Please Visit DIY Tool Supply for all your Tool Needs

15 August 2007

How to Refinish a Deck - Part 2

We spoke in the last post about the reasoning behind why I chose the products and methods I chose. If you missed it, go back and read it here before reading this post.

Step 1: Cleaning

Since my deck has no previous finish I luckily do not have to worry about stripping or sanding the old finish. I will simply use a cleaner/brightener. I chose the Behr product no.63. You can find all the information on their website HERE.

Basically I bought the cleaner/brightener and a pressurized sprayer from Home Depot. The pressurized sprayer ran about $30 but was definately worth it. I mixed up a gallon of no. 63 with 4 gallons of water in a 5 gallon bucket and then poured it 2.5 gallons at a time into the sprayer.

I sprayed the deck down while my wife scrubbed with a brush in between taking care of the baby. It all worked out pretty well even though she had to bail halfway through to entertain what the DR. refers to as a "Wild man."

I finished the deck alternating between spraying and scrubbing. The only problem I had is that you need to keep the deck moist with the cleaner while you are working. I had to rush the deck project through the week to be ready for a party on the weekend so it was a hot day that I chose to do this procedure, too hot. The cleaner was drying too quickly so it didn't foam up well. I was still able to keep it pretty well moist before spraying it off with the garden hose.

It came out very well. I think it would have come out better if I waited for a cooler day like the directions state but I am happy with the results. Simply put, here is the procedure:

  1. Lightly dampen surfaces with water prior to cleaning.

  2. Apply solution liberally with a plastic container pump sprayer, brush, mop or roller.

  3. Keep the surface wet for 10-15 minutes. Reapply solution as needed to keep the surface wet and foaming during the cleaning period.

  4. Scrub surface using a stiff bristle broom or brush. The solution will foam.

  5. After the 10-15 minute cleaning period, rinse the surface using a garden hose with nozzle at maximum pressure.
In the next post I will talk about the waterproofer I used.

06 August 2007

How to Refinish a Deck - Part 1

Alright, sorry to everyone who has been waiting for me to start posting again. I have been through a pretty long span of being burnt out, and coupled with the new baby, I just haven't been able to even watch a home improvement show in months.

However, I am back at it now. The first project is to get my deck back in shape. I have a wood deck and it has never been waterproofed. Since it is pressure treated it is not in bad shape, it just needs a good cleaning and then an application of waterproofer.

The first name that comes to mind of course is Thompsons waterseal. I did a little research on Thompson waterseal and there are some very good reasons I decided not to use it. The main reason however is that Thompsons Waterseal is just is just a paraffin wax coating so of course it repels rain, but it does absolutely nothing for UV, the major player when it comes to weathering. Also, it wears off in 3-4 months according to Thompson Waterseal reviews. I am a big fan of researching products and then doing it right the first time. I decided to stay away from Thompsons Waterseal.

The products I decided to go with are made buy Behr, and available at your local Home Depot. The first step in refinishing the deck is going to be to give it a good healthy washing. Stay tuned for the details on that in the next post. You can find it here.

07 June 2007

Construction Has Haulted

That is right, all construction on the house has ground to a hault, hence the long pause between postings. It seems that our new Foreman (my 2 month old son) takes the opinion that work is unimportant compared to his attention.

Oh well. It is funny because I actually believed I would go on working on the house after he arrived. No matter what I had heard I was confident that I would press on. I still fix things here and there but the combination of the summer along with the baby means that inside jobs are on hold.

You won't catch me inside coping a miter or spreading mastic as long as the weather is nice and I can get outside. Besides, I have been training for my 38 mile Charity ride this Sunday (there is still time to donate to the cause, just hit the "Tour de Cure" link on the right). My activities look like this now-a-days:

However, I have done a little work in the garden and I will begin to update on that regularly. Stay tuned and the posts will start coming a lot more frequently, I promise.

16 May 2007

Home Depot Deals

As many of you know I like to do my renovation on a tight budget and I am always sourcing from different merchants, both physical and online stores. I have now found a site called CouponChief that allows me to save quite a bit of money on the things I am buying anyway. They even have Home Depot signed on as a partner. Right now they are offering 20% off area rugs and 20% - 50% off power tools, faucets and hardware. You can find the specific page here:


Along with Home Depot, they have a whole home and garden section offering coupons and deals for around 25 different stores. There are even videos and instructions that walk you through getting the deals. It is certainly worth checking out.


This is a sponsored post.

15 May 2007


What is Xeriscaping? It is the process of matching your landscaping to your natural climate in order to conserve energy and water. The word itself is from Greek origin (xero-scape) meaning “dry scene.” Xeriscaping is becoming very popular.

Why should you invest in the idea of Xeriscaping? For one, it is fiscally responsible. For two, it is environmentally responsible. Not only will you be saving money on watering and fertilizing. You will not need to worry about pest control and expensive chemicals that may not be the best thing for your environment. There is also less maintenance involved.

What is involved in Xeriscaping? The first thing involved is planting. You will want to use many native species that are good at conserving energy. Your local nursery should be able to help you out with this. You will also want to plant in groupings so that if you do have to water, you can water in one area. The second thing involved is water conservation. Drip irrigation systems as opposed to traditional watering use less water. There is less water wasted and not as much evaporates to the atmosphere. Mulching also allows the soil to conserve the water it holds.

The conclusion is this: Why fight nature when you can work with it to have a beautifully landscaped yard without all the hassle?

09 May 2007

Have a Blog, Want to make money with it?

I have a new option on this site that I think is pretty exciting. At the end of each post you will see a button that says "Get paid to review my post". If you have a blog, and you want to make a little extra money, all you need do is click the button and then write a post about whether or not my post was any good. You get to put your opinion out there, I get positive or negative feedback on my blog so that I can modify the site to what users like, and you also get $7.50 and the opportunity to make much more.

So, if you have a blog, and you want to make a quick $7.50, pick a post that strikes your fancy and hit the button. You will be taken to directly to the opportunity.

Until next time,


02 May 2007

The Stanley Pry Bar

Ode to The Pry Bar

The time has come to set a date
To pry, and pull, and mutilate.
I pick up my tool and go to work
Wherever old trim and wood may lurk.
Together we will conquer all,
And laugh as the the dust will fall.
When the dust clears at last we will see
A room that will be rebuilt by me.
A clean clear pallet expunged from old,
A new room ready for all to behold.

It may not be shiny, not worth a lot.
But it is the hardest working tool I've bought.
That is right folks, I love my pry bar. In every home improvement project there are two parts, demolition and construction. This little $10 tool will take care of every bit of demolition you may need to do. It is absolutely worth the money. I had to buy my wife one of her own because she was always taking mine. That is why the Pry Bar is one of my favorite tools.
Next up: Finishing the closet.

01 May 2007

How to Build a Coat Closet - Drywall

After you have all of the framing complete and have test-fitted the door, you are ready to start finishing the closet.

The first step in finishing the closet is to drywall the inside and outside. Here you can see the drywall on the outside of the closet. It covers to flush with the rough-in framing of the door
To the right you can also see the back view of the drywall.

Below is my coat closet with the drywall hung. I have also used a outside corner piece. The next step will be mudding and sanding, then priming and painting.

