Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Well...I have to apologize first thing....it's now somehow been OVER a month since my last post. THAT is pathetic. I have a variety of lame excuses and reasons...mostly I think it was just life getting in the way and I needed a break...I've been QUITE busy (but not so busy that I couldn't have posted if I really wanted to). I could have just played it off and said I was on a posting-strike until Horner gets a job riding for a pro team next year (in which case I'd not be posting this, because as far as I know the oldest Grand Tour winner ever is still sadly without a team).

I've been riding when I can, working my way back into whatever form I'm capable of...and then there is the home projects...specifically we had granite counter-tops put into the kitchen and both bathrooms. To save a bundle of money I did all the demolition of the old counter-tops myself (didn't know what I was doing, but I did good). The following is a pictorial essay of a few weeks of not-so-much-fun in preparation for the granite to arrive.

 The spare bathroom "before". We HATE the white grouted tile-countetops. Actually HATE is not a strong enough word. Not even sure there is one that conveys the depth of our dislike.

The sink is out. The hot-water shutoff valve was seized open, and I had to turn off the 
whole house water to disconnect the faucet.

 Under the 4" tiles is a poured slab of concrete, a sheet of some kind of waterproof paper that was stapled to the plywood, and a sheet of some sort of"chicken-wire". Everything has to go.

 Here is the cabinet ready for it's granite. I even had to remove the giant mirror off the wall.

Here's the new sink installed (not yet plumbed), ready for the granite.

And here's the new granite! Woo-HOO!

Here's the master-bath cabinet, I've spared you the gory details (but it needs to be said: BOTH hot-water shut off valves were stuck open, also needing the whole house water turned off. At this point it became inevitable that I was going to replace ALL the shut-off valves (the ones installed are the multiple turn ones, I put in all new brass quarter-turn ball-valves...SWEET! Of course that was a bit pricey...needed 8 of them).

Here's the master bath with both sinks installed. We put in all new sinks and faucets. I don't have a pic of the granite slab here...but I'll have one later as I've added the cut-stone back-splash and put the mirror back up.

And now we're in the kitchen...this is where the REAL work begins.

We've also always HATED the wallpaper above the tile-splashboard. It also MUST go!

This is a good shot of what lies below the tiles. Concrete and chicken-wire and plywood. WHAT a mess! (and what a job...pieces and pieces of concrete with razor-sharp cut-wire everywhere).

Here's the kitchen with the concrete all removed and cleaned up. I put the plywood pieces back (just sitting in place) so we could have a functional kitchen while we waited for the granite. This involved totally removing the old cast-iron sink (weighs a TON), which entailed de-plumbing the faucet, dishwasher and garbage-disposal, removing the 18-ton sink, pulling the concrete out all the way, cleaning up, pulling the plywood and removing all the nails, then replacing the plywood and sink, then re-plumbing it all so we could still use it. I told Jeannie I'd gladly have just paid to have somebody else do all this! She didn't go for it.

And here we are the morning of the granite install....ready and waiting.

The plywood stayed on for the coffee pot until the last moments. Then we moved the coffee pot and presto...ready for granite!

They hung the new cast-iron sink (very heavy AND expensive btw) like it was no big deal. Then the placed the granite pieces together, gluing them in place and gluing the seams.

And the rest of the kitchen pieces are in place. The stove goes in the center slot under the microwave, and the refrigerator (we bought a new one at the same time we ordered the granite) goes in the slot on the right.

I'm currently working the backsplash's. We got cut-travertine tiles (4" and 6"...the bigger ones went in the bathrooms and the smaller ones go in the kitchen. Here in the kitchen I'm also not just doing the bottom row...I'm going all the way up to the cabinets. It will look GREAT when it's done. 

 Here's the spare bathroom with the new faucet and the backsplash 
(no grout yet..I'll do all the grout in one horrible day).

 And the master bath with it's faucets and back-splash. I did all the plumbing myself to save us money. I'm a so-so plumber...had an experience or 2 in my life where I thought I could do a plumbing job and ended up with an emergency plumber (at great cost). No snafu's on this job though...it all went together fine.

Here's the kitchen, and you can see what I'm going for. The bottom row of tiles was horizontal, then the 12" pencil-pieces on top of that, and then we go diagonal the rest of the way up to the cabinets. What you don't see is my artsy-fartsy work that will be starting...the top inch of other tile will be cut off, and I have a sheet of 2" squares, and that small tile will sit horizontally in the middle of the diagonal 4" tiles (hard to explain, it will make sense when I get some more tiles laid and have done or 2 done). Of course doing the diagonal layout requires TONS of cutting. Going around the outlets and such and also the 90 degree and two 45 degree turns throw some extra degrees of difficulty into the mix. However it should be said that I am a master with the tile-saw. That is one of the things I'm pretty good at. Maybe slow...(could never do this commercially...I'd be broke) but my cuts and tile placement are first-rate. We also decided to continue the back-splash all the way behind the stove, in case we or somebody else were to put in a flat-top or a lower top unit...it would be hard to match down the road. Easier to just do it now.

Oh...and a week after the granite was put in, we had the porcelain tile floor professionally steam cleaned (the grout and tile now looks just like it did when it was new). THAT lovely little job required ME to basically empty the house of pretty much everything from every room EXCEPT 2 bedrooms. Then I got to UN-EMPTY it all back to where it came from. THAT was no small job either btw. Only THEN was I able to start work on the back-splash's.

OK....That's enough for one post....this Friday Jeannie and I fly out to Virginia once again for our annual Thanksgiving pilgrimage. We'll be out on her brothers farm for a week of relaxing (I hope) and chilling (really chilling I'm afraid...it's apt to be quite cold compared to California). It's always stressful leaving the babies behind...but we have a doggie-sitter coming in to feed them, and rather than being put in a kennel, they get to lounge around at home all day. Sure they miss us, but at least they are home where they are comfortable. And I'll have the 'doggie-cams' up (web-cams). I like to spy on them...make sure they didn't let all the neighborhood dogs in for a big poker game.

Have a great week!

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