My New Blog: TF Workshop

Friday, October 26, 2007

Review #3 - Epoxy Grout - Must Have

I am rating epoxy grout a 5 (must have) for the kitchen. We have had it in the counter-top joints for over six months, with absoultely no staining or other problems. It looks the same as the first day it was installed.

We used it both on the granite counter and in the backsplash.
Here are my "cons" about epoxy grout.
  • Expensive. We probably spent a total of $75 to do everything. But you don't have to spend money on sealers, cleaners, etc. Also, all your hard work stays looking good.

  • A bit hard to work with. If you have never grouted before, this is not the place to start. It hardens pretty fast, and can't be cut with water to give you more time. That being said, its not that much more difficult to get it into the joints.

  • Not sold in many places. Lowes carries SpectraLock.

Things you should remember if you use it:

  • Use a drop cloth - it sticks to everything. Also, mask off areas you want to protect.

  • Work the grout in with a rubber float. A stick, sponge or rag doesn't seem to work very well.

  • Have a helper who can do the cleaning while you are continuing to grout

  • You can a mix it a little "wet" (less sand) as described in the instructions, I suggest you do it. It extends the open time.

  • You can mix sand colors to get exactly what you want. The sand is the cheap part.

  • Keep your joints small (1/8" max), or it will cost you an arm and a leg.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Review #2 - Pull out Shelves - Good Choice

I am going to rate adding pullout shelves a must-have as a feature, but good-choice for my design.

There is no way we would go back to regular shelves. It is amazing how much more convenient these are than regular ones, especially the lower ones. No more getting on my hands and knees to get the container for left-overs out. I notice we are all much more motivated to put the dishes way with these in place.

Review of the design:
  • Using laminated pine boards - really good. Once stained they have a nice warm color that goes well with the kitchen colors

  • Using butt-joint construction with poly glue and deck screws - great. I could have dadoed these, or even applied dovetails, but I don't think it would have added any needed strength. I did a test piece with just the poly glue on a clamped butt-joint. Once dry, when I broke it apart, it took wood with it, keeping the glue intact. Adding 2" deck screws to this, ensured it was going nowhere.

  • 3/8 pre-finshed plywood bottoms - great. The poly glues to the pre-finshed surface well, again taking wood away when break-tested. I glued the these into bottom rabbet joints, and used 1" crown staples to hold them in place (spaced about every 6 inches).

  • Full extension drawer slides - must have; no brainer.

  • Shelf width - I would have done this differently. I mounted the drawer slides the inside of the face frames and made the shelf widths to match (1 inch less then the opening). With 1/2 offset hinges on the cabinets doors, the shelves hit the doors and wouldn't slide out. I needed to adjust the hinges to the max outward position, giving a 5/8 offset - now the pave between the sets of double doors had a 1/2 gap. I decided rather than rebuild the drawers to be 1/2 less in width, I would put back strips between the doors. With a more rustic style, this looks fine - but if we had a modern style, it would be ugly. The fix was pretty minor over all. Lessoned learned: make sure you compensate for the shelf sliding past the drawer. the best case would have been to go with 5/8 offset hinges, and build the doors accordingly.
My favorite feature assocated with this is the pull-out toaster. In place for months now, and not a crumb to clean up in the morning. Note: for safety, I put a 20-gage piece of sheet metal on the bottom of the shelf above as a heat shield. It might be overkill, but $2 and 10 minutes work is worth it for the precaution.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Review #1 - Design Software - Must Have

As stated earlier: Now that the kitchen is complete, I am looking at what we did to see how it went. I hope to learn something from the experience I can apply to future projects.

5 - Would do it exactly the same way again
4 - Very good choice - maybe some slight room for improvement
3 - Good choice - some areas for improvement, but overall satisfied
2 - Not so good choice - should have done it differently
1 - Bad choice - what was I thinking?

Using design software: I am going to rate this a 5 (must do). The $100 and the time to learn how to use it were very well spent. Here are examples of the model vs the actual...

Having this was critical to seeing if our plan was going to look the way we wanted it to. Sketches are one thing, but a model that you can drive around and look at is a big advantage.
Downsides: It takes a bit of time to learn how to use it to the extent your can create a full model, and it takes a while to do the full model. This being said, it takes a lot longer to rip out your work when you and your DW had a different idea of it was going to look like.