Monday, September 14, 2015

Mess of the Month Part III: Flooring, Appliances, and Hardware

My biggest mess of July, August, and now September, has been my kitchen remodel project. So, please forgive me for my terribly slow blogging and enjoy this third installment. Also, feel free to catch up using the links below if you're interested. 

Part III: Flooring, Appliances, and Hardware
Part IV: Backsplash and Finishing Touches

After a day of driving around Southeastern Wisconsin we made it back to Whitewater to start installing flooring. I'd finally broken down and bought a circular saw to make cuts that my chop saw couldn't, and we'd stocked up on beer, cheese, and materials. 

Earlier in the summer I spent far too many hours trying to pick the perfect flooring from a few dozen samples Build Direct. You see, they let you order as many samples as you want. Yeah, you read that right, as many as you want. It sort of comes across like an invitation to to go nuts. Trying to select one got a little bit daunting. Eventually I just ended up taking a poll of all my friends. I let them make the decision by making Sharpie mark tallies on their favorites.

Because of Build Direct's minimum order policy, I'd purchased more than enough flooring. I brought it all into the house before the project began to start acclimatizing to the temperature and moisture level in  my home. I ended up with Toklo 15mm laminate in Aged Bronze ($2/ sq ft), and a roll of very cheap underlayment ($0.10/ sq ft) from the Hobo.
There was a pretty substantial learning curve on the floor laying, and thus, some pretty substantial swearing at laminate. With the new saw and three sets of hands, we got the floor down in about two days despite the cursing. The key lesson we learned is that it's easier to put the slide a piece with a longer "tongue" into place where there is already board with a shorter "tongue" than vis-versa. In retrospect, that seems perfectly intuitive, but please take a look at the images below.

The one on the top is put in place correctly. See the long tongue going into a groove. That's the easy way. Try to set all of the boards the way I've put the the board in the bottom images will make you crazy. Notice the long tongue remaining in place and the shorter part coming to meet it. That's wrong. Don't do that.
After Dad took away my floor laying privileges because he didn't like the way I was doing it (this is a story I will omit for the sake of the blog) I set to work on installing the cabinet hardware. I'd ordered these glass knobs from Amazon for the cabinet doors, and had repurposed the old drawer pulls from my original kitchen for the drawers. Really, all that was needed to repurpose them was fair amount of nail polish remover and scrubbing to make them less scuzzy.

Per Dad's instruction made a "jig" out of a scrap of flooring before installing the hardware. I measured just where I wanted all of the knobs to be, then drilled a hole in just the right spot of a piece of "template" wood to use as a guide so that all of the knobs are in the exact same spot on their respective cabinets. For knobs, this was easy. The drawer pulls, unfortunately, were next to impossible to install because they were all bent and stretched from 75 years of use. The solution was to drill much larger holes than were necessary, and buy screws with big heads. I know this seems like cheating, but it will save you many, many hours and no one will ever know. Big holes. Again, you've been warned.
Once the floor was down, we slid the old stove and refrigerator into place. Dad installed the dishwasher and we gave it a test run. Then, we invited all of my friends over for dinner to celebrate a kitchen that almost looked like a kitchen!
Perhaps the most exciting thing to happen at this stage was that I could finally move all of my kitchen things off of the shelves in my living room and back into my kitchen. I may have forgotten to mention that while remodeling, all of my kitchen supplies were in the living room on my built in bookshelves. I felt like a crazy hoarder lady. If you ever wonder what that feels like, empty your kitchen into the living room. It feels like you are living in a pile of food and tableware. I didn't take a photo because I was too embarrassed.

This was the point at which I packed up my bags and traveled California like a vagabond for a month... so not a lot got done.
When I eventually got back to WI in mid August, progress was slow. There was a lot left to do, and with functioning kitchen and without my mom to wake me at 6:30 with a to do list for the day, I stopped making progress.

Eventually, after nearly breaking a toe on the step up into the new floor, I installed some transitions around the laminate flooring. This took multiple days, act impressed.
Then, I took a break and installed laminate in the mud room. Remember the mud room? This turned out to be a solid challenge. Dad was right to take away my floor laying privileges. Installing transitions and cutting around door jams turned this alone into a 2 week project. But, now there are appropriate flooring choices in nearly every room of the house, and we're down to just 30 sq ft. of ugly linoleum (bathroom, I'm coming for you).

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Mess of the Month Part II: Cabinets and Sink

This is the second in my (now multi-month) series of posts about the kitchen remodel. If you want to get up to speed you can check out the link below to see the first steps of the process.

