The Mudroom Build – Fourth in a Series

So we’re marching right a long – things are pretty much going as planned, but of course we don’t live in a perfect world.

At the conclusion of the last post I noted that there was something that just didn’t go right.

It’s that dang in-floor heat mat.

In the bathroom I poured a floor leveler called Liquid Backer Board. This stuff is great for wood or concrete sub-floors. The bathroom floor was a little less than flat, so it worked like a charm. This mudroom floor, however was flat and level – no need to the Backer Board I thought. The Suntouch mat instructions say you can just tile right over it with your thin-set  – just use a plastic trowel and don’t nick the heating wires. No problem.

But there is a problem.

Not with nicking wires but with the voids left by the thin-set and the mesh. The Backer Board is very liquid and when poured over the heating mats it gets into every void and makes a very strong, monolithic surface for the tile. The thin-set, on the other hand has to have some body to it – you can’t tile with soupy mud, so there will be tiny (or not so tiny) voids with the stiff mesh. Perhaps that’s not a problem for many, but the mud room takes a lot of traffic. Along the wall, there are two tiles with hairline cracks where the electrician’s ladder caused a fracture. Also, the lippage (uneven tile surface) is more than I like. Again, it’s difficult to level because of the mesh wanting to suck the tile down in some places and push it up in others.  I’m no tile expert, but I have tiled several rooms and this mudroom floor is the worst I’ve done. Francia says it looks fine. She is so kind sometimes.

Oh, if I could go back – I’d never, never tile over a heat mat without using a pourable liquid leveler. I may tear the whole thing out and do it again before I’m done.

But moving on…

Tiling was finished up to cover the whole floor. I used porcelain tiles here. They were originally meant for the bathroom, but found better ones.

This is the trim details for the basement door and the return air vent. I used a wood vent instead of one of those stamped metal dudes. It’s screwed in with 4 wood plugs in the corners if I ever need to remove it for cleaning. It is a grille design that will match the refrigerator grille. Both will be visible as you enter towards the kitchen.  Obsessed with pre- visualization, don’t you think?

Here is the start of the wainscoting detail by the back door. I used a Plaspro fiberglass door with a composite and aluminum frame to keep the maintenance low. There’s also a sill pan under to keep it watertight.

This is the wainscoting for the step side. In a small room I like to make the wainscoting asymmetrical to the room – not the same all around. So the step wall is taller. The top trim boards are also wider to keep the taller panel to scale. This way when you ascend the stairs to the kitchen the wall has some mass and detail.

Here is the ironing center door trim detail. This is an Iron Away A42 Ironing Center. It is a good design and folds out and swivels.  It also has a place to plug in the iron and store it as well. The placement works out well, as there is plenty of room to go up the stairs with the board out. I like the unit, but the door is veneered MDF. It has a little warp to it and the piano hinge was poor quality. I used some thin trim stock to create the same shaker door design that will be on the cabinet doors. I’ll make another door at a later time. Maybe one with a black or white  board in the top portion

The Maytag washer & dryer. We have a new set at our house now, but they are top loading. Not practical with the layout in this space – since the counters go over these things. Freestyle design has it’s consequences.

Of course I had to make it more difficult. I wanted a side venting dryer – to keep the dryer closer to the back wall. Two appliance stores said it couldn’t be done. “Well the manual shows it can be” nope – “well why is there a vent punch out on the side?” that’s for the models without the steam feature “The dryer has a steam feature?” yep. Here talk to the appliance service company. They gave me the same story – can’t be done.

So get out the tools.

Short story. It can be done.

But be careful what you wish for.

So the sink cabinet I’m building will have to have some fancy doodling to make servicing the dryer possible – there’s no way to remove the dryer once the granite counters go on top. What was I thinking? I would have rather had the vent in the back and sit out a couple more inches. But I’m not taking the dryer apart again.

So I reworked the cabinet so that the bottom side piece could be removed and the front face frame would come off – allowing the dryer with that pesky side vent to slide right out.

Sometimes I just gotta think these things out before I start building.

I’ll never learn.

Stick around. More to come.


16 thoughts on “The Mudroom Build – Fourth in a Series

  1. Good job. I do all the remodeling in my house. Right now, I am working on putting tiles in my bathroom and kitchen. This is about how much I paid for the material:

    $1.60 on sale bag 25lb of white mortar, $10 per box of tile 12×12 and a $7 bag of sanded grout. Total = $150… not that bad. I love it, and my husband doesn’t complain..

  2. looking good. love the ironing board and wainscoting – I wanna do wainscoting in our bathroom and my parents have an in-wall ironing board – soooo convenient!

  3. Looks amazing!!!!
    If you could explain to me how you DO all of that… and THEN have time to write a post about it??? I might be able to apply some of your tips to my own life and discover that I actually have time to train for a marathon and become a brain surgeon!

    • Ha, Ha Victoria! You crack me up sometimes… How do I do it? I have no life. If I didn’t have to work every day I could sure get more done at the house. This was done earlier this spring, so it’s kinda a trip down memory lane for me. But it’s still a work in progress. Right now I’m stripping all the old aluminum siding off the house to re-side. Those posts are quite a bit in the future, just in case I screw it up – you’ll never see it 🙂

  4. It’s great that you shared your experience with the Suntouch heating mat. This is a good tip for those of us who are considering using something like this.

    Sometimes the directions don’t always give the whole picture the way an actual user of the product can. It’s not that I think they’re trying to deceive anyone with the directions, just that maybe they try to make everything sound super easy when there are always seem to be some exceptions and special circumstances.

    I have to say though that in your photographs the tile work looks perfect. You must have worked extra hard to overcome the inconsistencies of the thinset on the mat.

    Your attention to detail makes this space!

    • Hey 12 – Well, as I said, I’m no expert on tile – but the install seemed hard for me compared to the way the bathroom was done. I’m sure lots of people do it without the leveler, but I guess I lack that skill set. I’ve got tile lippage, for sure – but it’s livable – but I don’t like it. I’m certainly enjoying your blogs, they are so well done.

    • Thanks so much! I guess I’m really anal about some elements, but as my wife says “It makes you happy”. Some guys customize cars, others root on their favorite sports team – I like to check out plumbing fixtures. Everybody’s gotta have a hobby. 🙂

    • Boy, there’s a lot of them. What I haven’t posted are all of the things that I have redone since I started this project. I wish I knew from the beginning that I was going to totally gut the whole house and add a couple of rooms – that would have saved a year or more in time and thousands in costs. But I’m having fun:) Thanks for reading.

    • Thanks for the inquiry. What you see in this post is pretty much where the project is today. Since I had a very bad accident the beginning of June – I have just stopped working on the project until I am able to finish it myself. The layout worked out well. There are three low rise steps into the kitchen and by removing the back door landing 3 feet was added to the basement stair, allowing for a normal 7″ rise stair. You can always email me at with questions. I have other photos that might help show the process.

  5. Looking into an LG side venting dryer (although I plan on hiring someone to do what you did – the actual changing of the vent – impressive!)
    My question is: how close were you able to get your dryer against the wall? Hoping to fit a model that is 28 3/8 deep into a 31 inch closet.

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