Working on the Old House #16 Bathroom Break

I know that some of these posts may seem tedious, but this is what’s necessary before I can get to the pretty stuff. This will be someone’s new starter home – I want them to enjoy this little place as much as I and my brother before me – we have a family connection to this old home since 1975.

As we leave the kitchen renovation for a while, we head back to the only bathroom in the house – Let’s assess the situation:

Well, this is kind disappointing. We have a old vanity and OK toilet – and what’s up with that huge air vent?

We have an ok – but filthy fiberglass shower.

Linoleum floor covering and just a variety of random stuff – like that Ice cube tray trying to disguise the poor decor. We can do better.

Now a closer look at the plumbing. I had the whole house plumbed several years ago – all in copper to replace the galvanized pipes. He was a licensed plumber, but wasn’t – how shall we say – motivated to do really good work. He ran the water supplies and drain up through the floor. And this is why that’s not a good thing. Lots of corrosion, hard to keep clean. We can do better.

We’ll take a look downstairs. The old galvanized pipes still in the wall, I’ll cut out the copper pipes and run them up and out of the wall – the drain pipe will be removed and reconfigured to drain more efficiently.

We’ve cut out the water supplies and drain in the floor and opened up the wall. That horizontal pipe was the original drain that is connected to the vent stack – it was leaking here. The old plumber wasn’t much better than the one I hired – they had plugged the end of the pipe with steel wool and pipe dope. Never a long term solution. You can see the staining on the wall from leaks. We can do better.

First we open up the wall a little more and get access to the old galvanized water pipes to take them out.

Now with more access, I can cut of the end of the pipe and add a rubber cap. Problem solved – or maybe not.

Now that I’m working in the area and have the wall opened up, I noticed the stain on the drywall – it’s in line with the plumbing vent stack. Well – I could just leave it – I mean I’m selling this house. A little paint and all will be fine. I’ve got two choices a little paint or possibly a lot of work and expense.

I’m going in.

And there you have it. Opening the wall exposes the plumbing vent stack. The large cast iron pipe that goes all the way up an out the roof to vent your plumbing. With my fingers I was able to push the paper thin walls of the pipe. That’s where the water staining was coming from. This is common when the horizontal pipe tees into the stack – water constantly flows over this area and the pipe is exposed to the air, rusting it from the inside out.

So we hop downstairs and do a little plastic (pvc) surgery. We’ll cut the drain and wye.

We cut out the pieces and run the new sink drain pipe up through the wall plate.And prepare the vent stack to be replaced.

So the nice thing about cast iron is that it’s very brittle. To make a clean cut in close quarters, you use an angle grinder with a meal blade and cut 3/4 through the pipe. Insert a large flat blade screwdriver in the cut and give it a twist and the pipe will break cleanly through. You can see I’m working inside a plaster lath wall, so you have to be careful not to damage the wall.

We reconfigure the drain and vent and run some new copper water pipes in the correct location and we’re ready to go back upstairs.

We add a rubber Fernco fitting to mate the pvc drain the the cast iron vent. We now have the drain and water supplies in and out of the wall instead of the floor. That’s better.

We continue on…

Working on the Old House #15 Final Kitchen (for now)

Well, the time race is on – I plan to have this place for sale in a couple of months. I’m a little farther ahead than the blog indicates, so I’ll try to post a little more frequently to catch up.

Back to trimming out the sink area. I want to preserve the wallpaper wall and because there were originally upper cabinets the wall paper was absent. I did a mock design up by using some of the same T&G siding and wrapped it around the corner. Because it would have to be aligned perfectly, I decided to go in a different direction.

A different direction as in vertical instead of horizontal. I added some trim blocks and did a mock up. Not loving it, but we’ll see….

Fully committed to the design, I did the opposite side. The T&G is primed for finish paint.

Once the sink was in place I added a trim board of PVC on the back wall. Once the band was attached, there was a little sliver of butcher block counter showing behind the sink. This would be an issue in the future – standing water and wood is never going to turn out well – no matter how well the surface was sealed.

So to eliminate the problem I milled another piece of PVC to bridge the gap and waterproof the area.

