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RE: Lee Industries Sofa--Better deal using this Forum info (Follow-Up #22)

posted by: soxfan6 on 03.28.2008 at 05:13 pm in Furniture Forum

I could never find a website for Alan Ferguson. Their phone number is 336-889-3866. I ordered a sofa and loveseat from them in February and they will be delivered to me next week. I looked on the Lee Industries website to find the style i liked, and then ordered swatches of fabric from them to decide on fabric. They arrived quickly. I also visited a local retailer to sit on some Lee pieces so that I could confirm what i had heard here-- that Lee is comfortable! Once i had made my choices i called Alan Ferguson and ordered. A very simple process! As for whether they have sunbrella or microfiber, i am sure the people at AF would be happy to help you with that. Good Luck!


clipped on: 04.08.2012 at 12:10 am    last updated on: 04.08.2012 at 12:10 am

RE: details needed on how to attach baseboard moulding to toekick (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: Angie_DIY on 03.08.2012 at 12:00 pm in Kitchens Forum

How wide and deep is your toekick area that you are trying to fill?

IMHO, simpler is better. Rather than cut blocks to space every foot or so, why not just use a solid piece of lumber across the whole thing? Say your cavity is 4" high by 3" deep, and your baseboards are 3/4" thick. You could take a 4x4 (which is 3.5x3.5) and rip it to 3" (cavity depth) - 3/4" (baseboard thickness) = 2.25" thick. (If ripping a 4x4 is not possible with your tools, you could screw a 1x4 to a 2x4 for the same effect.) It does not matter that this is not the same height as the toekick cavity. Then you will have the problem of attaching this fairly thick board to a flimsy toekick, without backside access. I would predrill and countersink holes in it for construction screws in it, and screw it to the toekick. Now you have a sturdy substrate to nail your baseboard to. After attaching the 3/4 baseboard, it will be flush with the cabs.

The hefty piece of lumber seems like overkill, and, frankly, it is, but it is easier than cutting and fitting individual blocks.


clipped on: 03.13.2012 at 07:24 pm    last updated on: 03.13.2012 at 07:24 pm

RE: details needed on how to attach baseboard moulding to toekick (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: Lake_Girl on 03.08.2012 at 11:26 pm in Kitchens Forum

If you want the look that is in the picture, except without the cutout, my dh said to use a 1x4 cut to the depth of the toekick about every 16inches, then attach the baseboard to that. In our case, he attached the 1x4 piece (not actually a block), cut to the depth of our toekick, to the cabinet. That gave him something to attach the baseboard to. Here's a picture taken next to the dishwasher, looking back at a piece of wood he attached. (Pardon the dusty picture! I better get back down there and see if that dust is still there :) I hope it gives you an idea.


clipped on: 03.13.2012 at 07:24 pm    last updated on: 03.13.2012 at 07:24 pm

RE: Life with soapstone--patina pictures galore (Follow-Up #64)

posted by: zanne_lh on 08.07.2008 at 09:06 pm in Kitchens Forum

you are not the ONLY one with soapstone issues!!! I got mine from vermont soapstone about 5 years ago. After installation, the original sawtooth marks were still there, and the installation guys (later fired, not because of me) didn't even sand it down properly. I think it was "finished" with a belt sander at 80 grit. I oiled it, and the oil sat in the grooves. My counters shredded the paper towels I tried to wipe the oil off with. I couldn't get enough oil off because of the pronounced surface grooves; airborne dog hair would stick to it, and there were water rings and other faded marks galore. I stopped oiling. I was so fed up I made them come back. They used an orbital, but still only to 80 grit (that's their policy & I didn't know it made a difference). I didn't oil after that sanding. The original saw tooth marks were less pronounced, but still there. In its gray state, I got water rings (dark), and oil/grease marks. The water rings would wipe off with some cleaner, but the oil spots did not fade without elbow grease and some comet (I thought this thing "didn't stain"?). On weekends, we scrubbed all the counters down with ajax so it looked like "patina", instead of "dirty" dark rings. I could not clean my 4 inch backsplash or counter edges properly because they were so still pretty rough (80 on a belt sander). I call them again because a seam on my island separated (!!!-not enough adhesive was used) and my soapstone sink had MOVED (right vs. left side was about 3/4 inch off if you looked at the apron overhang). They came to yesterday. The new seam looks ok. The sink was pushed back, but my faucet deck is still tilted down (not level) & they have to send someone else next time. I asked them to sand out the sawtooth marks. But again, they only used 80 grit. I think they would have to use 30 grit to get them out, so they didn't. It looked smooth when they left because of all the dust. When they left, I manually sanded with 150 and 220 (it took me 4 hours + an hour cleanup) to smooth it out a bit more, but the surface is still not that smooth (I am comparing it to a machine finished one that they sent me a month after the initial project for a bookshelf in the kitchen) because of the tiny pitted grooves. The edges were sanded, but unevenly, so they look shoddy. The backsplash is smoother, but they couldn't get into the corners. I am undecided about oiling - which would be worse: dark oil spots everywhere, or faded spots from water & feet marks?
Sorry I am ranting, but I HATE my soapstone and wish I could rip it out. I think the smoothness is the culprit, because the piece on my bookshelf is WAY easier to maintain.
Incidentally, I think this stone was Mount Holly. I tested the samples, but it was NOT like this!
I was wondering why most of you rave about your ss, but it sounds like a different animal than mine and francy's.
Is there any way we can fix this????


clipped on: 03.11.2012 at 08:21 pm    last updated on: 03.11.2012 at 08:22 pm

RE: Celticmoon? (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: msrose on 01.27.2008 at 03:03 pm in Kitchens Forum

Duh - I remembered someone giving me the directions for gelstain before, but I didn't remember it being Celticmoon. I just checked my documents and found the directions. I just want to make sure I understand completely. You didn't remove the previous finish, just roughed it up a little bit? I mentioned using gelstain on the decorating forum awhile back and someone said that it just coats the woods and doesn't soak in like a regular stain, which means it will scratch off easily. Does the clear urethane keep that from happening? Do you see any cons to using the gel stain over a regular stain?


