A Big Weekend, Part 3

We started off Sunday morning by installing the range hood. They give you some leeway in the height it is mounted above the range, between 30″ and 36″. I measured out 30 on the wall and showed it to Irene. She wanted it higher and decided on 33″ as the best aesthetically. I made a mark at that height and another for the middle of the range (left to right).
Marks for range hood
There is a template that you tape to the wall and it tells you where to drill for the mounting holes. We didn’t get a picture of that. 🙁 But here I am performing the next step which was to cut the hole in the ceiling where the exhaust duct will pass through.
Cutting hole for exhaust
Ready for moutning range hood
At this point I had to make a trip to the home improvement store, the third this weekend. That type of frequency is pretty typical for us during this project. Anyways I needed to get a different type of wall anchor. There are two clips that you hang the thing on while you attach the other screws. Neither of the clips ended up in front of a stud, but they required countersunk screws to be used, so I couldn’t use the Snaptoggles I was using on the cabinets which have pan head screws. Once I got back it was time to mount’er up.
Mounting range hood
After it was securely attached and I made some slight adjustments to the cabinets it was time to tackle the electrical part. The instructions want you to put the electrical wires inside of metal conduit. But I only needed something like 1.5 feet of the stuff. While on my last trip to the store I searched for a solution because no one sells just a few feet of conduit. After talking to the guy in the electrical department I bought a pre-wired 4 foot long section of flexible metallic conduit with snap in fittings on the end. I later learned these things are called whips. Kind of like this but in metal. At $8.22 it seemed like the cheapest solution. It came with 14 guage wire which I pulled out and threw away. I cut it to the length I needed with a hacksaw. I stripped the sheathing off the Romex coming out of the wall and shoved the three wires through the conduit. I also picked up some little bushings that go in the end of the conduit to keep it from cutting the insulation on the wires. Then I secured the two together with electrical tape. Voila! Here I am with my electrical toolbelt on again.
Wiring up range hood

Next up was to mount the over the fridge cabinet. Next to that will be the high cabinet, aka pantry. I thought the pantry would also mount to the suspension rail and initially cut the rail to that length. I decided to double check the directions while mounting the rail and shortened it up before any damage was done.
Mounting over frige cabinet
We then built the high cabinet in the kitchen because it would be took big for us to carry in fully built. I remember someone suggesting mounting the drawer sliders ahead of time because the high cabinets are a bit narrow. Doing that was a bit of a chore because the directions were scattered between three or more different packages. Again Ikea Fans came to the rescue, kind of. I had to make a list of the different drawer unit part number we got to figure out which ones go in the pantry. I mounted the rails for the two drawers that mount to the big pullout door. I didn’t feel comfortable mounting the rest as I didn’t know where the shelf bottoms ended up relative to the rails.

Finally got the thing all put together with the feet on and then it was time for the moment of truth. I knew the top of the cabinet would be close to the bottom of the bulkhead I built. Well the bulkhead had a low corner… right were the pantry was to go. So even with the legs adjusted all the way down we were still an inch too tall. 🙁 Back to the internet we went for answers. I was fully prepared to build a base out of spare 2×3 when Irene found a post of someone who had cut the Ikea legs shorter. Actually there were a few people asking about shortening the legs for the same reason we were. LOL This post has complete directions so I tried it out and thought it would work so I shortened three more. After running out for some dinner we stuck the shorter legs on and shimmied it into place!
Pantry cabnet installed
That gap between the two went away once we screwed the two together. After that was up I started making marks on the wall for and measuring and cutting the ledger boards for the base cabinets. With two out of four mounted it was getting late again. This is how we ended Sunday.
End of progress for Sunday

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A Big Weekend, Part 2

After getting back from the stores I got to work painting the ceiling. I am faster than Irene when it comes to painting the ceiling.
Cutting in ceiling
Rolling Paint on ceiling
While I did the first coat Irene put the samples on the wall.
Paint Samples

With our shopping done, the floor 100% finished, and ceiling painted we turned to installing the cabinets. I spent some time trying to make sense of the measurements Ikea gives for where to mount the upper cabinet suspension rail so the cabinets would end up where I wanted them. I didn’t want them too low. The numbers did not make sense because the line they tell you to draw is for the bottom of the rail. I ended up just going with what they said in the instructions. Everything went according to the directions until we got the cabinets up. They were an inch lower than I wanted them. There is still some play in the brackets where cabinets mount to the suspension rail so we could move them up a little. But I was also a little iffy about over stressing the brackets or the screws that hold them in to so we left them as-is. The height difference also meant we had to adjust were the wires for the LED under cabinets lights came out of the wall. C’est la vie.