24 April 2007

How to Build a Coat Closet - Framing the Door

The first step in framing the door is attaching the door frame to the studs already in place. Cut (2) 2"x4"s to the length of the door rough-in height. Nail these to the side studs that were already in place. The distance between this rough door frame should equal the rough-in width of the pre-hung door. Next, nail the header plate to these framing studs. Cut 2"x4"s to fit between the header plate and the top header. These are called cripple studs. Toenail three of them between the header plate and door header plate, one on each side, and one in the middle.
Below you can see where I am framing out the new coat closet. I have the door frames in but have not yet put in the cripple studs. This is a test fit of the door to make sure the rough in dimensions were correct.

20 April 2007

Houseblogger Rides For Charity

Welcome to everyone from the houseblogs community along with anyone new reaching my site. I have decided to ride in a bike tour for the American Diabetes Association. Diabetes affects 7% of the US population and costs $132 billion/year, and that was in 2002. In 2005, Diabetes was the no. 6 killer in the US, and it is rapidly on the rise.

Because of these reasons, I will be riding in the Tour de Cure on June 10th in Connecticut to raise money for Diabetes research. I will be doing 50K, and I am asking that anyone who has learned something or been entertained by this site drop by the URL below or hit the Tour de Cure logo on the right and consider making a small donation for this cause.

Every little bit helps, thanks in Advance,


My Tour de Cure Site

18 April 2007

How to Build a Coat Closet - Framing

The next step to building a closet is the framing. Prior to this step you will want to buy a pre-hung door so that you know what the rough in dimensions are.

You are then going to cut a frame to fit in between the header and the footer every 16 inches on center. Remember, frames closer than 16" are ok, but frames further apart than 16" are not. I have used my extensive solid modeling skills to build the mock-up that you see below (glad to see that that almost $300,000 engineering education is not going to waste). Notice how the corners are double framed. Also notice, that the header to footer frames that the door will fit in-between are 3" wider than the rough in measurement. This is for good reason and I will show you why in the next post about framing the door.

Below: With footers

17 April 2007

How to Build a Closet - Header and Footer

After you have marked out the closet on the ceiling and transferred the measurements to the floor using a plumb bob, it is time to start the framing.

You will want to lay out the framing on your ceiling and floor first. Screw the 2x4 frames into the ceiling and flooring joists and into each other. Above I have illustrated how to frame the top of the closet, this is called the header. The bottom of the closet will be framed in the same way except for the opening left for the door. This is called the footer. Below is a picture of my header installed. Since I am using an existing alcove to build my closet my framing is a little easier. My project is more of a how to build a coat closet.

Narrowly Avoiding Disaster

The Nor'easter that has blown through here over the last few days has caused quite a bit of flooding damage. Living on the water makes you really pay attention to the tides and storm surges. As of yesterday our high tides were about 4-5 feet over normal. This lead the normally peaceful cove that we live on to overflow its banks, washing all sort of debris up on the road. Luckily the water did not get anywhere near our home, the last time that happened was during a hurricane back in the '30s. Here are a few pictures I snapped as my wife and son and I took a walk last night to survey the damage.

The cove as it normally looks, nice and peaceful.

Check out the knocked down trees straight ahead and the fence to the left.

16 April 2007

My Favorite Tools - Arrow ET200 Electric Nail Gun

Another one of my favorite tools is the Arrow Nail Master ET200. This is an electric nail gun and I think it is one of the most powerful and readily available electric nail guns on the market. I have put up 1000s of feet of trim with this baby and it still works like the day I bought it. I was looking for a cost-effective alternative to buying a compressor and pneumatic gun for light duty. I found this at Lowes for $60 and decided that since it could handle brads up to 1 1/4" I would give it a try. When I went to look at all of the electric nail guns I found that at Lowes, this one was the most powerful that didn't cost close to $300. That was almost a year ago. Since then I have used it to hang crown molding in every room, install wainscoting in the nursery and trim out a wine bar in the cellar. It has a nice rubber guard on the nose that keeps it from marring the trim and two safety switches. I was surprised with the amount of power that this little electric nailer has. I have had no problem using it to join pieces of maple and oak along with standard pine molding. The specs are below.


14 April 2007

Don't Shoot Yourself in the Foot

A study just out by the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that somewhere around 37,000 people went to the hospital this past year due to shooting themselves with a nail gun....not cool.

Non-professionals (aka DIYers) accounted for approximately 14,000 of those visits. Now even though that is only 40 percent the number of injuries stood at 4000 a year a little over a decade ago.

75% of the injuries were to the hands, fingers, and arms.

This leads me to plead with everyone to be careful. I worked as a furniture maker for about a year so I have seen some nasty accidents, (think 5/8" drill bit through the hand), and those are professionals.

Remember, nail guns are guns, they shoot things, they are usually loaded, and they also have trigger guards, use them. If you need to buy a nail gun, learn how to use it. I have an electric nail gun that I purchases at Lowes about a year ago. Mine has two safety switches. It has a switch on the nose and also a thumb safety at the top of the grip. I never put it down without both safeties on.

One last thing, if you really need to use a nail gun, have your wife or girlfriend do it. 95% of the injuries were suffered by men.


13 April 2007

How to Build a Closet

When it comes time to sell your house one of the first things that buyers look at and sort by when searching is the amount of bedrooms and bathrooms the home has. A room cannot be listed as a bedroom unless it has a built in closet. Because of this you may want to add a closet to increase the value and marketability of your home along with having more storage for your clothes.

Measuring for the Closet

You will need a minimum of 24” of depth for hanging clothes. If coats will be hung in the closet you will want to plan for 28” of depth. You will also need 48” of length for each person using the closet. These are the inside dimensions, you will need to add 4.5” for each wall you will be building, this will allow 3.5” for the stud and another 1/2” on each side for the drywall.
I had a small niche in my master bathroom wo I will not be framing the walls. I will be framing just the opening for a door.

Marking out the Closet

If you have the space it is time to start marking out the closet area. Start laying out the space on the ceiling. First mark the ceiling where the sidewalls will be by measuring 48 inches along the back wall. Use a square to draw these marks out perpendicular to the wall 24”. Connect the end points of these two lines creating a line parallel to the back wall for the front of the closet. Use a plumb bob to transfer the ceiling lines to the floor. This will ensure that your walls will be plumb when you drywall.

Next time I will discuss framing the closet.

12 April 2007

Welcome Wikihow Users

Wow! I have seen an incredible spike in traffic over the past 24 hours. Thank you to everyone coming over from Wikihow. As I write this over 22,000 people have read my featured article on how to tile a shower. Of course, it is a brief article explaining how I completed it. You will want to do a little more research before you attempt a project like this yourself.

I read and learned as much as possible before my shower renovation. Below is a list of a couple resources that I found extremely helpful:

John Bridge's Ceramic Tile Forum
Do it Yourself Tile Page
Home Improvement Tips

If you are like me and you are more of a visual learner than I suggest purchasing the "Tiling Made Easy" videos. They are the best instructional DVDs I have found on the subject. Not only are they concise, well put together, and 0.6% of the cost of having a professional tile your bathroom, but they have a money back guarantee. There is nothing to lose. You can check out a sample of the videos at the folowing URL:

Tile Made Easy Videos

As you can see I do my best to respond to all visitors' questions and comments posted and encourage active participation.

Don't forget to hit the big orange subscribe button on the right there as I will be posting about many more projects in the near future.

Thanks once again for your support,

Clint Miller

Next Up: How to Build a Closet

11 April 2007

Artistic Tiling With Natural Slate

Artistic Tiling with Natural Slate
By Joey Lewitin

Every slate tile in the world is unique, due to the naturally occurring chaos which creeps into its appearance during formation. This gives the material a certain amount of power, and makes every installation a one of a kind experience.

