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April 2008
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Guest Bath 2 - Fixtures

In the guest bath,we are going with a 1 piece Kohler toilet, like the one in the Master Bath. Nice Units. Comfort Height,(which means that it is 16” or so, about the same height as a standard chair)
Kohler One piece toilet
The sink is another Kohler unit. This is a pedestal unit. We have our own faucet so we will not use the one in the photo.
Pedestal Sink
They are the same color, it is the photographer.

Color Note:
White is only white as a concept. There are many shades of white. Everybody has their own idea of white. In a stroke of good fortune while looking for tile for the shower, we were at the daltile showroom looking at white tile and explaining to the guy what we were doing. They make a Kohler White Tile! And it matches! How cool is that?

Pedestal sinks make a room feel bigger, but care needs to be taken when deciding to use them. Specifically the plumbing supply lines. To keep a clean look, the supply and waste lines need to be placed close enough to be covered.

Here is our original plumbing. These are your typical tract house shutoffs. Two or three turns, plastic handles, and in places with bad water a tendency to get crapped up.
Original vanity plumbing
Here is our new plumbing. My plumber is a magician. These are 1/4 turn ball valve shutoffs. Much better in function and style.
Re-routed plumbing with 1/4 turn shutoffs
We are installing a 24” mirrored med cabinet. I installed backing as the light selection is not yet final. sconces or overhead.
Inset mirrored medicine cabinet opening

Meanwhile, I am building the towel cabinet.

Guest Bath 1

The Guest Bath Project is moving along. There were a couple of things that were a little weird. First up was the tile. They drywalled and then added concrete tile backerboard. Weird as usually you do one or the other.

Builders usually spec these houses down to the last nail and screw. There was a lot of extra labor involved in doing it this way.

Shower wall opening showing backer over drywall with chickenwire mesh.
I used a 4” grinder with a diamond blade to cut the tile and board into chunks to get it out of here. This is the most time effective strategy, but has the down side of being really dirty. They used spray foam on the exterior wall to insulate. After 35 years, you can see the cracks in the foam. One other interesting bit is that it is brittle and disintegrates to the touch.

Tile demo

The Framing

Having gotten that mess out of the way removing the rest of the drywall, we are down to the skeleton. The wet wall is 2×6”, which we will insulate as well as the rest of the bathroom walls. The outside wall is 2×4” laid flat and attached with cut nails. The window being off center is a result of some bad design. The outside of the house has a pleasing balanced look, but as you can see the balance is gone inside.

Shower demo done

Tile Mystery Surprise

Here is a closeup of the wetwall and tub. See that gap? The tub is 60”, and the rough opening is 61” This explains the tile mystery. They had to put the concrete board on this wall to overcome that framing gap. To make the bullnose tile detail come out they had to put concrete board on the other two walls, and get deep bullnose tiles to finish the ends. There was enough room with the plumbing stubs to move this wall in an inch, but they didn’t and this was the result. Surprise, Surprise, Surprise…

Framing surprise. Tub is shorter than framing. Part of the reason for the backer board over the drywall
The Fix

The plumber showed up and replaced the old shower valve and moved the supply lines for the new toilet and pedestal sink.

So I furred out the wall with 1×2 strips, and will cover the entire area with green board. The shower area will be tiled from the tub to the ceiling.

1x firring strips to correct elevation problem

I mentioned that I am not fond Surprises. But this is what makes remodeling interesting.

Pop Quiz Day 1

I am working on another bathroom. The good news, it is for a client.


The bad news is that demo in bathrooms is real dirty business.

You need a bathroom after a day of demo. Enough about life in the toilet.

Today is Pop Quiz Day!
What is wrong with this picture?

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs and the hazards to come.

Compact Fluorescent Lights are the darlings of the energy and wanna be green set. They also present dangers beyond the few pennies you save. The bulb makers and the greenmailers are telling you to replace every bulb in your house with these ‘marvels’, so you won’t be one of those profligate energy hogs, or worse.

