Tiling and electrical work…

Yesterday was amazingly productive.  We got more done than I expected, although I must admit we didn’t go to bed until well after 3:00 am.  Today is our last full day to work on the kitchen as S has to return to work tomorrow.  Spring break is just about over.  Thankfully, the little things that will be left unfinished today will be easily done by me over the next couple of days.  I’m pretty sure all of the two person work will be done before we go to bed tonight.

Before we really got started yesterday I went back to that “how to tile a counter” website I had been using for this project.  I wanted to check some things out about grout.  On HGTV they always say the grout should be like peanut butter and on the box of grout we bought, it said the grout should be like toothpasteS figures that toothpaste and peanut butter are quite similar.  That thought disgusts me to the core. 

Anyway, it’s a good thing I went back to the website because I read something I had totally missed in all of my other visits there.  If one is using a porous tile like stone, one needs to seal it before one begins to grout or else one will never, ever get the grout off of the stones.  Do you realize how much that would have sucked if I hadn’t read that?  I was thinking of the sealer as a post grout thing…  By the way, if you are using stone tiles like we did, go for the high gloss sealer.  It makes the stones even more beautiful.

When we went to install the new under cabinet light we hit another road block.  The wires from the wall wouldn’t reach to the wires in the box for connection.  I thought we could extend the wires somehow, so S called her dad, the electrician, and he told us how to do it.  It’s called making “pigtails” and all we did was get come scrap Romex, pull out the black, white and copper wires and then tied them to the like wires coming out of the wall using those yellow caps.  It gave us enough length to get the light wired up.  And just so you know, we made sure that the power to the light fixture was off at the fuse box before we began.

The ugly light bulb is gone!  Now we have an understated kitchen light that will not blind me while I wash dishes.  The new light also enhances the stones around the sink area.  It gives them a nice glow, especially the ones with a slightly metallic look to them.

Also with the power off at the fuse box, I disabled the old kitchen clock plug above the cabinets.  All I did there was cap off each wire with its own yellow cap and then stuffed them back into the work box, as per the instructions in our handy book on household electrical work from Lowe’s.  I finally was able to put up S’s Felix the Cat clock.  She is thrilled.  Although now that I see it better, he is going to have to move up an inch so his swinging tail does not block the eventual return of the cabinet doors.

Mitering sucks.  Yes, mitered joints look really great, but they suck to make.  Mitering is like some sort of mental warfare.  You get confused while trying to figure out how to cut which end which way.  There were two fairly intelligent people in the room last night and we wasted a lot of wood trying to get the cut ends to fit together.  And just when we thought we had it figured out, we somehow ended up being wrong.  It took forever to finally get it right. 

But we did get it figured out and we did get our wood trim pieces cut.  Originally I thought we would be able to adhere them using only Liquid Nails, but I think I place too much faith in that product.  There was a commercial for Liquid Nails a couple of years ago in which a guy was hammering, loudly, some bead board to a wall.  An angry neighbor clad in pajamas burst through the door with Liquid Nails, used it to quietly and perfectly hang the bead board and then took the hammer and Liquid Nailed it to the ceiling.  The instant bond promised by that commercial has stuck with me like a security blanket.  But the product doesn’t really work that way and I didn’t accept that until last night.  I had to use real nails to put up the trim.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with one being “quite easy” and ten being “very difficult” guess how hard it was to mix grout using the manual tool we purchased at Home Despot…  If you chose 10, you are not even close.  It was more like a 50 on that scale.  The tool looks like a long handled potato masher and I think it really only will ever be useful to us if we are hosting a Thanksgiving feast and I have to make mashed potatoes for 100 people.  It was not at all useful for mixing the grout.  It cost $11, by the way.  The drill attachment that appears to make grout mixing easier cost $22.  Think about that for a few minutes.

S has agreed that when we tile the kitchen and laundry room floors this summer, we will be purchasing the drill attachment.  However, she couldn’t shake my hand the seal the promise because she no longer has use of the muscles in her arms.

That’s me, grouting.  On HGTV, grouting always looks easy.  They make it seem like the grout will magically fill into the lines with just one easy swipe of the float.  Not so.  Especially not so when working with uneven stones and some grout lines that might be more properly named “fault lines“.  It was really hard work.  Particularly hard work on the back splash and only somewhat easier on the flat of the counter.  It took almost two full hours to grout this area of the kitchen.

Also, I purchased the “economy” grout float which was $2.97.  I do not recommend this to others.  Spend a little more money and get one of the better floats.  By the end of the grouting process, our cheap float was pretty broken down and we are going to throw it out because it won’t hold up for another project.  Maybe the cheap float works okay on smooth, flat, ceramic tile, but it is no match for rough, stone tiles.

You know, I love our stone tiles.  I think they are stunning.  But at 2:00 am, I was trying to convince myself and S that I thought leaving all of the damned grout on the walls made the kitchen look rustic and charming.  We had to scrub the stones down to get the grout out of the crevices.  We had to use a metal putty knife on several stones where the grout was not willing to come out by sponge alone.  It sucked.  And all I could think of while we were working on it was how much worse it would have been had we not sealed the stones before we grouted.

Here it is..  The light is up, the trim is on, the grout is in and all that is left is wiping the haze from the tiles.

Well, that and sealing the grout lines and putting the sink together (faucet & drains) and installing the sink and hooking up the plumbing and counter-sinking the nails in the trim and finishing the cabinet doors and hanging the cabinet doors and installing new cabinet hardware

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