Friday, August 30, 2013

To One Year

This Sunday marks Eric and my first anniversary!  One year of marriage may seem small to some (heck our parents have both been married for over forty years), but to us it is a very big deal.

Photo credit-
Eric and I searched for years to meet one another.  In an interesting twist of events, we met through eHarmony (it works!) only to discover that we lived eight miles from one another and frequented many of the same spots.  For me, it was love at second date.  In first date fashion, our initial meeting was slightly awkward, but intriguing.  On our second date though, we met at Salt in Boulder and I remember walking into the restaurant panning the room to see if I arrived first.  It was then that I did a double take due to an adorable guy at the bar with curly hair, holding a draft beer and smiling right at me.  Holy smokes was he cute!  That was it.  My life would forever be changed.

For the next 10 months, we were pretty much inseparable.  We got to know and fell in love with one anothers families, did some great traveling and started working on his home.

Costa Rica 
Summiting Quandary Peak 
 On November 11th, 2011, Eric proposed (he picked that date because he knew he would never forget 11/11/11).  Wahoo!!!

Photo credit-
I quickly began the wedding planning process and we set the date for September 1st, 2012 in Beaver Creek, CO.

Eric and I truly had our dream wedding.  We gave guests a taste of Colorado- beautiful fall mountain scenery, great food and an abundance of Colorado craft beers.

Marrying Eric was the best decision that I have ever made and I am so thankful that we found one another.

Italy- Sorrento 

Happy Anniversary Eric!  I love you and cannot wait to see what our future years together bring.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sunday Funday

Sunday was not quite as productive a day in the Baltz household as Saturday was.  Between church and a friend's birthday lunch, we didn't get started on projects until about 3PM.  In any case, we did get some minor work done.

Remember when I showed you that our plumber installed our new shower drain?  In doing so, he had to cut out a portion of our subfloor and move the drain a bit.  This left us with a hole in the subfloor, which is never good when we are discussing a place that will constantly get doused in water.  To fix this, we first screwed in a board below the subfloor (you can see it in place below).

Then, we used a liquid floor patch to fill in the opening.  It basically dries like cement, so we made sure and inserted the final drain screw before the floor patch was dry.  I let that set up for a couple of days and then went back last night and ran a large bead of caulk around the entire black portion of the shower drain.  With that, another job was checked off the to-do list.

Next up was some more drywall install. If you remember from this post, we ended up pretty much having to gut the shower/toilet area of our bathroom.   It left our shower looking pretty interesting...

Lots of drywall dust still floating in the air
Due to our custom shower pan still needing to be laid, there is a limited amount that we can do for the shower at this time, but we are able to add some drywall at the top.  This is because we do not plan to tile to the ceiling in this shower.

To prep for the drywall, we started by putting up all of the new insulation.  We even stuffed it into the little tiny corner cracks.  Then, we stapled on a strip of tar paper and then laid a six inch wide piece of moisture resistant drywall over the top.

One thing that we learned in this process is that the schools of thought and codes on building showers have changed (codes are different everywhere so consult your own county codes on this).  Gone are the days of plastic sheeting and tar paper behind shower drywall.  That essentially creates a perfect mold breading ground if any water were to get back there.  Instead, you now put up your insulation, screw on your breathable tile service (durarock, hardybacker, etc.) and then RedGard everything.  This allows air to move around behind your shower wall, which means that if, God forbid, any water does get back there, it has the opportunity to dry out rather than turn into mold.  We ill use this treatment in the tiled areas of our shower.  However, up at the top of our shower there, we are just going to paint, which means that I will not have a RedGard layer there.  So, to add a little moisture resistance, we did put some tar paper in this area.

That concluded our laid back Sunday.  We hope to really ramp things up over our upcoming three day weekend.  Best case scenario, we will have a useable toilet in the bathroom come Monday!!!  We also have our one year wedding anniversary this weekend so between home projects, a bit of celebrating is in order.

Monday, August 26, 2013


Hello!  I hope that you all had a nice weekend!

We spent this weekend doing a bunch of small bathroom related projects to prep for the big bathroom updates.  Our vanity arrived on Thursday (the exact day it was scheduled to arrive!) and we had some items to finish up before installation.

First up was closing up some holes in the wall.   When we pulled out our old vanity, we found that the previous owner had cut out part of the wall in order to repair a leak.  Rather than patching the drywall nicely though, they just screwed a large piece of drywall over the top of the hole.  It looked pretty bad.  So, we cut out bigger holes around our vanity plumbing and set out to repair the drywall in the proper way.

