While at Creativation, someone asked if the new VersaFine Clair inks would work with alcohol markers. Not having any on hand, I devised a quick substitute using Fantastix, StazOn All Purpose Stamp Cleaner, and a StazOn ink pad. VersaFine Clair appeared to hold up quite nicely in this quick trial, by the way*.
It’s been my plan since then to play with it a bit more, so in today’s Imagine project I made a set of StazOn markers in varying shades of 4 different inks, enough to color a pretty floral bouquet (stamped in VersaFine Clair, of course).
*StazOn markers are solvent-based, so not 100% the same as the more common alcohol inks on the market, but the properties are similar. Always test your ink/marker combos before committing to a larger project, just in case!
Last month, when I first shared with you about how much I was enjoying my new post as a Brand Ambassador for Mean Green, I mentioned how much better the Mean Green Anti-Bacterial Multi-Surface Cleaner was. Namely, that it didn’t leave a sticky residue on my kitchen counters the way a certain brand of kitchen wipes did.
But I really missed the convenience of those pop–up wipes and not having to locate both the cleaner and a roll of paper towels when a mess needs managing. (I don’t know about your house, but our paper towels like to go on walkabout on a fairly regular basis.) So I decided to take matters into my own hands.
Making your own pop-up wipes isn’t new or even novel, but it usually involves making your own cleaning solution on top of finding the right container. With the Mean Green Anti-Bacterial Multi-Surface Cleaner on hand I didn’t have to worry about it. And since I had a half-used roll of paper towels and an empty, tall, gallon-sized container on hand I had absolutely everything needed to make these kitchen wipes!
Wedge the paper towels into the chosen container. If it’s a snug fit, I found that twisting the roll, as if threading a screw, helped get everything in place.
Combine 2 cups of Mean Green Anti-Bacterial Multi-Surface Cleaner with 1 cup of water. It’s not essential to dilute the cleaner since it can be used full-strength with no problems, but I wanted to stretch it a little without decreasing the cleaning power. A 2:1 ratio seemed like a good idea.
Slowly pour the water and cleaner mixture over the roll of paper towels, saturating the entire roll.
Put the lid on and let sit for 4-6 hours so the cleaning mixture has time to sink through the roll of paper towels.
And if I was worried about using too much cleaning solution, the fact that there was only 1/4″ or so of liquid at the bottom of the container after sitting for several hours eased my concerns!
Remove the cardboard tube form the center of the paper towel roll. By this time it’ll be super-soaked and incredibly pliable.
Find the first (or closest to it) towel on the roll and pull up. I prefer the rolls with the half-sheets in general, and they come in extra handy for this sort of DIY as well.
Now, the one thing I opted not to do was to drill, cut, or otherwise make a hole in the center of the lid. That’s just asking for the wipes to dry out and I have no intention of making more work for myself. It’s really not that tough to take the lid off and put it back on, especially if it means my wipes stay ready-to-use!
These wipes came in handy almost immediately, thanks to Duncan’s antics, and I even got to use some in the kitchen, as well!
This post has been sponsored by Mean Green Degreaser. As a Brand Ambassador I receive product and other compensation for my participation and posts, but all opinions and experiences are my own.
It doesn’t have a wall, yet, but that’s just details.
Considering how many doors we’ve removed in this house, you’d think adding one back wouldn’t exactly make me jump for joy, but this one’s different. This one, the pocket door we bought last week, is replacing one of the largest eyesores in the house, one we see every day when we walk in the back door.
When I said that I thought we’d done most of the demo last weekend? Yeah, so not the case. We’d done the impressive part, but the fiddly bits of getting the small sections of the hallway that will become the bathroom took almost as much time and effort to remove as the entire interior wall structure! So, yeah, the devil’s in the details and all that.
Then we had to do something that you can’t even see: install the new joist. That meant cutting away a 10″ or so strip between the old bathroom wall and where the new one will be. And while Todd was getting ready to do that, we found this:
That would be, starting from the upper right corner, the original porch flooring, the old pressboard and vinyl tile that were to be removed during the renovation, and the new concrete board the contractor placed on top of all that mess. Not pictured is the new vinyl flooring they put in (it’s folded back).
Seriously, folks. What the ever-lovin’ hell was that contractor thinking?! Yes, I told him I would be replacing the floor **covering** in the next two years (so I didn’t want to pay a lot for the material we’d be ripping out) but I didn’t realize that translated to half-assing the whole thing?! No wonder the back door wouldn’t open after they installed the new floor! So aggravating.
It was (and is) irritating, but it’s not the end of the world. Todd was planning to replace the sub-floor anyway, apparently (I thought we’d only have to patch where plumbing had been, though hindsight shows a full new floor is the better route even then). We also had to have a conversation about just how far to build the floor up, then–to be level at it’s current height or to build it up to meet the level of the dining room. The hall is the part in play, since it’s something like 20Â° off from one side to the other, and I don’t mind a slight step down between the hall and bathroom, but Todd ultimately decided that he’d rather do two layers of plywood subfloor for added strength as well as to bring it up to approximately the right level, and go from there. It’s a small room, the extra materials aren’t going to kill the budget, and it’s probably the best solution in the long run.
