Monday, August 30, 2010

Double, Double, Tile and Trouble

The past two weekends I have spent teaching myself to install ceramic wall tiles. I opted for all white, no special tiles, no fancy patterns - just straight forward white tiles. I figured this would help make it easier to install for a first timer. Good thing. It took me FOREVER! And it is a messy job - at least I'm a messy tiler. This was definitely a case of sweat equity in the making.

Using knowledged gleaned from the internet and watching hours and hours of HGTV, I began by finding my centerline and adjusting the end tiles accordingly so each one would be of equal width. Once I got this figured out, I began with my first row and went up from there.

First Few Rows of Tile

The task of tiling was complicated by two things; a window and the ledge on the end wall. Thank goodness for the wet saw the woman at Lowe's talked us into getting (and for less than half price!) I had many cuts to make and the saw made easy work of them.

I ended up buying wider tiles for inside the window opening which reduced the number of cuts I needed to make. Plus it made for a cleaner looking job.

The hardest part of installation for me was the ledge and the outer corner of it. Rounded edges on three sides and three tiles coming together. After doing a dry fit and wasting one tile due to a poor cut, I felt okay with the method to my madness. Right or wrong, I was going for it. Face it...I'm a rookie learning as I go!

By the end of the first weekend, I had the tile installation complete with the exception of the top row inside the window opening. I was short the two small corner pieces with the rounded edges.

Tile Installed (Almost Complete)

I installed the missing window pieces on this past Saturday. With a minimum six hour cure time for the adhesive to set up before grouting could commence, I was done for the day. Tiling, that is.

Sunday morning the real fun began. Not. I learned I do not like to grout wall tile. You are dealing with a vertical surface and gravity is not your friend. Even though I read the instructions - twice - for mixing the waterproof grout, my first batch came out very stiff. I put too much sand in with no way to thin it down.

Try pushing thick grout into 1/8" joints with a grout float. Fighting gravity. Not easy. Not fun. I ended up doing alot of finger application of grout into the joints. I think my hands still hurt. The second batch for the other half of the tub was mixed correctly and I was able to apply the grout much faster and easier.

Then it was wait, then wipe, flip sponge over, wipe, flip, rinse, wipe, flip, rinse, new bucket of water and vinegar, and wipe, flip, rinse, wipe, flip, rinse, then another fresh bucket of water, and more wipe, flip then rinse. Over and over! Ahhh, but the end result was worth it! Even the difficult ledge corner.

Grouting Complete!

Tricky Corner of Ledge

I also installed a tile backsplash around the bath vanity countertop this past weekend.

Vanity Tile

All that is left is to caulk where the tile meets the tub, window and walls and also the corners for good measure. Call me paranoid. I need to finish up the paint around the tub enclosure (change of plans during installation) and my work in the bathroom will be done until we decide on baseboard material.

Now it's bring on the plumber!! He'll be in on Wednesday to do the final plumbing hookups. Yay!! I might even have functioning toilets this coming weekend. Running water and toilets. Oooh boy!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Winged Friends

Just some shots I thought I would share from our recent "vacation".

Grasshoppers are out this summer, but nothing like in previous years. This fine specimen was caught lounging on a straw hat on top of the picnic table until I spooked him and he flew away.


I did have a few restful moments one evening and got to watch the hummingbird as he arrived for another feeding.

Hummingbird at Sunset

Sunday, August 15, 2010

You Call This a Vacation??

The first week of August was spent on a working vacation. And work we did!!

Our trip started off on a somewhat ominous note. As we crossed the North Cascades Highway Friday afternoon, we could see lots of smoke from the Rainbow Bridge Fire burning north of Lake Chelan. Not a good thing, we thought.

Smoke from Rainbow Bridge Fire north of Lake Chelan

As we headed in towards Winthrop, the smoke turned the setting sun a brilliant orange.

Cascadian Sunset

Leaving Twisp to head up over Loup Loup Pass, we rounded another bend in the road only to see thick smoke and then flames.

Beaver Creek Fire outside of Twisp

We thought for sure we would have to turn around and detour down to Pateros and back up Highway 97 to get to the house. Luckily, we were able to get through, one lane at a time. Whew!

Seeing the smoke and fire really put a bug under our butts to widen the perimeter around the house. Early the next morning, Karl starting working outside cutting down sage brush and other vegetation, and mowing the tall grasses with our wheeled string trimmer. Before using the chainsaw, he would water the area with the sprinkler to help reduce any chance of fire.

Karl hard at work doing fire prevention

While Karl tended to yard work, I went in to town to order up our paint because yes - we have drywall!!

