Floor refinishing, day 1

Last night we heard confirmation that the floor refinishers would start today, so we had to quickly remove everything from the house. It actually took about two hours to break down boxes, move things to the garage and kitchen, and take up the plastic from the bedroom, but we were ready.

It turns out that we don’t have a 240 volt outlet in the house, but the flooring guys know how to get 240 from the main breaker box. Honestly, I felt better with them doing that than risking them overloading an outlet, so I’m just going to think about how they’re insured and bonded and have a bunch of really positive Yelp reviews, and not worry about a slightly unorthodox way of plugging in their equipment. 

They got started though, and got a lot of the floors done today! It turns out that the inlay detail really is a darker wood, so it will really stand out after the finishing. 


We like the light color enough that we are thinking of asking them not to stain, or to use a really light stain.

There are still some damaged areas though, so we are going to ask how much they can repair and how much we need to hide. 

More updates soon!

Bathroom update 9

This is exciting! The tile is grouted, the sink and toilet are in, the medicine cabinet is in, ceiling light is hung, and (crossing our fingers) no more broken tiles!


The ceiling light isn’t hooked up yet, we have a dimmer switch on the way. I had to get a little creative with this shot since I didn’t have my real camera with me. Here’s another take on that shot, including the work light.


Overall I think we’re really happy with the size of the medicine cabinet; we were worried that it was going to be too big, but I think it’s just right. 

A better picture would show that the window needs more work on the paint and texture, and so does the wall to the right. There are a few more finishing touches, but it looks like we could be totally done with it this weekend!

Bathroom update 8

These guys are still moving quickly! Today they got the shower tile grouted, fittings installed, and baseboard tiling in place. They say that Monday they will grout the floor, and we are crossing our fingers that when they replaced the tiles they figured out how to keep them from cracking again. 

I’ll get a better picture when I can walk in there, but here’s the shower:

Here’s a picture from the living room, some of the original light fixture mounts:


I think we’re planning to change these out after we move in (not before) and we might pack them up for age keeping since they are kind of historic. We met some of our neighbors today, and it turns out that the woman who owned our house was actually born in it 86 years ago, and she lived there her whole life. 

The other thing we did today was pick up some more paint samples so that we can get the last of the interior paint picked out.

Bathroom update 7

Are people into these tiny incremental updates? I guess I can consolidate them later. I know that when I did the bike tour posts it was interesting to go back later and see the chronology and what I was thinking at the time. 

Last night we had a note asking about the shower niche and requesting paint, so we let the guy know about how we wanted the borders and picked up the paint. I thought he’d make quick work of it, but I was still surprised to see this all so nicely detailed after another day of work. 


That’s really starting to look like something!  This is also another case of Kaitlyn having a better eye for this design stuff than I have. 

The grout that we picked out is a “platinum grey” color if I recall correctly, so it will keep some of this contrast showing the outline of the tiles, not fading into white. 

Bathroom update 6

Ok, it’s not much of an update. They are continuing with tiling the shower, that’s nearly done. I can see that they have been mudding the wall, and the other guy we hired has been making good headway in the bedrooms. Definitely looking like paint this weekend! We picked out a color called “lullaby” for the walls, and some variation of white for the trim and ceiling.

The real reason I wanted to post tonight was because I finally remembered to grab my *wide* angle lens. Here are pictures for you!

Bathroom update 5

Well… this feels like a setback. We are keeping faith in our contractor that they are going to fix it and everything will be fine, but as of right now we have about seven tiles cracked in half.


I’m not sure what caused it, as far as I have been able to tell they are following the manufacturer recommendations on everything. I’m no expert though, so hopefully they are. We have enough leftover tile for them to take care of this, and I was told they would cover additional if they need more than we bought.

Other than that, they seem to be making good progress with the shower. There’s more detail work that needs to happen, but I like the look of it!


This stuff is really run of the mill stuff with no “old house” or “uncommon material” curveballs to get in the way. Other than the floor tile repair, I’m still hopeful they can finish this week. 

In other news, we found somebody to prep the rest of the walls for paint, and if he keeps up a good pace then we will probably be doing primer this weekend.


This is the back bedroom, the one that is over the corner of the foundation that has damage. This guy was pretty convinced that the corner that looked water damaged didn’t need to come out, and after pounding on it a bit with my fist I’m ready to go along with that. 

Bathroom mini-update 4

Not much more to share yet, but here’s a shot of what the shower looks like today.

I think it’s going to be pretty stylish! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Kaitlyn has a good eye. 

