Posts Tagged ‘DIY’

Install Tile Backsplash: Using Silicone

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

We had planned on installing a tile backsplash in our kitchen after we got the countertops in.  I asked the countertop installers what their recommendations were based upon their experience going into hundreds of homes.  Without hesitation, they said “a tumbled stone, to hide the irregularities in the wall, and silicone.”  By irregularities, he meant – the damaged wall where they tore out the old backsplash, and by silicone, he meant – no thinset or mastic – just glue them suckers right on the wall!  He said it would be a super easy do it yourself project and inexpensive.

Oh, the horrors of not following the tile installer’s bible.  Just glue them on?  Really?  Yep.  He said that the backsplash was not a high water area like the shower/bathtub.  He also said the irregularities of the tumbled stone would blend in/hide the irregularities on the wall.  If we had used a smooth tile, we would have had to use thinset as a leveling compound.  For 4 inch tiles, silicone would be fine…  After all, the tiles in his own house have been adhered for over 10 years without a problem, so it’s gotta be true!

We couldn’t find a tube of just “silicone” at Lowes so we bought an uber silicone product from Loctite called, “Tub and Tile Ultra Sealant”.  The description says it will stick to just about anything.

We prepped by patching holes, by removing last remnants of wallpaper, and by cleaning the walls.  We then laid out our first row of tiles along the countertop to test fit them before we glued them on.  I then broke a bunch of toothpicks to use as spacers for the bottom of the first row of tiles.  We only need the slightest of clearances to caulk the tiles and countertop together.  For the rest of the tiles, we used 1/8 inch spacers.  Ready, set, go!

We squeezed out a dollop of silicone in the center of each tile and pressed it on the wall.  The goo took several minutes to set, which gave us wiggle room to get the spacing just right.

Once we locked a few tiles in place to use as anchors for the first row, the rest went up very, very quickly.  When I say locked, I meant that we let those tiles dry over night so they were rock solid.

We did 2 rows of the 4 inchers and then we did 2 strips of tumbled stone cut from a mosaic tile.

Looking good so far!  Come back to see tips on how to cut tiles and how to work with mosaics.

Does It Work – Spray Paint Brass Chandelier

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

I love scrounging around at the Habitat for Humanity ReUse Center for great finds for the house.  In our home renovation project, we’ve replaced all the lights with modern brushed/satin nickel/steel/shiny silver looking stuff except for our old school brass chandelier in the dining room.  I went to the Habitat Center to see if I could find a nice used chandelier and they had on display 2 spray painted “Look What You Can Do With Brass” chandeliers.  Apparently, they have a glut of brass that no one wants, so they primed a couple and spray painted them to look like more modern.

I figured what the heck!  I taped off the light sockets and hung my lamp outside.  I used a grey metal primer and went to town on everything. 

I sprayed on a couple very light coats following the directions on the can.  Since the chain was brassy and the wire was a yellow/gold color, I even spray painted those…

After the primer thoroughly dried, I gave everything a couple of coats of a fancy hammered finish spray paint.  I have two table lamps that have a hammered finish and in comparison, things were looking promising with the chandelier.

Voila!  Here’s the final product.  I bet you can’t even recognize the original brass fixture!

Actually, here’s how the chandelier turned out – which is why we went and bought a new one from Lowe’s.  Once the paint dried it took on a matte finish, which looked really bad.  The spray painted chain and electric cord also looked strange.  When you add the weird fluted glass shades, the entire project went downhill. 

As far as technique, the spray paint adhered flawlessly.  Maybe if we had chosen a different finish and had some nice white alabaster shades it would have looked better.  If you try this, I would not suggest painting the chain.  Chain is cheap.  Go buy a length in the color that you need.

All in all, the spray paint cost us $5 (both cans were from the Habitat Center).  It was worth the gamble to see if it would work.  The new light fixture was the basic $42 model from Lowe’s.  Home Depot had a less expensive one for $37, but it looked a bit strange.

I would have to say that, technically, you can spray paint a brass chandelier.  Whether you should or not depends on the color and finish that you choose (go for something with a gloss).

Home Renovation Blues

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

It’s been 2 months now since we started working on the house to get it ready for listing.  It seems that every time we get one thing done, 3 more problems need to get fixed. 

Last weekend, we evicted the kids from their bedrooms and had those painted head to toe.

Oliver actually likes crashing in our bedroom.  I think he likes being close to mommy at night.  At least, that’s how I’ll remember the story…

Evelyn loves the chaos.  Every day she has a new mess in the living room to explore.  She crawls around the boxes like they were her very own obstacle course.