Kids toys have more warning labels than CFL’s do. If you are going to use them, think about a couple of common sense guidelines.

Do not use them in table or floor lamps where the possibility of overactive kids or pets have a chance of knocking them down.

My preference is that you don’t use them in any fixture that is less than 6′ above the floor.

When they do burn out take them back to the store where you got them, or dispose of them properly. They are hazardous material.

They do represent energy savings, at least according to the literature, and may save you a few cents now, but down the road the butchers bill is gonna be big. The mercury issue is gonna haunt your children and theirs.

The average CFL contains about 5 milligrams of mercury. 5 milligrams of anything will just about cover the ball of a ball point pen. Not very much you think. But it is cumulative, highly toxic and disposal is going to be a problem. Probably not by you readers, but consider the millions of folks who are not connected, and the Big Box Stores who are moving millions of these bulbs without any signage at all about proper disposal. Trust me, there are millions of folks who do not recycle, live in communities that recycle, or could care less.

Here are the EPA Clean Up guidelines:

How should I clean up a broken fluorescent bulb?
Because CFLs contain a small amount of mercury, EPA recommends the following clean-up and
disposal guidelines:
1. Before Clean-up:
Ventilate the Room Have people and pets leave the room, and don’t let anyone walk through the breakage area on their way out.
Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.
Shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system, if you have one.

2. Clean-Up Steps for Hard Surfaces
Carefully scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place them
in a glass jar with metal lid (such as a canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.
Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and
Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes and place them in the
glass jar or plastic bag.
Do not use a vacuum or broom to clean up the broken bulb on hard surfaces.
3. Clean-up Steps for Carpeting or Rug:
Carefully pick up glass fragments and place them in a glass jar with metal lid (such as a
canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.
Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and
If vacuuming is needed after all visible materials are removed, vacuum the area where the
bulb was broken.
Remove the vacuum bag (or empty and wipe the canister), and put the bag or vacuum debris
in a sealed plastic bag.

4. Clean-up Steps for Clothing, Bedding, etc.:
If clothing or bedding materials come in direct contact with broken glass or mercury-containing
powder from inside the bulb that may stick to the fabric, the clothing or bedding should be
discarded. Do not wash such clothing or bedding because mercury fragments in the clothing
may contaminate the machine and/or pollute sewage.

You can, however, wash clothing or other materials that have been exposed to the mercury
vapor from a broken CFL, such as the clothing you happened to be wearing when you
cleaned up the broken CFL, as long as that clothing has not come into direct contact with the
materials from the broken bulb.

If shoes come into direct contact with broken glass or mercury-containing powder from the
bulb, wipe them off with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes. Place the towels or
wipes in a glass jar or plastic bag for disposal.

5. Disposal of Clean-up Materials
Immediately place all cleanup materials outdoors in a trash container or protected area for the
next normal trash pickup.

Wash your hands after disposing of the jars or plastic bags containing clean-up materials.

Check with your local or state government about disposal requirements in your specific area.
Some states prohibit such trash disposal and require that broken and unbroken mercury-
containing bulbs be taken to a local recycling center.

6. Future Cleaning of Carpeting or Rug:

Ventilate the Room During and After Vacuuming

The next several times you vacuum, shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning
system and open a window prior to vacuuming.

Keep the central heating/air conditioning system shut off and the window open for at least 15
minutes after vacuuming is completed.

Here are the EPA Guides.

Information on Proper Disposal of Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs)

Clean Up Guidelines PDF

Project Planning

Sometime you need a lot of plans, sometime you don’t.

This is enough.

Fireplace Freshen 4

The Fireplace Freshen Project is headed toward the finish line.
Here are a couple of detail photos.
This is a closeup of the work we have been doing on the window openings.
Here is round bead in play on the front of the header and around the window

Here is a midrange shot with a different window treatment. This is a Redi Shade. Billed as a temporary window treatment, it provides light and privacy. This is up to think about a horizontal treatment for these windows.
Another view of round bead.
I like Redi Shades. Most of my windows at casa lemurzone are covered with them. Someday I will replace them something else, maybe.

