A Full Bathroom Remodel

I’ve done a lot of home remodeling over the last three years and the guest bathroom was the final area needing an overhaul. Here are the standard before pictures.

This is Brandi’s main bathroom, so I had wanted to improve the shelving situation in the closet for over a year. A smaller vanity was going in, so storage space would be lost. With three feet of depth in the closet there was a lot of wasted area and room for improvement. I bought three pull out drawers (Amazon). The closet shelves are made from particle board, so instead of using the included screws for attachment I picked up bolts, washers, and nuts.

After an hour install and some organizing it was a huge improvement. We even have room on the top shelf for spare towels now.

Just like the other bathroom, there weren’t shut-off valves on the sink’s water lines, so I installed some. Next up was taking down trim and everything on the walls so the fun job of removing wallpaper could be done; it was more trouble than it had been anywhere else in the house. Had to pull out the vanity, lights, mirror, and toilet to complete the job. Of course the toilet valve wasn’t completing turning off, so I put a new valve in there as well. Scrubbing and washing the walls was an exhausting step of this project and we were glad when it was done!

The walls under the wallpaper were in rough shape and needed a lot of patch work. I brushed some primer on the areas where the drywall paper was torn off. It was a good time to freshen up the ceiling before installing anything new in the room, so I gave it a quick coat of paint. We did primer and paint on the register and trim around the window and two doors. Since the closet door was slatted I needed to use my paint sprayer. I used plastic sheeting to make a temporary spray booth in the basement.

Dad came down to help for a couple of days. We removed some drywall and chopped up the shower for removal with a reciprocating saw. It went very smooth, thanks to having watched Removing A Fiberglass Bath And Surround and following exactly what he did.

With the water to the house turned off, we cut the lines, made an access hole through the closet, and installed shut-off valves. It felt good to turn water to the house back on with the valves working as they should.

We brought in the shower pan for a test and it fit like a glove! We quickly decided we should pull flooring so the subfloor under the shower was closer to the level under the old vanity. It was a pain in the ass because there was linoleum with a layer of luan (attached with far too many staples) over an even older layer of linoleum. After digging through my rack of plywood I found some that was the correct thickness to bring the shower subfloor up with the rest of the room.

We started working on the drain, which needed to move over a bit from the old one. We bought parts to construct our own P-trap. There was still a lot of trimming PVC pieces, but we ended up with something that worked. Here’s what we had to work with and the cut-out piece of circle is where we had to get to.

Then it was on to all of the plumbing for the water lines. This was a bit of a challenge, because the shower fixture instructions were weak on details. I picked up a lot of tips for working with PEX from How To Convert Old Copper To New Pex | Tub And Shower Plumbing. After temporarily installing a couple of caps, a pressure test showed a leak-free system.

After that it was finalizing the shower pan and getting the walls up. Cutting holes through the shower wall was nerve-racking!

I had to shim out the left wall which wasn’t plumb. Then it was time to dry fit the shower walls and get them attached. I got a nice tight fit on the back. I figured there was no way I would use all eight recommended tubes of the adhesive, but I did. Not sure how I would have completed that step without the Ryobi Caulk & Adhesive Gun, which worked awesome.

I cut pieces of 1/2″ greenboard and screwed them to the walls. We taped plastic over the window, closet, and door.

Then it was time for a lot of drywall work. This was after the first coat of mud.

Over 24 hours later the thickest parts of the mud still weren’t dry. Up to this point, the project had been full of mistakes and having to do a few things multiple times before getting them right. I really thought things might move along after getting that first coat of mudding done. Boy was I wrong!

Since I couldn’t do anything with the drywall yet, I made runs to the home stores for all of the trim and a new subfloor. The lowest layer of linoleum had that paper backing on it, which you can see in pictures above. I wanted it gone in order to have a more level surface for the new plank flooring. I actually spent about 30 minutes trying to remove some of the paper before I decided to do a new layer of subfloor over the top. That plan changed before I even picked up the new plywood though because a third layer would have given me different problems to deal with around the doors, toilet, and register. It took me forever to remove that layer of subfloor, and probably would have been a lot less work to get the paper off. Here are pictures when I got down to the single subfloor layer, my measurements, and with the new plywood (before being screwed down).

Taping the seams and the second and third applications of drywall mud were much harder than it looked on YouTube. I picked up a steel mud pan, which made things much easier and I was finally getting the hang of it with my fourth (because I’m a newb) and final coat. Then it was primer and two coats of paint, which went smooth. I brought the new subfloor back in and screwed it down.