The sink skirt piece was attached with silicone and nailed with stainless steel nails to waterproof the area.

A little caulk and paint and the surround is finished. The iron and wood shelves were installed permanently and a black barn style LED light was added over the sink.

We won’t get into the details of moving the electrical, patching the plaster ceiling to move the fan position over to the center of the newly configured kitchen. Also the 3 different ceiling fans that were pilfered and painted black to make one working fan that would all visually work together.

Now we turn our attention to the stove wall. Time to put up a usable backsplash.

I chose a simple while subway backsplash. 12″ x 12″ sheets. The key is planning the tile layout to keep cuts to a minimum. I tape a couple sheets up on the wall and take some measurements. A straight ledger board is added tot he wall to keep the tile straight.

With a little adjustment, The tile lays out with full sheets so far. Wall mastic can be used here instead of thinset. I set the tiles and scrape off the excess mastic and allow to dry – it’s easier for me to get a nice uniform spacing this way.

The tile is up and grouted with a medium gray grout. No cuts at the top, so it worked out well.

I was planning to put in a new stainless steel stove, but after a few hours cleaning up this one I decided to keep it for the retro look. It has been in the house since at least the 1980’s – and works perfectly, so here it will stay for the new owners to decide it’s fate.

I hope whomever buys this place will know I did my best to make this little place a safe and happy home for their family.

Next – off the the bathroom.

Working on the Old House #14 Still in the Kitchen

Well my fellow renovators, time is slipping by and I have much to do. So let’s get with it.

We left off with the butcher block counters installed. Now we start to make a hole for the new drop in sink.

With a couple of cuts with the jigsaw, we have the opening – and test fit the sink to make sure.

Sink fits and now we’re ready to work on the two side counters that are on either side of the stove.

First we scribe and cut the right hand counter.

Then the left hand side.

Now we have the two pieces scribed and fitted into place.

I use a cardboard template of the stove cutout, so that I get the cut edge next to the stove aligned properly.

Once cut to size the two counter pieces are test fit one more time before finishing.

After a few coats of Waterlox finish, the counters are attached to the cabinets.

the Now for plumbing. The Pull down faucet is installed to the sink and the sink is set in place with silicone. Tape prevents me from making too much of a mess – something I’m prone to do.

New drain lines and water supplies are installed. The dishwasher drain line is looped and installed as well.

No leaks and everything works. Time to finish this kitchen and start on the bathroom – but just not yet.

Have a happy and safe weekend and I’ll see you soon.

Working on the Old House #13 Countertop Start

Well, the heat is on – outside for certain – and on me to get things done. So let’s get back at it.

We’ll start by getting the sink and faucet in house, so we can make sure we get the measurements right. I have Kraus sinks at home and really like them. This kit comes with the sink and faucet together.

I opted for a single bowl deep sink – I have this style at the Misadventures house and find it very handy, so we’ll use a top mount sink here.

To prepare for the counters, we attach all of the cabinets together and level everything, making sure we have the correct spacing for the new dishwasher.

We’ll get all of the new plumbing and electrical in place for the sink and new dishwasher. It’s much easier to do the inside cabinet work now before the counter goes on.

Once the cabinets are in place, we add attachment blocks. We’ll use these blocks to attach the countertop to the cabinets. Pocket screws are used to make the connection of the blocks and cabinet interior..

Once the blocks are in place we use some cardboard sheets to make the countertop template. Paint cans and clamps are used to keep things in place while I take measurements.

For the countertops I selected butcher block. To keep costs reasonable, I purchased two 8′ countertop pieces.

The two 8′ pieces will allow for the main counter and the remaining material will be used on either side of the stove wall.

One half is cut and fitted with the seam centered at the sink.

The two pieces are cut and scribed for the space. The left side has a tapered front edge to follow the cabinet below.

As always, checking level and plumb on any project is important all through the process. It takes a little longer, but doing it right the first time is less painful than having to rework a project.

To join the countertop, I fabricate a joining table from some plywood and lumber on a couple of sawhorses.This will make aligning the two top pieces much easier.

A plate joiner/biscuit cutter is used to add some strength to the countertop seam. Biscuits will be glued in the slots.

