I've mentioned a couple times before how crazy my walls are, like when I opened a wall or tiled my backsplash. In summary, sometimes they're drywall, sometimes they're plaster, sometimes they're drywall on plaster- you never know. As a result, my walls look funny. They're wavy, joint compound is visible in weird spots, they change width randomly, things like that. Because of this, I was super excited about the idea of extending my cabinets to the ceiling. Less visible wall = prettier house.
I was also super nervous about this project. It seems simple: cut up MDF and attach it above the cabinets. Done. But then there was the trim, and the caulk, and the paint, and it just seemed like so much work. So I procrastinated. For over a month, if you were wondering.
But then it all worked out, because guess who appeared? My dad! I'd put a cape on him if I could, because he's kind of a hero in that I'm not sure this blog would exist without his long-distance DIY consultations. But for this project, I had him in person! The best part about this: he said if I closed up the area above the sink in this project, he could bring down electricity from the attic and add a recessed light! Win!
And so with that, we got started!
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- Two 4' x 8' pieces of MDF
- Eight pieces of 7 foot trim, two different types
- Six 1" x 2" furring strips
- Construction Adhesive
- Brad Nails
- Paint and Primer
The MDF pieces need to be secured to something. Since that something won't be seen, I used furring strips, AKA, the cheapest wood on the market. I attached the strips to the tops of the cabinets and the ceiling using construction adhesive and brad nails. Since the pieces were so light, I didn't worry about attaching them to the ceiling joists; the construction adhesive alone was more than enough to hold them up.
I used a scrap piece of MDF to determine how far back to place the furring strips, and ensure the ceiling furring strips were aligned with the lower ones.
As mentioned above, my dad brought down electricity from the attic to power a recessed light over the sink. I'm not going to go into detail about how he did that, but if you have someone with the electrical skills to add lights for you, it's an awesome improvement!
The Romex wiring got hidden behind the MDF when I closed up the space, hence why the light had to be installed first!
I had Lowes cut my MDF pieces to be 12 1/2" x 8' long. While the distance between my cabinets and ceiling was 12 1/2" in some places, it was shorter in others, so in addition to cutting the MDF to the correct length using my miter saw, I also had to cut the pieces lengthwise so they fit between the cabinets and ceiling perfectly.
I used my circular saw to make the longer cuts. In order to make the cuts as accurate and straight as possible, I used this nifty jig developed by Kreg that helps keep my circular saw going in a perfectly straight line. I love it; if you don't have a table saw and regularly need to make long, accurate cuts with your circular saw, I highly recommend getting one.
I attached the MDF to the furring strips with brad nails and construction adhesive. The weight of the MDF pieces was mostly held by the cabinets, so I didn't feel I needed to use screws to keep the pieces in place.
For the space over the corner cabinets, I installed the MDF on either side first. I did not bevel those cuts, instead cutting them as normal.
Then I cut a piece to fit the space left. This piece had a 45 degree bevel on each end.
I added trim on both the top and bottom of the MDF pieces in order to hide any gaps resulting from the fact my ceiling wasn't perfectly level. I secured the pieces with construction adhesive and brad nails.
If your corners aren't perfect, don't fret. You'll add caulk on the next step, which hides any gaps, and does a great job of making work look professional.
Caulk is like my secret super power. Suddenly projects that were looking a little wonky look 100% better after caulk is added to any gaps. On this project, I went through and added caulk to all corners, the space in between the trim and MDF, and anywhere else I could see a gap. It makes everything so much better, so if you were thinking of skipping this step, don't!
I also added wood filler to any holes created by the brad nails so that they wouldn't be visible after painting.
Something to know about MDF: it is thirsty! I think this is some snazzy slang term used by high schoolers, but what I actually mean by it is that the MDF will quickly soak up any paint you add. If you paint the MDF without priming first, you will need 4-5 coats. Because of this, I highly recommend priming before you add any paint. I did two coats of Zinsser Primer before painting.
The entire time I've been planning my kitchen, I've had one reoccurring thought: where will I eat? The kitchen is TINY; there really isn't room for a set of table and chairs anywhere in the space. After finishing the countertop installation, I had some leftover butcherblock, and that was when I had the idea of a bar! I could use the leftover butcherblock to make a bar!
Before installing the bar, my kitchen looked like this:
I figured I could fit a small bar against the right side of the kitchen. It would have to be small, and the barstools would have to fit entirely under the bar when not in use, but it was do-able, and would add at least a little seating to the kitchen!
