Sunday, February 27, 2011

One step closer to a new bathroom

We completed the demo of the shower and put up the cement board today. Whew! Some mis-measuring on my part (and take out for dinner) made it a fairly long process. But we're done and ready to start the actual tiling, yay! 

I'll give a brief way-too-long run down of the steps, but I recommend the familyhandman website for a more complete tutorial. It helped me keep track of the steps so we didn't miss anything and has really helpful pictures. 

First, we squared off the edges of the existing drywall so it would fit flush with the concrete board. We used a drywall saw ($8 at Home Depot). The saw made demo a lot easier and for $8 I highly recommend it.

Then, we scraped the old caulk off the tub using putty knives. After that and a little shop vac action we were done tearing apart and it was time to put back together. 

We nailed on some extra 2x4 backing studs to give ourselves an easy place to attach the cement board. We thought the corners of our tub were pretty good so we only did this at the outer edges of the tub (if I did it again I'd put extra backing studs in the corners too).

While Matt was installing the backing studs, I cut the cement board to the sizes we needed (we used hardibacker brand). First, I measured our tub surround and drew a picture of each piece of cement board we'd need and wrote down the length of each cut I needed to make. To make the cuts, I put the cement board on a desk in the garage, measured the length, and attached a 2x4 with metal clamps. 

I put a 50 lb bag of thinset on top of the board to hold it steady, but after a few times of sliding it back and forth a little thinset started coming out of the bag. So it was a good idea in theory, but another heavy object would have been better.

Then I scored the cement board where I wanted it to break.

And scored. And scored, and turned it over and scored some more. Eventually by putting a little weight on one side I could cleanly break the cement board. I only bloodied my knuckles twice during this process, and I only made one two mistakes :)

See that corner? I tried to muscle the cement board into breaking before I scored it enough, so I tore too much off. This corner won't be under tile (we'll paint this part) so I'll just patch it like drywall.

My other mistake was measuring the cement board without leaving room for 1/4" spaces at the bottom and 1/8" spaces between each board. This meant the cement board was a bit too long and about 3/4" needed to be removed from the top.

Much more difficult than breaking off 20" pieces. I recommend being more patient than me and drawing out your diagram in more detail with all spaces needed.

After the cement board was ready we put up the vapor barrier using a staple gun. Be sure to leave the vapor barrier hanging over the tub lip a little bit.

Now its (finally) time for the cement board! A 1/4 inch gap is needed between the lip of the tub and the cement board (to leave room for tile and caulk) so we used wood shims we already had.

Once the cement board was in place we Matt screwed it into the studs.

We used 1 5/8" screws that are made just for hardibacker. Certain screws are needed depending on the brand of cement board, but it says right on the label which ones to get, making it easy.

To cut holes for the plumbing, we measured the width of each fixture and how far away it would be from the edges of the cement board (this time we remembered the spaces!). We used spade drill bits to drill the holes. Now we need new drill bits :) After just a few minutes of cement board those things were completely dull!

After a few mistakes and lessons learned, we finally have a clean, properly installed wall to tile.

The next step is putting mesh tape and thinset on the seams to seal them, but its past my bedtime. I'll try to seal the seams this week after work. If I'm feeling really ambitious I'll also organize the tile, cutting the pieces I need so next weekend we can start tiling right away.

Some lessons learned from our first renovation (so far):

1. This is obvious but before you start ripping things apart, plug up the tub and the sink. I don't have a plug for my tub so I used the one for the kitchen sink and taped it down. We also should have protected the tub a little more with a sheet or drop cloth.

2. Warn your partner that the living room is on the other side of the wall and that all muscle isn't good all of the time :)

3. Slow and steady wins the race. I was getting frustrated that I couldn't just rip the damn drywall off but with a little patience my pace went a lot faster - I removed the tile first and then used a reciprocating saw to remove the drywall. In the end it went a lot faster than trying to use arm muscles (because let's face it, I don't have those).

4. Safety goggles give me more confidence with power tools.

5. Draw out detailed diagrams including all spaces needed so cuts are made right the first time.

If you made it to the end of this post, give yourself a high five! Thank you for reading about our adventures in babysitting homeownership (please tell me you remember that movie).

I hope you had a great weekend. Any great projects that consumed your day?

PS. Here's an update on our bathroom progress!

This post is linked up at:

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Earn my stripes

By far the most time consuming painting project I have completed to-date is painting stripes in our guest bedroom. I know there are many tutorials on the web, but I thought I'd add mine in for others with a not-so-steady hand.

I hadn't really ever painted walls before so this was definitely an experiment for me. I wasn't sure how it would turn out and I'm really pleased with the results.

The ceiling is white (same as the molding). I need some serious picture-taking help!
I chose to do uniform stripes, using the same color paint (Valspar's Coconut Milk) but different finishes, flat and semi-gloss. Its subtle but looks really nice and adds some visual interest to the walls without art. 

