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29 March 2007

Installing Hardibacker for the Tiled Walls

The next step in tiling the shower is to put the cement board up. You can find all you need in the tile section of your local home improvement store. I was able to use 1/4" thick hardibacker and I love it. I also picked up a scorer while I was there to aid me in the cutting of the hardi backer. Putting up cement board is just like putting up drywall. You cut it to fit, and then screw it to the studs. I left a 1/8" gap between panels. I also used a hole saw to cut the holes where my shower head and handles would come through. I found that a saber saw also worked well on he hardibacker allowing me to cut an oval for the body jets that I was installing.

The first problem I encountered is that I needed the cement board to finish flush with the tile lip of my shower pan so that I could come back and tile over it later. I used shims again behind the hardibacker to bring them out to the desired thickness. Here you can see a quick sketch of how it should look when mounted.

The space between the hardibacker and the stud is what I needed to fill with shims. Once this was done and the boards were screwed into the studs through the shims, I used 100% silicone caulk to seal the seems between the hardibacker panels. Here you can see all of the hardibacker installed.

26 March 2007

How to Install the Shower Pan

Well I am back from a week of vacation spending time with my wife and new son. It was very relaxing. This is the next step in installing a tiled shower stall.

Once I had the solid plywood subfloor screwed down it was time to put the shower pan in. The first step is to connect the drain to the pan. You can follow the directions from the manufacturer but basically you put a bead of 100% silicone caulk on both sides where the drain will seal against the pan. You then place the two halves of the drain on either side of the pan and screw them together. This will allow a flange to tighten against the pan on both sides with the silicone completing the seal.

The next step is to make sure the drain in the shower pan will sit nicely into the waste pipe in your floor. I just placed it in the shower stall and dry-fitted it. Since my shower drain was self-sealing I did not have to worry about any further installation details.

I removed the shower pan, spread a layer of thinset morter with a notched trowel just as if I was laying tile and then set the shower pan into it. The drain fit nicely into the waste pipe as it did when I dry-fitted it. I then used the wrench provided with the drain to tighten its gasket around the waste pipe, completing the seal. I walked around on the shower pan to set it in the morter and then left it to set for a day before moving on. Here it is installed.

This is probably one of the most critical parts of putting in a new shower. When you think of the volume of water that has to be processed through this pan and drain on a daily basis and what can happen if there is a leak it is scary. I myself turned the water on accidentally before hooking the drain up and had water pouring from the ceiling on the first floor. It could have been a real disaster.

If you have any reservation about this step I would suggest ordering the new video by Randy Davis. I have found them to be very high quality and you get a 2 month money back guarantee. Check it out HERE.

Next we will talk about moving to the walls.

21 March 2007

Our Greatest Project

I haven't posted in a few days, I will continue the series on tiling a shower soon. I just wanted to explain that I have been in the hospital with my wife and our new son, Everett. I have not, and never will, be able to create anything as beautiful as this.

15 March 2007

A Tiled Shower's Floor

This is the third post in a series about how to tile a shower. To see the rest of the posts you can always click on the "Tiled Shower" link in the GoTo menu at the top. Here is the link:


With the shower completely demolished to the studs I was able to measure for the correct shower pan. At the bottom of the shower stall, I measured from stud to stud and found that a 32" by 32" pan would fit perfectly. If you have a pre-existing shower stall the odds are it was built to a standard size. After doing some hunting around on the internet I found that swanstone made a composite pan that would work nicely for my project. $110 later it was on its way to my house. Swanstone can be found at http://www.swanstone.com and the link to the shower pan that I used is here: http://www.swanstone.com/products/showerWallsFloors/singleThreshold/index.php

In the meantime I went about making a solid base for the pan. The previous owner had decided to just nail down whatever left over plywood they could find as a subfloor and this had not been as sturdy as I would have liked. In order to remedy this I went to Lowes and found a 3/4" thick piece of plywood that was 48"x48". I cut this into a 32"x 32" square and then test fitted it in the floor. Seeing that it worked well I measured the shower stall for the center of the drain and transferred this measurement to the piece of plywood. Once I had the center of the drain I used a compass to draw a 6" diameter hole which I would cut out with a jigsaw. This made for one solid piece of subfloor that I leveled with a few shims and then screwed down.