Living Area in Main House

Guest Cabin

30 Gallons Ready to Go

Painting commenced the next day after prepping was complete. I suited up and started spraying primer with the Wagner Power Sprayer. Can you say "JUNK?!" I just could not get it to spray correctly. What's a girl to do? Why go to Home Depot and buy a REAL sprayer.

Suited Up for Painting

The operator error with the paint sprayer put us behind schedule in the painting department. I started again on Monday and got the house primed in the morning and then the first color coat in the kitchen / living areas that evening.

It was HOT being all suited up but Karl took care of that. He set up the small pool we bought earlier in the season and my, oh, my...did that cold water feel good! The water is 24" deep - perfect for sitting in and relaxing after a hot day of working.

Can you say, "Relief"?

Tuesday, painting and fire prevention continued at the Chicken Dance Ranch. I needed to get the kitchen area completely painted, including the ceiling, before Wednesday's cabinet installation.

In the morning, the insulation guys showed up to blow in the attic insulation. Only that didn't happen. The furnace needed to be wired in and the bathroom vent ducting installed. We would have to reschedule this one.

In the late afternoon, a thunderstorm blew in. It brought with it a pitbull-looking dog. He was really sweet but afraid of the storm. Karl checked with the neighbors and nobody knew where the dog lived. Now what? The dog wanted to stay in the bathroom in the middle of the house so we brought him a bowl of water and one of the dog pads to lay on. We let him stay inside the house while we kept our dogs in the camper. We also nicknamed him "Lightning".

Hooch (aka Lightning) and Jelly

We spent Tuesday evening painting the ceiling while the lightning show raged outside. It was nerve wracking for us newbies worried about fire; however the rain helped to lessen any chance of wildfires.

Painted Kitchen Area

Wednesday morning dawned clear and cooler. Karl found where the dog lived and returned him to his grateful owner. Hooch had wandered over a mile from home.

Robert arrived around 8 a.m. with a trailer full of cabinets. It was so exciting to see them being installed. Our house was starting to look like a house inside. Before long, the base cabinets were in and uppers followed. Robert has a top-notch crew with wife, Amanda, and kids pitching in. Cody especially enjoyed being daddy's helper.

Robert installing cabinets

Daddy's Little Helper

Cabinets In

Ryan showed up just in time to help bring the counter top over and into the house. What a beast it was!

Setting the Countertop - Karl, Robert & Ryan

While Robert worked in the kitchen, Karl and I continued with painting the bathrooms and bedrooms. Will it EVER end?!

Karl painting the Guest Room

Robert builds beautiful cabinets and I can't wait until I save up more money to buy doors.

All we need are doors and appliances

On Thursday, I took a trip to Wenatchee to look for bath vanities. Home Depot didn't have what I wanted in Omak so off I went to the Apple Capital. Karl and Ryan had their Honey-Do list. Namely, paint the ceilings.

After dinner, Ryan pitched in and helped me lay the vinyl floor tiles in the utility room. Dang if I can find the pictures! But trust me, it looks good. Ryan was a huge help!

Friday was supposed to be our last work day before heading home on Saturday morning. Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men...

The three of us unloaded the trailer our belongings were stored in. George needed to use the trailer and we were at a point to put stuff back into the house. Then I finished painting the bath ceilings so we could start on the flooring tiles.

Tom, the furnace guy showed up just at lunch and after I fed us all, he started in on wiring the furnace while Karl and I tackled the master bath floor.

We got into a nice rhythm and before long, the bath floor was just about done. We were shy one box of tiles so yet another trip to Home Depot was on the agenda after dinner. During our trip to HD, I saw a different vanity that I didn't see on my previous excursions. Rut I want to return mine and get this one instead. But will it fit???

Saturday morning, we loaded up the one vanity and off I headed to HD for an exchange. While I was doing this, Karl would work on the half bath flooring.

I returned from town and one tile was in. One! What the heck? Karl was having technical difficulties. But I left him to his work while I packed up so we could head home, hopefully before lunch.

Karl hard at work laying floor tiles

Half Bath Flooring Complete

Master Bath Flooring Complete

We got on the road home around 1 p.m. Our vacation was over. After a hot week with practically no play time except for a few minutes in the pool, it was time to go home, unpack, wash clothes, and then head for the airport at 3:30 a.m. the next morning for a business trip. I fired the project manager (she totally underestimated the time needed to complete tasks) and fired the painter (she was too slow) although her helpers are okay.

Next on the project list - tiling the bathroom walls, installing laminate flooring, wrapping up electrical and building steps at the entrances.