Can you believe that we have run out of stuff to pack?  Between the yard sale, the storage unit, and donations to various centers, our house if pretty empty.  We just made a trip today to the Habitat ReUse Center with a van full of stuff to donate.

We manage to stay busy every day, every night, yet I still feel like we are so far away from listing.  Here’s what we did today:

– dug up the bricks from the side we did in 2008, cleared out all the weeds/debris, and relaid t hem.  finished 100% the bricks along the sidewalk to the house.  sunk the last metal supports for the brick patio.
– reinforced the kitchen floor from underneath the house in the crawlspace.
– cleaned both bathrooms, did the dishes, picked up the house, cleaned and vacuumed the kid’s rooms, actually took a shower in the morning, and squeezed in a 2 hour nap in the afternoon!  (these are huge accomplishments for me)
– cut the shelves for Oliver’s closet
– gave both kids a bath and got them squeaky clean.
– had home cooked food for all 3 meals (no Chick-fil-a this weekend) and precooked dinner for tomorrow.
– made a trip to the donation center.

Lastly, we finally watched a movie that we got from Netflix 2 months ago – the Departed.  Tomorrow, we have another jam packed day.  I cannot wait for all this mess to be finished!

Painting Ceilings

Friday, July 1st, 2011

Not a single person who has come into our house since we have painted the ceilings has noticed that we painted the ceilings.  However, they have commented on how big the place looks and how bright it is. It could be that we have finally gotten rid of enough “stuff” to make the place look bigger OR it could be that we’ve gotten rid of the grimy, dingy, grey ceiling that was holding us down.

We didn’t have a clue how we would paint the cathedral ceiling until we spotted an awesome extendable pole at Lowes.  We didn’t even extend it it’s full length!  (Um Dad, just how tall did we think our ceilings were?)

We hit the dining room, kitchen and living room in the same night.  We taped off the walls with plastic sheeting as we went.  We also piled as much as we could in the center of the room and threw another plastic sheet over that.  We did pretty good with the splatter control, especially later in the night when the roller was super saturated and paint was dripping off it in big gobs.  As you can see, it was past midnight when we did the living room and well into 2am until we finished the main parts.  I have to follow up later and cut in around the edges.

Can you believe the color difference!  We used Valspar, Ultra Premium, Interior Finish Eggshell in Ultra White 72322.  The living room alone took about 2 gallons.  Popcorn ceilings have a greater surface area than a smooth ceiling with all those nooks and crannies to fill.  Talk about a pain in the butt to paint.  The Eggshell finish does have a very slight sheen, which reflects light beautifully.  This is a big plus as we don’t have much natural light in our house to brighten things up.

In some areas, the popcorn started peeling off the ceiling and sticking to the roller.  You have to immediately stop, lighten the pressure and carefully roll/pull the brush off.  Load the brush back up with paint and roll it on in one direction only using very light pressure.  Roll in the direction that goes against the peeled up popcorn, like you were smoothing it back down.  If it starts coming off in large amounts, stop ASAP and let the area dry 110%.  Come back after the area has dried and follow the tips from above or use a paint brush and dab paint on the area.

We had thought about hiring someone else to come in and paint for us, but once we got organized it was a breeze.  We saved a ton of money and it was easier than we thought.

Here’s the list of supplies that we used for painting the ceiling:

* Roller brush appropriate for ceiling texture – the thicker the nap, the better it can handle popcorn ceilings.
* Roller brush tray and roller brush frame.
* Some sort of extension pole to screw into the end of the brush frame.
* A ladder to help you cut in the edge of the ceiling along the wall.
* A hat to keep the paint flecks and splotches off your head.
* Plastic sheeting out the wazzo to protect your floor, furniture, TV, walls, etc…
* Blue painter’s tape to hold the plastic sheeting in place.
* A 2 inch paint brush or angled trim brush to cut in the edges of the ceiling where it joins the wall and to work around light fixtures, etc…
* Paint.  A latex is easy to clean.  An eggshell finish gives off a very subtle “glow”.  (The matte ceiling paint seemed to suck light away and looked dark.)  If you have popcorn ceiling you will need more paint than you think to get the job done (ie. one gallon for the master bedroom).

Anyone out there have tips to share from your own ceiling endeavors? 

Clean Up Your Inside Doors With Paint

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

You never know just how grimy your house is until you start painting.  Once one area is fresh and clean the rest of the house screams – Paint Me!  It’s no surprise that the doors, which are some of the grimiest, scuffed up, and well used surfaces of the house, need a fresh coat of paint too.  With little effort, you can save money and do it yourself.  No need to buy new doors or hire someone else to help out.