At some point I took a piece of scrap plywood and made a door for the shut-off valve access. I used white gaffer’s tape over the edges of the wall so the cut drywall wouldn’t keep crumbling and making a mess. It got primer and paint when the brush was out for other things.

After painting the room it was time to install the shower doors and fixtures. I caulked everything as well.

Unfortunately the doors have a major flaw and the top rail sags a lot from the weight of the glass. This means it’s impossible to properly align the doors. I got it the best I could so they roll smooth and hopefully don’t leak. I called American Standard and found out they’ve redesigned the mounting brackets because of this problem. They’re sending me a set as soon as they get them in stock. 🤞

Lighting was a quick job. I also replaced an old outlet with a GFCI.

I went with a waterproof vinyl plank flooring that looks like tiles. I’ve done quite a few floors now, so this was easy.

Vanity and toilet went in. Mirror was hung. Doors went up.

I put up accessories and did all of the trim work, which needed three coats of paint, even after primer.

Here’s the final result.

Quite a transformation in just over three weeks! Check out the before and after comparisons.

This bathroom is so nice now! I was hoping Brandi got used to my bathroom after using it for a few weeks and would want to stay there. No such luck.

There have been a lot of home remodeling projects over the last few years and I’m finally done. They were all needed, but I’m glad they’re over. Time for some fun little projects I’ve had on the back-burner for too long.

Hallway Flooring and More

After the living room and kitchen, the plan was to run the same flooring through the hallways. When we bought the flooring for the kitchen we get enough, so it had been piled up in my office since November. Here’s the old flooring my dad and I had installed in 2013.

Needed a bit of a break after the kitchen project, so after a few weeks we finally got started. I removed all of the trim and some doors that were in the way.

Of course, the project grew from there. When we removed the double doors from the hobby room it really brightened up the space.

Since we never close those doors we decided not to put them back up and with the hallways having wallpaper I’d have to do something with the door jamb. With the closets empty we noticed how bad the walls were, so it was a good time to refresh the paint. The shelving in the broom closet was terrible so we’d install all new adjustable shelves. My DIY automated lighting in there had failed, so I found a LED strip with motion sensor on Amazon for about $25 that works great. Of course I had to run a new electrical line up from the basement and install an outlet. I had also wanted a place to plug in the Ryobi 40v batteries used for the snow blower and lawn mower, so it worked out.

It was fun trying to figure out how to piece flooring around the stairs.

I chopped the top off of the shoe rack I had made for workout shoes and moved it from the broom closet to the coat closet. We have a lot of shoes!

There was a lot of finishing work with trim and new quarter round, but we’re so glad to have it all completed.

Simple Kitchen Storage Improvements

I needed a few easy things to tackle over the weekend and since we’ll be losing a little bit of storage space (though gaining some new space) as part of the kitchen remodel, I wanted to make better use of wasted space in some areas.

First up was a small cabinet between the range and dishwasher where we store our baking sheets, cutting boards, and other similar size items. The top 1/3 or so of it was dead space, so I added a couple of shelves made from scrap wood.

Now we have a spot for aluminum foil, wax paper, plastic wrap, parchment paper, and ziplock bags. This freed up two entire drawers in the island.

The second task has been on my ideas list for at least six months. The pantry cabinet in our kitchen had three large drawers, spaced way too far apart. There simply are not that many tall food items, at least not the stuff we buy.

With the cabinet being so tall it’s hard to get a feel for the space in this picture, but you can see the top drawer, with our tallest items, had quite a bit of wasted space above it. I decided to leave it where it was for flexibility and because it’s already hard to see what’s in there. I moved the second drawer up 2-1/4 inches and the third drawer up 7-1/8 inches.

This gave me plenty of space to add a fourth drawer. I still had this one with slides sitting in the basement after taking apart a tower of drawers four years ago.

Unfortunately it was too wide, so I had to take it apart and make it narrower. I decided to make it shorter as well to match the others. By chance it was already the same depth.

Something I wasn’t thinking about when I moved the drawers was the areas meant to be handles were now really close to the bottom of the drawer above, begging for smashed fingers and an F-bomb.

I always thought it was an odd design for a drawer pull to be honest. I made a template for the drawer fronts and cut the other drawers to match. I also used a roundover bit on those front edges.

I measured out the placement, installed the drawer slides, and slid in the “new” drawer. Who doesn’t love more storage space? Especially for food!

I’ll paint the drawer fronts when all of the cupboards get painted. A third bonus improvement was a quick fix for this utensils drawer, which has been busted for years. I’m surprised it hadn’t fallen apart completely.