A note on the subfloor: You want to make sure this is level in all directions. If it is not, then the water will not drain into the center of the pan and out of the shower. This will leave you with left over moisture in the shower stall that can lead to mildew and mold. Use shims to level before screwing the floor down.

In the next post, I will outline the steps taken to install the shower pan.

14 March 2007

A Reason to Spend More Time at The Home Depot

Look out DIYers, apparently we have a reason (like we didn't have enough before) to hang out at The Home Depot.

TLC's newest show "Take-Home-Handyman" will feature carpenter Andrew Dan-Jumbo as he hunts down unsuspecting victims in the Home Depot and then goes home with them to help them complete a weekend project. Not only that but while he is there, he will fix up any other little things that he can find and even have time to zone in on and renovate a surprise section of your home. It sounds like a winner to me. The show premiers Saturday, March 31st at 1:oo PM EST.

Andrew Dan-Jumbo was born in Nigeria and raised in England where he studied Art and Design and graduated to become a freelance graphic designer. He moved to the US in 1991 and started a construction company with his brother. He has been the carpenter for several seasons of "While You Were Out."
In 2003 Andrew was named one of People Magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People." I don't think many wives will mind this guy tearing up their house and rebuilding it.
If I don't post for a while, it is because I am at Home Depot scratching my head and doing my best to look helpless.

13 March 2007

Demolishing the Old Shower

The first step in replacing the shower was to demolish the old one. This proved to be pretty simple as it was just a flexible surround that was held to the wall with a few screws. After removing the screws I simply rolled it up and threw it in the back of the truck. The next step was to remove all the drywall that was behind it. Again, this was an easy job. I scored it with a box knife where I wanted to end and then knocked the rest of it in with a hammer. I picked it all up and moved it out of the room.

The previous shower pan was not an easy task as it was glued with construction adhesive to the plywood subfloor. It was in bad shape so I decided to break it out of there too. Using my pry bar and a hammer I slowly began tearing it away from the plywood. Most of the top ply came with it so I knew I would need to replace the subfloor in that area.

The last step was to take out the ceiling. This is a job that may or may not need to be done in your bathroom. I decided that I wanted to put in an exhaust fan/light combo so I needed some space to work. I took it out just like the drywall, by scoring, cutting, and then pounding it out with a hammer. Here is a picture of the finishied demo work along with the old plumbing.

12 March 2007

How to Tile a Shower

When I decided to replace my shower I knew exactly what I wanted. Nothing short of a spectacular tiled shower with rainfall shower head and body jets would do. However, it is extremely expensive to have done so I decided it was time for a little DIY tile work.

I had already tiled several floors in the house so I was pretty comfortable with the tiling process. What I wasn’t comfortable with was the amount of water that would be testing my DIY tile job on a daily basis. Now I am not one to shy away from any project so I decided I just needed some more knowledge. I turned to the internet. After doing a few searches on how to tile a shower, how to tile a shower floor and how to tile a shower wall I found that the wall was not too bad, but the floor was going to be a little more work than I could take on. I decided not to tile the shower floor. Instead, I bought a nice shower pan from Swanstone with a tile lip on it.

Over the next few posts I will go over the whole job from start to finish with quite a few pictures. Hopefully it will help give someone else the confidence to take on a project such as this. To begin, here is a before and after shot of the master bath.

Home Depot Named gia World Honoree

It seems that the DIY craze is paying off for US based Home Depot. They were recently named the gia World honoree. Gia World is the Global Innovator Award, this one being presented by the International Home and Housewares show.

Home Depot received this award due to its operations performance, business innovation, product breadth, and community contributions where it does business. I guess that the amount of mom and pop hardware stores that it puts out of business do not factor into the equation. Love it or hate it, the super-retailer is king in America.

The jurors were quoted as saying that the Home Depot won due to its outstanding product breadth and innovative programs. Not only did the Home Depot have another outstanding fiscal year, but they also support the community and charitable causes.

Gia World is a program that honors retailing excellence around the world. It is co-sponsored by the International Housewares Association and Euromonitor International. The International Housewares Association is a 69 year-old not-for-profit association that is the voice of the housewares industry. The housewares industry is a $301.2 billion USD global industry. Euromonitor international is the world’s leading provider of retail business intelligence and strategic market analysis.

