This is one project we decided not to tackle ourselves. The old garage door had a broken spring, so we haven’t been able to open it since we moved in to the new house. Home Depot was a having a special on garage doors, so we decided to take advantage of it. The new door has the following features:
It closes! (and it seals well)
It is insulated (steel, then insulation, then more steel)
It is powder coated, so we shouldn’t have to repaint it for a long time
Old garage door (for reference)
There are a few quirks as well. It turns out that our garage cement is not quite level. The middle is about 3/4″ higher than the sides. So the installer recommended putting an extra thick rubber seal on the bottom to get a nice tight seal. That seems to be working pretty well. The other oddity is that there used to be an electric garage door opener, but it is broken. But on top of that, it is plugged into an outlet which is controlled by a switch. And the lights in the garage are plugged into the same outlet, meaning that in order to use the electric opener, one would have to keep the lights on all the time, which is obviously stupid. So we decided to get a manual lock on the door for the time being, until we can afford to do some major electrical work in the garage, and put in an electric opener the right way.
Finally, the door is a nice hunter green. We’re planning on getting new siding as well in the next year or two, at which point we plan to get hunter green soffits and shutters as well, so it should look very nice.
One of the major projects on our new house was to put in new kitchen cabinets. We knew before buying the house that many of the lower kitchen cabinets (base cabinets) were damaged. Initially we thought we would try to buy some replacement parts, but as we realized that every base cabinet was damaged in some way, we simply decided to replace them. Ellen did some internet research and discovered that the maker of our cabinets, Mills Pride, was no longer in business. She found some cabinets from Sunco which she thought would match very well. We ended up buying them from Good Value Center. We were quite happy with the service in general. It only took a couple weeks to get them, and they were packed quite well.
This cabinet was completely missing the drawer
The cabinets arrived on Friday the 9th of January. On the 11th, Clare and I spent several hours at Lowe’s putting together a delivery order for all the tile materials we would need like plywood and cementboard. We also got new energy-efficient windows, which will we install once it gets a bit warmer. The materials were delivered on the 12th, and I got to work.
I decided to work on assembling the cabinets while I was waiting for the delivery from Lowe’s. It took me about 2 hours to assemble the first one, but after that it got much easier. The Sunco cabinets have 1/2″ plywood sides and backs, and 3/4″ solid oak faces. They are put together with a cam locking system. I was quite impressed how accurate most of the cuts were. The sides fit into the front and back with a groove, and then get locked into a place with a cam system, which only requires turning one screw about one rotation. The drawers had to be assembled with regular screws, but the holes were all pre-drilled, and were quite accurate. For the first cabinet I screwed the screws in by hand, but for the other ones I used my beloved Black and Decker 18 volt cordless drill, which sped things up quite a bit. I was intrigued by the subtle variations between cabinets. While they were mostly the same, some of the details were slightly different, like the color of the screws, or the type of cushion on the drawers and doors. Some had a soft plastic cushion (the little piece that keeps the drawers and doors from banging shut), while others had more of a squishy foam-like cushion. There is also a fair amount of color variation. Some of the cabinets match the wall cabinets very well, while others don’t match as well. Read the rest
When Ellen turned 30, she built a brick wall. It is a very nice brick wall. It didn’t seem like the Spencer house needed another brick wall, so instead I decided to build some cabinets/shelves/drawers. This was the final part of the bathroom project. Ellen and Dave also recently redid one of their bathrooms. They did it in just under one year. We have them beat at 18 months (longer is better, right?).
Since today is my very last full day in the Spencer house, I finally finished the cabinets last night, finishing around 12:20 a.m. (today). All I had to do was put in the trim which I had just finished staining and sealing. There were some tricky parts, especially the one piece right next to the wall. For this piece I put a shim next to the wall so I wouldn’t mar up the wall when I was hammering. Also, I am still not very good at hammering. Even after pre-drilling the holes, I bent about 1/3 of the nails. Maybe there is a trick I am missing. At any rate, it is finally done. It is not perfect by any means, but it looks much better than before, and I am pretty satisfied with it overall.
Rob and Clare by the christmas tree (with new slippers)
I had my final visit with Clare this past weekend in Colorado before I move out there for good. Clare had set up our Christmas tree, but had not been able to find the lights and ornaments. I think I must have looked at literally every box (at, not through — we did a pretty good job labeling them), but eventually I found the lights. Merry Christmas to all!
This weekend I worked some more on finishing up my final home improvement project in the Spencer house — the bathroom cabinets/shelves/drawers. The main thing left to do is the trim, which requires a lot of precision (and hopefully accuracy too). Yesterday I cut the remaining pieces of trim which I had salvaged from other projects, and then stripped them. I hate stripping. Especially since I was working in the cabin, and it was only a high of 30 degrees. I had a little electric space heater, but it did not really provide much heat.
