Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Freezer Keezer

Keezer (Definition) noun:  A freezer/keg combination.  A freezer that has been modified to serve beer.  See also: kegerator

These are the types of things I learn everyday living with Mike.

I've explained before that we had two keezers already in the basement, (technically one was a kegerator, as it is a refrigerator/keg combination), but realized it would be best to sell them and buy one large freezer in order to utilize the nook space.


  
Since we were in the process of cleaning out the laundry room I decided to check out the pricing for chest freezers.  My thought being to buy and move the new one into position and then take these two straight out to the garage to sell.  One of my biggest issues with this project is the constant moving things into one spot, then moving it back, only to move it somewhere else in the end.

I found a freezer the size we needed on sale at Best Buy and convinced Mike to stop by during a trip to Home Depot.  We weren't planning to buy it, (isn't that what they always say), but decided we might as well once we got there.  The price was $399, marked down from $560.  We thought it was a pretty good price.  That's until the sales woman said that it was "mis-marked because they no longer had them in stock."  She said she would honor the price on a similar model or we could get the floor model for an even deeper discounted price.  I try not to seem too overly excited when someone tells me awesome news so I kinda looked at Mike like "Ehh, I'm not sure about this."  But, secretly inside both Mike and I were jumping up an down.  The floor model was in great shape and she ended up giving us 30% off the sale price, for the final price of $299.  That's 47% off the original price!  So obviously, we loaded it up right there and went home instead of finishing our errands.

After removing all the things from the laundry room, we hauled the old keezers up to the garage and the new one, (which is still just a freezer before Mike does his magic), downstairs to it's new home in the beer cave.  (Although it's not pushed in all the way, so when were done, it won't stick out that much).



Since I didn't take any pictures of the painted walls before, you're getting a double treat!  The pictures were looking a little peachy so I fixed my white balance and this is a more accurate color of the walls.


The freezer has a couple inches on each side and fits perfectly, (it was designed that way).  And we didn't push it all the back into place because we have to remove it to add the trim along the wall.  We'll do all the trim together so we're waiting until after the floor in the family room is done.

I've already got ideas of how to make this little cave more beer-rific and Mike's already planning on converting this bad boy to a bonafide keezer.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Our Dusty Little Secret

I'm a little backlogged on posts that I need to write.  We've been working every night on this basement and we are ready for it to be over.  Every time we think we're making a lot of progress we remember that we have 5 spaces, (including the stairwell) to complete and we get bummed again.  Since we're gluttons for punishment, (and over-sharers) we figured we might as well add the laundry room into the makeover and I thought it was high time to show you the mess space we're working with.


Since the basement project started we had to do some rearranging.  The biggest task was moving the behemoth of a sectional upstairs. 

As for the rest of the stuff in the basement we didn't think twice about stuffing it all into the laundry room.  Since the room is basically storage and laundry, I didn't see a problem.  That is until the chaos of disorganization makes you finally want to scream.

Here's what we've been hiding for the last couple months.


I have not hated doing laundry so much as I do right now.  I used to have a table where the chest freezer is and could set the laundry that needed folded up there.  Now there's space for a couple baskets on top.  We don't even like to put the baskets on the floor because it's gotten so dusty from all the concrete cutting and drywall sanding.



You can see the amount of dirt that has gotten into this room by how dusty all of our liquor bottles are, and before you think we're crazy alcoholics by all the bottles, our neighbor takes care of the elderly and was helping one of her clients clean out her cabinets and gave us about 80% of those bottles, (the other 20% are mostly wine bottles), a lot of them are things like sole gin that I have yet to figure out how to use.  So, we don't drink that much, we just can't pass up free liquor!


You can see behind the filing cabinet and water heater the new wall built for the beer cave.  Not that we used that space for any serious storage, we did have things like the snowboards and skis, that we now have to figure out where to store.

Since we had to clean this room up after the concrete cutting and sanding dust bomb, we figured the easiest way would be to move everything into the new family room, (before the flooring is installed), and clean everything up as it came back into the room.  Most people wouldn't be this crazy, but we're insane and this is the best way to make sure everything it clean, (60% of the stuff in here is homebrew things so it's got to be super clean anyways).

Well the day of reckoning was upon us once the room was primed, the ceilings were painted, and the lights we in.  It actually only took Mike and I about an hour to move everything from the laundry room into the middle of the room.


 
Since the room is the barest we've seen it since moving in we decided to touch up the paint on the walls and repaint the floor, (which we did before moving in, but have had some major spots get beat up).

