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RE: Cabinet color question & salvaging old cabinets for reno (Follow-Up #13)

posted by: CEFreeman on 03.14.2014 at 12:39 pm in Kitchens Forum

You have absolutely nothing to lose by trying to strip a door.
1) yes, I've seen cream with natural wood frames and it's usually gorgeous. Surprisingly so.
2) Stripping.

Take a door off.
Get Citristrip or Soygel. None of the evil, flesh-eating chemicals that take 18 coats and tons of scraping and sanding.
You don't need space suites or even gloves for these products. I SWEAR by it. 18 antique doors, 11 cabinets of varying finishes and ages later, I am here to tell you how not to waste your time or fumigate your family. My stuff is down to gorgeous, bare, unstained, un-crapped-out wood. Some oak, maple, cherry, I think birch and goodness knows what they've used over the years.

Coat a door thickly. Like you're frosting cake vs. painting it on. Even though it says it takes about 15 minutes, leave it on. It does start to bubble and you'll get all excited, but if you dig at it now, you'll probably need yet another application for just the paint.
Leave it alone overnight. Really, resist the urge to poke at it.
I also suggest cutting up some grocery bags and pressing them over the citristrip. It holds the stripper against the paint, permitting it to continue to work at it -- but you don't have to. But no peeking.

You'll see the paint start to lift in ribbons. It is FABULOUS. And very exciting. Look at the pic below. This is before I knew I didn't need to bother with gloves. This old paint is coming off in sheets!
The next morning (or 8 hours later), you can squeegee the goop into another plastic garbage bag and toss it.
Now, take another coat of Citristrip and put it on evenly, but thickly. This will suck any residual stain right out of the wood. No joke.
I'd leave this on for a couple hours. Squeegee it off again. A credit card does just fine. A toothpick or something pointy gets into any detail, but this is where it worked the best for me, and lifted old paint right out of the crevices. Do NOT use a wire brush, because the wood will be softened.

Important: Use a scrubbie and water to neutralize it and get the residual stuff off the door. I was doing this and it was working beautifully! I do it outside in the driveway with a hose, although I've stripped my cabinets in place. A small blurb on the website discussing stain removal says water, but even their customer support (Nick) was horrified and insisted mineral spirits. If you use mineral spirits, you stand a good chance of reliquifying old stain and having it soak back into the wood. Mine also turned magenta. Bright, Easter egg magenta. Crayola magenta. Really, really bright magenta. (got it?) It was 100 year old stain soaking right back into my beautiful wood.

The thing to be careful of is using something sharp to scrape. (No wire brush!) Be gentle, because leaving this stuff on so long makes the wood softer and you can gouge it.

So anyway, I think this stuff is almost fun. If you get it on you, don't freak. It doesn't hurt. Doesn't remove color from clothing (where I wipe my hands) and if the stain gets on your hands, rub some on like lotion, wait a minute and wash your hands. Done.

You'll save a lot of $$ and decision making if you just try one door. Heck, if you're in the DC area, I'll do it for you. It's totally cool.


Stripping cabinet doors!!! Christine's easy way.
clipped on: 03.28.2014 at 02:05 am    last updated on: 03.28.2014 at 02:05 am

Another TINY kitchen--help with layout

posted by: kirkhall on 02.06.2014 at 07:56 pm in Kitchens Forum

Hi all,
I spend a lot of time here on GW, but usually mostly only comment in Build and Remodeling. I enjoy layouts--moving spaces around, etc. So, I'm not spatially challenged.

However, my own home does have a space challenge. My current kitchen is about 8'8" by 7'5", and C-shaped. This house, our house, a cape cod style 1 1/2 story home, started out at just around 1400 total sq ft with around 800 on the main floor. A few years ago, we added on (the family room in the picture below. We didn't touch the original kitchen except to take down the exterior wall and make a bar height peninsula overhang where there used to be the wall. We also recovered the countertops (still laminate).

It is SOOO much better, and has worked for my family of 4 (2 children, now in grade school). We needed that family room space, and the upstairs space that we gutted and remodeled last year. House is now about 2100 sq ft total.

Now, I have my sights on planning for an eventual kitchen remodel. I live in an area with many high end homes, but mine is "older" (1980). The houses they are building immediately behind me are about 3400sq ft, and 3/4 of a million dollars. The upgrades, remodeling, etc that we have done and continue to do are all financially okay if we are ever to sell. But, more importantly, we are living so much better.

So, given our current cramped kitchen, what would you all do? The pantry is in the new space. And, I LOVE it. What I don't love is having to walk around the peninsula to get to it (I use it often). The fridge sticks out a couple inches into the 4'2" open doorway between the LR and the kitch/DR. And, it is really a 1 person kitchen. With 2 girls at home, and a busy lifestyle, but with an "at home" parent who preps most meals, the kitchen is cramped.

I've got a few ideas; I like floorplans. But, want your opinions.

Here is my layout, currently:
 photo kitchen_zpsb89b92af.jpg

Nothing is set in stone (all appliances are electric, though venting the stove could be a problem depending on where it ends up). The shaded area of the peninsula is the old exterior wall, now half wall/split in the peninsula counter top heights. That wall has the sink plumbing, but it can be moved, imo.

I've considered a corner something--maybe the sink? Maybe the DW? Maybe the stove?

And, my first preference would be an island and L design, just because I am so tired of walking around the peninsula.

(eta: the wall behind the fridge is a load-bearing wall; as is the back wall of the pantry (left wall) (old existing exterior wall of the house))

But, I'm hoping some of you professionals have a grand plan for me! :/ :)

This post was edited by kirkhall on Thu, Feb 6, 14 at 20:20


this post has many great ideas for my kitchen
clipped on: 02.20.2014 at 03:08 pm    last updated on: 02.20.2014 at 03:09 pm

Cabinets- low to high, oh my

posted by: jakuvall on 01.26.2014 at 02:43 pm in Kitchens Forum

A recent thread stirred me to put this together, all info I've posted at times in the past. I'm a KD, done a lot of kitchens, worked with a lot of brands, have built a lot of things for many years, including cabinets. I'm fussy...and more than a little opinionated. This is long ...and I may not manage to reply since this may be my goof off time for a few day.

So what gives with cabinet quality, what do (should) you get as you spend more...

Most of what is used to "sell" you cabinets is nonsense. Why? Simply because that is what the public wants: short, simple take-aways, sound bites. Plywood, dovetails, soft close, full extension..yaydyaydyadyadya.
Cabinets are made with one of two construction methods (primarily) Framed and Frameless.
Framed cabinets have subsets that relate to the overlay- full, partial (or traditional), and inset.

Variation in frame construction.-pocket hole (good), doweled (better), mortise and tenon (best)
Pocket Hole
The vast majority of cabinets on the market and practically all those made by local "custom" builders use pocket hole construction to assemble face frames. Framed members are glued, held in place with some sort of clamping mechanism, a pocket hole is drilled in the rails (horizontal memebers) and a screw joins the rail to the stile.
Pros- fast hence cost effective, reasonably secure, rquires little skill, easy to establish manufacturing for, easy to do on a small scale (hence it's popularity with local makers).
Cons- glue joint does next to nothing since it is end grain to long grain. Eventually the screw loosens some. As wood expands and contracts the fibers are forced agains the metal. At some point in time the fibers break and can no longer expand and contract. This is called compression set, it is why the head fall off of hammers. In the case of cabinets this process can take over a decade, sometimes two. How long it takes is related to swings in humidity.

I include any variations to dowels- biscuits, loose tenons etc though they are not all equal- In my experience dowels are better than either of the alternatives. The end of the rail is drilled to accept two dowels, the stile is drilled to match. Dowels are glued and inserted into the holes, frame is assembled and clamped (occasionally also pinned to hold it while the glue sets)
Pros- you now have a decent glue joint and no metal
Cons- requires better equipment (very difficult to do on a small scale with dowels, hence the alternate joinng methods), needs more precision (dowels must align exactly-tolerance in the thousandths), proper gluing is essential ( a glue starved joint will fail every time)

Mortise and Tenon
(This is pertianing to frames NOT doors- may makers will refer to doors as mortise and tenon when actually they are using cope and stile)
This is the traditional joint used in quality furniture. The end of the rail, say for an inch, is made thinner on all sides (a tongue if you will) making the tenon, a matching rectangular hole is made in the stile (mortise), assembled glued and clamped.
Pros- properly done lasts a few lifetimes (think anitques), minimizes moisture movement (doesn't eliminate it though) thus minimizing cracking at seams of the finish. Less prone to glue starvation than dowels, larger long grain to long grain glue joint (which with modern glues is near permanent)
Cons- either requires better equipment or more time and expertise. M&T can be done on a small scale so you may find it in higher end local makers, you should expect it from hi-end mfgs.

Then there are the boxes- how are braced (kept square), how are they joined to the frame, what are the backs, how captured , what is the hanging rail and how is it attached, what are the sides made of.

Braces-these are what keep the cabinet square in plan- in order of quality- plastic corners stapled, plastic corners screwed, wooden corners glued and pineed, front to back struts on each side set into dado joints, full sub-tops. (Insets should always have full sub-tops IMO)
Note on tops and bottoms: as you move up in quality and start to see full sub tops you should be seeing both the top and the bottom of the cabinet set flush to the rail. No lip to collect dust on the bottom, no lip to catch utensils or whatever when you open the drawer on the top.

Joining frame to box (in order)- staples, staples with a dado, staples with a stepped dado, blocks added for gluing, glued using a proper joint and may also use pins. In rare cases you will also run across frames attached using biscuits (should be 3/4" sides) or pocket hole screws (minimum 1/2" sides).

Backs- the purpose of the back of a cabinet is to keep it sqaure, not much else. The hanging rails are what are used to hold the cabinet in place so how they are attached is more important than how thick the back is or what it is made from. Many small makers use heavier backs simply because that is easier for them to do on a small scale than to add in hanging rails. That is fine, but not necessarily better.

Sides- on a framed cabinet the face frame IS the structure. The sides hold the face frame out from the wall. What they are made of, while being a topic of great discourse, is practically meaningless. Particle, 3/8, �. � ply, mdf....Argue about these things all you want. Unless you know exactly what type, class, density, source...the maker is using , OR you are expert enough to tell on site; the terms used to "sell" you a cabinet have no real meaning to you. There are 110 variations in particle alone, almost as many in ply. If you are at a moderate semi custom brand the only reason (the only reason) to change the side material is aesthetic or emotional. Real matching veneer on the ends looks fare superior to synthetics or applied skins but that can be done on anything.
Special cases-
attachment of integrated sides. Some brands offer a "lock miter" joint for this. This eliminates a seam on the side where the stile meets the side. It is nice. I don't find it superior. I have one brand that uses it, another (better) that does not. The better brand stays tighter over time. In the long run this is simply a personal aesthetic choice.

Insets- variations to look (aside from full sub tops) are: what is the reveal, what are the hinges (mortised hinges are rare and only in the high end but once your spending look for them) what are the latches? (there are several used, metal ones are superior, hidden rare earth magnets the best)

Glue- Glue is perhaps the single most important thing keeping your cabinets together. who is doing it, how much pressure are they under, what are they using. I make it a point to go on factory tours for every brand, and go back again every now and then (always a part of "training") Now I could give a factory tour off the top of my head. I'm not really interested in this or that machine, seen most, used many. One thing I always do is pay attention to the people doing glue up. I don't want to see them scrambling to meet quota, nor do I want to see them dawdling and chatting with neighbors. Sure it's a limited window but over the years I've found it telling. Good habits in the glue department makes for good cabinets, bad habits or high quotas bode ill.

Frameless- also known as "full access" because some marketing guy thinks it sounds better, also as Euro. These have no face frame, rather the box is the structure. Boxes are most commonly made from 5/8 to 3/4" material doweled together. Most often a local maker will either screw or buscuit (or both) instead of dowel due to lack of equipment. All are fine, dowels are better. (there are of course also RTA cabinets or more appropriately "Knock downs")
Some will only use a short strut across the front (say 4" wide) at the top, others use a full sub top, others have an option for full top.
Pros of frameless- Slight increase in drawer width (typcially 1.5" per cabinet), significant increase in effective height per drawer if they do not use stringers between drawers, tighter reveal between doors on full overlay due to hardware avaialble, easier adjustment of doors.
Cons-less forgiving during instalation - frameless are stiffer than framed so tend to mainatina a very straight line when attached to each other making it necessary to account for wanky walls by extending sides at the end of a run (sometimes), heavier due to thicker material and often due to particle board (see below), must either recess bottoms (which some brands do, some don't, some do poorly) or add light rail to hide UC lights, must use a starter molding at the top (often also need to do that on framed but depends) Can't combine cabinets (rarely and issue), be sure to include filler overlays in your order to get the best look out of the tight reveals.

Note- frameless box material- many, if not most brands use furniture board (particle) which is in my opinion the correct material. A lot of hi end brands have gradually switched to offering ply, or only ply on frameless. That is entirely due to consumer pressure. In private any mfg rep or tech I have ever spoken with would agree. If you end up with plywood boxes for frameless you will want to use extra screws when joining them together to prevent cupping. Ply cups, particle and mdf do not.
Note- using screws: if you are joining particle frameless with screws be sure to get screws designed for particle AND predrill. (in my opinion every single screw used in any kitchen installation should be predrilled but that is another topic) A better bet is to use "sex screws" AKA "chicago screws" or "male female screws.

Wood and finish-
As things get more expensive you should get better grading. Now that is not just a matter of how pretty, clean the wood may look. It is a matter of moisture control, and general wood quality. The better a brand the more control they will keep over both. Less warping, more stability, better joints- you win.
It is very difficult on a small scale to even approach the quality of material the better ones get. Getting wood, acclimating it, keeping it stable was always a headache when I built. Conversely the bigger an outfit gets, the more mass produced they are, the less attention is paid to it and the more rather simple systems are used. Hence my preference for mid size mfg's but that is just me.

Finish- I do not know of a mainstream mfg that doen't use a fully catalyzed varnish- which is nitpicking. Most local makers use precatalyzed- good, just not as good. The biggest factor in finish quality is prep and steps (just like cooking) You should be able to see the difference as prices go up but the quality of finish of many semi custom brands has improved markedly in recent years-for the most part they will be fine. Fell the underside edges of drawer heads and doors, look at the back, look for hairly scratches near the corners. For specialty finishes there will be a noticeable difference between semi and hi end. I have recently run into a couple of specialty finishes I consider acceptible in one semi line- that is rare. Go look at some high end brands specialty finishes and it is hard to go back (I said I'm fussy)

Doors- make their own, buy em, whittle em- who cares. It is a nice selling point- we make our own doors- and honestly I prefer it. Only because I know who is in control, will have shorter lead times if I need a replacement, and that usually means I can get custom sizes (something I insist upon at every price point no matter what). That said even my top end brand outsources some doors, but I also know that they order select, are a preferred customer, and hold the door maker to standards. YMMV. The fact that your local custom maker doesn't make is own doors (highly likely) is not an issue, actually may get a better door that way since he doesn't have the equipment.

Hinges and hardware- I fuss less about hinges- most are fine and there are simply too many good choices to get into it. Though even some of the better brands have some lousy clips used by some makers so take a look at how they adjust, that is what you will have to deal with some day.
If in doubt treat it like �. Glides I won't use anything but Blum or Grass. No Chinese glides allowed. Budget may not allow that for everyone, but seriously think about it first. I'd give up almost anything else first, anything.

What else to expect as you go higher-
I'd say service but I have a semi-custom brand that approaches my best when it comes to service. That is not common though and as you spend more you should expect it- actually you may never actually see it. Your KD will- it makes our job easier, eliminates problems. Better brands REQUIRE a plan and elevations with an order so they can help make sure everything is correct.

Consistancy and flexibility- top end brands require a project specific sample door which is used as a color control during manufacture. As construction quality improves more things are within reason to do with a cabinet than might be in a lesser construction. Variations to door style, any species as an option, custom stains or specialty finishes (note that custom paint colors are now available in a number of semi-custom brands), any accessory available or custom designed and built accessories. (accessories is one area that you should be paying attention to using a local custom maker-I've seen some weird things done)

Soap box- I consider "full custom" or even "custom" to mean I can design a door style, get any wood, get any finish, have any finish altered, have anything I can draw built (so long as stable) ...A lot of what passes for "custom" IMO is "sortacustom" and with semi brands opening up options (combined cabinets to 120", free dimension changes to 1/8", accept drawings, custom paint colors) many are nothing more than glorified semi custom -end soap box.

Last thing- most, if not all of the pros that frequent this forum will tell you that "who" you work with is more important than what brand you buy. Use this information carefully. It may help sort out the "who" when talking with folks but don't go overboard about details. I've said elsewhere, and tell just about every client I meet- "once you are at the middle, semi-custom price point, your getting a decent cabinet- no matter where you buy it"


clipped on: 01.27.2014 at 12:01 am    last updated on: 01.27.2014 at 12:04 am

Will you PLEASE post a link to your kitchen??

posted by: susied3 on 05.22.2012 at 04:20 pm in Kitchens Forum

I have to say, I've spent the last 4 days probably over 20 hours of searching, here, google, FKB, every way possible, as to NOT bother you with this, BUT, I can't find MANY kitchens that I have notes on, with questions, and thought maybe if people would post the link to their original kitchen reveal, or progress pics, it might help others with questions as well.

I have a list of TWENTY SEVEN names that I have specific questions about your kitchen! I thought maybe the link to a thread with info might answer many without having to bug everyone personally!

In addition to those 27, I already have 32 threads saved in my favorites, some have the answers, some not, so will probably have to "bug you" for those. :)

So, if you have it, will you post it? PLEASE??



clipped on: 12.28.2013 at 09:28 pm    last updated on: 12.28.2013 at 09:28 pm

Opinions on this basic and traditional floor plan?

posted by: olivesmom on 12.13.2013 at 01:44 pm in Building a Home Forum

After viewing many existing homes we are back to the idea of building. Due to loan constraints our options for new construction are fairly limited but we have been able to find builder's floor plan we really like. We are taking a drive tomorrow to view a just completed version of this plan. I thought it might be helpful to hear any comments or suggestions for modifications so we can keep them in mind as we tour the home.

It's a fairly traditional floor plan with a master on main, which we like despite having younger children. It has the formal dining room that I've wanted (although it is a little small) as well as a mud room.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Changes I already envision: opening up the staircase/dining room wall so that the staircase essentially makes up the one wall. I would change the kitchen layout and reduce the size of the downstairs powder room so that cabinets could be placed on the other side in the eat-in area. I'd add a fireplace in the family room and one in the master. We may also bump out the master and/or put in a French door. I'd probably put a washer/dryer in the mudroom too. Down the road we would build a separate detached garage with a man cave upstairs.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Any problems you see, changes you'd make? Thanks!


clipped on: 12.14.2013 at 08:21 pm    last updated on: 12.14.2013 at 08:21 pm

Can you look at this floor plan?

posted by: gingerjenny on 10.27.2013 at 12:15 am in Building a Home Forum

We are still trying to pick a floor plan. We origanally wanted to go with a one story home. We still might but its cheaper if you build a 2 story (less foundation, less roof shingles..

Here is one layout I'm considering

Here is a link that might be useful: Farmington


nice floorplan
clipped on: 10.28.2013 at 12:05 am    last updated on: 10.28.2013 at 12:05 am

RE: Condo (10'x8') Kitchen Remodel Plan 2013. Feedback? (Follow-Up #45)

posted by: FoxCrane on 09.27.2013 at 01:10 pm in Kitchens Forum

Okay, this is as close to an after photo as I can get right now (leaving tomorrow for a month). Won't be able to get to a final reveal thread until late October. Sad!