But before we could get the joist in we needed to make a Lowe’s run for longer nails. We were able to borrow a truck from Todd’s office and picked up the dryall for the new wall and plywood for the floor (which are both chilling on the front porch for now) along with the nails, ear protection for me, the 2x2s to (I believe) reset the hall ceiling, etc. that we had to cut into and a shop-vac. We’re now closing in on $700 of the budget spent, including the tools, so that’s not too bad.
Now, I hate vacuums with a passion, but I wanted the shop-vac because sweeping was just not cutting it for the debris we were creating and my ancient vacuum would not have been able to hack it. Not that I’ve actually used Robbie the ShopVac yet (it reminds me of Robbie the Robot and I like to name things; like the puppies on the Puppy Cam on Animal Planet Live we kept checking in on between tasks last weekend; they were ardorable), but Todd has and it definitely does its job. Just like the reciprocating saw, that thing has been put through its paces and is making life so much easier!
Saturday evening felt a lot like when we first bought the house: construction debris in the back hall, a trip to Lowes, and a swing through a drive-thru because we’d skipped lunch. Unlike those early days, though, we couldn’t pack up and head back to a separate house in another state when we were through, but that’s not such a bad thing.
Sunday’s big job was installing the new wall framing. It looks deceptively simple, folks. And I know the saying goes “measure twice, cut once” but it’s really somewhere along the lines of measure half a dozen times, cut it, try to install it and find that it’s still just a hair off, and while we’re at it let’s review the way we were going to install this framing in general. But my incessant question-asking actually helped because we figured out a better way to deal with the studs and the brace along the top and all was well.
Unlike last week we (and by we, I mean Todd) actually made some evening progress during the week. We had to re-position the pocket door studs (which necessitated trip #3 to Lowe’s–it’s officially a project by Todd’s standards, now–for more screws) after placing them at the wrong intervals the first time and then we could finally remove the rest of the wall framing from the old bathroom wall. Last night Todd got in there, even though he got home 2 hours later than he’d planned, and ripped out the old ceiling beams and, folks, we’re talking major transformation here.
The old ceiling met the wall just above the window (below the 2×4) and extended straight across. We’re regaining only about 4″ on the window wall but on the door wall we’re talking several feet. This room will no longer feel like a hovel and it’ll actually fit in with the rest of the house! It’s a small thing, folks, but this feels super big to us.
Because that last bit was going on right up to 10 o’clock last night, the video won’t be posted to our YouTube channel until this weekend so I can include the full week’s progress. Make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss it!
This week coming up we’ll tackle the floor, place the drywall for the hall-side of the new wall, and work on electrical and plumbing. I hope. That’s the plan, at any rate!
But he must have gotten into the spirit of the project because he got up and wiggled some loose clapboards out of the way, just to see what things looked like inside the walls. And on Saturday afternoon we started working on the wall in earnest. Before I get to the what all those asterisks mean, here, have a video!
So, my big idea a few weeks ago was that we could put a pocket door for the bathroom and it would a) be cool, because pocket doors are automatically cool, and b) save some usable space in the hallway since that door is usually half-open, unless the room is occupied. I have Yellow Brick Home to thank for that mini-epiphany–they were talking about an impending barn door project, I believe, which led me on a short path to pocket doors.Â Then I had the idea that we could gain a little more elbow room in the bathroom by bumping out the wall to where the pipe chase extended. It’s only about 6-8″ so it won’t impact the hallway in any huge way but I think those 6 inches will make a big difference for anyone washing their hands at the new sink.
This does mean, however, that we have to build in support for this wall by adding joists under the house. Thankfully this part of the house is 3-4 feet off the ground, so Todd’ll have room to work under there no problem, but we do have to cut into the existing floor to make it happen, so, yeah. That won’t be happening on a week night, it’s definitely a start early Saturday morning sort of project.
**Electrical and Plumbing in Stages
Everything in the room is moving, so almost all the supporting elements need to move, too. There’s an air vent under where the tub will go that will be re-routed to under the window, and an electrical outlet just above it that will move over to the new wall, under the light switch and next to the sink. I think. Then, of course, there’s the plumbing lines that all have to be moved.
Which ties into…
***Piece-meal Drywall and Painting
One thing we learned when we opened up the ceiling is that we do have room to raise the ceiling, at least on the hall-side, and slope it towards the exterior wall. This will make it feel less cave-like. There’s one pipe in the way, a big cast iron deal, that is the current commode’s vent. Because it’ll need to stay where it is (same with the vertical stack behind the current commode) until the new toilet is in place, that means the ceiling will need to be done later than the rest of (most of) the drywall. This is an inconvenience I can live with in exchange for higher ceilings.
Here’s a question–would you do the drywall and painting before you tile, or after? I think before, that way you’re not slopping paint over freshly laid tile and grout and have to be less careful. Not to mention this would also be before the fixtures go in and less funny angles to work in and around. Todd says it’s usually done the other way around. I suppose it doesn’t matter tremendously, since we’ll be doing things in a somewhat wonky order, anyway.
