Sponsored Links


September 2021
« Jan    

House Refresh the Kitchen

Recently I refreshed a house.  Owner died, heirs want to sell.  In the current market balancing cash in vs cash out is a delicate act. You want to add value but you can’t afford to overbuild for the market. Once you own a house you can of course go crazy.

Here is the kitchen in this house which is just like every other house in the neighborhood, which at one time was a ‘development’.

In the foreground is the breakfast area with wood posts forming a visual separation between the family room and the galley style kitchen. This is untouched from the day the developer turned over the keys. Back in the day where wallpaper was thought to be a good idea in kitchens. The wallpaper has to go, the popcorn ceiling in the breakfast nook has to go, the cabinets need serious cleaning. The formica counters are showing extreme age.

The first order of business is to eliminate the posts, remove the wallpaper, skimcoat the walls,(required as the builders do not final finish these walls figuring that the wallpaper will cover imperfections) clean and refinish the cabinets, order and install new tops and clean and refinish the floor. The floor was left as it is a one piece sheet vinyl in good condition.

Just these few tasks begin to open up the space. After removing the wallpaper, which was not real hard as I had my daughter do it, and using a spray bottle filled with water she made it go away in short order. We cleaned and refinished the cabinets first, bagged them and then primed and painted. The counters were the last major items installed before doing the floor. Here is the final result.

Here is the kitchen start from the reverse angle.

Here is the finish.

Here is a longer view from the family room.

Lowes steps up on Toxic Drywall

The majority of the ongoing toxic drywall cases have involved home builders and wholesale suppliers. On smaller projects and remodeling, Lowes is a great source of material. Lowes and the orange stores use local wholesalers to stock their shelves. Therein lies the tale of Lowes getting involved in this.

Lowes stepped up, acknowledging that some stores has sold it, and offered reparations. As the extent of the problems became more apparent, Lowes has upped it’s settlement offer.

Lowe’s Companies Inc. has dramatically increased the amount of money [1] it is prepared to offer customers whose health or homes were harmed by defective drywall they bought from its stores. Those customers are now eligible for up to $100,000 in cash, instead of the maximum $4,500 in cash and gift cards that was previously agreed upon in a class action lawsuit that is being negotiated in a Georgia state court.

The rest of the article is here; Lowe’s Amends Settlement to Get Drywall Victims More Money

Will this be enough to make folks whole? I don’t know as I am not dismantling these houses and testing them. But one thing is sure, Lowes is stepping up, and that is a good thing for DIY’ers.

Lightyear Sunken Bath Episode 12 Solid Surface Installation

Before and After
Here is where we started and here is where we are finishing.

Before and After

Before and After

In our last episode I was working on the access panel for the jacuzzi. Having sorted that out, I spent time finishing up the skim coating and priming and painting in anticipation of the solid surface.
Tuesday Morning.

Morning Light

Morning Light

Painting is done on the soffit ceilings and the walls up to a few inches behind where the solid surface will go.
Here are a couple of the lads from Pro Tops Inc. setup and cutting the large side panel.

ProTops lads assembling walls

ProTops lads assembling walls

On the left is a portable swamp cooler as the temperature was over 100. With the canopy it is a pleasant place to work if you have to work outdoors in Arizona in the summer.

The big panel has been installed and they are building the template for the back panel. They built the sides of the three glass block openings and attached them to the panel before installing it. Slid Right In.

Long Wall installed. The lads are building the template for the back wall.

Long Wall installed. The lads are building the template for the back wall.

The templating system that they use consists of 1/8” luan ply and hot melt glue to measure for the panels. Works slick. When you are working on material that has no room for error, it is important to get it right.

Here is the finished product.

Finished and done

Finished and done

Here is the access panel for whoever may have to work on this in the future.

Finish Access Panel

Finish Access Panel

It is mechanical and all mechanical things break down eventually. The guy who will have to fix this years down the road will thank me. So will the client not having to tear up the bathroom to fix a pump or leak.