It was pretty easy- screw on the new drywall, a little mud and tape and finally some spray texture and we were good to go.

We also added quarter turn valves to our water pipes because we find them so much easier to use.  Because they are simply compression values, they are super easy to change out yourself, and trust me when I say that it makes turning on and off your water MUCH easier.

Then, I painted this wall and the surrounding wall that were ready to be painted.  I figured that it is better to paint before the vanity goes in and not have to worry about dropping paint on it.  I ended up using Benjamin Moore's Pebble Beach for the walls.  In the area behind the vanity, I just used a primer to make the wall look cleaned up a bit.

I looked at five different grey colors before deciding on Pebble Beach and it definitely goes toward the blue side, but greys are hard.  There are purple greys, green greys and brown greys.  I wanted something relatively light that also functioned as an accent color.  Overall, I am happy with my choice.

With all that done, we were finally ready for vanity install.  This is a point where having an engineering husband really helps.  Our vanity had to be level to within 1/8".  This is because our quartz counter top has to sit on a level surface or it could crack.  As our floor is nowhere near level, the vanity install ended up taking about four hours to do.

We started by cutting some shims and worked one cabinet at a time from one side of the vanity to the other.  In times where multiple shims had to be stacked on top of one another, we glued the shims together with liquid nails.

Once that was done, it was time to screw the cabinets to one another to create one solid vanity.  Eric went the extra mile here and screwed from one cabinet into the other on the drawer side so that when the drawers are back in the vanity, you cannot see the screws.

Finally, we were able to screw the vanity into studs in the wall.

Let me tell you, this vanity is level and it is definitely not going anywhere.  I cannot wait to add hardware!

The final two steps in vanity install were just gluing on our toe kick and filling a tiny 3/8" gap on one side between the edge of the vanity and the wall.

This little gap was slightly hard to deal with.  To fill it, we took some left over toe kick and cut it to size.  Then we glued it (with Liquid Nails) to a thicker board also cut to size.  Once dried, we sanded it a bit and then glued down one side of it.  With a little work, we were able to slide it into place.

I am pretty happy with the results.  In fact, I bet no one ever even notices it.  With that step concluded, I scheduled the template folks to come out to the house, so we are now about three weeks out from getting our counter top!

So, that concluded our Saturday work.  I will be back later this week with our Sunday updates.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


I think that today calls for a little chicken update!  Sorry if you are sick of hearing about chickens, but they are just so much fun.  We have truly fallen in love with ours and they provide some serious entertainment.  Plus, there are a lot of new developments to share.

First, all four of our chickens are laying eggs!

That's right, Peep the freeloader finally decided to lay her first egg last weekend.  Here she is just this morning working on another egg- way to earn your chicken crumbles Peep. Oh, and that is a wooden egg that you can see under her- it teaches them where to lay.

Development number two- Chloe (the dog) and the chickens have become fast friends.  I have no idea what happened to cause this development as Chloe used to see the chickens as a food source.  She would literally stand by their brooder box when they were babies and shake like a leaf because she was so amped up and wanted to get at them.  When we initially moved the chickens outside, we held each one and let her sniff them.  We also slowly let her start to hang out on the deck with us when the chickens were in the yard.  Now though, I can leave her outside with the chickens without one bit of worry.

They walk between her legs and follow her around like she is their mama chicken.  It is adorable.  It think that it helps too that Chloe is a seven year old dog and is pretty lazy.  Why chase chickens when you can just lay in the sun and get your Vitamin D?

The third development is that our chickens suddenly love us!  They will run across the yard to greet us when we walk outside.

They are happy to eat out of our hands and we can pick them up and carry them around whenever we want.  Basically, they know where the food comes from.

They have also developed very distinct personalities and it is so funny to see each of their reactions to things.

So, needless to say the chickens have turned into quite fun pets for all of us (Chloe included).  The upkeep is really easy and you cannot beat fresh eggs.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Love Story

Yesterday was a day that will forever change my DIY life.  It's a bold statement yes, but I am telling you that one trip to Lowe's was enough to do it.  You see, after Saturday's grouting issues, we took a step back for a bit.  We luckily immediately stopped grouting on Saturday when we noticed a potential issue, and thank goodness we did.  On Sunday, we woke up to discover that our grout lines looked like a patchwork quilt.  In a six inch span we had transitions of grout lines going from white to dark grey.  It was awful.  We did a bit of online research and found that many people complained of this in the Home Depot reviews of the grout that we were using.  In some cases, the issue resolved itself with time, but in others the grout had to be removed and re-done.  Knowing that we had only completed a 5 x 5 foot area of our floor, we quickly decided to cut out all of this grout and start again with a new product.