When putting natural slate into a floor, countertop, or backsplash, it is important to lay the tiles out first, to get a sense of the overall picture that will be formed in the final installation. Each tile is a unique portrait that will have to be coordinated with all of the others, to develop a montage which is complimentary and fits the overall ambience you are trying to achieve.

Like laying out a giant puzzle, where you determine what the outcome will be, you should rearrange the tiles several times to get a feel for your different options. If you are lucky, your contractor will have had the foresight to order a couple of extra tiles. This will allow you to choose the absolute best, discarding any which you don’t like, or which don’t fit in with the overall scheme the rest of them create.

Often slate tiles which come from the same box will have come from the same quarry, and may have even been cut from the same original slab. If this occurs, you can lay them out sequentially, and try to recreate the original appearance of the stone as it lay within the mountain.

Other times the tiles within a box will be erratic, each one having different colors and patterns. In this case, it is important to balance the various stones, light against dark, subdued against wild, to create an effect which has a strong center.

When laying out slate it is also important to dampen the tiles. This will give you an idea of what they will look like once the stone has been sealed. The moisture from the water seeps into the stones pores, much like a sealer eventually will, bringing out a variety of colors and contrasts which were invisible before.

Once you have decided on the layout of your tiles, it is often helpful to label them with small numbers on the back or sides, to help with laying them out. Markings should be done in pencil, so that any stray markings or exposed edges can easily be washed clean. You should also be certain to make a note of how the sequence is supposed to be laid out, whether vertically, horizontally, backward, or forward.

It is helpful to have a contractor or installer that has an artistic eye when dealing with natural stone. When choosing to hire someone, you should try and get a look at their portfolio to see some of the work they have created. Since stone is such a unique medium, it is also often helpful to give your own feedback on installations, and to try and incorporate your own vision into the project.

For natural slate tile and slab materials for your next project, just visit http://pebblez.com/stone/index.html

10 April 2007

Price Analysis for New Shower

There are two reasons that I like to do things myself. The first reason is that I am cheap. The second reason is that to be quite honest, I don't like paying what contractors charge, which translates into I am cheap. I also like to get my supplies at the lowest prices possible. Below is a spreadsheet detailing what I spent in the remodeling of my shower. I came in under $700 which I think is pretty commendable.

The shower pan along with most of the other supplies came from Lowes. Things are a little more expensive there but I am paying for convenience. The whole body jet set I got from Ebay through a company called Senry. I am an engineer involved in the distribution of solenoid valves so I have a little insight into the quality of these types of products. I can honestly tell you the casting and parts used in these Senry faucets are extremely high quality. They use better materials than your standard Moen or Kohler faucets. Hey I like to save money, but I don't cut corners. You can find their products at http://www.senry.com.

The rainfall shower head came from Overstock.com. Trust me when I say that it also is heavy duty, works well, and for $20 you can't go wrong.

The tile was from home depot. I caught a pallet of wall tile being taken out of inventory and liquidated at $0.88/ea. It matched the tone I was going for so I grabbed them right there on the spot. You can be flexible and still come out with what you want, so hunt for the deals. I had a mosaic picked out that cost $14.00/ft. I ended up going cheaper with another one that was $4.00/ft. It saved me $90. Again I got the same look, but knocked almost $100 off my budget.

I will review some of these products again periodically just to give you a good idea of how they are holding up but for now, on to the next project.

09 April 2007

Master Bath Shower Project Summary

There is nothing more satisfying than completing a project, except for maybe having a record of what you did. Thanks to the world of digital cameras and blogging it is easier than ever to relive a project and to see how far you have come. My shower took a lot longer than I expected but it was completely worth it. Nothing is more relaxing than having all the sprayers going. I look forward to waking up in the morning just so I can shower.

Here is a summary of the work I did:

1. Ripped the old shower out along with the walls, ceiling, old pan, and subfloor.

2. Put in a new GFCI outlet and switch to run the fan/light combo.

3. Installed the fan/light combo and replaced the ceiling.

4. Took out the old plumbing and replaced it with a new mixer, body jets, and rainfall shower head.

5. Installed a new subfloor.

6. Installed the new swanstone shower pan.

7. Put up hardibacker.

8. Tiled the walls.

Here are some before and after shots:

In the next post I will outline the total cost of the remodel along with the sources of most of the products used.

05 April 2007

How to Grout a Tile Shower

Welcome to the next section in our series on tiling a shower. If you have not read it already, please go HERE to get an idea of where we are in the project.

The first step in grouting the tile is to choose which type of grout you want to use. They all have their advantages.

Sanded grout is good for spaces greater than 1/8” and for high traffic areas such as floors.

Unsanded grout works well in spaces less than 1/8”. It also provides a smooth surface that does not take as many coats to seal. I recommend this for backsplashes, showers, and countertops.

Another option is epoxy grout such as Latipoxy. I have used this before to grout floor tile underneath a stove. It is expensive but very strong and durable. Plus, epoxy has a 100% solids content so it is impermeable when set. This means it does not need sealed and will not stain. However, it is not the easiest thing to work with. It must be cleaned with a vinegar and water combination and special sponges. There is no room for error once it sets up.

The next step is to make sure you buy enough grout. On the back of the bag or box will be a table that tells you how many square feet it will cover according to your tile and spacing size. If you must buy more than one container mix them prior to making up the grout so that the color will be consistent throughout the entire grouting job.

1. Mix the grout with water or additive according to the package instructions. For my shower I mixed with an additive like Microban that inhibits the growth of bacteria and mold.
2. With a trowel slap a glob of grout on your rubber float.
3. Float the grout onto the tile pressing it into the spaces. Push the grout in diagonally to get good compacting.
4. Go back over the tile with the sponge float to try to get as much excess grout off the tile as possible.
5. Follow the directions on the bag for your particular grout but generally you will wait 30-40 minutes before the first cleaning. You want a haze to form over the tile. Get a bucket of clean water and a sponge. You want to ring as much water out of the sponge as possible before wiping the excess grout off the tile with a circular motion.
6. Repeat step 5 until most of the excess grout is removed. Let sit for 24 hours and then go back with a dry paper towel and buff the tiles clean. You can then let it sit another 24 hours and seal it.

03 April 2007

How to Tile Shower Walls

Once the Hardibacker was up it was finally time to get to the tiling. This is the fun part and my wife (8 months pregnant) decided to join me.

A few things to note before getting started:

1. Do not use Mastic, use a thinset and stay away from the premixed stuff.
2. You want to dampen the cement board prior to troweling thinset on. If you do not, the cement board will draw the moisture out of the thinset too quickly, making for a brittle set that is susceptible to cracking.
3. Pick out the right trowel for your thinset and tile size, also pay attention to spacing recommendations and use the right spacers. I recommend 1/8” or less spacing so that you can use unsanded grout (easier to seal).
4. Remember you are not going to grout at the corners, you are going to caulk so try to maintain an even spacing.

5. GET THE RIGHT TOOLS FOR THE JOB. I suggest you spend a little money to rent or buy the correct tools as they will make it that much easier. I have put together a few must haves here:

  • Tile Saw or Tile Cutter

  • Notched Trowel

  • Grout Float

    I used 9x12 ceramic wall tiles. According to the directions on the thinset a ¼” V-notch is called for. The first thing I did was to measure up 11 ½” from the bottom of the cement backer board. This gave me a ½” overlap over the shower pan’s tile lip. I then used a level and a sharpie marker to draw a horizontal line all the way around the shower stall. I used this line as a guide for the top of the first row so that all tiles will be level.

