RSS Feed

Tag Archives: drywall

Long Time No Write

Posted on

Oh, hello there, Internet. Nice to see you again.  It has been over TWO YEARS since I last posted. I know, it is pathetic.  To be fair, I have been a little busy for the last 22 months raising twins.  In that time, Jim and I have also been slacking a little bit on home projects.  But I am back, which can only mean one thing…a new project!

Before I get into the nitty-gritty of our new project (I’m using “our” loosely here, Jim is doing the work 100% solo while I watch the kids), I will tell you about the small projects we have completed over the past two years.

The Nursery

The first small project was the twins’ room.  You may remember when we painted our bedroom, we had to add a header to our closet. The old closet doors went from the floor to ceiling and we would have to get custom-made closet doors for that size. Instead, we added a header and got normal closet doors.  We ended up needing to do the same thing in the twins’ room (and we will need to do it again for the other three rooms on the second floor).  Since I was pregnant and huge – Jim did all of the work on his own.  After some of the other projects we have done, this was pretty simple.  He needed to build the frame of the header, install it in place and then add the drywall.  Once the drywall was in place, he needed to apply the spackle, wait for it to dry and sand it. Then the header was done! Jim also added molding for a more finished look but first, he painted the room.

A few pictures of the room before it became the nursery

 

View from the doorway

 

 

The closet before...

The closet before…

 

The header in place (without the spacke and paint)

The header in place (without the spackle and paint)

I had picked out a gray and white nursery color scheme with touches of pink and blue. I had a very specific theme in my head. Jim and I went through our swatches and picked out a gray color for the room. Since we have painted so many rooms, we have a pretty good system down for dividing and conquering any paint job but since I was pregnant, Jim painted solo. He also closed the door to keep the fumes out of the house (so sweet).  The problem with that is when he opened the door (and was 95% done), I saw the color and hated it.  It was a shade of gray (I guess)…but it had a blue undertone to it. When I looked at it, it looked like a bluish gray.  I almost cried.  Actually, I think I did cry. This was my one crazy pregnant lady experience. It was not the gray I wanted and I wasn’t going to be happy until it was. Needless to say, Jim thought this was ridiculous and he was not pleased.  Luckily, he indulged me and we found a REAL gray to paint over the blue-gray.  It was so much better.  The nursery could become what I had imagined.

The first paint job...see how it is a greenish/blue grey? Not what I had imagined...

The first paint job…see how it is a bluish gray?

 

Another view of the first paint job

Another view of the first paint job

 

Last one...look how blue it is in this!

Last one…look how blue it is in this!

 

The final paint job! A beautiful grey!

The final paint job! A beautiful gray! (looks a little darker in this picture since it was taken at night)

 

The header all spackled and painted!

The header all spackled and painted GRAY!

 

Jim working on the molding

Jim working on the molding

 

Jim had to cut out some of the old molding to add the new molding around the closet

Jim had to cut out some of the old molding to add the new molding around the closet

Closet completed (with pink and blue handles)!

Closet completed (with pink and blue handles)!

 

Cribs all set up and in place - the letters to their names hang from the knobs glued above the cribs

Cribs all set up and in place – the letters to their names hang from the knobs glued above the cribs

 

Not the next picture with lighting, but another view with the glider and ottoman

Not the best picture with lighting, but another view with the glider and ottoman

 

View of the double glider, ottoman, and dresser

View of the double glider, ottoman, and dresser

 

Closet completed (with pink and blue handles)!

Closet completed (with pink and blue handles)!

 

We added a decal to the wall also!

We added a decal to the wall also!

Nursery Crafts

I did some little DIY crafts for the nursery as well.  I got letters to spell out the twins’ names and painted them white with zig zag stripes (pink for Amelia’s and blue for Austin’s). I tied ribbon around the letters and we glued knobs to the wall to hang the letters by.

I also made some size dividers for the clothing in the closet.  A little paint and glue and I ended up with these:

These were door knob signs so I had to cut them a little so they would fit like a hanger

These were door knob signs so I had to cut them a little so they would fit like a hanger

All painted gray

All painted gray

Finished!

Finished!

Close-up View

I thought they were cute but after having infants, I would say they aren’t really necessary. You go through sizes relatively fast and I took out the small outfits as the babies grew. But still…cute.

Knobs and Levers

Another little project I did by myself involved the upstairs hallway bathroom. This is the one bathroom we haven’t redone yet and I hate it. It needs some serious updating. We aren’t ready to tackle another bathroom yet, so it is not on the immediate to-do list.  One thing that was really bad about the bathroom was the shower knob. It is the kind that you have to pull out from the wall and then you twist it right or left to adjust the water temperature. It is the sweet old fashioned kind that looks like it is trying to be a crystal ball or something.  Exhibit A:

I forgot to take a picture of the original knob…it was a worse version of this

The ugliness of the shower knob is not the problem (the rest of the bathroom isn’t cute either, so I just have to suck it up and deal until we…er Jim…wants to redo that bathroom). The problem was that it was incredibly hard to pull the knob from the wall to turn on the shower.  This bathroom is our guest bathroom, so we often had guests try to turn on the shower for a while before calling for our help. Many were fearful they would pull the knob from the wall because they had to pull so hard.  If we tightened the screw in the knob, it would get better but still not be good and would loosen again. I decided to replace the knob. I figured this was a job I could do on my own and surprise Jim with my DIY skills.  I went to Home Depot and got two kinds of shower knobs; another crystal ball type one and one that was a lever.  I took the old knob off and cleaned the area behind it. I saw that the piping had been pushed back a little which was contributing to the problem with the old knob. The piping must have shifted when we were redoing our master bathroom. The two bathrooms share a wall and all of the plumbing. I pulled the piping up a bit and put the new lever on but when I pulled the piping up, the tub faucet’s piping pulled up and caused it to poke out from the wall. I knew this was a problem, but I thought we could fix it with some silicon for waterproofing between the space and the wall. Once the new lever was on, I tested it by trying to turn on the water. No water came out of the faucet. The problem with the lever was that it could not be pulled out  from the wall to turn on the water and it only twisted back and forth to control the temperature. Terrified I broke the shower, I quickly un-did the new lever and put on the new crystal ball knob I bought.  Luckily, it worked!  I was so relieved. It was a lot easier to use the knob and I figured the problem was solved!

After taking the old knob off, I realized I should take a picture!

After taking the old knob off, I realized I should take a picture!

 

Jim was somewhat impressed I fixed the knob situation but not so impressed that I caused the tub faucet to stick out from the wall. He was able to fix the problem by taking off the faucet and cutting back part of the piping and then reattaching the faucet. He then added silicon for waterproofing. A little bit more complicated than the just add silicon solution I had thought of, but luckily it was fixed!

New knob! Not super different than the old one in the looks department, but at least it works better now (also a whale cover over the faucet...not a permanent addition!)