Gluing the seam face down, additional pocket screws are used to attach the pieces together. Since I work alone, scrap lumber is screwed to the underside of the counters. The clamps are used to draw the two pieces together, while the two levels with clamps are used to align the front faces together.

Once sanded and brought inside we start the finishing process. Next time we’ll add the sink.

Stay cool out there.

Working on the Old House #12 Color Fail – More Cabinets

We’ll kick this weekend’s post off with a faux-pas. As I cleverly decided to add a little two-tone drama in the kitchen. So I painted up a pair of stock cabinets to go with the new uppers – and put them in place along with the old retro stove – and it went terribly wrong. Well, it looked OK on the little paint swatch, but it just didn’t work out. It’s not you, it’s me. So out comes the sander.

After several hours of sanding and other OCD details, that I’ll not illustrate here, we have a new color for the lowers. A little more subtle grey with a touch of green.

After that traumatic experience, we turn our attention back to the sink wall. We have a new window, we have reworked the plumbing and electrical, we added a recycled T&G wall, soffit and crown molding. We have a new 1/2″ plywood overlay floor. I hope the new owners will know I put a lot of effort in their new home.

First up – lets make some open shelf units – something a little rustic and industrial, but with a little warmth. We’ll start with a couple old walk boards I used on the Misadventures project.

First we take some measurements and cut them to length. We’ll need six.

Then we’ll sand and give them a whitewash and a few coats of Varathane waterbase finish.

We’ll use some black pipe and fittings and test a layout using a scrap piece of walkboard. Looks like it’ll work.

We drill the holes in the proper location and test fit the pieces.

We disassemble the pipes and paint them all up nice and pretty.

Once the paint is dry, we can start the assembly process. These will be put up temporarily.

Each shelf is assembled and leveled.

With the shelves assembled, we start to assemble the base cabinets.

The fabricated sink base back is drilled for the plumbing pipes. A new electrical box is added.

The new dishwasher is installed and tested.

A small cabinet is made for each side of the sink run, these were fabricated with 3/4″ UV coated plywood boxes and poplar face frames.

Once the cabinet boxes were made, doors were fabricated on the table saw and router. A simple jig is used to locate the euro hinge holes in the cabinet doors. Nothing fancy here.

The two side cabinets now have doors and are ready to be installed after painting.

One final test fit to make sure I made the right size.

And that’s what’s going on at the Old House – wishing you all a good weekend.

Working on the Old House #11 More Cabinets

It seems I get diverted and neglect updating the shenanigans going on at this Old House – not that This Old House – mine’s much more modest, not scripted and not near as interesting. Here’s were we left off.

I’ll start by backing up and talking about finishing the cabinets. I’ve used the same technique for years and it seems to work fine. I use a brush and flat latex paint and give them a good coat. I then come back and hand sand with successive grits to 400.

I choose to hand sand because of this. As you sand the latex, you’ll get a variety of little crumbs and ribbons of paint. If you use an electric sander you’ll create too much heat and these little guys will melt into the finish. And from painful experience, the only way to effectively get rid of them is to sand back down to the bare wood and start over.

Once we have the boxes painted and sanded, and installed permanently, we can start to figure out the crown molding and trim details. First a bridge panel is cut to fit over the recessed cabinet box.

Then a front facing panel is painted and then attached to the top face frames and blocking.

We add a piece of crown molding and another small rectangular piece to add some detail. While we’re up there, we’ll start to do a little plaster repair and finish out the original plaster ceiling.

Being the original 1920 plaster and lath ceiling, it had several cracks and dips and a few losses. A first coat of chemical set drywall compound makes a good bond. The final finish coats are made with standard premixed drywall compound. This gives a smooth durable repair.

We also paint on the upper doors as well. All are finished with two coats of waterbase clear satin Varathane finish.

A makeshift rigged up southern Indiana contraption to speed up the air dry drywall compound.

And finally we have some new upper cabinets, a working range hood, and much more to do.

I’ll try and be a little more frequent poster in the coming months. We’ll start on the sink wall next. My plan is to have this house ready in just a few months.

