varying shades. It was clear that I would end up with a bunch of "medium" colored pennies if I filled in the first area with my best "light" or "dark" for each category. I eventually found a solution that made my happy, and used the medium shade pennies to fill in the centers of the waves, while defining my borders with the my best light and dark pennies.

First row complete! Well, half row. Starting on the first full row.

Step 6: Work in sections. This goes for time and for materials.

Mortar is only good for couple of hours and then it hardens.
If you can do
your whole bathroom in one day or with one box of mortar, go for it,
but otherwise, break it up into manageable pieces.
I used 3 boxes of mortar over 3 different days. I wasted no mortar and
was able to stop each day knowing I didn't have to throw any mortar out.

Area where my tub will go completed! One day down, one box of mortar down.

Second day, second box of mortar gone. I should point out that this is probably a week later.
It was rare that I had back to back days to work on things.
At this point,I am also feeling like I might not have enough pennies. Also at this point, a small person decides to help my\e when I step away to make dinner and applied her own layer of mortar to the floor! My fault for leaving my mixed mortar out, but I came back to a choppy, messy, dried layer of mortar. After freaking out, I researched ways to get the mortar off.
Guess what? Vinegar will take mortar off!
 I applied a little bit of apple cider vinegar to the extra mortar and was able to chip it off easily with a putty knife. It also taught me that I should NOT being mopping my tiled floors with any kind of vinegar (which I did with both bathrooms when they were vinyl),
since vinegar DOES break down the mortar and probably the grout.

Now, you see in the bottom left corner the furniture looking thing?
That is a little round ottoman. I found sitting low was easier on my body than kneeling.
I recommend you find an equally comfy stool to sit on to do your tiling.

Floor tiled!

Looks like a mosaic, right? Very Byzantinian. LOVE it.
Now comes my stress about grouting. I am not sure my pennies will
stay down when I drag grout over them! I am also not sure they are thick enough
to allow an adequate layer of grout to cover my mortar!
With much trepidation, I begin...

(Scroll down to a couple pictures to see my suggestion for future penny laying)

Step 7: Apply grout

So far, so good. No pennies coming up, but I remember that I was still applying
the mortar rather thickly at the beginning. I applied my grout with a grout float,
my grout is a shade lighter than my pennies (the color is either Sandstone or Summer Wheat)  wiping it off the excess with a wet rag, then finishing the clean up with a large sponge.
I grouted the whole bathroom in one day, using 25# of grout. This was manageable and I only mixed up one bag. I did have a small amount left at the end of the day, but not much and it was hard to work because it had been a couple of hours from start to finish,
so I scraped it into the trash and washed up my tools.
I changed out my rinse bucket between every row. The less dry grout residue that you have to wash off before sealing, the better. With pennies, grout will stick in the design (Lincoln Memorial), so you have to be thorough but careful not to remove ALL your grout. It is a very thin layer between the pennies because it is a thin tiling material,
so the wet grout can be easily removed if you are not careful.

Now this is where things got... sticky. Pennies started coming up when I got to the last area.
This was a part of my floor that would not even out when I poured the leveling compound.
It is the reason I poured 3 layers, because it is the last area to get compound and never quite enough! Incidentally, it is also the thickest part of the floor and *slightly* higher than the rest.
To compensate, I laid my mortar a bit thinner here. The problem with that is that when I grouted,
I had pennies coming up!! This is where I realized that THIS is why I saw people in other online penny tutorials gluing their pennies down, one at a time!
Because glass and metal mortar may not be enough to hold these little copper tiles!
I'm not disappointed with my floor, but I do have some areas that there are no pennies, just grout!

If I did this again, I would glue the pennies down.
I would pour MORE compound to start with, maybe raise my starting subfloor level
with durarock like we did in the upstairs bathroom,
and glue these suckers down. If you are already sorting the pennies and laying them
one at a time (and checking for wheat pennies at the same time),
then why not glue the pennies down?!

Step 8: Let the grouted floor cure for 24 hours.
Wash it one more time with your big yellow sponge to get the grout dust off.
Step 9: Seal the grout.

I used a spray on grout sealer, but you could use a mop on one. Be sure to get a sealant
that is for metal tiles. Apply the sealant, wipe off the excess. This should be done just
like laying the tiles or grouting, in manageable areas. You will need to wipe the sealant
off by hand with terry towels or similar.
Sealant usually requires 2 or 3 coats to make the grout waterproof.
Excess sealant on your penny tiles will make them slick, so please wipe them well!
If, like me, you will be adding paneling and base trim around your new penny floor,
be sure to apply the sealant BEFORE you put up the paneling or trim.
Sealant that gets on paneling or trim will prevent your paint and any caulking from adhering.

Summary of steps:
Step 1. Repair and prep subfloor for tiling. This includes pouring self leveling compound if the floor is not level. Durarock can be used over your subfloor to raise the level of the floor and provide an adequate surface for compound and tiles to be applied to.
Step 2: Prime dried self leveling compound with a tile primer.
Step 3: Draw out your design. Separate your pennies by shade if necessary.
Step 4: Gather your supplies - Glue (or mortar, drill and mixing attachement, bucket,
3 in one trowel and float, vinegar for mistakes), pennies, and a comfy low seat.
Don't forget to ventilate the area if using glue!
Step 5: Plan to start at the furthest point from the door and work your way back out of the room
Step 6: Work in sections. One box of mortar is about 2 hours of tiling and then it is too dried out to continue. Break the work up into manageable amounts of time so you don't waste materials.
Step 7: After you have finished tiling, apply grout. Choose a color one shade darker or lighter, NOT the same color. This will make your penny design "pop". Grouting a smaller room can usually be done in under 2 hours. Apply grout evenly, remove excess, wipe with sponge carefully.
Step 8: After the grout has dried, wash the floor one more time with the sponge.
Step 9: Seal the grout 2 or 3 times, until water beads on the grout and it does not change color.

Grout sealant, glues or adhesives, primer, paint, etc.

Part 3 of Our Bathroom Remodel coming soon...