New knob! Not super different than the old one in the looks department, but at least it works better now (also a whale cover over the faucet…not a permanent addition!)

Stair Banister:

As the twins became mobile, it was clear we needed to think about baby proofing. My biggest fear had to do with falls that would lead to serious injuries. This led me to the stairs.  The stairs that lead to our second floor had an opening overlooking the living room without any banister. Even when we bought the house, we knew this was not the safest set-up. Being grown adults who know how to walk up and down stairs, fixing it was not our number one project. Now it was. Without a banister, there was also nothing to attach to a baby gate. This meant that not only could the twins try to go up the stairs on their own, they could also fall off the side opening of the stairs while attempting to crawl up the stairs.  Jim had already installed a banister on the basement stairs when we redid the basement. It was a very similar procedure to add the banister to the first floor stairs. He had to undo some of what was already in place in order to make the banister work. He did an awesome job and we were able to install a baby gate at the bottom of the stairs!  This baby gate is seriously a life saver keeping the twins on the (baby proofed) first floor.

Stairs before railing and banister (see the big opening at the bottom of the stairs)?

Stairs before railing and banister (see the big opening at the bottom of the stairs)?

 

 

 

 

Unpainted banister!

Unpainted railing in place!

Finished railing!

Finished railing!

Finished banister!

Finished banister!

Another view

Another view

One more with more of the stairs

One more with more of the stairs

Basement Permit:

Another project we (uh, Jim) completed had to do with the basement. We had previously tried to close our permit for the work on the basement with one last inspection from the county. Unfortunately, we failed this inspection because we needed to install a GFCI outlet by the washer and dryer  (that type of outlet automatically shuts off if exposed to water) and because we had to drywall under the stairs. The GFCI outlet was a simple fix that I did myself within a week of failing the inspection. Drywalling under the stairs was going to be time-consuming so it got put off…for a while.  Drywalling can be annoying because of the need to cut all the pieces perfectly and then spackle and then sand the dried spackle and then sometimes need to repeat the spackling and sanding. Drywalling is even more annoying if it is for an area that is going to be used as a storage closet and it has an angled ceiling.  After months and months of ignoring the open permit, Jim finally decided to get the drywall up and close the permit. He also decided to add some nice floor padding (we didn’t finish the floors under the stairs) and really spruce up the storage area. It was similar to any other drywalling effort though and we passed the inspection without issue. Permit closed.  We still have a few more things we need to do to truly “finish” the laundry room, but that will come with time.

Drywall all completed for the closet under the stairs!

Drywall all completed for the closet under the stairs!

Trying to get a picture of the nice floor Jim put down (it was already covered by a bunch of things and I didn't feel like cleaning it out...)

Trying to get a picture of the nice floor Jim put down (it was already covered by a bunch of things and I didn’t feel like cleaning it out…)

Ceiling Fans and Lights:

When we first moved into the house, we painted all the rooms on the second floor, added in new carpets, and updated two of the four ceiling fans. The two ceiling fans we replaced we really old and did not have lights on them. So we added modern ones with lights. The ceiling fan in our room was new with lights, so we left it alone.  The reason we did not update the last ceiling fan was because it was not connected to the light switch and therefore it didn’t seem to make sense to add a ceiling fan with lights. It was also in a room we weren’t using as a main guest room, so we figured down the line we would come back to it.  Well it is down the line.

On a side note – when the twins were 3 months old, the air conditioning broke.  We discovered this during a random heat wave in April. Our whole A/C unit needed to be replaced. With better A/C, it was much more noticeable how poorly it worked on the second floor.  In order to remedy this situation, it was suggested to add more insulation in our attic (which is basically just a crawl space). You may remember our attic is a nightmare to go up to from when Jim installed the ceiling fan and overhead lights in our master bathroom. Therefore, we decided before we put more insulation in the attic, we would do anything we could think of that might require Jim going into the attic. This encouraged us to install a new fan that was attached to the light switch in one room and also had a ceiling fan with lights to the room in the office.  Outside of having to go up into the attic, these weren’t too complicated of projects.  Jim had to cut some dry wall out-of-place by the light switches so he could connect the new wire to the light switch and feed it up through the ceiling. For the old fan, he ran the new wire to where the old fan’s wires were and hooked everything up.  We have installed new fans before and if the wiring is in place, it is pretty easy-peasy.  For the new fan, Jim also had to cut a hole in the ceiling and feed the wires in addition to installing the new fan.  The fan in the office first made some burning smell and we decided to bring it back and exchange it for a new fan. With the exchange, the problem was fixed.  Now every room on the second floor as a ceiling fan with lights that is controlled by a light switch!

Old fan in the extra bedroom

Old fan in the extra bedroom

The new fan to replace the old fan (lights on)

The new fan to replace the old fan (lights on)

Same fan with the lights off!

Same fan with the lights off

No fan or overhead light in the office

No fan or overhead light in the office

New fan with lights in the office (lights on)!

New fan with lights in the office (lights on)!

Same fan - lights off

Same fan – lights off

In addition to adding the fans in the ceiling, another ceiling project we wanted finished before adding the extra insulation in the attic involved the upstairs hallway bathroom.  The only light fixture in that bathroom was above the sink.  Whenever you took a shower in that bathroom and pulled the shower curtain closed, it got incredibly dark in the shower.  We wanted to add ceiling lights above the bathroom so brighten up the room (especially for showers).  Jim had to cut the holes in the ceiling as well as run the wiring from the existing light fixture to connect over the bathtub. In also had to install housing for the lights before hooking up the actually lights.  The first lights he ordered ended up being way too bright, so he exchanged them for ones that were softer on the eyes.  The lights are great and really help for bathtime with the twins and whenever someone showers in the bathroom! (It also helps me see all the imperfections of this bathroom better…we really need to get on redoing it…)

Holes in the ceiling with the wires coming out (Apparently I was really bad at taking before pictures during all of these renovations…)

 

New lights over the bathtub (lights on)!

The new lights over the bathtub (lights on)!

 

Same lights with them off (you can see we need to fix the drywall...but that is not a "priority" right now)

Same lights with them off (you can see we need to fix the drywall…but that is not a “priority” right now)

I *think* those are all the projects we have done in the past two years.  There may be a post where I throw something else in I remember later on…but I doubt it. These were the pictures I had and all I can remember!  Now on to that new project…

Advertisements

From the Windows to the Walls…

Posted on

It has been over a month since the last update and we have been busy at work.  There has been a few huge (for Virginia) snow storms during that time that kept us inside and working on the basement.  With the wall insulation done, we started adding drywall.  Installing drywall is always a very exciting step. It helps you really see the room come together.  We had a good system in place in which I would measure and cut most of the drywall while Jim hung up the pieces that I cut.  There were two sections of the main area of the basement in which the wall frames were shorter than the wall frames next to it. This meant that once drywall went up, the wall would either not be level or there would be a weird bumped out edge in the middle of the wall.  Jim caught the problem before we ordered drywall and planned to attach two layers of drywall to the shorter wall frames.  This actually worked perfectly. The first layer of drywall made it so the wall was lined up with the rest of the wall frames.  It took a little bit of extra time, but it was worth it to have a seamless wall. Most of the drywall for the main area of the basement went on without a hitch but when adding drywall around the post in the middle of the room, Jim encountered some problems. The wood we used to frame the post was warped. Therefore, the drywall would not lay flat against the wood.  Jim chiseled away enough wood in order to make the wood posts level. This took a lot of effort. Later, when doing the rest of the beam, Jim decided to use wood shims instead. This worked out easier and just as well for leveling the drywall.

