Kitchen BackSplash

The kitchen is finally complete!  The last two months have involved a lot of waiting on things to get in, but it is all done.

With the countertops installed I was able to go ahead with a layout scheme.  The tiles are glass, of different heights and widths, and on a floppy mesh.  Figuring out where and how to cut to make it around the outlets was tough.


Everything started and stopped at a metal quarter round boarder strip.  After a few different tactics I figured out that measuring everything from the edges and countertop gave me the best results for cutting around outlets.


T20170225_112227he gaps between each tile varied between 1/8″ and 1/16″.  It made any errors on my part easier to hide, but keeping everything looking right meant I needed a variety of shims.  When installing the tile I did my best to keep the gaps clean, but sometimes the mortar squeezed through.  It is tough to clean without disturbing the wet tile too much.  Instead  I waited till it was cured and used a custom little tool to scrape it out.  It is a thin putty knife ground down to make a small hook/dovetail shape.  I was able to get into the  gaps and clean out any stray mortar that even the smallest grout saw couldn’t get to.

With all the edges and gaps cleared out I could move on to grout.  Backsplash grouting seems to be pretty similar to floor grouting.  The grout is un-sanded on account of the narrow gaps, but otherwise you smear it on, let it sit for a bit, then wipe off.  The high ratio of gaps to tiles means a lot ends up staying in place and getting wasted in the wiping.



Hazing is really noticeable on the glass tiles, so they took a few dozen extra rounds of wiping, but you really knew when you got it all.  After months of work and waiting, and more money than I care to admit it is really good to have a gorgeous working kitchen.  Time for a kitchen warming party!


Living Room Renovation

Another holiday break has rolled around which means it is time for me to get off of work and kick my own butt with some serious house renovations!  This year, the living room.  The before pictures make it look a little more like a dark dungeon than it really was, but not much more.  Dark paint, dark flooring and light bulbs that were a little under powered.

The remainder of the vinyl flooring came up, and the paint came down.  Originally in the house a roll on orange peel texture was added.  I don’t know if it reached the end of its life, or wasn’t mixed well or what.  It was turning to powder, and the paint would peel off in sheets if you looked at it wrong.  I peeled it all off and sanded the texture right back down to the drywall.

Lots of hole patching, and a coat of primer later and the walls are starting to look a lot nicer.  The previous owner had used a considerable number of drywall anchors for me to fill!  I was able to finish a majority of the tile in a day which meant I couldn’t do anything else… Time to go see Star Wars!


With the tile able to be walked on I finished the painting, worked on trim, and eventually did the grout.  Grout and baseboards really make the room feel like something.

There always ends up being a day of painting trim, touching up this, reinstalling covers on that and such.  Worth all the little efforts.

Finally after a little over a week of solid work we were able to push the big soft couches back into our little space.  I missed our comfortable evening hangout spot more than I thought I would.



This room feels a thousand times brighter.  The light tile, bright walls and new phillips daylight LED bulbs make it feel like a million bucks.  Not bad considering the material cost was only about 700 bucks.  Now, by contrast, our kitchen looks even worse.  Oh well, next year’s project!

Laundry Room Renovation

A little time off from work means a little time to spend on another home renovation.  Lets hit the laundry room!  First, the before.  We pulled the doors off and all the contents out.  There was no flooring in here when we bought the house.

In removing the door to the garage I found an interesting discovery.  There were two funny patched holes in the top of the door case.  Removing all the case I found part of two broken off drill bits.  In some distant past, the security system installers had a difficult day!

With “demo” done I went to work prepping the floor and tiling.  The first day was rough.  I got delayed and didn’t do prep on the previous day as I had intended.  Thankfully my wonderful wife emptied all the shelves before I got started.  More bad luck struck when the bag of mortar ran out sooner than I thought it would.  Not a great start, but at least I got most of the tiling done on day 1.

Day 2

Ok, day one had some snags, but day two should be more straight forward.  I ran to pickup the mortar, and found out they were out of grout.  I had half a bag left over from the font room, but not enough to finish.  That will involve a long trip to an alternate lowes.  Still, I was able to finish up the remaining tile at a reasonable hour.

DSC_0377 ResizedThe rest of the day I broke out all my doors and molding for a big paint off.  Doing latex with an hvlp gun is a little touch and go.  Every time I mix a new batch of paint, the settings change.  I am really a hack at it, but the results are still a lot better and faster than rolling.

At least it would be faster if I hadn’t put too much down, and then had to deal with Florida’s wonderful 80% humidity winter.  The metal door took hours to dry and ended up having a lot of runs.  I stopped what I could with a brush and tried to even things out.  In the end I had to bring it into the garage, hours later, still wet.  I had to roller paint the casings after I installed them anyways, so it got a touchup with that job.

End of day 2 was not a complete disaster, but I spent a lot of time monkeying with wet paint and driving beachside to get grout.

Day 3

Go go go it is time to grout!  I cleaned up the floor and mixed up a few batches of grout.  It is a messy job, and you have to clean the tiles 100 times to get the haze off.  Still though, I love grouting.  In just a few swipes of the sponge you can making everything look right with the world.  All the madness of renovation settles down into calm (mostly) even lines of beautiful grout.

While I waited for grout, there were a number of other things around the house that needed attention.  Later in the day I braved some walking on the tile to install the two casings.  It is kind of astonishing how twisted and out of square a house can be and still look ok to the casual observer.  I guess that is why we have shims!

Day 4

The final count down.  It is Christmas eve, and I HAVE to finish today.  This is the last of my days allotted to home renovation.  Let the molding begin!

I did a very basic baseboard molding around all the places you would normally see.  No sense in buying another piece to install behind a dryer.  There wasn’t anything before, so this adds a nice touch.  Both the doors had their molding installed and everything got caulked and touched up.  Getting molding to all fit right and have the nail holes filled properly is really tedious but worth the effort.  I was done, stick a fork in me!!!

Day 5ish

After a brief foray to see family we had some time to put everything back together.  Newly installed adjustable wire shelving offers more storage than before and makes it feel more open.  The lighter flooring helps too.  I could have painted it a brighter color, but the walls were mostly in good shape, and I kind of like the color it started as.

No renovation will change the fact that it is a small room in a house with not quite enough closet space.  Still, I am really happy with the results.  The soreness and smashed fingers will pass in days, but the laundry room will last for years.