Disclaimer: we aren't professionals

Thanks for reading our silly little blog! As the disclaimer says, we aren't professionals in either blogging or house stuff, but we try. This is mostly to let our friends and family know what we've destroyed so far in the house. We post irregularly and usually forget to take pictures, so thanks for your patience, and please feel free to comment with your thoughts and suggestions!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Refinishing the Laundry Room Floors

I finished the sanding of the floor in the laundry room a day or two ago. I had to replace two boards were the old water heater (or possibly the washer) had a leak that went unnoticed and eventually warped the underlayment. I inspected the underlayment under the house and found it to be in good shape other that the small amount of warping. I replaced the two boards with some of the left over red oak I had used in the other room. Here is a tip to hard wood floors; older houses from the 60s and 70s usually used white oak flooring. I didn't know it was white oak flooring until after I had put down the red oak and sanded off the finish. They will look slightly different, especially if you don't stain the wood prior to the poly finish.

After replacing the boards, I rented another square orbital sander from Home Depot and went to town. I used 20/32/60/80 grit to get the floor to a decent finish. You could probably get away with 32/80 and then finish out with 100 on refinished floors. New floors follow a schedule of 60/80/100. I save the 100 grit pass for my palm sander because I wanted to fill divots and cracks with a wood filler. Again, they make a red oak and a white oak filler. I went with the white oak filler and used it to also help blend in the red oak boards that I used (I will try to find the pictures I took during this refinishing process and add them to this post).

After I wood puttied the large holes (odd nail holes and a hole for the old dryer receptacle coming through the floor) and let the wood floor filler dry, I came back with 100 grit sand paper on my Dewalt pad sander. It would be appropriate to caution anyone planning on refinishing their floors to use the wood floor filler sparingly. I covered the entire laundry room floor with a thin layer of it (mostly focusing on the cracks and low spots), but I paid for the generosity of my spreading with a ton of fine particle dust during the sanding. I ended up using a sheet over the entryway to at least control some of it. The A/C still does not work, so I wasn't worried about any being inhaled by that system (same goes for drywall dust).

After the 100 grit, the floor was like a baby's butt (minus the curved part, that would be bad). The next step actually leads into the pictures that I had planned for this post. The first step is to wipe down the floor with mineral spirits and then follow with a dry tack cloth/cheesecloth. This will get the oils, dust and trash off of the surface (in theory). The next picture shows the floor being wiped down with mineral spirits.

The next step is to apply stain. I had to guesstimate on the stain color/staining time and the finish. I was actually a bit nervous about this, but thankfully Minwax doesn't make a lot of different stains. I used Special Walnut and applied it with the grain using staining pads. I only did one coat and I wiped the same areas several times until there was an even application everywhere.

I let it dry for about 10 minutes and then, using a rag soaked with mineral spirits, rubbed the left over stain and oils off of the surface. After letting this dry for about 4 hours, I used 220 grit sand paper on my pad sander to smooth the surface of trash and to help the poly bond better. I wiped the surface off with mineral spirits again, followed by cheesecloth, to prepare for the poly. I used a lamb's wool applicator cleaned with mineral spirits to apply a thin layer of fast drying polyurethane.

I made one pass on each set of boards, careful not to stop and leave an overlap layer caused by stopping the stroke.

I still have to do this step twice more with sanding and cleaning between each time to get the 3 coats of poly that most floors require. I used a clear satin poly for the finish. Hopefully the washer and dryer can go in on Tuesday of next week.

Kitchen Window Part 1

The kitchen was the first major renovation area that we did that had a window. We wanted to remove the old window and put in a new double hung window replacement to create a better seal and to improve the view in the kitchen. I am still not sure if I will replace all of the windows in the house. For now, I am slated to replace the kitchen and two bathroom windows.