I'll paint the walls around whats left.  We've left the washer/dryer and the kegerators for now, and plan to finish all the outstanding laundry before moving them out to paint the floor.  The kegerators are actually being sold since bit the bullet and bought the larger chest freezer for the new beer cave.  We'll move those directly out to the garage when we move the new one into it's permanent home.

Now that everything is moved out it's nice to see what were working with.

 
Mike added a couple sheets of left over drywall from the family room to the back wall to finish out the space.  I'll paint it the same color as the walls since we still have about a gallon of the paint leftover from when we painted when we moved in.


You can see that the floor paint has come off in a couple spots, to show the red paint that was there before, (eww).  The large area above actually happened when we had Benelli's litter box down here and it sat on a large rubber mat.  The mat got stuck to the floor, (it had a sticky-like quality, probably so that the cat doesn't push it all over the house), and pulled up the paint when we moved it, ugh!  (We've since thrown it out not to ever happen again!)


I just had to throw that last photo in since I've never been able to stand in that spot since we've moved in.  The door is actually a pocket door Mike installed a year or two ago and will get trimmed out on both sides. 

Now that all the junk is out, we're anxious to repaint and clean everything to put it all back in.  We're working on finishing all of our laundry and figuring out where to put the two keg freezers before we move those big guys out.  It'll be nice to have everything out and have a chance to paint and clean, and reorganize everything, but with it sitting in the middle of the room, it's made progress on the other rooms a pain in the butt.  Not stopping us though, just a hassle to work around.  Can't slow us down!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Cold Tile and Heated Floors

We bought the tile for the basement bath/closet/beer cave when we bought the upstairs bathroom tile supplies.  Our local supplier was running a deal that if you ordered 200 sqft worth of tile, grout and thinset you would get a free wet saw.  Since we knew we would need a wet saw for both projects we ordered it all together.  Before we even knew what we were doing in the basement.  Yes, it made me anxious.  Mike wanted to order the future kitchen tile at the same time.  I had to put my foot down somehwere.

Ordering tile before you have a plan is a bad idea.  Luckily, we had a couple perimeters.  It had to be inexpensive, (it is a basement bathroom afterall), we wanted larger tiles for easier installation, (we were tiling the bathroom, closet, and beer cave), and it had to hide dirt, (I've explained the planned usage for the bathroom here).  We found some 12"x12" tiles that were beigy with some darker brown veins in the clearance section.  Not my first choice, but they fit the bill. 


So, after I primed the walls and painted the ceilings, we were good to go on installing the tile.  The first thing we had to prep was the heated floor system.  Yep, you heard right, all my explanations about the basement bathroom being more utilitarian than anything else, and we go all fancy and install a heated floor.  Well let's say it pays to know people.  Or, know people who know people.


Obviously you all know that Mike and I work in the construction management industry.  I work more office and Mike works more field, but basically doing the same thing.  Mike really likes to get to know all the guys in the field, including all the subcontractors.  He's made some good friends with some of them and an electrician buddy invited Mike to an electrical convention of some sorts, (I have no idea what it was, but I think there was food and drinks involved, so Mike was down).  There he was introduced to a rep the electrician knew and Mike got to talking and the conversation of heated floors came up.  Mike said it would be cool to have, but not in our budget.  That's when the guy said he had a system Mike could have.  Just like that.  I'm not sure if it's an outdated system, or something that was purchased for a project that was never installed.  I don't care.  It's ours and I don't care where it came from.  I mean the guy was a rep for the company so it wasn't a "fell of the truck" special or anything, we do have morals, people.

Anyways, the system was perfect for the bathroom.  I'm not sure the specifics of what was done behind the wall, but we had to cut the concrete to set the temperature sensor in, then we laid the mat on the floor.  We placed it in the middle of the room so that it's in front of the vanity and toilet and shower.


The white line that comes out at a diagonal of the wall on the right is the sensor.

Below, you can see that a wire was run under the wall and connected to the mat.


We have a designated switch for the controller next to the light switch.


Included in the box was this little sensor that you attached to the wire and when it's attached and has a battery installed, it doesn't make a sound.  When a wire is cut, or the circuit is disrupted for any reason it emits a noise.  This is used during installation and we attached it right before we started tiling.  That way, if Mike messed it up in some way, we would know right away.

Clear nail polish is the perfect base for paint splatter.  I'm to lazy to get the nail polish remover out just yet.

The tile installation went the same as any other tile job.  Mike did notice that the wires added a little extra thickness, so he tried to compensate in the bathroom on the floor where there wasn't any wire.

