Jess and I have always wanted hardwood floors. We could afford the flooring material if it was on sale, but we couldn’t afford the installation fees. Being the lovers of DIY, renovate the bathroom floor ourselves. The product we chose was COREtec One which is a click-type floating floor that has a dense bamboo foam backing and a PVC top. The top of this material is stamped to give the relief of woodgrain. For an additional fee you can get cork added to the backing, but we cheaped out and have had great results, even on a concrete slab this flooring stays warm and is softer than tile or wood. It is industrial quality and has a 10-year commercial limited wear warranty. We tested our ability to lay COREtec flooring in a small upstair bathroom. The results were great and with the right tools and a little ingenuity it wasn’t very hard at all.
The first step was to remove the strip holding the carpet down to the linoleum and Lauan floor of the bathroom. I always hated these kinds of transitions. You must use a flathead screwdriver and hammer to uncrimp the metal to pull back the carpet so you can then pull out the nails holding the metal strip to the floor.
Then we used the removed the molding in the bathroom. Using this long-bladed utility knife, I scored the silicone caulk on the top and bottom of each piece of trim. Then using a prybar and hammer, removed the trim. I then had to pull up the carpet in front of the bathroom as well, so the hammer and a regular prybar were used there. We decided that in this particular bathroom, we’d leave the Lauan and linoleum and just place the COREtec on top.
We decided we’d like the boards to be long-ways from the entrance of the bathroom. One of the most important steps is to layout and measure first! Each box of COREtec has a limited number of patterns, so it is highly recommended that you pull planks from several different boxes to avoid repeating patterns too close together. With COREtec you don’t want to end up with a tiny sliver less than 2 inches wide as it won’t stay down well. We measured to see how many boards we’d need between the wall and the cabinet, then when we got past the cabinet, we measured wall to wall. We picked a number that would allow us to have at least 2 inches on every side. To cut the pieces long-ways (a process called ripping) I used my 60-inch bandsaw with a wood blade in it. A note on this… My bandsaw is advertised as a “(9-inch bandsaw” and all the documentation said that in big letters on the front. That means there’s 9 inches between the saw blade and the other side of the saw (in the center of the machine). But when I went to the local big box hardware store I realized that there’s no such thing as a “9-inch bandsaw blade”. The blades are labeled in accordance with their circumference. So my saw technically uses 59.5-inch blades. I recommend buying several of these as I broke a couple with all the cuts I had to do.
For smaller cuts, I used my junior coping saw/mini hacksaw. I recommend getting a few extra packs of blades for this guy as well. For our whole house, I went through one and a half packs of extra blades. This was really helpful for small notches or tweaks to cuts I had made on the bandsaw.As you can see in the pic, I am wearing kneepads. This is essential for floor work! The ones I have have a great snap for putting them on quickly. This is good because you adjust them to the right size once, then the quick snaps can be used to put them on and take them off without a lot of wasted time getting them comfortable again.
Using pencils to mark the wood-side of the COREtec, I used an uncut piece of COREtec as a straightedge to make sure I didn’t waver too much, then I cut it by hand ripped each piece by hand on the bandsaw. Then, using a carpet knife to score the coretec and the edge of the countertop to snap it, we were able to quickly cut some pieces to lay. Since COREtec is a floating floor, you want to leave a 0.25″ gap from each wall to allow for the house to settle without damaging the floor. We got a hardwood floor laying kit that had a block, pull-bar and spacers in it. Placing the spacers all between the COREtec and the wall, we began laying the floor. Since COREtec snaps together in only one way, be careful to measure and cut the board to have the correct side where you need it. I screwed up many aboard without triple checking this first.
You want to start laying the flooring if possible as those are the most likely to be straight. Most walls in homes are not straight. If you can’t start on the outside wall, start on the longest or with the right-hand side so you can clip the floor in to itself as you go. Place the spacers against the wall first. I found using cheap packing tape to keep them in place so they don’t move when you use the hammer and block to
We made our way across the floor until we got to the toilet.
Moving the Toilet:
The next step was to remove the toilet. So we turned the water to the tank off at the wall by turning the knob all the way closed and flushed the remainder of the water in the tank. There was still water in the tank so before disconnecting the hose from the wall, I grabbed a small plastic bucket to catch the remainder of the water from the tank. I also used this bucket to scoop out the remaining water in the bowl as well. I didn’t want that splashing around all over my carpet and subfloor. The next step was to remove the old bolts. This is always a pain because men piss inevitable piss on the floor and sides of toilets and the piss as well as humidity from hot showers will corrode the bolts and rust the nuts onto them. I had to get my Dremel out and buy some new metal cutting disks. The designers over at Dremel are brilliant with their design of the EZ Lock Mandrel for the cutting wheels. This mandrel allows the cutting blades to flex about the shaft a small distance without snapping. This was amazing to me as my whole life I’ve been breaking these stupid cutting wheels, finally someone designed the perfect solution to this annoying problem! If only they would solve the whole rusted bolts problem…. I digress. Basically, I used the Dremel to slice the nuts in half on both sides of the bolt, then used pliers to pry off that broken bolt part from each side, being careful not to ever apply pressure with the plyers to the porcelain. That can crack and ruin a toilet.
