Thursday, May 31, 2012

Old yellow

I bet you didn't see this coming.  Nobody could have.  Weeks of our time were spent agonizing over the correct variation of white to paint our cabinets.  And now, the unthinkable is happening.  We are repainting them.  Our lovely Glacier White Corian countertops make our Swiss Coffee cabinets look ancient yellow.  I was unable to take a picture that showed how yellow the cabinets look next to the counters, so I will try to take a picture while painting to show the new color next to the old.

For painting round II we have a newly installed (and stupidly damaged) floor to protect, along with the beautiful light, new stove, other appliances, beautiful new counters, and the sleekest faucet you ever laid your eyes on.  Needless to say prep work was much more extensive for round two.

We started our prep by covering our counter with some painter's paper and masking tape. By chance this picture also shows the slight wood grain that shines through the paint.

Extra bonus:  We will be able to paint over the part of the cabinets that were previously covered by the laminate which hung over the cabinet frames.  As you probably assumed, that missing paint strip is a direct result of our unintelligent counter top installers tearing off some painters tape they had applied.  Now I will get to prime and paint their failure!

We covered the sink (which was full of dirty dishes) with the painters paper and covered the faucet with a garbage bag that we taped down to the paper.

The light was covered "Signs" style with aluminum foil which worked marvelously.

We also removed all the doors which will be painted out in the garage.  We plan to spray just one coat of paint over the existing paint since it is such a close match.  The insides of the frames will not be painted, they will just continue to live yellowish in the shadows.  Just like the round I, we will be using Benjamin Moore Advance, but this time in the stock white that they have.  Do not mistake this with "Base I" it is actually "White" which is already "colored."  I know, enough with the "quotes" onto the "after"...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Base booster

When Titus tore out the linoleum he also had the pleasure of first removing the baseboards.  Since we planned to reuse our our existing baseboards by simply painting them white, he actually labeled their location on the back as he removed them.  Then, he threw them in a giant pile in the garage to collect paint dust while he installed the gorgeous new floors.

Now that the walls have been painted, the cabinets are painted, and the floors have been installed we are ready to toss these baseboards back up.  First we will be painting them Behr Swiss Coffee to match the cabinets and the rest of the upstairs trim.

While preparing my paint for spraying, Titus laid the trusty paint plastic we used for spraying the cabinet doors all over our garage floor.  This time he taped down the edges so they wouldn't flap in the wind and stick to the fresh paint.

I then spread the baseboards out on the plastic.  Since the tops needed to be painted as well as the front facing portion, I just wedged a piece of scrap wood under the baseboards to hold them up at an angle, so the edges wouldn't stick to the plastic.

Then I put on my mask, safety glasses, shoe socks, and painting clothes just like I did here.  I first used my paint sprayer to spray on a coat of my favorite Benjamin Moore's Fresh Start primer and let it dry for an hour or so before spraying on a second coat.

After two coats of primer no more orange wood was showing through so they were ready for a couple coats of paint.  To paint the baseboards I used my paint sprayer with Behr Ultra paint.  In case your memory fails you or you boycotted my paint post, Behr Ultra is Behr's paint plus primer edition that I just so happen to dislike.  Since it is a paint plus primer it is fairly thick which my paint sprayer doesn't appreciate.  Therefore, I actually diluted the paint as directed by the back of the can.

Since the Behr Ultra I was using is a latex paint, I was able to just use water to dilute the paint.  I used something like one tablespoon for every two cups of paint or something tiny like that.  If you have oil based paint or primer you dilute it with something else less clean than water, but you'll have to check the back of the can for direction.

The diluted Behr Ultra worked decent enough to spray the entire baseboards, but I did have to wipe dried paint strings out of the nozzle of the spray gun a few times.  It wasn't too bad, but if you are planning on doing mass spraying with Behr Ultra it might end up fully clogging this type of spray gun.

For us, it got the job done and Titus was able to use his trusty new nail gun to throw those beasts back up. 

Don't worry that rug is just there to protect our already damaged floor from the huge compressor reaping more destruction.  And those little masking tape tabs on the floor are what Titus used to mark the stud locations so he knew where to shoot the nails.  How smart of him.

