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January 2015

Project Underground: There's something on the wing!

All your base belong to dust
You're traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of shoe molding and pneumatic-nailers but of miter saws.  A journey into a wondrous land whose baseboards are that of imagination. That's the sawhorse up ahead-your next stop, the Perimeter Zone!

Baseboards are something I take for granted until they start to show wear and tear.  When I started thinking about what to put in the basement, I had to look at what was already installed in the rest of the house to remember what I actually had.  The kind above came from Home Depot.

It took a little practice but pretty soon I had coping and miter cuts down, along with figuring out how to transitions trim over different floor heights. I had a bit of a floor drop along one wall, consisting of a tile and hardwood floors.  And another more radical change between the last step and my hardwood.  I like showing the transition.  Here's an example of how the cuts are made..

Baseboard miter cuts

Finished baseboard 1
Finished baseboard 2
So if you get the cracks just right, they'll be hidden with a little help from Spackle and paint. 

The inner and out corners were a little tricky.  But once I figured out how to do coping cuts for inner corners, it looked a lot better than trying to adjust a miter cut for a corner that wasn't perfectly square.  Here's someone else (HomeAdditionsPlus) showing how to make the cuts on YouTube. 

Unfortunately, you can't cut the outer corners like that.  I used a simple carpenter's protractor to measure the outer corner and divided the total to get the miter angle I needed.Protractor

All in all, I hadn't realized it was going to take a week just to run all the trim around the floor.  But after learning a few new tricks, I'm happy with the results. The dog on the other hand, she's just happy the floors are clean again.

Baseboard completed

Project Underground: splitting stairs

The day finally came for me to hand over my project to a third party contractor.  Instead of taking it one step at a time, I decided to have them do all twelve. (Ba-dum-bump..crash)

So I go from this fine pine leftover staircase with temporary landing...



To this...  Finished stairs 1
And these stalworth but ugly steps to...


Finished stairs 2

I know what you're thinking.  Why is there a half wall of brick ramming this man's staircase?  Unfortunately, my sewer outlet pipe runs through it.  It's a bit off putting but after I finish the top of the half wall, it'll looks better.  And from the side as you look at the brick, it's worth it.

After the contractor finished the landing, I could see it wasn't exactly square.  So instead of shimming it out to square, the contractor just installed the hardwood.  So now the landing looks a little crooked if you look at it long enough. bummer..  But I did catch the contractor trying to install god awful brackets on the side. 

The brackets cover the profile of each tread and riser. (Note the gap for the last 5 steps in the picture above)  So with a little advice from B, I used my router and fabricated these.  Each step was not exactly the same height or length so it was truly a custom job.  I'm pretty happy with the results.




Now I can honestly say I've looked at every square inch of my floor..

It took back to back weekends along with every weekday in between, but I was able to finally finish laying down all the engineered hardwood floor from Lumber Liquidators.  The color is gunstock oak and is 3/8" thick and 3" wide.  Schon is the manufacturer.

It took 8 boxes to finish a roughly 300 sq ft area.  I included about 10% for waste.  I had about 20 sq ft left over.

I had to use a below grade engineered hardwood.  This variety wasn't a click and go version, so it took more time to glue all the slats together.  After a little planning I was able to come up with a random arrangement so all the joints were far enough apart.  You don't want the joints lining up too close otherwise the slats are not able to stay locked in overtime.

It went pretty smooth until I got closer to the stairway.  Then it was pretty obvious the framers hadn't made a square landing.  But I was able to adjust. Unfortunately, being a novice, that would come back to haunt me when the stairs were recapped.

By the time I finished the floor, the chop saw was pretty broken in.  The last part to complete was under the stairway.  Next up, carpenters coming to do the stairs with real oak hardwood. 


Project Underground: Paint!


Nothing says you're almost done with a remodel, like being ready to paint.  Unfortunately I tend to forget about what's left to do, such as: flooring, baseboards, trim, stairs, and a backsplash tile job that's still waiting in the wings.

But after consulting with B, the project designer, I narrowed the colors down to a couple I thought would work well together.  The plan would involve the largest wall being an accent wall and the rest of the basement being a more neutral color.  I'm going with a traditional flat white ceiling and semi-gloss white for all the trim/doors.

So I picked exclusive plum for the accent wall and emerging taupe for all the other walls.

What color does taupe look like?  The name reminds me of the crayons that no one liked.

Even after painting the walls, I was still on the fence. (I had tried a few sample spots, I still wasn't sure)   But I knew once it dried I'd get see the final look.   And the choices turned out great.  Living in a room with two colors is a first for me.  Looking forward to seeing how all the furniture will look once it's finished.


Exclusive plum and emerging taupe come together

For those that notice what appears to be an outlet directly above the electric heater, that's actually a blank cover.  I removed the receptical after realizing the space heater was going to be too long to fit between the outlets.

Brick and tile compared to the new paint


FIOS, my fiber optic man servant, stops by to see how the painting is going.


 Next up - finishing the flooring!

Project Underground: Tile time!

Tile 1
I still haven't picked out paint colors yet, but I didn't want that to hold up my project.  So I decide to go ahead with tiling the floor in my side room and in front of the exterior door.  I needed a lower tile floor in front of the exterior door, since the hardwood floor obstructs the door from opening. (Thanks dry core and hardwood =p !)  The tile will allow for heavy traffic between the outside and my storage room as well.

 Lowes always has a great selection of unique tiles, including the ones shown in the pics.  They were manufactured by Ivetta, they're named "black slate" (although they definitely have a gray look more than black.  They're 6x24" and come in several different patterns. They're porcelain and have a slight texture to them.  I didn't want smooth tiles and these have just enough to help avoid being slippery when wet.

Tiling the floor took a couple days since there was a lot of cutting along the walls and door frame.  My floor wasn't exactly level either so I recommend a floor leveling compound if it's really offset.

Tile 2
I can't describe how much I like these now that I've installed them.  They just make the room look better than if I'd use smaller tile or large square ones. These just flow better into the room that's about 6x8' and give me a feeling that the room is bigger for some reason.

I learned a few valuable lessons with the mortar mix.  Never mix more than you think you can use in a couple hours.  I was slowed down by several uneven spots in my floor and had to reapply a little mortar to the backs of the tiles.  So I ended up with wasting some mortar since it set up too quickly in my bucket.

After a day, I added the grout.  My god, the only thing I hated was having to get clean water over and over as I cleaned the excess grout off. Even that was starting to take too long.  I would fill in the spaces, clean off areas with grout that setup, and then have to hurry with new buckets of water.  By the time I finished the last few tiles, the grout was getting to hard to use any more.   But I made it with a little more muscle and sweat.

After I finished the grout, I wet the floor with a damp mop a couple times a day, for 3 days, to make sure it dried slowly.  And finally, a week later, I added grout sealer to make sure they kept their color and resist staining.

End result

I didn't see the color difference until looking at these photos.  The tiles were a bit dusty while I installed them. After grouting and cleaning, the slate colors came out. 

I can see installing the baseboard is going to be a challenge though.  Check out the floor transition from the Dri-core to the tile so close to the door. I'll need to adjust the baseboard trim for the 1 inch drop down to the tile.  Otherwise I'll end up with a taller baseboard on the right side of the door and a shorter one over the tile on the left side of the door. I have some theories on how that's done but we'll cross that threshold after I finish the flooring.