When he made it out of the bathroom, past the wires, be started thinning it out to normal thickness, so that it would line up with the laminate flooring.



I was the tile provider during this operation, which meant I had some downtime in between loads, so I took the opportunity to finalize my paint choices.

I waited until the lights were installed since I had no idea what the basement would look like all lit up.  I wanted light colors because we have such large and dark furniture, also, because of the lower ceilings I wanted to keep the room from looking small.

I ended up picking the bottom and top colors for the main family room and bathroom, respectively.  Both are Behr from Home Depot, (color matched to Sherwin Williams ProMar 200), the bottom dark color is Mineral, and the top is Cotton Knit, (the one in the middle is Canvas Tan, which I decided against at the last minute).


We finished tiling and grouting, and then I promptly painted everything, so I'll share some photos soon with the paint and tile complete.

We're still going strong and working way past our bedtime every night.  While I'm not saying we're going to be complete anytime soon, we've definitely made a lot of progress, and will hopefully have some exciting photos to share.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

How to Texture (or Retexture) Ceilings

Sorry, there's really no pun to explain a ceiling texture tutorial.

After the drywall was finished, it was time to mud.  Mike's the drywall extraordinaire, so I let him do his thing.  Plus mudding falls into that category of "messy things that don't easily wash out of clothing", so it's better that I don't watch.  After everything was mudded I was called down again to help with ceiling texture.  Since we tore out all the ceilings on the second floor, and just recently did the ceiling in the new bathroom, we knew what we were doing, and most importantly who's good at what.  Mike's the roller and I'm the stamper.  Since I didn't explain how we did it for either of those projects, I figured now's as good a time as any to make a tutorial.

First, you have to decide what type of texture you want.  This isn't the most important design decision you have to make, but have you ever looked up in a room and saw a popcorn ceiling and cringed? Yeah, don't be those people.  We prefer a knockdown look, because it's simple and more modern, which is basically adding a stamped textured, then coming back and, you guessed it, knocking it down with a squeegee, don't worry pictures are coming.

First, you want to gather your supplies,


1. Joint Compound | 2. Roller, (the thicker the nap, the more texture) | 3. Rubber Squeegee Knockdown Knife | 4. Oval Single Texture Brush   

After gathering your supplies, you need to prep the ceilings.  Since Mike already mudded all the joints, he roughly sanded everything to a smooth finish.  Since you're covering it up with a texture it doesn't have to be perfect, but you don't want any noticeable edges that may show through.


You should probably not be a dumbass and wear safety glasses during this.  Nobody likes extra fine joint compound dust in their eyes.  Heck, you should probably wear a full mask, even if you are just taking pictures, that stuff gets everywhere. 


Next, quickly wipe down the ceilings to throw even more compound dust in the air to fall and get everything dirty.  We've cleaned this room probably 5 times already, but, I'm not bitter.

Now comes the real stuff.  We use premixed joint compound, so Mike just slaps some into an empty bucket and adds a little bit of water to thin it out.  The point of thinning it is so it easily rolls onto the ceiling.  TIP: Buy one of the those rounded trowels you see Mike holding.  It's made specifically for scraping buckets.


 
After you add the right amount of water, (Mike's done this a few times to he knows how much to add, but for someone doing it for the first time I'd add a little bit at a time, maybe a cup or two each time for a half of a 5-gallon bucket), you use a drill attachment to mix it up.


The consistency is thinner than peanut butter, more like brownie batter.  You know, easy enough to pour, but you still need a spatula to spread it all out.  Definitely thicker than paint, even the really thick primer stuff.

Then you use a roller attached to a long pole to dip into the mixture and coat really well.


After the roller is thoroughly loaded up, start rolling onto the ceiling.  Mike likes to work in square sections, making sure the area is evenly coated.


We only had a smaller nap roller on hand so Mike went over the area a couple times to coat it.  You're looking for a thin, even, layer, about 3/8" thick.  The thinner or thicker you coat it, the lighter or heavier the texture is going to be.

While Mike was rolling, I was mentally preparing myself for the very important task of texturing.  Actually, it requires little thought at all and is pretty fun, (my kind of tasks).  I waited for Mike to finish the whole length and about a 4 foot section before I got to work. 

It's important to have one person do the textureing, because once you find your groove, it's going to be unique and adding someone else, will yield a different style.  That's why I like to say I have the most important part of the job, although I usually don't say it out loud.  Don't want to bring down the morale of my partner.

So, I'm up and I use the brush and firmly stamp it in the wet compound keeping the brush flat.  The roller leaves the veiny looking texture behind, but you're looking for the stippled effect.  
 
