Tag Archives: kitchen

Preparing to tile the kitchen floor

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
Abraham Lincoln

Monday morning. Julian, Pedro and Samuel are preparing to tile the kitchen floor. Do this correctly and the heart of the house will beat strong and brilliant.

To help, this past Friday, Ron and Steven sorted the two designs of the floor tile. Steven explains the sorting to Julian — all the horizontal tiles are stacked in the kitchen, to be laid in the kitchen. All the speckled and mottled tiles are stacked in the garage, to be used in the mudroom and mudroom bath, and the pantry and pantry hall.

Where do we put the center line? Where do we cut tile?

Above, Julian and Pedro calculate the center line of the kitchen. Samuel observes. Look closely at the concrete floor. The squares of dark lines are ghost images of the first floor installed when Emerald Hill was built.

Julian, striped shirt, measures out each tile across the kitchen floor at the platform for the cooktop. The red tiles are samples that Steven and Jacquela are considering for the backsplash.
Julian, striped shirt, measures out each tile across the kitchen floor at the platform for the cooktop. The red tiles are samples that Steven and Jacquela are considering for the backsplash.
With the laser switched on to square each run of tile, Julian, left, and Pedro, right, measure for tile at the back end of the platform the island cabinets.
With the laser switched on to square each run of tile, Julian, left, and Pedro, right, measure for tile at the back end of the platform the island cabinets.
Pedro and Julian lay out each tile, long axis, full tile at the break between the family room and where the kitchen floor begins, working toward the cooktop cabinet and window wall. When this is done, Julian calculates the number of full tiles that will be needed to complete the floor -- 68. Then they count the tiles stacked on the wood platforms -- 62. Steven shows Julian and Pedro the stack of "transitional tiles" already sorted in the garage -- tiles that include some part of both tile designs -- linear and mottled/speckled. These will be used to transition to the entirely speckled/mottled floors in the mudroom and pantry wings off the kitchen.
Pedro and Julian lay out each tile, long axis, full tile at the break between the family room and where the kitchen floor begins, working toward the cooktop cabinet and window wall. When this is done, Julian calculates the number of full tiles that will be needed to complete the floor — 68. Then they count the tiles stacked on the wood platforms — 62. Steven shows Julian and Pedro the stack of “transitional tiles” already sorted in the garage — tiles that include some part of both tile designs — linear and mottled/speckled. These will be used to transition to the entirely speckled/mottled floors in the mudroom and pantry wings off the kitchen. Manuel, at right, blue shirt, is removing the shims from under the cabinet platforms. It’s safe to remove the shims because Basem nailed and screwed the platforms into position, using the shims to prop the platforms level when setting them up for nails and screws.
Manuel scrapes the last of the old cement off the slab floor -- cement left behind when demo removed the orange saltillo tiles from the kitchen floor that came with Emerald Hill.
Manuel scrapes the last of the old cement off the slab floor — cement left behind when demo removed the orange saltillo tiles from the kitchen floor that came with Emerald Hill.

 

 

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Candidates for the red glass tile backsplash

Jacquela and Steven have narrowed to two the candidates for the red glass tile that we will use for the backsplash behind the cooktop in the kitchen.

The original plan called for back-painted glass. Red. One sheet, from countertop to ceiling. But it’s ridiculously expensive and the fabricator will not warranty it against breakage or cracking. So we shifted gears to glass tile.

Candidate 1 is NOT a perfect 4×12. Neither is candidate 2. But #1 is slightly smaller than #2 lengthwise.

To Steven’s eye, #2 is a slightly richer red. By a hair.

Jacquela computes the cost for the 20 square feet that we need and nominates #1 as the first choice.

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Horizontal tile

One of the things we learned experimenting with tile patterns — grid or brick, north/south or east/west — is that the kitchen tile comes in two very distinct designs — almost three.

It’s porcelain tile. The designs are printed on the porcelain slab using ink-jet printers. It’s a relatively new application of ink-jet technologies. Here’s an article about it — warning, commercials and subscription boxes will appear in your browser.

Almost anything is possible. Your choices are mind-boggling.

Months ago, Jacquela and Steven pored through hundreds of photos of different tile, mostly on Houzz.com. We filtered down to a gray/black/white palette — modern yet calming — to organize the tile floors at Emerald Hill.