Just some touch-up items remain, as well as replacing the Hafele Lemans (with the 2nd generation one), replacing defective LED strips, gas install for the cooktop and adjusting the height of the pendant lights.


8x10 kitchen (27" fridge)
clipped on: 09.28.2013 at 01:34 am    last updated on: 09.28.2013 at 01:35 am

RE: Range angled in a corner??? (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: jakuvall on 08.24.2013 at 11:26 am in Kitchens Forum

Here are 4 of them. In EVERY case there is a net gain in counter space. As to storage it is at least a wash usually also a net gain, always an improvement in possible cabinet sizes (you have to calculate the storage space not the sq ft of floor.)

I've used these most often in smaller kitchens, sometimes because of immovable architectural elements. When it is the right answer it is far and away the best.

Every one of these clients was presented with at least 3 alternative layouts (5 for two of them) that did not include an angled range. Each initially balked at the idea.

Top -the smallest kitchen I've ever done- fridge wall was moved 11 inches out and gas lines hidden in angled wall.
Next- removed wall to laundry room (relocated)-not installed so only a perpective and plan
No wall work the last two which are much older.

Again- details and install need be handled with care.


clipped on: 08.24.2013 at 02:35 pm    last updated on: 08.24.2013 at 02:35 pm

RE: KAW..soapstone patina (Follow-Up #13)

posted by: trailrunner on 08.15.2013 at 10:09 pm in Kitchens Forum

Ya'll are sweet. Old bat..he is working in a new restaurant here in AL...they will open end of Aug. He is the butcher and the charcuterie person...not sure how one says that LOL ! Curing meats. You will have to come here and you KNOW you have a place to stay !

Oatmeal Brown Sugar Bread

2 cups rolled oats..old fashioned ...
add 2 c boiling water
1/4 molasses
1/4 butter
2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 c brown sugar packed...let set till room temp

Add 1 tbsp Active Dry Yeast ( Fleishman's in a jar ) to 1/4 c warm water and let proof...add to above when it has cooled.

Add 4 c AP ( All Purpose flour ..I use King Arthur) ....mix till all is slightly dry parts...cover and let set for 1 hr.

Put one cup flour on side and add as needed to knead bread. You can see in pic how silky the dough is . You have to know your bread dough. It should feel like a baby's bottom ( really) ,,,a little give to it and not sticky !

Knead about 5-8 min, Place in greased bowl and cover tightly for 1 hr. Should be double. Divide in 2 loaves. 8x4 . Place in greased pans and let rise about 1 hr till over top of pan. Bake 40 -45 min/350 degrees...need to check temp...I use a dig thermometer/208 degrees or so.....but for decades I thumped the bottom to tell if done...sounds hollow when done.
Remove from pan and cool. This is delicious as toast with jam and pbj and just plain !!

As for the Challah...I have posted a lot of times and keep refining how I do it.

In a large 4 c 2c warm water, 1/4 c butter, 1/4 c sugar, 2 tsp kosher salt, and 2 tsp Active dry yeast. Stir well and let set till foamy. Add 3 large eggs and stir well with a whisk.

In a large bowl place 6 c AP flour...see above ( All Purpose King Arthur) . Pour over the above mix. Stir till all is wet. Cover and let set for 1 hr. Uncover and put 1 cup flour on side and add as needed to knead bread dough . Will likely take most. Don't want it to be can see in pic how moist and soft. Knead 8 min or so till like above...soft as a baby's bottom. Place in greased bowl. Let rise till double 1 hr. Remove and do 3 strand braid for 3 loaves...approx 20 oz each. Let rise 1 hr. Bake 350 for 30 min. May glaze with egg white or egg yolk...and sprinkle with sesame seeds. I use it for show but not for home :)

Let cool. Enjoy. I will link to my bread tutorials...please look at them and then if you aren't used to baking bread please do ask questions. I don't want you to have a problem ! Just ask.c

Here is a link that might be useful: Bread tutorials


clipped on: 08.18.2013 at 01:41 am    last updated on: 08.18.2013 at 01:41 am

White/white/white kitchen refresh FINISHED

posted by: wi-sailorgirl on 06.04.2013 at 11:39 am in Kitchens Forum

Hopefully the subject warned you that if you're not a fan of white kitchens, you definitely will not like this one. Fortunately, I am (and have been as long as I can remember).

This was more of a refresh than a reno. The cabinets, counters, sink and backsplash are all new. The floors and all appliances are not (we've replaced them all slowly over the last 11 years of owning this house). Although we only changed a few things in the kitchen in this latest go-around, I don't think there's anything left save for the basic layout that is the same as it was when we bought the house. So maybe this was really an 11 year reno!

Anyway ... photos (and lots of them). Details at the end.

Before (about three years ago). I know, it's not really bad looking, but the cabinets were in rough shape and I hated the dust-collector shelf on top of them.
 photo kitchen1_101211-1.jpeg

The inspiration picture (from Coastal Living magazine):
 photo 1529596720_1-1_zpsdd98beb5.jpeg

 photo newkitchen6_zps88637037.jpg

 photo newkitchen11_zpsaa6152e9.jpg

Walnut trim on the mantel hood (thanks to Katieob for the inspiration). The panel above the mantel flips open for additional storage around the vent.

 photo newkitchen10_zps8f027a1d.jpg

The hutch and upper cabinets flanking the sink also have glass sides and I'm so happy we did that. It makes it feel so much airier. Dimmable LED lighting in the cabinets. The lighting looks a bit sickly green in some of these photos but it's actually a slightly cooler white (we didn't want to go too warm with the lights).

 photo newkitchen7_zpsd564273c.jpg

 photo newkitchen17_zps795471ac.jpg

When we bought the house, a stackable washer and dryer were walled in next to the fridge. We move the laundry several years ago and used the area as a pantry but the half wall on one side sort of stuck out into the space. We removed that and did a built-in pantry around the fridge. The difference in depth was probably less than a foot but having that protrusion into the room gone makes a huge difference in a small kitchen.

 photo newkitchen3_zpsceb1ac47.jpg

Pantry area (we weren't planning to light it but we had extra LED strip lights left so we stuck some in there. Love the area for the roll-out dog food and step stool and of course I love having my microwave in there where we're had it for several years).

 photo newkitchen5_zps837269a3.jpg

Vertical storage over the fridge. Should have done more of this.
 photo newkitchen4_zps9c4dc2cd.jpg

Probably my favorite thing in the entire kitchen (other than the backsplash). I love not having stuff on my counters.
 photo newkitchen13_zps3599106a.jpg

A shallow drawer pulls out for cutting boards and oven mitts.
 photo newkitchen12_zpsa8925451.jpg

By the dishwasher we need a spacer so the hutch would match up with the cabinet above but I told our cabinet guy to find some kind of storage to stick in there. I think it's really meant for spices but I obviously don't need spices there so we use it for various dog potions and pills and the big bottle of Advil.

 photo newkitchen15_zps9dfc4e9a.jpg

 photo newkitchen14_zps7a2d498c.jpg

A few detail shots:

We planned the double molding around cabinetry as a design element but it ended up really saving us when it came to the molding because our ceiling is incredibly out of level. We took up the difference in that second piece of molding and you can't even tell now that the room is horribly crooked.

 photo newkitchen9_zps29c50a4c.jpg

The glass knobs. Love them SO much.
 photo newkitchen16_zps5c398969.jpg

Close up of the backsplash (with my little walnut tray).
 photo newkitchen18_zpse54f1504.jpg

And lastly, the other side of the kitchen, which is where a lot of the color comes into the room. I painted the door black on a whim this winter and love it. The barn light over the sink was originally white but I spray-painted it black after the cabinets went in because I thought it would be good to pull the black over to that side of the room. This is our back door so we walk straight into the kitchen, so it's not just a functional space but a major thoroughfare as well.

 photo newkitchen8_zpsd9f33c2e.jpg

I took off all the window treatments (nice lined bamboo roman shades) to paint but I kind of like it with them off. I could, however, stain them a walnut color to match the other accents in the room. So I'd love to hear opinions on whether you think they should go back up.

Cabinets: Custom cabinets made by a local cabinet maker (he's done other things in our house too and always does a great job). Painted (several times, but let's not talk about that) Benjamin Moore Cloud White

Countertops: Caesarstone Eggshell (aka Osprey if you're outside the U.S.) Island is walnut butcher block, I think from Blockhead Blocktops in Michigan.

Hardware: Emtek Georgetown glass knobs (1.25") and Restoration Hardware Aubrey pulls in polished nickel (and yes, we had the problem with the screws breaking off and replaced them all).

Cabinet glass: Bendheim glass, mouth-blown clear soft seeded (a splurge but I'm so happy we did it). I need to take a better picture of the glass so you can see it to appreciate it.

Backsplash: 1-inch mother of pearl mosiac, purchased through Key West Tile (the source listed in the article I used as inspiration), but I've seen the same or very similar tile online through Glass Tile Mosiacs. Polyblend grout in Bright White.

Vent hood: Kobe 36-inch insert. We have an existing downdraft but when we replaced our range several years ago we had two ranges to choose from that would work with that venting situation, so we installed the overhead vent now so when it comes time for a new range (hopefully many years from now) we aren't limited in our selection. Plus, it works MUCH better than the downdraft (both vent outside).

Appliances: All existing Jenn-Air

Paint colors: Anything white is Cloud White. Walls are Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray (previously they were Revere Pewter which is still a favorite color but I felt it was too dark with the tile).

- Large Thomas O'Brien Hicks pendant in polished nickel over the island. Even though this like is rather ubiquitous, I couldn't help myself. I still love it even if it's everywhere. It is polarizing though: people either love it or hate it.
- Barn Light Electric sconce over sink. It was white for several years but I spray-painted it black
- Roost glass cylinder lights over kitchen table.
-UCLs and in-cabinet lighting is LED strip lighting purchased locally. Sorry, I don't know the brand.

Sink: 32-inch single-bowl Kraus stainless steel

Faucet: Hansgrohe Talis S (DO NOT buy this from Home Perfect. I had a horrible experience, ended up filing with the credit card company and just buying the faucet for $10 more through Amazon.)

Let me know if I've forgotten anything. Special thanks to the helpful folks here, particularly the friendly voices on the Small Houses board as well as some of the experts here. It's no secret that I drew a lot of inspiration from many of your kitchens including Breezygirl, Katieob and Beekeeperswife.

This post was edited by wi-sailorgirl on Tue, Jun 4, 13 at 11:52


white kitchen with grounded floors and built-in dining banquette. This could someday be very much like what I'd want my kitchen to be.
clipped on: 06.04.2013 at 12:32 pm    last updated on: 06.04.2013 at 12:33 pm

The Next Step...Planning For Storage

posted by: buehl on 01.03.2011 at 05:23 am in Kitchens Forum

Planning For Storage

Once you've finalized your basic design, it's time to analyze your storage needs in each zone. The results of that analysis will drive the size & configuration of your cabinets and drawers.

  1. First, make a list of everything you plan to store in your new kitchen, regardless of where it's stored, basement, dining room, etc.

  2. Next, take the list and group the items according to function. Will they be used during prep? cooking? baking? cleanup? Some items, like pot holders, may belong in two different zones (in this case, cooking & baking). You can either find storage between the two zones or have duplicates and store one in each zone.

  3. Now, determine where each of your zones will be (prep, cleanup, cooking, baking, storage, etc.)

  4. The next step depends on the stage you are in the design/order process...

  5. If you've already ordered your cabinets, then you will have to work with what you have. So...

    • Identify the storage potential in each zone and list them on a piece of paper with a section for each cabinet (base & upper) and one line per drawer or shelf in that cabinet. This includes your pantry for your "storage" zone.

    • Take the two lists and, while imagining yourself working in each zone, put the dishes, tools, etc. that you will be using in cabinets in that zone. Fill in the lines in the cabinet list with these items.

  6. If you are still in the design phase, you will have the opportunity to plan your storage to meet your needs in each zone.
    • Take your list and imagine yourself working in each zone.

    • Go through the motions to determine the best locations for each item that will be used and stored in that zone (don't forget that you will probably have both upper and lower cabinets).

    • Now that you know where to put the items, determine what the best way is to store those items (drawer, shelf, etc.) and what size (e.g., pots & pans work best in 30" or 36" drawers)

    • Lastly, transfer what you've done to your design & tweak as necessary.

You should now have a well-thought out and highly functional kitchen!

Sample storage map: Remodel/Kitc hen/20 Designs/Storage Plans/StorageMapping-CooktopWall.jpg

This process and the resultant "map" will not only help you to "see" how things will fit, but the map will also help when you move back into the won't have to think about it, you'll be able to just put things away. It will also be a handy map for everyone to use when attempting to find things the first few weeks w/o having to open every drawer or door!

Oh, and don't forget the Junk Drawer! Most people end up with one, so you may as well plan for it so you at least have control over where it's located!

Common Zones, Appliances In That Zone, and Suggestions For What To Store There:

  • Storage--pantry & refrigerator--Tupperware, food, wraps & plastic bags

  • Preparation--sink & trash/recyclables--utensils, measuring cups/spoons, mixing bowls, colander, jello molds, cutting boards, knives, cook books, paper towels

  • Cooking--cooktop/range & MW (and near a water source)--utensils, pot holders, trivets, pots & pans, serving dishes (platters, bowls, etc.), paper towels

  • Baking--ovens/range--utensils, pot holders, trivets, pots & pans, casserole dishes, roasting rack, cooling racks, cookie sheets, foils, rolling pin, cookie cutters, pizza stone, muffin tins, paper towels [often combined with Cooking Zone]

  • Cleanup--sink & DW & trash--detergents, linens, dishes & glasses, flatware

  • Eating/Serving--island/peninsula/table/nook/DR--table linens, placemats, napkins, dishes & glasses, flatware

  • Utility--broom, dustpan, swifter, mop, cleaning supplies, cloths, flashlights, batteries, extension cords

  • Message/Communication/Command Center--keys, phones/answering machine, charging station, directories/phone books, calendar, desk supplies, dry erase board or chalkboard, pens/pencils, sticky notepaper

Less Common Zones:

  • Tea/Coffee Bar--tea/coffeemaker (and near a water source)--mugs, teas/coffees, sugar, teapot

  • Snack/Beverage Center--near MW & refrigerator or small refrigerator--snacks, snack dishes, glasses [often combined with Tea/Coffee Bar]

  • Pet Zone--feeding area--food, snacks, leashes, medicines (if no children in the home), etc.

Overlapping of Zones

Due to space constraints, some zones often overlap. If this is the case in your kitchen, be sure there is enough work space in the overlap for both activities. Zones that commonly overlap...

  • Prep & Cooking Zones--These zones should be adjacent to each other, so this is a common overlap and is generally not a problem. Just be sure you have enough room for prepping as well as landing space for the range/cooktop. (It is strongly advised you have enough room for emergency landing space on both sides of a range/cooktop.)

  • Prep & Cleanup Zones--If there is only one sink in the kitchen, these zones will be adjacent to each other because of the need for a water source for both zones. However, true overlapping is not generally a good idea. Instead, try to keep the cleanup area separate from the prep area by putting the sink between them. E.g., DW on one side, Prep Zone on the other side. (You should strive to keep the DW out of the Prep Zone as well as out of the path between the sink and Prep & Cooking Zones and between the refrigerator and Prep & Cooking Zones.) Also try for at least 36" (42" or more is better) of room on the Prep Zone side of the sink for ample workspace as well as accommodating the inevitable dirty dishes that will accumulate next to the sink.

Commonly Used Items: pots & pans, utensils, small appliances, linens, pot holders, trivets, dish detergents, "Tupperware", knives, pitchers, water bottles, vases, picnic supplies, cook books, etc.

Foods: Spices, Breads, Flours/Sugars, Teas/Coffees, Potatoes, Onions, Canned Goods, Dry Goods (rice, pasta, etc.), Cereals, Snacks

Small Appliances: Toaster, Stand and/or Hand Mixer, Blender, Breadmaker, Toaster Oven, Food Processor, Crockpot, Waffle Iron, Electric Skillet, Coffeemaker, Coffee Grinder, Ricer, Steamer

SPECIAL NOTE: If your ceiling or one or more of your walls is coming down, consider wiring for speakers, TV, Computer, etc.

Some helpful threads:

forestfire..please help me with my lists [Missing In Action as of 5/16/10...if anyone has saved it, please let me know by emailing me via "My Page"]

List of stuff in kitchens?

What should go within easy reach of the cooktop?

What goes where?

Reloading the new kitchen, any tips where things should go?

Only one lower cabinet...would you do it?


clipped on: 05.24.2013 at 08:34 pm    last updated on: 05.24.2013 at 08:34 pm

RE: Help this old confused woman~~~PLEASE (Follow-Up #13)

posted by: lavender_lass on 05.02.2012 at 09:57 pm in Building a Home Forum

Phoggie- If you like the idea of a duplex, have the space, share the maintenance costs...and the other gal's financing won't be any problem for your build...then why not build Summerfield's house as a duplex?

Here's the plan (so people don't have to switch back and forth) and it should be easy enough to put the garages side to side. The only window would be over the vanity (which isn't really necessary) and you could take out that side door, and have outside access to the garage, from the porch instead. Just an idea :)

From Cottage house plans


phoggie's plan
clipped on: 03.20.2013 at 11:49 pm    last updated on: 03.20.2013 at 11:50 pm

RE: Everything I Wanted to Know About Drawers... (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: angela12345 on 02.02.2013 at 02:03 pm in Kitchens Forum

I have posted this other places before, but I am going to try to consolidate it *all* in one place.

My kitchen cabinets from UltraCraft are semi-custom. LOVE them. They are Frameless cabinets that allow size modifications in 1/16" increments to height, width, and depth (or all 3) at no additional cost. So, go ahead and make your uppers 13" or 14" deep for those extra large mixing/salad bowls and charger plates, and maximize your storage space for example storing glasses 4 deep instead of 3 deep. Have deeper base cabinets. Make your toekick slightly shorter so you have an extra inch or two for more drawers height. Cut down on the fillers you need by making your cabinets the exact width you need them, instead of being forced to choose from 3" increments. I like that all my uppers are flat across the bottom (no frame/dividers between cabinets), so I could install one long plugmold and one long under cabinet light, then hide it all with lightrail at the front. Also, standard is Blum full extension soft close drawer glides, soft close doors, no charge for finished sides (like end of cabinet run), all dovetail drawers with fully captured bottoms, and bunches of other stuff is standard. 100 year warranty. Yep, I LOVE them !!!

Cabinet Decisions - I emailed this part to a friend recently, so am copying here ...
1. One of the first things to decide is what cabinet door overlay you want. Inset doors or overlay doors ? Inset doors sit inside of the cabinet box frame rather than attached to the front of the cabinet box. Overlay is further broken down into traditional overlay, partial / modified overlay, and full overlay and determines how much of the cabinet box/frame behind the door you want to show. The hinges can be exposed or concealed for all overlay styles except full overlay. The overlay you choose will automatically knock out some cabinet options and cabinet mfgs who may not make that type of cabinet. (My cabinets are full overlay)
See ...
And ...

