Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Why I should stick with engineering

Ever heard the expression, "Don't quit your day job?" I think this one applies to me and bathroom remodeling. I think being an engineer suits me better. Anyway, I did manage to update the guest bath a little. And by update, I mean paint the walls and destroy the toilet. I think at this point J is looking forward to me going back to work so he doesn't have to worry about what the house will look like when he comes home each day. This was the situation in the guest bathroom tub when J came home on Monday. Yes, that is the tank of the toilet sitting in the tub.

Let's rewind. Our guest bathroom was originally wallpapered. I know this because of two things. One is that the walls look like they are in pretty bad shape (as if someone had difficulty removing the wallpaper), and two is that the area inside the vanity is still wallpapered. It's all 80s-style in there. The previous owners also removed a built in medicine cabinet at some point, and didn't do a great job of fixing it. You can see the indentation in the picture below.

That turned out to be a real pain to fix. I used layers and layers of drywall compound to smooth it out, and it still isn't perfect. These are some early on coats of the stuff.

Meanwhile, as I was waiting for the compound to dry... I worked on replacing our exhaust fan in the master bathroom because it stopped working recently. Look at how nasty it was looking in there.

Here is the new one I bought from Home Depot.

Except I found a problem. I got to this step and couldn't remove the old box to replace it with the new one. The nail that was used to nail it to the stud is completely rusted and at the wrong angle. Luckily my dad is coming tomorrow and bringing the appropriate tools, so this project will have to wait. So below is how our exhaust fan is looking in the master bath. Awesome right?

Okay, back to the guest bathroom. This is how the wall was looking before painting. Like I said, there were lots of imperfections going on. I ended up using Superpaint by Sherwin-Williams which has a built in primer. Since my color was pretty deep, I didn't prime the walls first, which I usually do.

I chose a gray for the bathroom (stamped concrete). I actually was inspired by the light fixture in the bathroom which is yellow. I wanted something that would work well with the yellow while offering some contrast. Gray and yellow are very "in" right now, so I used that. Since most of the rest of the space is white, I figured a deep gray should work, as long as I use enough light accessories, so the room doesn't look too dark. This picture shows that even after I painted, I noticed lots of problems on the walls in terms of smoothness and had to use more compound to smooth it out. And you can see why I removed the toilet tank. I could not paint behind the toilet without doing it. I regret nothing.

While we are on the subject of toilets, I picked out all our choices for the half bath remodel this week. There is nothing that makes you feel as grown up as looking at a bunch of toilets, debating the different footprints and flush capacities. How did I get here?


Since my smoothing out was taking a really long time, I saved the medicine cabinet area for last.

I ended up doing 3 coats on the walls to try and get a really smooth finish. Since this room is super small, I still have about a third of the paint left. Which I suppose is good if I ever modify anything and want to keep the paint color. Here is the wall after a gazillion coats of compound. 

And the finished product. I don't really feel like these photos capture the color very well. But you get the idea.

What I want to do is add yellow art work and decorations to the area to give it more brightness and contrast. I just haven't gotten there yet. Going from the weird yellow texture to a solid color was a huge improvement, though. I did learn a lesson though. While painting in a small area doesn't take a long time, it is very crowded and hard to keep from stepping in paint or other junk. Oh and you'll notice that the toilet's tank is back on the toilet... BUT it's also being propped up. Yea, again, very glad my parents are coming tomorrow. Added bonus is the extra motivation they will have considering that is their bathroom and the downstairs one is torn to pieces. :) Actually, it's not that bad. I tried installing a new gasket for the tank myself (which you pretty much have to do after removing the tank). 

The tank is held to the bowl by screws with rubber washers underneath to prevent leaking. The bowl's water pathway is surrounded by a rubber gasket, again to prevent water leaking. In time, the rubber gets weakened, which is usually okay as long as you don't fiddle with your toilet. But, if you ever separate the tank and bowl, the rubber pretty much disintegrates and you have to buy a new set. I'm sure this is why they are sold together. Anyway, I have no idea what I did wrong, but the bowl doesn't seem to sit right. It rocks back and forth, like the gasket isn't seated correctly. That will be tomorrow's project. I ended up fiddling around with the toilet for a long time. Despite being an engineer, I never really took things apart and put them back together as a kid. Which is what parents expect future engineers to do. Instead, I wait until it's my own house and there isn't anyone to fix it for me. Have I mentioned how glad I am my dad is coming tomorrow? I actually tried to connect everything back together and turn on the water again. Can you guess what happened? Yes, there was some leakage. It wasn't too bad though. But, the water is back off and disconnected from the toilet. 

One more small project also happened this week. I organized the unfinished part of our basement. It was looking like this. 

I couldn't walk in there or find anything. So, after organizing and getting rid of junk. Our basement is looking much better.

So, that has been my week so far in a nutshell. I'm more sore than I have been in a while from all the housework, and I am pretty sure my jeans are looser than they were. Doing house updates has that added benefit as well. I have been enjoying my time off. But, truthfully, it's a little weird. All your friends are working. And the days go by sooo fast. And I have been spending way more money on things than I would normally (and not earning anything). I think I had too many things on my to-do list for my time off. I figured I could get lots of things accomplished, but that really hasn't been the case. Things always take longer to do than I anticipate. And I haven't really done any of the quiet reflecting I should have done. But I never do. I have these romantic ideas that I will sit by a lake and just think about things, but the metro DC area isn't exactly Walden (And I'm not exactly Thoreau). 

One last thing... Long post. Thanks for sticking with me. I finally framed this postcard my dad gave to me. It is from my great-grandfather's work in television. He was an Electrical Engineering professor at Perdue. 
I made it big to point out a few things. 
1. Mr. is the assumed greeting. Women wouldn't have been involved in engineering or radio. 
2. Date: 19__
3. The frequency is given in kc. or kilocycles as in cycles/second. This was before the term Hertz (which is 1 cycle/sec) was adopted. 
4. I probably don't need to point out this was analog television. :) 

I refinished a frame I had and framed it for my desk area. 

I know it's off-center. I have plans for this wall to be a wall of pictures, but I haven't bought enough frames yet. :) So, for now, it will just look a little strange, but I'm okay with that. 

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