Background Story:
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 hadn't even take the doors off to finish them!!! No stain or finish was even on the hinge side edges, just dirty ol naked wood. Cheesy, huh?
I looked into changing out cabinets, but that was way too much money, since my layout was OK. And I am cheap, er, frugal. 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 site "Evil Polyshades to the Rescue" which elicited a lot of conflicting "expert" opinions and arguments that one must strip. I stripped the whole first floor of a Victorian once. No thanks. Jennifer-in-clyde (in the same boat)and I stumbled around to get to our method. Found the General Finishes products to work much better. Very easy to apply. Texture is like almost-done pudding, real silky. Just smear it on and wipe off the excess. Couldn't be easier. (see for more info including where to find products. Disclaimer: I have no relationship to them other than being a satisfied customer.)
Here is the play by play:
screwdrivers (for dismantling doors and hardware), box-o-disposable gloves from Walgreen's, old socks or rags, fine sandpaper, disposable small plastic bowls or plates, and plastic spoons or forks, mineral spirits, miracle cloth (optional), General Finishes Java gel stain (or another color) and General Finishes clear top coat (Both are poly based). Optional: General Finishes Expresso water based stain as another layer for maximum darkness.
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. Plan on 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.
1)Remove the doors and all the hardware from one section of the kitchen. 4-6 doors is a good amount.
2) Clean the wood surface thoroughly. Then go over the wood lightly with sandpaper, just a very light skim sand to give the existing finish some tooth. No more than a minute a door. Rough up the surface is all. A miracle cloth is great for getting off the dust. Then wipe well with mineral spirits to clean well.
3) Open and stir the can o gel THOROUGHLY with your fork or spoon. Spoon some gel into your plastic bowl and reseal the can. This keeps you from contaminating the gels with crud or grit.
4) Put on the disposable gloves and slip an old sock onto one hand. Scoop some gel up and smear it on (It feels really nice and doesn't even smell too awful), then wipe down to remove the excess. I did the coats in the following order and let each dry well overnight:
-General Finishes Expresso water based stain (1 coat) I used this because I wanted really dark. You can probably skip this one to get to a deep rich brown
-General Finishes Java gel stain (couple coats) or whatever color you choose.
-General Finishes Clear urethane gel topcoat in satin (couple coats).
4) Reassemble the doors and drawer fronts and check the color evenness. Touch up with more gel stain where needed and let dry. Add a coat or two more of the clear gel for super durability.
5) Replace hardware.
I was brazen because the cabinets were so cheap and ugly I had nothing to lose. I went kinda thick and didn't wipe everything off perfectly. And I didn't sand between coats. You will think the Expresso coat fades as it dries but it redarkens later. I wanted a very deep dark color, like melted dark chocolate. It is not perfect in tone, there is unevenness in the coloration, but you have to really look to see it. The feel of the finish is really wonderful, smooth and satiny.
Raised the pass through upper run, recycled 2 glass cabinets doors from DR, resurfaced the Corian and got some smashing hardware. It came out pretty great and the finish has held up fine for over a year now. Link to pictures below.
Couple other tips: Go to the bathroom first and tie up your hair. Keep an apron or old workshirt handy for the gel coats' work. Keep a phone nearby either in a baggie or wrapped in a clean rag. Skip these steps at your peril. Oh, and stir the can very well each time and spoon some into a disposable bowl - keeps the can from getting contaminated. Lastly, the socks or rags you use for poly gels should be disposed of carefully as they are flammable and volatile. Rule is to have a bucket of water and dispose into that as you go - then get rid of it all at the end per local ordinances.
RE: Expresso vs. Java. Expresso is blacker, Java is more a red brown, like mahogany furniture. My cabinets had such a faded orange cast, that putting on an Expresso coat after sanding seemed to yield a bit darker end product. Java alone wiped on makes a nice, rich Sienna brown color, but I was wanting it to be much darker than the Java alone would get me to. The other difference is of course that Expresso is water based, so an easier cleanup. Being a gel, the Java can go on much thicker. And the last clear coats provide the nice satin finish - stopping at Java has nowhere near the smoothness and sheen. I found it helped to hang the doors, etc after one clear coat so I could check the color. If I missed a spot, I'd do a Java touchup wipe there. Let dry. Then clear coat wipe.
BTW, with the Expresso, each coat dissolved the one prior - weird. So a second coat didn't seem worth it to me. And even with the Java, if you rub too hard when it is wet you end up removing the color. Letting it dry well between coats is essential. You have to figure about 5 days at one coat a day. I used my kitchen all the way through - who needs doors?
Good luck to you. It is a pain in some ways, but in my case it was really worth it. The worst is definitely the prep. Once the surfaces are ready to coat, it is really short work to glove up, slide a sock on your hand and wipe on a coat.


clipped on: 11.16.2010 at 04:05 pm    last updated on: 11.16.2010 at 04:07 pm

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:

Link to almost finished cabinet pix:

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: 11.16.2010 at 03:29 pm    last updated on: 11.16.2010 at 03:29 pm

RE: new Ipe deck problems (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: aceshigh73 on 07.04.2005 at 10:05 am in Porches & Decks Forum

If I can chime in with some "homeowner-level" advice and just summize what Ive been reading in these forums...

Most of this is according to PressurePro's, well-respected on these forums...