There were actually several locations that Titus put caulking between the edge of the floor and the wall in an attempt to prevent water damage.  He caulked around the refrigerator and stove cubbies (as seen here), in front of the sink's cabinet, along the sliding glass door, and along the front and garage doors.  I think he also caulked around the entryway closet, as well.  In these areas he just put the baseboards on top of the caulk which become completely hidden from view by the baseboards.

There are still little nail holes all over the baseboards that need to be filled and repainted, but now that we need to replace the floor due to the bad-at-life countertop installers, that would be pointless.  Therefore your after will be shown from a distance.

Hidden surprise:  the last post actually had the baseboards up in its after.  How anticlimactic for you.

Friday, May 25, 2012

White != Brown

Today is the day people.  New counters all around!

When Titus and I first started our countertop search, we were considering granite, cement, Corian, and quartz.  We wanted to go with something mostly really light in color like our inspiration room.  It was very important with the newly installed dark floors to keep the room light with the counters.  The thought of light counters did scare Titus deeply, but luckily I tricked him into going along with it.

We looked at Ikea first, mostly because we just happened to pass the countertops while browsing the showroom.  We found a couple granite counter tops that we thought were acceptable and one Corian countertop we liked. Titus and I didn't agree on a favorite at this point.

When our search became more serious, we went to Home Depot to browse their selection.  We found that Corian was the cheapest but scratched easily, I didn't love any of the quartz samples and their crazy rocky appearance, and granite is really expensive for something I am just not a huge fan of. Titus had high hopes of trying to DIY some cement counters, but the risk was just too much for me to handle.

After much discussion, Titus and I decided to go with Corian in Glacier White from Home Depot.  Ikea actually carries the exact same color of Corian for about two dollars cheaper per square foot, but we had had great luck with Home Depot, and also had a 10% off coupon, so we decided they were the best choice.  Home Depot also works with an installation company which happened to be Granite Tops, Inc in this case.
When the counters arrived at our house after six long weeks of waiting, I was so terribly excited.  I was tired of having unsanitary, paint covered counters and a terribly stained, disgusting sink.

And look, we are finally getting them!

Now for a little Friday horror story:

When the installers called to say they were coming Titus knew things wouldn't go well.  Apparently they radiated bad attitudes and laziness through the phone.

When they arrived, they just walked into our house not saying a single word, and went straight to the kitchen.  That seemed awkward but not terrible.  Then, shortly after they had arrived, I went to the living room to practice patience when I heard a loud crash.  I thought for sure the installers had dropped our brand new counters that we waited a preposterously long time for.  When I looked down, I realized our counters were OK and they must have just dropped some 100 pound tool.

After putting down some silicone and laying the countertops on the cabinets, they started their seam gluing process.  This is horribly stinky and probably bad for your health.  I left the room.  Titus stayed and supervised and probably lost a few years off his life.  If it isn't the dead of Minnesota winter, open your windows.  The smell stayed in our house for two days because I didn't do this.  The glue sat and smelled for twenty minutes while it dried.  Then the awkward installers came back in to sand the seam flat.  They hooked a shop vac to their sander, so this really didn't put off much dust which was a wonderful surprise.

After the sanding was complete our counters were finally finished!  I had been waiting for this moment so very long and was so exited!  Then, I saw there work: not awesome.  I immediately noticed a gap where they hadn't put enough glue, yet other parts of the seam were raised and still needed more sanding.  I pointed this out to the cranky installation leader man and he didn't care.  Only then did he point out that the seam also had many dirty spots.  His plan was to do nothing about it.  As I continued to look, I saw the entire seam was gross and brown with his greasy finger dirt.  I stated that it was really unacceptable but he continued to not care.  He just wanted us to sign his stupid paper so he could leave.  Basically, we forced out of him that some other guy would have to fix it later and we would have to take more work off because of how bad he is at life.

Here is me attempting to get a picture of the terrible seam.  I swear it is bad, I just have a hard time getting a picture because the counter is so bright and my camera hates me.  In real life, the entire seam appears brown, the whole length of the counter...

I wish this were the end of the story.  The installers also applied blue painters tape to our cabinets without us knowing, and when they tore the tape off it tore the paint on the cabinets off.  This isn't unexpected but a warning would have been nice, so this is me warning you.