Marking lines for suspension rail
Tools spread out
Wall cabinets ready to go in
The finished product

Once we got the upper cabinets in we figured it would be good to mount the LED lights to them before the base cabinets are installed and in the way.
Unwrapping the LED lights
There are little metal clips that screw into the bottom of the cabinets. The lights then click into clips. The since there wasn’t so much beating and banging going on the cat came over to investigate…
Sunny in my lap
… and play!
Sunny laying on floor
Sunny playing with packing materials
That was where we stopped Saturday night.

A little post-mortem on our wall cabinet height. After some Google searching it turns out the reason Ikea tells you to put the cabinets at 92 5/8″ above the floor is that is the installed hight of the high cabinet (aka pantry). That answer was found in an Ikea Fans thread. It seems lots of people move the suspension rail up an inch or two. I would if we were able to drill into more studs to support the rails. Because of how we have two free standing cabinets there were a limited amount of studs for me to screw into. I made liberal use of the Snaptoggle wall anchors to attach the rail. If I move the rail up just an inch the drywall may be too weak int that area. 🙁

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A Big Weekend, Part 1

The cabinets are going in!!! They really are! And Irene picked a paint color! Yippee!! We did a lot this weekend so I am breaking it up into several posts.

I had off this Friday and I used that time to finish the flooring. The last 20 or so square feet took longer than the rest of the floor because of all the little cuts that had to be made where doorways and walls are. The other thing that took a lot of time was undercutting the trim. For things like doorway trim that is already in place you have to cut the trim from the bottom with a miter or hacksaw so the Marmoluem will slide underneath it. Sawing just 3/8″ off the floor is a recipe for skinned knuckles. 🙁
After cutting trim

I had to cut a bit of our base molding in the transition from the kitchen to dining room. I thought it would be just like cutting the door trim but it turned out to be more involved because the base molding extended below the underlayment to the subfloor. So I had to chisel the pieces out.
Undercutting the base molding
Completed doorway

I also had to chisel out in the stairway leading to the back door it get the stair nose in.
Chiseling door trim
This involved a lot of trial and error fitting.
Fitting stair bullnose
More chiseling

With help from Irene we were able to slide the flooring underneath the radiator legs instead of cutting around them. Irene had read on the internet somewhere that most of the time there is enough flex in the water pipes to lift the radiator 1/4″ to 1/2″. We gave it a shot. We placed a scrap peice of lumber on the floor to protect it and then used a prybar as a lever to lift the radiator from the bottom. I lifted while Irene slid the piece in place. This worked for one side. For the other side I just had to grab the thing and lift. There was more than enough play and the radiator looks great sitting on the new floor.
Flooring under radiator
By late Friday night everything was done except fastening down the stair nose and transition cover.

Chisels and other tools

My little chisel set got a good workout

Flooring under construction

Flooring under construction

Saturday morning we got up and headed over to the Benjamin Moore store to get paint for the ceiling. I wanted to paint the ceiling before we but the wall cabinets or lighting fixtures in. It would be so much easier to do with no obstructions. Irene decided to use Decorator’s White in matte. It’s a nice, clean and simple white. Neither of us likes the eggshell whites. Irene also picked out some sample colors for the walls.

We took 3 trips to the big box stores over Saturday and Sunday (Lowes and Home Depot). We started at Home Depot because they have the fan we want for the kitchen (a Hampton Bay, Home Depot’s house brand). Coincidentally it is the same one we have in our bedroom. The look is good, we’re happy with the performance from over the summer, and I like the mounting much better than the Hunter we bought for our guest bedroom. We could really use a space heater for the bathroom and kitchen. Irene remembered seeing small oil filled space heaters (good for the bathroom, quickly heats and is safe around water) at Home Depot. They don’t remember having them *shrug*. We also were looking for a Bosch Colt router, which they didn’t have either, to build new stools for our windows and later shelving. We also picked up some small nails to attach the metal strip that holds the flooring transition cover in place. Lastly we looked at trim and crown molding. There is quite a lot of choices and it was a bit overwhelming for Irene. She found a profile of crown she liked but they were all just too tall for our modest house.

