Saturday, December 08, 2012


Before going into the vanity install, I'll show off the finished living room ceiling repair.

The white primer shows up a lot more in the living room, and I'm going to go ahead and guess that one of the POs (who smoked) used to spend more time in this room. That, and I think a little bit of the old shellac is also bleeding through the white.

The ceiling repair in this room was made much more complicated because of where I had to cut-back the old ceiling (last year). It was also made more complicated because the boards I had on hand were only JUST long enough to reach the nearest stud before the light fixture. Luckily I had enough other bits from the Office to do the short ends.

Before (as in, how it's looked for the past year):

Quick side note: look at that wonderful wood peeking through! The ceiling was originally done in shellac over choice lumber. It would have looked wonderful several decades ago. Wood ceiling, wood crown, window and door casings, and old wooden windows. And if you remember correctly, the living room used to be a bright peacock blue originally.

Here are the "short ends" in place. The one contouring the electrical box was fun to cut. My jigsaw is kinda "dead" so I cut that BY HAND with a coping saw. Not only did I cut it by hand, but I cut it TWICE, since I mis-measured the first piece.

You can just barely tell which are the two new lengths (and it wasn't even puttied or patched at this point), but near the wall, you can see a wider gap where the two new boards were fitted (much like the office ones).

Lots of putty, sanding, and silicone later, and with a quick coat or primer, you can barely tell it was repaired. Note: the entire ceiling will get repainted later on.

Now for the vanity. This was a pain, and I knew it WAS going to be one, but it's over and done now.

Why a pain? Well, just because of all the detailed fitting and installation.

First I shut off the water, drained the pipes and de-soldered the shut-off valves. Then I did a small modification to the hot water pipe's location. I decided I didn't want them using up almost all of the back portion of the cabinet. This gives me the space to make/install a custom storage rack on the left side (if I want).

Then there was the actual fitting of the vanity into place. The following photo had terrible yellow lighting (mainly from the bright CFLs in the sconces), but you can see several important details in it. I knew I was going to need to lift and replace the vanity in it's spot (over the two pipes) several times to make sure all my scribing and fitting was good, so I chose to protect the walls and door casing with a double layer of large paper sheets from a big roll that I have. Alternatively, thin cereal box cardboard would also work well. It's not the end of the world to have to do a paint-touch-up, but it's much easier to just avoid it completely.

I chose to drill the drain hole last, to get the most precise location possible, which is why you won't see the hole in the first photo(s).

In the above photo, you can see that I have the baseboard cut, and the vanity slid down to he floor. It has also been raised up off the floor slightly and levelled using shims. Everywhere on the vanity edges where you can see green painter's tape, is a spot that needed scribing.

Because the house has a lot of settling towards the centre (as is usual with older homes), the side near the toilet had to be cut-down by about 3/4". It also had to be scribed along the relatively uneven edge of the tile floor. My tiling job was fairly good, but the tiles themselves still have quite a bit of texture and bumps. The best way to mark your scribing is to have the cabinet level, and then, starting at the highest spot off the floor, make yourself a block of that height, with which to trace along the bottom of the cabinet all the way around. At the high spot, you will barely make a line, but as you go around the cabinet, the height of the scribe line will get higher up where more material needs to be removed.

In ideal cases, the scribing is minimal, and you can sometimes just use shims (especially if your toe-kick gets attached separately). At work, all our cabinet boxes use adjustable plastic legs (which you can nail into and cut-down if needed).

Part of the "huge pain" was to remove that 3/4" section off the left side of the cabinet. Remember, this is solid rock maple. I have no working jig saw. I ended up cutting 90% of it with a circular saw*, a bit of it with a router (using a straight bit), some of the corner chunk with a hand saw, and then up to the line with my (crappy) belt sander with a coarse 80 grit paper.

*Tips: when running any tool over a pre-finished surface, always mask it with tape, paper, or some other thin protective film. This will keep the surface scratch-free. You will be surprised how easily just sliding a router over a varnished surface can leave fine scratches.

Other areas that needed scribing were minimal (along the door casing, and a bit along the back wall).

Additional side note: The piece of twine that you can see under the vanity toe-kick was a loop used to go around the hot water pipe (and then around my foot). The pipe had just a HAIR of a lean towards the back wall, which made it impossible to slide the cabinet down onto the pipe without a second pair of hands. Since I'm doing this job solo, this worked out just fine.

Once all the fitting and trimming was done, and I had a sturdy, level cabinet; I re-soldered my shut off valves.

Safety first. This is a wooden cabinet, and a blow torch could very easily scorch the varnish, or make the wood catch fire, so I used a piece of metal flashing as a guard against the back.

Checking for leaks is always a bit scary for me since I have to run up and down two flights of stairs (from the second floor all the way down to the basement). Luckily all my pipe joints were good, and I had a leak free installation. Just in case, though, I had bunched-up a large bath towel around the base of the pipes in the cabinet.

The only thing left now, is to attach the hardware (I need 4 extra hinges), and screw it to the back wall. I'm waiting to screw the cabinet to the wall because I want to use some special screws from work with beige-painted washer-head tips.

These next few photos turned out really well, and the colours are quite accurate.

You can just make out the recessed toe-kick in this last photo.

So what do you guys think? White marble for the top? Granite? Soapstone? I would definitely prefer a solid counter top (stone or Corian) with and under-mount sink (which I already bought). But I'm still not 100% sure what to go with. White marble would definitely look classic/elegant/historic, but would it go well with the slate floor? Am I just second guessing myself? I don't necessarily like things that are too "matchy-matchy" but I'd be really interested in your thoughts and suggestions (as a fresh set of eyes).

1 comment:

  1. The cabinet turned out beautifully. I love the soapstone in my kitchen so much, I'm going to use it in the bathroom too when I remodel it.