We further refined that palette to large grey tiles for two key rooms — kitchen floor, and the floor in Jadin’s bath.

On a visit with Renee at ProSource, Steven collected several samples where the tile closely resembles natural granite.

The first design used in the ink-jet printed tiles is lined with long bands of color — almost veins.

The second design is “speckled” or “mottled” — spots of color that assemble into images of granite rock — something like Georges Seurat did when painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.”

Yes, a tile floor is a work of art.

Which induces sleepless nights stressing over choices.

Ron Dahlke and Steven spent part of Friday afternoon opening every box of the kitchen tile to sort through the two designs.

Steven hopes to use the two different designs in very specific locations.

Ron and Steven stacked the linear pattern in the kitchen for use in that floor. They stacked the mottled design in the garage, along with a pile of “transitional” tile that includes both designs, for use in the mudroom and pantry.

Heavy tile. Dusty. Sweaty work. Steven has new respect for the muscles of tile setters.

Sorting the tile was Ron’s idea. A very good idea. Don’t ask the tile setters to separate wheat from chaff. Sort and stack the tile to show the tile setters precisely what Steven has in mind.

Above, two stacks of the linear design staged atop the wood platform for the kitchen island installed the other day. Steven processed the contrast and lighting in this picture to help see the horizontal banding. Unfortunately, the exposed concrete slab is also gray and dirty — and it almost blends with the tile designs.

This is an even-more heavily processed photo of the kitchen tile, with the contrast pushed to help make the horizontal banding that much more visible.
This is an even-more heavily processed photo of the kitchen tile, with the contrast pushed to help make the banding that much more visible. This tile is “transitional.” It features some of the linear banding, and some of the mottled speckling. The banding also swirls more than the banding in the featured photo that starts this post.
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Notes, 15 Oct. 2015

Early start to a busy day.

Above, Steven swept up and collected these “bullets” left behind by Basem as he installed the platforms for the kitchen cabinets. The empty shells have been fired. The shells with tips are still “live ammo” capable of driving the pin nail at right into the concrete slab when hammered with a nail gun. We will not be leaving these lying around.

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Steven arrived at Emerald Hill at 825 am after dropping Jadin off at school. Delivery truck from Ferguson was waiting, with the final missing piece of the shower for bath 2 — Jadin’s bath — the shelf unit that fits into the corner of the shower. Now Ron can finish installing that shower.
Steven continued experimenting with tile layouts. Here is how Jacquela wants the tiles aligned in the kitchen. Steven approves.
Steven continued experimenting with tile layouts. Here is how Jacquela wants the tiles aligned in the kitchen — north/south. Steven approves.
And here is how we will lay out the grid of tiles in bath 2 -- east/west.
And here is how we will lay out the grid of tiles in bath 2 — east/west.

Julian and his crew of tile setters arrived about 9 am. Steven walked the tile patterns and layouts with Julian. One open question is — there are apparently two distinct designs in the tile selected for the kitchen floor. One is linear. The other is mottled. Steven hopes there is enough linear to cover the kitchen floor, and enough mottled to use in the mudroom, mudroom bath and pantry — to help delineate the spaces. We won’t know until Julian opens all the boxes.

Kyle from Cowart arrived about 930 to teach Steven about garage doors. We might be able to save and refurbish the existing door, at several hundred dollars. But it still needs a new motor and remote — Steven is holding out for wi-fi and Internet access to the garage door controls. Kyle reports this can all be packaged with a new door, with full warranty, for about $1,000, total. Steven and Jacquela will continue this conversation Saturday when we meet with Kamla.

