Powder Room Reno Gets Rolling…..

We are moving forward with finishing up our downstairs powder room and side entranceway.  We had started our penny round tiling project months ago, and then the other day I replaced the toilet and started the tiling in the powder room.  I have done some more tiling in the meantime, but we are getting ready to deal with finishing the project. This will include refinishing the built-in cabinet, fixing the hole in the wall, moving the sink, replacing the baseboards and the worst of all…….cutting down the door so it will fit over the new penny tile floor.

The beginning of the penny round tile project.
The beginning of the penny round tile project.

We have had a few thinking days.  Days when we look at the sink, the door, the hole in the wall and go “Hmmmmmm”.  I know what my skills are – patience, the filling of holes, staining and painting, and a little destruction.  I know my limitations, I can’t plumb, do electricity or do anything involving a lot of strength.

My husband, on the other hand can do a little bit of each, but he is not confident with his skills – having worked hard in the executive suite for so many years – and now being tasked with moving a sink or other “fun jobs”.  While I am not a perfectionist, my wonderful spouse is much more thorough, analytical and meticulous.  He actually wants to do jobs the right way?  Thank goodness that opposites attract, because it works for us!

When he returned from his fishing trip the other day, he was happy to get going with removing the old sink.  This required a lot of crawling in unpleasant spaces, and unscrewing of stuck taps and drains.

Apparently when a tap or screw is stuck it’s not helpful to say “Righty-tighty, lefty-loosey“.  He got the sink out, but there was some drama.  By the way, I was right, it is lefty-loosey. 

Two strong guys removing a pedestal sink. Lillie has been dismissed for saying lefty-loosey and not holding still.
Two strong guys removing a pedestal sink. Lillie has been dismissed for saying lefty-loosey and not holding still.

This was a two person job though, with someone strong needed to hold the pedestal sink up while my husband did the plumbing work.  One of our boys, who was just starting to write an on-line university exam had to stop everything to jump in, when I was not holding the sink still correctly.  It all ended well though, once two strong men got together, the sink moved quickly and our son got back to his exam on time.

Today we watched Youtube videos of how to cut down a door, and tried out our old circular saw.  We found that the thing was seizing up and making terrible noises.  Now, I would have used the defective saw, likely torn the door to bits and then used wood filler, and likely ended up buying a new door.  I do see the error of my ways!

We found a sale at Lowes on circular saws.  Unfortunately, due to social distancing, there were line-ups of people 40 deep at Lowes all day long, so we drove by several times – finally seeing a break in the action at 6:30pm – and acquired the appropriate power tool.  Woo hoo! It almost felt illegal, going into a store, not lining up, and getting a deal……

I was also able to acquire a few of my favourite things! As usual, I bought my favourite things:

Wood filler, drywall compound and paintable latex caulk

There are hundreds of holes and cracks in the walls of every room in our house, and I find it satisfying to fill those holes.   I have used wood filler in holes and scratches in the floors and doors and happily matched the stain with mixed concoctions of assorted wood stains. (I was a fan of faux finishing back in the 90s).

I use paintable latex caulk on nail holes in molding/baseboards, and in joins and gaps in baseboards.  It has a bit of give-elasticity, making it easy to use.  The key is, that it to choose a paintable product, to blend in with the walls and trim.

Filling an odd gap in the drywall with paintable latex caulk.
Filling an odd gap in the drywall with paintable latex caulk.

When someone walks into a house, their eyes are drawn towards the black holes – gaps and flaws in the walls.  Using caulking, wood filler and drywall compound throughout the house, keeps our eyes on the positive.

Good Screwdrivers

Over the years screwdrivers become stripped, so that they are not perfectly shaped, or worse still – they go missing (with those single socks, somewhere in the house).  There is nothing like a solid Phillips or Flat head screwdriver, when you are trying to undo something.  Incidentally, if you want to get out of helping your husband in a home improvement project and he asks for a Phillips – just say “You mean the crissy-crossy one?” – That will end things right there.

Gel Stain

I love to refinish wood furniture and floors, and have been doing so for 40 years.  (OK, maybe longer).  In my usual non-perfectionist way – I don’t always get all of the old finish off!  I have found that a dark gel stain, applied lightly over most surfaces will adhere, when a traditional liquid stain will not.

Minwax® Gel Stain in Walnut
MinWax Gel Stain in Walnut

It will scratch off, but if polyurethane is applied over the top, it’s generally going to stay and look wonderful.  Currently, I’m using this on the powder room cabinet.  This cabinet isn’t even really wood.  It seems to be some sort of re-constructed IKEA style MDF and veneer cabinet in a birch finish.  With a dark gel stain over it’s shiny surface, it’s starting to look like an antique (if I don’t look too closely).

Dark Gel Stain over birch veneer MDF - still a work in progress
Dark Gel Stain over birch veneer MDF – still a work in progress

Tinted Satin Varathane

In the olden days, you had to remove every speck of stain and polyurethane, apply stain, let it dry, and then apply the polyurethane – usually in gloss.  These days I love to use a tinted satin Varathane – a clear finish, with the stain already mixed in.  Why didn’t they invent this before?  I am topping my gel stained cabinet with some oak tinted Varathane.  I prefer a satin finish these days for most of my projects.  Less gloss, reveals less imperfection and dust – and also looks more modern.

Varathane Stain and Polyurethane
Varathane Stain and Polyurethane

We are taking a break this evening to think about how to shorten the door, whether to re-use the existing sink, and how to use 183 inches of leftover custom 12″ baseboard that we have on-hand to when we need 185 inches.  We think we have what we need to get going, but there are a lot of things to think about, but it’s all good. Hmmmmm…….

6 thoughts on “Powder Room Reno Gets Rolling…..

    1. Thanks Jen. We are just about done the floor now, so I will post about the tiles when I get some better pictures. Take care!

  1. Don’t husbands just hate it when you’re right? Not that they would ever admit that in public. Anyway, you’re making good progress. One day, the powder room will be PERFECT! Won’t it?

    1. It is difficult for my family with me being always right, but oh well. The floor is done now in the powder room, but we are still thinking about the plumbing for the sink. It gives us something to do while we are staying home these days. Take care Margaret.

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