The worst news:  the installers put chips in our brand new floor in three separate location.  Three.  One in front of the sink and two right in the middle of the room trio.  Remember that huge bang where I thought they broke our counters?  Don't worry it wasn't the counters, it was just the new floor Titus worked so hard on.

I won't burden you with more horror story, but in summary we would not ever under any circumstances ever, EVER recommend anyone work with Granite Tops, Inc.  Note that Home Depot was totally great to work with, just make sure their installer isn't Granite Tops, Inc..  They were a nightmare from start to finish.  They never called us to schedule a measure or an installation even though they were supposed to.  They measured a week later than we were promised and two weeks longer between measure and install.  Obviously the installation was beyond a nightmare.

Since Home Depot used Granite Tops, Inc as an installer, we didn't have a choice.  If we were to do it over again we would without question have the counters installed through Ikea.

On to the Corian itself...

Obviously a big concern for us was the fact that the counters were pure white.  Corian is completely non-porous so it isn't supposed to stain at all.  But who really believes nothing will stain pure white counters?   Don't worry, I made sure to test it out for you the very night we had the counters installed.  I was working on a cake and had smeared rec food all over the brand new counters:

See there at the top?  Bright red, smeared all over and pushed on.  But, I'm happy to tell you, Home Depot lady wasn't lying about the counter's stain resistance.  Here is the counter after some Mrs. Meyers and some mild wash cloth scrubbing:

Pure white, people.  This beast cleans up more easily than my powder blue laminate ones did!  And just for fun, here is what I was making:

Along with our new countertops we purchased a brand new stainless steel sink!  No more nasty white sink that attaches to any dirty substance placed within it!  To match our beautiful new stainless steel sink, we got a lovely stainless steel faucet.  I searched for months on Overstock and Amazon before settling on the faucet.  I wanted a faucet that would be sleek and symmetric.  I'm not a huge fan of the pull down sprayer but knew it would be best for resale.  My mother also taught me the faucet is no place for being thrifty.  Apparently the cheapskate faucets are the leakers. 

After our terrible counter installation, Titus went right to work installing the new faucet.  He used some plumbers mud, and actually had to buy some new pipes for the deeper more awesome sink.  After installing the faucet and drain, he hooked the garbage disposal back up to the sink and the dishwasher.

The faucet is beautiful.  It is so sleek with all its fancy one handle design.  I must say that I hate the pull down sprayer because I have to physically force it back in place any time I pull it down to use. It has a weight attacked to it, which is supposed to help pull it back in place, but either the weight needs an orientation change, or it just doesn't work.

Look at that sleek symmetry and tell me you don't love it.

The good news is the sink and faucet look great, and some "Corian specialist" is coming to fix the counter in a few days.  We will have to take off more work for their lack of skill, but at least it will get fixed... hopefully.  They claim they will also fix our floor for us, but even that is sad, because of how hard Titus worked on it.  

The tentative before and after:

Please excuse the trash and groceries on the counter.  I was almost too angry to take this picture at all, let alone actually clean the tainted new countertop off.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Blue powder

Here is where I left you.  One gorgeously near completion kitchen!

You can probably guess our next step in the kitchen makeover.  Removing the lovely powder-blue-orange-oak-trimmed laminate counters and the nasty white sink.

The sink is not sanitary.  Any dirt or germs and enter this area become aggressively attached.  The only way to remove stains is by using Soft Scrub with Bleach which is also good at removing all moisture from my hands.

So we took that beast out.  Titus had the honor of unhooking the pipes and such after turning the water off under the sink with the turn valve.  He also removed the tube from the dishwasher to the garbage disposal.  We then lifted the sink out and carried it to the garage.  It was not light but so worth my minor finger pain.

Time for countertop removal.  First, Titus unscrewed the counters from a few corners of the cabinets where it was attached from the inside.  After he thought he had removed all the screws attaching the counter, we tried to lift the ugly beast to throw it somewhere it belongs.

Unfortunately the counter was also attached above the dishwasher in a location that Titus couldn't reach.  Since dishwashers come with the shortest tubes and wires, it is difficult to take it out to reach the screws.  So Titus actually whipped out his circular saw and cut a rectangle out of the embarrassing counters and cut the screw off with his Dremel.

