My New Blog: TF Workshop

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Garbage Disposal: $130

I am catching up with the logging on the costs for the "10K kitchen remodel"...

We choose the Insinkerator 444. It is 3/4 HP and sound insulated, all for $130 as a special buy at HD. The online prices are $129 to $179 plus shipping, so HD was a good way to go.
The installation was nothing but simple: A snap-ring, 3 support bolts, mount the thing and twist tight. The only down side, it didn't come with a power cord, so a heavy-duty power-strip got canniblized (yes, it was 12 gage wire).

So far so good, its running like a champ.

Cost of Granite

We are hoping to install about 65 sq ft of granite counter for under $1500.

The tan-brown granite tiles are 26 1/2 by 18 inches and cost $20 a sf from Tile for Less. Total cost for 20 tiles was $1256.

Since the tiles come with 1/4 round-over, polished ends, we only needed to get the sink and island edges ground and polished. Crowley's Tile Edging did the work for $230, which I thought was really reasonable. It was $15 per foot for round edges and $10 for flat. The edging will end up looking like the the image below.

We will use epoxy grout, costing about $25.

Cost roll-up: $1510

The Glue Worked!

This is a follow-up to my last post... The polyurethane glue worked great for setting the granite composite sink. It expanded, filled all the open gaps between the supports and the sink flange, and became rigid - that thing is going nowhere. You have got to clamp the sink down though, the expanding glue will lift it up.

We installed the drains, garbage disposal and faucet, and it is holding well. I will not be able to put the granite down for about a week and a half due to travel for work.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Better Living Through Chemistry (Polyurethane Glue)

I figured out how to get the granite sink level with the base of the new counter top. The method was a variation on a couple of posted comments.

The sink rim thickness varied a bit, say 10%, and it was not exactly flat. I cut out a 1/2 inch wide recess for the rim that was about 1/8 of an inch deeper than required. When I set the sink in place, it was exactly right in a couple of spots, and low in others. I shimmed the corners to be flush with the top, leaving a zero to 1/8 gap between the cutout and the sink.

After shimming, I removed the sink, making sure to keep the shims in the right spot (a little wood glue on hte bottom side of hte shims made them tacky). I put a generous amount of polyurethane glue all around the recess and set the sink back in place and clamped it. As the glue dried, it expanded up to about 4 times its original volume and filled the voids. Now the sink is fully supported and glued solidly in place. The variation is now zero to about 1/16 below the plywood, which is perfect for taking the granite tiles.

I am leaving it clamped over night to make sure everything stays solid. If there are slight positive spots, I will sand them down where the granite overlays.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Appliances Went In

Today was finally that really productive day I have been looking for. The kitchen is starting to look more and more like the design image (see right sidebar), which is really encouraging.
  • Finished installing the cabinets boxes
  • Put in the plywood base for the granite counter tops
  • Installed the windows, including building a small bump-out to make the sill deeper on the left one.
  • Got the appliance in and working (why don't they provide power cords with ovens and dishwashers?). We are really happy with the black finish.

I have been waiting for the weather to break for about a week, but most there has been rain. I decided that I needed to get the new windows in anyway - I need to go back to work tomorrow. The rain basically stopped as I walked out to get the ladder, and did not start again for about 3 hours!

I hoped to get the sink set, but I ran out of time. I am undermounting it beneith the granite tiles, so I need to get it exactly flush with the plywood base. The rim of the composite sink has some variation in its thickness, so I need to individually shim it in about 14 places. I need to figure out a way that this won't take a week to complete.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Cabinet Install & Kick-plate Drawers

We installed most of the cabinets today, getting about 80% complete. I plan on finshing them off in the morning and getting the base of the counter top in. The soffits lined up pretty much exactly as planned.

Notice under the some of the cabinets there are open spaces - these are for the kick plate drawers.

Here are the base assemblies, made of 2x4. We mounted full extension drawer slides to the interiors.

We want to make these drawers as wide as possible. Where the drawer is wider than a single cabinet, I supported the them with a piece of steel channel underneith. These are glued with polyurathane and screwed in place.