The first night I mixed up enough thinset to do the bottom row. I moistened the Hardibacker with a sponge and then troweled on a glob of thinset. I used my v-notched trowel to spread the thinset and then set the tile into it. You want to push the tile into the thinset while giving it a little twist back and forth to get it well set. Then pull it off and make sure 95% of the tile is covered with thinset. This shows that you will get good tile coverage and therefore strong adhesion.

I used spacers in between the tiles and shims under the tile to make sure they stayed in place while they were setting up. I left the first row to set over night since this would be the support for the rest of the tiles.

Over the next few nights my wife and I, along with some help from our dog (chihuahuas love home improvement), laid tile on the rest of the shower following the same procedure as we did for the first row. Simplified, here it is below:

1. Measure up 12 inches from top of the last row. Mark line with a level as guide for next row.
2. Spread thinset between last row of tile and marked line with v-notched trowel.
3. Set tile into thinset using spacers all around.
4. Repeat for next row up.

After finishing the tile, we let it set for 48 hours before grouting. In the next post I will discuss grouting.

I know it is hard to get a feel for how exactly to tile by reading the procedure and looking at pictures. I did quite a bit of reading before I began. Again, if you ar not comfortable with the process I would do a little more reading.

29 March 2007

Installing Hardibacker for the Tiled Walls

The next step in tiling the shower is to put the cement board up. You can find all you need in the tile section of your local home improvement store. I was able to use 1/4" thick hardibacker and I love it. I also picked up a scorer while I was there to aid me in the cutting of the hardi backer. Putting up cement board is just like putting up drywall. You cut it to fit, and then screw it to the studs. I left a 1/8" gap between panels. I also used a hole saw to cut the holes where my shower head and handles would come through. I found that a saber saw also worked well on he hardibacker allowing me to cut an oval for the body jets that I was installing.

The first problem I encountered is that I needed the cement board to finish flush with the tile lip of my shower pan so that I could come back and tile over it later. I used shims again behind the hardibacker to bring them out to the desired thickness. Here you can see a quick sketch of how it should look when mounted.

The space between the hardibacker and the stud is what I needed to fill with shims. Once this was done and the boards were screwed into the studs through the shims, I used 100% silicone caulk to seal the seems between the hardibacker panels. Here you can see all of the hardibacker installed.

26 March 2007

How to Install the Shower Pan

Well I am back from a week of vacation spending time with my wife and new son. It was very relaxing. This is the next step in installing a tiled shower stall.

Once I had the solid plywood subfloor screwed down it was time to put the shower pan in. The first step is to connect the drain to the pan. You can follow the directions from the manufacturer but basically you put a bead of 100% silicone caulk on both sides where the drain will seal against the pan. You then place the two halves of the drain on either side of the pan and screw them together. This will allow a flange to tighten against the pan on both sides with the silicone completing the seal.

The next step is to make sure the drain in the shower pan will sit nicely into the waste pipe in your floor. I just placed it in the shower stall and dry-fitted it. Since my shower drain was self-sealing I did not have to worry about any further installation details.

I removed the shower pan, spread a layer of thinset morter with a notched trowel just as if I was laying tile and then set the shower pan into it. The drain fit nicely into the waste pipe as it did when I dry-fitted it. I then used the wrench provided with the drain to tighten its gasket around the waste pipe, completing the seal. I walked around on the shower pan to set it in the morter and then left it to set for a day before moving on. Here it is installed.

This is probably one of the most critical parts of putting in a new shower. When you think of the volume of water that has to be processed through this pan and drain on a daily basis and what can happen if there is a leak it is scary. I myself turned the water on accidentally before hooking the drain up and had water pouring from the ceiling on the first floor. It could have been a real disaster.

If you have any reservation about this step I would suggest ordering the new video by Randy Davis. I have found them to be very high quality and you get a 2 month money back guarantee. Check it out HERE.

Next we will talk about moving to the walls.

21 March 2007

Our Greatest Project

I haven't posted in a few days, I will continue the series on tiling a shower soon. I just wanted to explain that I have been in the hospital with my wife and our new son, Everett. I have not, and never will, be able to create anything as beautiful as this.

15 March 2007

A Tiled Shower's Floor

This is the third post in a series about how to tile a shower. To see the rest of the posts you can always click on the "Tiled Shower" link in the GoTo menu at the top. Here is the link:


With the shower completely demolished to the studs I was able to measure for the correct shower pan. At the bottom of the shower stall, I measured from stud to stud and found that a 32" by 32" pan would fit perfectly. If you have a pre-existing shower stall the odds are it was built to a standard size. After doing some hunting around on the internet I found that swanstone made a composite pan that would work nicely for my project. $110 later it was on its way to my house. Swanstone can be found at http://www.swanstone.com and the link to the shower pan that I used is here: http://www.swanstone.com/products/showerWallsFloors/singleThreshold/index.php

In the meantime I went about making a solid base for the pan. The previous owner had decided to just nail down whatever left over plywood they could find as a subfloor and this had not been as sturdy as I would have liked. In order to remedy this I went to Lowes and found a 3/4" thick piece of plywood that was 48"x48". I cut this into a 32"x 32" square and then test fitted it in the floor. Seeing that it worked well I measured the shower stall for the center of the drain and transferred this measurement to the piece of plywood. Once I had the center of the drain I used a compass to draw a 6" diameter hole which I would cut out with a jigsaw. This made for one solid piece of subfloor that I leveled with a few shims and then screwed down.

A note on the subfloor: You want to make sure this is level in all directions. If it is not, then the water will not drain into the center of the pan and out of the shower. This will leave you with left over moisture in the shower stall that can lead to mildew and mold. Use shims to level before screwing the floor down.

In the next post, I will outline the steps taken to install the shower pan.

14 March 2007

A Reason to Spend More Time at The Home Depot

Look out DIYers, apparently we have a reason (like we didn't have enough before) to hang out at The Home Depot.

TLC's newest show "Take-Home-Handyman" will feature carpenter Andrew Dan-Jumbo as he hunts down unsuspecting victims in the Home Depot and then goes home with them to help them complete a weekend project. Not only that but while he is there, he will fix up any other little things that he can find and even have time to zone in on and renovate a surprise section of your home. It sounds like a winner to me. The show premiers Saturday, March 31st at 1:oo PM EST.

Andrew Dan-Jumbo was born in Nigeria and raised in England where he studied Art and Design and graduated to become a freelance graphic designer. He moved to the US in 1991 and started a construction company with his brother. He has been the carpenter for several seasons of "While You Were Out."
In 2003 Andrew was named one of People Magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People." I don't think many wives will mind this guy tearing up their house and rebuilding it.
If I don't post for a while, it is because I am at Home Depot scratching my head and doing my best to look helpless.

13 March 2007

Demolishing the Old Shower

The first step in replacing the shower was to demolish the old one. This proved to be pretty simple as it was just a flexible surround that was held to the wall with a few screws. After removing the screws I simply rolled it up and threw it in the back of the truck. The next step was to remove all the drywall that was behind it. Again, this was an easy job. I scored it with a box knife where I wanted to end and then knocked the rest of it in with a hammer. I picked it all up and moved it out of the room.