2. Then you want to decide on the cabinet boxes ... framed or frameless ? Some mfgs only make one or the other, but not both, so this will knock out other mfgs. Framed cabinets have a frame on the face of the cabinet box that the doors attach to and allows for inset doors as well as all 3 overlay styles (traditional, partial, and full overlay). On frameless, the doors attach directly to the cabinet box sides instead of a face frame. Frameless are typically full overlay, but inset is also possible. I think a small partial overlay is possible on frameless if you are using semi-custom or custom cabinets - you would order slightly smaller doors so a little of the cabinet box would show. Traditional overlay is not possible on frameless because the cabinet box sides are not wide enough to show the traditional 1"-2" of the face frame. (My cabinets are frameless)
See ... BOX - construction.asp

The disadvantage of framed is you give up useable space in drawers/pullouts and ease of access on cabinets with doors. This is because the drawer or pullout has to clear the face frame that goes around the opening, so they are narrower from side to side and also shallower from top to bottom. In a small kitchen, the extra useable space from frameless could make a big difference. Estimates say frameless gives 10-15% more space, so 100 inches of framed would be 110 inches in frameless. To me, an extra 10 inches of drawer space is huge, especially when you don't have much to begin with !! Frameless cabinets with doors also offer easier access - there is no face frame creating a 1-2" obstruction on the left, right, and top inside the cabinet doors, also there is typically no center stile between double doors in frameless.

For full overlay doors, there is very little difference in the looks of framed vs frameless. From an exterior appearance standpoint, these cabinets will basically look alike. Because the doors are full overlay, you don't see much or any of the frame and would have to open the door or drawer to see if the cabinet was framed or frameless. For inset doors, the framed cabinets would have a wider frame around the door than the frameless cabinet would.

In the below two pics, the cabinet on the left is framed, and the one on the right is frameless. Looking only at the size of the opening, see how the drawer for frameless is wider from left to right and also has more open space from top to bottom. The useable drawer space is a couple inches more in each direction in the frameless. If they both had the same size full overlay exterior drawer face on them, they would look alike from the exterior. You would not be able to see the useable interior space until you opened the drawer. If they both had inset doors, the framed cabinets would have a much wider "frame" around the door and drawer.

3. The third thing to consider is the cosmetics ... the door style you like, the drawer style (slab/flat/plain drawer front or drawer front that matches your door style), as well as wood species (cherry, oak, maple, etc), and stain or paint colors, glazing, etc. (My cabinets are slab drawer, raised panel door, cherry with a chestnut stain, no additional finishes or glazes)
This website shows just a few of the different door styles available ... DOOR - style.asp

4. The fourth thing to consider is stock cabinets vs semi-custom vs custom cabinet mfgs. Stock cabinets are available in 3" width increments (cabinets have to be width of 12", 15", 18", etc), filler strips fill in gaps between cabinets and wall or appliances, you have to choose from the heights and depths they offer, and there are very few options available, which can be pretty pricey to add on. Semi-custom cabinets vary by manufacturer in what customizations and options they offer, but they offer many more options than stock and allow sizing modifications. With custom cabinets, there should be no limitations including drawings for non-standard items, custom molding profiles, door styles, alternate wood species, custom stains & finishes, construction, accessories and options. (My cabinets are semi-custom)

5. Finally, you want to consider the cabinet construction. Not that this is the least important ! It is one of the most important things. Pretty much all the other stuff is just the "pretty" stuff, LOL. This has to do with how well the cabinets are made - are the drawers stapled, dowelled, glued, dovetail ? What materials are the cabinets made of ? etc, etc.

Drawer depths
My bases are 24" deep bases and are all 20" useable interior from front to back. I'm pretty sure I could have (and definitely should have!) requested the drawers be an extra 1-2 inches deep to fill up the inside of the cabinet. I *think* the full extension glides would not have pulled out that extra inch or so, but I could have lived with that !! I could have fit my 8qt stock pots 2 deep front to back in the drawer instead of having to offset them slightly in the drawer if I had even an extra 1/2".

Drawer Heights
The height of my drawer fronts do not line up all the way around the 4 sides of my kitchen, but do line up when you are looking at any one section at a time. I have 2 stacks together that are 6-12-12 separated by a stove. On the opposite corner of the kitchen are 2 stacks that are 6-6-9-9. What helps is that my stacks are caddy-cornered across the kitchen with appliances and base cabinets with doors separating them ... it would be very hard to look in any direction where you could see the "mis-matches" at one time.

My one advice ... find out the interior useable height of your drawers ahead of time. My Ultracraft cabinets are frameless so have more than framed would. They have undermount glides. On the 6-12-12 stacks, the useable interior drawer height is 4, 10.5, 9.5 (top to bottom on stack). Where this becomes an issue ... I wanted to store all of my pans, pots, etc vertical on their edges in the drawers so they wouldn't have to be stacked. The middle 10.5" drawers are tall enough for all of the casserole/baking dishes and pie tins, the roasting pan, and almost all of the pans, pots, and lids to stand on edge (the 9.5" drawers are not tall enough for a few of those items to stand on edge). Both height drawers are definitely tall enough for all of the big pots (even the 8qt stockpot) that I own except the huge "canning" pot.

Obviously, neither drawer is tall enough for my 12" pans/skillets to stand on edge (arrggh!). I have really been struggling with how to store these. Right now I have them flat in the bottom of the 9.5" height bottom drawer. Big waste of real estate !! I wish I had a shallower drawer I could put the big skillets in, or either had made my drawer heights 6-9-15 which would have given me 4, 7.5, 12.5 useable. My tallest 8qt pots are 7" tall, so all of them could have gone in the middle drawer and everything on edge could have gone in the bottom drawer (including the 12" skillets!). Google for images of drawers with pans on edge.

On the other side of the kitchen with the 6-6-9-9 stacks, the useable interior drawer height is 4, 4.75, 6.75, 7 (top to bottom). I use the top 6" drawers all around the kitchen for silverware, spatulas and all the other kitchen gadgets, in-drawer knife block, foil wax paper cling wrap and plastic baggies, potholders, dish towels, etc. All of those things fit with no problem in these drawers including the ladle and the box grater. The 3rd drawer holds all of the tupperware and is the perfect height for this - 6 would have been too shallow and 12 would have been too deep. The bottom drawer is where we currently keep the paper and plastic grocery bags until we carry them for recycling.

(note: the interior drawer heights listed above vary slightly for the bottom two 12" drawers, the top two 6" drawers, and for the bottom two 9" drawers because of an interior cross support and space to clear the granite without scraping at the top)

ALSO: the drawer face to interior useable space ratio will be DIFFERENT depending on if your drawer face is inset, partial overlay, or full overlay, and depending on if you have undermount glides or sidemount glides as catbuilder says above. For example on my 6-6-9-9 four drawer stack ... 1.5" counter + 6 + 6 + 9 + 9 + 4.5" toekick = 36" finished height. My useable heights are 4, 4.75, 6.75, 7 = 22.5" total useable height. I lose 1.25-2.25" useable height for each drawer.
Compare to quiltgirl above inset drawers ... 1.5" counter + 5.5 + 5.5 + 6.25 + 6.25 + 4.5 toekick (assumed) = 29.5". Are her cabinets shorter than mine ? No ! Add in between each of her drawers approx 1.25" face frame. She has undermount glides as well so her useable heights are 4, 4, 4.75, 4.75 = 17.5" total useable height. She only loses 1.5" useable height for each drawer face showing, but she is also losing useable height in the face frame between each drawer which is why her total useable space is less.
This is FINE !! Nothing at all against her cabinets. They will be beautiful. And she knew she was going to lose space with the inset when she chose them, but chose to do it because inset is the look she loves.

Drawer widths
The maximum cabinet width my manufacturer would do for drawer bases is 36" wide. I have 4 drawer bases at 21", 32", 17", and 36" wide. The interior useable width of these drawer bases are 18, 29, 14, 33 wide, so 3" less than the exterior width in each.

Going around my kitchen ... first I have a 6" wide pullout broom closet. Next are two 30" wide fridge/top freezers. Then a 24" full height cabinet with pantry space at the top, MW, single oven, and 6" high drawer under oven (4.5" useable height).

The 21" 3 drawer 6-12-12 is to the left of my stove. Top drawer holds knife block, sharpener, scissors, trivets, potholders. 2nd drawer holds baking dishes on their edge. Bottom drawer is basically empty - it has one 8qt stockpot. If my drawer heights had been 6-9-15 instead (did I say grrrr?), I would have used the middle drawer as a bread drawer and stored the bakeware on edge in the bottom drawer.

Next is the stove.

The 32" 3 drawer 6-12-12 is to the right of the stove. Top drawer holds spatulas, spoons, ladles, wood spoons, basting brushes, meat thermometer, etc - things that are used at the stove. 2nd drawer holds frying pans, the smaller pots (1qt 2qt 3qt), and lids all on their edges. Bottom drawer holds 8qt pots. Also, the 12" skillets with lids, splatter screens, and griddle are all stacked in one stack flat in bottom of drawer, Grrrrrrr. If they were in the drawer with the other frying pans instead of taking up real estate here, that lone 8qt pot in my other cabinet would have been here with the other pots.

Turn the corner and next is the first dishwasher and then a 36" sink base with Ticor S405D sink (70/30 double bowl).
Turn the corner and next is a 36" wide all door base cabinet (no upper drawer). I use this base cabinet for all my small appliances - blender, beaters, toaster, George Foreman, etc. Next to this base cabinet is the second dishwasher, followed by an 18" prep sink base with a Ticor S815 14x15x8 sink, and an empty space for an ice maker which is where the trash can currently resides.

The 17" 4 drawer stack 6-6-9-9 sits between the trash area/future ice maker and the peninsula and is on the opposite corner of the kitchen from the other drawer bases. The top drawer holds foil, wax paper, cling wrap, plastic baggies, chip clips, and restaurant menus. The 2nd drawer is our "junk" drawer and has some of everything including screwdrivers, clothespins, matches, flashlights, sewing kit, lint brush, etc. The 3rd drawer holds medicine, bandaids, alcohol, peroxide, as well as dish towels and plastic utensils from takeout restaurants in a tub. The bottom drawer is for tupperware without partners - bowls and lids with no matches.

The 36" 4 drawer stack 6-6-9-9 forms the peninsula. The top drawer holds all eating utensils (silverware and kid utensils), serving utensils, chopsticks, handheld can opener, wine opener in a strategically easy-to-access location, etc. The 2nd drawer holds all the other kitchen gadgets that aren't to the left and right of the stove like shrimp deveiners, graters, whisks, rolling pin, pizza rolling cutter-thingy, mashers, salad tongs, etc, etc. The 3rd drawer holds tupperware with their matching lids. The bottom drawer holds paper and plastic grocery bags until we carry them for recycling.

We went with the same size handle for all of our drawers and also only one handle for all of the drawers, no matter what the width of the drawer. They are 4" wide. We maybe would have used different widths, but the ones we liked in the finish we wanted did not come in a bunch of widths. The cabinet guy said they would look fine and they do. We have slab drawer fronts and the pulls are centered top to bottom and side to side on each drawer. We used round knobs on all doors.

Drawer Organizers
We ordered the drawer divider channels from Lee Valley so we could completely customize the interior of our drawers. They often have free shipping on orders over $40. Google for images - lots of gardenweb members have used these.

These are not my cabinets ... examples of pans stored vertically ...

This is my kitchen ...
 photo 4-5-11-kitchen.jpg

This post was edited by angela12345 on Sat, Feb 2, 13 at 21:21


clipped on: 02.02.2013 at 09:49 pm    last updated on: 02.02.2013 at 09:49 pm

RE: Has anyone replaced wooden spindles (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: weedyacres on 01.06.2013 at 07:09 pm in Remodeling Forum

Ballusters must be spaced so that a ball 4" in diameter can't pass through. That's so babies can't fall through ballusters. Most stairs have 2-3 per tread. Our treads are on the short side, so we could do 2.

Boy, that's a fuzzy photo. Sorry about that. Here's a more focused one.

I (uncharacteristically) did not take many "during" photos. But my step-by-step is basically:
1. Rip out carpet, railing, newel post, and ballusters. Sell the latter for $20.
2. There were cheap pine tread and risers, and they extended beyond the edge of the stairs, so I ripped them out and replaced with stained oak treads and painted poplar risers.
3. I put stained cove molding below the treads to make them look beefier and prettier.
4. I cut a stringer board to go on the outside edge to cover up the drywall edge.
5. I hand cut the curved white cut-outs from 1/8" poplar to cover the edge of the risers. Miter cutting the corners of the skirt board to meet the risers just wasn't in my skill (and tool) set.
6. We attached the railing and ballusters (googling "install iron ballusters" gives a good run-down of the process).

Here's a couple close-ups of the trim-out.


clipped on: 01.06.2013 at 11:21 pm    last updated on: 01.06.2013 at 11:21 pm

Help! Structural Issues Or Is This Normal?!?

posted by: mydreamhome on 02.27.2012 at 10:06 pm in Building a Home Forum

This weekend while lounging in my luxurious tub I noticed a terrible looking crack that went from the crown molding to the door frame over the closet door on the bathroom side. Then I discovered another crack running on a jagged diagonal extending from the door frame upward on the closet side of the door. The closet door now rubs as you try to close it at the upper right corner where the diagonal crack is. Then when we came home tonight, our 7 year old puts his stuff away in his room and comes back to announce he wants to play the Wii and by the way there is a crack in his wall! We investigate and indeed there is a crack running on a jagged diagonal extending from the door frame upward on the bedroom side of the doorway leading to his bathroom. I start looking at all the doorways and find another diagonal crack in the wall from our master bedroom into the bathroom & one that runs straight up & down above the laundry doorway similar to the one in the master bath, but not quite as bad.

So is this normal or do I have a big problem on my hands? What else do I need to be looking for? This is a brand new custom built house that was finished end of Sept 2011 and we moved in first of Oct 2011. DH checked in the attic and no sign of any water damage or anything like that. We are calling the builder tomorrow, but I want to make sure I am educated and prepared to have a two-way discussion with him & make sure I'm not missing something he may not want to bring up. The floorplan and pics of cracks are posted below. Thanks for any help we can get!

Floor Plan:

Master Bath:

Master Closet:

Master Bedroom:

Zach's Bedroom:



my dream home's floorplan
clipped on: 01.04.2013 at 04:56 pm    last updated on: 01.04.2013 at 04:56 pm

RE: From inspiration to reality... (Follow-Up #12)

posted by: AnnieDeighnaugh on 12.29.2012 at 12:48 pm in Building a Home Forum

kirkhall, just for permission from architect to post floor plan. I deleted dimensions and added his copyright as he requested....I'll post the lower level when I finish it....sorry I don't know how to make it larger, but you can see the fundamental layout if you zoom it some. Let me know if you have any questions....


clipped on: 12.29.2012 at 11:01 pm    last updated on: 12.29.2012 at 11:01 pm

Final House Plan Iteration? Please look/comment!!!

posted by: MGDawg on 12.07.2012 at 07:31 pm in Building a Home Forum

Hello again everyone,

We've asked you for your input in the past and many of you came up with really good critiques about our plan.

Here are the links to our previous discussions...

1 - Background and Initial Plan Presentation
2 - Second Plan Iteration
3 - Front Elevation Discussion

There were quite a few things about the flow of the house that didn't work for you (or for us obviously). Coupled with the fact that the plan had ballooned to over 3100 square feet and would stretch us really thin budget wise... we decide to cut some significant square footage. Out came the extra deep (or 3rd) garage bay along with the sunken family room. Other cuts here and there left us with about approx. 2700 square feet of interior space (not including basement). We found that this was too deep of a cut and left living space a little too cramped in some spots. After going back and forth with our drafter, we think we finally have found the sweet spot: 2870 square feet and a much more "livable/workable" layout.

Front Elevation

Took some of the advice and stopped trying to shove "10 pounds of sh*t in a 5 pound bucket" as someone eloquently commented. We still have different materials, but it less busy and is placed in a more horizontal fashion.

1st Floor

As mentioned, a whole room (and possibly a whole lot of trouble) was cutout from the previous iteration. The sitting/office was converted into a family room with built-in bookshelves. The office part will be set-up in one of the upstairs rooms until kids or whatnot force it to the basement. The fridges in the kitchen are way too wide on the plan - we'll probably aim for a 42" or 48" side-by-side.

2nd Floor

Some rooms are smaller, however due to the new roofline, we're able to have a window at the top of the stairs to bring in some much needed light in the area. Bedroom #3 will serve as a nursery once we have kids and will eventually serve as the guestroom once the kid(s) outgrow it. The fireplace in the master bedroom is still an option (dependant on budget). If it does not make it in, the width of the walk-in closet will be adjusted to give Bedroom #3 a little more space.


The basement will remain for the most part unfinished for the initial build, but serves as a guide to where the plumbing rough-ins should be located and shows location of extra rooms. The "Exercise Room" will have an egress window and will have the option of being a future guest or kids room.


So that's it! I think we're ready to go ahead with the completion of the plans - unless something important or major is raised by you great folks. So please, let us know what you think!


master bedroom window placement/size similar to what I want!
clipped on: 12.07.2012 at 11:17 pm    last updated on: 12.07.2012 at 11:17 pm

RE: New toilet leaking? (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: mongoct on 11.28.2012 at 05:23 pm in Bathrooms Forum

If you can get the flange and flange bolts secure so the toilet sits proper with no rocking...

Then look for a Fernco Waxless Toilet Seal. They have a 3" and 4" model.

When you have to stack wax rings, you increase the likelihood of a side load blowout or the wax ring if the toilet is ever plunged or if there is a backup in the waste line. The other nice thing about the FTS-4 (or the FTS-3) is that once it's set on the bottom of the toilet porcelain (with adhesive), you can set and pull the toilet repeatedly. Unlike wax rings, the FTS is reusable.

Plus, most of my construction has radiant floor heat, so this takes away the problem of the floor heat softening the wax ring.


clipped on: 11.28.2012 at 10:31 pm    last updated on: 11.28.2012 at 10:31 pm

Fun thread-What decisions did you make/avoid thanks to GW?

posted by: Madeline616 on 11.12.2012 at 02:07 pm in Kitchens Forum

What great kitchen or appliance decisions did you make (or what problems did you avoid) thanks to the help of Gardenweb members?

I can thank positive feedback from GW for my Miele DW with utensil rack, which I adore.

Also, warnings from knowledgeable appliance forum members saved me from getting an AG range that would've vented heat and grease directly onto my white marble slab b-splash.

When I was considering buying a green range, GWers opinions helped sway me away from that choice. I still love that green range, but I know I would've regretted committing to a color since I change my mind and my likes and dislikes so often!

A GWer gave me the recipe for an all-natural cleanser to use on my marble counters. I use it every day, and now I'm using it on my floors.

A GW member provided me with an easy and obvious solution (although somehow I didn't see it myself...) to a kitchen layout problem in my parents' new home. We're rebuilding the cabs per her advice.

I'm not sure how my kitchen would've turned out without the help of Gardenweb!!


clipped on: 11.15.2012 at 08:25 pm    last updated on: 11.15.2012 at 08:25 pm

RE: Any ideas? One level floorplan, small house. (Follow-Up #56)

posted by: sweet.reverie on 08.24.2012 at 05:28 pm in Building a Home Forum

New floorplan + other pics. Any other changes?