Drywall Skim Coating – Outside Corners

My previous posting showed skim coating prep for inside corners. If you have outside corners they need to be fixed also.
Here is the soffit over the vanities at the Lightyear Sunken Bath Project. We are cornerbeading it to create a smooth job.

Cornerbead installation for skim coating

Cornerbead installation for skim coating

Cornerbead is available in 8′ and 10′ lengths most places. When you have a run that is longer, and need to butt two pieces together you bridge them. Bridging is using a small piece of bead behind your outside corner. This allows you to butt the next length to it and have a smooth line to tape and mud.

Bridging Corner Bead

Bridging Corner Bead

Now that the corner bead is installed the skim coating continues. Here I have skim coated the the walls of the soffit, but without running the beads. This gives a smoother area to run your knife against when filling the beads and the inside corners. A little work now saves a lot of work later.

I am using USG Dust Control Mud here as it works so well. Sands like a dream and clumps together for clean up.

Fill coat before running the bead

Fill coat before running the bead

Here is the corner with the next skim coat applied.

Here is the soffit and ceilings with the corner bead filled and second coat applied.

Here is the soffit and ceilings with the corner bead filled and second coat applied.

Here is the soffit area where we installed the bridging at the top of the post.

Here is the other side of the soffit with the opening into the utility room.

Here is the other side of the soffit with the opening into the utility room.

Particle Board Bathrooms – Finished

The particleboard bathrooms are now in the history books. After removing the wallpaper, scraping and sanding the walls, mold removal, stain blocking, skim coating, sanding, priming spot spackle, sanding, priming,and painting, removing tape and red rosin paper, wiping down and re-caulking, these rooms are done.
Here is the hall bath.


Here is the Master Bath looking in.


Here is the Master Bath looking out.


The weirdest thing besides the obvious is that they used 3/8″ particle board for these. The only plus to this is that you can hang towel bars just about anywhere and be relatively assured of having solid blocking for for mounting them.

Don’t get me started on towel bars that are built on no known centers, with really birdshit mounting plates. Towel bars are one of those items that should really be used to beat the designers over the head until they understand what on center means, what secure mounting means, what sufficient plating and attachment mean.

Probably one of the biggest education challenges is that most designers don’t have children, so secure mounting means nothing to them, they have been bought off by the washcloth size bath towel lobby, and they bathe in car washes rather than using inside plumbing like most regular folks.

Don’t get me started….

Particle Board Bathrooms

It was a simple condo repaint job.  Patch the holes from picture hangers,  remove the wall paper and repaint the two bathrooms. 2 Bed, 2 bath, no real oddball features until I started removing the wall paper in the first bath. I pulled the medicine cabinet and was greeted with this. Particle board.

Particle board detail at medicine cab opening

I thought that this was an anomaly until I went around the room. The entire bathroom is sheathed in particle board. Stapled to the studs, a smear of compound to cover the staple holes and wallpapered over. No primer, no sealer, just particle board and wallpaper. The first bath was relatively easy to strip as they used a fabric type wallpaper that came off easy.
wall detail

The detailing behind the wallpaper at the corners was very good however. The are a couple hundred condo units in this development so the builder got it down to a science.
corner detail at shower

The second bath was a different animal having a paper wallpaper. Here I stripped off the  face and then softened and scrapped the paper back  off with water. About 4 hours of mess.
paper wallpaper takes more time

Skim coat, Primer, and Paint.  Particle board walls? Another entry in the Weird Construction Techniques category, for sure.

Chinese Drywall dissolving copper in Florida

Drywall is one of the most important materials in housing. It literally defines your interior spaces.
 An article in USA Today says that a Chinese drywall manufacturer, Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin produced defective drywall that is releasing  gasses that are corroding copper pipes and wire.

