Thursday, July 28, 2005

Demolition Derby

In preparation for tile day, I started ripping out the linoleum tonight with the help of my nice roommate Jeff. I have a newfound respect for those who have careers in manual labor. Maybe I'm a wimp but after about a measly hour and a half of work, I had endured my fair share of pain and suffering along with battle wounds: 4 scratches on my legs, blisters on my fingers, a sore bum from accidentally sitting on the crowbar, and a backache. Poor Jeff even had a bloody scrape on his knee. I'm such a horrible "landlord", putting him to work and making him live in such a dangerous, messy habitat. I didn't realize how many layers of crap were covering the floor - linoleum from circa 1996, underlayment, linoleum from 1985, and plywood backerboard (or whatever it's called). It was fun and relatively easy to tear off the first 3 layers, but prying off the plywood backerboard proved to be a difficult task. We spent the majority of our time attacking the stubborn plywood with various tools and forms of demolition - crowbar, hammer, screwdriver, pounding, kicking, name it, we tried it. Don't worry, I made sure my downstairs neighbor Mark wasn't home while all of this was happening. I had to take a break - I was hot, sweaty, and tired. While sipping a Michigan beer and wiping sweat off my forehead, I stepped back to take a look at what I had done to my floor and wondered if I was doing the right thing. Maybe the linoleum wasn't so bad afterall. Oh well, too late now. Back to work on the plywood. After further digging, it turned out that the sheets of wood were stapled down with one inch hefty industrial strength wonder it was so tough to break through. Excellent, those will be a joy to pull up. We managed to finish taking out the plywood in the entry way, but decided to stop since there is a noise ordinance for the condo complex and it was getting late. Plus, we didn't want for our neighbors to hate us, afterall we are still newbies.

Friday, July 22, 2005

In Over My Head?

As you can see to the right, one of my "upcoming projects" is laying tile. I'm planning to rip out the old hideous linoleum in the kitchen and entry way and replace it with some nice looking ceramic tile. I was ecstatic to start this mission...until I found out how much work is involved! I thought you could just slap on the new tile with some special glue and voila!'ve got yourself a new fancy looking kitchen floor. Wishful thinking. After talking to several tile installation veterans, I learned that it was going to be a bigger project than I thought. First, you have to remove the linoleum (no problem, I can handle a crowbar!). Then you have to lay down Wonderboard, which are 1/2" thick sheets of cement based material used as a backing for the tile. Of course, there will be another saw involved to cut through the Wonderboard because it naturally won't fit perfectly, but that's OK because I've come to realize that I actually like using power saws. After drilling the Wonderboard down, you're ready to start laying the tile. This is going to be the fun part! First, you should plan out how you're going to lay the tile. You'll have to cut some of them with a wet tile saw. Jeez, how many types of saws do they make anyway? It seems like you need a different saw for every little thing you do; someone should really invent an "all-purpose" saw that can be used for ALL home improvement projects. Sorry, I digress...where was I? Oh yes, so once your tiles are ready, you have to mix the thinset (adhesive) and spread it on top of the Wonderbread, I mean board. I've also heard that you can spread it on the tiles individually so you don't get frantic and worried about it drying out too fast if you're slow at laying tile. I think I will choose this option. You also have to put down 1/4" spacers in between each tile for the grout. Once the floor is tiled, you can fill in the space with grout. Then all that's left is grout sealer and the curing process, which is basically spraying the grout with water over the next couple days. I hear this part isn't necessary but probably a good idea to preserve the life of the tile, so we'll see how ambitious I am. Whew! I actually feel better after writing out all the steps although you are probably bored out of your mind by now. All I have to say is that I'm very thankful to know people who know about this stuff (and have tools).

Looks like I'm going to have another fun shopping extravaganza at the HD on Friday night, maybe I can make a new friend in the tile section this time. If any of you have tips to share on this project, I'd love to hear them! And Jeff, if you are reading this, I apologize in advance for the big mess I'm about to make of the kitchen. Brace yourself!