Progress through Friday

We completed the texture, painting, wiring, hood venting and close-in. We are not texturing & painting the area below the soffits, since it will all be tiled using backer board. It only needs to be taped and mudded once.

A little bit of a disaster occured when I drilled through the power line to the oven (40 amp) by mistake. It vaporized the end of the bit, and of course ruined the cable. There was really no option to try to repair it, since it was aluminum and three wire. I needed to pull it out and 3 hours + $100 later, we had a new cable. The up side is now we have a 8 gage copper 4-wire cable, which is the new code.

I will refer back to a previous post - the low profile drill was a life saver for this. I needed to drill a new hole down from the attic through the soffit, where the roof comes down. I had to lay on my stomach and reach in where I had less than a foot of clearance. There is not way a regular drill would have fit. That little tool and a spade bit bored the hole in seconds.

To texture, I use a sprayer powered by my air compressor, called a "spraying mantis". Its about $75, and overall a great tool for DIY sheetrock.

Today we finally install the windows (hopefully the rain will continue to break), and start on the cabinets.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Half way through "vacation" week

Right up front: I am never satisfied with my progress on projects, and I always want to be ahead of where I am at. That being said, things are moving along.

What we accomplished today:

  • Picked up windows. Did not get them installed - it rained hard all day.
  • Tore out all the cabinets, removed applianced and cleaned them.
  • Finished mudding, sanding and texturing the soffits. Not yet dry enough to paint.
  • Completed moving the plumbing supply and drain lines over about 14 inches to the new sink location. The sink drain is 2 inches, and now the distance to the vent is just under 3 feet - well within the critical distance requirement of 5 feet.
  • Traced out all the circuits and opened up the wall to move and add outlets & switches.
The most frustrating part of the day was driving to HD and Lowes to get stuff. The pre-holiday traffic was terrible. Friday will likely be worse! I am staying home...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Tuesday's Output

All in all, we had a good day and got a lot accomplished.

The granite fabricators took only one working day to finish the edging work, charged me $50 less than I was expecting, and were very friendly - I was really impressed. I will put the details in another post detailing granite costs.

I went to HD to see if my windows came in, since we now have open holes. They told me the delivery date was pushed out to the 26th, so we plugged the rough openings with foam board. They then called and said they just came in! So I will get them in the morning and install them.

What we accomplished today:

  • Took out old windows, modified rough openings to go from 60 to 48 inches wide (to allow for more upper cabinets), fixed siding
  • Tore out about 1/3 of the cabinets to get to right window - this window is on the second floor of the house, and we wanted to do as much as possible form the inside.
  • Sanded soffits and put second coat of mud up.
  • Picked up granite pieces from the fabricator.
  • Removed all cabinets doors and drawer fronts for re-use. Completed installing all drawer and shelf slides
  • Oh yeah, cleaned the gutters since they we overflowing with rain...

Goals for tomorrow:

  • Install windows, including framing the bump-out for garden window.
  • Finish soffits, get them textured, maybe PVA primed.
  • Tear out the remainder of the cabinets
  • Add a few outlets
  • Move supply and drain plumbing over about 12 inches
  • Strech goal is to paint soffits and start installing cabinets

Monday, November 20, 2006

Wall work

We are spending Monday and Tuesday doing all the "wall work": modifying the soffits, resizing the window openings and adding can lights.

We decided to keep the soffits and put a display shelf along them. Since the upper and full height cabinets are a couple of inches deeper than standard, we needed to extend them. Also we have the new double-oven cabinet, so that soffit was added (left side of picture).

The pictures below show the progression of this afternoon's work: framing, sheetrocking, and taping. I will tear out the (and throw away) the uppers tomorrow.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

KItchen lighting plan

I finally decided on the lighting plan.

After looking at way too many web sites, I gathered enough information to put it together. I guess I could have just looked at a few kitchen pictures, but I wanted to create it from design rules. I found there are a lot of differing opinions on what those "rules" are.

