Lower Level Kitchen Renovation, September 2015
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Starting out & planning 2015-09-12
Linda and I talked about this reno today. Originally we bought a Home Hardware countertop kit that basically paints the counter with a two-part epoxy and adds stone dust. It cost $150 and we bought it a couple of years ago, intending to do the main kitchen counter as that one had the counter integral to the cabinets. In the end we tiled the main kitchen. That led to tiling the main bathroom, then the lower bathroom.
Now we have only the lower kitchen counter and cabinets left. They were painted a cream color, so painting them white will be pretty easy… probably just one coat.
That leaves the counter. Like all the others, it's laminate on plywood. In this case a lighter laminate, but complete with the laminate backsplash.
We have already discussed installing the 6x6 in white tiles as a backsplash, but were still planning on using the kit for the counter. That is, until the lower bathroom was complete. The black tile (same as the main kitchen), looks so cool that I just had to measure up the lower kitchen counter.
The counter is an L shape, with the main counter approximately 5ft by 2ft plus the sink area. That would be two of the 24x24 in black tiles, plus a 12x24 in tile, plus the sink area. I have leftover tile that could do the entire sink area, or I might have to purchase another 12x24 in tile to be safe. In any case, that's the equivalent of 3 24x24 tiles to do it all. Given that I now have ample cement, grouts and mastic, tiling the lower kitchen becomes a 'no brainer'.
Before I can begin, I must first fix a gap in the drywall beside the cabinet at the stove location. The stove is gone, and my dive compressor sits there now, but the gap remains. If anything it's worse for not having a stove to hide it. I will need to back-stop the wallboard with something like 1x2 in wood or 3/8 in plywood to support the needed strip of wallboard.
Sink & laminate removal 2015-09-14
To start the reno, I need to move the SCUBA compressor, which means first filling my 100cf steel cylinder. With that accomplished, I could unplug the compressor and move it out of the way. The space for the compressor is also the stove space, and it requires some gyproc repair, especially where it meets the kitchen cabinet. Linda and I also decided to install a heavy-duty shelf in that location to hold the small bar fridge we have currently occupying space on the counter. That will require some heavy-duty brackets and a large (20in wide) shelf, which may also require stud work behind the gyproc.
As for preparation, I need to clear the counter, then remove the backsplash, laminate front trim and the sink. We have also decided to replace the sink and taps here with the one removed from the upper kitchen, as they are nicer. The tap is also one hole, in the sink so I won't have to cut holes in the tile as would be necessary for the current tap. I will probably replace the tap shut-off valves with the nice ball valves as well. I won't know if the drain is the same until I place the sink. Likewise I won't know if the hole is the same size or if adjustments will be required.
For the gyproc, at a minimum I need some backing lumber to support the 1in gyproc strip that's missing from beside the cabinet. Depending on where the shelf supports look best, I may have to cut the wall and install an extra stud to hold one bracket.
After breakfast, I began by filling my 100cf steel scuba tank, then unplugged the compressor and moved it to another room. I then started cleaning off the counter. First, I put the small fridge on top of a printer that was on a rolling stand and located it where the compressor was. It can be moved easily when I do the drywall. Other items were quickly removed and stored. I then tackled the sink cabinet, and ended up with two large boxes, one of garden products and one of cleaners. Other items such as bug killers went to the garage, and shoe products to the upper closet. I completed the cleanup by washing the sink cabinet floor and doors.
The next job was the countertop. Before I could tackle the main countertop, I need to remove the sink.
I began by shutting off the water, which again revealed the multi-twist taps are junk. The drain was easier. There were several fasteners holding the sink in place, but even with them removed it proved difficult. Between the tap sitting partly on top of the sink, and the opening being a tad too small, and a lot of silicone and 'gunk' holding the sink down, it was challenging to get the sink out. I would have preferred to remove the tap with the sink out, but because it trapped the sink, it had to come out first. That required a few contortions to accomplish. Eventually both taps and sink were out.
Now examining the laminate, I found some areas rather loose, and was able to remove the front edges with just a small putty knife. Other areas were more well cemented, so I employed my heat gun and patience to remove the rest of the laminate. The laminate back splash was almost too easy to pull off.
With the laminate removed, I had to decide which sink to install in the final reno. Once I cleaned off all the sealing gunk, both sinks appeared in good shape. The upper kitchen sink was larger and squarer, and it's not certain the drains will fit without modification. However, neither sink fits the opening well at present, so some work is needed for either sink. The opening is not square, so it must be enlarged. This leans toward the upper kitchen sink, which also has the single tap hole already drilled. It is also a heavier grade of stainless; not by much, but the lower sink will 'ping' if you press it. The choice falls to the upper kitchen sink.