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I started with the two pieces of butcherblock in the picture below. The shorter piece is 14 1/2" tall. I decided to cut a 14 1/2" piece off the bigger piece of butcherblock, and then put the two pieces next to each other to form the bar. While I could have cut one long piece from the bigger butcherblock, I was concerned it wouldn't be long enough to comfortably seat two, plus it would have required having an exposed cut end. After cutting with a circular saw, the cut ends weren't super pretty, so I wanted to avoid that.
Once I had the pieces cut to be identical, I installed them using these shelf brackets. They were heavy duty and claimed to support up to 600 lbs per pair, which I hoped would mean they'd securely support the bar and everything I put on it. While I wouldn't sit on the bar, normal weighted things seem pretty secure so far.
I have crazy plaster covered in drywall walls, so I purchased extra long 3 1/2" screws to secure my shelf brackets to the studs. Since I was putting up four brackets, I wasn't able to get every single bracket into a stud: on one bracket, the screws attach to these molly anchors instead. While I had some concerns about the mollys holding the weight of the bar, I figured that since there was another shelf bracket that was secured to a stud, things would be fine. I haven't had any issues so far!
All in all, I absolutely love having a seating area in the kitchen. It's great to not have to carry my meal into the dining room every time I want to sit down. I'm enjoying it a lot. I'm also completely obsessed with the barstools and the mirror, go see how build them if you haven't already!
Lets talk about my new house for a moment. It's one of those houses that people look at and say "oh! It has... character." And it does. At 108 years old, it has some really interesting features, and a number of things that I wish were different.
The number one thing I would change? The walls. Theoretically, they're plaster. However, at some point in the last 108 years, that plaster cracked. Various owners dealt with this in different ways. Some wallpapered. Others slapped joint compound over the crack and repainted, hoping nobody would notice. A couple walls are entirely covered with drywall. One room is coated in wall texture spray stuff to disguise abnormalities.
Needless to say, I get nervous every time I have to do something to the walls. It's like a surprise project. Is the wall plaster? Plaster coated in drywall? Plaster covered with wallpaper and 3 layers of paint? Just drywall, because there apparently used to be a hole in the wall here? Nobody knows.
Adhering a subway tile backsplash to these walls seemed like asking for trouble. I decided to go for it anyway. Due to the fact I had already torn apart half the kitchen, I knew this was a plaster and drywall situation, with wallpaper in some spots but not all.
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Here's how I dealt with the fact my wall isn't at all level.
I don't mean call a contractor and have them come in and totally rework your walls. But I did try and get as much of the wallpaper and caulk off the wall before I started tiling. Additionally, I sanded the wall with a course sanding block to try and reduce any sudden bumps.
Any curves to your wall will be harder to disguise with a larger tile than a smaller tile. I choose to use this 3"x6" subway tile because it was cheaper, but a 2"x4" tile probably would have been better given my situation. That being said, I'm happy with the way my backsplash turned out, even with the larger tile.
The tiles I purchased had built in 1/16" spacers. However, I didn't use them. Instead, I got 1/8" tile spacers and used those to space my tile instead. A larger distance between the tiles is more forgiving to waves in the wall, because it offers more flexibility for bumps and such. Therefore, I avoided the small grout line and used tile spacers to make my grout line larger.
Many of the bumps in my wall were smoothed out by the tile adhesive. This means that in some spots the tile adhesive was thicker than in others. This resulted in an ultimately smooth tile finish.
All in all, my backsplash is finished, and you cannot tell that my wall is actually a wavy mess. Success!
Good news: my kitchen is almost functional! The cabinets are in, the countertops are finished and installed, and the sink/faucet works and is leak free! However, yesterday I got this depressing phone call from Lowes to inform me that my appliances had been delayed. Boo. So at the moment, my kitchen looks like this:
More important to this post, is this nice gap here:
This gap is 28" wide, and will ultimately house the dishwasher. However, my dishwasher (like most) is only 24" wide. That means I have four extra inches. Now, I could just stick a cover panel over the space, and call it a day, but since my appliances were delayed, and I have the time to build something, I figured I should probably make this space functional.
One of the many times I was procrastinating my life and browsing Houzz.com, I saw this awesome pull-out towel rack. I knew something similar would be perfect for this space, being next to the sink and all.
The towel rack in the picture above sits in an open alcove. Looking at the other pictures of this kitchen, there appears to be a similar symmetric gap (and possibly another towel rack) on each side of the sink, making the gap look intentional. Given that I only had one gap, I thought it would look strange if I left it open, so I designed my towel rack to have a front to it. This means that I can't put anything too wet on my towel rack, since there's not a lot of air to dry the towels back there, but that's a trade-off I'm willing to make.
