On Our Own Again

I wanted to start this post with a thank you to everyone who has helped me in my new home. I have moved very slowly, but without all my friends and family, I would never have been able to make this house what it is now and what is will be in the future.

Thank you to Molly and Doyle for all the weekends of time that you donated and of course all the tools that you have let us borrow.

Thank you to Melanie who has been happy to help, despite having some pretty horrible tasks to do.

Thank you to my parents for three grueling days of work while the whole time sleeping in a dusty house on an air mattress.

Thank you to Kevin, Jody, and Cargill for letting us borrow tools and keeping them for extending periods of time.

Thank you to Chris for her kind house warming gift.

And especially thank you to Brice who has been by my side every weekend and many weeknights, when I am sure that he would rather be doing other things. I bought this house on a whim and he has been dedicated to helping me from the inspection and closing, to filing countless cracks with joint compound. I know he cares about the house, because I care about the house.


After my parents went back home, they left me with a little something...a cold. Four days later I went back to the house to check on the wallpaper. Still hanging! Now to complete the bathroom.

The vanity and cabinets in the bathroom were in terrible shape. I thought that maybe I could just get new doors for them, but my mother insisted that I should probably just get rid of them. Reluctantly I went shopping for a new vanity, counter tops, and cabinets. We decided on a white 48" Colonial vanity from Lowes. The new vanity was a little bigger than the old homemade vanity, but there was room, and that would help to center the sink on the vanity.

Here is a picture of the new vanity (the top is not included)

We will keep the sink, but will replace the faucet with a Price Pfister bronze one. We will also have to get some bronze hardware.

For the cabinets that were near the toilet

We will replace them with two 24" white modular vanities from Lowes. The vanity and the cabinets will have a matching grey (Misted Zephyr) laminate counter top, that should coordinate with the ceramic tile floor.

As for the upper cabinets, we have opted to just remove them and hang a towel bar or some artwork above the toilet. There should be plenty of cabinet space in the bathroom without them.

Now that I had purchased the cabinets, we could remove the old ones. They were all "custom" (although I prefer the term homemade), layered with paint, and in horrible condition. They also had been built around the baseboards and the ceramic floor was built around them. We purchased some more matching ceramic tiles in case we would need to replace some of them and set to work removing the old cabinets.

Notice the green vinyl on the side of the old vanity. It turns out that the entire bathroom had a vinyl wainscoting of green and pink (at the same time?) and it had been painted over. So we had to remove that as well.

Goodbye ugly cabinets!

I know that it looks bad now, but we will patch some areas with new drywall and then add a smooth coat of joint compound over the glue from the old vinyl. On the bright side, the vinyl has held the old plaster together very well, hardly any cracks in the bathroom!


The 'Rents Visit - Part Two

My father virtually completed the shower by himself, while the rest of us (Brice, Melanie - Brice's sister, my mother, and myself) devoted our time to getting the back addition ready to wallpaper. Many will remember that the back addition was covered wall to ceiling in paneling (Laundry Room Paneling). The only exceptions was were new walls had been added and were made out of drywall. When I bought the house I decided that I didn't like the paneling and would take it out. It wasn't until later that I discovered that the paneling was actually solid wood, tongue and groove, paneling, that was substituted for plaster or drywall. The walls were made out of paneling. And to make it worse, new walls were built over the existing paneling. To take it out and put up wallboard would require very intense labor and a small chunk of change. I really couldn't live with paneling placed horizontally on the floor and ceiling. After a lot of research on the internet, I discovered that there is a whole host of people that would like to get rid of their paneling from the seventies, but for various reasons, they do not want to actually remove it from the wall. Most wanted to paint their paneling, but first needed to fill it in.

I decided that we would fill in the paneling and then paint it. However, my paneling was not seamless, and I was afraid that the joint compound would crack. So after more deliberation, I decided that the best way to hide the paneling was with paintable, textured wallpaper. We would first need to fill in the paneling so that the wallpaper would have something to stick to. I tested several compounds. Wood filler worked great. Ideally wood filler is meant to bond to wood, does not shrink, and would most likely not crack if the wall flexes. However, wood filler is messy and VERY expensive if you wanted to fill in two rooms with paneling. The second compound was spackle. Spackle also work well, but it was messy and still pretty expensive to use for this application. The final compound was joint compound. Although it probably has the highest potential to crack, it is the most affordable and easiest to apply. We made sure to use the powdered kind, since it has a chemical reaction making it bond better and shrink less. We didn't need perfection, but we did need a smooth surface for hanging wallpaper.

After the joint compound was applied and sanded (about two days), we sealed it with primer made for new drywall. Although this primer was made for new drywall, if you coat it too thick, it could successfully remove the joint compound that you had put up. So we applied two coats. It dries very quickly, but has a very strong smell. I have read that ideally you should let the joint compound cure for about a week before applying the primer, but we were in a hurry to use my parents expertise and I am not sure that would make a difference, since wetting joint compound will certainly remove it.