Uploaded with
Uploaded with

Uploaded with


If ever I have to rebuild, I think I would use this plan as a jumping off point. Needs more upstairs, and needs garage attached... But, that is doable.
clipped on: 10.11.2012 at 12:54 pm    last updated on: 10.11.2012 at 12:54 pm

RE: Is Kerdi-Board Overkill for Tub Surround (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: mongoct on 09.29.2012 at 04:17 pm in Bathrooms Forum

"Mongo, will you tell me how to seal the bottom of the board with a hydroban application? How do you "meet" the hydrobanned cement board with the tub flange? "

Let's say that you installed the cement board right on the studs and held it just above the tub flange.

Mix up a bit of stiff thinset and fill the gap. Make it flush with the face of the cement board.

Then when you Hydroban, just Hydroban the face of the cement board, and down and over the thinset-filled gap. That should give you a continuous coverage of thinset all the way to the tub deck, if that makes sense.

Then when you tile, hold the tile a grout width's gap off of the tub deck. Caulk that gap.

Sort of like this:


clipped on: 09.29.2012 at 08:10 pm    last updated on: 09.29.2012 at 08:11 pm

RE: Help needed for bathroom wall tile replacement project (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: mongoct on 09.29.2012 at 01:56 pm in Remodeling Forum

Most definitely remove the tile and the existing drywall. No need to remove the tub or to try to remove any drywall that is behind the tub; between the tub and the wall.

Once you get down to the studs the better way would be what has been mentioned. Adding a 1/2" thick cement board like Durock or wonderboard, and then "painting on" a topical membrane like Hydroban on the cement board. Then tile right on the membrane.

Anyhow, that's a start. Come back with additional questions, someone here will help.

Your main concern with that route is how well the bottom edge of the cement board, or the thickness of the cement board, marches up with the thickness of the flange on the tub. You'd want the face of the cement board to be in plane, or stand slightly proud of, the face of the tub's flange. Then the tile can overhang the flange without the thickness of the flange interfering with the tile, or "pushing the tile out".

Sort of like this drawing. Just think of the Hydroban being where the Kerdi is in the drawing:

If your tub's flange is thicker than the cement board, then you can pad out the cement board by adding furring strips to the faces of the studs. This drawing shows furring strips in place, but it's not drawn specifically for your situation. The intent of the drawing is to simply show the furring strips between the cement board and the wall studs:


clipped on: 09.29.2012 at 03:01 pm    last updated on: 09.29.2012 at 03:01 pm

Anyone want to share pics of their bathroom?

posted by: kfhl on 09.24.2012 at 04:59 pm in Building a Home Forum

We are down to the wire on our tile selections and I am having a really hard time with the bathrooms. I know that they are hard to photograph and that is probably why there is very little on the bathroom forum. I have tons of magazines, but it seems like everything recent that is not super contemporary is white marble. I love white marble and dream of 2" carrar hex floors, but I don't love the idea of maintaining it - especially in the kids' baths. I know people put marble floors in showers etc. all the time, but every pro I have talked to has warned against it.

I remember seeing some great bathrooms here in the "It's September ..." type threads, but I did not clip them and I am having a hard time finding them now. So ... if anyone is willing to share pics of their bathroom - all types - master baths, kids baths, powder rooms, I would love to see them!!! Thanks!


clipped on: 09.25.2012 at 07:23 pm    last updated on: 09.25.2012 at 07:23 pm

LED recessed cans guide for kitchen ...

posted by: davidtay on 01.30.2012 at 01:27 am in Lighting Forum

A collection of tips/ answers
Since kitchens have higher lighting requirements, I like to use 35 lumen per sq ft as a rule to compute the number of lights. If there are additional sources of light that will be used, the output (lumens not watts) from those sources can be deducted from the total.

Placement/ layout
1. Cans should be > 24 to 30 inches from the wall (on center). Most countertop spaces have upper cabinets (typically ~ 12" deep) + crown molding. The edge of the can may be spaced ~ 12" away from the edge of the crown molding (if present or cabinet if there is no crown molding) making the average distance between 26 to 30 inches.

2. Assuming the need for a fairly uniformly lit space @ 35 lumens per sq ft, the cans may have to be spaced closer together - between 3 - 4 ft apart (if all general lighting is provided by recessed lights). A fairly regular pattern is preferable to a random layout.

3. The actual layout of cans will be impacted by the location of ceiling joists, HVAC ducting, electrical wiring, plumbing, ceiling height, fire suppression sprinklers and other obstructions above the ceiling.

The Cree LR6 series lamps do not dim as well as the later models (CR6, ...). ELV dimmers probably work better with LR6 than incandescent dimmers since the total load of the lights may not meet the minimum load requirement for the incandescent dimmer.

Dimmers such as the Lutron Diva CL dimmers work well. The max output is 95%.

Some Choices (in order of preference) and notes
Cree CR6 or ECO-575 (Home Depot branded CR6)
ECO4-575 (Home Depot branded Cree CR4 4" recessed light)
The above are only available in 2700k light color.

Cree LR6 series - including the LE6.

The Cree CR6 and LR6 lamps will not fit into 5" housings.

The standard LR6 behaves more like a surface mount than a recessed light as the LED emitters are close to the surface and the recess is shallow. Some may not like the amount of light spillage (standard LR6).

There is a higher output version of the LR6 that has a much deeper recess.

To prevent the Cree lamps from falling out, the 3 prongs have to be fully extended and a slight clockwise twist made when push installing. The slight clockwise twist will ensure that the prongs are fully extended.

The Cree lamps are currently the best available today (2012).

Sylvania RT-6, RT-4. The lights could be easier to install than Cree lamps as they utilize the torsion spring mechanism. However, the lights do not look as pleasant as the Cree lamps.

The Cree and Sylvania lamps do outperform 26W CFLs (and incandescents) in a standard recessed can in terms of light spread and output as the standard bulb in a can solution traps a significant amount of light. The Cree and Sylvania recessed lamp solutions referenced above have all the LED elements facing outwards so that the effective light output is higher.

The CRI (Color Rendition Index) of Cree and Sylvania recessed lamps > 80.

There is no warm up time required for Cree recessed lamps, unlike CFL light bulbs.

Most recessed lighting is used with flat ceilings. Sloped ceilings would require special solutions such as the LE6 or some other form of lighting (i.e. -non recessed lighting).

Some common objections to recessed can lights stem from
1. looks and performance of traditional can lights (standard bulb in a can)
2. swiss cheese effect from too many holes.


clipped on: 09.23.2012 at 11:44 pm    last updated on: 09.23.2012 at 11:44 pm

bathroom tile FAQ's

posted by: bill_vincent on 07.01.2008 at 09:31 pm in Bathrooms Forum

This is going to take me a while, so I'll post as many as I can each night until it gets done. To start, here's the first set of questions and answers:

Okay, here we go. These questions come from the thread on the discussions side where I solicited questions from everyone for this thread. These are in the order they were asked:

Q) What are the different types of tiles you can use in a bathroom and what are the advantages/disadvantages of each?

A) There are several types of tile available. They fall into two general groups: ceramic and natural stone. I'll take these one at a time:

Ceramic tile-- For purposes of this discussion, there's glazed conventional, unglazed porcelain, and glazed porcelain. All three are good tiles for bathroom use, but the porcelain is a better choice only because of its density and lack of water absorbsion, which makes upkeep and cleaning easier. Also, with reference to steam showers, you DO NOT want to use natural stone, being that the steam would tend to permeate into the stone even more readily than liquid water, and could end up giving you algae problems, as well as mold and mildew problems, unless you don't mind being tied down to your bathroom.

Natural Stone-- There are several types of stone that are used in bathrooms. It doesn't necessarily mean that they're all GOOD IDEAS for bathrooms, expecially the softer (and more absorbant) stones, such as slate or limestone. Now, I know I'm going to get a world of flack about this from epople who have bathrooms finished in these materials. I know they CAN be used.... so long as you're aware of the extra upkeep involved. But if you're someone who doesn't like to keep after things, you may want to pick an easier material to maintain. Generally speaking, the softer the stone, the more the upkeep. Limestone being the softer of the stones, and that would include travertine, next would be many slates (although some would actually be harder than even most marbles, such as brazilian and british slates), then marbles, with quartzite and granite rounding off the list as the harder and more dense stones that you could use.

Q) What should I be sure to look for when choosing tile for a bathroom?

A) Short answer-- something that you like! The bathroom is the one place that just about anything the showroom has can be used. The only limitations are basically the upkeep you want to put in, and slip resistance on the floors of your bathroom and shower. Now, although ceramic tile is basically maintenence free, you don't want to use something with a texture to it that will catch all kinds of junk in the shower, making it more difficult to keep clean. At the same time, you don't want to use a polished stone or bright glazed ceramic tile for the shower floor, either. These both CAN be used, but again, it comes down to upkeep for textured wall tile, and doing something to rectify the slippery floor.

Q) Where should I use tile and where not?

A) Tile can be used on every single surface in the bathroom, if that's what you like. This is all a matter of taste... for the most part. About the only place where there's a requirement is any place there's a showerhead involved. If tile is to be used either in a shower or a tub/ shower combo, The tile MUST go up to a minimum of 72" off the floor. Past that, it's up to the disgression of the owner.

Q) What size tile and what layout patterns to use in various areas?

A) Again, this is a subjective question that can really only be answered by the owner. The ONLY place where there's a recommendation for mechaincal reasons is on a shower floor. TCNA recommends that mothing bigger than 6" be used on shower floors due to the cone shape of the floor's pitch. In addition, most installers will request no bigger than 4", and prefer a 2x2 tile to work with on the shower floor. This is also advantageous to the homeowner who'll be showering in there, because the added grout joints will add more traction to the floor.

Now, I've heard many times that you shouldn't use large format tiles in a small area like a powder room floor, and if you have a wide open bathroom, you don't want to use real small tiles. My response to both is the same-- HORSEHOCKEY. I've done bathrooms both ways-- 24x24 diagonal in a 3' wide powder room, and 1" hex ceramic mosaics in an open 100 sq. ft. bathroom floor. The rule of thumb is if you like it, it's right!

Q) How do I find/choose someone to install the tile?

A) Many people will tell you to get names from the showroom you get your tile from. This is no good, unless the showroom is willing to take responsibility for the installer by either having them on payrool, or as a subcontract. Then they have something to lose if they give you a bad installer. Many people will also tell you to get references and to actually check them out. This ALSO doesn't work. I've been in this work for just under 30 years now, and I've yet to find a single installer who ever gave the name of someone they had a problem with. They say even a blind squirrel will find a nut once in a while. The same can be said for "fly-by-nights" and good work.

So if you can't trust recommendations, and checking references is a lost cause, what do you do? REVERSE THE PROCESS!! Instead of finding an installer and getting references, get references, and thru them, find your installer!! No matter where you live, if you drive around, you'll find constructions sites and developements. Stop and ask who the GC uses. Get a name and phone number. Sooner or later, after asking around enough, you're going to find that the same names will begin to show up time and time again. THESE are the guys you want to use. But don't expect a bargain price, and be prepared to wait, because these guys will be in high demand, even in the worst of times, and they may demand a bit higher price, but they'll be worth every penny, if for no other reason, just because of the peace of mind they'll give you in knowing you're getting a good quality installation. Ask anyone who's gone through this experience, good or bad-- that alone is worth its weight in gold.

Q) What are the proper underlayments for tile?

A) There are several, and I'll take them one at a time:

CBU (cementitious Backer Units)-- This is the term that generally covers all cement boards (such as Wonderboard or Durock) or cement fiber boards (such as Hardibacker). This is the most common used tile underlayment. Generally speaking, it comes in two thicknesses-- 1/2" and 1/4"-- and each has its use. !/2" must be used for wall installations, due to the fact that the 1/4" is way too flimsy with nothing to back it up, and would flex too much to last. Besides, the 1/2" CBU will usually match up nicely to most sheetrocks. The 1/4" is used for floor installations, unless the added height of the 1/2" is needed to match up to other floorings. Being that neither has very much structural strength, so long as the subfloor is 3/4" or more, the 1/4" CBU is all that's needed. Keep in mind that even though it's basically fiberglass reinforced concrete, the only thing it adds to the floor is a stable bonding surface, so the 1/4" will do just fine. One place where alot of contractors will try and shortcut is by using greenboard instead of CBU for shower walls. This is expressly forbidden in the IRC (International Residential Code) by the following code:

IRC Greenboard Code:
The 2006 International Residential Code (IRC) states in
Section R702.4.2 that "Cement, fiber-cement or glass mat
gypsum backers in compliance with ASTM C1288, C1325
or C1178 and installed in accordance with manufacturers
recommendations shall be used as backers for wall tile in
tub and shower areas and wall panels in shower areas."

The 2006 IRC also states in Section R702.3.8.1 that
"Water-resistant gypsum backing board [Greenboard] shall
not be used where there will be direct exposure to water."

Membranes-- There are several around that work well over many different surfaces. Most of them are what's called "Crack Isolation Membranes". Just about every manufacturer has one, from trowel ons or roll ons, such as Hydroment's Ultraset or Laticrete's 9235 or Hydroban, to sheet membranes such as Noble's CIS membrane. All will give the tile a little more protection against movement than just going over CBU. However, there's another class of membranes called "uncoupling membranes" of which the most popular by far is Schluter's Ditra, that are made from bonding two layers together, usually a fabric fleece backing and a plastic sheeting with dovetailed waffling to "lock" the thinset in place ( as opposed to accepting a thinset BOND). These membranes will, as their name implies, uncouple their two layers in case of movement, to save the floor, and for thinset floors, it's the most protection you can give your tile floor.

Plywood-- This is one where I get the most flack. I'm one of a dying breed that still believes in tiling directly over plywood. However, I can very well understand the reluctance of the industry to embrace this installation method, even though the TCNA DOES approve of its use for interior installations (Those with a handbook can check Method F-149). The reason I say that is it's a very "tempermental installation method. You need to be very familiar with what you're doing, or you risk failure. There are even many pros I wouldn't trust to tile using this method. Everything you do is important, from the species of plywood used, to the direction the grain is laid with relation to the joists, to how it's gapped, and a host of other specs, as well-- many of which won't be found in the handbook, and if you miss just one of them, you're flirtin with disaster. All in all, when people ask me about it, I tell them that with the membranes available, there's no need to go directly over plywood. There are other methods that will give you just as long lasting a floor, and aren't NEARLY as sensitive.

Mudset-- This is the oldest, and still, after THOUSANDS of years of use, the strongest installation method available. In a mudset installation, a minimum of 1 1/4" of mortar called "drypack" (mixed to the consistancy of damp sand) is either bonded to a concrete slab, or laid down over tarpaper or 6 mil poly with wire reinforcement, packed, and then screaded off to flat level (or pitched) subfloor. This is what most people see when tiling a shower pan. Initially, the mud will be a somewhat soft subfloor. But over time, if mixed properly, it'll be stronger than concrete.

Q) What are the proper tile setting compounds?

A) This is one where I could write a book. It all depends on what kind fo tile you're installing, and what the underlayment is that you're going over. I'll give a generalized list:

Polymer/ latex modified thinset: For all intents and purposes, this is the "cure-all". For almost any installation the modified thinset, which is basically portland cement, silica sand, and chemical polymers added for strength, will work. There are some that are specialized, such as the lightweight non-sag thinsets (such as Laticrete's 255 or Mapei's Ultralite), or the high latex content thinsets (like Latictrete's 254 Platinum or Hydroment's Reflex), but with the exception of going over some membranes, there's a modified thinset for every installation.

Unmodified thinset: This is the same as above, but with no polymers added. It's usually used in conjunction with a liquid latex additive, but will also be used mixed with water for going over some membranes. It's also used as a bedding for all CBU's.

Medium Bed Mortars-- This is a relatively new class of setting mortars, used mainly for large format tiles, where the normal notched trowels just don't put down enough material, and with thinset, it would be too much, causing too much shrinkage as it dries, causing voids under, and poor bond to, the tile, but at the same time, there's not enoough room for a mudset installation. This mortar is usually used with either a 1/2x1/2" or 1/2x3/4" notched trowel.

Mastics and Premixed Thinsets: THESE HAVE VERY LIMITED USES!! Let me say that again-- THESE HAVE VERY LIMITED USES!! They work well for vertical installations, where the tile used is 8x8 or less, and it's not a wet area. ALL THREE of those conditions must be met!! I know just about every pail of type 1 mastic says it can be used in showers except for the floor. DON'T BELIEVE IT!! Also, both mastic and premixed thinset (which is just mastic with a fine sand mixed in to give it bulk) claim they can be used for floor installations. Unfortunately, for the amount of material needed under virtually all floor tiles to bond to the subfloor, neither of these will fully harden. I had a personal experience where I helped a sister in law across country, telling her husband exactly how to do his main floor, what to use, and how to use it. Unfortunately, he went to the big box store to get his tile and materials, and they talked him into using premixed thinset. I didn't hear about it until SIX MONTHS LATER when his tile and grout joints started showing cracks all over the floor. When he called me I asked him what he used for thinset, and sure enough, this is when he told me. I told him to pull one of the tiles, and SIX MONTHS LATER, IT WAS STILL SOFT!!! DOn't let them talk you into it!! Use the proper thinset, and don't try and shortcut your installation. You're spending alot of money for it to be "just practice"!!

Q) How do you deal with different thicknesses of tile?

A) Whatever it takes. I've used membranes, built up the amount of thinset being used, I've even doubled up tiles when it worked out that way. Whatever it takes to get the two tiles to be flush toeach other.

Q) What are the typical tools required to lay tile?

A) Generally speaking, this is a list for just about all installations. Some may require specialized tools, but this would be for all:

Proper sized notched trowel
measuring tape
chalk line
margin trowel
high amp low speed drill and mixing paddle (best would be 6 amp or better and less than 400 rpm)
several buckets
score and snap cutter for straight ceramic cuts
4 1/2" grinder with a continuous rim dry diamond blade for ceramic, anything other than straight cuts
wet saw (can be used for ALL cuts, ceramic or stone)
grout float
hydra grout sponges (2-- once for grouting, one for cleaning)
24" and 48" levels (for vertical work)
heavy duty extension cords
screwgun or nailgun (where CBU will be used)

Q) What about tile spacing and tpes of grout?

A) According to Dave Gobis from the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation in Pendleton, South Carolina, there will finally be a new standard for ceramic tile next year. The tolerances are shrinking. There will also be a standard for rectified tile. Along with that, there will be a revision to the installation standards that will specifically recommend a grout joint no less than 3 times the variation of the tile. For rectified tile the minimum grout joint width will be .075 or just over a 1/16".

As for grout, there's only one thing that determines whether you use sanded or unsanded grout, and that's the size of the grout joint. Anything less than 1/8" you use unsanded grout. 1/8" or larger, you need to use sanded grout. The reason is that the main ingredient in grout is porland cement, which tends to shrink as it dries. In joints 1/8" or larger, the grout will shrink way too much and end up cracking ans shrinking into the joint. The sand give the grout bulk, and the sanded grout won't shrink nearly as much and therefore, can be used in the larger joints.


clipped on: 09.22.2012 at 11:28 pm    last updated on: 09.22.2012 at 11:29 pm

Self-leveling compound & radiant heat: what I learned...

posted by: staceyneil on 11.17.2010 at 04:26 pm in Bathrooms Forum

Hi all,

I'm going to post my experience with self-leveling compound here in case these tips might help others. (I found a dearth of good info on line, myself!)

I have just finished pouring self-leveling compound in my second bathroom. In both cases, the main purpose was to cover electric radiant heat wires prior to laying tile.