I finished the evening by sanding the opening with palm sander and a drum sander, then marking the location of the upper sink on the counter and drawing some square cutting marks. I will have to remove some material in the front left and the back right to square up the opening.
Sink opening & tile buying 2015-09-15
I started the day by trimming the sink opening to the pencil marks I made last night. I used the Ridgid battery-powered skill saw, then finished the corners with my skill scroll saw followed by an overall sanding. Both sinks now sit straight, but the upper kitchen sink still does not quite fit - the opening is about 1/8 in too narrow. Time for new lines and the belt sander, I think.
Although it's not Monday (that was yesterday), we headed to Tile City to purchase the black porcelain tiles that look like slate, used in the upper kitchen and lower bathroom counters. For this job, I require two 24x24in tiles, two 12x24in tiles, and five 12x12in tiles for the backsplash. I had one 12x12in tile so only need to buy four. I also bought two of the 3/8 in black metal trim strips. I think black will accent the counter perfectly, while still allowing for white tile above in the future.
We also went to Industrial Plastics and bought a piece of 3/16in Plexiglas cut to 18 x 30 1/2in to fit the upper bathroom vanity where it drops down and is painted white. I installed this with some little silicone feet and it looked really great.
In the afternoon I checked the fit of the chosen sink again, and it would require at least 1/8in removed from each side to slide in. However, the sink originally in the downstairs is now an easy fit due to the trimmed opening. Due to the straightened opening, it fits really well with some adjustability, and as a bonus the drains still fit. I decided to drill a hole for the taps and use this sink instead of the main kitchen sink.
I had a set of bi-metal hole saws, so I marked the location of the tap hole, then punched the center and drilled a pilot hole. The hole saw's pilot bit jammed and snapped, so I used another pilot bit and drilled the hole using generous amounts of tool oil. After drum sanding the edges, the resulting hole is perfect.
After supper I used coarse sandpaper to sand the entire counter and backsplash, removing most of the contact cement and preparing the areas for tile. I then did a dry fit using the tiles. I will have to trim back the gyproc in places but everything is a good fit, and the 24in tiles will not need trimming.
The wall outlets are not level with each other, and one even interferes with a 6in backsplash, so I may move that one up a bit; after the counter is installed but before the backsplash.
Drywall & electrical 2015-09-16
One thing that needed to be addressed is the gap between the counter and the wallboard. The counter was built on to the original wall, which was 1/8in mahogany plywood painted white. In 2001 the lower level was renovated by a prior owner to make the suite and the plywood was removed from the walls and replaced by standard gyproc wallboard. However, due to the built-in nature of the counter, they simply cut off the plywood at the counter and applied wallboard around the counter. The quality of the job left the gaps at the side mentioned previously, and the remaining plywood became the back of the counter and cupboards. However, this meant the counter was now "set into" the wallboard walls by about 3/8 in.
Now, the 3/8 in difference between wallboard and original counter back will be used to allow me to install the 24x24 and 12x24 tiles without cutting, as the gap will be used as a fitting area for the tiles.
However, the gap is not consistent and needs to be trimmed to allow the tiles to slide in easily. The ragged plywood edge also needs trimming. I found my wallboard curved knife perfect for both jobs.
After this, I removed and labelled the four lower cabinet doors, in preparation for cabinet painting. I note that the screws are not all the same, and will need to purchase some antique brass screws so things match, especially for the upper cabinet hinges. I did not remove the hinges from the doors at this time.
Every reno also seems to offer its own challenge. In the lower kitchen, it's the inconsistent height of the wall plugs. There are four total, and none of them are the same height. The ones that matter for now are the two on the counter. One is 7 7/8 in above the plywood, while the other is 6 7/8 above. The height with outlet plate is such that a 6in backsplash would miss the one plug but hit the other. The solution is to move the low plug up to the same height.
I disconnected the plug and used marettes to secure the wires. Next, I used a sharp box cutter to cut out plugs of drywall above and below the box, to allow access to the flanges and screws holding the box to the stud. The only way to remove the box was to cut the screws with a saws-all (my Ridgid battery powered one) with a short metal cutting blade, which worked perfectly… except right when the screw cut through, the saw carried on and punched a small hole in the wall into the bathroom. Now I have a drywall patch job in the lower bathroom as well!