I apologize in advance if I over-explain things. When I'm looking for tutorials I really want someone to walk me through it so I tried to do that.

So without further ado, here is my tutorial for painting stripes. Sorry, I don't have pictures of each step because I did this before I started blogging.

- Paint (different colors or finishes or whatever you decide for your stripes!)
- Frog tape (It works great and is worth the little extra dough compared to other painters tape. Especially if you're like me and have trouble coloring in the lines)
- Ruler or tape measure
- Pencil
- Laser level (nothing fancy. I got this black and decker one from Home Depot for under $15. Its also great for hanging pictures)
-Roller and tray (or a paint brush if your stripes are small - I use Purdy)
-Paint brush (doesn't have to be a good one for this purpose)

1. Paint your walls like usual with the color you will use the most. If you're using different finishes, use the flattest finish for your base color.

2. Let this dry and cure (time needed will be on the paint can) before you move on to the stripes.

3. Once your base color is dry and cured, your first step is to tape off the stripes. You can have vertical or horizontal, random or uniform.

I used 9 inch uniform stripes. My reason for this was that the roller was about 10 inches so I could use it to go up and down without going outside of the lines (my hand and my brain sometimes don't communicate well). But do whatever works best in your room!

Start in the corner of the room that is least visible (so if you end up with a stripe that's not the right width it won't be noticed). Use the ruler to measure how wide you want your stripe and mark this with a pencil on the bottom of the wall, just above the trim. Then, put your laser level at the bottom of the wall on your pencil mark (if you use the black and decker one it has a little pin. I actually stick this into the wall). Get eye level (ie. lay on the ground) and make sure your line is level, then begin at the top of the wall and tape down the laser line.

If you put the pin in the wall, put it on the side of the tape that will be painted. This will allow you to fill the hole without having to touch up your base color. The picture below attempts to illustrate this idea:
 Also make sure you account for the wall space that is under the tape, so you don't end up with the wrong sized stripes. See how the stripes in the picture above don't look uniform? When the tape is peeled off they will be evenly spaced.

4. When you're finished taping, give yourself a high five. That's the most time consuming part! 

5. If needed, use spackle to quickly plug the holes from the laser level. This shouldn't take long, maybe 5 minutes.

5. Now, use a paint brush to very lightly paint your base color over the edges of the tape that will soon be painted with your top color. You don't have to use a lot of paint or do this nicely, just be sure to cover the tape edge. This is done so if there are any gaps between the tape and the wall (particularly important with textured walls), the base color seeps through. This step may seem unnecessary but it helps get a really crisp line and will save you from having to do touch ups later.

6. Let the paint from step 5 dry (not long, maybe an hour).

7. Now your wall is completely prepped and you're ready to paint your stripes!

8. When you're finished painting your stripes over your base color, be sure to peel the frog tape off before the paint dries, to prevent peeling.

I would stand on the top of a chair and start from the top of the wall and peel the tape off gathering it with me along the way. I had fears of dropping the long strips of tape into my freshly painted stripes. Shook me to the core after all that taping work :)

Note: If you don't have a lot of time, tape and paint one wall at a time. If you wait too long between taping and painting, the tape peels away and you have to re-do it in order to get clean lines.

So that's it, I think I've covered everything! Please leave a comment if you have any questions!

I've got a lot of work to do in the guest room, including organizing our wedding gifts that are all over the floor. But once its in a presentable state, I'll show you the whole room in all its striped glory!

This post is linked up at

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Hold My Hand

So I'm new to the blogging world. Does anyone else have the inclination to title every post with a song title or lyrics? When pondering my next post, I always want to use a title from a song. I don't know why. Sometimes they don't even make sense! But I can't stop, so please forgive me.

Anyway, when sharing my tip for Pottery Barn classes, I mentioned the hand-me-down faucets I got from my parents. I was practically giddy when I saw the little note that they left faucets in our garage. I love hand-me-downs, always have. Someone's trash is my treasure kind of thing, but skipping the second-hand store middle man. My friends and I let each other sort through clothes bags before donation. Or at least we used to do that. Before they all lost weight. And I didn't. Damn! :)

But I digress. After my parents' remodel is complete, I'll also snag a light fixture from them. Yay! My parents are downsizing and upgrading from the home of my childhood to a swanky new condo in a great Portland neighborhood. The condo was way outdated (at least according to my mom - I didn't think it was so bad), so they're completely remodeling. Good old retired living - good for them! And good for me - this IKEA fixture is currently in their dining room and I can't wait to put it in my master bedroom.

The master bedroom is a work in progress. One of the first things we did when we moved in was replace carpet. In the master, the carpet had a seam and the berber was facing different ways at the seam. It was awful. We've also painted and purchased some furniture, but we're far from finished.

As I mentioned, we forgot to take "before" pics, but here is a look at our master bedroom from the listing when we bought the house:

I would give credit to this photo but I can't remember where it came from (which listing). Sorry!