I used loose wire from
I used LevelQuik RS from Home Depot. (I would have prefered LevelQuik ES -extended set as opposed to rapid set- but it was not available locally.)

First, the old subfloor was replaced. The new plywood was then primed with the LevelQuik primer per the directions (diluted over plywood.) After the primer is dry, you need to dam up any crevice, gap, or hole where the SLC could run away. In the first bathroom, I did not really understand how important this was!!! I'd heard to go around the edges of the room with Sill Seal (that pink foam strip you use under a house sill) which would create a nice expansion gap with some give. So I taped it around the edges, and around plumbing holes. This was NOT adequate! When we poured the SLC, you could see it moving towards the gaps and trickling down. We even had to do a second pour since we lost so much down into the crawl space below: ouch! In the more recent bathroom we didn't lose any. Here's what we did:
Fill large gaps at the room perimeters with foam insulation backer rod and Great Stuff spray foam (gap and crack formula).
Stuff foam rod around toilet drain coming up through the floor.
To make a dam at doorways and other straight edges, install a 2x4 with the nails not pounded all the way in.
Go around with a cheapie tube of painters caulk and caulk EVERYTHING!!!! Caulk both inside and outside edges of the 2x4s, and anywhere else there's even a remote change of a tiny hole or gap.

Next, lay the heating wire. (Chisel down a bit to create trenches for the factory splice and thermostat probe. WE install two probes, and leave the second's wires free behind the thermostat, in case the first one fails at some point in the future.) Our wire came with aluminum tape to stick it down with. I used only that tape in the first bathroom, but the water in the SLC caused to to let go so a lot of the wires floated to the surface :( In the second bathroom, I first laid out my wire with painters' tape, then secured it with a hot glue gun. Brilliant! It worked really well, no floating wires. (I removed the painters' tape after the glue was set.)

Then get ready to pour. Figure out how many bags you're going to need. This took some heavy math for me, since my second bathroom's floor sloped about 5/8" over 5' and I assumed the SLC would level that out, so I had to figure out the cubic feet needed using calculations for figuring swimming pool volume, then covert to the square footage at 1/8" coverage stated by the SLC manufacturer.

Have your buckets ready: we assumed we'd need 3 bags and had two buckets already measured with the correct amount of cool water, and then another batch of water pre-measured and ready to pour into the first bucket when it was empty.
I read that cool water extends the working time -or at least the pot life- of the stuff, so we made sure our water was cold. (We were mixing outdoors in Maine in November, so that wasn't too difficult!) The pot life is supposed to be 30 minutes, and the working time is only about 5 minutes once poured (10 for feathering) so we wanted to make sure everything was set to go.

Last time I poured, I used a floor squeegee as a spreader. It didn't really work all that well. The instructions call for a gauged trowel (notched) but we didn't want to use a metal implement for fear of hurting the wires. I saw an EXCELLENT how-to on line that recommended cutting a rubber squeegee into notches. I bought an 18" black rubber squeegee head, cut 1" notches out of it with a utility knife, and screwed it onto a broom handle. This allowed me to spread the SLC around in such a way that it was still able to self-level rather than being pulled up into hills like the straight spreader caused.

OK- so mix the SLC with a heavy duty mixing paddle (I used the round type for paint mixing, about 4 or 5" around) and a 1/2" electric drill. With the water in the 5 gallon pail, have one person running the drill while the other dumps the powder in fairly quickly. We mixed about 1 minute 45 seconds after the powder was all in, then did the next bag, then gave the first bucket another 5-second mix and brought it inside. You'll see how at about 1.5 minutes, the stuff is smooth and a consistency of cake or pancake batter: that's what you want.

My DH person poured, I spread the SLC with the notched rubber spreader. DH went out and gave the second bucket another quick mix, then brought it in and poured. If we'd needed a third bucket, he'd have gone and quickly mixed that one. It turns out we did not. It looked like it was leveling out beautifully. You can tell how the stuff is flowing by white contour lines on the surface, so we knew it wasn't dripping down any unseen holes. (We later checked in the basement and this was correct, yay!) The mix had been perfect consistency, smooth, flowed well. It all looked beautiful- as compared to the first time when the level kept going down, the tape let go and the wires floated to the surface: yuck!)

After a few hours I put a long level on it. The surface is beautifully flat, no hills or valleys -so the large-format tile I'm laying should go on well- BUT.... I was surprised to see that the floor still slants in the same direction. it's maybe 1/8" less pronounced, but the slant is still there. It's funny to me that the SLC would level itself out so beautifully in relation to the floor beneath it, but not in relation to gravity as a whole. I'm sure someone can explain why this is... something about surface tension maybe? It's OK- it's not going to be a problem in this bathroom, but it's just curious! I would have expected the floor to be perfectly level now, wouldn't you?

Anyway- I hope this helps someone!


clipped on: 09.17.2012 at 11:39 am    last updated on: 09.17.2012 at 11:39 am

comprehensive indpendent window info

posted by: energy_rater_la on 09.14.2012 at 07:11 pm in Building a Home Forum

and[A Good Window Is Sti]

it isn't only about how the window looks.
condensation causes a lot of damage rotting
from sills down to sole plates.

best of luck. and remember if nfrc sticker
is not on brand you are another brand.


references blog post about U-values and solar gain in windows.
clipped on: 09.14.2012 at 11:16 pm    last updated on: 09.14.2012 at 11:16 pm

RE: What type of hardware for pocket door? (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: mongoct on 09.14.2012 at 10:11 am in Bathrooms Forum

brickeye recommended the 111PD which has 3/4" wheels. Since your doors are glass and are heavy, I recommend 1" wheels and a kit with a jump proof track. Of course those are my personal preferences.

The 111PD is a "hardware only" kit with 3/4" wheels. Your framers/carpenters should be able to build the opening just fine.

For the hardware only kits, I recommend you look at the 200PD and the 100PD. The 200PD has a 400lb capacity and 4 wheels per truck. The 100PD has a 200lb capacity and a 3-wheel truck.

For the entire door kit (framing plus hardware) they have a 2000 series for 2x4 walls and a 2060 series for 2x6 walls, they use the same hardware as the 200PD hardware only kit (400# capacity, four 1" wheels per truck, jump proof track).

The 1500 series framing plus hardware kit is for 2x4 walls and the 1560 is for 2x6 walls, they use the same hardware as the 100PD hardware kit (200# capacity, three 1" wheels per truck, jump proof track).

The 2511 2x4 wall door package that I described as their "entry level kit" uses the same hardware as the 111PD hardware only kit.

For glass doors I always recommend jump proof tracks. You have a single 2-6 x 6-8 door, solid wood stiles and rails with glass. It's heavy, but not ridiculously heavy. I'd recommend having your builder look at the 100PD hardware only kit, or the 1500/1560 complete door kit which uses the 100PD hardware. Upgrade the kit from the standard trucks to the 1125 ball bearing trucks and you have 200# of capacity, three 1" ball bearing wheels per truck, and a jump proof track.

Again, that's just a recommendation.


clipped on: 09.14.2012 at 04:41 pm    last updated on: 09.14.2012 at 04:41 pm

RE: Recssed lighting for the kitchen? (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: energy_rater_la on 08.30.2012 at 08:39 pm in Remodeling Forum

first off...I'm biased.
I can't stand recessed lights.
Not soon enough, it will become one
of the things you can determine the date
of the house by..should I say..hopefully soon!

if you do venture into that scary kitchen forum
you are braver than I am.
even if you don't have a kitchen designer
(KD in kitchenfourmspeak) pretend you do,
else they won't talk with you. (just kidding)

if you do chose recessed lights over track lighting
know these things.
(note the first two are my personal bias, the latter
two, my professional bias)

1-unlike track lights where you can adjust them to
shine where you want them, and as your tastes change
as to highlighting different things in the kitchen,
recessed lights are fixed.
hole in the ceiling, immobile can lights.

2-you have to cut a hole in the ceiling into
the hot attic. a big hole. in the ceiling.
into the hot dusty attic where the can will
be surrounded by whatever type of insulation
that is on the attic floor.

3-folks don't seal the holes they cut. if the
hole is oversized...the trim will cover it.
that is the general mentality.

4-there are different types of recessed lights.
not talking sizes of recessed lights..but that also
will come into play if you chose that route.
there are IC lights..insulation contact meaning that
the insulation can be in contact with the housing
of the light.
and there are ICAT insulation contact Air Tight..
pay attention now..ICAT lights have no holes in the
housing. This keeps air & insulation in the attic..
in the attic.
IC cans allow air to enter the house via these holes.
as the cans are surrounded by insulation, as the air
moves through these holes, it picks up insulation
particles which now have a dedicated pathway into
your home.

recessed lights are sold in boxes of 6. cost difference
between IC rated lights and ICAT rated lights are about
$15-$20 per box.
this is cheap. if you install IC cans and want to make
them air tight, you will pay $15 per insert, per light.
it is worth it to make the trip to the store yourself
and purchase ICAT lights. take one out of the box
and make sure it has no holes in the housing.

all lights have stickers inside the cans. Cooper lighting
is the most common brand. Juno, Halo..all cooper lighting.
their sticker is white with red writing that says AirTight
but if you read the small continues on to say
when used with the following trims..
ICAT however has a white sticker with orange writing.
this is the light is truly air tight.

even with the ICAT cans properly installed when the
hole in the sheetrock is cut, this opening will need
to be sealed to the housing of the recessed can.
I use mastic tape, but it can be carefully caulked
or an air tight trim piece used.

one recessed light = 1 sq ft of uninsulated attic,
due to amount of air that moves through the holes
in the housing & the cut in the sheetrock.
enough attic air comes through recessed lights
to add to heating and cooling loads.

so if you do chose can lights..upgrade to ICAT.
make sure hole in sheetrock ceiling is sealed
to housing of can before trim piece is installed.

or go with track lighting..

either way use cfl's.

ok thats my rant.
share it with everyone
you know who is thinking about installing
recessed lights.
esp if they have cellulose
insulation. the 'dust' from cellulose is
fine newspaper treated with borate. circulating
this 'dust' throughout the house adds to cleaning
time, and if anyone has allergies will exacerbate
the problems.

best of luck


What type of cans to use, if you choose Can lights--

ICAT lights.

clipped on: 08.31.2012 at 06:12 pm    last updated on: 08.31.2012 at 06:13 pm

Pictures of completed bathroom

posted by: dedtired on 08.30.2010 at 04:52 pm in Bathrooms Forum

Hi. I took some pictures of my new bathroom. It's still missing accessories (& a TP holder!) so it looks a bit bare.

Here are the details for those who may be interested:

Tub: Kohler Expanse (I adore this)
Handheld Showerhead: Grohe Relexa Rustica
All other fixtures: Kohler Kelston
Sink: Kohler Ladena undermount
Vanity: Bertch Morocco in Fawn (?)
Toilet: Kohler Memoirs Stately
Exhaust fan: Panasonic
Heated floor: EasyHeat
Subway & Floor tile: Vallelunga Villa Adriana in Calcatta (porcelain)
Glass tile: Crystal Stone Mosiac in Ivory
Shower Rod: Moen Curved

There were a few glitches along the way, but not many and I am very pleased with the result.

Tub / Shower area:
Tub Shower

Close up of niche and subways:

Vanity area with glass shelves to the right:
Vanity w shelves

Detail of backsplash and Kelston faucets:
Kelston Faucet & Backsplash

Kohler Ladena sink
Ladena Sink

Switches and dials! Thermostat for floor

Floor and my toes (I'm Not a Waitress by OPI):

If I can give you any more info, just ask. I got plenty of help by reading this forum. Thanks for looking!


kohler expanse acrylic tub
clipped on: 08.14.2012 at 12:23 pm    last updated on: 08.14.2012 at 12:23 pm

RE: installing shower wall along shower curb? (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: mongoct on 07.21.2012 at 02:50 pm in Bathrooms Forum

If I'm understanding your post depends on the construction/design of the pan.

If the pan can't bear the weight of the wall framed right on top of it, probably the easiest would be to build a 2x6 wall and notch out the bottom of one side of the studs to go over the curb.

Example...let's say your curb is 4" wide and 3" high. Think of the stud standing vertically. You'd want the notch to be tall enough to clear the curb height, say 3-1/8" to 3-1/4". You'd want the notch to be deep enough to cover most of the curb, but not so deep that the stud is too fragile after it is notched. So for this example make the notch 2-3/4" deep, leaving 2-3/4" of the 5-1/2" width of the 2x6 uncut. A 2-3/4" deep notch will cover 2-3/4" of the 4" of curb width, leaving 1-1/4" of the curb exposed.

In the drawing below, think of the "x" as the stud and the "o" as the pan. You can see how the stud is notched out to accept the pan. The "z" is the sole plate for the wall. You'll have two sole plates. One at the bottom of the wall that will sit on the bathroom floor, one at the bottom of the notch that will sit just above the top of the pan's curb. "c" is the cement board and "t" is the tile.


When you add the cement board and tile to the inside face of the wall, it'll build it out a bit, but a bit of the edge of the curb will remain visible. How much depends on the style of the curb, if the edge is closer to square, or if it has a generous radius, etc. If you use 6-mil poly in that wall, seal the bottom edge of it to the top of the curb.

In this case, your curb is 4" thick, the notch is 2-3/4" deep, leaving 1-1/4" of curb exposed. The 1/2" of cement board, the 1/8" thickness of thinset, and the 1/4" thickness of the tile will cover another 7/8ths-inch of the curb, leaving 3/8" of the curb exposed.

One other comment...if the inside edge of the curb is dead straight then all will look fine. If the inside edge of the curb waivers in and out a bit, that 3/8" of curb might go from 3/8", to 1/2", to 1/4", etc, as the curb waffles around. The more your curb waffles in and out, the more curb you need to leave exposed to compensate for the waffling.

With 2x6 framing, this will be a "thick" wall. A great opportunity to use the stud bays for storage. A shower niche on the inside, or a tall "medicine cabinet" or "storage pantry" built in to the stud bays on the opposite side.


building a pony wall on a pre-built cove shower pan
clipped on: 07.22.2012 at 04:47 pm    last updated on: 07.22.2012 at 04:48 pm

RE: Benjamin Moore natural wicker/bone white cabinet color? (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: jessicaml on 07.04.2012 at 11:24 pm in Kitchens Forum

I posted the link to Shanghaimom's kitchen in your other thread because I thought it was interesting how a color that looks pretty beige in some spaces (I considered it briefly for a wall color to contrast with Cloud White), looks nice and creamy in her pictures; your perfect color might not be one you'd pick at first glance. Lighting is HUGE! White Dove is a popular one around here, but it looked grayish in my space, not creamy.

White Down Cabinets (Catsam's kitchen, about 1/3 of the way down the page)

*Lancaster White/Antique White cabinets (mamadadapaige's last kitchen...stock cabinet color was Antique White, but her 'matching' trim and baseboards are in BM Lancaster White)

Timid White Cabinets

Linen White Cabinets (halfway down, positano's kitchen - color-matched)

Acadia White Cabinets (jbrodie's kitchen - whiter in sunlight, darker in evening, and almost look two-toned in the varying light)

Mannequin Cream Cabinets (9th pic down, wine bottle on counter)

Seashell Walls (thanks to boxerpups)

I also found a thread where julie92 talked about painting her cabinets Navajo White and was having 2nd thoughts about whether it was too beige or not. Does anyone know if she changed the color or posted finished kitchen pics?


White paints
clipped on: 07.05.2012 at 12:19 am    last updated on: 07.05.2012 at 12:20 am

RE: Kirkhall - Master Bath Tile (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: motherof3sons on 06.15.2012 at 07:49 am in Building a Home Forum

Kirkhall - The tile is American Olean Catarina Coliseum White (18x18). The tile is white with shades of gray (photo has a pink cast on my monitor). This morning the tilesetter and I will decide on the pattern. I am leaning toward placing the tile on the diagonal in a brick pattern.


porcelain marble look tile
clipped on: 07.01.2012 at 09:41 pm    last updated on: 07.01.2012 at 09:41 pm

RE: Question Re: Tile cutting/sizing 12x12 down to 12x6 (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: enduring on 04.07.2012 at 10:54 am in Bathrooms Forum

Thanks Sweeby for your reply. These tiles are straight cut. These didn't come in a 6x12, only this size and a larger size.

I will have to give the cutting project some thought. If I do the herringbone I want it to be even. Here is a plan view of my idea:



I wonder if the pattern on the floor will be too busy with the other tile. Or am I just over thinking this?


on herringbone patterns and the need to "grid" rather than use spacers
clipped on: 06.24.2012 at 11:11 am    last updated on: 06.24.2012 at 11:11 am

door-free shower; what kind of bathroom walls?

posted by: kirkhall on 06.12.2012 at 12:54 am in Bathrooms Forum

I am newly considering a tiled shower (instead of cultured granite/solid panels/etc). My tile-setter is very good, but I have no idea about the under-sides of tiling needs. I've been trying to do research and am getting a little lost in all the "right" ways to do things.

Anyway, for now a simple question--if we choose to do an open shower (no door), what kind of material needs to be used for the walls of the bathroom? Greenboard or regular sheetrock? (I am assuming more steam on the walls if no shower door).

As a bonus: if I go for a tiled shower floor (something I didn't think I'd do), how do I make sure I get a really great install so that I don't end up with a rotten huge structural beam underneath (second floor is held up by this beam).

My guy really likes to do mud pans. And, he said he could epoxy grout (spectralock) the base if I wanted to be really sure. He also has mentioned redguard, and liners. So, he may be more old school? He also said he really like wonderboard over hardi--and from what I've read, that is fine.

Any help is hugely appreciated. I have read through many old posts, including the one from Mongo where all the pictures on how to do a kerdi shower have disappeared but seems like it'd be a great tutorial...


my post with exchanges with Mongoct
clipped on: 06.23.2012 at 12:16 pm    last updated on: 06.23.2012 at 12:17 pm

RE: Underlying the tile question for tile experts Bill and Mongo (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: mongoct on 06.17.2012 at 01:27 pm in Bathrooms Forum

"Mongoct-- (sorry OP)
If not using Kerdi shower pan, but just a mudbed/liner, can you use a topical membrane for a shower floor? I've posted previously, but it didn't catch your attention. I'm trying to understand this more as well... "

Sorry if I missed your previous post. I seem to be hit and miss on the forums these days.

I'm a little confused by the "mudbed/liner" comment and the desire to use it in conjunction with a topical membrane. So let me ramble a bit:

I consider "liners" to be the CPE or CPVC thick shower membrane liners, the ones where you use a deck mud preslope, then install the liner over that with a clamping drain, then top the liner with another layer of deck mud, and you tile upon that. If that's what you're asking about, no I wouldn't use a topical membrane on top of all that.

Here's what I consider to be a liner installation.

Now back-tracking a bit: There are folk that use a topical membrane with a clamping drain, but they have to "dish out" the sloped mud bed as it gets close to the drain. It's sometimes referred to as the "divot method". That way the topical membrane will drain to the drain's weep holes. If you don't use a divot, then the raised part of the clamping drain can sort of act like a dam, causing water under the tile to pool around the drain. The area around the drain might appear perpetually wet.

The divot method is not a technique I embrace. Nothing really wrong with it, it's just not my cup of tea. Here is a photo showing the "divot" carved out of the mud base:

Virtually every shower I do is a one-off size or shape, so I'm almost always doing a sloped deck mud base. As to which topical membrane to use, when using Kerdi, I'll do a sloped mud pan and then cover that with Kerdi.