I cut a piece of wood for the corner, added glue and brad nails, and called it good.

All fairly quick and easy projects that improved our kitchen organization.

Bathroom Shelves with Towel Hooks

Several weeks ago Brandi repainted her bathroom. When we were searching online for new towel racks these shelves caught her eye.

I offered to make a version of those and we had the idea to do a whitewash to match some of the other new decor around the house. We both thought the white would look really good with the deep blue color she had painted. On a shopping trip at Menards we saw this toiler paper holder, which I said could be sanded down and whitewashed to go with the shelves.

Since it was a smaller piece it would be a good test for the whitewashing techniques. I helped her out, but Brandi did most of the work and we both liked the result, especially for our first attempt. It was done by scuffing up the wood with a wire brush and then applying thinned out paint with a small chip brush. We took it back to her house and hung it up.

In the mean time, I had started on the shelves. Since we were going for a weathered whitewash look, I milled some reclaimed lumber to 1″ thick, cut everything to size, did a rough sanding, glued, and screwed.

Some of the pieces had cool characteristics to them that would look good with the whitewash. I did some testing of paint and stain to roughly apply to the wood before whitewashing. I wanted to be able to create more of a dirty/weathered look than what we ended up with for the toilet paper holder.

Going in, I thought a gray or one of the blackish stains would be the winner. We both preferred this dark walnut.

Next, we tested with a different whitewash technique, which involved pouring thinned out paint on the wood and spreading it with a scraper. The results looked really cool.

You can see the scraper at the top of the picture below. I gave the shelves a quick coat stain, since it was going to be painted over.

When Brandi saw the stained shelves in person, she loved how the grain and imperfections of the wood were highlighted, thinking it would be a nice contrast to have some wood grain in the bathroom. So she redid the toilet paper holder and we gave it two coats of spray lacquer.

We also finished the shelves with two coats of spray lacquer. Since the plan was a weathered and whitewashed look I had only done a sanding with 40 grit and you could feel the roughness of the wood. So I did 6 coats of a wipe-on poly as well, which gave things a much better feel. Then I attached the hooks for towels and we hung them up.

Notice the mini crate I posted about the other day? Not sure what she’s going to fill it with. The stained look was definitely the right decision and looks great with the towels and decorations.

Wood Storage and Organization

My wood storage got out of control. Something had to change.

First I wanted to build a lumber rack on the opposite wall of the room. I remembered watching John Heisz make a simple one on YouTube, so I followed what he did almost exactly. I already had plywood strips the correct width, so I chopped ten to 30″ long. Then I whipped up a simple tapering jig on the bandsaw to make quick work of cutting 20 arms out of old wood.

I ran the arms through the planer and rounded them on my router table. I also rounded the plywood edges because they were rough. After a lot of repetitive gluing and screwing, the pieces were assembled.

I drilled holes and preloaded all 60 screws to make it easier to put them on the wall.

I stacked two at every other stud and loaded it up!

It’s so nice to see what I have and be able to easily access everything. I didn’t expect it to be so full already though!

Next, I wanted a rolling lumber cart for sheet goods, off-cuts, and scraps. Doing a Google image search was a bit overwhelming, but I found inspiration from several styles:

I drew up some ideas. Since I already had the lumber rack on the wall, I kept reminding myself I didn’t need space to store long boards. Originally I was set on incorporating an old drawer in my design (first picture below), but it was too limiting. Some of my design choices were dictated by only wanting to use materials I already had.

Instead of doing a final plan in SketchUp I decided to wing it, giving myself flexibility through the build. I took full advantage too by changing several things along the way.

I had bought The Auto-Jig from Armor Tool a week before, which I’ve had my eye on for quite some time. It’s worth every penny and saved a ton of time.

One morning I built the base and cut most of the plywood pieces. Then I assembled almost all of the complicated half before attaching it to the base. On day two, the second side was much easier to assemble. I used the router along with some sanding to round the sharp edges. I slapped some castors on to make it mobile. The last task was making the drawers, which I put together with a nail gun and glue.

Finally it was time to load up the cart and organize everything. Big surprise, it ended up very full!

Sorting through all of the wood was a good opportunity to purge and I ended up with a big pile for the trash.

I can actually use the room again!

Portable Soldering Station

Following up on getting the new hobby desk and organizing the room, I needed something for all of my soldering tools. A lot of the stuff on these shelves needed to be easy to pull out and use at the desk.

The portable soldering station Adam Savage built gave me some inspiration. I could make something to live in the closet when not in use and being portable would allow me to take it to the basement if needed. I measured how much floor space I had available in the closet and hauled everything down to my woodshop.