The Towel Rack
- 3 1/2" piece of MDF, cut to 30"
- Two pieces of 1/2" by 17" plywood*
- Two pieces of 1/4" Plywood, 30" and 24" long*
- 1/2" and 3/4" wood screws*
- Wood Glue
- 2 Corner Braces*
- Paint that matched my cabinets
- Amazon Basics 14" Drawer Slides (One pair)
- Swivel Towel Bar
*A bunch of the things I chose to use because I had them around the house, similarly sturdy fasteners or wood could be used.
Step 1: Prepare the Front
I have Ikea Grimslov (off white) cabinets, so I chose MDF to make up the front of the pullout because I thought it was the best match for my cabinets texture-wise. However, I was a little concerned about the sturdiness of MDF; I was worried the towel rack would eventually fall off, or the connections between the drawer slide pieces and the front might come loose. So I wood-glued and screwed a piece of 1/4" plywood to the back to add support.
In order to get paint that matched the rest of the cabinets, I took an uninstalled drawer front to Lowes and had them make a sample-sized paint match. I then painted the piece. I really only needed to paint the front, but I decided to paint the back (and the pieces of plywood in step 2) as well to give the wood some protection from damp towels. I also added the knob at this point so that later I didn't accidentally attach something else (the towel rack, the drawer slides, etc) where the knob needed to go.
Step 2: Prepare the Sides
The ancient kitchen that I ripped apart a month or so ago had pretty grimy 1/2" plywood shelves in all of the cabinets. Thus, I had a nice stack of used-to-be-shelves sitting in the basement.
I cut two 3 1/2" pieces off (no particular reason for 3 1/2", they could have been 4" or 3" or something else, I suppose,) giving me two pieces 3 1/2" wide by 17" long. My drawer slides were 14", and the pieces really didn't need to be longer than that, but why make extra cuts when I didn't have to? My pieces therefore remained 3 1/2" by 17".
I sanded off the grime and then painted the pieces white, once again to add protection from any damp towels. Finally, on one end of each piece, I drilled Kreg jig pocket holes so I could later attach the pieces to the front piece.
Note: If you don't have a Kreg jig, because things are expensive, you might be able to still do this with only corner braces. Get super sturdy ones, and give it a shot. That being said, I've found my Kreg Jig super useful for all sorts of things that I didn't initially purchase it for (like installing the butcherblock countertops). And you don't need a fancy one; this one is only $20, and will get the job done.
The Amazon Basics Drawer Slides (and probably most drawer slides) separate into two main pieces, one which attaches to the side of the cabinet, the other which attaches to the drawer side.
I attached the "Drawer" piece of the slide to each of the plywood pieces on the opposite side from the Kreg jig holes, as shown below. I also checked that the drawer slide piece was level (with a level..)
Step 3: Assemble the Frame
I wanted the front piece to be flush with door of the sink cabinet next to it. In order to make sure that happened, I reattached the two drawer slide pieces together so that the entire piece of plywood was attached to the drawer slide. Then I held the front piece where I wanted it to go, and placed the plywood piece accordingly. I took down the front piece and marked with a pencil where the front of the drawer slide was.
I then separated the two drawer slide pieces, and attached the cabinet piece so that the front just came up to the line I had drawn. Before putting in the 2nd and 3rd screws, I checked that the slide was level.
I reattached the two drawer pieces to each other, which attached one of my plywood pieces to the cabinet side.
Then I held my front piece in place, and screwed my Kreg Jig screws into place. These were strong enough to temporarily hold the front in place while I repeated these steps for the bottom piece of plywood.
Step 4: Reinforce the Frame
As built so far, the towel rack frame operates properly. However, I (aka, my dad) had some concerns about long-term operability in two different places.
1) The Kreg Jig screws went through the edge of the plywood, which is the weakest part of the plywood. Therefore, it would improve stability if the joints were reinforced.
2) The two pieces of plywood were only connected by the front piece. They would operate better and be less strained if they were connected at the back end of the pieces as well.
I therefore reinforced the plywood to front piece joint using a single 1 1/2" corner brace on each piece.
I also added a 1/4" piece of plywood that spanned the length between the two plywood sides to help add stability. I attached it with wood glue and 1/2" wood screws.
Step Five: Add the Towel Rack
The towel rack I ordered came with absolutely no instructions, which was honestly fine since I wasn't installing it in a traditional manner anyway. Basically, there were two holes in the towel rack intended for screws, so I just screwed the rack into my front piece with some 3/4" screws and called it a day.