Comment below on whether or not you think that large retail stores are good for communities or bad.

09 March 2007

5 Home Improvement Projects That Will Raise Your Home's Value

In talking about recouping home improvement costs there is one room that should be held above all others: Kitchen. The kitchen is the single best place to remodel in order to raise the value of your home. Want proof? A study done by remodel magazine states that for small kitchen renovations, the return is close to 92.9 percent of what you put in. Another remodeling must is bathrooms. Bathroom remodels on average return 90.1 percent of their cost.

Projects that take place in these two areas of the home can be some of the most difficult and hardest to handle for DIYers. That being said, let’s focus in on 5 doable projects that will give you that return that you are looking for come closing time..

1. Tile the Floors:

When it comes to kitchens and baths, tile is one of the most durable materials to use for the floors. There are many styles of tile to choose from ranging from $10.00/sf stone to $1.50/sf ceramic. The trend lately is to stick with natural looking materials in neutral tones. This is a classic look however that will never go out of style.

Most people should have no problem tiling themselves. It is as easy as removing the old flooring, screwing down a plywood sub-floor, spreading mastic, laying the tiles, and then grouting after they set up. You also want to be sure to seal them when in kitchens and baths. There are many do it yourself workshops and tutorials available for this.

2. Paint the Cabinets:

Are your cabinets old or ugly? If you are staying in your house for more than 5 years look at replacing them. However, if your stay will be shorter than that the best way to add value is to paint the cabinets. Re-facing is expensive and does not always yield good results. Again, stick with a neutral color such as off-whites or grays.

3. Replace the Appliances:

Nothing can turn a new buyer off like old, dingy appliances. Many buyers will slash thousands off of their offer just to replace the appliances. Check out the various scratch and dent resources in your area. Sears always has a nearby scratch and dent facility with many appliances at 50%-70% off. The new buyers do not need to know how much you paid for the appliances, just that they are new.

4. Install a glass door on the shower:

In the past years, bathrooms have become 30% larger than they used to be. Previously, they were used strictly as utilitarian spaces. They have now become lavish lounges in which homeowners will often relax. If you have an older house you may not have the space that the new buyers are looking for. One solution is to put in a frameless glass door as opposed to a shower curtain. Shower curtains stop the eye while glass doors allow the eye to pass through, making the bathroom appear larger than it is.

5. Paint:

Perhaps the easiest and most effective way to make your house look more inviting is to put a fresh coat of paint up. Color is a very personal preference and paint fades quickly. Think about repainting the entire house with fresh, new, neutral colors. This will make for a more move-in-ready feel.

The key to improving your homes value is by anticipating what new buyers will want and giving it to them. Take the work out of it. Any time new buyers anticipate having to work on something, they will drop the price of their offer. You want to provide them with a warm, clean, neutral, move-in-ready environment.

How to Install a Dishwasher, the easy part.

Now that the electrical, hot water supply and cabinet are ready for the dishwasher, we can simply stick it in and hook it up. The steps are simple to follow:

First you want to hook up the plumbing. I bought a kit from Lowes that came with a 90 degree brass elbow, a 5 foot long braded steel hot water line, and a couple of adaptors. Tip the dishwasher over on its back. This will allow you access to the underneath. Wrap Teflon table around the threads of the 90 degree brass elbow and thread into the bottom of the dishwasher. Follow the instructions. Mine told me to tighten it and end with it facing toward the back of the machine. You might want to attach the hot water line at this point also. Remember again to use Teflon tape around the threads,

The next step is to slide the dishwasher into the opening. Be sure the hot water line and waste tube are out of the way. Use a wrench to turn the feet so that the dishwasher sits level.

Underneath the sink you want to attach the hot water line and the waste tube. Put a loop in the waste tube before attaching it and mount it to the cabinet with a wire tie.

The next step is hooking up the electrical. Make sure you turn the power off. Now attach the ground wire to the green screw in the electrical box on the dishwasher. Twist the two white wires together and secure with a wire nut. Do the same for the two black wires. Wrap them in electrical tape and then enclose them in the electrical box.

You are now ready to turn the water on, turn the power on and test the dishwasher. Let it run on normal cycle and keep checking for leaks. Be ready to hit stop and turn the water off if need be. Here is a picture of mine fully installed.