However, the box came out without further incident. Once I purchase a new box, I will mount it to the stud at the proper height and wire a new receptacle to match the GFCI ones already in place. Finally I will cut patches and fill the drywall around the new receptacle.
I stopped to make pizza for supper. After supper I cleaned up the kitchen tap removed from the upper kitchen, and then mounted it in the hole I drilled in the lower kitchen sink. A dry fitting of the sink shows everything fits well and looks good.
Sink tap & electrical 2015-09-17
Last night I dreamed about the tap. I dreamed that it was not correctly assembled. First thing this morning I examined the tap and found that indeed the dream was correct. I removed the tap from the sink and examined it to discover a critical sealing o-ring was missing. It probably just perished when removing it from the sink. I cleaned up the tap and measured the o-ring groove (4.4 mm by 2mm).
After breakfast, I drove to Home Depot in Duncan to return some PAR20 LED lights that don't fit the fixtures (yet again!) and to buy stuff I needed for the reno. This included hemlock trim wood, ball shutoff valves and hookup hoses, t washers for the drain tailpieces, an electrical box, outlet (square) and trim plate, some new metric 5x20 cap screws for the tap, and some #6x5/8 wood screws for the cupboard doors. I could not find an o-ring.
Once home I fitted the electrical box in the opening at the correct height and fastened it with long screws, then installed the outlet. I had to shim the outlet so the trim plate fits properly. I still need to patch the opening left by moving the box.
I visited Bill and he had an o-ring that fit the tap, so that is ready to go.
Counter tile 2015-09-18
I don't know what's with all the dreaming. Last night I dreamed about the tasks to be done, organizing the various days. Today was counter tile day. Not water, not drywall, but tile.
After breakfast I set up the tile saw and proceeded to confirm my measurements for the counter tile, then cut the tiles for the sink area. I then measured the tile backsplash in the upper bathroom, and decided that 5 5/8 was the appropriate cut line for the 12x12 tiles to make the backsplash. This was all done by 1pm, so I stopped and had lunch.
After lunch and a dry fit of the counter tiles, I numbered them then set them aside while I applied the dilute weldbond solution to the counter base wood. I then mixed up 10 lbs of the Ultraflex II cement (with 1.1L water) and then laid the tiles by first laying a bed of cement on the wood, then back buttering a tile, then adding more cement to the counter using the notched trowel. Then I set each tile and ensured it was level and even with each previously laid tile. The sequence was 12x24 edge, then next 24x24, then corner 24x24, then left sink edge, right sink edge, back pieces and last the front pieces. I used 2mm spacers to ensure even spacing.
Once all the tiles were laid, spaced, even and level overall, I used wet shop towels to remove excess cement. I added cement by hand to the front edges where the notch pattern left gaps as well as the inside sink area. I decided to cut small triangles to fill the triangle space at the sink corners, so did that last and set those tiles. I was done by 6pm, so time for supper.
After supper I inspected the job to ensure nothing had been overlooked and all was level, even and properly spaced. It looks really nice.
Counter wood trim & grout 2015-09-19
I don't want to grout too soon. Given the tile setting wasn't done until 6pm yesterday, I want to wait until at least the afternoon. There isn't a lot of grout to be done. I also have to install the wood trim before I can grout, as the grout fills the gap between tile and trim.
I started after breakfast by refilling the bleach injection tank (3L bleach, 3L water). I then trimmed the opening in the drywall beside the cupboard to allow the trim to fit properly. I will have to fill the drywall later when I fix the walls beside the cupboard.
I then cut the lengths of trim using my small chop saw and gave the inside edge a coat of dilute weldbond. With the compressor and brad nailer ready, I applied a bead of PL premium to the inside groove of the trim, then set the trim in place and tacked it with brads. With all the trim in place, it's starting to look finished. I will let the PL set and grout this afternoon. To finish up this stage, I gave the brad holes a preliminary fill with plastic wood (the solvent kind).
After lunch, I prepared 1lb of grout with 100mL of water as per the directions. Then using my grout decorator bag trick, my hard rubber grout float and a small putty knife I applied the grout to all the seams. After about 20 min, I prepared two buckets of water and started to clean up the grout as per directions. It only took the two buckets of water as the hard rubber grout float really cleans up the lines as you are laying the grout. After an hour I buffed the tiles and grout lines with a bit of cheese cloth. It really looks great.
