Thursday, September 15, 2011

DIY Concrete Umbrella Stand

The umbrella stand in all its glory
It occurs to me, as I'm writing this update, that I really should have taken a photo of the actual umbrella and the table it is covering. Anyway, as you can see I made a concrete umbrella stand for the umbrella and patio table we picked up over Labor Day weekend. This is my first attempt at DIY concrete casting and I think it came out pretty well, although there are certainly lessons to be learned.

The umbrella stand consists of a cheap planter base, 1" PVC pipe, and ~35lbs of concrete (from a 60lbs bag), for a total of ~$11. I punched a hole in the planter, shoved the PVC pipe though, and sealed the hole with hot glue. This was followed with a liberal application of WD-40 to all of the surfaces of the mold.

I mixed the concrete in a 5Gal bucket with my shovel, as the hand trowel didn't have the necessary oomph, and ended up adding more than the minimum amount of water in order to reach the right consistency.

Next up was to pour the concrete into the mold, which was placed on top of an old wine crate, allowing the PVC pipe to extend past the mold. The concrete was shaken after pouring to settle it, a necessary step that still left me with some "worm holes" in the surface. I'm not complaining. It adds "character". I also smoothed the "underside" of the concrete with a 2x4, getting as level a surface as I could. The WD-40, mentioned above, acts as a lubricant, allowing for the clean separation of the concrete from the mold once dry.

All was left to do was to wait. Concrete takes four to five days to cure and needs to remain damp during the process, so I covered the whole thing with saran wrap. Four days later and the concrete was dry, slipping out of the mold easily.

Lessons Learned
Shake the concrete mold more. I'm guessing a more vigorous shake would reduce the "worm holes" and leave a smooth surface all around.
Add "weep holes" to the mold, allowing excess water to escape from the bottom of the mold. I did this after the fact, but was only able to add weep holes to the side instead of the absolute bottom.

I'm looking forward to doing more concrete molds. The setup is cheap, the process simple, and the results are pretty cool!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Bathroom Remodel - Complete!

After four (or was it five?) weeks of work, we've finally finished the bathroom remodel! Starting with demolition, and ending with trim painting, here's a list of what went into the new bathroom:
  • Demolished the drywall around the tub

  • Removed and replaced the pressed steel tub with a cast iron tub (which is a big, nice upgrade)
  • Added shower plumbing to the tub area (this actually wasn't us; thanks Nick/Dad!)

  • Removed and replaced the vanity

  • Installed tile backing board (cement board) and vapor barrier

  • Tiled

  • Tiled....

  • ....Tiled

  • Tiled even more

  • Grouted

  • New electrical sockets and light fixtures

  • New wall hardware

  • Trim work (totally awesome trim work, by the way)
    Shower Tile
    The shower was tiled with 3" x 6" subway tile from Home Depot along with a white/grey/black accent tile. The tiling was challenging. We had to learn how to mix the thinset to the right composition and ensure the tile remainded straight and evenly spaced. Using a piece of wood screwed into the cement board, we laid the first row of tiles two rows above the tub lip. Progress started slowly, but it gave us the chance to catch up on a lot of TV (The Good Guys, Bachelor Pad). As we moved up the wall we installed the soap dishes and edge pieces; Christina measured and marked while Ted cut the tile on the second tile cutter (the first one broke after 20 minutes).

    Once we got the tiling process down it was rinse and repeat, and repeat, and repeat. Grouting took a couple of days, but the end result was worth it. We finally have a shower worth showering in. We finished up the shower with a curved shower rod (hotel style, from Amazon) and Grohe hardware (from Christina's Dad).

    A new vanity and countertop was purchased from HD Supply and installed by us and Christina's dad. We removed the old faux-oak vanity and replaced it with a faux-espresso wood vanity (quite the improvement). The walls and flooring in the bathroom aren't straight; it took several shims and a lot of leveling to get the vanity square and level. The large gaps between the vanity, the floor, and the walls meant we had some very large caulk gaps to fill. The faucet is a basic model we got from Home Depot; the various hardware bits are from Amazon.

    Mirror and Light
    The new light fixture should have been an easy project, but when Ted pulled the old fixture away from the wall he found a ceiling-support where a 2x4 should have been. That meant drywall had to be cut away, a new 2x4 put in its place, and a new drywall patch panel inserted into the wall.

    There really isn't anything to mention about the mirror; it required hanging, and we hung it.

    Drywall and Trim
    The cement board and the drywall were plastered together with several skim coats and a couple of rounds of sanding. The patch panel from the above section also needed plastering. While the new sections were smooth, the existing drywall was covered in an orange peel texture (unlike much of the rest of the house, which is textured in knockdown). The first pass on the texture didn't go well; the texture ended up with tiny gas bubble holes across much of the surface. The first pass was skimmed over and redone (at $13/can of texture, an unfortunately expensive redo), but ended up matching the existing texture pretty well.

