Monday, May 30, 2016

(May 30) Kitchen Backsplash

Went to Home Depot over the holiday for some window trim. Ended up picking up a new air compressor on a pretty good sale. We got a Porter Cable portable unit for $99. Our other unit was 15+ years old and maxed out at about 85 lbs of pressure the last couple of times we used it. The new one hits 150 which will be way more than we need even to drive pins into the steel studs. The fact that you can pick it up and easily carry it helps a lot also. If we get half of the life we got out of the other unit, I'll be good with it. Multiple air jacks were a nice feature also. I think this will be a really popular model with the Tiny House community because of it's light weight and small frame.

While there, we browsed the tile section, still contemplating what to do about the kitchen backsplash. Kim had really been leaning towards subway tile and we found a pattern we could both agree on. Must admit, I was a little nervous since we had not laid tile before. Of course, we had never built a house before either and that didn't stop us.

Not a huge investment for the tile so even if we messed it up, we could take it out and start over or try something else. We found some sheets of pre-positioned tiles and started gathering materials. Like usual, the supporting cast (tools, supplies, etc) were more expensive than the tiles themselves. We ended up with backer board, tile adhesive, grout, a trowel, spacers, a tile cutter and a sponge. We didn't think about a 2nd trowel for the grout so I put it on with my hand. It was no big deal.

Tile Cutter

Cutting the backer board to fit the sections around the windows was the 1st step. Hardi board is really durable just a pain to cut.

Hardi Backer installed on the wall

After we got the backer board up, we started laying tile. We had picked a tile that came in 1' sheets. This made it easy to set groups of tiles at one time.

Subway tile sheets

Since it was in an offset pattern, we had to cut odd pieces to fill the 1/2 gaps at the end of the rows. This took some practice but we soon got the procedure down and didn't waste too many in the process. I had forgotten that you're supposed to start tiling along your lowest point first. That way when you come around to the higher spots, you can stay on a straight line. While I was gone to the store, Kim got us off to a great start and we made the corner around the wall without a hitch. It came out great event though the counter tops on the two walls were a bit different. Sometimes it's better to be lucky than know what you're doing! lol

First section of tile up and glued to the backer board.

We had to take the bottom section off of the window frame to make room for the tiles underneath. Another case of "things would be a lot easier if we actually had a plan when we started building!" lol The adhesive sets up pretty quickly so you don't want to get ahead of yourself. After you set the tiles in place, they have a tendency to slide down a bit. Spacers helped keep everything where it belonged long enough for the adhesive to set.

Continuing pattern under window

After we got the square tiles set, we put on cap tiles across the top. We had a sheet of the 1/4" backer left over from a previous project. With this thickness, the top cap tiles leave a little reveal against the other tiles. I liked this look so we went with it. If we had used the 1/2" backer, the top cap would have laid flush. HD didn't carry an inside corner piece so we butted the two corner tops and filled in the gap with grout. We cut a shave off of the window trim piece we removed earlier and replaced it. We then caulked around all of the edges.  I think it came out pretty nice for our 1st time. :)  

Final kitchen tile work

After we finished with the tile, we turned our attention to the wall behind the stove. We decided that we would put a metal backer here. We looked for some affordable stainless steel but it eluded us so we chose a sheet of aluminum from Lowe's. We had to cut out sections for the electric outlets and the counter offset. Our cut-off saw with a thin blade made quick work of it. To keep from having to make a long cut along the wardrobe side, we loosened the wardrobe from the wall and slid the sheet metal behind it. (We had attached it to the wall just to make sure it never came crashing down on anyone.) Then just tightened the wardrobe back to the wall. Some construction adhesive on the wall beforehand and screwing the outlet plate back in place secured the sheet metal for good. Not quite as flashy as stainless steel but for $19 I'm not complaining.

Sheet metal in place behind the stove. It won't be any harder to keep clean than tile, hopefully!

The next project of the weekend was to replace the trim on the front window. This was the original window that we had built a craftsman trim around last year. We had pre-painted it gray to match the baseboards but after putting up the remaining window trim in the house without paint, we decided we liked it better in the natural wood. So, here we are, tearing out our pretty window to replace it with something even better. Hard to believe we're remodeling before we even move in! LOL

Original window casing. 

The original window probably took us 5-6 hours to plan and install. We had the process down to about an hour on the replacement after having done all of the rest of the house.

New West window casing with natural pine. 

We also got the north and south baseboards laid. Next week, we'll replace the west baseboards as well as the corner trim that was painted. We'll also work on finishing the composting toilet. That should complete the interior work on the 1st edition of the Little House in the Woods.

Showing the grandson how to use a nail gun. He'll be ready to start on his own Tiny in a few years! :)

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