****Tiling Half the Room at a Time
Now, my one requirement for this project is that the room remain essentially functional for as long as possible. Which means that I don’t want the current toilet removed before the new one is installed. This is why half the room will be completed (walls, tiles, etc.) before the other half. Normally I’d want to be as efficient as possible, knocking all the drywall out at once, all the tile, all the painting. This is also a nod to Murphy’s Law, and a hedge against unforeseen delays, etc. I’d rather have guests using a half-finished bathroom downstairs than make them go upstairs, should we not make our deadline.
Ideally we’ll be able to work on smaller projects or tasks during the week, but I don’t want to depend on that too much since I know how our evening hours often find us drained or trying to take care of normal day-to-day stuff. And there are a few things that I can take care of on my own like fixing the window (more on that, later) and repainting the tub and painting and so forth when the time comes. At this stage of the game, though, it’s mostly Todd’s department since we’re dealing with structural stuff that I’m not as familiar with.
As far as budget goes, if you read the earlier post on the bathroom plans, I guesstimated about $2000 for the whole room, and we’re right around $400 spent so far. (Though that does include the reciprocating saw and blades, something that’ll be in use for far more than this one use, so give or take ~$100.) Still plenty left for drywall, tile, paint, and fixtures (and who knows what else).
A not-so-glamour shot of the wall-less bathroom after Sunday’s efforts.
While tearing down the walls we learned a few things:
The braintrust that built this room appears to have used floorboards for the walls. We thought it was beadboard, but that was just the “creative” spacing of the floor planks. It also meant that instead of removing panels, the walls came down one stubborn board at a time.
There’s evidence of fire damage in some of the studs and braces. Now, we know the upstairs caught fire in 1939, and the abundance of square nails in the framingÂ leads us to believeÂ this room might have been enclosed before the fire and suffered some damage during it. Whether it was a bathroom back then or not is anyone’s guess.
There’s a good chance that every time I ask Todd “Would you normally use <insert material or technique>?” Todd’s answer is going to be “If you’re going cheap.” This was the case for only putting a vapor-barrier on half the ceiling (of course the half that didn’t have the leak!), using quarter-round in front of the exiting baseboards (our stellar contractor’s option), and using larger quarter-round to “fill” an interior corner, among other things.This room was definitely the best first room to tackle in many regards!
We really need a shop-vac! (And a second pry-bar would have come in handy; you might notice in the video we keep trading the hammer and pry-bar depending on what section of wall we’re working on.) Dust masks are a must on this sort of project and my gel knee pads saved me when I was crawling around removing quarter round and baseboards. I have a feeling they’ll be a lifesaver when it comes time to tile!
That’s our progress so far! The next update (I hope to be able to do these weekly as the project continues) will include framing the new wall and installing the pocket door.
It’s somewhat fitting (if a little frustrating) that we begin our second year of home repairs with more plumbing issues. But that’s the way it goes, and it actually turned out better than it could have.
The worst-case scenario in this situation involved cutting a large chunk out of the ceiling. The upside is that it would have forced the issue on redoing the back hallway (which sorely needs it). To refresh your memory, this is the part of the house that used to be porch and was later enclosed. It’s pretty obvious that most of the issues with this particular add-on are from shoddy work when it was enclosed. Most of the issues wouldn’t have been very big while it was still breezeway or what have you, but the exterior that’s now interior has some severe, long-term water damage that will require new drywall at the very least, and possibly more once we actually open up the walls.
And when we tackle the drywall on the bathroom side of the hall, then we might as well deal with the water damage in the bathroom, as well (that was due to the roof, roof, not roof but window casing ridiculousness). But my plan is to do more than just replace the ceiling and drywall in there, I want to completely overhaul that room. It happens to be the worst laid out bathroom I’ve ever seen, but it can be improved it we rearrange the fixtures to better use the small space (approx. 5.5’x9′) and it won’t even be horrific as far as the plumbing is concerned because I can reuse the hot and cold lines that currently run to the sink for the tub.
For the visual learners among us (myself included).
What’s not pictured is a window Â in the center of the exterior wall. Yes, a window on a ground-floor bathroom that looks into the shower. The reset will put the window in line with the door for natural light (said window currently being blocked by a shower curtain) and a more appropriate placement.
Sure, it’ll mean moving the door as well as the pipes, but the current state of the downstairs bathroom door shows that it was, at some former time, forcibly opened. We can only presume that one of the patients of the personal care home that was found themselves on the wrong side of the door one way or another. But replacing it will not be much of a hardship. I think one of the upstairs closet doors is the right side, should we want to keep to the current diminutive stature (that is, barely 2′ wide and short enough that our tall guests have to duck).
Getting back to the point, I’m glad it wasn’t a worst case scenario for many reasons. Pretty high up on that list is the prospect of our annual Halloween party and not wanting the guest bath under construction with such a deadline looming. So the back hall and downstairs bath will continue in their functional if not optimal conditions while I work on a new project which just presented itself. (Hint: follow me on instagram to see what I’m up to over the next month.)