1- Sanding just before sealing/staining isnt recommended because you are bringing out the oils in the IPE and the stain will not penetrate the wood properly.
2- Oxyclean is ok, but has extra ingredients. Use a sodium percarb solution (Wolmans Deck Brite), followed by a oxyalic acid wash (Wolmans Deck and Fence brightener).
3- Alot of stains have mildew issues because of the linseed oils in them. I heard Penofin was a culprit. For that reason, Im switching to Cabots Austrailian Timber Oil (my deck isnt finished yet). Although im sure that will have some mildew issues as well.
Someone else will probably add more comments about needing to strip the deck of the penofin first. That might be some sodium hydroxide stuff....


clipped on: 03.24.2010 at 07:40 pm    last updated on: 03.24.2010 at 07:40 pm

My Cabinet Touchup Process for Minor Nicks and Flaws

posted by: lmalm53 on 11.19.2008 at 04:34 am in Kitchens Forum

I was asked by nomorebluekitchen to write up something about my process for touching up my old cabinets and to include some before and after pictures. Let me preface this by saying emphatically that I am NOT a refinisher and really have just been using trial and error to find something that works on minor nicks and water damage on the cabinet finish. In fact I would still like to know if there isn't some kind of final finish or wax that I should be applying to help keep my touchups protected from future moisture. But at least the touchups I did almost 6 months ago still look like new.

Please be aware that I have used this process only on natural solid wood cabinets that have been stained, not painted. This may not work on laminate surfaces or composite woods. If anyone out there has more experience with this type of repair, please add your input also. This is the process I used.

First off, my 19 year old dark cherry cabinets were in need of a good cleaning. I have read some negative posts about using any kind of oil soap on cabinets, but I have had no problems using Murphy's Oil soap for cleaning up greasy spots. I just dilute a small amount of the soap in a pail of warm water and using a soft microfiber cloth I clean up the cabinets. If I have any tough dried on gunk, I gently clean it off using a piece of 0000 fine steel wool.

After drying with a soft cloth I then like to put a little Orange Glo furniture cleaner and polish on a clean white cloth and further clean and polish up the wood finish. At this point I carefully inspect for signs of wear, worn finish or nicks in the wood. You will be surprised how much you thought was damage turns out to have just been dirt or specks that easily clean off. Be sure to open up all the drawers and cabinet doors where there is often damage to the finish just inside the doors. I use my Minwax Stain Marker pen which matches my cabinet color perfectly. (I use 225 red mahogany)

Using the stain pen I just start filling in the damaged spots. Sort of like filling in the lines in a coloring book. :) I apply the stain generously, wipe up any excess with a paper towel and then let it sit for awhile. You could probably let it sit for a few hours or overnight, but I get impatient and tend to move from one cabinet to another with the cleanup and touchup process then work back to the first cabinet again to check the stain and see if I need to apply a little more.

Once I am satisfied that I have done my best touching up any damage, I then like to get another clean soft microfiber cloth to buff up the cabinet faces. Some of the stain will come off on your cloth, but in most cases the areas of damaged finish will have absorbed enough stain to improve the cosmetic look greatly. If you need to reapply some stain in especially large damaged areas, I would let the stain sit longer before you buff it out.

Now this is where I am probably missing a step, because it seems logically there should be some kind of finish coat or preservative put on the cabinets to keep them protected. But I have not added anything yet after buffing out the stain. Since most of my cabinet finish was in good shape I couldn't see the need to apply any all over sealer, but I guess a real refinisher would use something to seal the damaged areas. I am hoping my stain doesn't all come off the next time I deep clean the cabinets!

So...buyer beware!... but I was asked to explain how I do it so this is it. Here are some pics if it helps to see the types of damage that can be greatly improved without going to a lot of expense and trouble.

Here are the touchup supplies I use:



And here are some before and after pictures:

Small Cabinet Drawer Face Before Touchup

After Touchup

Cabinet Center Panel Before Touchup

After Touchup of Center Panel only

Whole Cabinet after Hardware Removed and Before Touchup

After Touchup and New Hardware installed

I will say that there are some types of damage that this process cannot repair. I have yet to figure out what I will do with my laundry room cabinet that has had so much water damage that the finish has turned a milky white in places. I suspect in that case I may need to strip the old finish down to the raw wood, restain and reseal completely. That will be a project I will tackle after I have done some more research!

But for now here is my updated kitchen. I saved a lot by keeping the 19 year old cabinets and by touching them up myself, instead of having them professionally refaced or refinished. Only time will tell how long my process holds up, but at this point I feel it was worth it! Most of my guests think the cabinets are brand new.

Hope this is helpful to someone. I am sure there are others who can improve on my methods, so please add your comments.


clipped on: 12.01.2009 at 05:20 pm    last updated on: 12.01.2009 at 05:20 pm

RE: Shower Guard/Bath Screen instead of shower curtain (Follow-Up #12)

posted by: hmsweethm on 01.28.2008 at 02:12 pm in Bathrooms Forum

I too really wanted to avoid a shower curtain in the tub-shower combination we were making for our kids' bathroom. I didn't want the glass all the way across, but I too was concerned about water leaking out, and easy access in and out of the tub. We compromised by installing a stationary panel connected to a hinged panel, which doesn't go all the way to the other end. See the photo below. It works great, with no water leaking onto the floor even with three kids, and visually it's the best, IMHO!

We heard about shower screens from people who had loved them in their European travels. I went to several shower door retailers, and several of them were clueless. Some said it couldn't be done. My contractor wasn't too familiar with them either. I found a picture in a home magazine of just such a combination -- in fact, we used the same tub they did, a Kohler Tea for Two, and then copied exactly what they had done with their shower screen, which is a fixed panel next to a hinged panel. The tub is 66 inches long, and each of the panels is about 24 inches wide. My husband and I decided on the width of the panels by looking at where the vanity ended, and we thought long and hard about how wide the hinged panel had to be to both prevent water from leaking out while people showered, and yet make it easy to get in and out. This has worked out great.

We bought the shower doors through the Expo Design Center. If you have a good one in your area, they will have an extensive display of frameless shower doors/shields. The representative they sent out to measure immediately knew what we wanted, and they installed quickly and precisely.