We then went over to Lowes. They have at least 12 models of space heaters vs 4 or so at HD. Still nothing oil filled and small enough to fit in the bathroom but we picked at a 1500 Watt one for the kitchen. We also picked some wall anchors for attaching the cabinets. The selection for these is much better at Lowes than at HD. I decided on Toggler Snaptoggles and really like them. They are super easy to install. We found the router there and then looked at trim again. This time we found a crown that Irene liked so we bought that and some base molding that mostly matches the design of our existing stuff. We got everything we needed and used the 10% HD coupon I got in the mail there. Saved $33!

Irene is disappointed that all the base molding in the stores is much thinner than what we have in the rest of the house. She is debating whether the thinner stuff looks okay or not. Maybe we don’t finish the floor until we can afford to get matching trim since it would be significantly more. Or maybe we can make it ourselves if we can find a router bit or combo of bits that will do the trick.

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It looks like a room again

Tuesday night we started to put our Marmoleum Click floor down in a checkerboard pattern.
Start of flooring install
It really does click together. The pieces of plywood are to leave a gap between the floor edge and the wall to allow the floor to expand. The big pieces kept falling over so eventually I had to create smaller ones and they worked better.
It really does click together
I tried to cut one with the circular saw but it ripped up the panel too much and it was hard to make a straight line. So I had to manually cut each end piece with a miter saw.
You have to cut
Here is the first row in place. You build a whole nother row and click the two together at once. There is enough tension where you can’t just click it together by hand, you need wedge shaped pieces of wood to prop the new row up while you bang it in with a longer piece of wood and a mallet. There are lots of Youtube videos showing how to install this floor actually.
One row done
I made the wedges by cutting some spare 2×3 from building our walls. I was too tired to actually cut these Tuesday night and those spacers kept falling over so we called it a night. The next day we had scheduled a roofer to come out and install the collar for our new plumbing vent and our range vent hood. We also needed the existing vent collar fixed as it started leaking. I tried getting up on the roof to fix it myself but I did not feel comfortable on our high pitch roof. So we had to call in a professional. I am disappointed about that. The roofer was to show up first thing in the morning. I had to be here to let them in and show them where the new holes had to go. Unfortunately they didn’t show till 2pm. 🙁 That did give me time to work on the flooring though and I got this far before he arrived.
Halfway done
While the roofer did his thing I continued work on the floor. By the time he was done I was done the floor to the point where I had just the pieces around the doorways and radiator to do. Pieces that needed lots of cuts to install.
Roofing guy's ladder
Floor to the door!
The new pipe collar installed.
New vent collar installed
Range vent cap installed. I bought this piece myself. It’s a Broan 634M and has a backdraft damper, birdscreen built in, and a connection for 6″ duct. I think it looks good.
Test fit of piping
Once the roofer left I had to install the vent pipe into the collar. It was going to rain the next day! You can see my test fit in the above picture. It stuck out from the roof too much so I had to shorten it. This is what the vent piping looks like in the attic space above the kitchen.
Vent in attic
And my improvised pipe support. I reused the clamp from when I had to temporarily support the riser without the proper riser clamp.
Improvised Pipe Support
Next it was time to connect the drain piping in the basement, otherwise rain would trickle out of the vent piping and onto the floor. I already had this 45 degree segment with the sweep tee and cleanout connection fitted and glued together. It just had to glue it in place.
Drain piping in basement
To connect the new PVC pipe to our old copper drain pipe I used a flexible coupling. It’s just like a little radiator hose on a car.
Flexible Coupling
Somehow after dinner and all that work I still had energy, so I decided wire up the the outlets and switches. While I did that Irene primed in the corner where the fridge and pantry go.
Working on electrical
I have to say I really kicked butt today. With the flooring in it’s really getting exciting, like the end is near!

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Fun with water

This past Sunday ended up being the best day for me to mess with the hot and cold water. I needed a window of time where we were not going to need water for 3-4 hours. I was also putting this off a little bit because I knew it would be nerve wracking and a pain in the butt. It was both.

My mission was to replace the leaking and corroded globe valves that cut off the supply of water to the kitchen. The old valves would be replaced with ball valves, which are superior for this application. The nerve wracking part was because both these valves are located close to floor joists, the hot water line even runs right up against the two joists. Job two was to add a tee and a third isolation valve which will serve the ice maker on the fridge.