Tada!  All ready for new counters... Tomorrow!!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Camping for the cure

The last time you saw our enormous railing it was bare naked.  As you probably remember, while Titus removed the linoleum, I was hard at work sanding the railing and stairs.  The plan was to stain the large posts, and the top railing and bottom baluster holder piece that is parallel to the floor.

I wanted to match the railing and stair stain to the color of the laminate as closely as possible.  For the railing, I decided to use Minwax Polyshades in Mission Oak, which is a polyurethane and stain combination.  I chose the satin finish since I don't like anything too shiny. 

The only thing I did to prepare for the railing staining process was push some frog tape down into the carpet as far as possible.  Then, I began brushing on the Polyshades with a brush Home Depot labeled as "better;"  I don't remember the brand, but if you look at the brushes at Home Depot, you will know what I'm talking about.  This Polyshades stuff was pretty terrible to apply.  It didn't go on evenly, and I had to do a lot of spot touch ups.  After the first coat I was certain I had made a terrible mistake, but the second spot touch up coat helped significantly.  I also ended up going back and applying a layer of semi-gloss poly because the satin finish made it look like there was no poly at all -- just gross, dull stain.  After just one coat of semi-gloss poly the railing was looking acceptable. 

I should note that the Polyshades doesn't really blend with the wood grain like normal stain, it mostly just covers it up and lets a little of it show through.  Below you will see the verticle lines, which are not wood grain, but are mostly just brush strokes.  It doesn't look completely terrible, but the darker you go in color, the less wood grain you will see.

For the stairs I planned to use a mixture of Minwax Provincial, Dark Walnut, and English Chestnut covered with a top coat of Minwax polyurethane in a semi-gloss. Yes, I thought it was necessary to mix three different stain colors together to get the correct color.

Before applying the stain to the stairs, I first cleaned them with Minwax Pre-Stain which I had on a rag.  This is supposed to prevent unevenness and clean of any other random dirtiness the stairs have left.  It also prevents the wood from getting those little raised splinter-like spots that sometimes happen when staining. 

To apply the stain to the stairs, I used some disposable rags from home depot.  I did two coats of stain.  For each coat I slapped on a bunch of stain, waited ten minutes, and wiped off the excess.  As you wipe the excess off you can even out any blotches by not taking as much stain of in those areas, and taking more stain off in the darker areas.  Just make sure you don't leave extra stain sitting to dry on the wood.

My stairs ended up having a few spots of blotchiness, but nothing too devastating.  Luckily, we actually have quarter round that goes on the edges of each tread and riser, so I didn't need to sand or stain the edges of our stairs, which is why they look hideous in this picture.

The color is also terribly off in this picture since the flash was used and my camera hates me.

After one full weekend, I completed staining and polyurethaning the stairs, and applied approximately one coat (give or take some touch ups) of Polyshades and one coat of  semi-gloss poly to the railing.  The railing included the large posts, and the parts parallel to the floor.

I am actually pretty happy with how the railing color matches up with the floor color.

During this entire process we were not able to climb the stairs, therefore we set up Titus' enormous ladder over the railing.  We wanted the poly to cure as long as possible before we used the stairs at all.  The poly can says it takes one week to fully cure but can take some light use in 48 hours.  Since our dog doesn't know the meaning of light use, he would not be traveling the stairs until they had fully cured. 

This meant Jacque would need to stay downstairs for a full week.  Since I couldn't possibly make Jacque sleep all alone, Titus and I set up camp in the family room with Jacque for the whole week the stairs cured.  It was like camping!

After camping for a week, we walked upstairs to view our beautiful before and after:

Now, I just need to prime and paint the balusters white and throw up some board and batten on the yellow part of the wall!

Friday, May 18, 2012

The silver lining

Our orange cabinets were not of super amazing quality.  They didn't even have backs to them, just the drywall.  So naturally we figured the hinges were a pile as well.  Wrong.  Apparently our hinges are "double demountable" which is awesome for removing the doors and hinges, but not awesome for the wallet when replacing them. And ours needed replacing.  They were gold.  Much like every piece of metal in my house was when I purchased them.

The gold hinges looked fairly normal on the orange cabinets.  They sort of blended right in.

The double demountable hinges have only 2 screws that need to unscrewed to remove the hinge.  One on the door and one on the frame.  It actually has a small plate that inserts into a slot cut into the frame and door that the hinge screws into.  So it basically just pinches against a section of wood on the cabinets.