(My husband put a little clear plastic suction thing near the bottom of the door, visible in the pictures) to protect the doors if the kids banged them against the vanity counter. So far no harm has come to them, the doors, I mean!


clipped on: 10.26.2009 at 09:12 pm    last updated on: 10.26.2009 at 09:12 pm

RE: FAQ/Answers Bathroom Plumbing for dummies (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: mongoct on 06.26.2008 at 12:51 pm in Bathrooms Forum

How to get the water out of your walls:
A fixed shower head high on the wall, an adjustable hand held, an overhead rain shower head, or body sprays? Or all of them?

Normally 1/2" copper tubing is run from the valve or diverter body to carry the water to the location of the outlet. If you're going to install something permanently, or if you're going to make a connection in a sealed wall, then its normally a soldered fitting.

For things like showerhead arms, or body sprays, these are normally threaded connections. A threaded connection allows you to change out the shower head and arm for a different one if the old breaks, or for a new style if remodeling. When making up a threaded connection, you'll want to use something on the thread, either teflon tape, teflon pipe dope, or some other sort of thread sealer that will allow you to break the connection at a later date.

A common way to connect your outlet to your spray head is to run your copper tubing to the location of the outlet, then solder a 90 degree drop ear fitting to the copper tubing.

You can see that the fitting has a smooth inlet for the 1/2" supply tubing to be soldered to, two holes in the "ears" to nail or screw the fitting to the framing, and a threaded outlet where the water will come out of. These fittings are manufactured in different configurations for different applications.

That brass drop ear fitting will be buried in the wall or ceiling. If you are connecting a shower head, then the arm of the shower head gets screwed into the drop ear fitting and the shower head gets screwed on the other end of the arm. That works if it is a wall or ceiling mounted shower head. For a body spray, youll need a brass nipple like this:

One end of the nipple screws into the drop ear fitting, the other end gets screwed into your body spray. Nipples come in various lengths to compensate for varying wall thicknesses.

For a hand held shower, the outlet for the hand held is mounted just like a body spray head is mounted. I usually mount the outlet for a hand held down low near the bottom of the bar and offset to one side. That way when the head is hung on the bar, the hose hangs in a graceful "U", right up against the wall. Do a dry run with a piece of rope or string the same length as your hose, you don't want your hose laying on the shower floor.

Hand held shower are usually mounted in a vertical bar, the head can be slid up or down the bar to adjust the height of the head. If you dont want a bar, then there are wall brackets that the hand held head can be set into. You can use multiple bracket, one high for tall people, one lower for shorter folk, even one low on the wall to hold the head for the leg shaving crowd.

Both the bar and the brackets are surface mounted in the wall, they are held on the wall with screws. Youll normally drill a pilot hole, insert a plastic anchor into the pilot hole, then attach the bar or bracket by driving the screw into the plastic anchor. Its easier to drill a pilot hole through grout than it is to drill through tile. Prior to inserting the anchor or driving the screw, I always squirt a glop of sealer into the hole, it helps prevent water intrusion.

As to the hose for the hand held, some are plastic, some are metal. I prefer metal as they lay against the wall more consistently than plastic hoses. One end of the hose screws on to the outlet that you screwed into the wall. The other end snaps or screws onto the hand held shower head. Get a hose long enough so that it can reach all corners of your shower, and then some. It helps with rinsing and cleaning the shower, shaving legs, bathing young kids, or even the family dog.

For wall mounted handhelds, you can get everything in one kit, or you can mix and match. Just make sure that everything is compatible so that you don't end up with a head that won't attach to a bracket.

A good combination is a "standard" wall mounted shower head, OR a "standard" head as a hand held, combined with an overhead rainshower head. "Standard" heads give that nice spray that is strong enough to easily rinse your body or rinse shampoo out of your hair, they often have multiple spray patterns as well.

Rainshower heads give a much gentler flow of water. They provide a different experience than a standard spray head. A rainshower head's flow might not be adequate to quickly rinse shampoo from hair. Some manufacturers have rainshower heads designed to mount on a standard arm that comes out of the wall. Those might not be a good idea, as the rainshower heads work best when they are mounted level, not on a tilt. If the head is mounted on an angle, instead of the shower of raindrops, you might something more like a garden hose effect coming out of one side of the head. Since the water "drops" out of the head instead of spraying our of the head, it's better to not have them too close to the wall. I think rainshower heads work best when plumbed to a central location on the ceiling.

If you can only have one head in your shower, than a standard type head with adjustable spray patterns might be your best bet. When I was a kid, most of the hand held shower heads were of very poor quality. Hose fittings leaked or sprayed water everywhere, the multiple spray heads leaked or sprayed water all over. Today's handheld's are of much better construction.

Construction note: If in a freezing climate, try to keep supply plumbing tubing out of your exterior walls. And if running plumbing for an overhead rainshower in the ceiling, if it's unheated attic space above then you'll want to insulate above the plumbing in the ceiling. Also, pitch the horizontal run of plumbing downwards a bit as the plumbing goes towards the rainshower head, so that when you turn the water off, the water in horizontal run of tubing will flow out the rainshower head instead of pooling and being captured in that horizontal run of tubing.



clipped on: 10.04.2009 at 12:08 am    last updated on: 10.04.2009 at 12:08 am

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: 10.04.2009 at 12:06 am    last updated on: 10.04.2009 at 12:06 am

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: 10.04.2009 at 12:06 am    last updated on: 10.04.2009 at 12:06 am

RE: Wood exterior doors vs. the elements (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: sierraeast on 03.09.2008 at 11:21 pm in Remodeling Forum

Wooden doors should be treated w/ a finish that contains u.v protectors. They should be lightly sanded and a light top coat annually which might sound overkill, but for the small amount of time to do this project, you'll never experience peeling, flaking,etc. Let it go too long and you are replacing doors. For oil finishes such as linseed oil, twice a year before winter/summer is preventive maintenance.