  

The oval brush leaves an oval negative space in the middle, so as you stamp, you need to rotate the brush so everything has a uniform texture.

By the time I'm done stamping my section, Mike's done with another 4' section, so we move down the room together.  Make sure to get all the ceiling, including the edges, it may get on the walls, but it's worth it.

Depending on the size of the room, (and how long it takes you to roll and stamp), the next step may require some waiting time.  Since the room is pretty big and Mike took his time rolling on the compound, (due to the smaller nap), we only waited a couple minutes before starting at the beginning of the room to do the knockdown.

The knockdown technique takes some practice.  Mike's got it down, but I wouldn't attempt it without practice on a piece of cardboard or something.  The compound needs to be stiff, but not completely dry.  The squeegee is used to flatten the pointy edges of the stamp, but you don't want to wipe everything off by doing it too early.  Mike usually uses his finger to test a spot to see if it's dry enough.  If it sticks to your fingers it's too wet, it needs to come off somewhat clean, but have a little resistance when you touch it.

Make sure the squeegee is clean, and holding it at a 45 degree angle, lightly wipe across the ceiling.  As you can see in the picture below, there's a small sliver of light between the squeegee and ceiling.  There's not a lot of pressure used, you're just skimming the very top to flatten those points.


Mike does one pass at a time, about 4' in length, to maintain control.  He cleans the squeegee off with a clean towel ofter every pass.


This part takes some patience, but goes really quickly.  You don't want to be too long, because the other side of the room is drying while you're working.  If the compound dries completely, (which you would have to be really slow for that to happen - it's usually too wet and requires waiting), it won't work, and you'll have to sand it to get the same texture.

After the room is rolled, stamped, and knocked down, Mike takes a flat edges trowel and scrapes along the edges of the ceiling to get all of the compound off of the wall.  It's easiest with a trowel because you can start with the trowel up in the corner and scrape down, making sure that all that hard earned texture remains.

 
I know this post is getting lengthy, but I also wanted to share how to retexture a ceiling since many may not be installing new ceilings all the time.  We kept the ceilings in the stairwell, but had cut holes for wiring and lights so we wanted to add new texture.  We also wanted it to match the new ceiling down the stairs more so than the stipple texture that was already there.

For most, the knowdown look can be achieved with simply sanding all the pointy edges down.  But like we had, there may be holes that needed to be filled, so we textured over everything.  The only difference between new texture and retexturing, is the thickness.  You want to first sand down all the point edges, (if you have popcorn ceilings, first let me me say I'm sorry, but that also means you can completely remove the popcorn and start over as if it was new), this is only necessary if you have a texture like the rosebud:

via

After sanding all the points down, you want to follow the same steps above, but apply a much thicker layer of compound.  A thicker nap roller will definitely come in handy for this.  Then you will have to stamp a little bit lighter since you have a thicker layer.  And, then wait a little bit longer for it to set up before knocking it down.

We did it in the steps first and the only difference was the space was a little tighter.


We kept it a little lighter in the steps than what I suggested for retexturing because after sanding down the original ceilings, it was pretty much the look we were going for.  The point of redoing it all was to blend the patched holes.

After letting it dry overnight I was able primer and paint everything over the next couple of days.  Since I've bored everyone to tears with such a detailed tutorial on ceiling texture I'll leave you with a look at the lights we were able to install after the paint was dried.


These bad boys are amazing and have made such a difference in the room already.  It's made the late nights working down here almost tolerable.  Or at least tricked us into thinking it's not as late as it really is with all the light. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

All Walls Drywalled

When I explained the lighting plan I gave a sneak peak of the drywall installation we've completed.  Now I'm back to show you all of the drywall, and even a little surprise in the bathroom, (sorry, that sounded bad).

I'll start by showing the ceiling again in the main family room.



Mike and I worked as an awesome team, (not always the case when it comes to construction projects), to put all the ceiling drywall up.  Since ceiling board is a thicker 5/8", it's definitely a two person job.  We worked together to measure and cut the board, Mike manhandled it into place, then I used a deadman brace, (just a short piece of 2x4 drilled to a long piece to form a T), to hold it up for him. 

We pre-measured the lights and vent, so we just marked out the centers after screwing the sheet of drywall and used a rotozip (a spiral saw) to plunge into the drywall at the center hole, then cut to the edge of the box, then you take it out of the drywall and plunge in on the other side of the box, cutting all the way around the shape, using the box as a guide.  Here's a video I found on the rotozip site that shows the process we used.  It's by far the most efficient way to cut holes in drywall.