Stay safe and happy renovating.

Working on the Old House #10 Cabinet Start

We’ll pick up on the work in the kitchen, using some off the shelf cabinets from Home Depot, and then add a couple from the workshop.

Let’s see if we can make some sawdust, shall we?

We start with a finish for the three upper cabinets. This is a 36″ and two 21″ cabinets. I gave them a couple coats of BM flat latex in the color of Dove Wing. After sanding, three clear coats of Varathane waterbase finish goes on. More about finishing in another post – just trust me on this one…

Once the cabinet face frames are painted, it’s time to get them on the wall. First a ledger board is temporarily screwed to the wall. It is placed and leveled to rest the bottom edge of the upper cabinets.

Before the center cabinet is installed, the 7″ diameter hole for the range hood vent is marked and cut.

The two lower cabinets rest on the ledger, and the top one also rests on a ledger. Each cabinet box is screwed to the wall, slightly loose. This allows the cabinets to be slightly adjusted. Since I do everything by my self, it’s the only way to get these cabinets on the wall in the right spot. The face frames are then drilled through the sides and trim head screws are used to join the three boxes.The cabinets can then be permanently attached to the wall using wide head cabinet hanger screws.

We now run the 7″ duct up through the cabinet and out the original location for the exhaust fan.Not Ideal, but there is no other way the duct to run – so we’ll work around this issue to at least make it look presentable – I hope.

Again, because I work alone, a little improvisation is necessary to attach the duct and electrical to the hood. Anything is fair game when trying to defeat gravity.

Slow going, but eventually we have an operating range hood. As you can see in the photo, make sure the duct is always installed with the pipe inside the next in the direction of the air stream. This will prevent duct edges from catching dirt and grease.

Now to make some custom cabinets. Because the exhaust exit sits proud of the lower cabinets, we’ll have to make them deeper to hide the ductwork. Store bought uppers are 12″, custom ones need to be 16″. Here I’ve made some 3/4″ UV coated boxes. The one on the left is solid – the one with the duct is made of pieces to go around the duct work.

Now we make a couple of doors for the small cabinets. Rail and stile bits on my router table make this a quick project.

An easy way to line up the hinges on a Euro-style door is to place both hinges in the pre-drilled holes. Then use a level or a straightedge and slide up tight to the hinges. Then mark the locations for the screws – this will give you aligned hinges every time.

We attach the doors for a preliminary fit to see if any adjustments need to be made.

Since they don’t look overly stupid, we can proceed. I used a cove bit to create a profile on the outer edge of the doors to visually match the ready made cabinet doors.

So we’ll leave it here for the time being. I’ll think about some trim details and how to finish this off.

More to come.

Working on the Old House #9

We continue with the renovation of the old house. I plan on selling this 1920 home once I’ve made a few improvements. The plan is to sell it this year – as a slow and steady worker – this may be a challenge.

Since I replaced the original window over the sink, it’s time to make some new jambs and casings. I usually start with the side jambs. They are ripped to the required width and then cut to length. A little mock-up of the sill is made to get the measurements.

A sill is cut and put into place to allow for measuring the casings.

The side casings are put into place temporarily and a block of wood is used to set the reveal offset. This will allow the top casing to be marked for proper width.

The header is cut to width and the two side casings are attached to the top using kreg screws in the back.

The completed ‘U’ shaped casing is then attached to the window jambs and the wall. I always make casings this way as they will allow for nice tight joints at the corners that won’t open over time.

There was an issue with the soffit nailer at the ceiling. It was 2X2 lumber and well attached to the ceiling lath. I was afraid that if I tried to remove it I would cause quite a bit of plaster damage. So to make lemonade out of lemons, I decided to make a small drop and make it into a design element. I have a 1X7 fascia plate attached to the face of the nailer.

Face nailers were added to allow for the 3/4″ tongue and groove paneling to be added to the ceiling portion.

I am using recycled pine that was originally used on the porch ceiling at my other renovation. It needed a good scuff sanding to get the best paint adhesion.

The T&G paneling is attached to the 3/4″ wall sheathing, butting up with the new window casing.