If the existing doors aren't warped or pulling apart at the glue joints, they can be re-finished keeping in mind the annual maintenance.


clipped on: 10.01.2009 at 06:13 pm    last updated on: 10.01.2009 at 06:13 pm

RE: Wood exterior doors vs. the elements (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: on 03.11.2008 at 02:06 am in Remodeling Forum

Wood doors, well constructed with solid mortise and tenon joinery and stable stock, well maintained should be a fine choice. Notice there's alot of caveats there. You failed to mention WHERE in the country you are. In most climates a storm door will greatly improve the longevity of your solid front door. After refinishing literally hundreds of doors, I have found that 3 coats Pratt and Lampbert vitralite uva spar varnish offer the best long term performance and not need yearly recoats. ( P/l vitralite has a garish gloss so I generally advise final buffing, after 1 week drying, with 0000 steel wool and mineral spirits, orange oil or paste wax to cut the gloss to a more palatable satin)
Minwax spar may be easier to find, but it pretty much sucks and you will definitely need to keep re-doing it.
It is important that all SIX sides (top, bottom, hinge side, lockset side, front and backside.) of the door be finished especially the bottom edge to help limit warpage and swelling in big moisture swings.
Nothing beats the beauty of a well made well finished front door.
good luck and enjoy!


clipped on: 10.01.2009 at 06:13 pm    last updated on: 10.01.2009 at 06:13 pm

RE: q for bill v. -- pre-sealed tumbled carrara for shower floor? (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: bill_vincent on 09.26.2009 at 10:32 pm in Bathrooms Forum

Two comments-- First, I don't know that I'd trust tile to be installed that's been sealed on the backs of the tile, where the thinset's supposed to bond. On the edges, it's not so important, as there's no stress whatsoever on the grout. On the thinset bond, there IS a mild amount of stress, and if you don't have the strength of bond, or if the sealer should let go after a time, the thinset's only going to stick to what it's stuck to, in this case, that being the sealer. Carrara's not that super absorbent where you need to worry about sealing it prior to grouting. It won't "suck" the grout in like some tumbled stones will.

Secondly, I've used the tile-ready shower pans, and they're a royal pain in the.... neck! Unless the walls are framed around the pan, it'll never perfectly line up with the cement board above it, and then you have humps in the walls where the two meet.


clipped on: 09.27.2009 at 01:26 pm    last updated on: 09.27.2009 at 01:26 pm

RE: q for bill v. -- pre-sealed tumbled carrara for shower floor? (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: bill_vincent on 09.27.2009 at 12:29 pm in Bathrooms Forum

Sounds to me like you've got a bad case of information overload!

I would not use honed or polished carrara on a shower floor. Either one would be much too slippery. Tumbled carrara is fine, so long as you're aware of the need to keep it sealed and clean.

As far as using marble over Kerdi or a conventional shower, either one is fine, and yes, you seal post install and then maintain afterward.


clipped on: 09.27.2009 at 01:26 pm    last updated on: 09.27.2009 at 01:26 pm

RE: Photos carrera subway tile in bath/shower surround? (Follow-Up #9)

posted by: mary_smith on 06.07.2009 at 08:25 am in Bathrooms Forum

I have just finished my Carrera marble project, I used 6x12" and 12x12" on the floor. I also used 1x2" Carrera Basketweave as a mosaic accent on the floor and on the shower wall. We bought 200SF and shipping for under $1,800. The tile was from Venato Carrera and the Basketweave from the same company so it matched Venato Carrera only $11.95 for the Basketweave and $7.00SF for the 6x12".

Here is a link that might be useful: Marble Quarry


clipped on: 09.26.2009 at 06:50 pm    last updated on: 09.26.2009 at 06:50 pm

RE: bathroom tile FAQ's (Follow-Up #16)

posted by: weekendwarrior_2009 on 03.22.2009 at 07:51 pm in Bathrooms Forum

I just spent a day "discussing" the installation of a shower membrane with the guy I hired to retile my master bath. He wanted to install the shower membrane over the backboard. I won that is installed behind the backerboard now. Then I did more research (checking up on him) and asked about the pre-slope and he started with the "in umpty-ump years I've been doing this..I've never" speech. He already layed in the mortar for the shower floor on the membrane and I have that sinking feeling in my stomach. Is the pre-slope a big deal and what is the potential issue for installing the membrane onto the subfloor? He told me that the mortar bed has a slope that will take care of the water. Pardon my tone, but this has been a internet, doing by the book weekend guy vs. the old school handyman kind of week. Any advice? Thank...this is a great forum. I wish I found about two weeks ago.


clipped on: 09.26.2009 at 05:16 pm    last updated on: 09.26.2009 at 05:16 pm

RE: bathroom tile FAQ's (Follow-Up #17)

posted by: bill_vincent on 03.23.2009 at 09:38 am in Bathrooms Forum

"in umpty-ump years I've been doing this..I've never"

If he started putting it over the backerboard instead of behind it, obviously this moron has no idea of what he's doing. That would've been my cue to fire him on the spot.

Is the pre-slope a big deal and what is the potential issue for installing the membrane onto the subfloor?

Yes, it is, although not many tile installers, plumbers, or GC's realise it. There are two potential issues. First, the given that lends credibility to these issues-- tile, grout, thinset, and mortar ARE NOT WATERPROOF. This is the reason the liner goes underneath all of them.

Now, the first issue is that being that the pan membrane sits flat on the floor, there will always be water sitting in the bottom of the mud base. It needs the help of gravity for ALL the water to reach the weepholes at the base of the drain. With the water sitting there, collecting all kinds of gunk and garbage, it's the perfect breeding ground for mold, mildew, bacteria, and fungus. Is that what you want to be standing on as you get clean?