The previous shower pan was not an easy task as it was glued with construction adhesive to the plywood subfloor. It was in bad shape so I decided to break it out of there too. Using my pry bar and a hammer I slowly began tearing it away from the plywood. Most of the top ply came with it so I knew I would need to replace the subfloor in that area.

The last step was to take out the ceiling. This is a job that may or may not need to be done in your bathroom. I decided that I wanted to put in an exhaust fan/light combo so I needed some space to work. I took it out just like the drywall, by scoring, cutting, and then pounding it out with a hammer. Here is a picture of the finishied demo work along with the old plumbing.

12 March 2007

How to Tile a Shower

When I decided to replace my shower I knew exactly what I wanted. Nothing short of a spectacular tiled shower with rainfall shower head and body jets would do. However, it is extremely expensive to have done so I decided it was time for a little DIY tile work.

I had already tiled several floors in the house so I was pretty comfortable with the tiling process. What I wasn’t comfortable with was the amount of water that would be testing my DIY tile job on a daily basis. Now I am not one to shy away from any project so I decided I just needed some more knowledge. I turned to the internet. After doing a few searches on how to tile a shower, how to tile a shower floor and how to tile a shower wall I found that the wall was not too bad, but the floor was going to be a little more work than I could take on. I decided not to tile the shower floor. Instead, I bought a nice shower pan from Swanstone with a tile lip on it.

Over the next few posts I will go over the whole job from start to finish with quite a few pictures. Hopefully it will help give someone else the confidence to take on a project such as this. To begin, here is a before and after shot of the master bath.

Home Depot Named gia World Honoree

It seems that the DIY craze is paying off for US based Home Depot. They were recently named the gia World honoree. Gia World is the Global Innovator Award, this one being presented by the International Home and Housewares show.

Home Depot received this award due to its operations performance, business innovation, product breadth, and community contributions where it does business. I guess that the amount of mom and pop hardware stores that it puts out of business do not factor into the equation. Love it or hate it, the super-retailer is king in America.

The jurors were quoted as saying that the Home Depot won due to its outstanding product breadth and innovative programs. Not only did the Home Depot have another outstanding fiscal year, but they also support the community and charitable causes.

Gia World is a program that honors retailing excellence around the world. It is co-sponsored by the International Housewares Association and Euromonitor International. The International Housewares Association is a 69 year-old not-for-profit association that is the voice of the housewares industry. The housewares industry is a $301.2 billion USD global industry. Euromonitor international is the world’s leading provider of retail business intelligence and strategic market analysis.

Comment below on whether or not you think that large retail stores are good for communities or bad.

09 March 2007

5 Home Improvement Projects That Will Raise Your Home's Value

In talking about recouping home improvement costs there is one room that should be held above all others: Kitchen. The kitchen is the single best place to remodel in order to raise the value of your home. Want proof? A study done by remodel magazine states that for small kitchen renovations, the return is close to 92.9 percent of what you put in. Another remodeling must is bathrooms. Bathroom remodels on average return 90.1 percent of their cost.

Projects that take place in these two areas of the home can be some of the most difficult and hardest to handle for DIYers. That being said, let’s focus in on 5 doable projects that will give you that return that you are looking for come closing time..

1. Tile the Floors:

When it comes to kitchens and baths, tile is one of the most durable materials to use for the floors. There are many styles of tile to choose from ranging from $10.00/sf stone to $1.50/sf ceramic. The trend lately is to stick with natural looking materials in neutral tones. This is a classic look however that will never go out of style.

Most people should have no problem tiling themselves. It is as easy as removing the old flooring, screwing down a plywood sub-floor, spreading mastic, laying the tiles, and then grouting after they set up. You also want to be sure to seal them when in kitchens and baths. There are many do it yourself workshops and tutorials available for this.

2. Paint the Cabinets:

Are your cabinets old or ugly? If you are staying in your house for more than 5 years look at replacing them. However, if your stay will be shorter than that the best way to add value is to paint the cabinets. Re-facing is expensive and does not always yield good results. Again, stick with a neutral color such as off-whites or grays.

3. Replace the Appliances:

Nothing can turn a new buyer off like old, dingy appliances. Many buyers will slash thousands off of their offer just to replace the appliances. Check out the various scratch and dent resources in your area. Sears always has a nearby scratch and dent facility with many appliances at 50%-70% off. The new buyers do not need to know how much you paid for the appliances, just that they are new.

4. Install a glass door on the shower:

In the past years, bathrooms have become 30% larger than they used to be. Previously, they were used strictly as utilitarian spaces. They have now become lavish lounges in which homeowners will often relax. If you have an older house you may not have the space that the new buyers are looking for. One solution is to put in a frameless glass door as opposed to a shower curtain. Shower curtains stop the eye while glass doors allow the eye to pass through, making the bathroom appear larger than it is.

5. Paint:

Perhaps the easiest and most effective way to make your house look more inviting is to put a fresh coat of paint up. Color is a very personal preference and paint fades quickly. Think about repainting the entire house with fresh, new, neutral colors. This will make for a more move-in-ready feel.

The key to improving your homes value is by anticipating what new buyers will want and giving it to them. Take the work out of it. Any time new buyers anticipate having to work on something, they will drop the price of their offer. You want to provide them with a warm, clean, neutral, move-in-ready environment.

How to Install a Dishwasher, the easy part.

Now that the electrical, hot water supply and cabinet are ready for the dishwasher, we can simply stick it in and hook it up. The steps are simple to follow:

First you want to hook up the plumbing. I bought a kit from Lowes that came with a 90 degree brass elbow, a 5 foot long braded steel hot water line, and a couple of adaptors. Tip the dishwasher over on its back. This will allow you access to the underneath. Wrap Teflon table around the threads of the 90 degree brass elbow and thread into the bottom of the dishwasher. Follow the instructions. Mine told me to tighten it and end with it facing toward the back of the machine. You might want to attach the hot water line at this point also. Remember again to use Teflon tape around the threads,

The next step is to slide the dishwasher into the opening. Be sure the hot water line and waste tube are out of the way. Use a wrench to turn the feet so that the dishwasher sits level.

Underneath the sink you want to attach the hot water line and the waste tube. Put a loop in the waste tube before attaching it and mount it to the cabinet with a wire tie.

The next step is hooking up the electrical. Make sure you turn the power off. Now attach the ground wire to the green screw in the electrical box on the dishwasher. Twist the two white wires together and secure with a wire nut. Do the same for the two black wires. Wrap them in electrical tape and then enclose them in the electrical box.

You are now ready to turn the water on, turn the power on and test the dishwasher. Let it run on normal cycle and keep checking for leaks. Be ready to hit stop and turn the water off if need be. Here is a picture of mine fully installed.

It feels good to accomplish something yourself doesn't it?

08 March 2007

How To Sweat a Copper Pipe

You will have to have a hot water line leading to the dishwasher. If you do not already have a Tee in the hot water supply underneath your sink this might involve a little sweat-soldering of copper pipes. This is not too hard to do once you have seen it done correctly. I will try to explain it and then place a link for a comprehensive 7 minute vidoe demonstration.

The first step will be to sand the ends of the copper tubing being joined. You can do this with an emery cloth or buy a wire brush made for this purpose. Make sure they are clean and bright after sanding. Then smear flux all over the mating surfaces. This will clean the surface and allow the solder to flow and bond to the metal. Your next step will be to fit the two ends together and light up your torch. You want the inner flame of the torch to touch the copper tubing. The solder will flow from the colder section to the hotter section. Once the pipe is hot enough, you will probably see it smoking and when you touch the solder to it the solder will just melt. Touch the solder to the joint and allow it to flow into and around the joint until it drips out the bottom. Take the heat and solder away and then use a heavy rag to smooth the joint.