Here is the plan using 5" recessed and T5 flourecents. (the 4" note should be 5")

These are the "rules" I came up with:

Recessed lighting:

  • Use 4" for task areas only - these are expensive and the trim options are limited
  • Use 5" for general lighting if the room is smaller in size or has less than 9 ft ceilings. We went with these.
  • Use 6" for larger rooms with higher ceilings
  • The size of the can does not indicated how much light you will get - the wattage of the bulb does.
  • In general, you need between 2.5 to 3 watts of light per square foot. Here is the math for our kitchen:

11 x 17 = 189 sq ft

189 sf * 2.75 watts per sf = 561 watts (between 2.5 and 3)

514 watts / 65 watt bulbs = 7.9 bulbs --> 8 lights in the ceiling

  • You should set up the parimeter lighting about 18 inches from the upper cabinets

Under cabinet:

  • Mount the lights close to front of the cabinet
  • Lots of options, went with flourecent due to heat of halogen or xenon

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Granite layout, cutting, gluing, testing...

I needed to take a quick break from the cabinets to get a few cut pieces over to the fabricator to put finshed edges on them. These are for the drop-in sink and the island. Delivery time is about 3 days, and I would really like to have them before the Thanksgiving weekend.

Here is the granite layout plan:

I decided not to try to cut the large tiles on my tile saw - it's too risky. The granite between the blade and the fence would likely crack. At $66 a piece I really didn't want that to happen. I bought a 4" skill saw for tile from HD for $45 (Workforce THD250). The saw worked great - really clean cuts. I cut the sink pieces 1/4 large and then re-cut them on my tile table saw, to get them exact.

I am planning in using polyurathane glue to install the granite. I have used it on tile and slate, and it worked really well. I have installed a fair amount of tile and lots of brick and stone (used to work in masonry), so working with morter and thinset is not an issue. I want to bond the granite directly to the wood, so I dont have to add the 1/2 thickness needed for backerboard and two layers of morter. Also, the poly will bond the granite diretly to the undermount sink, and give good water proof seal. Finally, the poly has an "open time" of at least an hour, giving me the chance to make sure everything is exactly right.

So I did a couple of tests... I bought some cheap pink granite and setup prototypes (yup, I'm an engineer). I tested the bonding strength of granite to plywood and granite edging.

Both work excellent.

I spread the glue on about 1" lines on the plywood. This glue foams up, so it needs some place to go, or it will raise the tile. I let it dry about 8 hours. I broke off the granite edge with a hammer both in the upward and downward directions. In both cases it broke at the glue line - in other words, the glue bond is stronger than the granite itself.

For the edge glue, I tried to break it by hand - no go. I can't break it. I have done a lot of edge bonding like this with thinset - it breaks pretty easily. This is definately a superior bond. I am going to back-up the edge bonding with a piece 3/4 x 1 wood, glued in place.

I will bond the edging to the tile before install. This way I can get them exactly right, and not depend on the face of the cabinet to align them. If you notice a poor tile job, it often is due to the front edging not being quite right.

Friday, November 17, 2006

A plug for "Tile for Less"

I purchased the granite shown on my previous post from Tile for Less in Beaverton, Oregon.

I can't say enough good things about these guys. Their prices are reasonable, selection is good and service is great. They are willing to take time with you to discuss your project and help you think about various options. I wanted to switch some tile to a different color for accent - no problem (I can't imagine doing that at HD).

I dont know if the other stores (there are a number of them in the west) have this same level of service, but my guess is that they are worth looking into.

Here are some pictures of our bath we remodeled last year - we put 200 sq ft of porcelain tile in there.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

It's almost D-day

D is for demolition!

I have almost all the wall cabinets stacked up in the dining room, waiting to go in. I need to complete the pantry and double-oven cabinet.

I am taking next week off to try to get the old kitchen out and the main parts of the new one in. The plan is to finish all the cabinet details on Saturday, spend Sunday planning and running to HD for bits, and start full blast on Monday.

I am anticipating about 6 full days of work to get the old one out and the basic parts of the new one in, including windows and granite.

Here are the granite "tiles" I am using - its tan-brown:

These are large 18 wide by 26.5 deep, with 1/4 rounded front and back edges. They are made for counter installs, giving a minimum number of joints. I like these as a much cheaper option than slab granite, but with a lot less joints than 12x12 tiles. If I went with 12x12 with either a pre-fabricated front edge, or had the tiles edged, it still would come in at around $20 a sq ft. I am also planning to use epoxy grout, with is totally water and stain proof, and keep the joints to 1/8 inch.