Here is our bedroom now:  

Having the light in the middle is much better than its previous location in the corner, but I think the IKEA fixture will go nicely and add a bit of flair (did I just say flair? Insert Office Space jokes here).

But as I said, its definitely a work in progress. It was the first room we painted so we have some mistakes to fix, and I hung up a picture frame with the fictitious Target family still inside. And upside down. I'll get on that one.
This is on the wall you can't see to the right of the bed

 One of my goals for 2011 is to make a headboard for the bed and I'm contemplating crown molding. I'd also like to add some visual elements like a  stencil or a vinyl design (maybe something like this from Etsy). And accessorize! Here's a photo of what I'd like to do:

 So the bedroom is coming along. First we've got to finish the bathroom. Demolition is almost complete and we'll start on putting up the cement board and prepping for new paint this weekend.

Any good ideas on headboard styles? What is your favorite feature in your bedroom?

PS. This bedroom post is linked up over at House of Hepworth's link party!
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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Dabbling in Demo

We started demolishing the bathroom this weekend and of course it hasn't gone quite as planned. But that's how we learn, right? I was hoping there'd be cement board under the tile that currently in the shower (since that is what is supposed to be under tile surrounding a shower), but its just plain old drywall. Actually, its plain old drywall that's been stained from water seepage. So, we've started ripping out the old stuff to do it right this time.

We also ran into a little bit of mold. We plan on having kiddos in the next couple of years (and eventually the shower will get regular use) so its nice to know we're getting the tile fixed and the mold cleaned up now.

After we get the old drywall taken out we'll be sure all of the mold is cleaned up and the wood is in good shape before we start putting up the new cement board.

Also, I wasn't planning to buy any cement board, drywall tape, or other things to repair the backer board, so this puts a strain on my goal for a $200 remodel. I found tile floor for $50 and counter tile for $30 (granite!), so we'll see how it goes. Its better to go a little over budget and know its safe, clean and will last.

So, fingers crossed that this is our only surprise during our first remodel project. I have tomorrow off (yay for government holidays!) so hopefully I'll soon be writing about constructing a shower rather than demolishing a shower.

Update: For more progress on the bathroom click here.

Happy President's Day! :)

Bonus pic: In Portland it snowed on Tuesday and stuck around for about a half hour. This is the view from our front door. Isn't everything prettier with a little snow?

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Kamsahamnida! Arigatō!

The two phrases that stuck in my brain while in South Korea and Japan mean the same thing: thank you. I guess if I'm only going to remember one phrase that is a good one!

Matt and I had a great time visiting Emmy in S. Korea and exploring Japan. Both offered lots of interesting things to see and both the Japanese and Korean people were really nice and helpful. All we had to do was look lost and people would come up and offer to help :)

After a great two weeks its nice to be back in the green Pacific NW! Seoul and Tokyo were so densely populated it was rare to see some greenery during our travels - now I definitely understand the term concrete jungle.

On our way we picked up a few new decorating items for the house. Mostly just stuff from outside tourist markets that will remind us of our trip.

In Korea we got this bright green bamboo tray:

I think I'll put it in the entry way as a place to collect keys. It doesn't really match our current decor but I don't mind - it will keep me from getting too matchy matchy in the entry.

We also picked up this painting. Not sure what we'll do with it but Matt and I both really loved the bright yellow.

In Japan we got this tray. I'm hoping it can go in the guest bedroom, on the night stand as a place for guests to put glasses, etc.

My sister also gave us this vase as a wedding gift:

I'd been eye-ing a similar vase but couldn't decide because of the price. She went back and got it when we were in Japan. Best sister ever!

Soon I'll share some pics of our house and show you where these vacation mementos ended up living. I just have to clean the house a little first :) Pin It

Monday, February 14, 2011

Free Fallin'

A while back I mentioned my budget goal of $200 to renovate the guest bath. This small budget is possible due to my ability luck of scoring some things for free. I want to share with you a resource for new ideas, and more importantly, free stuff!
The other free item is a hand-me-down faucet. THANKS Mom and Dad!

I've attended a few Pottery Barn decorating classes. Though some of the information isn't new for obsessed-with-home-decor people, you'll always learn something and receive a gift! Most of the time its a coupon for the store (who can argue with that?), but on occasion they'll feature something great and what I got was a coupon for a gallon of free paint from Benjamin Moore's Aura line. Sweet! I was pretty excited and saved the coupon until I knew what color we needed for the bathroom. Its a big plus that the Aura paint is low-VOC and low-odor, since the bathroom is in the middle of our house and has no windows.

So my tip of the day is to check out Pottery Barn classes, for the information and the gifts/coupons!

PS. I haven't actually used the Aura paint yet so this is not (yet) an endorsement of the product. I'll let you know how it goes! Before this we always used Valspar paint from Lowe's.
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