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!


Kitchen Renovation Part 1

After a lot of early salvos, the kitchen war has finally begun.  First, let’s look in horror and disgust at the kitchen that was.  Painted 1980s particle board cabinets with rotted bottoms, dark blue peeling paint, and no flooring.  Not a pretty set of pictures.

Don’t look too long, you will hurt your eyes.  Granted the next set of images aren’t that much better.  I happily smashed cut and dragged out all the old cabinets, and peeled the various paint layers off.  At least it looks a lot brighter in there.


Most of the kitchen stuff and appliances had to be spirited away to back rooms and the porch.  What was left was the bare essentials.  I call it Kitchen Base Camp Alpha.


Next came the sanding of texture.  When the house was built, some kind of roll on orange peel texture was used.  In decades since installation it has turned to powder and sluffs off in chunks.  Every square inch of wall had to be sanded back to the drywall.  It was messy business.

Next came patching of various issue areas, priming, more patching of missed issues, and then two rounds of the brilliant blue/green color that was in the living room.

At this point I got a lot of plumbing and electrical fixtures changed, and even a bit of routing done to account for changes in cabinet location.  With the walls complete I could scrape the floor of any glues or gunks and get to tiling.  As usual odd walls and squareness issues confounded me, but I was able to stitch it together pretty well with the existing living room tile I did last Christmas break.


dsc_0638I could now work on the small pantry without any fear of getting in the way of cabinet installation.  It would give us a place to put back some of our boxed junk and help out in minor cooking adventures at Kitchen Base Camp.  I went with adjustable wire shelves and wired an under-cabinet light in the top that goes on with the lights over the stove.  Some basic molding happened on the inside, but most will wait till I can do everything after the cabinets are complete.









Until the cabinets get installed we got to move a few essentials back into the new area.  I call it Kitchen Base Camp Beta.



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.