I measured the current window opening by following American Craftsman's replacement measurement instructions. I came up with a 36" by 37 5/8". Dad originally felt that I should have had a window merchant measure and order the window, but I found that the 36x38 window from American Craftsman would actually fit the hole by looking at the actual measurements. We found windows on sale at Home Depot because they were LoE2 technology and Home Depot was stocking only LoE3 because of the tax credit. We ended up walking out with a window for $68 (50% off). This was the lower end 1200 series window. I would have chosen a better series (or even better brand) but we don't want to make the mistake of over improving the house above its potential.

We started removing the old window by pulling out the interior stops. The old wood double hung windows use an aluminum track with springs instead of string weights. We detached the springs and slid the inside window to the top. We then ripped out the lower section of aluminum track and slid the window back down until it cleared the upper section of aluminum tray (sorry for error in window nomenclature). This picture illustrates the aluminum track. The inside window is already pushed up

The following two shots are post inside window removal.

The next picture shows the entire window removed and the frame exposed. The angled sill was in pretty rough shape with all of the old paint layers. I probably inhaled some lead while chipping and sanding. I spent about 35 minutes chipping, sanding and smoothing out with wood filler to get a nice smooth sill to work with. Annie scraped the exterior stops and I followed up with sanding to make sure the caulk had a nice bonding surface for the new window.

The window installation was fairly straight forward. We had to cut the sill skirt to match the sill angle from the front to backside of the window. We placed some insulation in the space between the top of the window and the expander head (plastic u-channel that is used to make up the gap between the top of the window and the frame) and then caulked the exterior stops, the expander head and any joints in the frame that we would not be able to get to after installing the window. We then set the window into the frame and made sure it was as flush with the exterior stops as we could get it. We also caulked along the front and back base of the window and along the exterior sides and top. I used my finger to smooth out the caulk. I used some leftover GE Silicone 2 Gutter caulk. I realized too late that this stuff isn't paintable. I will be using Dap ALEX Plus to go over this caulk to be used for painting. There was a bow in the base of the window, so when I caulked the base, we used two flag stones to flatten out the base.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Kitchen Demo

Annie and I have been working diligently on the kitchen and laundry room prior to my start date in June at Lockheed. The following picture is a reference picture of the original kitchen.

The original kitchen has dated cabinets, upper cabinets that are far too close to the counter top, too little counter space and an overall poor layout. Annie already posted on the renovation plans, so this post will cover the demolition and gutting of the kitchen. The next image was taken post door removal that Annie accomplished a few months ago.

About three weeks later, Logan and I dismantled the cabinet tops.

We actually repurposed most of the upper cabinets in small tool shed in the garage, illustrated in the next picture.

These cabinets have been great in expanding the storage of an already small tool shed. Repurposing them turned out to be a great investment of time. The next picture shows Logan picking out nails (what an excellent helper!).

This next shot is of the kitchen after Logan, Annie and I finished removing the tile and the upper cabinets. Getting closer...

I took a break for several weeks to finish up school and to tackle other house items, but I realized after graduation that there was not much time to finish the kitchen. I started into an aggressive demolition pace. This next shot shows all of the lowers except the sink removed.

The next was to remove the garbage disposal, shut off the water and solder caps on the sink lines. The next shot is a close up of the shoddy wiring and drainage work that supplied the disposal and dishwasher.

The next shot is of the kitchen after the sheet rock and tile has been removed. It took me about 45 minutes to pull all of the tile up and will take a couple of days to put it back down =(.

I busted out the cast iron vent with a hammer and pulled the vent through the roof. The next image shows the cast iron vent shattered to the floor. It also shows some of the new wiring work. I will have another post that focuses on the kitchen wiring and window replacement.

This last shot is of the roof patch.

My next post will cover the kitchen wiring work.

Friday, May 14, 2010

List of stuff we've done this week

This isn't a full post, but until we can get pictures up, it'll do.

Starting from last week:
- Chris and his dad and James worked on moving the water heater from the laundry room to the garage. It is really pretty in its new spot!
- Christy and Bill cleared the yard of branches, and mowed and weed-whacked the front and back yard.
- I continued painting pieces of pine for our outdoor table. It's finished now; we'll update more on that later too.