The beginnings of the drywall

The beginnings of the drywall

In the laundry room, it was a little more challenging. We had to work around pipes while also moving the washer and dryer out of the way. We planned to close off the water heater and a/c unit behind a closet which meant Jim needed to build some wall frames and bulkheads for the closet doors and support beam.  There was a lot of creative calculation at work  in order to ensure the wall was parallel to the other wall.   Once all the framing was in place, we were able to easily finish the drywall.  There were some places are waiting to drywall (near the door to the laundry room, around the stairway, around one of the windows) due to additional steps we have not yet completed.  All and all, the walls weren’t too bad.

The wood after Jim chiseled away at it

The wood after Jim chiseled away at it

Next came the ceiling.  We decided to “sound proof” the basement to the best of our ability.  We will have a treadmill in the basement as well as surround sound for TV/movie watching, so we thought it may be beneficial in the long run. Jim looked into a variety of sound proofing and decided we would do two things: 1) Use insulation designed to minimize sound (it is called Safe and Sound) 2) Use Quiet Rock drywall which is supposed to supply the sound proofing of 8 sheets of drywall in one sheet. Before we could install the drywall on the ceiling, we had to install the sound proofing insulation.  This wasn’t difficult, just annoying at times. The insulation crumbled really easily.  We had to be very careful picking it up and stuffing it in between the beams. Also, gravity was working against us and all of the little shredding of insulation were falling into our faces. On top of that, the Safe and Sound insulation as smelled really bad. I got used to it after a while, but it was pretty gross at first.

The "Safe and Sound" insulation in the ceiling

The Safe and Sound insulation in the ceiling

More safe and sound

More Safe and Sound

Last one

Last one

Once the insulation was complete, we were ready for the drywall. We rented a drywall lift (we rented one in the past when remodeling the kitchen).  We wanted to try to get this done in one day because we needed to rent equipment. We thought this was doable since we bought a cool tool that easily cut out holes for recessed lighting, outlets, etc.  We had a system in place from installing drywall on the walls, so this should be easy-peasy. Right?  No, not right.  The Quiet Rock drywall sheets look like two thin pieces of drywall stuck together.  We assumed cutting the Quiet Rock would be the same as cutting regular drywall. It wasn’t. With regular drywall, you can measure and trace out your cuts. With a utility knife, you cut into the line you marked. You won’t be able to get all the way through the drywall easily, but that is ok because after you start the cut, you can bend the drywall and it breaks smoothly along where you cut.  Quiet Rock does not do that. It is thicker and does not break.  After trial and error, a hand saw meant for drywall was our best bet.  That meant we had to physically saw each piece. The pieces are 8 feet by 4 feet long. Imagine sawing line that are 8 feet long…over and over again.  You get the picture?  It was exhausting and time-consuming.  We worked all day but by 9 pm, it was clear we weren’t going to finish.  This was the Sunday before President’s Day. I had to work the next day (stupid snow day make-ups), but Jim had off.  We decided to call it a night and Jim would finish most of the ceiling the next day.  We ended up renting the lift for two days and got 90% of the ceiling done during that time. We had smaller pieces that we finished later without the lift.  We completed the bulkhead with the Quiet Rock as well since it is also part of the ceiling.  Before we could install the drywall there, we had to fix the air vents.  Previously, there were just holes in the ducts without a connection to the registers on the ceiling. These could result in a lot of air loss.  We went to Home Depot and searched for possibilities to attach the duct to the register. We came up with a solution that works nicely.  After this past weekend, the drywall is completed everywhere it can be (not in the places we still have to do other work) and we have the beginnings of our basement.

Drywalling (almost) complete

Drywall (almost) complete

View of the ceiling

Another view of the ceiling

Beam complete

Beam complete

Bulkhead complete

Bulkhead complete

The laundry room closed off by drywall

The laundry room now its own separate room

Drywall in the laundry room coming together

Drywall in the laundry room coming together

Another view

Water heater and a/c unit before the wall frames

One frame is up!

One frame is up!

The other frame!

The other frame!

Framing all drywalled

Framing all drywalled

Another shot

Another shot

Closet in the laundry room all drywalled!

Closet in the laundry room all drywalled!

Drywall around the utility box

Drywall around the utility box

Now to the windows.  Our basement had two small 14 by 32 inch windows.  They were up high and in pretty bad shape. We decided we would replace them with new windows with removable window panes. With the window panes removable, people could escape in case of an emergency.  We were all set to do this until the inspector came for the insulation inspection.  Even though this was the third time we had an inspector out to the basement, it was the first time anyone mentioned an “egress window.”  Egress windows are windows designed to be large enough for a firefighter to climb in or a person to climb out of in an emergency.  Code requires the window opening to be no more than 44 inches off of the inside ground.  It also has to have a much larger opening than 14 by 32 inches.  Luckily, code only requires there be one window. Our yard slopes downward so one of windows was actually pretty high above ground and adding in egress window there wouldn’t require too much digging underground. To install an egress, we would still need to dig a well on the outside of the window as well as cut a hole in the side of the house.  We called some contractors to get estimates. The estimates ranged from $2,400-3,600. This was going to cost a pretty penny that we did not include in the budget.  Jim researched everything required to complete the project and decided we could do it ourselves.  I was worried.  Mainly, I didn’t want a big hole in the side of the house without us being able to fix it.  Jim estimated that if we did it ourselves, it would only cost about $800. This was a significant saving in cost.  Jim knows he can always convince me of something if it is going to save us money, so I was (cautiously) sold on the idea. We replaced the one window with a new window of the same size and then prepared for installing the egress window.

Old window - not cute or easy to open

Old window – not cute or easy to open

Old window removed

Old window removed

Jim installing the new window

Jim installing the new window

New window - nice, clean, and easy to open!

New window – nice, clean, and easy to open!

The other weekend, we had unusually warm weather predicted.  No rain in the forecast with highs in the 50’s and 60’s.  This seemed to be the perfect opportunity to work on the window.  We prepped as much as we could on Friday. We had to take down the insulation and framing we had already completed.  We also set up plastic sheeting around the window to try to contain the dust produced from cutting into the cinder blocks. Jim also read we should create a barrier on the floor to prevent the water used with the saw from spreading everywhere.