Yesterday, the hubby set up a paint station for me out back.  We have 8 internal doors total.  He took off the hinges and the door knobs and let me loose.  TIP: Use a permanent marker and write on each door what room it came from.  Write in the space cut out for the hinge so you can see it after the door has been painted.

The first chore was to sand every surface of the door to 1) roughen the door so the new paint will stick and 2) remove loose and peeling paint.   For my purposes, sanding also served to clean the door.  Otherwise, you would need to wash the door down so the new paint will stick better.

If you are doing one or two doors, by all means use sandpaper and do it by hand.  If you are doing multiple doors (like, 8 of them) then do yourself a favor and beg, borrow or steal a random orbital sander or  you’ll be sanding those doors until the cows come home.  (To all my kleptomaniac fans, 2 Pennies does not advocate the stealing of sanders in any way.)

Orbital sanders are relatively inexpensive as far as power tools go.  I used a little $30 el cheapo Black and Decker sander for 10 years, before it went to tool heaven.  The hubby went with a more expensive replacement, because he wanted more power (don’t they all?).  It still works the same to me.

I used a white Valspar semi-gloss latex for the doors to make it pOp and because a semi-gloss finish is easier to clean.  I rolled the paint on with a roller meant for super smooth surfaces.  For the best finish, you need at least 2 thin, even coats.  I don’t care what the advertisments say, I have yet to use a paint that only took one coat. 

When I came back to do a second coat, I discovered a flaw in our brilliant paint setup – trees and other debris.  Most every door had some sort of gunk on it from pine needles to bird poop.  The hubby had to string up a tarp to protect my finish.  After a second first coat, we were back in business…until the thunderstorm.

By the third day, I was able to finish 5 doors 100%.  I was outside working on the last 3 (see pic above) when a storm rolled in.  Not only did it roll in, but it stayed for 5 days. 

The tarp was able to keep debris off my doors, but it collapsed under the weight of the rain.  I managed to haul in 2 half finished doors, but the 3rd door bit the dust.

With the hinges and knobs replaced, the new doors look spiffy indeed.  We can’t help but marvel at how clean they look!  I still have 3 doors to finish, but considering I’m juggling packing, moving, and kiddos I think I’ll be okay.

TIP: If you went through the trouble to take the door off the hinges to paint, you might as well paint the door trim before you put the new door back up.

Tips and Tricks for painting an interior door:

1) Remove hinges, knobs, hooks, and other items attached to your door.  Write which door goes where on the door itself in the space where the hinge attaches.

2) Setup a well ventilated workspace that is protected from the environment.

3) Wash or sand the door to prep it for paint.  Use a 120 grit sandpaper for the first run and then 220 to smooth everything out.  Random orbital sanders rock. 

4) Roll on your paint with a smooth surface paint roller.  Brushes will leave too many marks.  You may use either the roller or a brush for the edges.  Be careful not to paint over your door markings in the hinge area.  Also, be careful not to goop up paint in the hinge cutout or your hinges won’t fit properly.  Give it at least 2 coats and dry thoroughly before flipping door over.

5) Reinstall hardware and bingo – you have a nice and clean door!

Brickwork and Sanding Doors

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

Our neighbors thought we were nuts to be working hard the day after the big sale.  They were all burned out!  We thought we were crazy too, but we have to keep on keeping on.  The hubby worked on the brick path for most of the day.  He spent the better part of his time shoveling in sand and tamping it down.

We tag teamed watching the kids today.  When the hubby took a break from the heat, I would run outside for my project.

When I was able to, I worked on sanding the doors and prepping them for paint.  We took off all the doors and the hardware this morning.  It’s weird not having doors, especially for the bathrooms.  I was able to putty holes and sand both sides by the time the kids went down for the night.

Evelyn has become a handful.  Where Oliver is laid back, Evelyn is raring to go, go, go.  She’s pulling up now and climbing.  She managed to climb on TOP of the coffee table by using a box as a step today.  Daddy dropped her crib down to its lowest level before she went to bed.  lol…

We both think Evelyn is a lot like me, whereas Oliver is like his dad.  Evie wants what she wants, when she wants it and doesn’t need, or want, any help to get it.  She already has a little ‘tude and has the smirky pout down pat.  (Sorry mom for giving you grief when I was little!)

The hubby got in his bricks lining the driveway by dinner time.  We are out of sand to brush into the cracks and have the “patio” area for the garbage cans left to do.  The hubby will have to make a trip to Lowe’s before he can finish.

Tomorrow, I get to paint the doors.  That will probably take me 2 days.  The realtor is coming on Tuesday to measure the exterior of the house and Friday to do the inside.  We are still shooting for July 10, depending on the counters.