Towel Rack: $18.49
Drawer Slides: $13.99
MDF Piece: $6.08
Paint Sample: $3.68
Definitely more expensive than a traditional towel rack, but certainly cheaper than hiring a pro to come and install a built-in towel rack! And I used my little 4 inches effectively! I'll take it!
I'm pretty sure there are hundreds of posts on DIY butcherblock countertops. I would know. I read them all before I started. So I'm not going to go into the nitty gritty of where I bought them (Menards), if I stained them (yes, Minwax Early American), how I sealed them (three coats of Waterlox Original), or how I cut the sink hole (I followed the sink installation directions.)
What will I talk about? How I secured them to the cabinets.
As mentioned above, I read hundreds of posts about DIY butcherblock countertops. Not a single one talked about how they secured the countertop to the cabinets. So I made it up. I figured I couldn't go too wrong, since the main goal here is to make sure the countertop couldn't move around.
Maybe that's why nobody wrote about it? Securing countertops is too easy! (or boring, more likely...)
First thing to note: my cabinets were all from Ikea, but my butcherblock was not (primarily because Ikea doesn't seem to sell true butcherblock anymore.. bummer.) The Ikea cabinets are all supported on top by a metal rail running the width of the cabinet. These little rails have holes already punched in them, I suspect to aid in countertop installation. But since I did not purchase an Ikea countertop, I'll never truly know.
Regardless of what the little holes in the metal rails are actually intended for, I used them as the first mechanism to secure the countertop to my cabinet. Anywhere there was a hole, I added a screw. If there was a space between the rail and the countertop, I also added a shim so that the rail wouldn't bend up to the countertop when I added my screw.
This was a great (and easy, thanks Ikea!) start to securing the countertop, but since there were only four holes in most of the cabinets, I didn't want this to be the only way the countertop was secured. So I turned to what is quickly becoming my favorite new fastener, the Corner Brace!
In the corner of every cabinet, I added a corner brace. Additionally, I added a brace on each corner of the space left open for the dishwasher. In total, each cabinet had 4 corner braces and 4 "rail" screws. After I finished, I felt very confident that my countertop wasn't going anywhere soon.
Other people on the internet also appeared to go through the hassle of connecting the two countertops together. Many of them had some sort of fancy bolt fastener thing that required a router to install. Oh, no, no. I don't own a router, and I'm one of those people who put off purchasing more things until absolutely necessary. So I used a Kreg jig to add pocket holes to the edges of the countertop that line up, and then used Kreg jig screws to connect the two countertops together.
Special Note: This is just one of the many, many times my Kreg jig has come in handy. I love having it around, and if you decide to purchase one, I'm sure you'll use it for many things. I have this one, but if you have a tight budget, this smaller one will get the job done for only $20!
Overall, I am thrilled with how the countertops turned out. I'm one of those people who's been dreaming of owning butcherblock counters for years, so it probably would've been difficult for me to hate them, but still! They're lovely, and I'm so excited for the day when the kitchen is finished and I actually get to use them!
When I was planning out my kitchen remodel and decided on Ikea (Sektion) cabinets, I didn't even consider hiring an installer. "It's Ikea," I thought to myself. "How hard can it be?" When the cabinets actually arrived (a month later...) and I started researching how to install them, I realized how foolish that thought was. There were 81 unorganized boxes invading my living room and despite all of my internet research, I had no idea where to actually start. Eventually, though, I figured it out, and a week and a half later the cabinets are officially installed.
I, a 20-something, not super strong female, installed the cabinets almost entirely by myself. I would love to tell you that this is proof anyone can do it. It's not. But, if you have some basic tools and are at least a little bit handy, you can probably manage. Read on to find out exactly what you'll need.
1) Physical Tools
You know you've left typical Ikea-world when installation requires real power tools. I used a corded drill to drill pilot holes in the cabinets the few times Ikea did not have a pre-drilled hole, a cordless drill/driver pretty much every time a screw appeared, and a jigsaw to cut holes for plumbing fixtures into my sink cabinets. You could go out and purchase these tools if you don't already have them, but consider this: the installation of Ikea cabinets is time-consuming and intricate, and therefore probably not the best project to learn how to use a new tool on. If you don't already have these tools available, you're probably better off hiring a pro. That being said, I go out and buy new tools for complex projects all the time, so I'm a bit of a hypocrite for giving that advice. If you want to try, get my free Beginner's Guide To DIY below to find out where to purchase affordable tools.
