Monday, September 20, 2010

Beta Project Complete!

Our utility room is complete! We removed the old vinyl floor, laid the new Chartreuse Marmoleum tile, painted the room (Drizzle and Heirloom Silver), attached a new fiberboard baseboard, and installed a new metal threshold for the exterior door. Total project cost: $2,650.00 (including appliances) over 6 weeks (mostly weekends).

The completed utility room.
After we found out the bathroom washstand was on hold until January, we decided to make the utility room our beta-project for our home renovations. In all, we learned many lessons regarding DIY renovations and we thought we’d share them with you all.
Utility Room Lessons Learned:

1.     Understand the process. When installing the Marmoleum, I wasn’t totally aware of how much adhesive I would need to lay the linoleum tile. The adhesive tub was professional-grade so there were no "directions" on the container. So I slapped it on like it was mortar on a CMU block. After I laid a couple of tiles, I was terribly frustrated because they wouldn’t stay in place. And I couldn’t step on them unless I wanted to tile surf across the utility room. I realized then that I used too much adhesive, so I pulled them up, one at a time, scraped off most of the excess, and laid them down a second time. When I was about 75% done with the floor, I glanced at the tub of adhesive and read that the tub offered enough adhesive for 1,000 sf of flooring. Well, I had used half of the tub on about 50 sf. Needless to say, I used way too much even after I toned it down. It wasn’t until weeks later while watching The Antonio Treatment episode “Design Club” on HGTV did I understand how much adhesive you need—not a lot. Basically a skim coat. I used enough to be considered a thin-set grout. For days after completion we cleaned e xtra adhesive that squeezed out of the seams.
2.     Understand your materials. During our transport of materials from Home Depot to our new apartment, one of the baseboard trim pieces went missing. For the life of us we couldn’t figure out where. So I had to go back to Home Depot (another day) and buy another piece of baseboard. I forgot to bring a sample piece with me, but how similar can baseboard be? Answer—very similar. I bought a piece that I thought was correct until I got it home and held it up to a piece of baseboard already installed. (I bought this baseboard instead of this one. Can you see how I messed that one up?) Needless to say I made a third trip to Home Depot to purchase the correct baseboard so I could finish the trim. On a side note, don’t trust the hardware store. On my third visit, I couldn’t find the baseboard that matched my sample. I searched and searched, checked product numbers, and asked employees for help and still couldn’t find the right baseboard even though I was told they had them in stock. After about 45 minutes of tearing my hair out I realized that since the Vintage and Sierra baseboards were so similar, even Home Depot confused them and stocked them together. I found the Vintage baseboard stacked behind the Sierra baseboard.
3.     Understand your tools. I bought a miter saw with a 7.25” blade thinking that it would cut through 5.25” baseboard trim. After I tried to make one cut, I realized I was totally wrong. 7.25” blades are made for 4” trim and 2x4 studs. Luckily for me Home Depot allowed me to return the once-used miter saw and exchange it for a bigger one with a 10” blade.
4.     Understand your appliances. We trusted the experts at Home Depot to inform us as to the correct accessories we needed for our new washer and dryer. We were told that the delivery and installation guys would have everything required to correctly hook up and stack our new appliances—everything except a dryer vent. So we bought an 8-foot flexible dryer vent duct that they recommended. When the dryer arrived and was getting installed, the installers took one look at our flexible dryer vent duct and told us that the manufacturer of our dryer, LG, did not warranty the dryer with the type of duct that we bought. Lucky for us, the installers had the correct duct and they installed it for us and I returned the flexible duct.

The completed utility room from the other side. Note the storage solutions!
Our first renovation project was certainly an experience. We made many mistakes along the way but we feel we’re more experienced for the next project.

The new threshold.
The troublesome baseboard.
The new shelves with a hanging bar.
Again, since the bathroom renovation looks to be in the first quarter of 2011, our next project might be a new powder room and office nook. We’re also painting the main public spaces so look out for potential blog post about that!



  1. I'd like to think I had a little something to do with the organization porn I see here!! Great job you guys!

  2. Nice work on the W/D. You two will like those front loading units. As we've learned at our place, that new threshold will help keep the Mickeys and Minnies away...
    Dean, make sure your clubs receive a dedicated space somewhere or next thing you know they are rusted out and on the curb for some bum to arm himself with!

  3. 'd say your first project is a success! Hopefully I will see it in person next week!

  4. Nice job Dean. Since I no longer have HGTV your blog is my home improvement fix. Great tips, and I love the progress. Looking forward to more. :)

  5. Can we get some before and after shots? Love seeing the difference!