I cut up some shitty scrap plywood and started playing around with ideas.

Being able to see things in space really helped with my design process. When I had something I was happy with, I made a sketch with rough details.

When I saw it on paper, it reminded me of a wood toolbox with a handle. Makes sense, I guess, since that’s essentially what I was building. I still have a large pile of old oak flooring, so I spent about two hours milling a few pieces down to 3/8″ thick boards. Then I glued some pieces to make panels for the sides, bottom, and shelf.

I picked up a piece of 1″ (it’s actually 1 – 1/8″) oak dowel from Menards for a handle. After letting the glue dry on those panels for a few hours I cut them to size, designed the side profile, and made other pieces. I realized I need to glue up two other panels for the small shelf bottom and a cross piece on the back. I think I only had to recut one small piece that was originally the wrong size. Eventually I had all of the parts.

I sanded all of the faces with 80 grit and then used glue and a pin nailer for assembly. Since nothing here need to support a lot of weight, I went with simple butt joints.

After a quick fit check for all of the tools and supplies, it was obvious I need some way to organize the power cords, so I made a cord wrap from some scraps.

With a palm router I softened the edges everywhere and did a final sanding. Originally I was planning to use a dark stain to match the hobby room’s trim, but after seeing this put together I really liked the lighter colors and the wood grain. I skipped the stain and applied three coats of Minwax Water Based Polycrylic, sanding with a piece of paper bag after each.

I’m really happy with the decision not to use stain. The pieces I selected for the side panels have some great coloring and grain.

All of the tools and materials are easy to access and the station fits well in the closet.

A New Hobby Desk and Organization

When I was doing the wiring for the cabinet LED lighting, I remembered how much I hated the tall desk for that kind of work.

I woke up the next day and decided to get a new desk. I wanted something similar and I basically found the little brother; it’s almost identical. The old one was 4″ deeper, which I think I’ll miss.

When I was desk shopping I saw these storage bins and they sparked ideas for decluttering the area.

I had to make a modification to the desk, because the adjustable shelf couldn’t be placed in the middle. After measuring everything about five times, I made two risers to get the shelf where I wanted. You wouldn’t even notice if I didn’t point them out.

I was in the zone and decided to tackle another problem. A couple of years ago I made an overhead camera rig out of a swing arm desk lamp. The mount it came with was someone else’s mod and one wrong bump knocked it off the desk. This is what it looked like.

I made a mount to match the profile of my new desk, which hooks up and over the metal bar. This isn’t going anywhere!

Back to those storage bins. My goal was to get the hobby tools out of sight, while making them easy to access. On the bookshelf they were always piled up and I had to get off the chair to reach them. All I needed was some cardboard (from the desk’s box) and hot glue.

The second bin didn’t get dividers because everything in there is pretty big and doesn’t need dedicated space. I can always update it later if necessary. In fact I probably don’t even need the cardboard liner, but it was already made. The small bookshelf, where my tools had been, moved inside the closet. I love the cleaner look the room has.

New Air Tools and More Storage

Yesterday I picked up a used 23 gauge pin nailer. I also used a mini die grinder for the first time, which had been sitting on a shelf in the package. Both tools needed places to live, so I made spots on my air tool wall.

I stopped at Harbor Freight and bought 3 sizes of pins for the new nailer. I also had some unopened boxes of various brad nails sitting around. I took the opportunity to reorganize my bins and more than doubled capacity. Seemed like a good place to move all of the regular nails too.

I love when everything in the workshop has a home.

Gym Shelf Improvement

When I rearranged a bunch of stuff in my garage gym a free months ago I moved this shelf from an old spot.

It’s bugged me ever since because it was too close to the barbells and didn’t fit the new location. This morning a made a new shelf.

Much better!

Improved Dumbbell Storage

I have a 3-tier dumbbell rack, which works well, except for one key piece of the design. The lips that hold the top of each dumbbell aren’t really tall enough for the heavier dumbbells. Here’s a rough video showing the problem.

A 50 pound dumbbell only has to slip once or twice smashing your fingers on the bottom bracket before it’s time to come up with a fix. My solution was to cut a couple strips of plywood, notch them out to mate up with the the current lip, drill some holes, and bolt it together.

Didn’t need much extra height really. Here’s another rough video showing the improvement.

I also added a shelf for the smaller dumbbells because all of my sets don’t fit on the rack. I left space for two remaining pairs; the eights to match everything in my set from five to 40 pounds and some 60s (ordered today).

For a final touch, I created labels similar to what I made for the pulley weight stack.