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.


Mudroom build part 3

So we’re now stuck with some blazing yellow green – ‘Lemon Pie’ wall paint as Meghan calls it. I gotta cover some of this stuff up or I’ll be blinded by the sunlight coming through all those windows.

This is the SW Springtime. I’ll be able to tone it down a little – trust me.

The little gizmo just to the left and above the center window is a mechanical vent for the plumbing. I didn’t want to run a vent stack through the roof, or find a way to get it there with the vaulted ceiling. So, I’ll have to make something to hide this little eyesore. It has to be open and accessible in case it needs to be serviced or replaced.

Here you can see the boxes for two cabinets. As usual, I just put something up and see if it sticks works. This is the first step to hide that vent. Also, you may have noticed the new stripe of drywall that’s missing. Well, I decided it would be hard for my tiny wife Francia to lean over the counter (imaginary for now) and turn off the sink light. So I moved it over to the door wall. Another freestyle design faux pas.

I’ve got the ceiling trim details worked out on the bead board ceiling. The center block with the wires is for the pendant lamp that will go there.

Drywall is being patched. You can see the start of the light bridge that joins the two cabinets. I wanted something that made the back wall a cohesive element. And see that the vent is now hidden behind the top molding base flat stock element.

You can see the crown molding being added as well as the center block for the sink light. In the foreground you can see the start of the built in ironing center. My wife didn’t know what that thing was.

Here’s a closeup of the lighting block and molding details. No wires are visible to this light. I built a chase to run the conduit between cabinet panels, so everything is covered. This is one of my favorite details in this room.

This shows the crown molding on the cabinets with the band stock that gives the tops of the cabinets some mass. It’s needed in a tall thin room like this.

Here’s Francia pretending to be very tiny.  Actually she’s standing (squatting) on the 1/4″ cork insulation that is recommended for in floor heat on concrete slab foundations.

The Suntouch in floor heat is going down. Same as used in the bathroom, it’s harder to install but has no emf radiation.

And now you see the start of my biggest mistake on this project so far.

Stay tuned – I’ll tell you why in the next post.

Mudroom Build Part 2

It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to update this little story. Things have been, well just a little busy. The sunroom renovation is now under roof, anticipating quite a bit of rain for the next few days. There’s lots to tell about foundations and a 20 foot steel beam – but we’ll leave that for another post.

Now let’s continue the mudroom build.

Here we have the windows installed. I used Marvin Ultimate double hung windows here. This is a traffic area outside – I used the double hung windows instead of casements to keep people (myself included) from running into open windows.

Here are the framing details for the basement door and entrance into the kitchen. The basement door shown is just a stand in – I’ll use the same type of door I used in the bathroom. It will have obscure glass instead of clear.  Above the door is an opening for a cold air return for the HVAC system. Typically you don’t have returns in bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms, but due to the volume of this space, it was an option. So of course I built one.

The plumbing is in place. Because I plan on having a counter over the top of the washer and dryer, I added an extra pair of water shut offs in the basement. If (if ever) I went on vacation there would be no way to reach the shut offs in the laundry box once the washer is in place.

The insulation is going in. I used unfaced fiberglass bat insulation with a rating of R-25 and a 3/4″ layer of foil faced foam under that for the ceiling. Side walls are faced fiberglass R-19

Drywall in. I used scaffolding for the ceiling. But I tell you – 5/8″ Firecheck type X drywall is pretty heavy stuff. It’s the last time I hang a ceiling without some help.

Here’s a better view of how the basement and back door are integrated into the space.

I’m trying to figure out the trim for the octagonal window. Since a 4 corner window would have 4 cuts at 45 degrees – an 8 corner window would have a 22.5 degree cut. Pretty simple.

Starting the window trim. I use furniture grade poplar – it’s a little more expensive, but it sure makes trim work much easier.

I decided to make the ceiling details using 3/4″ bead board.  Well, we couldn’t make this project  that easy, could we?

Oh, I can make it even more of a challenge. I want to make the ceiling bead boards seamless. I had to bend the 12 1/2′ foot boards up over the roof collar ties. The notches for the collar ties had to be cut in place because if the notches were cut before bowing them enough to get in place they would just snap in two. You can see the boards laying on top of the ties ready to be notched.

Bead board in place and in the process of wrapping the collar ties to give them a more box beam look.

Time to add a little color. This is SW Springtime. It seemed overwhelming to me at first. I called in Francia who said she loved it. I think you’ll see that it does work when I build the cabinets in and add the wainscoting . I hate second guessing myself. Francia to the rescue again.

More to come.

Mudroom Under Roof

Continuing with the mudroom build – all the while you know there’s tantalizing drama with the sunroom foundation.

I’m building this little room pretty much on my own – and I must say designing such a narrow room was a dilemma – and to top it off I’m doing it without a plan or even a shred of forethought in how this thing should look when it’s done. Oh, well – we’ll just doodle as we go. It’ll work out – or at least that’s what I tell my wife Francia.

I decided to do all the rakes and eve gutter boards with Azek trim. I checked out every brand and I think this is the best quality pvc trim out there. This is the stuff I used around the shower, and it looks just like wood when painted.