If using Hydroban, then I'll still use a Kerdi drain in the sloped mud floor but then use Hydroban on the floor and walls.

So if you want to use a topical membrane, then no , do not also use a liner within the floor. One membrane is all you want.

Does that help?


clipped on: 06.17.2012 at 10:50 pm    last updated on: 06.17.2012 at 10:50 pm

Underlying the tile question for tile experts Bill and Mongo

posted by: docrck on 06.16.2012 at 01:28 pm in Bathrooms Forum


In anticipation of renovating our bathrooms in a NYC prewar apartment and having read many posts about tile problems/water leak issues I wondered if Bill V and Mongo could clarify my interpretation of the readings I've done. I don't want to be surprised by the contractor!

Here is my understanding. Am I correct?

1) Bathroom floors: subfloor--then mortar bed--then Cement Backing Unit (CBU)--then lay tiles with thinset and then grout tiles(laticrete)?

2) Shower walls in bathroom with tub: CBU--then membrane (?)--then lay tiles with thinset and then grout tiles (laticrete)?

3) Shower stall floor in bathroom without tub: subfloor--mortar bed--kerdi drain--shower membrane --lay tiles with thinset and then grout tiles (laticrete)?

Thank you in advance for correcting any mistakes and guiding me.



clipped on: 06.16.2012 at 11:57 pm    last updated on: 06.16.2012 at 11:57 pm

RE: Small things that get forgotten (Follow-Up #59)

posted by: Laura12 on 06.03.2012 at 01:19 pm in Building a Home Forum

All the suggestions posted on this thread have been so valuable, though I'm sure many of you (like myself) find your head spinning with all the ideas, so I just sat down and categorized them all!

Closet & Organization
- Plugs in several closets
- Make sure your closet has enough space for both double hung rods, and singles to accomadate long clothes
- Full size broom cupboard in pantry or laundry room to hide all the cleaning items away from sight.
- More closet/linen space than you think you'll need
- Cubbies in mudroom with an outlet in each one
- Motion sensor on pantry and closet lights

- Plug in master toilet closet for night light
- Outlets inside vanity cabinets (upper and lower) in bathroom for dryer etc.
- Heated towels racks
- Don't caulk the bottom of your toilet to the tile to hide potential leaks
- Make use of the pony wall in a bathroom by turning it into storage.
- Vac pans for hair
- Appliance garage on counter

- Run conduit under the driveway for future wiring or plumbing needs
- Prewire speakers both indoor and outdoor
- Ensure you have hose outlets and power on all 4 sides of your house, and on top of any raised areas
- Hot/cold outdoor water is good for washing pets
- Motion sensor pre-wire for selected exterior lights
- Keypad entry on garage door (Keypad entry on front door is great as well)
- Gas line to grill

- Plugs in kitchen pantry for charging, or for items that may end up living there
- Recess the fridge
- With wide islands put cabinets on the both sides. While they are not easy to get to, they are good for storing seldomly used items.
- Built in paper towel holder
- Custom storage organization in kitchen drawers
- Warming drawer in dining room
- Pantry entrance near both kitchen and garage
- Custom shelves and a place to plug in appliances in pantry
- Plugs above cabinets for Christmas lighting
- Set up for both gas and electric appliances
- Pantry door on swivel
- Pantry light on motion sensor
- Copper tubing for your ice maker from the freezer and until it's out of the kitchen wall
- Drawer microwave
- Knife drawer
- Pull-out garbage/recycling/laundry (for dirty dish towels/napkins/bibs!)
- Paper towel holder in drawer slot
- Drawers for all lower cabinets (more efficient use of space)
- Two soap pumps at sink (one for handsoap, one for dish soap)
- Easy-access place to store frequently used appliances
- place to hang hand towels & aprons

Electrical & Plumbing
- Prewire security system & cameras
- Run wire and prepare roof for future solar
- Run a 2" PVC pipe up from the basement to the attic for future wiring needs, some suggested double conduits.
- Seperate 20z circut with outlets at waist height in garage to plug in tools
- Seperate 20z ciructe for TV and a/v equipment
- Identify areas for low voltage can/rack
- Pre-wring for music and speakers, inside and outside
- iPad controllers in the walls to control whole house music systems
- Pre-wire for generator to essential areas
- Carbon monozide unit on the wall upstairs
- Make sure plumbing in bathrooms are done correctly. One commenter's toilet was placed too close to the tub pipes so I couldn't get the deeper tub because they didn't allow room.
- Cast iron pipes for the plumbing drops from the second floor cuts down on noise
- Take pictures of all the walls before Sheetrock went up so you knew where all the wiring was in case you needed to add or change anything.
- Include a 220V to garage (tools, future electric car etc)
- Measure the location of anything under the slab, and various utilities out in the yard.
- Run an electrical line with a few floor outlets, especially since we have very open floor plan and couch sets are not against a wall
- Plumbed for a built-in drinking fountain,

- Light switch to the attic in the hallway (and remember lights in attic in general)
- Solar tubes in areas that don�t get natural sunlight
- In cabinet lights and outside lights on timers
- Make sure you check the cost ratings of ceiling fans
- Check all remotes for ceiling fans prior to construction completion
- 3 way switches where helpful
- Master switch from master that controls all exterior lights
- A master switch at each exit (Front, back or garage), that turns off all of the power to the switches/lights in the house, so that you can turn off all lights without going to each room and/or light switch.

- 4 plug outlets near the bed in the master
- A light switch at the head of your bed so you can turn out the light once you are in bed.

- Plugs under eaves for holiday lights, with a switch inside to turn on and off.
- Enough storage for Christmas decorations
- Seasonal closet with hangers for wreaths, and space for rubbermaid storage boxes.
- Plugs for Christmas lights: over cabinets, in stairway, in porch ceiling, under eaves

Heating, Cooling, and Vacuums
- Central Vac with vac pans, if you have hardwood floors - get a Hideahose
- Plan where furnace vents will go instead of letting the builder decide
- Hepa filtration for allegergy sufferers
- WarmFloors heating

- Read Myron Ferguson has a book out, "Better Houses, Better Living"
- Receptacles for fire extinguishers. Maybe plan some cutouts so they are flush to the wall.
- Where possible pocket doors
- Secondary dryer lint trap
- Soundproofing where needed
- Stairs from garage to basement
- A phone by the door leading into the garage for those pesky calls when you are getting in or out of the car
- An inside button to open and close your garage door for when guests arrive and its raining.
- Additional support during framing on the top side of windows for curtains
- Power outage flashlights and keep in outlets around around house. Recess these into the space with each fire extinguisher.
- Mailbox sensor to alert you whenever your mailbox is opened so that you're not running out of the house checking for mail when it's not there.
- Ensure builders don't "box" off spaces, where storage or shelving could go
- Make copies of manuals prior to installation and give the builder the copies so you can keep the originals.
- Minimal walls, and lots of windows.
- A laundry room. Not just a hall, or closet, a room.
- Spindles and hand rail made that can be removed for moving furniture
- Handicapped accessible.
- Plan an elevator shaft in case you want to install one later, in the meantime it will serve as storage closets.

- Plan a specific place for your dog food,
- Place for the kitty box,
- Place for dogs to be bathed
- place for dog crates
- Exhaust fan in laundry room for litterbox

Regional considerations:
- an ante-room, with coatracks and shoe storage, and a way to keep the heat in.
- An entrance to the basement from outside for salt delivery, repair men etc so they don't track thru your house.
- storm shelter to weather the threats your area faces.
- a mosquito system and
- little covered niche for bear spray at/near each entry.
- Drain in the garage to get rid of the excess water quicker from vehicles after it snows
- Pest line (brand name Taexx) a small tube is run around the perimeter of the home through the framing, and then pest control can spray within it.


Things to remember when remodeling and building.
clipped on: 06.14.2012 at 11:40 pm    last updated on: 06.14.2012 at 11:41 pm

RE: Adding Pocket Door to water closet (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: brickeyee on 04.21.2012 at 09:04 am in Remodeling Forum

Johnson hardware for the tracks and hangers.

A door at least slightly wider tan the opening is needed if there is any trim pattern to the door (like panels).

You need to trim off some of the 'show' edge to center the decoration while leaving some of the pocket edge in the pocket when the door is closed.

Stop molding may also be needed on the jamb opposite the pocket to provide privacy.

I do not use the typical plastic guides to prevent door sway (they will scratch the face of the door eventually).

Mount a short section of aluminum angle on the floor of the pocket and cut a mating groove in the bottom of the door to prevent sway.


pocket door advice
clipped on: 06.13.2012 at 02:01 pm    last updated on: 06.13.2012 at 02:01 pm

Kerdi Shower

posted by: mongoct on 11.17.2007 at 11:35 am in Bathrooms Forum


There are ways and there are ways. This post shows a couple of ways to do it.

Shower is a walk-in, about 5' by 7'. Door is at a 45 degree angle.

Walk in to the shower and on the short wall to the immediate right are two supply valves, the lower one supplies the wall mounted handheld, the upper supplies an overhead 12" rainshower head.

Moving counterclockwise from that wall, the long wall on the right is on an exterior wall, nothing but tile.

The short back wall has a 2-shelf niche, about 36" wide and 30" tall. The lower niche space is 15" high, the shelf itself is 4" thick, the upper niche space is 11" high.

The last wall, the long wall to the left as you enter, has the wall-mounted hand-held. If I recall, the sliding bar is 40" tall.

Tile backer? I prefer cement board on the walls. Wonderboard or Durock. I used Wonderboard on these walls. The ceiling and niche is done in Hardie, as Hardie is less brittle so for me it's easier to cut into narrow strips to trim out the niche, and not as prone to snapping when installing full sheets overhead.


whole post on Kerdi installation
clipped on: 06.10.2012 at 11:09 pm    last updated on: 06.10.2012 at 11:09 pm

RE: urgent ? re small pullout in half wall - beagles or anyone el (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: beaglesdoitbetter on 04.16.2012 at 05:48 pm in Bathrooms Forum

kirkhall here is the picture of my half wall that flyleft referenced. It is 12 inches wide. My cabinet maker built it and I believe (but am not 100 percent sure) that Rev-a-Shelf glides were used
2012-02-20 13.32.25


clipped on: 04.17.2012 at 12:52 am    last updated on: 04.17.2012 at 12:52 am

Small things that get forgotten

posted by: Laura12 on 04.11.2012 at 06:01 pm in Building a Home Forum

I keep hearing that most people find that there are small things that they didn�t think about until after they finished construction that they wish they would have added into their build, and I was curious if all of you would like to help me to compile a list for all of us to consider during planning!

So far I have
- Plugs in kitchen pantry for charging, or for items that may end up living there
- Full size broom cupboard in pantry or laundry room to hide all the cleaning items away from sight.
- Solar tubes in areas that don�t get natural sunlight
- Prewire security system
- Run wire and prepare roof for future solar
- Central Vac with vac pans

Any others to add?


whole post, not just this one:
best so far: more than quadruple plugs next to beds; plug-in in closets for vacuums; in pantry for items; attic light switch on main living floor (not in attic); outlet in toilet room for light light.
clipped on: 04.12.2012 at 05:39 pm    last updated on: 04.12.2012 at 05:40 pm

RE: Breezy- thanks for your storage idea (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: breezygirl on 04.04.2012 at 11:43 pm in Kitchens Forum

It's my drawer's long lost, but not evil, twin separated at birth!

Spice drawer awaiting new labels

I seriously will throw a party when I find that darned label maker! Oh the things I want to tag in my newly remodeled house....

I should take a new pic now that I've added my paprikas in the drawer. I'll link to the company, Specialty Bottle, below. Badgergirl and I both used the smaller TCT4 tins and the larger TCT8.

Love yours!! Your more petite drawer actually snuggles the tins better than mine. And wait until you're in the middle of a trenches cooking a big meal. You'll get a thrill from being able to see all your spices laid out where grabbing and measuring takes a mere second. You'll wonder how you ever got by reaching into a dark upper cab with toppling towers of spices.

And thanks for the kind shout-out. I can't believe I actually helped someone! You brightened the end of a sad day full of good-byes and made me smile. :-)

Here is a link that might be useful: Specialty Bottle spice tins with clear lids


spice tins with link
clipped on: 04.05.2012 at 11:41 pm    last updated on: 04.05.2012 at 11:42 pm

RE: Banquette Bench: CKGM and Shelayne -- pics please! (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: shelayne on 03.29.2012 at 10:36 am in Kitchens Forum

Hi BalTra, here is a shot of mine. It is three 36" W X 15"H, 24" deep cabinets, cut to a depth of 22.5" (I think), topped with Lagan butcher block and cushions. The filler is a piece on each end, as the bench is almost 10' long. I originally wanted it to be moveable, but DH wanted it built-in. Since he was the one installing it, he won.;) He built a low platform for it. The cushions bring the height over the height of the chairs, but it has not been a problem for us. If we wanted to, we could remove the cushions, and only have the wood top, as we finished that with Waterlox, and it would be the same height as the dining chairs.


And so you can see what I mean about lots of storage, here is a pic with the drawers open (that white thing in the middle drawer is a big bread machine):

The "Costco" snack drawer is one that is constantly accessed. We call it the "Costco drawer" because it generally has those huge Costco snack bags, popcorn, store bought cookies, and like items.

We are very happy with how our banquette bench turned out.


Ikea cabinets as built ins
clipped on: 03.29.2012 at 05:21 pm    last updated on: 03.29.2012 at 05:22 pm

Budget Reface Kitchen Reno - Pictures

posted by: familyreno on 03.26.2012 at 07:55 pm in Kitchens Forum

I've been a long time reader of this forum, but this is my first post. I ran into technical difficulty trying to get registered and it took me forever. My new kitchen doesn't compare to most I've seen on this site, but I thought I would share because I always found pictures helpful when I was deciding on granite, faucets etc. Our kitchen reno was done on a modest budget and we decided early on to reface the main part of the kitchen since the existing "L" shape was not changing. We added a new island, switched cupboards for more drawers and reworked our existing pantry to fit a bigger, albeit counterdepth, refridgerator. It's by no means 100% finished, but we are getting there.

Here are some of the details.

Granite - Giallo Ornamental
Backsplash - (my least favorite part of the kitchen but that's another story) is Olympia - Cristalo Collection Light Beige with Creama Marfil
Sink: Blanco Silgranit in cafe brown (LOVE IT!!)
Faucet: Delta (Addison)
Island Lights: Origina Canada Lighting
Floors: Laurentian Hardwood, Legacy Series in Oak Coffee
Appliances: Fridge is Samsung Counterdepth. Slide-in range, dishwasher and microwave are Kenmore from Sears

When we bought this house 12 years ago I was so thrilled with my new golden oak kitchen. We loved it so much we ripped out the linoleum flooring and added more golden oak hardwood! The cabinets were in perfect shape which was another reason we chose to reface. It was hard to rip out perfectly good hardwood but I LOVE my new dark hardwood floors. The constant dusting & sweeping is worth it.

Here are a few shots of the BEFORE:

From Kitchen Reno

From Kitchen Reno

From Kitchen Reno

That backsplash did NOT come off easy...

From Kitchen Reno

During the reface:

From Kitchen Reno

From Kitchen Reno

And now the AFTER.

From Kitchen Reno

From Kitchen Reno

From Kitchen Reno

From Kitchen Reno

Very hard to get a good photo of the backsplash. I don't love it but it looks better in person than it does in photographs.

From Kitchen Reno

From Kitchen Reno

The drum lights over the island. I have a matching one for the kitchen table that will be put up whenever I get around to buying a kitchen table!

From Kitchen Reno

Now I'm on a quest to find the perfect bar stools, kitchen table and furniture for the adjacent family room. It never ends!


I really like the colors in this budget reface.
clipped on: 03.27.2012 at 08:26 pm    last updated on: 03.27.2012 at 08:27 pm

RE: Talked to contractor...need to scale back the plan (Follow-Up #11)

posted by: SummerfieldDesigns on 03.20.2012 at 06:53 am in Building a Home Forum

Lady Lavender ...

was thinking about your plan , and came up with this alternative ...

let me know your thoughts , please ...

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic


LR same size as ours

Mudroom/Laundry could be configured for our "office" room space.

clipped on: 03.23.2012 at 01:54 pm    last updated on: 03.23.2012 at 01:55 pm

RE: dark trims inspiration? (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: milz50 on 11.02.2011 at 10:09 pm in Building a Home Forum

Wow...allison, that is an awesome kitchen.

We couldn't we have light and dark trim throughout the house. Here are some pics...

From .House Pics

From .House Pics

From .House Pics

From .House Pics

From .House Pics

From .House Pics

From .House Pics

From .House Pics

From .House Pics

From .House Pics


clipped on: 03.20.2012 at 10:56 pm    last updated on: 03.20.2012 at 10:56 pm

Part Deux (Follow-Up #9)

posted by: mongoct on 06.26.2008 at 02:30 am in Bathrooms Forum

Part Deux:

Controls and Diverters
This may be almost impossible to thoroughly attack because there are so many variations in what people want and in what different manufacturers offer.

In general

You need a volume and temperature control. You can buy just the valve body, which is the chunk of expensive brass that gets buried in the wall, and buy a separate trim kit, or you can buy a package that includes the valve body and the trim kit. The trim kit is the bright sparkly metallic knob/lever/escutcheon bling that you overspend for so your friends and neighbors will go "oooooh" and "aaaaah".

If you buy a pressure balanced valve, the valve in and of itself will turn on the water and allow you to control the temperature. If you buy a thermostatic valve, most valve bodies have two controllers on them, one to control volume and one to control temperature. Read the fine print though, because some thermostatic bodies just control temperature. Youll need a separate valve body to provide volume control.

Stops. Some valves come with "stops" some do not. What are stops? Stops stop water flow at the valve itself so the valve can be taken apart without having to turn the water off to that branch circuit or to the whole house. They are normally incorporated onto the hot and cold water inlets on the valve body, and they can be opened or closed with a screw driver.

While Im on this, Ill also mention that some valves might mention having a "stop screw" to limit the maximum temperature. While a pressure balancing or a thermostatic valve will prevent you from being scalded if someone flushes a toilet, there is nothing to prevent someone from being scalded by setting the valve to allow 130 degree water to pass through it. Your first step is to lower the temperature on your water heater to about 120 degrees. For valves that have these stop screws, its then a simple matter of setting a screw that limits how far the temperature knob can be rotated. What you do is rotate the knob to set the water to the max temp that youd ever want out of the shower, then you turn the set screw until it bottoms out. It will now prevent the temperature knob from turning past (hotter than) its existing position.

Downstream of that volume/temp control is where things get dicey. You can have a simple setup where your V/T control just runs to a single shower head. Easy to do. You can have a standard tub setup with a shower head and a tub spigot, where the diverter can be a lever or push button that sends water either to the tub spigot below or to the shower head above. Also easy to do.

If you want to supply water to more than one shower head, to a shower head and body sprays, or to both, either simultaneously or one at a time, then youll need more chunks of expensive brass to bury in your wall.

If you want separate controls and the ability to have differing temperatures come out of differing fixtures, then its easiest to go with multiple V/T controllers. One V/T controller for the shower heads, for example, and a separate V/T controller for the body sprays. This allows you to run different volumes and different temperatures out of the different heads. Your shower head can be 105 degrees and your body sprays 110 degrees.