"Homeowner lawsuits allege that the drywall has
corroded air conditioning and refrigerator coils, microwaves, computer
wiring, faucets and copper tubing.

Tests paid for by Lennar say the drywall appears
to emit sulfur gases that can damage air conditioning coils, electrical
plumbing components and other material.

In one test, copper pipe turned black after four
weeks when placed in a sealed container with a piece of affected
drywall, according to a lawsuit filed Jan. 30 by Lennar against Knauf
Gips of Germany and its Chinese affiliate, Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin,
and others. The pipe then started to corrode, Lennar says."

According to the article up to 60,000 homes with the majority in Florida are affected.

"Lennar and Taylor Morrison, a home builder based
in Arizona with a dozen affected Florida homes, say they're absorbing
the expenses of relocating residents for the several months it can take
to repair affected homes.

Lennar says it used the Chinese-made drywall in
a small percentage of Florida homes built from November 2005 through
November 2006. It's not being used in new homes, it says. Lennar and
Taylor, both of which build homes outside of Florida, say they're not
aware of homes outside of Florida being affected."

Source: USA Today

Not a very good deal on something that accounts for a small percentage of a construction budget, yet defines a house. One more reason I use USG Drywall.

Google Search Results.

Shopping for Remodelers and Filthy Lucre

Shopping for Remodelers
With the holidays around the corner, giving gifts is one way of expressing your feelings to your significant others, friends, and comrades in arms. 

Remodelers are strange folks. You cannot buy them ties or fruit baskets. They will use the ties to mop up spills, and the fruit baskets will get covered in dust.

To a remodeler, nothing says love quite as much as remodeling stuff. Tools, Hardware and Fixtures is how you will be remembered. You may ask a remodeler what they would like for the holidays or birthdays, and they will tell you, in excruciating detail. Most of you who know remodelers probably think that they have been possessed and are speaking in tongues. Relax! There is no cause for alarm or calling for intervention.

 They inhabit a world where sheets do not go in the laundry, getting nailed and screwing are  not bedroom activities. What to do?

Filthy Lucre
Show your love, get them a gift card! By now you have already figured out that buying a traditional gift for a remodeler is harder than buying a present for a second cousin twice removed whom you have never seen.

You can however spread holiday joy with an Amazon Gift Card
Using this link, not only spreads joy to the remodeler, but I also make some money as well! Which I will use for my remodeling projects.

Artroom Expansion 18

Having hung the cabinets, I built the counter for that wall. 16 feet of counter. It is 3/4 plywood with angle brackets for stud wall mounting. Building 16 feet of anything in a 22 foot shop is challenging.

But with careful measurement, it mounts quickly. The counter is designed to hold a number of rolling carts underneath. The brackets are designed to  screw through the wall into the studs behind making it strong enough to sleep on. The brackets stop short of the floor to make cleaning the area easy.

Here is the wall with the cabs and counter in place. I also installed 3 more glass blocks above for more indirect light.

Here is a view from the other side.

Even More Bubbles

My own projects take a back seat to clients projects, which is why my media room is still unfinished despite building the new temporary workshop in the back.

Rummaging around in the building salvage yards a few years ago brought me this window which I installed for light in the media room. Double glazed commercial window I picked up for a song. Light with low heat gain as it is a west facing wall.

The view sucks. The neighbors swamp cooler is not my idea of a view. My side eave is not adding a lot either.

I had thought about stained glass here, as I was looking for light over a view. I have enough windows to tell me what the weather is like.

I have decided to bubble it. Having lived with the bubbles in the laundry room, I really like the light I get through these blocks. It is one of those happy things that happen that I will be able to get an even number of blocks in the opening.
Mediawindow2This block only comes in one size. 8×8''. I wish they came in a 6×6 size as I have a window in my bathroom that would look great with these.

Bubbles Bubbles Bubbles.


Right now I just have them stacked in the opening while I do other things. I am thinking about various framing options.  Bubbles Bubbles Bubbles.