Upstairs in the master shower, Pedro applies a second layer of blue waterproofing to the Hardie board.
Upstairs in the master shower, Pedro applies a second layer of blue waterproofing to the Hardie board.
A day or two back, Ron and Cris installed this screen mesh across the exterior of the exhaust vent -- to keep critters and bugs out.
A day or two back, Ron and Cris installed this screen mesh across the exterior of the exhaust vent — to keep critters and bugs out.
More history uncovered and discovered. At some point, the family room at Emerald Hill was carpeted -- and an arc of some other flooring was installed at the back door. Look closely at the gray concrete for the clefts hollowed out in the slab by the nails in the carpet tack.
More history uncovered and discovered. At some point, the family room at Emerald Hill was carpeted — and an arc of some other flooring was installed at the back door. Look closely at the gray concrete for the clefts hollowed out in the slab by the nails in the carpet tack.
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“Fire in the hole”

Basem is back from Central Texas Custom Cabinets to install the cabinet bases that were delivered yesterday. By late afternoon, the base for the microwave and oven is installed on the east wall of the kitchen. The base for the cooktop and sink is installed on the south wall. Bases for the cabinet for plates, glasses and cutlery, and for dry storage, are installed on the west wall.

At top, Basem lays out the first base for the island. He levels everything, several times, from all directions, checking, rechecking. Get the platforms level and the cabinets will be level; miss by a hair and it cascades across the run of cabinets. At the back of the photo are red glass and porcelain tiles that Steven and Jacquela are considering for the backsplash at the cooktop.

Basem hammers the nail gun, loaded with a drive pin and a bullet-like charge that fires the nail through the lumber of the base and into the concrete slab. Before he swings the hammer, he shouts "fire in the hole." The explosion is loud, like firing a gun. Basem wears ear protection. The rest of us heed the warning.
Basem hammers the nail gun, loaded with a drive pin and a bullet-like charge that fires the nail through the lumber of the base and into the concrete slab. Before he swings the hammer, he shouts “fire in the hole.” The explosion is loud, like firing a gun. Basem wears ear protection. The rest of us heed the warning.
Another drive pin is slammed into the concrete slab.
Another drive pin is slammed into the concrete slab.
Basem checks and rechecks, shims and reshims, to get the bubble on the level dead center.
Basem checks and rechecks, shims and reshims, to get the bubble on the level dead center.
One of the final pins is hammered home.
One of the final pins is hammered home.
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Almost time for kitchen cabinets

Aaron Pratt from Central Texas Custom Cabinets today delivered the base platforms for the kitchen cabinets, putting them on the floor in roughly the positions that cabinets will be installed.

The microwave and oven will go into the kitchen atop the platform at far right of photo. The cooktop, sink and dishwasher will go atop the platform at far left. The island will be located above the platforms in the middle of the photo. At the back of the photo, leaning up against the wall, is the platform for the cabinet where we will store plates, glasses and cutlery. The L-shaped platform is the base for pantry and storage cabinets.

Steven observes: We spent June, July, August, September and the first couple of days in October taking crap out of Emerald Hill. This delivery today shifts perspective — we’re starting to bring the kitchen to life, the heart of the house. Emerald Hill has a pulse, growing stronger.

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Notes, 12 Oct. 2015

So how did Christopher Columbus “discover” America if Native Americans already lived across North, Central and South America, in civilizations thousands of years old?

That’s today’s conundrum.

Back at Emerald Hill …

  • Ron Dahlke and Steven took inventory of the doors delivered by BMC West. We believe half the order is still to come.
  • Ron and Steve triple-checked the count of passage, privacy, dummy and pocket door handles; Steven can now order the handles.
  • Steven scheduled a meeting for Tuesday with Victor Martinez to talk about cutting off sprinklers where the garage extension will be built, and installing a new sprinkler control system — when it’s time. It will soon be time.
  • Ron met with the roofer, who reports we will need to vent the garage roof with either a “mushroom” or a ridge vent as part of the garage construction. There is already one mushroom vent, but the enlarged space will need more ventilation. Luckily, we have three mushrooms stored on the driveway waiting for donation to Habitat. More details to come.
  • Kevin Rehberg continued to chip out the existing oak flooring, which cannot be saved.
  • Ron reports that the kitchen cabinets might arrive as soon as next week!
Cris pours concrete to fill the hole in the slab where the original stair treads began. He is standing just about where the original front door opened -- clearly illustrating how we have extended the front entry another five feet beyond where Cris is working. We have to bring the slab up level to install the new wood flooring that will replace the existing oak that cannot be saved.
Cris pours concrete to fill the hole in the slab where the original stair treads began. He is standing just about where the original front door opened — clearly illustrating how we have extended the front entry another five feet beyond where Cris is working. We have to bring the slab up level to install the new wood flooring that will replace the existing oak that cannot be saved.
Upstairs, the laminate and padding are completely removed, and the loft is vacuumed clean. Hickory planks will be installed here. The exposed subfloor reads as a history lesson -- water stains and rusted nails, we think caused by a roof leak; markings on the floor for electrical outlets and a ceiling fan from a remodel; saw cuts at corners where the subfloor was apparently repaired and replaced.
Upstairs, the laminate and padding are completely removed, and the loft is vacuumed clean. Hickory planks will be installed here. The exposed subfloor reads as a history lesson — water stains and rusted nails, we think caused by a roof leak; markings on the floor for electrical outlets and a ceiling fan from a remodel; saw cuts at corners where the subfloor was apparently repaired and replaced.
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Solving the lighting above the island