Once the bolts were free, I lifted the toilet and tilted it so I could clean the soft wax off the bottom before moving it into the hallway. Always be careful moving toilets. The tanks are bolted to the bowl and if you don’t pick them up from the base you’ll crack the porcelain and need a new toilet. The wax seals the porcelain toilet to the plastic PVC flange on the pipe in the floor to prevent poo water from leaking. . I highly recommend wearing gloves because 1. It’s where the poop goes and 2. the wax is incredibly messy. Once that wax gets on something, it isn’t coming off easily, including your hands. You can wash then 100 times and still feel it. And when you remove a toilet, use a wad of old towels or rags to stuff into the open sewer pipe to prevent too much sewer gas from coming up. We moved the toilet just far enough away to work in that area and places it on a plastic bag so it wouldn’t damage or get wax on the new flooring.
When you replace the toilet, you’ll need a new seal and new bolts. Buy these BEFORE you move the toilet. I hate the wax rings for toilets because you get one shot to put it on correctly, and you don’t really know if you did it right until weeks later when the floor is ruined from underneath from leaking poop-water. I prefer this foam gasket kit which comes with the new bolts you’ll need too. This replaces the wax, so use a putty knife (one you don’t really care about) to remove the wax from the toilet flange in the floor.
We made great time laying the new floor due to all the straight cuts and good measuring plan we had. The tougher part came when we had to cut the circular hole for the toilet pipe flange. My solution was to use the gasket I bought to replace the wax ring under the toilet as a template and laid the boards flat across the hole and traced the new gasket on the boards. Cutting the with the bandsaw was fast after that. Click in the last bit of flooring, whack the pull-bar a couple of times to make it cinch tight, and then remove the plastic spacers from the perimeter of the walls.
Install the new foam gasket and bolts on the toilet flange. It turns out that since we laid the COREtec on top of the Lauan and linoleum we had a perfect amount of space for this gasket to work with our toilet. Set the toilet on the bolts and tighten snug, but not too tight. If you overtighten the bolts, they’ll crack the porcelain and you’ll end up buying a new toilet.
If the gasket is too tall and your toilet rocks back and forth and you can’t tighten the bolts any more without risking damage to the toilet, then you have two options and I tried them both. You can buy toilet shims, which are plastic wedges you can shove under the toilet every couple inches to even it out. I didn’t really like this option as it didn’t support the entire toilet and if the gap was too small to hide the whole shim, I had to cut off the visible part with a utility knife. I scratched the floor pretty bad doing this and it still looked terrible. The better option is to buy or make a toilet spacer. I used scrap COREtec to build a toilet spacer by tracing the hole like I did before on some COREtec, but then after I cut the hole and put everything in place with the toilet on top I traced the outline of the toilet. Then I used the bandsaw to cut just inside the lines by about a millimeter or so. This made for a much more stable solution.
Either way you go, shims or spacer, you’ll likely have to clean up the look with caulk. Now some people (including me) say never caulk the base of a toilet in case there is a leak. But since I am using the foam gasket,I know there won’t be a leak. So I caulked around the edge of the toilet to hide the shims and the gap in one bathroom, and then to hide the edge of the COREtec spacer I made in the other.
Once finished, you must put the trim back on and caulk it, then figure out how you want to have the transition back to carpet in the hallway look. To nail the trim back on, you’ll need a nail gun. After researching extensively, I decided that an electric nail gun was easier and cheaper, but would not do a good job at all. So I had an excuse to buy this air compressor and this pneumatic air gun. I cannot stress enough how this tool changed my life. Using the nail gun, I finished the bathroom in literally about 2 minutes. In the past this type of thing took me about half an hour to do. The trick here is to make sure you’re using enough pressure to get the brads fully into the trim without the heads sticking out. If the heads stick out then you have to manually hammer them in with a nail set which is a pain. When nailing against a cabinet or a wall, you can angle the brands pretty much anywhere, into the floor to the wall but when nailing the trim by the tub only shoot brads directly into the floor, NEVER into the tub. It can crack your fiberglass or acrylic tub and that ain’t cheap.
After the trim is back up, use some silicone caulk (this stuff requires a caulking gun) to seal it back on the top as well as on the floor to make it water-tight. Use one of these caulk-spreading tools to get a nice consistent finish. Since COREtec is waterproof, you should feel confident about any spills or wetness on the floor.
Finishing the edge of the carpet is covered in another post.
January is “finished”. I’m not really calling it done because I know it is always a work in progress, but my initial and thorough pass is finished. Here are some successes and tribulations with decluttering my kitchen and living room space.
Just for fun, here is my finished to do list.
Kitchen Living Room
Okay, okay the coffee table isn’t crossed off. Adam has been using it for his 3d printing. I should probably try to get him to move his projects to the office space, but I really don’t mind. We both go through phases in which we utilize a non-traditional workplace in our home. I chalk it up to the creative process.