Before supper I grabbed my 5lb soft scuba weights and did a dry fitting of the backsplash tiles. I was surprised to discover the 12x12 tiles are much narrower than a 12x24 tile, so the resulting backsplash will require a 1/4in grout gap to match the counter tiles. Still, that isn't a bit issue.
I also tested the installation and fit of the sink. It's a bit tighter now that all the tile is in place, but it does go in, fits and does come out. I need to modify one hanger on the sink that sticks out so it will go in more easily.
Just for fun, I test fit a row of the white 6x6in tiles as the backsplash to see what it would look like. I can't say it thrilled me, and the grout lines would not match up at all. I think we'll stick with the black tile backsplash.
Later Linda and I played around with various tiles, including a 24in tile piece that I can cut to make tiles for the one place where the smaller 12x12 tiles was looking so bad. That means most of the backsplash can be done with the counter tiles and have 2mm grout lines. The only 'trouble spot' is behind the sink, as the sink is not centered in it's space. After some discussion, we agreed that cutting end tiles at 12 and 11 inches, then making a diamond center section like I did in the upstairs bathroom that's centered on the sink should look really good and solve the sink side backsplash challenges.
Grout sealer & wallboard 2015-09-20
I went diving today. In the evening I applied grout sealer to the seams and gave a finishing coat of patching compound to the drywall around the moved electrical box. Both jobs done in preparation for work on the backsplash next week.
Backsplash tile cutting & installation 2015-09-21
I started today by dry fitting the sink. One of the clip mounts was bent a bit, preventing easy installation, so I bent it back in place and the sink installs and comes out perfectly. I left the sink in place as it looks nice.
Just before lunch, I dry fit the backsplash tiles to determine where tiles should be cut to fit the decided design from Saturday. I then trimmed the 24in tile to 5 5/8 and cut the 24in tile in half; but the one corner cracked off during the cutting, triggering a change of plans. One tile was OK, but the other could not be used in that location. Instead I adjusted other tiles until all was good. I then numbered the tiles for installation. Behind the sink, I cut the 12in tiles match grout lines and the corner, then numbered them as well. Finally I cut the center section - two edge tiles and the square center tile. I then cut the corners off the center tile to create a diamond as I did in the main level bathroom. One triangle cracked, so I cut another out of some scrap tile. Finally, all tiles were numbered in preparation for installation.
Just before supper I cut the metal trim roughly to length, then did a final fitting using end tiles and cardboard spacers to set height. I did the final length trim on the bandsaw and then beveling on the sander. I cut and beveled the end pieces in the same way.
After supper, I stapled the metal trim to the wall, then applied dilute weldbond. After it had gone tacky, I started applying mastic in the corner and worked out to the edge, laying tiles as I went. I used cardboard spacers to raise the tile off the counter as well as keep the proper gap to the metal trim. I used 2mm plastic spacers between tiles and matched the counter grout lines when appropriate. Finally I applied mastic behind the sink and set the tiles, including the diamond pattern. As I went, I cleaned up excess mastic with a damp shop towel. The final effect is very nice.
Since the backsplash is made of porcelain tiles like the counter, it will take at least two full days for the mastic to dry enough to grout the joints.
Cabinet prep for paint & drywall repair 2015-09-22
Even though I can't really do anything with the backsplash while it dries, there is still plenty to do. Before lunch I tackled the painting prep, filling any blemishes in the lower and upper cabinet frames and then sanding the frames. I then washed and sanded all the cabinet doors. One door required some patching, but that was completed and the door sanded. The cabinets are ready for paint.
After lunch I cut strips of drywall that I had saved from the laundry room reno, and installed first the strip on the left of the cabinet. The left side was not difficult as there was a stud where the strip was needed. I removed the paper to create a place to install the mesh tape, then taped the joint. The right side of the cabinet (by the compressor) was more of a challenge. I needed to install battens to hold the strip as there was just void behind the opening. I used 3/4 in plywood scraps - the same ones I used to patch the sink openings in the kitchen and bathrooms. I attached these with drywall screws, then attached the drywall strip to the battens. At the top, I had to trim the wood counter edging to allow drywall to slip in behind. I enlarged the opening to allow a larger piece of drywall, and to allow more precise fitting. Again I used a batten to back the drywall, plus a nearby stud. Once that was done I applied mesh tape and then patched the repair. It will need sanding and more patching before it's finished, but already both are looking 100% better than the original gaps.