When the drywall went up on the ceiling in the kitchen, Steven discovered that the three 4-inch ceiling cans for lights above the island were not equidistant from each other.

Ron said, don’t worry, we’ll fix it.

With the drywall install done, Ron and Cris took down the sheets of ceiling drywall over the island, exposing the cans and ceiling joists.

Ron and Steven dragged a 10-foot-long sheet of drywall into the kitchen, propped it up on two garbage cans, to simulate the location and size of the kitchen island.

Then we used three paint cans to approximate the location of the lights on the island, to confirm that the only way to center the middle recessed can would require cutting a ceiling joist and restructuring the two adjoining joists — a process that would also require inspections and approvals from the structural engineer.

Ron suggested an alternative approach — adding a fourth can, dividing the four cans into two pairs, and installing each pair to mirror the other. This requires no cutting of lumber, no structural engineer. It does require the electricians to add the additional can, but that’s easy.

Here's Ron Dahlke studying the plans, with the drywall mockup of the kitchen island propped on two garbage cans and four paint cans approximating the location of the four recessed cans that will be used to illuminate the island.
Here’s Ron Dahlke studying the plans, with the drywall mockup of the kitchen island propped on two garbage cans and four paint cans approximating the location of the four recessed cans that will be used to illuminate the island.
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Notes, 23 Sept. 2015

It’s the first day of Fall. Happy Equinox!

Kathleen Baker at Ranserve today submitted plans for the garage addition to the City of Austin, applying for a building permit. Now we wait for review.

The exhaust duct for the kitchen hood is at upper left in this photo. The darker drywall is water resistant, where the sink will be installed.
The exhaust duct for the kitchen hood is at upper left in this photo. The darker drywall is water resistant, where the sink will be installed.

Ron and Cris from Ranserve installed the duct for the kitchen exhaust hood inside the kitchen, foaming all around the metal duct to insulate it and the exterior wall, then sealing up around the duct with drywall.

The exterior end of the exhaust duct. Ron and Cris will mount a screen to block bugs from traveling into the house through what is currently the open bottom of the duct.
The exterior end of the exhaust duct. Ron and Cris will mount a screen to block bugs from traveling into the house through what is currently the open bottom of the duct.
Catching up on other drywall details -- the master bath, with water resistant drywall at the sink locations and the shelf that goes behind the vanity framed up.
Catching up on other drywall details — the master bath, with water resistant drywall at the sink locations and the shelf that goes behind the vanity framed up.
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Notes, 21 Sept. 2015

  • The vanities are shipping from Bathroomplace.com.
  • Capstone Electric reports it has a source to get 6-inch and 4-inch LEDs for the recessed ceiling cans at a savings of 40+ percent over previous bids.
  • SouthStar Bank reports it has approved the evidence of insurance it needed from Ranserve and will not need to impose a $6,000 insurance policy on the Leons. Steven asks for this decision in writing.
  • Ron Dahlke reports we may be ready to inspect the drywall screw patterns by mid-week, then proceed to taping and floating.
  • Steven and Ron opt for the 3.5-inch-by-10-inch rectangular exhaust vent for the kitchen hood after Ron calculates airflow restrictions, if any, using trigonometry and calculus help from Matt at Ranserve.
  • Aaron at Central Texas Custom Cabinets is funded by draw #3 and construction of the kitchen cabinets is underway.
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