Part II: Cabinets and Sink
Part III: Flooring, Appliances, and Hardware
Part IV: Backsplash and Finishing Touches

My parents arrived a few days after demolition and my talented father set to work. First, he helped me move a few electrical outlets and replace the large outlet for the range that had been broken and painted a number of times. Meanwhile grounded the two remaining old two-prong outlets still in the kitchen. 

Next had to remove an abandoned 2” cast iron vent pipe that ran through my old cabinets and patch the wall. Also, there were a variety of problems aside from the monster vent that had to be dealt with under the sink. A old (and since repaired) leak had rotted out some floor around the sink base and an old electric box for the garbage disposal was corroded and needed work. 
Since they were original and built in place, under the cabinets was subfloor. Originally, the kitchen was obviously the same very attractive dark brown laminate tile that I found the in the craft room. But, somewhere along the line a leak (I presume the same leak) must have rotted through the floor, because plywood had already been used to fill in some of the space where the old tile had been broken up. On top of this whole mess, of course, were a couple layers of yucky linoleum with various amounts of glue, caulking, and fix-all between them.

Once Dad cleaned up the corroded box and capped of the old water and sewer pipes temporarily, we used some 5/8” plywood to level out the floor where the cabinets once were. 

The cabinets were scheduled to arrive on Monday, but unfortunately, I got a call from the “final mile carrier” on Tuesday morning informing me that their truck only makes it down to Whitewater once a week, so we’d have to wait for the following Tuesday for our cabinets. With only a week to get the kitchen in place, that wasn’t going to work. So, we rented another u-haul and drove to Green Bay, WI to pick up the cabinets.

Once the floor was level, the plumbing was capped off and the cabinets were sitting in my garage, my strong friends came over to help hang the upper wall cabinets. This step was surprisingly easy.
Next we started putting base cabinets in place, meaning that we had to undertake the somewhat unwieldy process of putting in the sink... In my first post I alluded to a number of snafus that I would get to later. Well, here is one of them. 

When planning my kitchen, I've already mentioned, that I had my heart set on the DOMSJO sink from Ikea. Unfortunately, when I got to Ikea (this involved a u-haul and 2 hour drive), they had no DOMSJO to sell. I begged for a display model. They shut me down. I asked about stock at other locations (ready to drive to Kansas). They shut me down. The problem was that I had designed my kitchen layout around the fact that the DOMSJO doesn't mount over or under your countertops, it spans the entire width of the countertop and sets into a sink base cabinet. So, I bought enough extra countertop that I could, if it came down to it, buy a different sink and mount it in a more traditional way.

After my countertops were ordered, I asked just one more time if I could please have one of the display models. As luck would have it, an older employee overheard my plight and mentioned that there had been an "old" DOMSJO down in the "as is" section a few days ago. I rushed down 3 sets of escalators and found it. Now, what is the difference between the "old" and "new" DOMSJO, I don't know. I have the old one. But, this was perhaps the most exciting moment of my remodel thus far. 

 As we got ready to set the sink into a 36" non-Ikea sink base, we used both the helpful tutorial from One Project at a Time and this YouTube video (because YouTube has all the answers). I strongly recommend these tutorials, and could not do better if I tried, so here are my photos. The only hint I can give is that the cardboard that was used as packaging for my countertops that is the same width as the countertops made a perfect temporary prop for the sink when we set it (see bottom right).

The rest of the base cabinets took a bit longer to set than we'd expected. The floor wasn't level, and I was, at this point, still stubbornly refusing to purchase a circular saw. So, trimming cabinets down to level them was grueling process. But, eventually, we got all of the cabinets in place and screwed them to the ground and wall. 

The countertops had to be installed before we could plumb in the sink, so the next step involved 2 tubes of Liquid Nails (which I did not realize was a legitimate way to install a countertop, by the way) and my now fully stained and sealed counter tops. Then, we set the sink and ran silicone caulking all the way around it to seal it in place. 

Next, Dad spent a day on the plumbing and electrical under the sink. He installed my faucet (an American Standard that Amazon said good things about), reinstalled the old garbage disposal, and did a little rerouting of the drain to make it fit with the new sink. 

Suddenly, it was starting to look like a kitchen. With running water and the electricity back on, we could even make coffee in the kitchen again. 
The next morning I got up with a renewed sense of excitement about this project. It felt like we were so close to finished. That was painfully incorrect (yeah, you're on post 2 of 4, we had a way to go) but it made me excited to get started on the floor. 

But, with a semi-functioning kitchen and moral a little low, we decided to take a day off and explore Wisconsin.