Cabinet & upper door paint 2015-09-23
Today is paint day. I started by masking off the walls and floor, then started painting. The 4in roller and 1in brush seem to be the tools of choice for this job. The job is deceiving; the cabinets look small, but there's really quite a lot to paint. The first coat took around 2 hours to complete, including the two drawers.
After lunch I put on a second coat of paint on all the main surfaces. Once it is dry I am sure the two coats will be sufficient.
I still have the doors to paint. I did manage to use my entire litre of cabinet white on the cabinet frames and drawer fronts, so I will have to open the new large can of cabinet white for the doors.
I started with the upper cabinet doors, setting them on the yogurt tubs for access, I painted the backs and sides of the three large and two small doors. Once dried, I inspected the doors and found with the previous cream color, one coat of the cabinet white was sufficient. Using my freezer paper to protect the backs, I flipped the doors over and painted the fronts.
After supper, when the paint on the front had a chance to dry, I inspected the doors and decided to paint a second coat on the fronts. I'm almost out of existing paint now, so will have to open the new big can before I can paint the four lower doors.
Just before bed I inspected the upper doors and they look very good.
This morning I cleaned and installed the hinges and handles on the upper cabinet doors, then installed the doors in the cabinets.
After lunch I mixed up 1lb of the charcoal quick setting grout and grouted the backsplash. Again the rinse only required two buckets of water, followed by a polish with cheesecloth about an hour later.
Once the grout has set up, I will start painting the 4 lower cabinet doors. The right pair will be installed as soon as they are complete, but the sink doors will remain off until I have the sink installed and plumbing connected.
Just before supper I opened the new can of cabinet white paint and transferred it to smaller containers. Then I painted the back of the cabinet doors.
Today is a finish and catch-all kind of day. I started by taping the trim on the counter top as well as around the bathroom door trim. I then painted the fronts of the four lower cabinet doors and the sink opening piece, as well as the top of the counter trim and the bathroom door trim which was green like the hallway walls. After lunch I painted a second coat on everything, then removed the tape.
In the afternoon I installed the tap in the sink and the supply lines to the tap.
I tried placing the fridge on the counter, but I don't like it there. I'd rather have the counter space, so back it went onto the printer. For now it remains on the printer. Later I'll figure out a way to set it beside the counter, either beside the sink off the floor or somehow above the dive compressor.
After supper I removed the old supply valves and installed new ball valves as I've done with all the other sinks. The cold supply valve was original to the house, and was soldered on, so I had to cut it off with a tubing cutter and then use the compression fittings with the valve to install the new valve. After a quick check, everything is good and there are no leaks.
I missed a call today while walking for the mail so did not get my sink hold-down bolts from Home Hardware. Tomorrow I will get the bolts and install the sink.
This morning I started with a trip to Home Hardware in Ladysmith to pick up my special order sink fasteners. These are a bit longer and stainless steel and are very nice indeed.
When I arrived home, I applied clear silicone to the tile edge inside my tape lines, then carefully lowered the sink into place. It went in perfectly. I set my scuba weights inside the sink to weigh it down, and added two vinyl coated 8lb weights and a couple of 2lb soft weights for good measure. I then attached the 6 sink fasteners; two in front, two in the back and one on each side and tightened them all to about the same hand torque. Once the sink was well fastened, I cleaned up the silicone that oozed out and then removed the tape. It looks great!
Once the silicone had a chance to set, I connected the supply lines to the new ball valves and then connected the drains with new nylon "T" washers. After a test to fill and drain the sink, I checked for leaks. The drain leaked like crazy! I pulled them apart and analyzed the problem. The original drain was glued in place too short between the sink tailpieces. There is no way it can be made to fit without leaking. This is annoying as it's the same sink and drain that came out.
As a result, I had to make another quick trip to Home Hardware, this time to buy a new double sink drain and a new reducer. I took the original drain to the store to be sure I got all that I needed. It almost worked; I bought the wrong reducer and had to make a third trip to replace it. However, after all that the new drains went into place perfectly and do not leak. I will leave a bucket under the drains for a day or so just to be sure.
Once the sink was connected and tested, I installed the sink access panel and then the two sink doors.
I need something about 20 x 16 x 12 inches to support the small refrigerator off the floor to the left of the sink and cupboard. For now I will use a shelf I made back in Calgary that is the correct size but only 2in high. Now the fridge is off the floor and the printer can be moved back to the office area and the compressor back to the stove space.
With that, the lower kitchen renovation is complete. I am very happy with this renovation and it looks great!