Round Cornerbead Application 2

In our last episode on Round Cornerbead, I detailed the steps for using it on new work. Removing square cornerbead to replace it with round bead on existing walls is a major project that I don’t recommend unless you are really determined.

There are a few areas where it can be used on existing work. The Fireplace Freshen Project used it on the new construction, to good effect. (everybody who has seen it has gone ‘wow’)

The windows surrounding the fireplace are awkward. They have sharp corners. A lot of thought has gone into different ideas for covering up the windows. But this has been more to disguise them while allowing light through.
Here is a typical southwest ranch fireplace

Making Square Round

We are going to change that. This is an area where we can change the lines without having to do any demo work. Make no mistake. There is work involved, but it will be worth it.

Here is our opening which is pretty much standard in the Southwest, for aluminum windows. The window openings are wrapped and the windows are applied from the outside.
Standard square corner detail

Our ‘trimless’ opening has enough room to allow us to apply drywall to the opening without compromising the operation of the windows.

Taping the work area

Our good friend, ‘blue painters tape’ is used to cover the exposed window frame, to make our taping easier to clean up as well as forming a line to paint to.
Prep work for window treatment with 'blue tape'

What is not shown in this photo is the tape at the wall intersection in the corner. We are going to skim coat these walls also.

Drywall Application

We measure and cut our drywall so that it is narrower than our opening by a little more than a 1/2”. We do this so we can leave a thin gap on the window side to allow us to slip in 1/2” L bead on the window side and to be able to apply our round bead on the wall side so that it will lay flat against the existing wall. I mentioned this back cutting in our first look at round corner bead.

Remember the radius grasshopper.

Also on this type of application, we are using Power Grab to glue the drywall to the opening. The nails are only used to hold the drywall in place.
Drywall in place for attaching corner beads

Cornerbead Application

The installing of the beads are standard (measure twice, cut once), and we are also using Power Grab behind the beads to apply them to the wall. Nailing is standard to secure the flanges.

Here is our corner with our beads in place

Taping the beads

On square corner beads, I suggest only doing one side of the corners in any session. This eliminates the tendency of the mud to roll and chunk on the other side of the corner, creating more work for you, especially if you are not going to do this for a living. On round bead, you can do both sides in the same session as there is enough space between the two angles to allow you to fill and/or coat in the same session.
Here is the fill coat applied to our opening

Skim Coating

The existing walls around the windows have texture on them. We are skim coating them to blend the walls. I have more about Skim Coating here.

Note: On this project I am using speed set for the first coat on the walls and on the cornerbeads. It’s about not spending more time on this than necessary. Your mileage will vary and you should take your time.

Coating with eggnog

I am using the USG Dust Free mud for the finish coat. It is the color of eggnog in the box, it’s my blog and so I am calling it ‘eggnog’. You can call it anything you want. In any case it is what they should have invented 30 years ago.
Second coat with USG Dust Free mud

How dust free? Here is the floor and corner of one side. The floor is covered with red rosin builders paper. Regular mud dust would have covered the floors and walls and would still be floating around. I took this picture about 5 hours ago.
Dust Free mud in action

How dust free? This is the fireplace opening about three feet away. Regular mud dust would have made this almost white. Yeah it’s that good.
Clumps and falls straight down

Remodeling Surprises

I do not like remodeling surprises.
Surprises in remodeling are not good things. They usually involve more work and extra expense. They usually happen on things you consider just a minor change. These things are the stuff of legend in projects going over budget and time. They also create the greatest amount of acrimony between folks who are remodeling and the contractors they hire.

Case in Point

This is a bathroom wall that has a mirror that covers the entire wall from side to side and from counter splash to the ceiling. The door contains a stained glass panel made by the client. Why is there a porcelain fixture hanging in space?