We did most of the soldering on top of ceramic tiles on a work bench away from the sink. In this way we ony had one joint to solder while in a tight space. Below you can see the new tee, valve, and threaded connection that we soldered together for the supply line. You should have a valve dedicated to your dishwasher.

Notice, the piece of tile behind the connection. This is what we used to keep from catching anything on fire. You can also use a metal sheet or fire-retardent blanket. Below is a link to the video demonstration.


07 March 2007

Cutting the Cabinet Space for the Dishwasher

The dimensions of most dishwashers are pretty standard. They need an opening of 24 inches wide by 24 inches deep by 34 inches high. Since I did not have a dishwasher cabinet I had to cut a hole in the long one-piece cabinet that I did have. Here you can see the cabinet before.

My cabinets are already 34 inches high and 24 inches deep so the first step for me was to mark out my width. I took off the door, drawer, and drawer hardware and then I placed two tick marks at 24 inches in width. I used a level to mark my two perfectly plumb lines on the face of the cabinet. After checking the width of the lines at the top and at the bottom it was time to cut into the cabinet.

I drilled a ¾” pilot hole at the edge of my marks so that I could fit the saw blade in. For the majority of the cut I used a variable speed jigsaw with a smooth cutting blade. Remember that the blade cuts on the backstroke so if you are able to make the cut from the back of the cabinet. This will keep the wood on the face of the cabinet from splintering.
At the top and bottom of the cabinet the jigsaw blade was simply no long enough to finish the cut so I had to switch to a sawzall. Again I was careful to set the sawzall on a lower stroke rate with a smooth cutting blade. This helped me control it as they can get a little jumpy.
After cutting the hole I did a little bracing using 1x2 lumber. The will be covered from the cabinet side with a thin plywood.

Now the electrical and the carpentry are done. The next thing is to do some plumbing so that we have a hot water supply line and we will be able to stick it in and hook it up.

06 March 2007

Wiring a Dishwasher

The first step in the installation of my new Frigidaire Dishwasher was to run the wiring for it. Most dishwashers should be on a 20 amp circuit. Most all modern dishwashers including mine have a sanitize cycle in which they need to really heat up, this draws a lot of power.

How you run the wire will be determined by the layout of your particular house. I have a small two-story house near the water so it has no basement. I couldn’t run the wire through the attic either because the kitchen is on the first level. My best bet was to run the dishwasher wire through the crawlspace underneath the house.

This was a feat in itself. There is about 18 inches of space under my house. I am 210 pounds. I had two choices, crawl in on my back or crawl in on my stomach because there was no rolling over once I was under there. Oh yeah, and I am claustrophobic. Needless to say I did this job while my wife was away so she didn’t hear me screaming like a girl when I hit a spider web.

I started by clicking in a new 20 amp breaker in my electrical panel. To this I ran a 12/2 with ground wire down through the wall and out a hole I drilled in the floor. I filled the rest of this hole with expandable foam to seal it. From there the wire was run along and stapled to each joist to the bottom of the dishwasher cabinet. A hole drilled in a joist could significantly weaken its structural capabilities so it is important to be weary of that. If you are not experienced with electricity this could be a job for a qualified electrician.

Underneath the house I installed a waterproof junction box to relieve strain on the wire and then ran it up though another hole I drilled in the bottom of the dishwasher cabinet. Here I installed another waterproof junction box so that I could split the power to the dishwasher and to the new garbage disposal I was putting in at the same time.

Remember: Turn off the power, white to white, black to black, and copper ground to the green grounding screw. 20 amp circuit requires 12/2 and a 20 amp switch, 15 amp circuit can use 14/2 and a 15 amp switch.

Next Up: Cutting a hole in the cabinet for the new dishwasher.

05 March 2007

DIY Dishwasher Installation

This past Saturday I spent the day underneath the cabinets installing a dishwasher and garbage disposal. Both installations are relatively simple if you are replacing older fixtures. However, my kitchen has never had either of them. This was a complete retrofit, which is one of the harder ways to put an appliance in. Installing a dishwasher requires 4 things. You need a space in the cabinet to put a dishwasher, you need an electrical outlet to hook the dishwasher into, you need a hot water line to hook into the dishwasher, and you need a waste line from the dishwasher to the sink. Throughout the next few posts I will try to break the process down into these 4 smaller projects. Next up: Running an electrical line for the dishwasher.

02 March 2007

How big is your bathroom?

Bathroom Makeover by:
Jonathon Hardcastle

According to contractors, the room that is undergoing the greatest amount of transformation in new construction and remodeling is the bathroom. In fact, since the 1930s, the average master bath has tripled in size and the huge bathrooms build in houses today have even an oversized closet inside. The change in bathroom space is attributed to the fact that people are now spending more time in their bathrooms when they wish to relax while taking a bath. Experts point out, that the weekend spa mentality has developed into a new lifestyle trend with which Americans feel comfortable and want to experience on a daily basis without leaving the comfort of their own home. Since the bathroom space has increased, the new updated version calls for an addition of bathroom furniture, which can make any bathroom feel less sterilized and bring in the feeling of comfort that used to be associated with other rooms of the house, like the bedroom or living-room. Moreover, the additional furniture pieces provide extra storage space; something that is definitely needed nowadays by both women and men. To cover the demand, many bathroom cabinet manufacturers offer now sinks set in furniture pieces, which are designed specifically for bathroom use. Options now range from modern glass and steel pieces, to old renaissance dressers and armoires. Moreover, people tend to mix and match furniture and trim their uncovered surfaces in order to make them blend with the flooring, connecting the bathroom to the rest of the house. But apart from the amount of space available and selecting the right type of furniture, today's bathroom-users also want to create a bathroom in which they can relax and rejuvenate. These moments of relaxation can be enhanced with simple additions, like a bathroom stool near the tub or in the shower, or if the space permits it with an ottoman for some precious relaxing times. Furthermore, the right type of lighting can be installed quickly altering the feeling one has while taking a bath. Again candles, small regular lamps on the vanity or shelves can transform the bathroom and give it the feeling of tranquility. Extremely important apart from the furniture selected is the bathroom's flooring. Tile or wood can enhance the overall appearance of the bathroom and their designs can be matched to blend with the house's other rooms. Also, the color of the walls or the wallpaper selected to be placed have to match the rest of the area, like the floor, the sink and the bathtub creating a unified outcome. If you decide to go with the wallpaper option, be extremely cautious as it has to be installed really well in order not to fall off the walls as you steam your bath. Finally, keep your bathroom organized and clean. Numerous scattered items give a feeling of clutter and do not help you enjoy this room of your house. Furthermore, select towels and bathrobes that are soft and fluffy. It is better if their colors and design matches the rest of the bathroom, but most importantly they have to be replenished with new ones almost every year so you will continue feeling the same snugly sensation every time you exit the shower.