This is the window we planned to replace with the egress

This is the window before we started working

Framing and insulation all gone

Framing and insulation all gone

Prep for the cutting - the plastic sheeting, very "Dexter"

Prep for the cutting – the plastic sheeting, very “Dexter”

Our foam barrier for water collection

Our foam barrier for water collection

Saturday was the day for digging the well.  Parts of the ground were still frozen and we had to chip around the first inch or so before we could dig.  We needed to dig a well that was 3 ft by 3 ft and 16 inches deep.  The side of the well furthest from the house also needed a trench, 6 inches deeper, to help with drainage of rain water.  The worst part about digging was the mud.  The ground was so muddy from the snow. Our shoes had inches of mud caked on them. It felt like you were walking in some sort of clown shoes. It was also hard to get good footing because the mud was slippery. Neither of us fell face first into the mud, although I came close a few times.  We needed to make sure the well was sloped away from the house towards the trench to help with drainage. You don’t want to go to all this trouble to have rain water just sit at the bottom of the well with nowhere to go but into the house.  We were able to get the well dug out and with the right slope in about 2 1/2 hours.  Once the well was dug, we needed to add landscaping fabric along the sides as well as gravel to help with drainage. After a few tiring and muddy hours, the trench was complete.  We also decided to drill holes at the corner points of the new window.  This was to help Jim when he was sawing through the cinder block to make sure each side was lined up.  Since we had some more time on Saturday, we decided to rent that drill and complete this Saturday.  You could say this day went well. (See what I did there?)

The window from the outside - before the well.

The window from the outside – before the well.

Our well!

Our well!

Another view of the well

Another view of the well

The landscaping fabric in place

The landscaping fabric in place

Gravel all done

Gravel all done

The lines drawn and holes drilled

The lines drawn and holes drilled

On Sunday, we rented the saw we needed to cut through the cinder block.  The biggest blade they had was 16 inches. This was a circular saw, so it would cut about 7 inches into the cinder block.  Jim had to cut on the inside of the house and then on the outside of the house to get through the whole 12 inch cinder block.  As with anytime you cut into brick, you need to add water to the saw (like the wet saw we have used in the past) to help with the friction.  My job was to spray the saw with water while Jim cut.  He had carefully measured where to cut.  The saw was big and heavy. It was not easy to hold up against a wall and cut. Luckily, I have a super strong man who could manage this job. Jim took his time cutting along the lines.  There were a few scary moments when the saw would jump up out-of-place. We think it was probably because the cinder blocks were hollow, so the change between hollow space and block would throw the saw off.  Jim had incredible control and nerves.  I kept praying for Jim to finish and for both of us to have all limbs attached when he was done.  Outside of the scary moments, the cutting went smoothly.  Jim knocked in the cinder blocks and we had officially had a hole in our wall!

Cinder blocks gone!

Cinder blocks gone!

Another view with less sunlight in the way

Another view with less sunlight in the way

The next steps involved adding new cement on the cinder blocks that were exposed to help strengthen them.  We then needed to add a 2 by 6 as a window sill and put the window frame in place. We removed the window panes before putting the window frame in place.  Jim worked on leveling the window and waterproofing it from the outside.  We were finishing up the window, so I went on an errand.  I came back 45 minutes to find Jim just finishing with the window panes.  Apparently, the window frame bowed out in the middle when we installed it without the panes.  When Jim tried to put in the panes, he could not get the window to close.  He had to undo the whole frame, put the panes in the frame and re-install it.  All of his waterproofing work was undone.  Since it was already late at this point, Jim put up a tarp for the night and fixed the waterproofing the next day.  Since that weekend, the weather has gone downhill – including another big snow storm yesterday.  We are glad the window is in and we can keep rolling with new projects.

The end of Sunday night - window in place!

The end of Sunday night – window in place!

This past weekend, Jim rebuilt the wall frames around the egress window.  We needed to redo the insulation (foam and fiberglass batts).  The window adds a lot of natural light into the room and is overall a great addition.

After the amazing framing job - looks like a pretty fine window to me!

After the amazing framing job – looks like a pretty fine window to me!

Window with all the insulation done as well!

Window with all the insulation done as well!

Another ceiling picture that I didn't put in earlier because you can see the new window in this picture!

Another ceiling picture that I didn’t put in earlier because you can see the new window in this picture!

Building Walls and Laying Floors

Posted on

Spring has sprung, except no one told the weather. Since our beautiful day two weekends ago, the weather has been getting colder instead of warmer.  Just yesterday, we even had the biggest amount of snow fall this year!  With the weather being uncooperative, we took a break from working in the front yard and moved our focus back to the bathroom.

Part of the plan for our new shower is to have glass doors instead of a shower curtain.  We wanted to build a half wall to close off the shower and also allow for a place for the glass door to be connected to. We measured out how long the wall should be and Jim cut out the wood.  He nailed together the frame of the wall and then we screwed it into place, drilling a hole for the water supply line to come through.  We have a pipe coming through this wall since we plan to put the toilet up against the wall and it needs access to water.  We put up one side of drywall on the wall.

Jim nailing together the frame

Jim nailing together the frame

The wall in place with one side of drywall up!

The wall in place with one side of drywall up!

The view from the other side (standing "in the shower")

The view from the other side (standing “in the shower”)

The next day, before we added the rest of drywall, we had to do a little plumbing.  The water supply line need to have a 90 degree turn so that it came out of the wall.  Luckily, with all the practice we have had so far, Jim added the turn in the pipe without much trouble.  I continued to cut the pieces of drywall while Jim worked on the pipes.  We also wanted to make sure the wall was sturdy even at its point further away from its base, so Jim added a cross beam in the frame.  With the extra beam and drywall support, the wall turned out to be very sturdy.  The last step was to add the rest of the drywall.

Cross beam in place

Cross beam in place

New turn in the pipe - perfect and ready to go!

New turn in the pipe – perfect and ready to go!

Drywall up!

Drywall up!

Wall complete

Wall complete

We started this weekend with a trip to the tile store.  We used the same store for our kitchen floor tile and backsplash   We really liked them and their selection of tile, so it was a no-brainer for us to go there to find our bathroom tile.  We needed tile for the floor and shower. We weren’t sure if everything would be the same tile or different.  We ended up being at the store for over 2 hours (mind you, this is a small store, not a big warehouse), there were just so many decisions to make.  We got tile that we are both very excited about and it should be here in 5-7 business days. Phew.