After the ceiling went in, Mike worked here and there to get the rest of the drywall up.  Here's the beer cave:


And, the structural beam between the family room and beer cave/bathroom hall.



The area under the stairs is still getting worked on, and will need the storage built before drywall is installed.
  
Mike used moisture resistant board to fill in the areas of drywall on the ceiling and walls in the bathroom.  We chose to keep any existing drywall that made it though the demo since it was still in good shape. 

Even though it isn't moisture resistant, we're not worried since there wasn't any damage done and the bathroom had horrible ventilation, (the lack of damage was probably due to the fact it's a secondary bathroom that didn't see a lot of showers, except when we were renovating the upstairs bath).  We've installed a vented glass block window and a new fan, so we're confident that we won't have a moisture problem.


The big surprise in the bathroom is that the shower is installed!



Mike had to have it installed to build the half wall on the one side before the ceiling drywall was installed.

Even though its only about 18" bigger than the old one, it feels like it takes up the whole room right now.  I know that it sounds weird, but it always feels bigger once we start installing the things like a toilet and vanity.  Right now it seems like it will be crowded, but once those items get installed it will feel better.

With the shower and half wall installed, I was finally able to see the small area where a built-in will go, (we're planing something similar to the upstairs bath built-in storage, but much to my dismay we're going to make it closed storage so that we can hid non-bathroom items in there since we don't need all the extra storage).


Now that it's all installed, the drywall mudding can begin.  Mike's been doing a little here and there, and once the ceiling texture is finished I can paint and install the lights.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Lover of the Light

Side note: I'm a little late, but I'm obsessed with this Mumford and Sons song.  I watched the video the first time I heard it and literally broke down it's so beautiful. (Check it out here!) Now back to renovating...

When I showed the floor leveling I purposely cropped the photo short, that's because we finished the drywall, (specifically the ceiling), before I got around to photographing the floor.


Before the ceiling went in, we had to pull all new wiring to the new lights we are going to install, (those fugly bulbs hanging down are just temporary work lights).  This was probably one of the most exciting parts of the project, since we've never had lighting down here.  You think I'm exaggerating, but for the last 3 years we've used a single ugly lamp the previous owner's left in the basement to light the entire room.  As you can see in this photo, Mike finally got smart and attached it to a ceiling joist with some screws.  


As much as that solution has worked for the last couple of weeks we've been working down there, it's not really the look we're going for.

Instead, we've added 10 new lights.  Six alone in the family room.   Most are brand new lights where there wasn't one before, and a couple are new wiring and boxes and slight adjustment to placement.  I made a little lighting scheme to show how it'll all work.


The stairs got a light at the top and the bottom.  We had a light in the middle of the stairs, actually at the landing, where the pantry used to be, (the same area that we had to tweak before we built the deck).  Both will be on a three-way switch and have one at the top of the stairs and bottom.

The six lights in the family room are new and we're really excited to bring a lot of light into this room.  Even though it's a basement we have two glass block windows that bring in a good amount of light.  Obviously, at night it gets really dark.  All of these lights are on a dimmer.  Mike even got fancy and bought a remote dimmer, which means we can sit on the couch and dim when we're watching a movie.

There's a light in the new beer cave, (Mike changed the name from nook to cave - "More manly"), one in the closet, and new overhead light in the bathroom.  Mike also added a box for a light over the vanity, (not pictured), that we'll add later.

All these lights are LED's and Mike's really excited to test them out.  He did a lot of research of recessed LED vs. florescent can lights, and came out with a pretty good deal.  What drew Mike to pick the LED was not only the energy efficiency, but also the ease of construction.  Unlike traditional can lights where you need to buy separate housing and trim kits, then the bulbs, these LED's are one piece that fit directly into the J-box.  On of the guys at Mike's jobsite first pointed them out, and then our friend who's a commercial electrician also recommended them and told us where the best deal was, and if they are good enough for those guys, they're good enough for us.

These are the lights we ended up getting, and although they do extend out from the ceiling a little, (something that I, at first, wasn't too excited about), the amount of light, (or lumens), was really important to us, and the recessed LED's don't put out as many lumens.  So, in the end, we chose one that was both economical, as well as having all the specifications that we wanted, like 180 degrees of illumination instead of just a spot light.

via

Once we finish the drywall, both installing and mudding, we'll add the ceiling texture and we can finally install these bad boys.  I'm excited for not only the light, but I've also been putting off picking a paint color before we have all the lights that will be used installed.  You all know I'm not afraid to paint a room a few different colors before getting it right, I'd just like to get it on the first try this time!