I needed to buy 20 of them for a total of about 66 sq feet. The cost was $20 a square foot, which I think is a really reasonable total of $1325. I need to get a few edges rounded and polished by a local fabricator - he charges $14 a foot. I will put the total for the tile cost in the running cost update once get the fabrication done.

My only challenge is to figure out how to cut these. I have a mid-sized water saw for tile, which ought to work fine once I set up some sort of support for the 26 inch width.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

New cool tool

I just got a new tool - a craftsman professional series close quarters drill. It is definately going to become one of my favorties. I bought it for tight spaces, and I was surprised by the ergonomic improvement over regular drills. I really like being able to get my hand closer to where I am driving screws.

I bought a corded version on purpose: having a large battery hanging off the bottom can somewhat defeat the "close quarters" feature. This will be great for mounting cabinets and drilling holes for wiring.

The downside is the price being at $140. It was a birthday present...

Here is a product review link from Fine woodworking

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Change of Plan - Bumping out the new windows

We were doing the final measurements for the two new windows, and my DW decided she would really like a garden window on the south wall.

The "off the shelf" garden windows at HD are $500, but they are only 3 feet high, which will not look very good. We were planning on 42 inches, not 36. HD can get me a special order one for a little over $800. The best online price with shipping is over $1,000. A good quality regular window in a custom size (48W x 42H) is about $175. So here is what we are going to do...

After an hour of dreaming and scheming, we decided to do bumped-out windows on both the south and west sides. This will improve the exteror of the house, plus it will allow my DW to have all the window gardening space she would ever want. One spot will be heavy sun (well, at least heavy for western Oregon), and the other with sun only 1/2 the day.

I still need to do the final design of these, but here is what I have so far:
  • Bump out the wall by 6 inches (2x6 + plywood), giving about a 10 inch sill
  • Go with 48W x 42H for both windows
  • Add wire shelves 1/2 way up
  • Build out the exterior so it adds to the appearance to the house - see below
So rather than a about $1100 for one garden and one regular window with trim:
  • 2 regular windows - $350
  • Framing lumber - $150
  • Siding - $100
  • Flashing, roofing, insulation, trim etc. - $200
Total estimate of $800

I did some searching on the web for exterior bump-out ideas...

This one adds to the architecural quality of the house - it has structure and an appropriate amount of mass. I think it makes a nice focal point for the front.

I think this one is horrifying - sorry if it's yours! It has only one purpose, deepen the sill. I am sure from inside it looks great, and this is likey on a hidden section of the house. Some mass around it would add a lot. This is also why I don't like exterior look of garden windows.

We have decided to not do a whole lot on the exterior of the house until the inside is done, but this will be an exception.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


I put myself on a schedule for this kitchen remodel, hoping to have it done by Thanksgiving - and have people over. It is not likely going to happen. Vacations, kids, work, sickness, and life got in the way a little bit. I also volunteered to make two coffins (yup, coffins) for a haunted house out of OSB.

I haven't lost all hope yet (I'm a perennial optimist). I should have all the wall cabinets done on time, and I am taking the full week of Thanksgiving off to get a whole lot done. I have started stacking completed cabinets along a wall in the kitchen, so the anticipation is growing.

A bit of detail on the cabinet design: I have 1x3 (actually 3/4 x 2 1/2) strips running down the side-walls. These will allow the drawer and shelf slides to be flush with the face frame edges. An added benefit is that the cabinets are now ultra-stout, and will easily support the granite tops.

Kohler Vinnata Kitchen Faucet

We decided on a Kohler Vinnata facet in brushed nickel. This is one of the "high end" items that we decided to fit into the budget. It has a classic look with the pull-out feature.

It cost $350 plus $30 shipping from the ebay store "The Plumber's Crack". I am not very impressed with the seller's store name, but the price and service were great. It arrived 2 days after we paid for it. Other online stores sold it for $400 to $500. It retails for about $540.