February brings a new month and a new list. My office and laundry room are next. These rooms are lighter in terms of physical bulk, but heavier in terms of needed time to simplify. The office seems like it will be most time consuming due to the mess of papers and files. I usually get my taxes done in early January but this year that didn’t happen. This makes file cleaning all the more appropriate.
Current Simplifying Stats:
So I’m halfway through the month of January. Here is my latest purge.
I’ve currently sold three books and one pair of shoes for a profit of $37.18. It seemed like it would be more, but once you subtract shipping fees and ebay fees, it decreases quickly. I read that someone got rid of things as a way of paying it forward for all the good deals they got at thrift stores. This is the frame of mind I’m aiming to achieve, but I’m frugal and also conflictingly hope to rack up a nice amount of cash for items I’ve sold.
Here is where I am at on my to-do list.
I have two more weekends left. I feel like I can make it.
So far I’ve learned it is better to keep all the doors open while you are decluttering. The longer you stare at certain items the easier it is to realize that you don’t need/use it. I’ve also learned that I had way too many items that expired in 2013 in my pantry.
Current Simplifying Stats:
As I mentioned in my previous post about this, Jess came home with backsplash materials one day. We looked at a bunch of online designs and decided to have a go at it ourselves. In the first installment, we installed the extruded aluminum edging that boarders the tile. This time we will talk about the tiling itself.
With my aim to simplify, I am setting up a manageable timeline for decluttering my space The two major areas I want to simplify is my space and how I spend my time. Decluttering my home is a huge step in this process. A post that provided a huge inspiration showed before and after pictures of cleaning in a decluttered home.
First, I have set a goal to finish majorly decluttering my home by the end of July. I am going to take small steps now so I don’t have to do it all during summer. I have summers off, so this make sense for me time wise. Each month I have a different focus planned.
If anything doesn’t get finished before July, that means I will have to spend summer time finishing it, so there is a HUGE incentive to stay on track. I am also going to reward myself anytime something gets finished by or before the scheduled month.
Most items will be given away. I’m giving myself a two week deadline to sell any items of significant value on Craigslist or Ebay. If it is not sold in that time than I am going to also give it away. My goal is a simple house.
I have a list of musts for each space.
I want to do this right so I do not have to do it again. I don’t want to be shuffling objects from one place to another. It is not just the act of decluttering now, but it is the act of instilling habits that will continue to keep my home and life simple.
In June of this year we moved into a new house. It was a foreclosure and unlike our first house, we had to tackle quite a few projects to get this place back into shape. Some of the things we’ve done so far aren’t really required, but make us feel better about the space. One of those projects was to put in a glass and tile back splash in the kitchen.
The color on the walls when we first moved in was actually a tinted primer and it was was on every wall. The problem with primer is that is kind of absorbs oils and such when you touch it and there were several paces that had shiny spots from this. Jess painted the entire downstairs in almost the same colors as our first house. She stopped short and only did edging in the kitchen. I should have known something was up…
So my craft room was literally pink and blue all over. That is how I inherited it, but I tried to make it better with a soothing blue. Well, that soothing blue didn’t have the drama I was looking for, so I went darker. If color is something you can lust for, I lust this color. It’s lavish and bold. It makes me swoon for my craft room!
I have a tiny room in my house. It is like a closet with its own closet. Keep in mind that my husband and I live in a house with four bedrooms. What do two people do with four bedrooms? Fill them with children? Well, we don’t have any (at least not yet). So we have our bedroom (1), our “SheekGeek” warehouse (2), our office (3), and this tiny room (4). This tiny room was destined to become my craft room, but it was not an easy journey.
Originally this post was going to be “Teach Your Hubby to Cook” but I didn’t want to add to a stereotype – I know many husbands that are the primary users of the kitchen in their household. In my case, this isn’t true and not because I am a great cook, it is just that I have more kitchen experience than my husband. After being together for over 10 years, I just now came to the realization that if my husband had some easy go to recipes, he would volunteer to make dinner more often because he wouldn’t have to ask me what to do each step of the way. I think this idea is so perfect it has spawned a new series: “Teach Your Spouse (Or Yourself) to Cook”. Recently my husband ordered Chicken Parmigiana at one of our favorite restaurants (that we were able to frequent much thanks to a Christmas gift card – Thank you Grandma Betty!). While there he proclaimed, “I bet I can make this myself!”. Of course I encouraged my husbands proclamation, and this is what he came up with. Random spousal cooking lesson tip – start with a meal your significant other loves. Of course, you can make this meal too!
I have big kitchen plans. I want to put in tile flooring, stain the cabinets darker (or paint them if I can get the hubby to jump on board), replace the counter top, put in a tile backsplash, and install a new sink. Sometimes things in life aren’t the right time, and right now it is not the right time to invest that much time and money into my kitchen. To tide myself over, I implemented a mini makeover that cost $4.00, an hour of my time, and required only scissors and shelf liner.