Renew House Numbers and Doorbell with Paint

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

One way to kick up your curb appeal is to trade out your worn out house numbers and doorbell for something new.  The 2Pennies way is to give them a fresh look with spray paint.

My old house numbers were a dingy, tarnished, and faded heavy metal (maybe brass?). The doorbell was also grimy and worn from years of dirty finger use.  The first thing to do is to remove them from your house and give them a good scrubbing with soap and water.  Be careful not to soak the doorbell in water.  Next, LIGHTLY rub them with some fine grit sandpaper – 220 or higher.  The point is to take away the sheen or shine.  This helps the spray paint to adhere.

Layer your workspace with newspaper and work in a well ventilated area.  Spray paint has serious fumes.  I elevated my items on some crushed balls of aluminum foil.  This method ensures the paper doesn’t stick to the pieces as they dry and you can spray the sides along with the tops. 

Shake your spray paint the recommended time that is posted on the can and do a few test sprays to make sure the nozzle is clear.  Start the spray away from the object being painted, sweep the can over the object, and end the spray away from the object.  You never want to aim the can directly at the piece and push the nozzle.  The paint will immediately pool and run. 

Make several passes and let the pieces dry.  Spray a second or third time if it needs it.  If the edges of the pieces are not fully covered, don’t despair, we will fix that later on.

For the door bell, use masking tape to tape off the button and/or the ring around the button.  Press it on firmly and use a sharp knife to cut away the excess.

It will take at least 24 hours for the pieces to fully dry and cure with low humidity.  When they are ready, you can now touch up the edges. 

Spray some paint into a little aluminum foil bowl and break the end of a toothpick off to use as a brush. 

Dip the toothpick in the paint and then touch it to the edge of your item.  The paint almost wicks itself off the brush and onto the metal!  Keep dipping and dabbing until all your edges are set.  Be sure to make some new foil balls to set your pieces on to dry.

After a few hours, everything is ready to go!  If you want to further weather proof your stuff , buy some semi-gloss or gloss polyurethane spray and spray on several coats.  My spray paint was already exterior semi-gloss so I did not take this extra step.

We tacked up the new numbers on the front porch post where they would be more visible.  Not to shabby!

The doorbell turned out decent as well.

A new doorbell would have cost $14 and comparable new numbers were $4 bucks each.  Buying new would have cost $30.  Instead, I used a can of spray paint that I already had to pull of this redo for free.  Even if I had to buy a quality can of Rustoleum Interior/Exterior High Gloss Black Spray Paint, it would have only cost me $3.98.

I’m going to break out my trusty toothpick again and touch up the old screwheads with black paint to finish it off.  Not to shabby!

Replacing Mailbox and Post

Monday, May 30th, 2011

I’m not sure where my friend read it, but she said that it helps to give your mailbox a facelift when you sell your house.  I guess it’s all a part of that nebulous concept called “curb appeal”. 

Our mailbox was in sad shape.  The first day we moved into the house, the hubby ran over the mailbox with the moving truck.  He then splinted the broken post between two pieces of wood and the poor thing had been tilting forward ever sine.  The ugly green mailbox itself was rusted and dented from some hooligan’s cherry bomb.  No facelift could rejuvenate this baby.  Time for a new setup.

I had been priming our new fence post over the past few days.  We decided to install it today as the mailman is off for the holiday.  The old mailbox post is underneath the new one.  See the sad little splint at the bottom?  You can also see the new post is much shorter than the old one.

The original post was just stuck in the ground.  We borrowed a post hole digger from a neighbor and made the hole a bit bigger so we could cement the post in place.  We backfilled the hole and tamped the dirt down so our little shorty post would be the proper height.

Now that the hole was bigger, the post wouldn’t stay upright for us to dump in cement.  The hubby improvised with 2 sawhorses, 2 pieces of wood, and 4 bar clamps.  He clamped one piece of wood to both sawhorses and then clamped another piece of wood behind the post to the first piece of wood.  He used a level to position the post.

We were so glad that we bought a half dozen bar clamps from Harbor Freight.  Every now and then, we get Harbor Freight’s circular and see them on sale for $1.99 each.  Normally, there is a limit that you can buy.  These little guys are well worth it.

To cement the post in place, he poured 1/2 to 3/4 of a bag of dry Quickcrete mix into the hole.  He then added water from a hose (following the directions on the box) and mixed it up with a broom handle.  Two hours later the concrete had set and it was rock hard!