Here I’ve added some sill flashing over the slab foundation. The bottom plate for the walls need to be pressure treated when they come in contact with concrete. I used kiln dry pressure treated. It’s straight and dry – it’s worth the extra money to use this over the ‘wet’ pressure treated lumber from the box stores. The plates were held back from the edge of the slab foundation so that the 1/2″ CDX plywood sheathing will fit flush to the slab.

Here is the beginning of the sheathing – one way to make this narrow room look bigger is to put a lot of windows in there! This top one will be a 2 foot octagonal window. I’ll have a stained glass piece made for this later – way later.

Here’s an inside view. You can see I love making the walls with lots of framing elements. Don’t I have anything better to do? This stuff gets covered up, but I (and you) will know it’s there. At the top of the photo you can see the outriggers that hold the fly rafters notched in the roof trusses. I’ll make this a vaulted ceiling to give this space some volume.

This is looking from the kitchen. To the right of the ladder was the original exterior wall. What’s that shower door doing there? Oh, I was tearing up the upstairs bath for a future remodel. How unusual.

Here’s the interior with sheathing and housewrap on. Kinda cozy, don’t you think? So you can see the design. Vaulted ceiling, four windows and eventually a full glass door. After making lots of design changes, I settled on walls that were 10’2″ to the plates, the center of the ceiling about 12′. With walls only 7′ across I’d say that qualifies this room as a tall skinny boy.

Looking back into the kitchen from the mudroom. You can see the original opening for the back door, the now-removed landing and the steps (a place for my Diet Coke cans) that went up to the kitchen. Also the pantry door that has no pantry behind.

Here’s my attempt at dramatic photography. Now that I have removed the stair landing to the basement, it’s a little precarious working overhead.

Now the little pantry-less pantry door is gone, exposing the back of the shower. That green rectangle in the upper left hand is the extended closet storage that goes all the way into the bathroom. I think that space will hold like a thousand rolls of toilet paper.

And here’s why we did this little room in the first place. You can see on the wall where the stair with landing was, and now we have the room to make a normal, comfortable staircase to the basement.

But it’ll be a while before that happens.

Remember I just destroyed the upstairs bath.

Stay with me, it’s gonna be a bumpy (and long) ride.

Making a Grand Entrance

OK, so perhaps the above statement may be a little too strong on hyperbole. It’s actually the mudroom entrance. It was a design that evolved from one of those ‘what if we did…” kinda moments. I thought I would take a break from the foundation drama of the past few posts to get back to room addition #1.

Here’s where we left off. The back entrance.

The original plan was to make a small entrance to allow the removal of the stair landing to the basement. It would create two paths – one you would enter and go down stairs to the basement – the other you entered and went up a couple of stairs to the kitchen. This would allow for adding the now ex-landing to the horizontal length of the basement stairs – which as illustrated in an earlier post were extremely steep and narrow. This is getting confusing with words. I’ll illustrate – but it might take a few posts to make it not so confusing.

Please try and pay attention.

Here is the start of the demo – this poor canopy was patched and re-patched, and it still leaked into the side wall. The reason is simple, caulk will not do a job designed for flashing.

This view illustrates the game plan. The wall will be opened up to the right hand edge of the new slab foundation. You can see where the existing back door stair landing was located and the steps to the right that went up to the kitchen. The other side of that small white door is the back of the new bathroom shower.

To make this happen I needed to install a double 2X12 header over the entrance. Luckily neighbor John saw me struggling and came over to help me get this beast up where it belonged. What’s not shown is the support wall that was needed to keep the load bearing wall from collapsing until this element could be placed. One other note: This house is constructed with the interior surface of the exterior walls sheathed with 3/4″ tongue & grooved wood – then plaster over that. The exterior has no sheathing – just clapboards and that’s it – and lots of blown-in insulation. More on the sheathing in a latter post.

A side view. Originally this was to be a very small vestibule. 7′ wide and 4′ deep, just enough space to remove the stair landing. Think of this procedure this way – take the inside stair landing outside and build a little shed around it. But I had one of those freestylin’ design moments and thought this would be a nice place for the washer and dryer as well. I roughed in the plumbing in the basement for this, but I thought this might be much more convenient. And Francia agreed.

So the little room grew from 7′ wide and 4′ deep to 7′ wide and 12 1/2″ deep. Here you can see some of the framing details.

No matter how it comes out – one thing I want to make sure is that proper building techniques are used. Here you see tar paper that covers the 1/2″ ply backing that abuts the house side. A pair of roof rafters will be attached here, so we need to make sure we make this area as watertight as possible. Flashing will go over this when we re-side the house.

Here you see the roof framing and details. The rafters are cut 6/12 pitch and you can see the wall framing for a 2 foot octagonal window. I just love making my interior trim more complicated.

Here is a shot of the fly rafters. Those are the ones that hang over the front. This is called the “rake”. These are attached to outriggers that are attached to the side of the fly rafter and then get notched into the tops of the roof rafters. Did you follow that? This makes a very strong roof structure. The flat elements that are parallel to the ground are the ‘eaves’.

So here is the framing finished and ready for sheathing.  A 7′ wide room?  This will be a challenge to design. The kitchen floor level is 22″ from the mudroom floor. The ceilings are 9′ in the kitchen. The existing roof overhang is 7/12 pitch and how am I gonna make this thing work and not look stupid?

Well, we’ll see what comes of this.