It feels good to accomplish something yourself doesn't it?

08 March 2007

How To Sweat a Copper Pipe

You will have to have a hot water line leading to the dishwasher. If you do not already have a Tee in the hot water supply underneath your sink this might involve a little sweat-soldering of copper pipes. This is not too hard to do once you have seen it done correctly. I will try to explain it and then place a link for a comprehensive 7 minute vidoe demonstration.

The first step will be to sand the ends of the copper tubing being joined. You can do this with an emery cloth or buy a wire brush made for this purpose. Make sure they are clean and bright after sanding. Then smear flux all over the mating surfaces. This will clean the surface and allow the solder to flow and bond to the metal. Your next step will be to fit the two ends together and light up your torch. You want the inner flame of the torch to touch the copper tubing. The solder will flow from the colder section to the hotter section. Once the pipe is hot enough, you will probably see it smoking and when you touch the solder to it the solder will just melt. Touch the solder to the joint and allow it to flow into and around the joint until it drips out the bottom. Take the heat and solder away and then use a heavy rag to smooth the joint.

We did most of the soldering on top of ceramic tiles on a work bench away from the sink. In this way we ony had one joint to solder while in a tight space. Below you can see the new tee, valve, and threaded connection that we soldered together for the supply line. You should have a valve dedicated to your dishwasher.

Notice, the piece of tile behind the connection. This is what we used to keep from catching anything on fire. You can also use a metal sheet or fire-retardent blanket. Below is a link to the video demonstration.


07 March 2007

Cutting the Cabinet Space for the Dishwasher

The dimensions of most dishwashers are pretty standard. They need an opening of 24 inches wide by 24 inches deep by 34 inches high. Since I did not have a dishwasher cabinet I had to cut a hole in the long one-piece cabinet that I did have. Here you can see the cabinet before.

My cabinets are already 34 inches high and 24 inches deep so the first step for me was to mark out my width. I took off the door, drawer, and drawer hardware and then I placed two tick marks at 24 inches in width. I used a level to mark my two perfectly plumb lines on the face of the cabinet. After checking the width of the lines at the top and at the bottom it was time to cut into the cabinet.

I drilled a ¾” pilot hole at the edge of my marks so that I could fit the saw blade in. For the majority of the cut I used a variable speed jigsaw with a smooth cutting blade. Remember that the blade cuts on the backstroke so if you are able to make the cut from the back of the cabinet. This will keep the wood on the face of the cabinet from splintering.
At the top and bottom of the cabinet the jigsaw blade was simply no long enough to finish the cut so I had to switch to a sawzall. Again I was careful to set the sawzall on a lower stroke rate with a smooth cutting blade. This helped me control it as they can get a little jumpy.
After cutting the hole I did a little bracing using 1x2 lumber. The will be covered from the cabinet side with a thin plywood.

Now the electrical and the carpentry are done. The next thing is to do some plumbing so that we have a hot water supply line and we will be able to stick it in and hook it up.

06 March 2007

Wiring a Dishwasher

The first step in the installation of my new Frigidaire Dishwasher was to run the wiring for it. Most dishwashers should be on a 20 amp circuit. Most all modern dishwashers including mine have a sanitize cycle in which they need to really heat up, this draws a lot of power.

How you run the wire will be determined by the layout of your particular house. I have a small two-story house near the water so it has no basement. I couldn’t run the wire through the attic either because the kitchen is on the first level. My best bet was to run the dishwasher wire through the crawlspace underneath the house.

This was a feat in itself. There is about 18 inches of space under my house. I am 210 pounds. I had two choices, crawl in on my back or crawl in on my stomach because there was no rolling over once I was under there. Oh yeah, and I am claustrophobic. Needless to say I did this job while my wife was away so she didn’t hear me screaming like a girl when I hit a spider web.

I started by clicking in a new 20 amp breaker in my electrical panel. To this I ran a 12/2 with ground wire down through the wall and out a hole I drilled in the floor. I filled the rest of this hole with expandable foam to seal it. From there the wire was run along and stapled to each joist to the bottom of the dishwasher cabinet. A hole drilled in a joist could significantly weaken its structural capabilities so it is important to be weary of that. If you are not experienced with electricity this could be a job for a qualified electrician.