Today I re-adjusted the drawers, since they weren’t quite level, and some of them didn’t close quite right. Since the wall next to the drawers is not completely straight, this caused some problems for the drawers. The opening near the top is slightly bigger than near the bottom. I probably could have fixed it more easily before I had put the countertop on, but you know what they say about hindsight. So I simply shimmed the runners for the drawers a bit, and that worked fairly well. Then I put all the trim into place, and marked where I wanted to drill holes. There are three pieces that go between the drawers that will be glued to the vertical trim pieces next to the drawers. I put 2 holes in each side of these cross-pieces, and 2 holes in the vertical pieces, and will then put small dowels in the holes, and glue them in place. I took Ellen’s advice and drilled the holes a bit bigger than the dowels to save room for the glue (and also to give me a bit of slop as well).
Now I just need to stain and seal the trim, then nail it into place. Almost done!
Thanksgiving was a big success for the Fedibblety family. There were 8 (and 7/9) people in attendance, including Rob & Clare, Dave & Ellen, Harold & Fran, and also Bret & Drew. We had a very nice Thanksgiving day, with lots of cooking and eating. We even used the wood cookstove for some dishes.
Then on Friday, we packed up the moving truck, and Ellen & Dave drove it out to Colorado on Saturday, which was successfully unpacked today. It was quite a bit of work, but it is always nice to be together with family. Thanks to everyone for their help packing. We couldn’t have done it without you!!
We did get into one home improvement project during the holiday, which was replacing the brick moulding and the door frame to the door above the garage, which had been rotting. It seems that water had been collecting near the the bottom, and it was rotting up the sides. Ellen had the ingenious idea to put some flashing down to try to get the water to drip down and away, instead of sitting there. Hopefully that will work as intended. Only time will tell.
This past weekend, Rob and Ellen traveled to Denver to help Clare get the Zang house ready for move in.
We both arrived Friday night around 8:30. We stopped by the house on the way back to Clare’s apartment so that Ellen could get a look at it. It was a very comfortable temperature, since Clare had gotten the new furnace installed on Tuesday. After looking around for awhile and discussing what we wanted to tackle, we headed back to Clare’s apartment, chatted a bit, then went to bed. read more (including pictures)
My last project in the long saga of the downstairs bathroom was to build some shelves where the washer and dryer used to be. The main reason for this is because we moved the laundry tub to the next room (which we now call the utility room). To do so, I had to route the pipes to the laundry tub from the bathroom to the utility room, since they are embedded in the concrete in the bathroom. So there were pipes visible in the bathroom. I wanted to hide them. Thus the shelves.
I worked in the garage since it was rainy outside
I tried to re-use as much of what was lying around. I found some old cabinets in the cabin which were 12″ deep by 36″ wide by about 20″ high, which was just about exactly what I was planning on building. So I decided to use these to cover up the pipes. I also was able to re-use the drawers from the old vanity that we had replaced. Those ended up being about 18″ deep, which is exactly what I wanted as well. The drawers were 12″ wide, so that left me with 36″ left of the 84″ space. Clare had bought some cedar planks for a different project awhile ago, and had sanded them (covering the entire kitchen and foyer with sawdust), but we never ended up using them. They happened to be 7′ long, so I was able to cut 2 3′ long pieces from each of them, which filled up the space that will be open shelving.
plumbing is now hidden
I first built a base for the shelves using 2x4s. I nailed (or in some places screwed) the 2x4s into the footers of the walls, then put a layer of plywood on top of that. Then I screwed the cabinet into the wall and the plywood. I followed the same procedure that Dave and Ellen used to construct the old vanity for the rest of the project. I attached small pieces of wood to the bottom of plywood, and then screwed those small pieces into the plywood base. Finally, I put a single piece of plywood on top, and screwed that into the cabinet and the plywood for the drawers.
cabinet, shelves, and drawers fully assembled
Since we had learned that tiling countertops is relatively cheap and easy, I decided to do that again here. I decided to use 4×4″ inch tiles, so that it would match the countertop on the vanity. About 2 minutes after I finished, I decided that 6×6 would have looked better, because I would have had to make fewer cuts. Oh well. You know what they say about hindsight.
Shelves with tile on top.
The tiling procedure was the same as usual. I attached hardibacker cement board to the plywood with thinset mortar and special screws (and 1 1/4″ galvanized roofing nails in the middle). Then I put the tiles on top one day, starting with the outside edge. I used V-cap for the edge, including a special V-cap piece for outside corners. For the inside corner, I had to make a very tricky diagonal cut (2 cuts actually). Those 2 cuts probably took me at least an hour.
This inside corner was a tricky cut. This alone took at least an hour.
I let the tile on the counter top cure overnight. Then I attached the backsplash and the trim around the floor with pre-mixed mastick. We still have a little bit left. I did use up the rest of the thinset mortar, and most of the grout. I finally grouted a couple days later. That is my least favorite part of the job.
Another tricky cut
Now the last thing I have to do is put some trim on the front of the shelves and around the drawers. That will probably require some staining of trim first. Hopefully I will get it done before we leave.
The backsplash didn’t quite fit under the window trim, so I had to make it a bit smaller.
Rob and Clare by the fireplace in the the Zang house
We are now the owners of 6423 Zang Ct. We have lots of work to do, but we are looking forward to it. It’s great that we got a bunch of experience doing home improvement in the Spencer house. More pictures in our photo albums