Remember, the more hot water that you want to come out of your shower, the larger your supply tubing and valve bodies need to be, and the larger your water heater has to be. For sizing purposes, most shower heads and body sprays have a gallon per minute rating applied to them. In theory and planning only, if your hand held shower head is, for example, rated at 3gpm, your rain shower head rated at 4gpm, and each of your 8 body spray heads is rated at 1gpm, and you want to run them all at the same timeyoure looking at a flow of 15gpm. You need a water heater that can supply you with 15gpm of hot water, then you need supply tubing that can get 15gpm of hot water from your water heater to your bathroom, and you need valve/diverter bodies that can pass the required amount of water through them so you get decent flow out of each fixture.

Typical plumbing is 1/2", typical valves are 1/2". For high volume situations, 3/4" tubing and 3/4" supply valves may be required. Out of the valves you can usually run 1/2" tubing to your shower heads and body spray heads.

Back to the hardware. If you want a shower head and body sprays, and want to run either or both off of one valve, then youll want a diverter valve.

Diverter valves can be anything and everything. They can be simple A/B valves, where you can run the water through the valve to only "A", your shower head, or only to "B", your body spray heads. But not both at the same time.

Which leads to the A/B/AB valve, where you can send water only to "A", your shower head, or only to "B", your body spray heads, or to "AB", simultaneously to both.

And from here things go wild. There are A/B/C/AB/AC/BC/ABC valves, and things just can go on and on from there.

Diverter valves are usually described as having a certain number of "ports". 3-port, 4-port, 5-port, etc. Realize that one port is where the water goes in to the valve, the other ports are where the water comes out. So an A/B/C valve that has three outlets might be listed as a "4-port valve", with the fourth port being the inlet.

Not all 4-port valves can do A/B/C/AB/AC/BC/ABC, youll need to look through the description to find out where it can send the water to. A 4-port valve might just be an A/B/C valve, or it might be a more versatile A/B/C/AB/AC/BC valve. Read its description.

If you cant get the customization you need from a single volume/temperature controller and a single diverter, you can run multiple diverters off of one V/T controller, or multiple diverters off of multiple V/T controllers. It all depends on how much brass you can afford, how much water you can supply, and if you have the space to hide all that brass in your walls.

Diverters can be knobs, levers, push buttons, the choice is yours. But do remember that you need to match up the valve body to the desired trim kit so that the bling that your neighbors can see will fit on the expensive chunk of brass that they cant see. You dont want your plumber to bury that expensive chunk of brass in your wall, then tile, then find out later that your bling wont fit. Very depressing.

Its all about reading the fine print.



clipped on: 03.17.2012 at 07:45 pm    last updated on: 03.17.2012 at 07:45 pm

RE: FAQ/Answers Bathroom Plumbing for dummies (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: mongoct on 06.25.2008 at 09:07 pm in Bathrooms Forum

Let me know if this is the sort of info you're looking for, if it's too basic, or not inclusive enough. It's a rough first draft and can be edited as required:

The sort of where, what, and why of pressure-balanced versus thermostatic:
Pressure-balanced or thermostatic temperature control valves are code-required in bathroom plumbing because they eliminate potential scalding and cold water shocks that can occur in a shower.

If you are using the shower and a toilet is flushed, as the toilet uses cold water to refill the tank, the pressure in the cold water line drops a bit below what it was when just the shower was running. If you had a non-balancing valve, youd still get the same amount of hot water that you originally were getting, but with the drop in pressure in the cold water line youd have less cold water coming out of your shower head, creating a potential for scalding. Vice-versa, if someone turns on a hot-water faucet elsewhere in the house, the hot water pressure drops and you get a shower of mostly cold water.

A pressure-balanced shower valve is designed to compensate for changes in water pressure. It has a mechanism inside that moves with a change in water pressure to immediately balance the pressure of the hot- and cold-water inputs. These valves keep water temperature within a couple degrees of the initial setting. They do it by reducing water flow through either the hot or cold supply as needed. Because pressure balanced valves control the temp by reducing the flow of water through the valve, if your plumbing supply is already struggling to keep up with the three shower heads and nine body sprays that you have running in your shower, if a pressure balancing valve kicks in and chokes down the water supply to keep you from getting scalded you could end up with insufficient water flow out of the heads in a multiple shower head setup. When it comes to volume control, in terms of being able to turn on the water a little or a lot, for the most part pressure-balanced valves are full-on when water is flowing or full-off when the valve is closed. Flow-wise, think of them as having no middle ground.

Where flow and volume control are important, as in a shower that requires a high volume of water, a thermostatic valve may be the better choice. They also control the temperature, but they do not reduce the amount of water flowing through the valve in doing so. Thermostatic valves are also common with 3/4" inlets and outlets, so they can pass more water through the valve than a 1/2" pressure balancing valve.

Which should you choose?
In a larger multi-outlet master shower, while a 1/2" thermostatic valve may suffice, a 3/4" thermostatic valve might be the better choice. But it does depend on the design of your shower and the volume of water that can be passed through your houses supply lines. In a secondary bathroom, or in a basic master where you have only one head, or the common shower head/tub spout diverter valve, a 1/2" pressure balancing valve would be fine.

If you want individual control and wanted multiple valves controlling multiple heads, then you could use multiple 1/2" valves instead of one 3/4" valve and all would be just fine.

What do the controls on the valve actually control?
While it may vary, a pressure balanced valve is normally an "all in one" valve with only one thing you can adjustthe temperature. The valve usually just has one rotating control (lever or knob) where you turn the water on, and by rotating it you set the water to a certain temperature. Each time you turn the valve on youll have to set it to the same spot to set it to your desired temperature. For the most part you really dont control the volume, just the temperature. With the valve spun a little bit, you'll get 100% flow but it will be all cold water. With the valve spun all the way, youll get 100% flow, but it will be all hot water. Somewhere int eh middle youll find that Goldilocks "just right" temperature, and itll be atyou guessed it100% flow. So with a pressure balancing valve, you control the temp, but when the valve is open, its open.

A thermostatic valve can be all inclusive in terms of control (volume and temp) or just be temperature controlling. If its just temperature controlling, you will need a separate control for volume or flow. Example, with an all inclusive youll have two "controllers" (knobs or levers) on the valve, one to set the temperature and a separate one to set the volume. In this case you can set the temp as you like it, then use the volume control lever to have just a trickle of Goldilocks water come out of the valve, or you can open it up and have full flow of Goldilocks water coming out of the valve. You can leave the temp where you like it when you turn the volume off after youre done showering. The next time you shower, turn the volume on, the temperature is already set. Some thermostatic valves are just temperature valves with no volume control. Youll need another valve/control to set the volume. Read the product description carefully to see what you're getting.

What size valve should I get?
Yes, valves actually come in different sizes. The size refers to the size of the inlet/outlet nipples on the valve. For a basic shower, a 1/2" valve will suffice. For a larger multi-head arrangement, a 3/4" valve would be better. Realize that youll need a water heater that can supply the volume of heated water you want coming out of the heads, so dont forget that when you build or remodel. Also realize that if youre remodeling and have 1/2" copper running to your shower, capping 1/2" copper supply tubing with a 3/4" valve provide you with much benefit as the 1/2" tubing is the limiting factor. You can, however, cap 3/4" supply tubing with a 1/2" valve or a 3/4" valve.

Is one better than another?
Thermostatic valves are "better" in that with them you can control both volume of flow and temperature, so you have more control, and they hold the temperature to a closer standard (+/- 1 degree). They also perform better if you are running multiple outlets in the shower, as they do not choke down the amount of water in order to control the temperature. But you pay for that added flow and added control. Pressure balancing valves can be had for about $100-$200, thermostatic valves can be twice that amount. And more.

Will I suffer with a pressure-balancing valve?
For what its worth, when I built my house over 10 years ago I put pressure-balancing valves in my own house. While I have two outlets in my shower (sliding bar mounted hand-held on the wall and an overhead 12" rain shower head on the ceiling), I have a two separate pressure-balancing valves, one valve for each head. With both heads going in the shower, I notice no loss of flow in the shower when the toilet is flushed and the sink faucet is turned on simultaneously. I also notice no change in temperature. So they work for me.

If you are remodeling, if you have your existing sink running and you flush the toilet and notice a drop in volume coming out of the sink, then a thermostatic valve might be the better choice even if you're not having a multi-head setup installed.

If, as part of the remodel, you plan on running new supply lines through your house to the new bath, then properly sized runs will take care of that flow restriction and you can probably do a pressure balancing valve instead of a thermostatic.

So in a house with tricky plumbing, or with a restricted water supply, or with multiple outlets running off of one supply valve, a thermostatic valve might be the safer choice.



clipped on: 03.17.2012 at 07:44 pm    last updated on: 03.17.2012 at 07:44 pm

Anyone used this website?

posted by: mjtx2 on 03.03.2012 at 11:19 am in Building a Home Forum

Has anyone ever bought anything from I'm intrigued. It looks like they make great products and my builder met the rep at a home show and was impressed with what he saw. So I'm just curious - does anyone has any information on their quality? Or anything else to add about them?


bathroom/kitchen sinks
clipped on: 03.03.2012 at 12:13 pm    last updated on: 03.03.2012 at 12:14 pm

RE: Can you please critique my lower floor plan (Follow-Up #25)

posted by: aa62579 on 02.17.2012 at 04:29 pm in Building a Home Forum

Type in what is red. The black is the direct link you paste in from where you uploaded the picture.


clipped on: 02.17.2012 at 08:35 pm    last updated on: 02.17.2012 at 08:35 pm

RE: Squeaky stairs (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: handymac on 10.25.2011 at 02:17 am in Remodeling Forum

How did you install the treads? Directly onto the stringers? Nails or screws?

Using shims is pretty much a guarantee for squeaks on stairs when the treads are set directly on the stringers. Because the weight of a person is increased on stairs as weight is on less area per square inch and the treads have only three mounting points which allows more movement.

Installing finished treads on foundation treads(2by material or even plywood) is much better. Install those with screws through the material into the stringers with the proper wood screws.

Using roofing felt or rosin paper under the finished treads prevents squeaks.

To install the finished treads, use the proper wood screws to screw up through the foundation material into the bottom of the treads. Or install the screws from the top and use plugs to cover the countersunk screw holes.


clipped on: 02.16.2012 at 10:34 pm    last updated on: 02.16.2012 at 10:34 pm

RE: Bathtub questions (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: positano on 02.12.2012 at 07:25 am in Bathrooms Forum

Yes, You could get the Kohler Villager Cast Iron for $320 at Lowes or we just installed the Kohler Mendota Cast Iron for $720.It is a little larger than the villager. But if you are just using it once and a while for your girls the villager is fine.

We reglazed our old tub once in our city apartment and totally regretted it. It started peeling and looked terrible. Had to have it redone before we sold.
Should have just replaced it for the money we spent.


2 cast iron tubs
clipped on: 02.12.2012 at 06:19 pm    last updated on: 02.12.2012 at 06:19 pm

RE: Pre-drawn Floor Plan (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: bevangel on 02.10.2012 at 10:04 pm in Building a Home Forum

Overall, I like it. The front elevation is a bit busy for my tastes with all those gables but they're well placed and nicely balanced in size. I'd skip the decorative shutters on the double-ganged and triple-ganged windows. IMHO shutters should LOOK like they're functional and there is no possible way those shutters could shut over those windows.

On the whole, the layout looks pretty livable tho there are a few things you might want to consider altering.

First, noise from 2 story great room and upstairs study will bleed over. Depending on how you plan to use the study area, that may or may not bother you. You should also read up on issues involved with maintaining a comfortable temperature both upstairs and down where there is an overlook into a two story room. And, since you mention a new baby, you might also want to consider the safety factor involved in having a couple of balconies overlooking the great room and foyer when your infant starts walking (and climbing!) You might decide that it would be better to extend the "sloping ceiling" that is on the far right hand side of the great room clear across and then use the area above it (and next to the study) for extra storage.

Second, I personally don't like having to walk through a laundry room to get from the garage into the house. With kids, somehow the laundry never all seems to get done. (I'm sure you're finding this out!) So, consider if you and some friends are planning to go out shopping together. Everyone meets at your house with the intention of all riding together in your car. Your babysitter arrives and your friends put down their coffee cups, gather up their purses and you all head for your garage...and THEN you remember that big pile of dirty laundry on the floor of your laundry room that is waiting to go into the washing machine! It's one thing to escort a friend thru your mudroom with scattered shoes and jackets. Another thing altogether to expect them to step around and over piles of dirty laundry. With a house this size and this nice, I'd expect a separate "destination" laundry room.

If you made the garage a couple of feet longer by pushing the back wall back, you could then also push the back wall of the laundry room back a couple of feet. Then, if you gave up that walk-in pantry, you would have room enough for a separate laundry room in the back half of the current laundry room space and a mud room with cubbies in the front half. Like this:

This would also allow you to make bedroom 3 a couple of feet longer so that it it a bit closer in size to bedroom #2. If/when you have two kids, you don't one child to be jealous of his/her sibling's much larger room.

You may not want to give up the walk-in pantry but, as big as the kitchen is and with as much storage space as it has, you may not really need a walk-in pantry anyway. Especially since you have a storage space under the stairs where you can stash some items that might otherwise go into a walk-in pantry.

I'm a bit concerned that that island is smack dab in the middle of the kitchen "work triangle" so you might find you spend a lot of time walking around it to get to things you need. You might want to run the kitchen past the folks on the kitchen forum. They're whizzes at making kitchens truly functional!

Is that an elevator next to bedrooms 2 and 4? I can't quite read what the plan says. And, if it is an elevator, I'd have expected them to list that as a key feature on the plan specs page and they don't. So while it looks like an elevator, I'm not sure that it is. If it is an elevator, you're going to love that feature!!! When your little one gets old enough to push the elevator buttons (or has friends coming over to play that might do so), you might want to replace the door knobs on the outer elevator doors with locking knobs that need a key to be opened from the outside.

My 4 year old nephew came to visit at Christmas, got into the elevator by himself and opened the inner door (gate) while the car was between floors. Of course the car stopped immediately (as it is supposed to do) and there isn't enough room between the door and the wall for even a child to fall out. But he panicked and started shrieking and couldn't hear us telling him to close the gate so the elevator would start back up again. Had to go in and rescue him - which fortunately is pretty easy to do with a home elevator. But I'm not sure my SIL has quite forgive me yet for the trauma her baby endured. If your child grows up with the elevator, he/she probably won't play with it that much - but his/her friends probably will want to. So...

Other than those few things, I really like the plan. You picked a nice one. Go build it!


excellent change for this floorplan
clipped on: 02.11.2012 at 12:23 pm    last updated on: 02.11.2012 at 12:23 pm

Pre-drawn Floor Plan

posted by: KayMay1 on 02.10.2012 at 03:56 pm in Building a Home Forum

We've got the land squared away and want to do the build this year. After much deliberation and debate, we've settled on the following pre-drawn houseplan. Now, I've had some reservations about using a pre-drawn plan but the cost is cheaper and I liked the floor plan. Right now we're a family of three (a new baby just arrived) and are looking to add at least one, and probably two, more children in the coming years.

Are there any major negatives we should be wary of when using a pre-drawn plan? And specifically, what tweaks or improvements could be made on this plan we have picked out (tentatively)?

What we were looking for in a home plan:

Traditional / Craftsman / Country Styling
3000 Square Feet
Room for visiting grandparents with private bathroom attached
Bonus room
Laundry room off the garage that could be used for mud room
Functional front porch

Thank you all so much.

Front Render

Rear View

Rear Render

Rear View

Main Floor

Main Floor

Upper Floor

Upper Floor

Here is a link that might be useful: Link to the House Plan


This is a nice plan.
Bevangel's suggestions were really good.
clipped on: 02.11.2012 at 12:22 pm    last updated on: 02.11.2012 at 12:22 pm

RE: master bath/closet for LESS than 50K??? (Follow-Up #20)

posted by: jkom51 on 01.22.2012 at 04:11 pm in Bathrooms Forum

I'm not sure why you aren't considering the Toto Aquia II dual flush toilet. It's under $300 on-line and is TERRIFIC, plus it has the skirted bottom which is totally the way to go - all toilets should be like this! (And if women were the designers, they would be LOL)

We put in an Ultramax in 2003 and loved it, but the Aquia literally (pun intended) blows it out of the water. The seat's another $60, though! Pay attention to the install instructions with the clearances and line requirements; they're different than the standard install.

Don't skimp on the toilet or the tub. Like your kitchen sink, they take a lot of abuse, and penny-pinching on them usually ends up biting you in the a$$.

You can save lots of money on sinks, cabinets, lights, accessories (towel racks, TP holders, etc.) and flooring if you shop carefully and rigorously. Always remember that hired labor is your biggest component: my sheet vinyl flooring was less than $200 for the highest quality level, but the labor to install it was $500.

Check granite stores for remnants if you want a touch of stone bling for your countertop.

Use Moen or Delta or American Standard in the mid-price lines and you'll hit the 'sweet spot' for reliability, cost and performance.

I have a $30 Waterpik showerhead in our main-floor bathroom that is superior to the $300 Hansgrohe showerspray in our master suite in every way. The Hansgrohe is a huge disappointment; it is simply not worth the extra money for the name. The Hansgrohe is connected to a Delta showerfaucet, the latter of which works very well and saved us another $300 for a Hansgrohe faucet.

I mean really, can anybody look at a showerfaucet handle and tell who made it? Of course not. So skip the very cheap and the very expensive, and stay in the middle for your plumbing fixtures.

Don't forget stores like Target or even dollar stores for accessory stuff. And hardware stores like Ace and OSH often have great sales on homeware in January and February.

If you use acrylic or fiberglass for a showerpan, MAKE SURE the bottom is properly supported. A lot of people skimp on this and it's the worst thing you can do. These two materials can't take any flexing so it has to be solidly set. Make sure you pay attention to mfg's instructions for approved cleaning products. Using the wrong cleaner can strip the top gloss layer off and you'll never get the material to look clean again for long.

Easy to replace:
- bath cabinets
- sinks
- faucets (like to like only)
- countertops
- lights
- showerheads
- exhaust fans

More costly/time-consuming to replace:
- anything that needs a plumbing or electrical change
- Tubs
- Shower stalls and pans, depending on material
- flooring


clipped on: 01.22.2012 at 06:32 pm    last updated on: 01.22.2012 at 06:33 pm

RE: Gel stain vs. Polyshades (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: celticmoon on 01.23.2010 at 04:16 pm in Kitchens Forum

Ditto. No comparison between the two. The Polyshades was sticky and dried tacky with a harsh gloss like this

The GF gel has a much nicer look, feel and finish.
And is way easier to work with. I would drive 100 miles to use GF gel over Polyshades.

Your kitchen situation sounds a lot like mine was.
1998 side wall

last wall
I have posted a way long 'how to' a bunch of times here. Search engine isn't pulling it up, so with apologies for the repetition here's more than you need to know:

It is a very doable project. You just need time, $50 in supplies, and patience. No skill.

My cabinets were frameless, good condition and good layout. But the finish had gone orange and ugly, with the oak graining too busy for me. Cabinet were 18 years old, very poorly finished oak veneered slab doors. Plain with no crevices. They didn't even take the doors off to finish them!!! No stain or finish was even put on the hinge side edges. Bad workmanship.