Most people, and this was true for us previous to the renovation, have a small saddle valve that actually pieces your cold water line when installed to take water to the fridge. This is usually installed underneath the sink. Considering our fridge would be located at the opposite end of the kitchen from the sink, 21 feet away, this arrangement did not make sense. I had to cut into and sweat the cold water line anyway so why not do it right?!

I only have the end result to show you as I was too busy cursing and fuming to remember to take pics along the way.
Isolation Valves
So where did it all go wrong? Well the first valve installed pretty easily. That would be the lower one of the two on the left. I actually sweated the pipes connected to the tee and the 90 degree elbow on my workbench, holding the pipes in a vice. The one mistake I made here is the drain built into the valve should face down, not sideways. The old valves were like this too so I’m not the only dummy.

Next I sweated the valve for the ice maker branch, which is the one that goes down and to the right. This should have been easy, and it seemed that way. But more on that later.

Next it was time to tackle the hot water line. As you can see it runs along the bottom of a big laminated beam (made from several 2×8’s nailed together). It turned 90 degrees towards the kitchen, running along another joist. I cut the 90 degree turn out and cut the pipe back so it was not longer so close to the regular joist. But I still had to make two sweat joints close to the big laminated beam, where the new 90 would go. No way around that without replacing a bunch of the piping.

This turned out to be one of the biggest pains in this whole job. For some reason water kept trickling out of this pipe. Just as I would get everything all sanded and flux applied, some water would drip out. I bent the pipe as far as I could to dump it out, I tried to use a shop vac, it just kept dripping out occasionally. This meant that when I did get everything in place and tried to solder it, I could not get the pipe hot enough to melt the solder. After two tries I got it to melt, but they were the worst solder joints I’ve ever seen, and I’ve made some bad ones.

Despite the bad look of the soldering I needed to see if they were watertight. So I turned on the water to the whole house and listened for leaks. Surprisingly the ugly solder joints did not spray water all over. What did spray water all over was the isolation valve for the ice maker.
Problematic Little Bugger
I did see one little drip of water from my problematic elbow. So I took a trip to the store and bought a new valve and a push-on fitting. The push-on fittings are a lot more expensive than a sweat one, but they are fool proof, and that was what I needed.

So I got home, sweated in the new valve and installed the push-on fitting. I also bought some more clips to hold the pipe up and I bent up the some of old ones taking them off for the second time. I bought 1/2″ for my 1/2″ pipe. But they were too small, so I had to have Irene hold the pipe up as I used the string you see to temporarily support the pipe. I turned on the water the second time only have have even more water come out. I had forgotten to close two of the valves!! After correcting that problem we went a third time. That darn ice maker valve was still leaking! It was leaking from almost the same spot as the first time! I think what was happening is that the valves fit loosely on the pipe and the solder would actually run and pool at the bottom of the joint instead of being sucked up into it like it should. Either that of the larger gap of the loose fit was too much for the solder to do the wicking action it is supposed to do. Either way I didn’t feel like going to the store again. I took a shot at trying to re-heat the pipe and just adding solder. A solid minute or so of heating it and I was able to get some solder to melt in and around the top where the gap was – the fourth time ended up being the charm with no leaks!

Back to those 1/2″ clips that were too small. I later went back to the store and bought the next size up, 3/4″. Those were too big! I guess you have to bend the 1/2″ ones out? Or they were manufactured incorrectly. How stupid!

Now about half-way though this job I started kicking myself for not using PEX. You don’t have to sweat or solder PEX. It is flexible so you can make gradual bends without fittings. For sharp bends you still need fittings. Speaking of fittings they have a barb onto which the PEX slides over. Then a crimp ring gets tightened down to keep the PEX in place. The tool to do the crimping isn’t cheap but I think it would pay for itself in time saved and less frustration pretty quickly. There are two things that kept me from doing that. The location of the valves meant I would still have to put short pieces of copper on either side of the valves so I could support the valves. And I’d have to figure out how to support the valves from the side or just hang them. Normally with PEX the isolation valves are located on a manifold from which multiple lines branch off of. The other obstacle is the big box home improvement stores still don’t carry much PEX supplies. I’d have to special order it or go to a specialty plumbing house, the kind that isn’t open on weekends. I have vowed that if I have to do anything semi-major with the hot or cold water plumbing again it’s going to be in PEX. So Home Depot and Lowes: why don’t you start carrying the stuff? This consumer is ready to buy.

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click click click click click!