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2) Handiness Skill
If you're going to be installing more than two cabinets, be prepared for things to go wrong. Some of the things I encountered: I couldn't find the studs in the wall, the studs I could find were too far apart, the walls were wavy, the cabinet frames didn't line up after being placed on the rail, I put a dowel rod in the wrong spot... the list goes on. Nothing was unfixable, but I had to have the experience and skill to know what to do when I encountered these difficulties. If you've never done a DIY project before, this probably isn't the place to start.
3) An Occasional Helper
On the very first page of every cabinet's instructions, Ikea, in their pictorial language, says to assemble and install the cabinet with at least two people. I somewhat agree: I could not have installed these cabinets completely by myself. Hanging the larger wall cabinets on the rail would have been impossible for me to do alone. Luckily, my 71 year-old mother was visiting. If you are imaging a mobile and spry elder as my mother, change your mental picture. My mother is one of those 71 year-olds who carries a foldable emergency cane in her purse, and orders a wheelchair when she goes to the airport. Despite this, together we were able to heft the larger wall cabinets onto the rail.
This was the only time I needed to involve my mother. Everything else I was able to do myself. So while you will need a helper at some point during the process, it's not a requirement for the entire duration of installation.
If you're thinking this is going to be a weekend project, think again. Maybe, if you have two people, and the demolition (taking out the old cabinets) is already done, and you work fourteen hour days, maybe you could get this done in a weekend. Maybe. But it took me ten eight-hour days to get all of the cabinets fully installed. Yes, that's right. Ten days. That is ten days without a kitchen, ten days of constant physical labor, ten days of waking up knowing I'm going to spend the day installing more cabinets. Ten days. Basically, each step took two days: Two days of assembling cabinets, two days of hanging/securing the rails, two days of hanging/leveling wall cabinets, two days of hanging/leveling base cabinets, two days of shelves/doors/drawer installation.
If you have two people, some of these steps might go significantly faster (hanging and leveling anything, really), but it will still be a significant time commitment.
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I put my plywood floor down in the kitchen about 2 months ago. Since then, I've installed cabinets, appliances, and a new tile backsplash in the kitchen, so the floors have seen some action. I would love to tell you I love them, and I do, a little bit. But not enough to start covering my whole house in plywood. I have very mixed feelings, and I thought my opinions could be useful to those of you trying to decide if this is a project worth tackling.
I planned for around 192 square feet of flooring (my kitchen is small!!) Knowing that, here's how my kitchen priced out compared to other options. Note that in the table below, I compare my actual cost (the Plywood column) to the lowest laminate and hardwood costs I could find (between Home Depot, Lowes, and Menards) at posting. Menards had sales going on for both laminate and hardwood flooring, making them the easy winner.
Some things to note from the table above: the very cheapest laminate flooring still prices out below the plywood. Now, I hate laminate flooring, so I didn't even consider it an option, but if you're less opposed to laminate, price-wise you're not saving money by going with the plywood.
The other takeaway here is that plywood is almost $200 cheaper than the cheapest hardwood. So if you're like me and hate laminate with a passion, plywood floors are a good way to get the hardwood look for less.
I called the Home Depot pro desk in advance and asked if they were able to rip 4'x8' pieces of plywood into strips for me; they said yes, had me order the plywood online, and had the planks ready for me in a few hours. It was fantastically easy, and meant that the hardest part of DIY plywood floors (cutting down the plywood) was taken care of for me.
As a result, my job was just to sand the boards, place them on the floor, glue/nail them down, and stain/finish the floor. While it took me two days to lay out all the boards and cut the small pieces to size, there was absolutely nothing difficult about it. Every part of the installation was something I was familiar with already as a DIY-er (sand, cut, glue, nail, stain+finish, done.) While I've never installed laminate or hardwood floors, the process looks at least a little more complicated.
You can do literally anything you can imagine with plywood floors. Want to paint them? Go for it! Stain? Yep. Stencil? Sure. Want squares instead of planks? Totally do-able. Don't like what you did in two years? No biggie, you can put another floor type on top of it. Plywood has the ultimate flexibility, which is part of what makes it a great budget floor type.
This is the number one biggest con, and despite what all of the bloggers of the world say, it is an issue to be concerned about. My floors have been in place for two months. Admittedly, I've been a little rough; I've installed cabinets, appliances, and tile backsplash in that time. However, there are already visible scratches on the floor. Here's the most obvious one:
There are other scratches as well; this one is particularly obvious because it's filled with some sort of black mark. I'm pretty sure I can get the mark out if I scrub enough (I intentionally left it so you could see the scratch,) but the dent is there to stay. Next summer, when both me and the cat are leaving for a couple days, I plan to put another layer of finish on, which might fill in the scratches. Regardless, my floors are proof that durability is a concern with plywood flooring.