Underneath the house I installed a waterproof junction box to relieve strain on the wire and then ran it up though another hole I drilled in the bottom of the dishwasher cabinet. Here I installed another waterproof junction box so that I could split the power to the dishwasher and to the new garbage disposal I was putting in at the same time.

Remember: Turn off the power, white to white, black to black, and copper ground to the green grounding screw. 20 amp circuit requires 12/2 and a 20 amp switch, 15 amp circuit can use 14/2 and a 15 amp switch.

Next Up: Cutting a hole in the cabinet for the new dishwasher.

05 March 2007

DIY Dishwasher Installation

This past Saturday I spent the day underneath the cabinets installing a dishwasher and garbage disposal. Both installations are relatively simple if you are replacing older fixtures. However, my kitchen has never had either of them. This was a complete retrofit, which is one of the harder ways to put an appliance in. Installing a dishwasher requires 4 things. You need a space in the cabinet to put a dishwasher, you need an electrical outlet to hook the dishwasher into, you need a hot water line to hook into the dishwasher, and you need a waste line from the dishwasher to the sink. Throughout the next few posts I will try to break the process down into these 4 smaller projects. Next up: Running an electrical line for the dishwasher.

02 March 2007

How big is your bathroom?

Bathroom Makeover by:
Jonathon Hardcastle

According to contractors, the room that is undergoing the greatest amount of transformation in new construction and remodeling is the bathroom. In fact, since the 1930s, the average master bath has tripled in size and the huge bathrooms build in houses today have even an oversized closet inside. The change in bathroom space is attributed to the fact that people are now spending more time in their bathrooms when they wish to relax while taking a bath. Experts point out, that the weekend spa mentality has developed into a new lifestyle trend with which Americans feel comfortable and want to experience on a daily basis without leaving the comfort of their own home. Since the bathroom space has increased, the new updated version calls for an addition of bathroom furniture, which can make any bathroom feel less sterilized and bring in the feeling of comfort that used to be associated with other rooms of the house, like the bedroom or living-room. Moreover, the additional furniture pieces provide extra storage space; something that is definitely needed nowadays by both women and men. To cover the demand, many bathroom cabinet manufacturers offer now sinks set in furniture pieces, which are designed specifically for bathroom use. Options now range from modern glass and steel pieces, to old renaissance dressers and armoires. Moreover, people tend to mix and match furniture and trim their uncovered surfaces in order to make them blend with the flooring, connecting the bathroom to the rest of the house. But apart from the amount of space available and selecting the right type of furniture, today's bathroom-users also want to create a bathroom in which they can relax and rejuvenate. These moments of relaxation can be enhanced with simple additions, like a bathroom stool near the tub or in the shower, or if the space permits it with an ottoman for some precious relaxing times. Furthermore, the right type of lighting can be installed quickly altering the feeling one has while taking a bath. Again candles, small regular lamps on the vanity or shelves can transform the bathroom and give it the feeling of tranquility. Extremely important apart from the furniture selected is the bathroom's flooring. Tile or wood can enhance the overall appearance of the bathroom and their designs can be matched to blend with the house's other rooms. Also, the color of the walls or the wallpaper selected to be placed have to match the rest of the area, like the floor, the sink and the bathtub creating a unified outcome. If you decide to go with the wallpaper option, be extremely cautious as it has to be installed really well in order not to fall off the walls as you steam your bath. Finally, keep your bathroom organized and clean. Numerous scattered items give a feeling of clutter and do not help you enjoy this room of your house. Furthermore, select towels and bathrobes that are soft and fluffy. It is better if their colors and design matches the rest of the bathroom, but most importantly they have to be replenished with new ones almost every year so you will continue feeling the same snugly sensation every time you exit the shower.

About The Author

Jonathon Hardcastle writes articles for http://homeimprovementstation.com/ - In addition, Jonathon also writes articles for http://irealestatecentral.com/ and http://4homelife.net/

Trim and Some Finishing Touches

I got quite a bit of work done last night on the master bathroom renovation. I was able to touch up some of the grout work along the edges where the baseboard trim would not hide it, I nailed in the trim and then caulked the edges. I also resealed and caulked the tiled shower. I started to install the trim plates and the shower handle. The new body jets are looking pretty inviting. Altogether the shower is impressive. It is all tile with a mosaic 3/4 of the way up and will be equipped with two body jets and a rainfall shower head. This is quite an upgrade to the boring surround that was in there before. I was also able to caulk around the fixtures and paint the ceiling. Here are a few pictures of the progress.