We focused on the cookout more than anything else. I assembled the table, but it had to be disassembled later because I broke a drill bit.

- Chris made drywall patches for where the pipes came into the water heater in the laundry room;
- I mudded the patches and fixed the stuff that hadn't been finished on the outdoor table

The appliances were going to be delivered between 3:30 and 7:30 pm, so we frantically
- sanded and did a second coat of mastic on the patches
- removed the old 3-prong outlet for the dryer
- removed the gas water heater's exhaust pipe and patched the roof
- primered along the ceiling and corners of the laundry room
We didn't quite finish by the time the appliances were dropped off, so now we have a washer, dryer, range, AND fridge sitting in the living room. None are functional yet.

Chris did stuff; I don't know exactly what. I took the day off to do meetings at work and to get my hair cut. I'll let him update.
- Installed the 4-prong plug in the proper wall for the dryer
- Attempted to patch the hole he cut (good effort!)

- Continued patching the drywall around the new plug and the hole in the ceiling (which was still open to the attic)
- Began primering the entire laundry room
- Tore down more of the deck railings in preparation for power washing the deck and eventually staining it.
- Began preparing the ground where we'll put the planter box so that we can clear out some much-needed space in the garage

Chris is there now working on more stuff. I hope tomorrow we can take a break and see a movie or something!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Water Heater

The water heater in the house was a gas water heater from 1996. I believe it was a 40 gallon model with an 8 year warranty.

There were several reasons we wanted to remove this older water heater. Three years from now, when we look to sell, a new water heater will be more attractive. Another reason is that gas prices are extremely high in the area. The biggest reason is the size of the laundry room. This water heater was located in the corner of the laundry room, but even with the stacked washer and dryer Annie found, there would not be enough space with the water heater in the way.

Unfortunately, we scheduled the replacement during graduation weekend. That wasn't the best idea, but oh well. The following picture shows the water heater removed with the new washer box installed.

We decided to clean up the plumbing inside of the laundry room by adding the new washer box with a properly glued PVC drainage connection and I painstakingly removed all three copper lines in the wall without tearing out the previous sheet rock.

The next few images display the layout of the work that dad and I did under the house. The new water heater was being moved into the garage (directly to your left as you walk out of the house into the garage) and required new copper lines out to the garage. This first image shows the old lines still in place as well as a coat hanger acting as my wire fishing line for a 10-3 (3+ground for four prong) 25 ft roll of wire for the new dryer outlet.

The next image shows the new route for the hot and cold lines supplying and returning from the water heater. Instead of continuing at a diagonal to the laundry room area, dad used a pair of 90s to turn each of the lines towards the garage in line with the new water heater.

The following image details the location and route of the lines as they progress through the foundation joists.

The next picture shows where the lines come out of the crawl space and into the garage, directly behind the water heater.

The hot water line is attached to the water heater using a copper flex line. The picture also shows the electrical supply coming through the siding and the cold water ball valve setup.

This next image shows the pressure relief tank that we salvaged from the old system. These tanks are required by code in Cobb County.

We supported the pressure relief tank by using some plumbing strap mounted to the ceiling.

This last shot of the water heater is just to show the full setup. We installed a pan because we were concerned with the condensation from the concrete corroding the base of the heater.

I used a 7/8" wood bit to drill through the siding and the wall board to create a hole just below the panel. We installed a new double pole 30 amp breaker to supply the water heater. The previous water heater was gas-operated, so no previous breaker existed.

One thing that I was left with in the laundry room was the exhaust vent hole left by the gas water heater. I pulled off shingles around the vent, removed the vent, attached a 2x4 back-support board and then screwed a round piece of decking in place. I had just enough shingles left from the last job to recover the patch. I did the same process with sheet rock inside but we still have to finish mudding.

This last image shows the reconnection of the washer supply lines after removing the old connections with the water heater.

The final thing that I have to do is recover all of the lines with an insulating cover.