If you're researching plywood floors, you're probably aware that plywood is made up of many thin layers of wood. The top layer is intentionally made pretty so that it can be displayed. You might also know that knots are the weakest point of wood; sometimes, depending on the wood, if you cut through a knot, the remainder of the knot just falls out.
In the case of plywood, any knots in the surface are less stable than the surrounding wood. On a number of my pieces, the center of knots would fall off the plywood, leaving a less-attractive center behind. See the picture:
You think your plywood floors are cool. And admittedly, future home-buyers are unlikely to identify your floors as plywood unless they're real flooring experts. However, home inspectors could very well identify the floors as plywood. I have heard rumors that this is not an approved floor type, and could hold up the sale of your house. Now, these are rumors; this hasn't happened to me or anyone I know. But when I was researching plywood floors, I made a note of this possibility and know in my mind that I may have to cover the floor with laminate before I sell.
Do you have plywood floors? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below!
Peel and Stick tile seems to be every DIY decorator's best friend: it's inexpensive, easy to install, and looks good... most of the time. In my new home's kitchen, however, I was not a fan. Here's what I started with:
The tile darkened what was already a pretty dark kitchen, and as a part of my kitchen remodel, I wanted to replace the floor with something lighter. So the peel and stick tile had to go. But, we all hear about how easy peel and stick tile is to install, but is it easy to remove??
Spoiler alert: No.
I started with just a prybar and a hammer, and worked to pry the tiles off the floor. Did it work? Sure, if I wanted to spend the rest of my life breaking little pieces of tile off the floor. I quickly realized I needed a faster method; ideally one that pulled the tile off in a full piece.
So I did a bit of research, and learned that the adhesive holding the tiles softens when heat is applied. Since a hairdryer was one of the few things I had already unpacked, that became my preferred method of heat application.
- Hair Dryer
- Small Pry Bar
- Baking Soda
Step 0: Prep
I feel misleading calling the prep work a step for this project; it took all of 3 minutes. I removed any materials that were on top of the tile, aka, the AC grate and the transition strips that the previous owner had put at all of the doorways. About halfway through, I also removed all of the cabinets, but I only did that because I was getting new cabinets, and planned to install my new floor under those cabinets. The peel and stick tile didn't actually continue under the cabinets.
Step 1: Warm Up the Tile
The warmer you can get your tile, the easier it will be to remove. I used a hairdryer to do this, since it was easily accessible, although I've also read that using your iron is also a possibility. I imagine if you put a towel down over the tile (so you don't melt the surface of the tile and end up with a giant mess) and then iron, it would heat the tile hotter and faster than my hairdryer method. If you try/tried this, please let me know in the comments below; I really want to know how it goes!!
As I mentioned, I heated my tile with a hairdryer. I put the hairdryer on high, and held it about an inch above the tile. Holding it closer better warmed the tile (yay!), but overheated my hairdryer, since a bunch of the hot air was forced back into the motor (boo.) This a) wasn't good for my hairdryer, and b) meant I had to stop and wait for it cool down, so I tried not to hold the hairdryer to close to the tile.
Step 2: Pry Up a Side
Starting at a corner, I worked the pry bar under the tile, using my hammer to push it further under when necessary. I moved down one side with the pry bar, with the goal of lifting that one side far enough off the floor to be able to grab on to it with my hands. I have this prybar set, and the largest bar was perfect for this project. Additionally, the set has been everything I've ever needed for all of my demolition projects, so if you're in need of a set, check it out!
Step 3: Pull the Tile
You have one goal when pulling up a piece of tile: get the tile up in one piece. If (when) you fail at this goal, you'll have a little piece of tile that is still well-stuck to the floor. For whatever reason, it seems significantly more difficult to get up the small pieces of tile than one large piece. It is annoying and time-consuming, so you're much better off trying to keep the tile in-tact.
Because of that, I found there was a right and a wrong way to pull the tile.
Wrong Way: Pulling up. On all the tiles where I pulled up (aka, at a 70 degree angle with the floor) the steep angle that I was pulling snapped my tile instead of lifting the remainder off the floor. I was left with part of the tile completely off the floor, and some of the tile still stuck to the floor, and these two pieces connected by the thin decorative layer (that rips off super easily.)