Our handy dandy grout cutter to the rescue once again!

I don't know if it is because we cut out the grout so soon after it was laid or what, but this was actually much easier than we expected.  Between Eric and I, we were done in 30 minutes.

Back to square one, we started doing our research.  Initially, we looked at using another brand of sanded grout, but noticed that similar color consistency issues were written about in those reviews too.  In our effort to find another solution, we stumbled upon a diamond in the rough...

I give you SpectraLOCK:

SpectraLOCK is an epoxy based grout that is stain proof and mold and mildew resistant.  Sounds fabulous, right?  The only downside to it is the cost.  It is about twice as expensive as regular sanded grout (it was $50 to grout our approximately 100 square foot bathroom).  However, if you factor in that you never have to seal this grout and that it is actually easier to work with than sanded grout, I think that it pays for itself.

So, last night after work, Eric and I set out to get our bathroom grouted.  The first thing to notice with SpectraLOCK is that you do not do any mixing with water.  You simply follow the instructions included inside and add part B to part A, mixing completely and then add in part C (which gives it color) and you are good to go.  We also pre-prepped buckets with a water/vinegar mixture per the instructions for the cleaning steps of the grouting process.  After literally five minutes of prep, we were ready to grout.

Just as with sanded grout, you apply with a float and just squish product into grout lines and then scrape with your float at a 90 degree angle to remove the excess.

You do need to work quick with SpectraLOCK.  They say that the working time is 80 minutes per batch, but our house was 80 degrees at the time that we grouted and we found are working time to be about 30 minutes.  Having anticipated this, we did not mix all of our grout at the same time, but in two separate batches.

What you are left with is this kind of oily residue that is sticky.  After letting it sit for 20 minutes, we went to work cleaning.  The cleaning step is simply that you dip and then wring out a grouting sponge in a pre-prepped bucket of vinegar and water and rub onto the tiles in a circular motion.  I would do this step two tiles at a time and then clean out my sponge really well and swipe the clean sponge across the tiles in a diagonal motion.  Honestly, it seems to work like magic.  The cleaning in a circular motion tidies up the grout lines and makes them look perfect.  The diagonal swipe gets of the residual residue.

An hour after the first clean, you do a second clean in a similar fashion to the first.  It is important that you make sure that all traces of SpectraLOCK are off your tiles at this point.  If not, and you let it sit for 24 hours, you are going to have an extremely hard time getting your tiles cleaned off.

Just to put it into a frame of reference, it took us three hours to do the entire floor.

 Those my friends are some perfect grout lines.

The grout color did turn out a bit lighter that what was advertised on the box.  We bought Stone Grey and it looks more white, but I am not complaining.  I would be concerned if I had to worry about this grout staining, but in this case, it isn't a worry.  I am so happy to just be done with the grouting step and to have had it go so easily the second time around.

Honestly, I think that we will forever more be SpectraLOCK customers and no, this is not a sponsored post.  Sometimes you just get what you pay for!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Getting our Clean On

Happy Monday!  You know you had a busy weekend of DIY when you look forward to being able to just sit at your desk at work.  We did get a bunch done though and are gearing up for the arrival of our new vanity this week!

According to our DIY schedule, we needed to have our floor installed and grouted, vanity lighting moved, as well as the vanity plumbing prepped prior to the vanity arrival.  We just about hit this deadline, with the exception of a little snag on the grouting.

Saturday morning started bright and early with tile cleanup.  No matter how neat your are, there is always a pre-clean necessary before starting the grouting process.  Mortar gets everywhere and you want to have nice cleaned out joints to be able to apply grout in.  This requires using a grout cutter and just scraping excess mortar out of the joints.

Sounds fun, hugh?  We also took a tile brush and wet sponge to every surface and edge of the tile to make sure that we had a nice clean pallet.

Once done with the cleaning, you have to wait for at least 24 hours to make sure that everything is dry once again in the joints (using the grout cutter is much easier when you add a little water to the mix).  It is so tempting to just want to start grouting at this point, but trust me when I say to just wait on it.

So, we walked away from the tile for the day and moved on to other projects.  First up, was a bit of shower work.  Our shower is currently on the back burner because we are having our custom shower pan poured by a professional.  Unfortunately, we only trust two tile guys to do it and they are both booked until mid-September.  So, we are doing what we can as prep for the shower and will then just have to wait until the tile guy is available.  In the meantime though, we could have our plumbing updated, get the new insulation in and prep for our new shower shelf and glass doors.