01 March 2007

Buying Extra Tile

Whenever I measure the square footage of a room to tile I always add 10% and then buy however many boxes I need to get to that number. That normally leaves me with quite a bit of extra. All of this extra tile gets stored in the attic just in case, I mean, until I need it again.

Recently, I had some kitchen floor tiles that were moving on me. I simply pulled them up, scraped the old thinset off the subfloor, and reinstalled new ones. I even had some of the grout left over making for a seamless fix. Here is a recent article explaining a little more in depth why it is a good idea to have a little extra tile.

Store Your Extra Tile for Repairs by:
Dalton C. Reynolds

A bit of forethought when you tile a floor in your home can preserve the look of your floors and save you money in the future. After you have selected your new tile for a surface in your home, be it a kitchen counter, a living room floor or a bathroom from a local tile resource, you will have to have a tile installer measure the space to determine how much tile you will need for the job. Some people prefer to have the area measured before they begin their search. This just depends on whether you will be hiring the installer yourself or asking the tile company to recommend one. You might even be tiling the floor yourself and arrive at the tile store with your measurements. In any case, once your selection is made it is a good idea to talk to the store representative about buying a bit more tile than is needed for the job. There are many reasons for this which will be outlined next. When your new tile is selected you will take possession of a shipment which has been manufactured at the same time. This ensures that all of your tile will match. This is true of natural stones as well. Think of this as you would a dye-lot with respect to the manufacturing of carpet. While natural stone can vary from crate to crate, tile, with an artificial finish, will match in much larger quantities, but there is still color variation. Purchasing more tile than you need at the time of installation will ensure that anything that may have to be repaired in the future will have a replacement that matches the originally installed product. You can tuck these extra tiles safely away in the attic or basement until you need them. Failure to do this may result in 2 problems. The first problem would be having to find out if the tile is still in production if it has been years since the tile was installed. The second problem, even if the tile were still being produced, is would it match the original floor? A little planning ahead will save you time and the hassle of locating the same product. You can almost guarantee in the case of natural stone, that you will not be able to find a match with the same color and pattern. Any replacement you do with a non-original piece will always look replaced. If you do find that you need to replace a tile in the future, here are a few tips that will assist you. Whether water damage in a bathroom, or movement in the floor, sometimes a tile will need to be replaced. You might have noticed that when you walk on a tile, it will have a hollow sound underneath it. This means that bond between the tile and the adhesive that it is set in has broken. To replace this tile you will need to first remove the grout from around it. This can be done with a grout saw or similar tool. Always wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from any debris. Once the grout has been removed you will need to break the tile and remove the pieces. To break the tile uses a hammer and a chisel. Once the tile is shattered you need to pry any pieces which may still be adhered to the wall or floor. A sturdy, flathead screwdriver can be used to do this. Next you will need to chisel out the adhesive and clean the area in preparation for new adhesive and grout. If you are working on a wall, make sure that you are careful not to damage the drywall behind the tile. In some case this might need to be patched and replaced if moisture has compromised the wall’s integrity. You will not know until you get into the project. Cleaning the area is an essential step because you want the new tile to be level with the rest of the wall or floor. Once the area is free of adhesive you can then apply new adhesive and place the new tile in the open space. It is recommended that you use spacers that are the same size as the original grout lines. These can be obtained at a home improvement or hardware store. After the adhesive is dry, it is time to grout. It is best if you take a piece of the old grout and match it to what is currently available on the market. The color of grout has a tendency to age over time and you will want an exact match to avoid having the tile look like a patch job. Any questions you may have about replacing your tile should be directed to a quality tile installer or tile company. Plan ahead when tiling your home. Whether it is new construction or a new tile addition to an existing home, a few extra tiles will save you major frustration and make any repairs hard to detect.

About The Author

Dalton C. Reynolds is a contributing writer for http://www.atlantadesigndirectory.com and renovates homes for clients in the greater Atlanta, GA area. Copyright © 2006 Dalton C. Reynolds.