Secondly, if he set the membrane flat, I'd be willing to bet he just set the cement board in, and dropped it right to the floor, being that it's much easier than holding up an inch or so, so that it's not sitting on the bottom, but so that the mud still covers it. Why THIS would be a problem is that with standing water in the pan, the cement board will act like a straw, and wick the water into it until the water reaches the top of the membrane, where it will spill out and over, causing what appears as a leak.

This NEEDS to be addressed.

Please do me a favor, and post this discussion over on the discussions side, so more people will see it and benefit from it.


clipped on: 09.26.2009 at 05:16 pm    last updated on: 09.26.2009 at 05:16 pm

RE: bathroom tile FAQ's (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: bill_vincent on 07.20.2008 at 08:46 am in Bathrooms Forum

I read in this forum to use unmodified thinset under the cementboard for our floors before tiling, but DH read the instructions on the board to use modified. Just wanted to confirm that we are to use unmodified and also to ask why?

That's kind of a controversy in the industry. Most manufacturers say modified. TCNA (Tile COunsil of NOrth America) says unmodified works best, but then they defer to the manufacturer's instructions. The way I see it, the thinset under the cement board isn't supposed to bond the two surfaces. Matter of fact, you don't WANT them to bond. That's what the screws are for. It's there only to bed the cement board to take out vibration between the two layers, so the unmodified thinset makes alot more sense to me.

Why don't you want them to bond? He asks," Aren't the screws there to hold the thinset while it dries?"

Once you bond the two layers together, you've for all intents and purposes, formed a new, thicker, single layer, and you've lost all the benefits of double layering the floor, that being the allowance for the slightest bit of lateral slippage between the layers to allow further isolation of the tile installation from structural movement.


clipped on: 09.26.2009 at 05:13 pm    last updated on: 09.26.2009 at 05:13 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: 09.26.2009 at 05:11 pm    last updated on: 09.26.2009 at 05:11 pm

RE: Toto-All 4 different Totos clog-HELP!!! (Follow-Up #22)

posted by: lazypup on 04.22.2008 at 03:09 pm in Plumbing Forum

The problem is not the toilet, nor is it a problem with venting although it is so blatantly obvious that on first inspection it goes totally unnoticed by homeowners and even most plumbers, however I would bet a steak dinner that once I explain the problem all the plumbers who read these posts will slap the palm of their hand on their forehead and shout, "I knew that!"

The post clearly states that all four Totos were installed to replace older 3.5gpf toilets.

That fact alone tells me that the house was constructed prior to the introduction of the 1.6gpf water saver toilets.

Here is the answer: Prior to the introduction of 1.6gpf water saver toilets the plumbing codes mandated that all toilets must be installed on a 4" line. With a 3.5gpf flush the water level in a 4" line will fill the pipe about way, which is a sufficient depth to convey the solid particulates in the waste, however with a 1.6gpf flush the water level is too low to properly suspend the solids. The solids then rub against the bottom of the pipe, retarding the velocity of flow and the water will seep around the solids, thus leaving the solids to buildup in the pipe forming a clog. In fact, in the early days of 1.6gpf toilets this is what made Toto famous because the Toto bowl filling technique and trap design resulted in a slightly higher velocity of flow than the competitors, which helped compensate for the pipe size problem.

Once the problem was fully understood the plumbing codes were amended so that they now say if we install a toilet with a flush greater than 1.6gpf we must install it on a 4" line, but when installing a toilet with 1.6gpf or less we must install it on a 3" line. By reducing the pipe from 4" to 3" that effectively reduces the volume of the pipe to the volume of a 4" line, which in turn raises the water level in the pipe during the flush to the prescribed 50% fill needed to properly suspend the solid particulates.

Therefore, as I stated originally, the problem is not particular to the Toto toilets, it is a problem with water saver toilets in general, and understanding that we can no longer install toilets with a flush greater than 1.6gpf the only permanent solution is to change the toilet waste arm from 4" to 3".


clipped on: 09.24.2009 at 10:07 pm    last updated on: 09.24.2009 at 10:08 pm

RE: My contractor INSISTS on grouting floor/wall shower joints (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: bill_vincent on 04.01.2009 at 09:33 pm in Bathrooms Forum

One of the reason my GC gave is that caulk is not waterproof.

Actually, it is. But that's not the reason it's there. It's there to act as a movement joint. Whereas grout will crack, the caulking won't.

boymom-- Try this tact with your installer. Ask him if he'd be willling to sign a 5 year guarantee that whenever that joint cracks, he'll come out and redo it free of charge. If he's not willing to do that (which if he has a single operating brain cell in his head, he won't) then tell him you want it caulked, end of story. Again, as I told someone else yesterday, simply tell him if he won't do it the it's supposed to be done, you'll find someone who will.

I remember Mongo saying that the caulk is really only necessary in today's framed showers. If you have the older ones that are made of thick concrete walls, not so much because they don't move. I think I got that right.

Ivette-- you're close. The reason the mudset showers don't normally need to be caulked in the corners is because it's all wire reinforced, and the extruded diamond mesh wire lath that's used will normally wrap around the corners, so there's no way for the two sides of the corners to move independently, and therefore no cracking will occur if it's constructed properly.


I have cement covered walls over greenboard with hot mop and cement underneath shower pan.

I'll bet you're in California! :-) (It's just about the only part of the country that constructs showers like that)

As for your shower, it IS a mudjob, but not a traditional one. Many west coast contractors will use this method of floating over greenboard, but the problem is the corners still are not reinforced, which means those corners should be caulked.


clipped on: 09.24.2009 at 06:42 pm    last updated on: 09.24.2009 at 06:42 pm

RE: Kerdi in a Nutshell - Bill V. or Mongo (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: bill_vincent on 05.10.2009 at 11:14 pm in Bathrooms Forum

First off, the recommendation for the modified thinset was for over the greenboard OUTSIDE the shower. Over Kerdi, you want unmodified thinset. Secondly, with polished marble, there shouldn't be a need for a grout release.