It has been precut for a 4” electric box. So why is this light here? And why is it showing wires? From this side it would seem that you could install a ‘old work box’ (the plastic boxes with the tabs for attachment) or one of the box on a rod electric boxes, and be done with it.


Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!

In going into the other room which is a closet, and cutting an inspection hole we find our surprise. The original location was over the sink and guess what? It is on a box on a rod!
But Wait! It gets ‘better’.
The hole in the mirror is sitting on one of the studs by about 3/4”. The photo is bad as I was using a flashlight as the batteries in my camera were running low. You can see the edge of the rod bracket, so you can imagine the stud.

What should be an hour (setting a box) will take a couple of days to fix. Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!

So to clean up this mess, we will empty the closet, dismantle quite a bit of the built in shelving unit, open up the wall, sister the stud that is protruding into our opening, cut away the protruding bits, check to see if we have enough romex to make it into the new box, or if we need to pull a new piece, remove the old box and bracket rod, probably seal up the hole behind the mirror, and drywall, tape, texture and paint.

But this is remodeling.

Fireplace Freshen 3

Spent a bit of time last week detailing the fireplace including cutting in the edges where the new work meets the existing and painting the inside of the firebox with hi-temp paint. My son installed and finished the tile in the front of the fireplace.

One of the other details that will be addressed is softening the window openings with the radius corner bead used on the front. As I mentioned the other day, radius bead requires a different backing strategy than regular cornerbead. Here I will install drywall pieces on the window sides and attach our bead with one side on the new drywall and the other side on the existing wall. I will also skim coat the areas on the back wall. I will give the dust control mud a real test.
Typical square corner

In spending some time with the fireplace, it has been decided that we will reinstall the vertical blinds that were here. This is a mockup of what it will look like. These vertical blinds have the slightest amount of curve softening their lines. The fireplace door is not to scale. and the vertical line of the glass door are too fat, but you get the idea. The top bracket of the blinds will be hidden, and we are installing lights on the back side of the valances which will give this wall some real drama in the night.

The electrician will be by in a week or so to install ceiling lights, and the lights in the valances.

Aliens are Making You Remodel!!

You probably are wondering why you are remodeling. You are here because you are looking for answers.

You did not tell the kids in your classes that you were going to grow up to be a remodeler. You didn’t go to college to become a remodeler. You didn’t get married based on the size of your spouses toolbox.(Although, it is not a bad idea considering some of the other reasons folks get hitched. p.s. I am single, have a lot of tools, and am a serial remodeler:)

You tell yourself and others all sorts of stories, come up with tales for your friends, family and neighbors, and generally act like a dope fiend. You don’t invite your parents over, not because your house is a mess, but because they have no remodeling skills.

You find yourself introducing yourself to folks around the neighborhood who are unloading building materials. Your idea of date night is a couple of rollers and a bucket of paint. The words ‘home improvement’ makes you hot….

It May Not Be Your Fault!! Aliens are making you remodel! I have Photographic Proof!!

I have found them! Aliens are Making You Remodel!!

Let me direct your attention to area #3. See the circles? Here you see the alien remodeling virus. It is virtually undetectable at ground level. This is a silent but powerful virus. My current clients house is in area #2. From a simple closet remodel, we are remodeling through the house.

The folks in area #1 have just finished remodeling the front of their house, and have moved enough stuff so that they can begin remodeling their kitchen. They are retired and the virus is gripping them.
What you don’t see in this photo is the folks next to my clients are getting ready to remodel.

So it may not be your fault. You are already getting the rolling eyes from your friends, family and others not yet infected. You may be driven by an alien virus somewhere in your neighborhood. Let’s keep this between you and I.

One last thing.Telling them that aliens are making you punch holes in your walls, will only lead to spending time with some sort of mental health worker, time better spent doing demo or construction. Keep telling them the stories you are already using.