Right Way: Pulling toward myself. By pulling toward myself (aka, at about a 30 degree angle with the floor), there was enough pressure for the tile to slowly raise up, but not enough upwards pressure to snap the tile.
Step 4: Lay Baking Soda
Once you remove the tile, there is a thin layer of adhesive that remains on the floor, and, as expected, it is super sticky. I didn't find that there was enough adhesive to make the floor bumpy and cause issues with the new floor I was going to install, so I didn't try to remove the adhesive. Instead, I just dropped handfuls of baking soda (which I buy from Costco in a giant size) on the floor, which stuck to the adhesive and hid the stickiness.
Step 5: Repeat (many times...)
The floor will eventually be gone, I promise.
Did you try this? How did it go? Did you use the hairdryer method, the iron method, or something else? Please tell me- I'm sure there will be more peel and stick tile for me to remove in the future... like in the laundry room 🙂
When I purchased my new house, I was vaguely aware the kitchen had some issues: namely, the distinct lack of kitchen appliances.
Pro: This is pretty much a giant excuse for me to design my dream kitchen.
Con: I needed to design and implement that kitchen fast, else risk going hungry.
So, when I moved in, the kitchen abruptly became my number one priority. I was looking at kitchen layouts at all hours of the day, trying to figure out something that would be pretty and functional. But, there were all these doorways cluttering up the room, limiting the space available for cabinets/counters/appliances. I kept making plan after plan, and hating them all.
I thought about tearing down the wall behind the trash can and putting the laundry room somewhere else.. but the wall was load-bearing, and that was just not in the budget (and I'm not brave enough to try that myself...) But eventually, I realized that the entrance to the laundry room didn't have to be from the kitchen. There was a perfectly good hallway that could house a doorway to the laundry room AND that wall wasn't load-bearing. Win! So that became the new plan: Open a new doorway in the hallway, and close up the kitchen/laundry room doorway.
I did all my prep work to contain the dust, but I was still super scared to actually open the wall? What if I hit an electrical line? Or a pipe? Or an air duct? After spending an inordinate amount of time in my basement staring at the ceiling, I was pretty confident none of those things were actually back there, but still! So my first cuts were scaredy-cuts.
I managed just enough of a cut to be able to stick my head in the wall. And was promptly confused. Where was the plaster? Why was there a wood under and over my head? Cutting more wall away got me this:
At this point, I was confident that there's nothing in the wall I'm going hit. Yay! There also apparently used to be an opening in the wall that some past owner drywalled over. Cool! More importantly, I realized that I was doing this job in the absolute dumbest way possible. I was using a combination of a jigsaw/angle grinder (which were not really the ideal tools, by the way. If you try this, don't be cheap like me and actually purchase an oscillating multi-tool. I've been eyeing this dremel, but haven't actually used it.) to hack away at the wall at basically random places. This would be going a lot faster if I actually traced my tape outline like I was suppose to. So, I started doing that, and actually got somewhere.
It's starting to look like a doorway. But you might also notice: this photo is super hazy. Breaking down walls is dusty. And in my case, probably dangerous: I feel confident there is lead paint in there somewhere. So I had this super fancy respirator on during the process, which actually made a pretty tight seal around my mouth and nose, and made me feel way safer than one of those flimsy paper things. It also had pink filters, and would've been almost pretty if it wasn't a giant respirator taking up half my face. Regardless, I managed to cut up half my wall without cutting into wires or giving myself a deadly disease, so I kept going.
I eventually finished half the wall. This took me pretty much an entire day of work; after taking this picture I took a shower and had dinner. A pro would probably have finished the whole thing by this point, but that is why they get paid and I don't.
Day 2, I took down the other half:
I cut the power (by shutting off the circuit the receptacle was on) and disconnected the outlet at the bottom before starting. Ultimately, I shoved the wires back into the basement and capped them with wire nuts before turning the power back on.
Day 3, I cut the studs down, added a "stud" to the side without one to support the wall, and added trim. Once I had the right trim (hello again, Home Depot) it went quickly.
Yes, I did secure my makeshift stud with kreg jig screws, as seen by the funny looking holes in the above photo. I believe professionals nail giant nails into the studs at an angle, but that seemed exceedingly difficult, especially since I would've been nailing up. My Kreg Jig, a super small little portable one, might just be the best Christmas gift my Dad has ever gotten me. It makes a bunch of projects that otherwise would've been impossible for me to do myself almost easy. I highly recommend one if you regularly DIY and don't already own one.