Here are before pictures of the kitchen/entry way floor.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

The Miter Saw

First of all, thanks to my co-worker Kevin for letting me borrow his big fancy tools for my baseboards project and giving me a crash course on how to cut perfect 45 degree angles using the miter saw. Oh, and also for taking the time to come to Home Depot with me to pick up and transport the boards. :) OK...I admit that when I was first introduced to this saw, I was a little scared. Don't laugh - you have to remember that I am NOT a handy person by nature and tools (especially electric ones with sharp edges) are a foreign concept to me. While Kevin assured me I would be fine and it was easy to use, I was a bit skeptical. He made it sound and look so easy, but what do you expect coming from an engineer. After walking me through one sample, Kevin left and I was all alone in the garage. I think I just stood there and stared at the saw for a few minutes before snapping out of it. What were the instructions again? Was I supposed to use the left angled 45 degree cut for inside corners? Or was that for outside corners? Was I supposed to cut to the left or the right of the beam?

Cutting baseboards definitely requires trial and error. Let me emphasize the lots of error part. I figured out that it was really important to measure multiple times and to cut conservatively. After a few practice runs (and many trips downstairs to the garage), I finally got the hang of it. I became friends with the saw and was soon cutting boards like nobody's business. I was so excited when I put two pieces together on the wall and they actually fit!! Now I love the miter saw thingy so much I might just have to get one for myself....hmmm.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Painting Party

OK...I'm a little worried that the highlight of my Friday night consists of going to Home Depot. Even worse, I know the guy working behind the paint counter by name - Joel. I suppose that's because he helped me out on 3 different occasions within a 2 day timeframe. What can I say...picking a paint color is quite difficult. There are so many colors to choose from, in addition to the type of finish you want. Flat? Glossy? Semi-glossy? Eggshell? Paint by number? Just kidding on the last one, but it would be nice. I finally decided on a purply-grey color with a flat finish for the 2 accent walls in the living room (Ralph Lauren "Parma Violet" to be exact). I was so excited....I love purple! Unfortunately, when I brought the paint home, I decided it looked too dark. I didn't want to be living in the bat cave, so I took it back and had my friend Joel add 2 ounces of white - much better! I chose an off-white for the other walls to lighten the room up (Behr "Antique White").

Prepping is the hardest and most tedious part of painting. All that taping, ugh! If any of you want to paint anytime soon, I have supplies galore you can borrow (brushes, rollers, tarp, etc). I learned a helpful tip from my friend Alia - use grey primer under deep colors. That way you don't have streaking and you can use less coats. Ripping out the baseboards was pretty fun and exhilirating...I could NOT wait to get rid of those hideous things. What a waste of a tree.

Some friends came over to help out, it was a girl's painting party (plus Jeff, my roommate). Thanks to Jenn, Eugenia, Jeff, Nicki and Melissa!! More pics to come...

Sunday, July 10, 2005

My New Condo

Well...I never thought I'd actually do it in the bay area, but I bought a condo! Being a first time homeowner is the craziest, scariest thing I've ever done. One must be partially mental to deal with the stresses of the offer process. Luckily, the mental part came easy for me and I managed to find a place relatively quickly without a lot of hassles - thanks to my very cool friend and realtor, Amie Chilson. I highly recommend her!!

My new place is a 2 bedroom 2 bath condo built in 1985. As you will see in the pictures below, everything in it is original - and I mean EVERYTHING...check out the gynormous microwave/oven combo and the wooden baseboards. The person who owned it before me didn't seem to be into the whole interior decorating thing, so there's a lot of potential for upgrades and making the place look more like a home rather than an apartment.

Being the independent woman I am, I've decided to take on all of my home improvement projects myself. Well, OK...maybe I'll have some help from friends. Seriously, how hard can it be? Anyway, I thought it would be fun to start a blog to document my projects so my friends and family can see the progress I'm making. And there will be pictures to prove I did in fact do all the work!

Stay first job, which is currently in progress, is updating the living room - painting, replacing baseboards (this involves the use of a big saw) and decorating! New pics will be posted soon.