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click click.. Day 51

I put up another coat of primer on the important areas (I need to go buy more) and we started the floor. We’re using Forbo Marmoleum Click II. We’ll be hand sawing the pieces and still need to tweak our installing method. I can’t wait to see how it looks when it’s done.

Tomorrow, Paul is meeting with the roofer to fix the flashing around the existing vent pipe and adding new flashing for our new vent pipe and range hood vent!

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The reno goes on…

We are getting down to the good stuff! The mudding and sanding is done. Here I am sanding with all my PPE on (that’s Personal Protection Equipment to those not in the know). Paul thought I looked funny with all this on and said he waited 5 minutes for me turn around so he could get a head-on picture. But I was too intent on my work to stop!
Sanding Joint Compound
Sanding, as viewed from the outside.
While I was busy making a lot of dust Paul started building the cabinets. At this point we only need the cabinet frames assembled. Drawers, shelves, and doors go in/on once the frames aka boxes are installed. First to get assembled was the sink base! Yay!
Assembled Sink Base Frame
Then the wall cabinets. This is one of two 30″ wide wall cabinets. The other one had one damaged piece so Paul had to put that aside to return to Ikea. The thin back melamine had bent and ripped.
Wall Cabinet Frame
By the time these were assembled it was time to clean up the dust and move the flooring to the middle of the room for 48 hours as per directions. Besides, Paul was out of room in the garage. Moving those two pallets of flooring freed up the room we needed to assemble more cabinets. But that would have to wait till tomorrow. It was getting late on Friday night and it was time to go to bed.

The next day, Saturday, Paul slept in a little late but finally got back to building our cabinets. In the process, he found another damaged piece. This time the package had dragged on something and left two gouges in the wood. We got everything assembled save for the two damaged ones and the high cabinet, aka pantry. The pantry is just two big to pre-assemble and carry in the house. After shuffling around more boxes it was time to take our damaged goods to exchange at Ikea. We also returned the 24″ cabinet that we no longer need. We changed the 24″ to a 21″ in order to make the range vent clear a ceiling joist if you remember. This was also a good time to break for dinner. By the time we returned it was dark, but we soldiered on assembling.
More Assembled Cabinets
Cabinets Under Construction
Paul had to measure so that the brads that hold the melamine backs would would be relatively evenly spaced. He says it’s the engineer in him.
And we're done!
And we’re done!

Paul spent Sunday replacing the hot and cold water isolation valves in the basement that you might remember from our first few posts. They were are old and broken and are now replaced with new ball valves. I’ll let Paul tell the whole story in our next post but I ended up getting a little wet and so did our basement!

It’s Monday night and I put the first coat of primer on the walls. I HAVE to pick a paint color soon. Paul is pressuring me to do it before we install the cabinets but we haven’t even had the time to go pick out our counter top slab. I think it’s a neutral gray but I won’t know until we see it in person – if it leans blue or cool, it won’t work with the color I might want to use. He also thought we should use up some of the paint from the dining room but it’s too warm for the kitchen. Sorry babe, I can’t do it. 🙁

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And we’re mudding…

Second coat of mud is up, that is all I can really do today. It’s a bit easier for me to do it myself – about 2 1/2 hours to sand and add another coat. Looks like the floor won’t go in until the weekend though since we need 24 hours between each coat and I forgot the floor must sit in the room for 48 hours before installation.

We know how everyone likes pictures so here’s our flooring.

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Walls and Mud

What a weekend. We hung drywall and it was frustrating. None of us have ever done it so we had some challenges. We had to scrap a piece because of a measurement that was a bit off but we trudged along. There are so many videos and tutorials online about this subject that we think it’ll be redundant to go into details.

All the mold resistant drywall is up and one coat of mud has been applied. Paul did the measuring and I actually drilled in a lot of the drywall screws and helped Paul with the mud. We tried the mix it yourself mud because it would dry faster, so less time in between coats. We just could not keep the mix right. It was too wet, then too dry. No matter how often it isn’t recommended to buy the ready-made stuff – seriously, just save yourself the trouble and get it. LOL. We also recommend the corner beads with built in paper. GOOD stuff!

Hopefully we’ll be done by Tuesday so we can start the flooring before next weekend.


measuring more…

attaching drywall to studs

our first piece, cutting out the window!

more drywall screws

all up and joint tape in – ready for mud!

I am taping the corners here..

end of Sunday.. one coat of mud, 2 more to go.

The bulkhead protecting wires.

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