Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Peak foliage, and kitchen labor.

As we've been focused inside if it weren't for having to drive back and forth to get materials and tools we'd forgotten or didn't know we'd need I'd almost have missed the most dramatic part of fall arriving. Almost, it's hard to miss it for real when you're living in the middle of it, even when you are face down working on floors. As for the work on the kitchen, lots happened, but not as much as we wanted.

As with many things around the house, much of our success is thanks to help from others. Whether it's knowledge, labor, support, gifts. All of it has been vital to us. In the project of renovating the water damaged kitchen it was knowledge, labor, and support. One who is a handyman and had access to the needed tools, and another who works at Home Depot and helped with both putting down the sub-floor, and tiling.
I'm not going to go over all of the tiling steps, frankly there are lots of walkthroughs on how to do that, and after doing it just once would recommend looking into other sets of directions! I'm going to cover some of the things that were particularly challenging for us. For one, the cat. She's never been the brightest creature, and was a real pain when doing the tiling because if we weren't careful, and didn't lock her up she'd run through the thinset, then onto the tiles to howl about her frustration at the texture of the thinset on her paws. As you can see, that was somewhat inconvenient. Fortunately it isn't that hard to wipe the thinset off the tiles when it's still wet and in kitty paw print shape. The fun part is if you miss some and have to scrape it off. With having used slate tile in particular the variations in the natural stone means that things can get caught in those striations easily, so you have to be careful about cleaning everything carefully.
That leads us to grouting. Grouting has been my least favorite part of this project. Given the color of the stones, we chose a warm brown grout. It looks great. It's difficult to clean though, and is kinda scary to look at when putting it down. Thankfully we'd listened to people who knew and put in sealer to make sure that the grout wouldn't stick permanently to the tile when put down, and stain it since slate is very porous. By the way, to the Left is the wrong way to put grout down.
In this photo Right I'm doing it much better. The less of the tile you cover with the float when putting the grout down, the easier everything else is when doing clean up, which is not a quick process to begin with. One of the things that's tough about tiling is the amount of time you spend bent over, or on your knees. For me I found that duck walking often worked better than being on my knees. Once the grout is down, and scraped off the surface of the stone, you clean it off gently with a sponge.
Once you go through that process which is a gentle operation on its own, you then "polish" the last of the film off with cheese cloth. Obviously the more of the grout you use in the first place, the more follow up work you have to do. All of this said, despite the slowdowns on doing the tiling itself, it isn't the thing that's slowed us down the most. The weird pipe under the cabinets, and the total lack of logical or straight lines were the thing that has most delayed this project. Other than getting the counter top in, this project should be complete without hesitation, the cabinets should be in. Unfortunately, all that's back in is the fridge and the stove, which is a huge step up from neither being available!

 What I will say for sure is that we are very happy with how things look, and very thankful for all of the help we have received. I'm very happy with the look of the slate tiles, and not having to worry about stepping over the speed bump in the middle of the floor due to water damage is already a really pleasant change. It's also amazing just how big the room feels without all of the accouterments of a kitchen.

Obviously, one can't just not have kitchen things in a kitchen, but I will admit to being somewhat tempted to just make shelving in the walls instead of installing the cabinets. We already have the cabinets though, they're already stained. Now all that I have left to do is cut out the notches to not impinge on the wonky piping, and get the cabinets in. Once that's done, we'll be able to fully use the kitchen other than the sink while waiting for the counter top to come in. It will be delightful to have a fully functional kitchen without water damage again, it's been far too long. As a side note, when you're staining cabinets, even if you're in a hurry don't do it in the dark to the light of car headlights. At least not if you don't want drip marks in your stain. Just, you know, sharing learning experiences.

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