About The Author

Jonathon Hardcastle writes articles for http://homeimprovementstation.com/ - In addition, Jonathon also writes articles for http://irealestatecentral.com/ and http://4homelife.net/

Trim and Some Finishing Touches

I got quite a bit of work done last night on the master bathroom renovation. I was able to touch up some of the grout work along the edges where the baseboard trim would not hide it, I nailed in the trim and then caulked the edges. I also resealed and caulked the tiled shower. I started to install the trim plates and the shower handle. The new body jets are looking pretty inviting. Altogether the shower is impressive. It is all tile with a mosaic 3/4 of the way up and will be equipped with two body jets and a rainfall shower head. This is quite an upgrade to the boring surround that was in there before. I was also able to caulk around the fixtures and paint the ceiling. Here are a few pictures of the progress.

01 March 2007

Buying Extra Tile

Whenever I measure the square footage of a room to tile I always add 10% and then buy however many boxes I need to get to that number. That normally leaves me with quite a bit of extra. All of this extra tile gets stored in the attic just in case, I mean, until I need it again.

Recently, I had some kitchen floor tiles that were moving on me. I simply pulled them up, scraped the old thinset off the subfloor, and reinstalled new ones. I even had some of the grout left over making for a seamless fix. Here is a recent article explaining a little more in depth why it is a good idea to have a little extra tile.

Store Your Extra Tile for Repairs by:
Dalton C. Reynolds

A bit of forethought when you tile a floor in your home can preserve the look of your floors and save you money in the future. After you have selected your new tile for a surface in your home, be it a kitchen counter, a living room floor or a bathroom from a local tile resource, you will have to have a tile installer measure the space to determine how much tile you will need for the job. Some people prefer to have the area measured before they begin their search. This just depends on whether you will be hiring the installer yourself or asking the tile company to recommend one. You might even be tiling the floor yourself and arrive at the tile store with your measurements. In any case, once your selection is made it is a good idea to talk to the store representative about buying a bit more tile than is needed for the job. There are many reasons for this which will be outlined next. When your new tile is selected you will take possession of a shipment which has been manufactured at the same time. This ensures that all of your tile will match. This is true of natural stones as well. Think of this as you would a dye-lot with respect to the manufacturing of carpet. While natural stone can vary from crate to crate, tile, with an artificial finish, will match in much larger quantities, but there is still color variation. Purchasing more tile than you need at the time of installation will ensure that anything that may have to be repaired in the future will have a replacement that matches the originally installed product. You can tuck these extra tiles safely away in the attic or basement until you need them. Failure to do this may result in 2 problems. The first problem would be having to find out if the tile is still in production if it has been years since the tile was installed. The second problem, even if the tile were still being produced, is would it match the original floor? A little planning ahead will save you time and the hassle of locating the same product. You can almost guarantee in the case of natural stone, that you will not be able to find a match with the same color and pattern. Any replacement you do with a non-original piece will always look replaced. If you do find that you need to replace a tile in the future, here are a few tips that will assist you. Whether water damage in a bathroom, or movement in the floor, sometimes a tile will need to be replaced. You might have noticed that when you walk on a tile, it will have a hollow sound underneath it. This means that bond between the tile and the adhesive that it is set in has broken. To replace this tile you will need to first remove the grout from around it. This can be done with a grout saw or similar tool. Always wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from any debris. Once the grout has been removed you will need to break the tile and remove the pieces. To break the tile uses a hammer and a chisel. Once the tile is shattered you need to pry any pieces which may still be adhered to the wall or floor. A sturdy, flathead screwdriver can be used to do this. Next you will need to chisel out the adhesive and clean the area in preparation for new adhesive and grout. If you are working on a wall, make sure that you are careful not to damage the drywall behind the tile. In some case this might need to be patched and replaced if moisture has compromised the wall’s integrity. You will not know until you get into the project. Cleaning the area is an essential step because you want the new tile to be level with the rest of the wall or floor. Once the area is free of adhesive you can then apply new adhesive and place the new tile in the open space. It is recommended that you use spacers that are the same size as the original grout lines. These can be obtained at a home improvement or hardware store. After the adhesive is dry, it is time to grout. It is best if you take a piece of the old grout and match it to what is currently available on the market. The color of grout has a tendency to age over time and you will want an exact match to avoid having the tile look like a patch job. Any questions you may have about replacing your tile should be directed to a quality tile installer or tile company. Plan ahead when tiling your home. Whether it is new construction or a new tile addition to an existing home, a few extra tiles will save you major frustration and make any repairs hard to detect.

About The Author

Dalton C. Reynolds is a contributing writer for http://www.atlantadesigndirectory.com and renovates homes for clients in the greater Atlanta, GA area. Copyright © 2006 Dalton C. Reynolds.

27 February 2007

Master Bath Remodel Update

This weekend was a busy one for the master bathroom renovation. The mastic finally set up after blasting the heat for the entire week. My wife and I were then able to start grouting the floor. Trust me; you can do a tile job. For anyone who thinks that it is a complicated DIY project listen to this. My wife is 9 months pregnant, and grouting away while I take pictures. It is not hard folks.

We let the grout set for 24 hours and then on Sunday I sealed the shower tile and sanded and painted the walls. I picked up a gallon of paint from Benjamin Moore’s down the street. I have to say, I usually use cheap paint and I think I am finished with that. High quality paint makes a hell of a difference. I was able to put two coats on and then start the baseboard trim all in one day. I would have finished the trim if it hadn’t been for that problem that I have with measuring. Oh well, looks like a stop by the hardware store on the way home is in order for today.

Next Steps:

Reinstall the Sink
Finish the Trim
Second Coat of Sealant on the shower
Paint the Ceiling
Put up Crown Molding.

Some of these steps will have to wait. I will get the sink in and the shower in working condition but then I have to turn to another more pressing project. With the baby on the way and no way to sanitize bottles, I have to get the dishwasher in this week. It was delivered yesterday and is sitting in the middle of my kitchen. I am starting to feel the pressure.

26 February 2007

How to Install a Toilet

Installing a Toilet by:
Mark J. Donovan

The installation of a toilet is a relatively easy job for a homeowner. With a couple of wrenches, a screwdriver and a few shims a new toilet can be installed an about one hour.
Toilets can be purchased at any home improvement store or plumbing supply center. Typically a gravity flush toilet costs between $150 and $300, however the price can double or triple for more elaborate units, such as pressure flush systems. Today’s toilets are mandated to use no more than 1.6 gallons per flush, where as older units used as much as 5 gallons. The initial 1.6 gallon toilets were notorious for frequently clogging, however over the past several years suppliers have improved the performance of these low water-use systems.

Setting the Toilet

A toilet usually consists of two main parts: a bowl and a tank. It is best to first install the bowl. Prior to seating the bowl, check if the closet flange has been temporarily plugged with insulation or a rag to prevent sewer gases from escaping. Remove this. Next set the bowl on top of the closet flange to determine if it sits level. If it does not, prepare some shims to use later.
Next remove the bowl, and insert the closet bolts (approximately 2” long bolts) into the slots on the closet flange.
Then turn the bowl over and install a wax ring gasket over the outlet of the bowl. This outlet is also know as the “horn”.
Place the bowl onto the closet flange. Make sure the bowl is well seated by rocking the bowl down. Once the bowl has been seated, place a level on it and use the shims as necessary. Next, using nuts and washers tighten up the bolts. Note: be careful not to over-tighten these bolts as it could crack the bowl.
Next attach the tank to the bowl using the tank bolts, nuts and washers. Again, do not over tighten.

Installing the Float Supply Unit

Install the float supply unit into the tank and hook up the water line to the tank inlet. Again, do not over tighten and make sure to use the washers supplied.
Next, turn the supply line on and adjust the float as necessary. Finally, caulk around the base of the unit and you are done.