We’ve been told that the end of this is going to go pretty quickly, possibly finishing on Friday. That’s super exciting! It will let us get started on the floors earlier than we though, and might let us get into the house as early as the first week of October, including a week for floor refinishing and a week for fumigation. 

I have to admit that I’m just a little nervous at this stage in the bathroom remodel. I’ve never done this before so I don’t have a great sense of how much work has been done compared to how much is left, but we have paid the vast majority of the contract payment as of our passed inspections, so I’m really trusting their good word that they will finish the job well and on time. I’ll have to talk to some people about how best to structure the kitchen contract (a year or more down the road) to limit my anxiety on that. If these folks do well then they might get hired for that too, so I’m not super worried that they won’t deliver. 

They seem to be doing a great job. I came in, and they had some cloth down to protect the floors as they walked in and out from the bathroom, and they are leaving things clean and orderly each night. 

It’s probably standard practice, but I appreciate seeing it and knowing they’re taking steps to get things right all around. 

Bathroom update 3

It doesn’t look like much, but apparently we have passed city inspection for electrical and plumbing in the bathroom.


You’ll notice a few things in this picture; first we have two shower heads and two valves. The lower valve is the main water control, and the upper switches between the two shower heads. The pipe to the lower right is for a hand shower, and the higher one will be a big stationary head. 

It was harder than we thought to find fittings that matched and allowed the hand shower, but Kohler had a good collection that let us get it done for a fairly reasonable cost, and hopefully the long term quality and temperature regulation are good enough that we avoid buyers regret.

Some of the other options we found when we were shopping had flow rates as high as ten gallons per minute, but both of these are California-legal 2gpm. That’s important for conservation, but also so that it doesn’t tax the tankless heater that we’re planning to install to replace the old one that’s past it’s life span and is a bit leaky. 

We hear that the bathroom may actually be finished within a week! As slow as everything else is going that almost doesn’t seem real, but I guess that’s what you get when you hire professionals. 

Bonus picture of Penny. 

Bedroom update 2

This morning I had to take care of something for work, and Kaitlyn headed over to the house before me and got the baseboards coated in Citristrip. By the time I got there they were ready to go, and we spent a while scraping the paint.

This part is gross, but… I got really pruney inside my rubber gloves. Not fun!


It also became clear that we need to think more seriously about popping these off and really finishing them well outside. It just isn’t that easy to get the edge that’s close to the floor. I read an internet tutorial, and it worked out pretty well. Fist you insert a couple of flat blades in between the wall and the molding:


You have to use really thin blades to get in there, and I already found out how easy it is to bend a corner. I might have to grind that off…

Anyway, the next step is to stick a pry bar in there and carefully work your way around all of the finishing nails to pull the trim off.


To our surprise, this baseboard is actually two pieces. There’s a small decorative piece at the top that came off with just a little patience, but the bottom board is plain and attached much more firmly. I think I’m going to get them off, but I had to call it quits for today. 

Another surprise from the house is the number plate.


What’s up with that? 


Apparently this used to be illuminated! I’m not sure if it’s on a switch, or what. It wouldn’t work very well with the numbers that are on the glass right now. I’ll need to do some work to get some back-lightable numbers, in case I ever get the illumination back.


12-16 volts… that means there’s a transformer in the wall somewhere! Next time we go back I will bring a multimeter to see if it still works. 

Bedroom Update 1

One of the first places we got to work was the bedroom, the one we want to be our room. It’s the one without water damage, and it is the farthest from neighbor’s houses.  Over the last few weeks we have stripped off all of the wallpaper and have prepped the walls for plaster repair.


Rookie mistake, we forgot to put down plastic first. We plan to redo the floors before we move in, but…. it just wasn’t good.


Better… for it all cleaned up, plastic down, as now we start on the molding. We spent about 10 minutes trying to sand it, and it was a stupid gummy mess that wasn’t going anywhere. Now we’re using Citristrip.


It goes on like spreading jelly, and it doesn’t smell too bad. I don’t bother with anything but safety glasses while applying it, but I use rubber gloves and a respirator while scraping it off.


This is what it looks like after two rounds of citristrip, and some rubbing with a scrub pad soaked in mineral spirits. We think it might be worth doing it all, and staining it. 

That’s going to take a while though! My P100 respirator wasn’t doing anything for the fumes, so we took Penny out to Orchard Supply and picked up some cartridges rated for organic vapor. After getting some box fans for enhanced ventilation I might get to keep some brain cells. 

Bonus picture of Penny in her OSH gear!