Sunday started off with us focusing on the floor.  We needed to put cement board over the subfloor so it would be ready for the tile when it arrived. We did not plan to put cement board in the shower area because we bought a base that is meant to be tiled over. That area of the bathroom will need to be water proofed and down differently than anything we have done before. Luckily, placing down cement board is old news for us.  We cut out the pieces and laid them down.  We had to cut out a hole for the waste pipe for the toilet. I measured where the hole should be on the cement board and got to work cutting it out.  When I put the cement board back in place, I saw that I measure to the wrong section in one area and the hole was about 2 inches off.  I was able to fix my error, so it was no big deal in the end.  That is why you measure twice and cut once people!  Jim prepared mortar for us to put down to keep the cement board in place.  Once he spread out the mortar, we put down the cement boards and screwed them in.  We also needed to put mortar in between the joints of the cement board and put this special tape over it.  Once it dried, there was one more layer of mortar, then the floors were  all done!

Since the cement board was down, we could now add the toilet flange.  A toilet flange is needed in order to screw a toilet into place. At first, we had a flange that would not fit well as is.  It was too long and therefore would not rest flat with the floor. Jim was able to find a different toilet flange that fit perfectly. It needed to be attached with the primer and glue like the other PVC pipes and then screwed into the subfloor, after that, it was all ready to go!

Jim spreading out the mortar

Jim spreading out the mortar

Cement board in place

Cement board in place

Cement board in place 2

Cement board in place 2

Close-up of the toilet flange

Close-up of the toilet flange

The last thing we needed to do was cut out part of the corner of the shower for our “shaving step.”  This is a little step in the shower that is designed to make shaving your legs in the shower easier (how awesome is that ladies?).  We forgot to put it into place before we put up the drywall originally so we would have to cut out part of the drywall. We had to put the shower base down so we knew the exact height of the step.  I cut out the drywall but realized there was not a good place for us to screw the step into place, so I let Jim take over.  He opened the hole in the wall a little bit more and added some 2 by 4’s behind the wall so we could screw in the step.  Due to a slope in one of the walls (something we dealt with when putting up the drywall that I forgot to mention), it created a very frustrating situation in adding the step. It needed to be level with the wall with a little slope on the top so water would not pool on the step. Jim tried many times to get it perfect.  In the end, he got it as close as he could. We plan to even it out with mortar when we put up the tiles.

IMG_0971

Shower step!

Today, we have a drywall guy at the house.  He is flattening our textured ceiling. Since we already are hiring him for that, we also told him to connect the drywall joints for us as well.  It is a longer (and therefore more expensive) job than if he just did the ceiling, but it will ensure flat and even walls throughout the bathroom.  This is really becoming a room!

One last shot of the texture ceilling

One last shot of the texture ceiling

The room before the drywall guy came

The room before the drywall guy came

The FLAT ceiling after the drywall guy was done!

The FLAT ceiling after the drywall guy was done!

Finished walls!

Finished walls!

Inspection Impossible

Posted on

I have been seriously slacking on updating the blog in the past two weeks.  My ending sentiment on my previous post was a hopeful send off of passing our inspection Monday morning.  Well, things didn’t go quite as planned.

The inspector approved all the electrical, plumbing work, and water supply, but had a question about the shower panel we planned to install.  He claimed that if the panel did not have the performance standard ASSE 1016 stamped on it, then we would have to install a mixing valve with the supply pipes.  The point of the mixing valve and the ASSE 1016 is that it prevents the hot water from scalding someone when taking a shower. Jim and the inspector searched our shower panel and could not find the ASSE 1016 stamp. It was clear there was a stopping mechanism so the shower could not get too hot and the manual stated the maximum temperature to be 100 degree Fahrenheit, but that was not enough for the inspector.  He failed us based on the shower panel (not ANY of the work we did).  He told Jim that we could install the floor and put up drywall in other areas of the bathroom though, since all of the work we did was in compliance.

So Monday night, Jim installed the subfloor while I started to measure and cut out pieces of drywall.  Jim also added two by floors in between some wall joists so we would be able to hang up the shower panel when it did get approved (we were determined to come out on top in this situation). Tuesday, we did a little bit more drywall installation. Wednesday, we both had the day off due to the “snow-quester” storm.  We only received about 2-3 inches of snow, but finished installing a lot of the drywall.

Our failed inspection turned into a much bigger deal than we had hoped. After calling the company who makes the shower panel, Jim found out it did not have the ASSE 1016 certification, but it did in fact prevent hot water from getting pass 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which is what the inspector needed to know.  Jim started looking into adding a mixing valve with the supply pipes in case we really needed them without the ASSE 1016 certification.  The first time the inspector came out, he had told Jim that he could take some pictures of the shower panel and ask around to other inspectors what they thought of the stopping valve and if that was ok. Jim therefore prepared the shower panel to show it could not get hotter than 100 degrees Fahrenheit (he took off the knob to show the stopping mechanism). We scheduled another inspection for Wednesday, which was cancelled due to snow, and then rescheduled for Thursday morning.  I had a delayed opening for work, so I had the opportunity to meet with the Inspector while Jim went to work.

My goal was to kill him with kindness so he wouldn’t want to fail us. I tried to charm him, but shortly after his arrival, I realized that was not happening.  He came and continued to look for the ASSE 1016 label again. He mind was single-tracked and it was as if he had never told Jim that he could ask around for other people’s opinions on if it would be ok. He told me there was no way he could pass us with a shower panel without the label. I asked about the mixing valve he previously mentioned and then he told me he was wrong about that and we could not even add a mixing valve behind the wall because that was against code. That meant it was the ASSE 1016 or bust. Apparently, NO ONE in Fairfax County VA could have this specific shower panel in their bathroom. Nothing was good enough for this guy.  Then, while looking at the shower panel, he noticed the 6 small body sprayers on the shower panel. He stated he hadn’t noticed those before and any shower with 3 or more shower heads needed a 3 inch shower drain.  We had installed a 2 inch shower drain.  Now he was going to fail us because of that.

Please keep in mind, that Monday he had told Jim that we could install the floor and drywall in most areas of the bathroom because nothing was wrong with our work.  As I stated, we already did this work prior to the inspector coming out. This is all that we did:

The new subfloor in place with two hole cut out for waste drains!

The new subfloor in place with two hole cut out for waste drains!

Jim added two by fours so when we need to hang up the shower panel, we will have something to screw into

Jim added two by fours so when we need to hang up the shower panel, we will have something to screw into

One wall in place! (The drywall is blue because it is a special "mold resistant" drywall)

One wall in place! (The drywall is blue because it is a special “mold resistant” drywall)

Wall number 2 (the brightness of the snow is messing up this picture)

Wall number 2 (the brightness of the snow is messing up this picture)

The top view of wall number 2

The top view of wall number 2

The extension of wall number two

The extension of wall number two

Wall number 3 with tile-ready shower shelves! Nothing to bang your head on in this shower!

Wall number 3 with tile-ready shower shelves! Nothing to bang your head on in this shower!

Wall number 4

Wall number 4

Little fix in the ceiling where there wasn't drywall before.

Little fix in the ceiling where there wasn’t drywall before.