    The baseboard trim was straight forward, save for two sections: the vanity flange over the toilet water supply, and the maintenance access to the (I'm assuming) sewer trap for the other bathroom. Each of these items required the trim be cut down to match the round profile of the above features. A couple of minutes with my dremel, and the trim was all set.

    That's it for now!  Hope everyone is enjoying their summer!

    Ted & Christina

    Thursday, August 25, 2011

    Bathroom Remodel: The Beginning

    Let's start from the beginning of the bathroom remodel...

    First was the drywall removal above the old tub. This involved a lot of hacking away at the wall. A good way to get out aggression! But very dusty. Ted did most of the work on this part, and I helped a little.
    Here's what it looked like with the drywall removed and bare studs. Plus the new cast iron tub that my dad installed for us.
    Next up was installing the cement board above the tub. That stuff is heavy! It took almost a whole weekend just to do this part. Lots of measuring, cutting, and drilling. While Ted was doing that, I painted the walls and ceiling.
    Finally, it was time to tile. This took almost a week, mostly nights spent doing chunks here and there with Netflix playing on the iPad to keep us entertained. Here are a few progress shots of the tile process.

    The blue painters tape is covering a soap dish that we cemented in with the tile.

    We also cemented in a corner shelf to hold shampoo, etc.
    The finished tile before the grout:Grouting definitely is a skill that takes lots of practice, it wasn't easy. We finally got the hang of it, but we had to apply the grout, wash, rinse, and repeat several times to get it right. Here is the tile after the grout went in:After we finished the grout, we sealed the tub and vanity with waterproof silicone and some other regular caulking. Currently we're working on installing all the hardware and fixtures (towel bar, hooks, mirror, and light fixture).

    We'll post more photos once it's officially done!

    Friday, August 12, 2011

    Shower Tile

    We finished tiling and grouting the shower, over the new cast iron tub in the bathroom.  We'll post more details later, but for now just a few photos:

    Tuesday, August 2, 2011

    Bathroom Sneak Peak

    I helped Ted install the vanity last night and Dad installed the sink today...such an improvement from that ugly blue sink. More to come!

    Sunday, April 10, 2011

    Totally Tubular Skylight!

    (Christina's original notes got deleted. I'll fill in as best as I can)
    This weekend, wanting to feel productive and enjoy the sunlight that has graced Ventura county, we decided to finally install a tubular skylight to let some natural light into the bathroom. Since our house shares a wall with our neighbor there is no other way to get natural light into those rooms, leaving them dark even in the middle of the day (although not anymore).

    Tubular skylights are basically holes in the ceiling and roof connected by a highly reflective series of aluminum tubes. In our case that worked out to about 6' (or 72", give or take). The tubes can be adjusted to make angled runs through the attic as needed, which was the case for our installation. The separate tube components are then joined by foil tape.

    The roof after a date with my brand-new $30 Harbor Freight Sawzall. That hole is just over 10" and is one set of rafters over from the hole in the ceiling. There's no picture of the actual cutting because sawing into the roof is a somewhat stressful event.

    The aluminum flashing dry-fit over the hole. The flashing will later be liberally covered with roofing sealant and screwed into the roof (the screws are also liberally covered in sealant).

    Christina cutting a hole in the ceiling with a drywall saw. She did such a good job at it I'm thinking she'll be doing the drywall cutting from here on out.

    Getting some fresh air from inside the attic. Although it was pretty cool today that didn't stop the attic from being warm. In this photo I'm standing straight up; the height worked out perfectly.

    The final product. It adds a lot of light into the room during the day and it's right over the middle of the tub. Our plan is to remodel "my" bathroom this summer and add a shower to this bathroom.

    A shot of Christina, on the roof, from inside the attic.

    Sunday, February 13, 2011

    Bi-Fold Doors Installed

    It was a long but productive weekend getting the bi-fold doors installed in the washer/dryer area. Christina painted the pre-primed doors, while I installed all the hardware and trim pieces.  Here are some photos of the final product:

    Trim to blend in, and the hardware nailed into the tile:

    Glad to have that crossed off the list.  Doing some laundry and the doors definitely cut back on the noise level.  Have a good week guys!

    Thursday, February 3, 2011

    Shelves over troubled washer and dryer

    Christina and I were planning on installing a pocket door over the weekend but decided that perhaps tearing out, and then replacing, several feet of drywall was a bit much to chew off right now. Instead we decided to install new shelves over the washer and dryer, which you can see here.

    In the near future we'll be adding bifold doors to close off the washer and dryer bay, but that's pending the delivery of special ordered 32" doors. Hopefully we'll have that done in the next week or so.

    Update: Darth seems to like the new shelves too!