The final day, we started to wallpaper. I begged my parents to start on the ceiling, since I knew I would need the most help with this. We snapped a chalk line on the ceiling so that we could make the lines as straight as possible. This was no easy feat, since nothing in the house is straight and you can't use the walls or ceiling as a reference point. We applied a thin layer of wallpaper paste, even though the wallpaper was pre-pasted. The wallpaper paste has to be brushed on thinly, since it tried to take off the primer layer. While that was drying, we cut the wallpaper to about an inch longer than the required length, wet it, and "booked" it. With three people, we put the wallpaper on the ceiling, smoothed out any air bubbles and held out breath to see if it would stay.

Here are the final results for the small bedroom's ceiling. We weren't able to finish all the walls yet, but so far, everything looks real good. Once it is painted, it will hopefully look a lot like textured drywall.


The 'Rents Visit - Part One

This weekend my parent's came up to help us with the house. It seems that when everyone can read and watch how slowly you are getting things done, you get a lot more help! Although my father had his heart set on helping getting the garage ready, (which will be a project sometime in the future) we still needed a lot of work in the bathroom and back addition. After mulling over all the possible projects, we decided that getting the new tub trim kit installed and the shower surround ready to tile would be a project that we could use some help on. This was a project that we knew my father would be good at. Since we all couldn't work in the bathroom at the same time, we decided that the other project that needed completing, was wallpapering the back addition. My mother has put up a lot of wallpaper in her time, so we thought with her help, we could finally get that addition started.

For those that aren't aware, the trim kit that I purchased on eBay in March (Trim Kit) did not have the valve with it. I knew this. but I didn't know that would be a problem. I figured that you could just buy a valve. Boy was I wrong. Each company makes proprietary valves, sometimes they have several depending on the model you purchased. And the valve that I needed could cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $120 - $150. No home repair store or plumbing store carried this valve by itself, and I would have to contact Price Pfister and order the valve directly through them. Since my parents were only staying a few days, the only option that was left was to purchase another trim kit of the same make and model that contained a valve at Home Depot. I figured that I could try to sell the remaining trim kit on eBay to someone who doesn't need the valve. Hey it worked on me!

The lesson: My $70.00 deal turned out to be a $170.00 problem.

If anyone wants to change their trim in their shower, it would be in their best interest to buy something that uses their current valve (something from the same company), or buy a trim kit with the valve.

So after a day of shopping for the correct plumbing parts and cement board, my father was ready to install the trim kit.

Here is what the shower looked like when I bought the house... (scroll down to the bottom of the post) Bathroom Before Pictures

I thought about just replacing the tub surround with a white one, but I think ultimately the tub surround is cheap-looking and tile would show that some work has been put into the bathroom. You will also notice that
the tub has greenboard. Greenboard is supposed to resist mold, but you can clearly see where there is mold under the old trim. Now, most people use cement board or Hardibacker in areas where they are going to have a lot of water. Cement board is a little cheaper, so that is what we used.

My father also made two interesting discoveries about the tub. After inspecting the plumbing, he couldn't find where it appeared to have leaked. However, there is clearly some mold on the greenboard. At first we thought that maybe the repair had been fixed, but since the tub surround covered the mold the previous owners didn't know it was there and thus never replaced the greenboard. After some sleuthing, he discovered that there is a small hole in the bottom of the trim plate that covers the handle. This is a hole that all trim pieces appear to have that allows water to drip from behind the trim plate if there is water building up back there. But like everything else in the house, our previous owners has caulked this hole closed. Water built up between the trim plate and the greenboard and eventually molded.

The other discovery that my father made was why there was a giant hunk of caulk in the corner of the tub.

Initially we thought that maybe it was repair of the porcelain. Brice suggested that it was a dam. Turns out Brice was right. The tub was terribly uneven, and as a result any water that dripped on the side on the tub would run onto the floor and leave quite a puddle. Since removing the tub and trying to level it would be a lot more work than we could possibly do, we thought about installing shower doors, or making a better looking dam to prevent this from happening. Lucky for us, my father found the real reason that the tub was uneven. The previous owners took the time to install a nice ceramic floor. They did not take the time to install the floor under the cabinets of the tub. Instead they built the floor around these obstacles. In addition to this, the floor board that was under the tub was non-existent (not sure why) and the tub had fallen into a inch deep crack. Had the tub been on the new floor, or at the very least not on the sub floor, the dam would be unnecessary. We fixed the problem by lifting the tub up with a crow bar and inserting a wooden plank that would prevent the tub from falling back into this hole. Now I can start looking for shower curtains instead of shower doors!

Trim Kit