Wall number 5 - the area above the sink

Wall number 5 – the area above the sink

Wall number 5 continued

Wall number 5 continued

The bottom of wall number 5...I know it doesn't look finished but since it will be behind the vanity, it does not matter that there are openings

The bottom of wall number 5…I know it doesn’t look finished but since it will be behind the vanity, it does not matter that there are openings

Now he is trying to tell us that if we were able to get this shower panel approved, we would have to rip up the floor and redo all of our plumbing pipes so we could have a 3 inch drain for our multiple shower heads. It did not matter to him that the same two supply lines were all that was going to be providing the water. Without adding MORE supply lines, the shower panel would be limited to how much water could come out of it. He stated that in the future, someone could install a water booster and more water would come out and the shower would overflow (of course if someone did this in the future, THEY would have to get a permit and inspection and he could fail them then, but that didn’t seem to matter to him).  I got his supervisor’s information and updated Jim about the inspection.  To say Jim was displeased would be the understatement of the century.  Let’s just say it was probably good that I was there with the inspector and not Jim so brawl was avoided.

Jim called the inspector.  After a “heated” conversation that did not end well, Jim called the inspector’s advisor.  The advisor was much more willing to work with us. In the end, he told Jim that if the company that makes the shower provided written confirmation about the mechanism to prevent water from getting too hot AND confirmation that a 2 inch drain is acceptable for that shower panel, then we would pass the inspection.  The company was happy to give us that confirmation and after a lot of unnecessary stress, we officially passed our inspection.  This made Jim especially please since the inspector had told him repeatedly over the phone, “I am not passing you.”

One thing that the advisor seemed to realize that the inspector did not, is that we are DIYers.  Every time we have applied for a permit, it has been because of self-reporting.  We are good, honest people who want to do right by the county and ensure the integrity of our home, so we want to follow the laws and get permits but there is nothing to stop us from not getting a permit.  The county would not know when and if we made improvements in our home and they are not about to start searching every home for DIYers who don’t get permits.  The county makes a profit every time we get a permit and if the county is going to make us jump through unnecessary hoops in order to pass inspections, we will stop getting permits and the county will stop making a profit. Luckily, it all worked out in the end, but I do think we need to request a different inspector for the next time.

Last night, we finished the last of the drywall.  It has been a week since we passed the inspection, but we got side tracked by another project (update to come on the blog).  The bathroom feels like a real room again!

The drywall in place in the ceiling

The drywall in place in the ceiling

Last wall up and in place!

Last wall up and in place!

Demolition Derby (Not the Dog…)

Posted on

Last Saturday, as many people were eagerly learning that Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow, Jim and I started a new project.  It was now time for another big project. It was time to tackle the master bathroom.

The master bathroom is small. It is only about 4 ft by 8 ft.  When we first started making plans about remodeling the bathroom, we had hoped to expand it.  The back wall of the shower rests up against the guest room’s closet. We thought we could possibly push the bathroom into part of the closet and create a longer bathroom. With that alteration, we would push the shower back further and we were going to switch the location of the toilet and sink, so that we could fit a double vanity in the bathroom.  After many discussions of the plan, we had a plumber come give us an estimate of what it would cost us to move all the necessary pipes to make such changes. Not only did the estimate come back way too high, our plan was foiled by the location the current sink.  It is right above the staircase. If the toilet was moved to that location, it would need a waste pipe going straight down – which would be through the staircase and not behind a wall.  It was disappointing to know we had to limit our remodeling design to the small space we were given, but we came up with some other ideas to make it the best bathroom it could be.

Before starting the demolition of our current bathroom on Saturday, we needed to relocate our bedroom. Since this is the master bathroom, our bedroom is attached to it. Remodeling comes with a lot of dust and debris and we did not want to spend our nights in our work zone.  We left most of our furniture in the bedroom but moved it farther from the bathroom door. We also covered them with bed sheets to try to protect them.  We moved our mattress and all of our clothes to the empty room next to our bedroom.  We also moved all of our bathroom toiletries into the hallway bathroom. It will work fine for the next few weeks (months? eek) it will take us to complete the project.  Although Derby (our dog) has been very confused with the relocation of where we sleep.

Our new set up - the sheets were being washed, sorry for the messy bed!

Our new set up – the sheets were being washed, sorry for the messy bed!

Our bedroom with (demolition) Derby

Our bedroom with (demolition) Derby

Once the resettlement was complete, we took a quick break. I met a friend for lunch while Jim ran to Home Depot and also grabbed some food.  By late afternoon, we were back to work. Jim bought a carpet protector that we put in place in our bedroom near the bathroom.  Then we started unscrewing and removing the vanity, the light fixture, the sink, cabinet, medicine cabinet, toilet, etc.  The counter top of the vanity did not remove easily, so Jim was excited to take his new sledgehammer to it. We also needed to get up the tile from the floor and off of the shower walls.  It was exhausting.

We cleaned up all the debris we already created and called it a day. Sunday morning, we were back at it.  We still needed to get the shower base up and also remove some of the drywall.  We knew there were places we would need to be working behind the wall for electrical or plumbing reasons, so we thought we should just get rid of all of it. Getting rid of the drywall also made the shower base an easier removal. A few hours later, we had a completely demolished room.

Pictures before we moved all our belongings out:

IMG_0747

View from the door

IMG_0752

Toilet – you cannot tell but it hasn’t been running right for months now. Plus there is paint all over it from the previous owners! So glad it is gone!

IMG_0751

View of the sink from the shower

IMG_0750

A little blurry, but straight on view of the vanity, sink and medicine cabinet

IMG_0749

The pretty stylish light fixture

IMG_0748

Door where we had to hang our towels

IMG_0753

Extra storage in a cabinet

IMG_0755

Shower – this shower could never get as clean as I wanted it…also so glad it is gone!

IMG_0756

Larger view of the shower – you can see the ugly light fixture above the shower

IMG_0757

View of toilet paper roll holder and vent

IMG_0758

Focus on the plain, white floor

More pictures once all our stuff is removed – Jim wanted me to show how plain and boring it was!

IMG_0759

View from the door – all white!

IMG_0761

I guess the counter adds some color…

IMG_0762

Pretty boring

IMG_0763

Last one

How the bathroom looks now:

IMG_0766

View from the door – we had to leave the shower fixture in place because there is not a shut off valve for the water

IMG_0767

Plywood over the sub floor

IMG_0768

Where the vanity and sink once were

IMG_0769

The old light fixture (and wall) is gone

IMG_0770

View from the “shower”

Two Weeks of Work

Posted on

It has been a short two weeks since my last post, but we have made a lot of progress on the bathroom. As mentioned in the previous post, we planned to hire someone to flatten the textured walls and ceiling in the bathroom. Since they would also be patching up any holes in the walls (and ceiling since we changed the exhaust fan). Therefore, our priority was to focus on anything that could affect the drywall.  First – we changed the light fixture. With all the electrical work Jim has done – this was pretty easy. The hardest part was making sure it was level.