He then cut a piece of wood that would go underneath the mailbox and attach to the mailbox post.  We had bought a precut mailbox plank from Lowes, but found that it was too wide for the mailbox that we bought.  The first time he attached the mailbox, we had it flush against the back of the post.  While pretty, the door wouldn’t open all the way because it was getting jammed on the wood underneath the mailbox.  We pulled the box forward an inch and voila – we now have the best mailbox on the block!

I have to go back and put a topcoat of paint over the primer and plant some flowers around the base still.  I’ll tackle that tomorrow!  Right now, it’s back to packing up our bedroom while the hubby is tamping rocks in the dark for our brick walkway.  We have realtors coming tomorrow and our target date to list the house is 6/19.  The clock is ticking!

Paint the Front Door

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

Another tip for selling your house – give your door a fresh coat of paint (typically a red paint color).

 Our entire door, side panel, and trim have been a dark green since the day I bought the house in Feb 2000.  How green was it?  See the side panel?  You can still see the green showing through after 5 coats of color blocking primer. 

You can search online for the “proper” way to paint a door – trust me, there is a method.  Everything depends on if your door is wood or metal, if the original paint job is in good shape or if it is peeling, if there are cracks or repairs that need to be made, etc… 

For me, the metal door is in fairly good condition and the thick green paint is in great condition.  The hubby removed the door knob, locks, and pins from the hinges.  He put the door on a pair of sawhorses for me in the shade of a tree.  I knew I wanted a type of red for the door, but fire engine or lipstick red weren’t for me.  The house is clay, the porch is a medium brown and the trim is white.  I decided on a reddish brown for the door and the shutters.  To be exact, it is called Thomas Jefferson Brown and it is a historical color.  I figured if it’s lasted this long, then it’s got to be good!

As far as technique goes, I lightly sanded the surface to remove the gloss and then I painted all the trim and panels first with a 2 – 3 inch brush.  I worked horizontally on all pieces and then vertically.  Same goes for the rails and stiles.  The rails are the horizontal parts of the door and the stiles run vertically.  Where they meet, I feathered the edges with a light touch and then I hit the edges of the door.  I did not bother to tape off the windows as I will use a razor to scrape the paint off after the door has cured.  Helpful tip: Load up your brush with paint and use long, smooth strokes for an even finish.

I started this process very early in the morning and let the paint dry for about 2 hours between coats.  I would have liked a longer drying time, especially since I needed 4 coats of paint for thorough coverage, but we managed. 

By the time the door was reinstalled, it was 830pm and I still hadn’t gotten to the trim.  I grabbed my quart of Kilz premium color and stain blocking primer and finally zapped the green for good!  I will have to do another coat tomorrow morning, but wow – does it look sharp tonight!

I must admit to having bittersweet feelings about our remodeling job.  Now that the green is gone, it looks and feels like a totally different house.  For as much as we didn’t like the old exterior, it suited us.  Now things are starting to look very fancy around here.  I guess momma has got to buy a new pair of shoes!

Brick Path: Phase II

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

One of the top 10 tips for selling your house is to FINISH undone work.  The big monkey on our back has been finishing our brick walkway up the side of our driveway.  I cannot believe that is has been 1 YEAR since we started the project.  At the time, I had no idea that I was pregnant with baby number 2.  A couple of weeks later, my big project days were over as I wrestled with the first trimester blahs.  The bricks laid in the exact same arrangement for a year, virtually untouched.  With Nana here visiting this week we were able to steal a few hours, while she watched the kiddos, to work together and “dig” into the project.

The hubby stacked all the bricks on the driveway so he could excavate the dirt.  He trucked wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow up to our house so we could use the dirt to get rid of another monkey – a drainage problem caused by soil erosion.

I hopped into the trench and followed behind him doing the fine detail work.  We had cut out the exact width of our brick pattern and the depth of the gravel, sand, and bricks from a piece of wood.  The depth includes 2 inches of gravel, 2 inches of sand, and the bricks.  My job was to use hand tools and the wood guide to make sure the trench was squared off and cleaned out.  I also sat in the trench on a foam pad and compressed the dirt as I went.

It wasn’t too hard to create a firm base.  Most of the trench is made of clay and after a light rain, the soil is almost as hard as cement itself!  Tomorrow, the hubby will be pounding in the metal guide rails and filling in the gravel.  We have another wood template that is 2 inches shorter and we’ll use it as a screed board to level off the rocks.

It was so nice to work with my hubby again.  We are both fixer-uppers.  It’s one of those common bonds that drew us together in the first place.  It’s also very satisfying to do something ourselves and to do it well.  Let’s hope we can keep the momentum going and knock this out before next weekend!

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