As for your question about going right over the slab, if it's not cracked, yes. There shouldn't be a problem.


clipped on: 09.24.2009 at 06:28 pm    last updated on: 09.24.2009 at 06:28 pm

post script (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: bill_vincent on 05.10.2009 at 07:40 pm in Bathrooms Forum

Sometimes, I can be numb as a box of rocks! I see what you were talking about now with the mortar on the floor. If this is going to be a mud job, yes, you do use tar paper, but you also use reinforcing wire. Most will use wire lath, but chicken wire is also acceptable This must have a minimum thickness of 1 1/4", and yes, it goes down prior to thinset. As for consistancy, it should be the consistancy of damp sand.


clipped on: 09.24.2009 at 06:27 pm    last updated on: 09.24.2009 at 06:27 pm

RE: Kerdi in a Nutshell - Bill V. or Mongo (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: bill_vincent on 05.10.2009 at 07:36 pm in Bathrooms Forum

1) Studs, insulation, greenboard, thinset, polished porcelain tiles 12x24, grout

Make sure the thinset is a modified thinset.

1) Joists, plywood, tar paper, mortar? thinset (modified or unmodified?), polished porcelain, grout.

No tar paper. Either cement board or Ditra. If cement board (I'm assuming 3/4") it can be 1/4", but it must be both thinsetted and screwed down. If Ditra, it must be thinsetted down with a high latex content thinset, and then unmodified to set the tile, just as with the Kerdi.

1) Should I slit the paper side of the insulation prior to installing the Durock so it won't trap moisture once Kerdi is applied?

Or you can use unfaced insulation

2) If I can't find Ditre Set can you recommend any other unmodified thinset that is just as good?

Laticrete 317 thinset, or Mapei's Kerabond.

3) I am installing a rainshower head from ceiling (no tile on ceiling) do you suggest greenboard or Hardie on ceiling?


4) To level bathroom floor, do I use mortar prior to thinset? If so, how thick should the consistency be?

How much do you have to level it?


clipped on: 09.24.2009 at 06:27 pm    last updated on: 09.24.2009 at 06:27 pm

post script (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: bill_vincent on 04.27.2009 at 04:27 pm in Bathrooms Forum

Forgot recommendations! Miracle's 511 Impregnator or Stone Tech's Impregnator Pro.


clipped on: 09.24.2009 at 06:16 pm    last updated on: 09.24.2009 at 06:17 pm

RE: Question for Bill V or other gurus, seal marble tile pre-inst (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: bill_vincent on 04.27.2009 at 04:18 pm in Bathrooms Forum

So, I should go with a solvent based sealer pre-install?

yes. You don't want to mix the products, especially ones with different bases.


clipped on: 09.24.2009 at 06:16 pm    last updated on: 09.24.2009 at 06:16 pm

RE: Question for Bill V or other gurus, seal marble tile pre-inst (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: kimkitchy on 04.27.2009 at 12:23 pm in Bathrooms Forum

Thanks for responding, Bill. I will want it sealed when finished, AND I want to decrease the chance of staining from products used in the install (like grout). So, I should go with a solvent based sealer pre-install? Any particular brand you would recommend?
Appreciate your help here!


clipped on: 09.24.2009 at 06:16 pm    last updated on: 09.24.2009 at 06:16 pm

RE: Question for Bill V or other gurus, seal marble tile pre-inst (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: bill_vincent on 04.27.2009 at 11:40 am in Bathrooms Forum

If you're looking for something just to use as a grout release, I'd go with any water based sealer (which works better than the solvent based sealers as a grout release). If you're planning on sealing everything once it's finished, though, go with solvent based, instead.


clipped on: 09.24.2009 at 06:15 pm    last updated on: 09.24.2009 at 06:15 pm

RE: Honed Carrara Marble Hex for shower floor? (Follow-Up #12)

posted by: bill_vincent on 05.06.2009 at 11:07 pm in Bathrooms Forum

If you're going to go with Kerdi, that has to be decided before any work begins, because right now, not only would you end up wasting the liner that's in there now, but also the drain. There's no liner needed because the Kerdi membrane goes right over the top of everything, and it attaches to a special drain that's part of the system. A normal drain can NOT be used with Kerdi.


clipped on: 09.24.2009 at 06:06 pm    last updated on: 09.24.2009 at 06:06 pm

RE: Honed Carrara Marble Hex for shower floor? (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: bill_vincent on 05.06.2009 at 08:23 pm in Bathrooms Forum

ALthough I'll agree with most of that post, there are a couple of things I don't. First, there IS a big difference between the "high dollar" sealers and Home Depot's Best (Tile Lab). The better sealers will last alot longer.

Same thing with the difference between water based and solvent based. The solvent based sealers penetrate much deeper, and as such, last alot longer.

One last question-- who makes an unsanded epoxy?

Lastly, I don't know what you're calling "tile sealers". The only tile sealers I've ever seen ARE penetrating sealers, also used for sealing stone, and in fact ORIGINALLY meant for sealing stone.


clipped on: 09.24.2009 at 06:05 pm    last updated on: 09.24.2009 at 06:05 pm

RE: Honed Carrara Marble Hex for shower floor? (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: bill_vincent on 05.05.2009 at 08:28 pm in Bathrooms Forum

Ivette-- If you noticed up above, I did say with Kerdi, it wouldn't be as much of a problem, due to the fact that it doesn't take as much for the water to evaporate from underneath the stone as it would with a conventional shower pan.


clipped on: 09.24.2009 at 06:03 pm    last updated on: 09.24.2009 at 06:04 pm

RE: Honed Carrara Marble Hex for shower floor? (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: pirula on 05.05.2009 at 10:10 am in Bathrooms Forum


Curious what the issue is please? We have polished Calacatta mosaic mini bricks on our shower floor and have had no problems. The small brick and lots of grout takes care of the slipperiness factor. None whatsoever. We used Kerdi, and everything appears to be fine. Been over two years now. Sure the marble looks wet for half an hour (darker in color) then fades to the usual when dry. We did do Kerdi, as you know. Is there some problem I should be on the alert for?



clipped on: 09.24.2009 at 06:03 pm    last updated on: 09.24.2009 at 06:03 pm

RE: White marble mosaic floors - thoughts? (Follow-Up #11)

posted by: bill_vincent on 04.01.2009 at 10:00 pm in Bathrooms Forum

No, you don't want pearl grey. That's one step lighter than charcoal-- what might be called a medium to dark grey. As for the other two, though, those would be the colors I'd recommend from Mapei.