Also note the thickness of the wall in the above photo. Not only was there the plaster/stud combo that was normal, some past owner added drywall on top of the plaster in the laundry room side. My guess was the plaster was cracking, and they wanted to cover that up, but who really knows? As a result, my walls were super thick, and I couldn't just put a 1x6 over the space and call it a day. I don't have a table saw, and therefore was unable to cut down a larger sheet of something, so I had to make due with two pieces of 3 1/2" trim. I did the best I could to make them even, but honestly, even with an abundance of caulk and paint, it looks a little janky. One board certainly would have been more ideal.
All done!! It's not perfect, but closing up the other door allows me to have a much more functional kitchen. And in the future, if I ever have a table saw, it would be pretty simple to update the doorframe to a single piece!
When I was getting ready to sell my condo in California, I was reminded multiple times that it needed to look as perfect as possible. What wasn't perfect? The screen of my balcony door, which had two giant holes in it, one of which my cat was using as her own personal pet door.
Thinking this seemed like a hassle to fix up myself, I called some screen repair people, thinking I would very happily spend $50 to let somebody else fix this. What did they quote me? $300. Not quite what I wanted. So I set out on the mission to learn how to fix screens.
- Correct Size Screen- You'll have to measure your door/window and find out what the correct size is. I needed a super big size, 60 in. x 96 in. There are also different types of screens (insect, pet ready, fiberglass), and various colors. I got a nice inexpensive grey basic fiberglass screen, as I was moving in a month, and I have never thought about screen colors in my life (although my next door neighbor complemented the color when we were standing in the elevator, so maybe screen color really is a thing.. or she was trying to make small talk.) If you need a nicer screen, the process is the same, but you may need a different sized Spline.
- Spline- This is the stuff that holds your screen in place. The screen you buy should say on the packaging what size Spline you need to purchase. My screen said .140 in. or .160 in. I got .140 in. spline, and if your screen gives two sizes, I'd get the smaller of the two if possible, since it's easer to shove a smaller piece into the spline groove than the a larger piece.
- Spline Roller Thingy
- Box Cutter
Step 1: Remove Screen Door From Tracks
If you look on the side or the bottom of your screen, you should see a little hole. This hole is hiding the tension screw, which is what keeps the wheels holding up the door. By unscrewing this screw, you release the tension of the wheels, allowing for them to be pushed up into the door, and for you to lift the door out of the track.
Lay your screen door out somewhere flat. Preferably also somewhere that has plenty of clearance around all four sides of the door, but as you see below, that might not possible (and I managed. I did a lot of sitting on the screen, if you were wondering.)
Step 2: Remove Current Spline
This step was surprising fun- I think because it was easy and I felt super accomplished when I was done. You'll start in one of the corners, and with a tiny screwdriver, lift the spline out of the spline grove. It's probably easier if you start in the corner that contains the two ends of the current spline, but I totally didn't and it still worked out (I just broke the current spline.)
Work your way around the perimeter of the screen, pulling out the spline. Once all the spline is removed, you can remove the screen, and move onto the next step. (Note: If the handle of your door is blocking the screen/spline, you may need to remove it.)
Step 3: Lay Out the New Screen
Roll out your new screen on the frame of the door (your old screen should be removed at this point.) Arrange the screen so that there is some extra screen on all four sides of door.
Step 4: Insert Spline into Spline Groove
Your spline roller should have two sides on it, a concave side and a convex side. Use the concave side (see picture below) to push the spline and screen into the spline groove. The screen should be between the spline and spline groove, as the spline is what holds the screen in place.
You'll need to push fairly hard on the spline with the spline roller to get it into the groove. Go slowly, and be careful not to rip your screen with the spline roller (which almost happened to me a couple times.) I went back over a couple places as I moved along to make sure I had the spline fully in the spline groove.
On the last two sides, I pulled the screen taught as I pushed the spline into the groove to ensure that the screen was tight. I was really worried about this part at the beginning, but it turned out fine.
When you're worked your way all around the perimeter with spline, trim the spline to end right at the corner you started.
Step 5: Trim Off Extra Screen
Use your box cutter to trim the excess screen. Hold the box cutter at a 45 degree angle, and cut the screen as close to the outside part of the spline as possible.
When you're done, your screen should look like this:
Put the door back on the track, replace any handles you took off, and you're good to go!
All the money I spent on this was for supplies.
Spline Roller: $5.22
In total, I spent two hours of my time (that was it! I was shocked!) and $22.87 plus tax! Definitely beats the $300 quote I was given, for sure!