I looked into changing out cabinets, but that was way too much money, since my layout was OK. Painting didn't seem right because the doors were plain slabs. I considered new doors but that still meant a lot of money. For a few years I tried to figure a way to add molding toward a mission look, but the rounded door edges made that impossible. Then trolling in a kitchen emporium showroom this last year I noticed dark wood slab doors, kind of like mine, but darker. That was the answer.

First I tried Minwax Polyshades. Dicey product. Hard to brush on neatly, then gummy, then seemed to leave a sticky tacky residue. I did a thread on the Woodworking Forum "Evil Polyshades to the Rescue" which elicited a lot of conflicting "expert" opinions and arguments that one must strip to bare wood. (Thread may still be around as that Forum moves slowly.) Long ago when I was young and stupid I properly stripped acres of woodwork in an old Victorian. Never again! Jennifer-in-Clyde (in the same boat) and I stumbled around on that woodworking thread to get to this method.

-electric screwdriver or screw drill bits
-mineral spirits to clean the years of gunk off the cabinet
-miracle cloths (optional)
-fine sandpaper
-box-o-disposable gloves from Walgreens or the like
-old socks or rags for wiping on coats
-disposable small plastic bowls or plates, and plastic spoons or forks for stirring/dipping (optional)
-General Finishes water base Espresso stain (pretty thick, but not quite a gel) NOTE: This one may not even be a needed step if the Java gets it dark enough.
-General Finishes Java gel stain (poly based)
-General Finishes clear top coat (poly based)
-old sheets or plastic sheeting or newspaper

Rockler woodworking stores are a good place to find the General Finish products. Or some larger hardware stores. Quart of each was more than enough for my 60 doors and drawer fronts and goes for $12-14 at Rockler. There are smaller sizes if your project is small.

You will need a place to work and leave wet doors to dry overnight - I set up 2 spaces: garage for sanding/cleaning and basement for staining/sealing. Use newspaper or plastic to protect the surface and floor. Figure out how you will prop doors to dry. Plan blocks of 20-30-minutes for sanding/cleaning bundles of, say, 6 doors at a time. Then just 10-minute sessions to wipe on coats. The coats will need to dry for about 24 hours, so figure that each section of the kitchen will be doorless for 4 or 5 days. Divide the job up into manageable chunks.

Take off doors and drawer fronts. Try using screw drill bits on an electric drill if you don't have an electric screwdriver. Remove all the hardware. *Mark alike things so you know what goes back where.* Clean the doors thoroughly. Not with TSP but with something pretty strong and scrub well. There's years of grease there.
Sand LIGHTLY, just a scuffing really. Just enough to break the finish and give it some tooth, no more than a minute a door. A miracle cloth is good for getting most of the dust off. Then wipe well with mineral spirits to clean and get the last of the gunk off.

In order, we're gonna put on:
-General Finishes Espresso water based stain (1 coat) - optional
-General Finishes Java gel stain (couple coats)
-General Finishes Clear urethane gel topcoat in satin (couple coats)

But first put on work clothes, tie up your hair and pop your phone into a baggie nearby (you know it will ring). Glove up.
***First do a trial on the back of a door and check if Java coats alone suffice. If the Java alone is to your liking, just skip the Espresso and return it.

Open and stir up the Espresso stain, then spoon some into a plastic bowl. Close the tin so it doesn't get contaminated. Slide a sock over your hand, grab a gob of Espresso and smear it on. Wipe off the excess. Let it dry well - overnight is good. It will lighten as it dries, but then darken again with any other coat or sealer. A second coat might result in a deeper tone at the end - though it seemed like the second coat was just dissolving the first. YMMV.

Repeat with Java gel. This is thicker and poly based (*not water cleanup!*= messier). Color is a rich dark reddish brown. Wait for the second coat to judge if the color is deep enough for you. I wanted a very deep dark color, like melted dark chocolate. So I went pretty heavy on these layers. I did not sand between coats.
Repeat with clear gel topcoat. This will give you the strength you need in a kitchen.

Do the same process with the cabinet sides, face and toe kick area. Might need to divide that up also, and stagger the work: doors/cabinets/doors/etc.

NOTE: The cloth or socks used for the gels are very flammable! Collect and store them in a bucket of water as you go and then dispose of them all properly.

I suggest you put the doors back up after one clear coat, then you can check everything over and darken an area with more Java if needed, followed by a clear coat. When it all looks right, go over it all again with another clear gel coat. Or two. (See my follow up notes below). Install your hardware.
The feel of the finish should be wonderful, really smooth and satiny. Color deep and rich - way nicer than that faded, beat 80's oak color.

Definitely experiment first with the back of a door or drawer front to be sure it is the look you want. Yes, this takes a couple days to coat, dry, recoat, dry, etc but you may discover that the Java alone does the trick and this will save you a LOT of work. Front-end patience is worth it.

This is a pretty easy project to do. Hard to screw it up. The worst is the prep - relative to that, smearing on the coats is cake. I had over 60 pieces (big kitchen) AND island sides and book shelves, etc and I admit I lost steam partway through. Had to push myself through the last of it. But it was worth it. Folks think I got all new cabinets - it looks that good.

Now the finish will not be as durable as factory finish - go at it with a Brillo pad and you WILL abrade it. But it has held up pretty well. And after a year of pretty heavy use, I had just a few nicks, easily repaired.
(6/08 Add: I'm now (18 months later) seeing some wear near the pulls on the most used cabinets. Will add color with Java if it bugs me.)
(9/09 Add: Never did bother to touch up those couple spots. Bugging me a bit more, and I will get to it soon. It is the drinking glass cabinet and the snack cabinet, LOL. And the garbage pull-out. The rest still looks perfect. Lesson: Use an extra coat or 2 of gel on the way frequently used cabinets.)
(12/09 Add: I did finally touch up the spots that were worn. Used just Java to get the color right, then a bunch of top coats. Looks perfect again.)

I added smashing hardware, raised my pass-through, resurfaced the Corian (also simple but messy and tedious) and replaced the DW and sink. It looks gorgeous to me and I really enjoy the space - how it sits all quiet, clean and serene, then gets all crazy with the food and folks du jour. I couldn't be happier, especially that I didn't have to work another year just to pay for the update!!

Link to cabinets in progress: cosmetic update project/kitchen during/

Link to almost finished cabinet pix: cosmetic update project/finished bit by bit/?start=20

Good luck with your project!! And let me know if you try it and how it turns out.

Here is a link that might be useful: more before during and after pix


clipped on: 01.22.2012 at 01:26 am    last updated on: 01.22.2012 at 01:26 am

What was your best bathroom remodeling decision?

posted by: ashlander on 02.19.2007 at 12:40 am in Bathrooms Forum

We're having a difficult time making decisions for our bathroom remodel: choice of shower stall, toilet, flooring, counter, and perhaps even a fireplace. This will be the first and only remodel for our bathroom, so we hate to mess up.
Would appreciate any words of wisdom or advice.
What do you regret? What would you change? What was your best decision concerning the bathroom?


best bathroom decisions
clipped on: 01.15.2012 at 11:38 am    last updated on: 01.22.2012 at 12:22 am

RE: Selling Weedy Acres...staging the Jack & Jill suite (Follow-Up #12)

posted by: live_wire_oak on 01.18.2012 at 06:48 pm in Home Decorating Forum

Decluttering and depersonalizing are only one part of staging. The root of the word is based in the theater. Creating a stage set. A fictitious imaginary space. One that a buyer feels as though is a blank slate, but is NOT a blank slate. You're selling a "lifestyle" here, not a house. People want to imagine the life they could have in the house, and that takes skill to create impressions without making the space too personal. You use subtle visual cues to create a larger feeling space out of a smaller one, a cozier space out of a huge one, and a lived in space out of an unoccupied room.

My 10 "must haves" for staging any room are sparkling cleanliness, neutral paint, window treatments, artwork, lamps, books, pillows, throws, candles, and greenery. Exterior "do haves" are a clear house number that is easy to find and well lit along with a well maintained yard and some seasonal color in a pot or bed by the mailbox/drive area. Being winter, that means cabbage and pansies for most of the country or even a plain small evergreen if it's too far north for even pansies.

The 10 "don't haves" are personal pictures, religious pictures, pet furniture, bright colors, more than 3 large accessories, large TVs that are not wall mounted, beanbags or other "dorm" looking furniture, rugs on top of hardwoods, crammed closets and cupboards, and broken home items that convey.

I see way too many homes "staged" for sale that skip artwork on the wall and that's a big mistake. Artwork is a super cheap way of making a space feel "homey" and pulled together. You don't want a gallery wall, but every room should have at least one piece of artwork of some kind in it. It adds life and color without too much personality. One large piece is much better than several small. A room feels unfinished without window treatments and something on the walls. It can be as simple as the "recycled" paintings that Holly suggested, or it can be simple fabric panels stapled over stretcher bars. If you use the right hardware to hang it, you will never even punch a detectable hole in the wall. The Command adhesive hangers are perfect for this application.

Add in the larger lamps as suggested and place a couple of books at the bedside. Put a throw across the bottom of both the beds. Layers equate to a luxurious feeling. You also want a plant or flowers in both bedrooms. A small cachepot of African violets or a sanseveria or other hardy plant can work. Good quality artificial can work, but it should not be obviously fake.


clipped on: 01.21.2012 at 02:30 pm    last updated on: 01.21.2012 at 02:30 pm

RE: finishing an addition: layout help? (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: marti8a on 01.06.2012 at 12:35 pm in Smaller Homes Forum

You've got some good ideas, and I think everyone had the same idea to flip that upstairs bathroom to the other side of the wall to gain space in the oddly shaped bedroom.

Here's another idea moving as few walls and plumbing as possible. It's great that you have so many possibilites. I should have asked where the sloping walls were going to be raised upstairs. I like your upstairs bathroom better, but didn't want to duplicate it. Also, I wanted to make the master sinks wrap the wall, but the software wouldn't put anything in the corner.

I didn't add a half bath downstairs. If that bedroom is just guest room, one bath should be ok. You could even put a door into the bath from that bedroom so your guests didn't have to come out into the hall.




Handy to see one person's idea of how my furniture could be laid out (downstairs).
clipped on: 01.18.2012 at 04:29 pm    last updated on: 01.18.2012 at 04:30 pm

finishing an addition: layout help?

posted by: kirkhall on 01.04.2012 at 11:48 pm in Smaller Homes Forum

Hi Small Homes folk!
I have been fairly active on the Home Forums of GW for a few months. I love layouts and floorplans. That said, I don't have a good resolution for my layout/floorplan.
In Sept, I posted in the Build forum and got some good feedback from Summerfield Designs and Bevangel. I'm going to post here now, because I think some of my restrictions are better suited to this forum. I am remodeling, not building new. My house is smaller (4 people and dog in less than 2000 sq ft, no basement, etc).
So, goals with this upstairs renovation of our Cape Cod style home in the PNW (where you don't see a ton of capes):
1) Get the girls their own rooms (right now, they are sharing the tiny bedroom labeled "office". Luckily, one is a toddler, in a toddler bed, so she currently fits under the eaves which are drawn as dashed lines running E-W.
2) Get a Master Suite (eventually). This might be a 2-phase thing. But, my contractor says adding a bath to the master later wouldn't be difficult to do and for $ now, we can just frame and finish the addition as our master.
3) We are gaining more than our addition of 300sq ft on this second floor (couple years ago we did a 2 story addition out the back of our cape, but only finished the first floor. Right now, we have the shelled upstairs addition of 300sq ft, plus the additional area we will gain that used to be under the eaves (about 6ft by 18ft).

Here is what upstairs looks like now:

From GWfloorplans

Here is a proposal:

From GWfloorplans

My questions:
How would you finish out, ultimately, that master space? Would you keep the hard line wall of the 15x20 addition as the space boundry (with a 1' wall of storage in the hall bath), or would you jog the wall, as drawn and put in a 2' wall of hall bath storage?

And, how would you do the closet/bath? I am struggling a bit with that. We can have windows on the S and W walls, but not the E wall except right at the very end of it (like I've drawn) due to a cantilever in that wall.

Inspiration comes heavily from Summerfield and Bevangel's suggestions as seen in this post:


clipped on: 01.14.2012 at 01:25 am    last updated on: 01.14.2012 at 01:25 am

Gel stain instructions (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: celticmoon on 06.21.2008 at 01:59 pm in Kitchens Forum

Csquared, I got an email I think was from you, but it said I couldn't answer because your email is private. Ditto when I tried to email through your name here.

With apologies for the length of this, I'm just gonna paste the whole bit here for you.

You are welcome to this writeup I did a while back. A couple people tried
it and reported all went well. You just need time, maybe $50 in supplies, and
patience. No skill.

Here's more than you need to know:

My cabinets are frameless, good condition and good layout. But the finish
had gone orange and ugly, with the oak graining too busy for me. Cabinets
are 18 years old, very poorly finished oak veneered slab doors. Plain with
no crevices. They didn't even take the doors off to finish them!!! No stain
or finish on the hinge side edges.
Cheezey, huh?

I looked into changing out cabinets, but that was way too much money, since
my layout was OK. Painting didn't seem right because the doors were plain
slabs. I considered new doors but that still meant a lot of money. For a few
years I tried to figure a way to add molding toward a mission look, but the
rounded door edges made that impossible. Then trolling in a kitchen
emporium showroom this last year I noticed dark wood slab doors, kind like
mine, but darker. That was the answer.

First I tried Minwax Polyshades. Dicey product. Hard to brush on neatly,
then gummy, then seemed to leave a sticky tacky residue. I did a thread on
the Woodworking Furum "Evil Polyshades to the Rescue" which elicited a lot
of conflicting "expert" opinions and arguments that one must strip to bare
(Thread may still be around as that Forum moves slow.) I properly stripped
acres of woodwork in an old Victorian when I was young and stupid. Never
again! Jennifer-in-clyde (in the same boat) and I stumbled around on
woodworking thread to get to this method.

-electric screwdriver or screw drill bits
-mineral spirits to clean the years of gunk off the cabinet
-miracle cloths (optional)
-fine sandpaper
-box-o-disposable gloves from walgreens or the like
-old socks or rags for wiping on coats
-disposable small plastic bowls or plates, and plastic spoons or forks for
stirring/dipping (optional)
-General Finishes water base Expresso stain (pretty thick, but not quite a
gel) This one may not even be a needed step if the Java gets it dark
-General Finishes Java gel stain (poly based)
-General Finishes clear top coat (poly based)
-old sheets or plastic sheeting or newspaper

Rockler woodworking stores are a good place to find the General Finish
products. Or some larger hardware stores. Quart of each was more than
enough for my 60 doors and drawer fronts and goes for $12-14 at Rockler.
There are smaller sizes if your project is small.

You will need a place to work and leave wet doors to dry overnight - I set
up 2 spaces, garagefor sanding/cleaning and basement for staining/sealing.
Use newpaper or plastic to protect the surface and floor. Figure out how you
will prop doors to dry.
Plan blocks of 20-30-minutes for sanding/cleaning bundles of, say, 6
doors at a time. Then just 10 minute sessions to wipe on coats. The coats
will need to dry for about 24 hours, so figure that each section of the
kitchen will be doorless for 4 or 5 days. Divide the job up into manageable

Take off doors and drawer fronts. Use screw drill bits on an electric drill
if you don't have an electric srewdriver. Remove all the hardware. *Mark
alike things so you know what goes back where.*
Clean the doors thoroughly. Not with TSP but with something pretty strong
and scrub well. There's years of grease there.
Sand LIGHTLY, just a scuffing really. Just enough to break the finish and
give it some tooth, no more than a minute a door. A miracle cloth is good
for getting most of the dust off. Then wipe well with mineral spirits to
clean and get the last of the gunk off.

In order, we're gonna put on:
-General Finishes Expresso water based stain (1-2 coats) - optional
-General Finishes Java gel stain (couple coats)
-General Finishes Clear urethene gel topcoat in satin (couple coats)

But first put on work clothes, tie up your hair (Tom, you may skip this
step, LOL) and pop your phone into a baggie nearby (you know it will ring).
Glove up.
*First do a trial on the back of a door and check if Java coats alone
If the Java alone is to your liking, just skip the Expresso and return it.*
Open and stir up the Expresso stain, then spoon some into a plastic bowl.
Close the tin so it doesn't get contaminated. Slide a sock over your hand,
grab a gob of Expresso and smear it on. Wipe off the excess. Let it dry well
- overnight is good. It will lighten as it dries, but then darken again with
any other
coat or sealer. A second coat can end up with a deeper tone at the end -
though it might seem like the second coat is just dissolving the first.

Repeat with Java gel. This is thicker and poly based (*not water cleanup!*=
messier). Color is a rich dark reddish brown. Wait for the second coat to
judge if the color is deep enough for you. I wanted a very deep dark color,
like melted dark chocolate. So I went pretty heavy on these layers. *I did
not sand between coats*.

Repeat with clear gel top coat. This will give you the strength you need in
a kitchen.

Do the same process with the cabinet sides, face and toekick area. Might
need to divide that up also, and stagger the work: doors/cabinets/doors/

NOTE: The cloth or socks used for the gels are very flammable! Collect and
store them in a bucket of water as you go and then dispose of them all

I suggest you put the doors back up after one clear coat, then you can check
everything over and darken an area with more Java if needed, followed by a
clear coat. When it all looks right, go over it all again with another clear
gel coat. Or two. Install your hardware.
The feel of the finish should be wonderful, really smooth and satiny. Color
deep and rich - way nicer than that faded, beat 80's oak color.

Definitely experiment first with the back of a door or drawer front to be
sure it is the look you want. Yes, this takes a couple days to coat, dry,
recoat, dry, etc but you may discover that the Java alone does the trick and
this will save you A LOT of work. Front end patience is worth it.

This is a pretty easy project to do. Hard to screw it up. The worst is the
prep - relative to that, smearing on the coats is cake. I had over 60
pieces (big kitchen) AND island sides and book shelves, etc and I admit I
lost steam partway through. Had to push myself through the last of it. But
it was worth it. Folks think I got all new cabinets - it looks that good.
Now the finish will not be as durable as factory finish - go at it with a
Brillo pad and you WILL abrade it. But it has held up pretty well. And
after a year of pretty heavy use, I've just had a few nicks, easily

I added smashing hardware, raised my passthrough, resurfaced the Corian
(also simple but messy and tedious) and replaced the DW and sink. It looks
gorgeous to me and I really enjoy the space - how it sits all quiet, clean
and serene, then gets all crazy with the food and folks du jour. I couldn't
be happier, especially that I didn't have to work another year just to pay
for the update!!

Link to cabinets in progress: cosmetic update project/kitchen during/

Link to almost finished cabinet pix: cosmetic update project/finished bit by bit/?start=20

Good luck with your project!! Feel free to ask me any questions as you go.
And let me know if you try it and how it turns out.


clipped on: 01.13.2012 at 11:57 pm    last updated on: 01.13.2012 at 11:57 pm

General Finishes Gel Stain Info... (Follow-Up #11)

posted by: tntw on 01.21.2010 at 01:26 pm in Kitchens Forum

Brand General Finishes Product Gel Stain top coat is Gel Top Coat. All are in blue containers. You can locate a store that sells it here.

Here's instructions [thanks to celticmoon]

You can clip it and save in case it ever gets lost in space. On the top of a mesage is a little section that says 'clippings' and you can clip the post. Or just print it out!



gel staining the kitchen cabinets? post has pictures and also link to how to.

"go light"

clipped on: 01.13.2012 at 11:52 pm    last updated on: 01.13.2012 at 11:52 pm