Matter of fact, this isn't carrara hex, but it IS white hex with warm grey grout:




clipped on: 09.24.2009 at 05:51 pm    last updated on: 09.24.2009 at 05:51 pm

RE: White marble mosaic floors - thoughts? (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: pirula on 04.01.2009 at 07:36 am in Bathrooms Forum

If I may hijack for a moment (but may help OP as well), let's say one wanted a soft look like jeaninne's above, in Mapei grout and one had Cararra hex. Bill? "Warm Gray"? "Mist"?? I've got your samples from before still, they've been so helpful. I remember you mentioned "Pearl Gray" in a previous post, but I don't have that sample in my little box.



clipped on: 09.24.2009 at 05:51 pm    last updated on: 09.24.2009 at 05:51 pm

RE: White marble mosaic floors - thoughts? (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: bill_vincent on 03.28.2009 at 11:26 pm in Bathrooms Forum

Actually, Thassos is a pretty tough stone. it'll take alot to hurt it. One thing I should caution you on, though. The stain resistant grouts (the epoxies, including Spectralock) have a real problem with bright white grouts. Because of the yellow epoxy matrix, it tends to color the grout slightly. Also, the lighter the color, the less stain resistant they are. Just an FYI, so there are no "unreasonable" expectations. :-)


clipped on: 09.24.2009 at 05:49 pm    last updated on: 09.24.2009 at 05:49 pm

Soapstone DIY finally complete!

posted by: don_chuwish on 03.23.2008 at 04:53 pm in Kitchens Forum

Friday night I was amazed to find myself putting the final piece of backsplash on. Saturday was spent mostly cleaning up and putting things away.
Thanks to everyone who has posted info that I read or answered direct questions, this forum has been invaluable. Now it's my turn to reciprocate. I don't pretend to be a pro or any kind of expert, but I hope this helps from a DIY standpoint.
I'll link a few pictures in this posting, but you can see the whole gallery on Photobucket, each picture has comments and between them they pretty much tell the story. Album is here:

Some teaser images:

Various parts of my story in progress have been posted in other threads, but I'll try to mention some key points here.
We were very interested in keeping cost down, so the DIY option with soapstone was wonderful to discover. A quality granite or Silestone install would have been triple the cost.
We went to M. Teixeira in N.J. and picked our slabs. If I had it to do over I would NOT have chosen two side by side slabs. The vein patterns are too similar and end up repeating each other in our kitchen. Out of 4-5 side by side slabs I'd take the 1st and last, for example.
When planning how the slabs will be cut, I'd suggest the backsplash pieces be taken from exactly the same spot as the counter they will sit on later, so that the veins and everything match.
Black epoxy was best for 99% of the seams in our install, but where it crossed a white vein I had to make some corrections - digging the black out with a Dremel and replacing with "Instant Install 29" epoxy, which cures to a translucent white. The Instant Install 29 is great to work with, 14 minute working time and then it suddenly hardens up, locking things into place. You can sand it 15 minutes later (thus the name, 14+15=29). It can be tinted to match the stone too. 5 minute epoxies are too fast for big seams I think.
Make sure your cabinet tops are a perfectly even plain, 6' long levels help. Shim any and all gaps - none of mine were more than 1/16". Then get a bead of caulk on the cabinet tops before resting the stone on them. This just makes for perfectly even support all around. We used bottle jacks to lift the stone up a few inches, caulk under it, then set it back down gently.
Doing the caulk and a seam at the same time is daunting, but the caulk has a long setup time, so it works out OK. You can slide the stone over an inch to close the seam after buttering on the epoxy. Jam it as tight as possible to make a thin seam. Most important for a good looking seam is to have the two stones perfectly aligned - any height difference will have to be fixed by sanding one down to match the other.
Diamond cutting and shaping tools are great. They cut the harder parts of the stone just as well as the soft parts, which makes for nice straight lines and even surfaces. A diamond grit drum on an angle grinder is great for shaping the edge of a sink cutout, for example. Regular sandpaper drums don't do as well.
The dust from cutting and shaping is amazing, wait till it's warm and do as much outside as possible. If you can't, like me, then get a good fine particle dust filter for your shop-vac and always attach a collection hose to the tool, or have someone hold the hose right at your cut. It makes a huge difference.
When cutting you need to support the stone underneath, so it won't fall away and break off before the cut is done. I had 1/2" thick styrofoam sheets available, but thick rubber mats from Costco would work too. The photo album shows a good example of this in practice.
For final sanding I tried a million things. What worked best on the flat areas (to clean up seams) was a 5" wet sanding pad on a dual action polisher at its lowest speed. I used a Porter-Cable 7336. Sanding pads were 240 and 400 grit. For a backer pad I used a flexible one made for car buffing, rigid pads were too hard to handle. For product specifics, see my other post on this topic. Edges can be sanded with a good hand block and wet sandpaper. The highest grit with any benefit I found to be 400. Others may stop at 220 or 340 - just a matter of preference.
I feel like there's a million things to say but this has rambled on enough. Happy to answer questions and add details in follow up posts. But if you're looking for tips, please do check out the full Photo bucket album. There's 80 images covering every step of the way.

Thanks again everyone and happy Easter!


clipped on: 08.26.2009 at 08:40 pm    last updated on: 08.26.2009 at 08:41 pm