About The Author

Over the past 20+ years Mark Donovan has been involved with building homes and additions to homes. His projects have included: building a vacation home, building additions and garages on to existing homes, and finishing unfinished homes. For more home improvement information visit http://www.homeadditionplus.com and http://www.homeaddition.blogspot.com.

23 February 2007

Marble Tile

I was in the Home Depot the other day and I found these beautiful marble tiles that were on sale for $1.95/ea. It was such a good deal that it was hard for me to pass up. Even though they were not the right color for my bathroom tiling project, I wanted them. Marble Tiles!!! What a beautiful way to add class to a bathroom.

Unfortunately I don’t have any experience laying marble tiles and from what I can tell you need to have a very level floor in order to get a nice look. The key with marble tiles, or any smooth natural stone tile is that you do not want it to look like tile, you want it to look like a stone face. This is accomplished through perfect height adjustment, close grout lines, and grain matching.

I am a pretty handy DIYer but I am not about to try to make the floors level in a 70 year old house that is built on pillars. I guess I will have to save that dream for another project. I will keep watching for a slate tile that I like to go on sale so that I can redo my kitchen countertops.

Mastic taking Longer Than Expected

Well, here I am smack in the middle of DIY Bathroom Remodeling Project that is going nowhere fast. Now I know as an engineer that when we design a product and spend all the time testing it, working with it, writing recommendations about how to use it, and then simplifying it down into directions for consumers that it is pretty dumb when they don't listen. I should have listened. Now I have a whole floor full of tiles that I have been waiting on for a week to set up. A quick analysis of what happened:

  • The tiles are too large to use mastic (12x12)
  • The room is too cold for them to set up quickly(62 F)
  • There is too much humidity (70%)

The last few days I have cranked the heat up in the bathroom and the tiles are finally setting up. I should be ready to grout this weekend. Then it is a matter of slapping some paint on the walls, crown and base moldings, changing out an overhead light, and reinstalling the fixtures.

I wish that I had a little more time to work on the bathroom. I would like to put in wainscoting and a full glass shower door but that will have to wait. Unfortunatley, I have to get a dishwasher in before the baby comes (2 weeks but could be any time now). That will be the next not so do it yourself project.

22 February 2007

Tiling a Floor - Simplified

I found this article by Mark Donovan, who has quite a few more years experience than I do when it comes to tiling. I though it really laid out the procedure well.

Flooring: Installing Ceramic Tile
by: Mark J. Donovan

Ceramic Tile brings a texture, richness and color to a room that Linoleum has yet to truly mimic. Tile floors can be installed in any room, however they are most frequently seen in Bathrooms and Kitchens. I particularly like them in entryways, where they serve as a transition point from the outside to large carpeted or hardwood floored rooms. They make for easy clean up and are impervious to water damage.

Tile Types

Ceramic tiles come in two basic types. Glazed and Porcelain. Glazed holds up the best for heavy traffic areas and porcelain works well in bathrooms. Porcelain is typically more expensive, so consider your budget and the size of the area you want to tile. Tiles also come in many shapes and sizes. For flooring, however, I would suggest using larger tiles up to 12” x 12”.
For proper installation the base foundation or the underlayment is critical. Typically it consists of ¾” to 1 ¼” of plywood. Tiling over Linoleum or existing tile is also feasible, as long as it is solid. I also recommend when Tiling over Linoleum that you first apply ring nails or screws 6” on center over the entire area. Tiles can also be installed directly over Concrete. Make sure in all cases that the floor is level and free of dust and debris prior to installation. There are leveling compounds that you can apply before applying tile if necessary.
Preparing the Site
Before actually installing the tile, it is best to lay it out in the room to see how it will look. Pay close attention to how it runs out toward the walls, in the corners and next to cabinets, tubs and toilets. The trick is to lay the tile out such that stubby tiles do not show up in highly visible spots. Once you have completed this, make two marks with a pencil outlining the most centered tile. These lines should be perpendicular to each other. Also take note of the wall that is most visible from all the others. Now remove the tiles. Next draw or snap a line perpendicular to this wall that is in line with one of the marks you made on the floor.
Then, draw a perpendicular line to this first line. This second line should be centered with the first line and fairly in line with the second mark you made on the floor. Once you have completed this task, re-layout some of the tiles along the perpendicular lines and observe if they run out in a way that will limit cutting and stubbed tiles. Once this is completed, remove the tiles and prepare for the actual installation.

Installing the Tile

Again, make sure the area is free of dirt and dust. Next apply the ceramic adhesive or mastic to the flooring, starting in the center, where the two perpendicular reference lines intersect. Apply enough material to cover 6-10 square feet, if no cuts are required. If cuts are required limit the amount of mastic application to about 2-4 square feet. When applying the mastic, first spread it with the flat end of the trowel. Lay it on relatively thick, approximately 1/8” to 3/16”thick. Then turn the trowel around and run the notched edge over it. This creates ridges in the mastic that helps to hold the tile down more securely. The larger the tile, the larger the notches should be. For example, I use a ¼” notched trowel for 12” x 12” tiles.
Note: Only make up enough ceramic adhesive for 30 minutes, as this material has the tendency to harden up rather quickly.
Once the adhesive has been applied, begin installing the tiles working from the center outward. On larger tiles you should back butter them. Basically, apply a thin coating of mastic to the back of the tile prior to laying it on the floor. This will help ensure a good bond.
As you near the walls or edges of cabinets, tubs and toilets, you will need to cut some of the tiles. I highly recommend the use of a Wet-Saw. A Wet-Saw will allow you to make very accurate cuts, both large and small. You will also save money, as you will waste many fewer tiles with bad cuts or broken tiles. Wet-Saws are not that expensive and once you see your finished product you will certainly be installing more tile. Wet-Saws can also be rented as a cheaper alternative.
When applying Tiles, you may want to use Lugs. Lugs are effectively spacers that come in various thicknesses. I typically like to have no more than a ¼” space between the tiles. Employing Spacers will ensure uniformity with your tile spacing.


After the Tile has been completely installed, allow it to sit for 24-48 hours before applying grout and walking on it. Grout comes in many different colors and is very easy to install. Simply mix the grout with water or a special bonding agent and apply with a rubber trowel. Run the trowel on a bias when going over tile corners.
Once the grout has been applied, immediately wipe the tile of excess grout, using a wet sponge and a bucket of water. Wait 30 minutes and again wipe the tiles down of any residual grout. Wait another 60 minutes and repeat. If grout is left on the tiles to dry, you will have a great deal of elbow work scraping it off.
Let the grout sit up for 24 hours and it is ready for use and admiration.

About The Author

Over the past 20+ years Mark Donovan has been involved with building homes and additions to homes. His projects have included: building a vacation home, building additions and garages on to existing homes, and finishing unfinished homes. For more home improvement information visit http://www.homeadditionplus.com and http://www.homeaddition.blogspot.com.

Google Sketch Up

I came across a post at houseinprogress.net about this tool that Google is now offering for free called google sketchup. It is a way to dive into the world of 3D modeling and see what your home renovations may actually look like. In a matter of about an hour I had a full mock up of my master bathroom project, complete with shower, tile, and a couple colors on the wall. Here is a quick picture of it. Now I can make sure that any renovations that go beyond the cosmetic will actually add value to my home. Thanks Google for a great tool.

Blog Archive