New light fixture!

Next, we had to focus on the new medicine cabinet.  We had a hole in the wall from the previous medicine cabinet that could used for the new one. The only problem was the new medicine cabinet was not the same length as the previous one, it was shorter.  There was a lot of thought and discussion on how high the medicine cabinet (with the mirror) should go.  We pretended to be people at different heights, including children and tall friends. We finally settled on the best spot. In order to make up for the smaller medicine cabinet, we added two 2 by 4’s between the two studs in the wall.  This was the result:

The drywall guys can cover up the extra space!

We waited to install the medicine cabinet until after the walls and ceiling were done.

With the completion of the medicine cabinet, we were finished with all the wall and ceiling work for now. Next, we could start focusing on the floor. We needed to add new cement board to the subfloor.  Since the space is small, we only had to use two cement board pieces. This made things go just a tad faster than when we did the kitchen cement board.  The one thing that proved to be challenging was cutting out the hole in the cement board for the toilet’s waste pipe. The hole fell inside of the edge of the cement board. In order to start cutting the hole, Jim used a power drill to make a bunch of small holes in the outline of the circle. Then he connected the holes with a utility knife.  In our first attempt, the hole turned out to be larger than what we needed. Luckily, we had another piece of cement board and we could give it a second try.  The second time, the hole was just the right size.

Waste pipe hole – we took the flange (the piece that the toilet screws into) off to make it easier to lay the cement board and tile. We have the plastic bag there to stop fumes from escaping and to prevent anything from falling in the pipe

Before screwing down the cement board, we needed to add mortar to secure it into place. You may remember this from the kitchen post when we laid the cement board.  After the mortar was spread on the subfloor, we placed the cement board in place, and screwed them down.  In order to connect the two boards, we laid mortar in between the two pieces, placed this special type of tape over it, and finished it with one more layer of mortar. The work was still exhausting, but it went by a lot quicker since it was our second time around.

Jim putting the mortar down

Jim showing his acrobat skills while screwing in the cement board (didn’t want to step on the board with the wet mortar underneath)!

One piece of cement board complete!

New cement board finished! Look at that perfect hole for the waste pipe!

The next project was smoothing the walls and ceiling. Since we hired someone for this job, there isn’t much to say except that I love the new SMOOTH walls and ceilings. They completed the work in one day (last Tuesday). Here is how it looked once it was completed:

Medicine cabinet hole closed up – we uninstalled the light fixture so it wouldn’t get paint on it

The hole in the ceiling is gone!

Even though two weeks have passed since my last post, we have not worked on the bathroom every night. When we were redoing the kitchen,we would try to get something done almost everyday. As much as we would like to finish the bathroom quickly, it is unnecessary to work every day since there is less to do. Plus during this project, Jim is playing in a volleyball league Wednesday nights and has his volunteering as an EMT on Thursday nights. I am also tutoring Tuesdays after work (I was tutoring Thursdays as well, but just recently cut back). These extra curricula activities eat into the bathroom remodeling time.  So our bathroom walls and ceilings were smoothed out last Tuesday, but we didn’t get around to painting until Friday night.

Our trip to Home Depot to pick up some paint supplies on Friday evening reminded us that we should probably pick up a new flashlight while we were there. Hurricane Sandy was predicted to make landfall Sunday or Monday and although the bathroom was the first thing in our mind, we had to be prepared. We lost power for two days after the durecho in June, so we weren’t sure what to expect.  We bought a “weapon-sized” (Jim’s words) flashlight and then tried to put Sandy in the back of our minds.

Since we are painting pros by now – we knocked out the painting job quickly on Friday.  We chose a nice, neutral taupe color.

Painted walls!

With the painting complete, we could now install the medicine cabinet.  With a level and the power drill, this was easily completed. We also wanted to update the old and dirty electrical outlet and light switch. The exhaust fan cover could officially be put in place since the ceiling was painted as well.

New medicine cabinet and electrical outlets!

Another picture of the medicine cabinet – it is hard to take a picture of a mirror

Exhaust fan cover in place!

We dedicated Saturday to painting touch-ups, tile placement, and Halloween costume shopping. We had to paint the ceiling and walls on Friday. Some of the blue tape we used to protect the new paint caused the paint to peel when we took it off. This led to a decent amount of touch-ups on Saturday. We also wanted to get moving on the tiles. When we re-tiled the kitchen floor, we ordered enough tiles so we could use the same tile in the bathroom. We ended up ordering the perfect amount of tiles which was great. We did all the tile placement and measurement with enough time to get in our costumes and celebrate Halloween with friends on Saturday night.

Marty McFly and his girlfriend, Jennifer Parker! Happy Halloween!

On Sunday, we were determined to get as much done in the bathroom before we lost power.  We weren’t sure when the rain was going to start. Jim went to Home Depot early to rent the wet saw we needed to cut the tile. While he was there, I started bringing in the trash cans and patio furniture so Sandy wouldn’t wreak havoc in our yard. Since we already took the tile measurements, including the complicated section of tiles around the waste pipe, Jim was able to get started cutting the tile as soon as he got back from the store. We were both worried about the tiles surrounding the waste pipe, but thanks to careful measurement and planning, the cuts worked out perfectly on the first try.  In about an hour and a half, Jim cut all the tiles and returned the wet saw to Home Depot. We worked so quickly – I never even got a picture! If you need a refresher about a wet saw – check out this old post.

We were both convinced we would lose power and did not know for how long, so even as the rain started to fall, we laid out the tile on the bathroom floor. Jim attached a new flange to the waste pipe since the old one was pretty gross and rotted. We were able to see that the flange fit perfectly in place with the laid out tile which was a relief. The new tile had to line up with the already existing tile in the kitchen. The biggest challenge with this was that we had to line up the tiles while also starting the new tile in the corner of the bathroom farthest from the kitchen. As soon as the mortar was down for the tile, we would not be able to walk or kneel on it, so we had to work out way out. To solve this problem, we traced pencil between all of the tiles to give us an idea of where they went. We also left the non-secured tiles in place while we put the mortar down.  Luckily, our planning paid off and the tiles lined up.  We managed to finish the mortar without losing power!  We called it a day and prepared for Sandy.

Tile set in place with the mortar – look at the perfect hole in the tile for the waste pipe and the nice new flange!