When browsing the web for some sort of silver replacement, we found them to be around $8 a pair.  That would add up to about $184 with our 23 pairs needed.  This price led us to plan B:  painting the existing hinges.

I had my doubts about the paint actually staying on the hinges.  For example the arrow is pointing out the natural wear the hinge has undergone in its ten years of life.  If this happened to the original hinge's metal, how could a coat of paint ever stay on the hinge?  But apparently other people had had wonderful luck painting their hinges.

We gave it a shot.  I first sprayed some Kilz spray primer on the hinges.  After letting the primer dry for a day, I sprayed some Rustoleum nickel spray paint on them.  I let the paint dry for approximately 2 more days before I tried to open the hinge.  The paint immediately scraped off just like I thought it would.

I'm guessing the other people who painted their hinges had a different type of hinge.  Ours is designed with a plastic block inside which is meant to rub on the hinge to prevent slamming.  Because of this intentional friction, spray painting just wasn't in the cards for our high maintenance hinges.

After more googling Titus found some decently priced hinges from Kitchen Cabinet Hardware which were only $4.57 a pair.  That added up to only $117.22 with tax(we ordered one extra pair for good luck).

One day later (thanks to the hinges being shipped out of Monticello, MN) we had a big box of heavily packaged hinges!!!

Look how much nicer the actual silver hinges are next to my ugly painted hinge!  Good thing we bought new ones...

After about 30 minutes of installation I have your much anticipated before and after:

A stainless steal

When I first bought our house three years ago, all my appliances were white.  Then Titus bought a refrigerator for his house (yes we had two houses, no it was not awesome) on an online price error, and a matching stainless dishwasher.  When we got engaged and decided to sell Titus' house, he moved his new fridge and dishwasher into my house and we put my old white fridge and dishwasher into his house.  Titus also found a barely used stainless microwave to match the fridge and dishwasher on Craigslist, which allowed us to sell the old white one.  That left us with only one white appliance.  The stove.

Very few things that came with my house were quality, but the stove was definitely the exception.  The stove has a double oven, the top oven being the one we use most frequently since it is smaller and takes less energy to heat.  The second oven is larger and it is a convection oven which means I use it to make six cakes at a time which was very important to me since I also make cakes.

Our oven's awesomeness far outweighed its ugliness, and has therefore never been replaced.  However, I have dreamed of this gem from Home Depot for months.  It is the same brand as our refrigerator and dish washer, the lower oven is convection, and it is self cleaning.  It also breaks the bank.

So I stalked Craigslist for something in the vicinity of this oven's awesomeness.  I would have settled for anything stainless and convection.  I found nothing.  Then, after a good day of Googling, I found our exact Gemini on sale at a Sears outlet.  It was one of those cosmetically damaged ones.  You know, where they have a scratch on the side that nobody will ever see since it is between to cabinets.  That Friday we went and visited our new find.  It was lovely, but I wasn't ready to commit.  After sleeping on it, we went back Saturday and made the big purchase.  At the end we paid $1,033.67 including tax, which is at least $500 less than we would have spent at Home Depot.

After hauling the heaviest oven ever made inside and weaving the it between the peninsula and island, we found out it doesn't actually fit in our kitchen.  It fits totally fine between the cabinets.  But the plug in that sticks out from the wall runs into the back of the oven panel in the wrong location.  There is an indent built into the back oven panel where the outlet is apparently supposed to be exactly located, with which our outlet does not match up. After much discussion, we decided to keep the oven and move the outlet.  We thought about hiring an electrician, but I convinced my loving husband that my old physics degree would love for me to put my electronics knowledge to use.  Technically no electrical anything would need to be done -- we will just move the outlet box over one wall stud.  This has yet to be done so our oven still sits about 8" away from the wall, exposing my embarrassing past in the form of neon yellow wall paint.

The day after my dreams had come true, I immediately put it to good use by making four cakes simultaneously.  The oven did actually emit a very unsafe smelling gas with the first use, but the manual claims it is totally non harmful unless you are a bird, which I am not.  So if you have a new oven and a bird, don't put them in the same room for a while.  The good news is the cake tasted normal and nobody has died yet.

Later today:  a post which accompanies the kitchen cabinet, floor, and oven reveal.  Yay.