I brought the T&G siding up onto the ceiling drop and placed a new ceiling light box in the center. I had one long piece of crown molding left from my kitchen renovation in the other house, so I thought this would work well here.

Now we turn our attention to the plumbing – a little copper pipe re-routing and a little fiddling and we can start thinking about new cabinets.

An unfinished base cabinet from Home Depot is reworked to accept the new plumbing.

Holes cut and then I decided adding a Dishwasher might be a good idea. Another electrical box is added for the DW service.

So this is were we are. A dishwasher, and a couple of ready-made base cabinets. Looks like there’s a lot more to do. I see some custom cabinets in my future.

Time to dust off the tools again.

Working on the Old House #8

Happy Valentine’s Day to all! We continue on the old house renovation.

Having hopes that the old subfloors could rejuvenated and finished – structural issues and my typical ‘do it right’ voice won over. So down goes a new plywood overlay to stiffen us these bouncy floors.

The plywood is pl glues and screwed in place. Covering the kitchen and dining room.

The sheathing will help reduce the slope in the floor. Remember, this house is 101 this year.

All the floor sheathing is in place.

To meet current code, new 20a lines were run to receptacles on each side of the sink as well as by the stove wall as well.

This patch was in the wall to the left of the sink window – also notice something? Like zero insulation. This house was supposed to be insulated with blown in insulation years and years ago – but for some reason they decided this kitchen wall didn’t need any.

So we patch up the wall opening and start preparing for adding some insulation.

One other thing. This house has a combined neutral and ground – an old two wire system. The only way to meet current code without rewiring the whole house is to use this type of receptacle. An AF (Arc Fault) / GF (Ground Fault) fixture will give the required protection. They do not offer equipment grounding and must be marked at the receptacles.

These are what’s required in our area to meet code – check with local guidelines as they do vary.

So I rented an insulation blower and with the help of my brother, we added insulation for the kitchen wall. It was messy, but necessary.

I decided to fit the new sink base cabinet first before I started on reworking the plumbing. I’ll keep the supplies and drain outside of the exterior wall to make sure there is no pipe freezing in the enclosed sink base.

So the unfinished cabinet is put in place to start laying out the cabinets. It will be a combination of off the shelf cabinets and a few custom made to fit the space.

Stay tuned and stay warm.

Working on the Old House #7 I’m Floored

Well, the end of 2020 is almost here and I couldn’t be happier to say goodbye. Having a retail store has been a challenge – but we survived. So now I get a chance to wish you all a wonderful New year.

Now – back to the old house – where were we…

Now that we have the old cabinets out, we can see what we have going on with the floors. Old cracked tiles, some unevenness and some creaking noises here and there. Let’s investigate.

One issue is that there are floor registers in awkward places. Like this one that was next to the stove and steps. Not an ideal place for a register. We’ll think about how we can relocate this one.

Well, now I’ve done it – I could have just laid some click-lock vinyl over this and call it a day. I’m selling this place after all. But no – if there is a better (and more expensive complicated way) I’ll always choose that fork in the road. I’ll never learn.

The original subfloor was overlaid with 1/4″ plywood. This stuff was nailed down with hundreds of spiral nails. Not a lot of demolition fun right here.

But progress is being made. One painful nail at a time.

I kept scooting the old stove around the room – not sure why. Perhaps I needed the exercise.

As progress continues, so does the pile of spiral nails.

I decided to extend whatever the final flooring finish will be into the adjacent dining room. So this carpet needs to go.

So after a couple hours removing the hundreds of carpet pad staples we have the area cleared.

Another odd placement for a floor register by the entrance to the hallway from the kitchen. It looks like it was previously a larger air vent for the old coal furnace when the house was built in 1920. Now we’ll move it to a little more convenient place.

We’ll fill it that space and move it over closer to the wall.

Of course, we’ll have to revise the duct-work to accommodate the new register placement.

The one by the steps is also filled in – we’ll figure out a way to integrate a vent into the stair risers.

So that’s how we’ll leave the Old House in 2020 – clean floors ready for the New Year.

And I’m wishing you the same. A brand new year that will certainly be better than the last one.

Stay safe and productive.