Another view of the secured tile

On Monday, we woke up with power on in the house. The storm hadn’t gotten too bad yet, so we still were not convinced we were going to keep the power. We both did not have work that day, so we decided to take advantage of the extra time. The mortar was dry, which meant we could grout the tile. Grout is the stuff that fills in the space between each tile. It needs to be spread into the spaces and then wiped away with a “moist” sponge. This takes a lot of time. You cannot use the sponge to wipe more than once because you may spread the grout (which is like wet sand) and the grout can scratch your tile. You also need to wipe down each tile three separate times. It is not fun and it hurts your hands, knees, and back. Don’t let HGTV fool you into thinking it is easy. You may remember my injuries from the kitchen grouting experience. The storm was supposed to start getting bad at 2pm so we started early, hoping to get whatever we could done.  Before we started the grout, we quickly installed the toilet paper holder. We knew we wouldn’t be able to walk on for a day once the grout was completed, so we did what we could beforehand.   We also had to get any excess mortar off of the tiles. With a wet cloth and flat head screw driver, we were able to prepare the tile without incident. After grouting the bathroom tile, we did a few touch ups on the grout in the kitchen. There were a few imperfections that bothered us that others may have never noticed.  Within a few hours, we finished the grouting.  Sandy started really to pick up by then, so we hunkered down in the living room for the rest of the day/night.

Toilet paper holder installed

Look how cool it is! It just lifts up for when you need to replace the roll!

Close-up of the grout in the tile – you can see the mosaic tiles we added in the bathroom to match perfectly with the kitchen mosaic tiles!

After sleeping in our basement since we live near “large trees” (aka we have five huge oak trees in our backyard), we woke up Tuesday morning and still had power!  We couldn’t believe we were one of the lucky ones who did not lose power throughout Sandy’s devastation.  We lost it for a total of a minute the night before but that was it.  Thankfully, most of our family and friend’s fared well throughout the storm also (evacuations and power outages aside).

Since the storm had calmed down on Tuesday, Jim was able to make a trip to Home Depot to pick up some new molding for the bathroom. We both did not have work again, so we dedicated the day to the bathroom. Jim measured and cut out the moldings while I spackled the walls where there were imperfections.  We installed moldings and quarter moldings along the floor of the bathroom. Once installed, we painted them to match the trim throughout the house.  Once we completed the molding, we installed the towel rack near the would be sink. We took the sink out and put it in place to measure the perfect location for the rack (we did the same for the toilet and toilet paper holder). With this complete, the only things left to install were the toilet and sink.

Close-up of some of the molding and quarter molding

The new towel rack (it matches the toilet paper holder) – you can also see the new outlet in this picture!

We decided to install the toilet first. We already have a sink in the kitchen, but since the demolition, we have no toilet on the first floor so the toilet got priority. Using our “1,2,3 Plumbing” book as a guide, we installed the bolts on to our new flange.

The new flange with the bolts installed

Next, we added the wax seal to the bottom of the toilet. This ensures an airtight seal between the waste pipe and the toilet to prevent leaking.

Bottom of the toilet with the wax seal

Then we needed to put the toilet over the flange, leading the bolts into the holes on the toilet base. Once in place, we used washers to tighten the toilet into place. Then Jim had to saw off the tops of the bolts so the bolt covers could fit. Once this was set, we noticed that the toilet was not perfectly level. We used plastic shims to level the toilet (a shim is a piece of material used to fill up space and make something align). This luckily worked out very well and the toilet was leveled.

Secured in place

Next, Jim added the tank onto the toilet base. It required lining the tank and base just so (three points needed to be touching) to ensure the tank didn’t leak. Then they were bolted together. We also attached the toilet seat which was pretty simple.

Tank and seat in place!

The last step was to hook up the supply pipe to the toilet and turn it on. Since we replace the supply pipe valves, it was very easy to connect the supply pipe.

Close-up of the new supply line

We turned all the water and let the tank and toilet fill out. After a variety of tests, we concluded there was absolutely no leakage.  The toilet was officially open for business. After two unexpected days off from work – we are now one sink away from a completely remodeled bathroom.

If These Walls Could Talk

With one drywall experience complete, we quickly got started on drywall part two. The same day Jim and I put up the final drywall panels in the ceiling, we got to work on the walls. In comparison to putting the drywall on the ceiling, this was much easier.

Throughout the process of putting drywall up on the walls, Jim was keeping in mind where the cabinets would go. Since we are putting up so many cabinets, some parts of the drywall will not show. Therefore, it was more beneficial to plan for a panel to end behind a cabinet or an appliance. Then when we spackle and sand – those parts do not have to look as seamless as the areas that will show.

Due to this planning, we did some panels vertically and some horizontally. We still needed to cut out holes for outlets, light switches, and wires. The wires weren’t too bad because we could use a drill bit for those. All the measurements went smoothly. We were so close with our measurements; it was sometimes hard to push the panel into its place. Thankfully, we had our trusty sledgehammer and a 2 by 4 to help hammer it in. When the panel couldn’t fit into place, it was much easier to take the panel down and make adjustments than when we were dealing with the ceiling (no lift was involved). In one day, we were able to complete about 95% of the walls.

First panel up!

Second panel went horizontal

Continuing to the other wall

Another view

Everything on this wall done (except above the window)!

A view of the other walls

We left the unfinished parts for another day

The last few pieces were left undone for a few days. With Christmas shopping, EMT shifts, and cookie exchanges to attend, we ignored the drywall panels shouting out to us. Then unfortunately, Jim got the stomach flu! While he was recovering and regaining his appetite, I decided to measure and cut out the last pieces of drywall by myself. It went pretty successfully.  I cut the panels close enough that they stayed in place without screws (I left the screws to Jim so I wouldn’t damage the drywall). Jim completely recovered on our weekend trip to NJ to have an early Christmas with my family (or as my dad kept calling it – Festivus).

The completed section!

The other walls complete too!

More complete walls

A long view

After we got home from NJ on Sunday, we both got back to work on the drywall. There was a section of the drywall that was not as sturdy as it should be. There was no stud behind it, so it could be pushed in. In order to solve this problem, we cut out part of two drywall panels in order to add a new panel that could screw in between two studs. It turned out to not be too much work and it fixed the problem beautifully. After that panel went up, we screwed in any panels that were missing screws. After the drive back, that was enough work for the day.

On Monday, we were back at it. There are special metal contraptions for corners of drywall called drywall corner beads. We had some already in place from the previous drywall. They needed to be bent in order to fit the new drywall into place. This meant the beads all needed to be hammered down so we could make the wall look seamless (this is a reoccurring theme with drywall). We also created a corner (where we tore down our mini-wall) so we needed to add a completely new drywall corner bead.  While Jim worked on the corner beads, I measured out where all the cabinets will be placed on the wall. This was so Jim would know what parts of the wall will be exposed.

The new drywall corner bead

Yesterday, I arrived home to find Jim spackling the wall. Although we are hiring someone to do the ceiling, Jim is more than capable enough to do the walls. The job was sort of a one person job. Jim got the first coat of spackle complete. We needed to let it dry overnight so he could sand it. Today is the first day of the ceiling spackle. Before we know it – we will be ready to paint!

Some of Jim's spackle job

Some more of the spackling