Our old shower had doors on a sliding track and were plexiglass, not glass.  They were super light weight and upon demoing, we noticed that the old doors were not even in studs.  Knowing that our new doors are going to heavy, we had to remedy this.  So, we bought a couple of 2 x 4's that were treated and went to work.



We also made sure that we took great pictures with measurements so that the shower door install guys know where the studs are located and will not drill into any of our pipes.  Hopefully, that last statement will not jinx me...

And the other side of the shower:

The other shower update was the addition of what will be a shelf.  In an ideal world, I would have preferred the shelf to be on the opposing wall to the shower head.  However, that wall is an exterior wall, meaning that it requires insulation.  Putting the shelf on that side would have left a portion of an exterior wall without any insulation, which is a big "no-no".  Instead, we added the shelf on the interior wall where insulation is not required.  We made the shelf 16 inches tall, which means that after hardy-backer and tile is added it will be about 14 1/2 " tall, or the perfect size to accomodate even the largest of shampoo bottles.

We also got the new plumping up and ready for our new shower head (we had a plumber do this as it required a lot of welding). 

The final shower step was the new drain.  Again, we had a plumber do this because it is pretty complicated and we did not want to chance a leak because it would not be noticed until leaking in our downstairs bathroom was coming from the ceiling.  Better to pay for the peace of mind and just have it done professionally.

We just need to patch that bit of subfloor with a liquid floor patch and it should be good to go.  You can see that we already added a board underneath so that the liquid floor patch has something to sit on.  Once we get that done, we will apply silicon caulk all around that black portion of the drain.

With the shower prepped and the tile cleaning done, Saturday was concluded.  It was a very successful day!  Sunday however, was not all that successful.  Again, we woke up bright and early, went to church and came back antsy to get our grout on.  Unfortunately, about 1/4 of the way through grouting, we found that some of our seams were still wet from clean-out.  Rather than chance anything, we immediately stopped work, threw out all of our pre-mixed grout and put that project off until tonight when we know that the seams will be dry.

I will be back tomorrow with what we did instead of grouting.  There was definitely plenty of work still to be done and we had no problem finding other projects.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Fun Begins

After days of straight prep work for tiling, Eric and I were thrilled to start actually laying some tile last weekend.  I worked as the mortar spreader (because I had to stay seated), while Eric worked on cutting tile.  We started by creating a "T" using our pre-laid chalk lines.

Some items of note- mortar is specific to the type of tile that is being laid.  We used a flexbond mortar made for porcelain tile.  You should also try to use a mortar color that is similar to your grout color.  In our case, we are using a light grey grout so grey mortar is just fine.

We spread mortar per tile rather than doing a big portion of the floor because we do not want to have to worry about the mortar drying out.  It is imperative that you take your time and be very precise while laying this initial "T"of tile because if you screw this up, everything else will be off.   We also set our first tile and then pulled it back up to make sure that our mortar was the correct consistency and that coverage was good on the back of the tile.

It is really helpful to use a straight edge just to confirm that everything is perfect.  Also helpful are these leveling clips (seen below).  You place the clips while the mortar is still wet on all four sides of the tile and then insert wedges between the tiles.  It ensures that you tiles are all the same height and it keeps tiles from floating around too much.  People routinely ask us how we get our tiles laid in such perfect lines; well, these leveling wedges are the key.  We also use "stars" to space out our 1/8" grout lines.

Here is our "T" just about completed.  It went down in about an hour because we had very few cuts to make.

To make cuts, we used a wet tile saw fitted with a diamond impregnated blade.  On rounded corners, a diamond impregnated drill bit is essential.

So, after two days of work, we about had the floor done.  The hardest part becomes not stepping on tiles that have just been laid.

Tonight we plan to finish the floor!  I cannot wait to get this done and start grouting.  Plus, our new cabinets and counter top should be ready soon.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Homo Sapien

Hello!  We are back and better than that, I am standing and walking!  Sunday morning was the turning point in the back injury and Eric even announced "homo sapien" when he saw me walking around standing up straight.  Mind you, four hours later I was hunched over like the hunchback of Notre Dame again (I kind of got a bit excited and overdid it that first day back), but I am feeling pretty good today.

When last we left off, we were discussing floor prep prior to tiling.  I bet you thought we were done with prep, hugh?  If there is one thing that Eric and I have learned, it is that you cannot be thorough enough when it comes to prep work.  So, some may say that we have gone overboard in our next step, but we just like to think that we are being responsible home owners.  This brings me to introducing you all to what I think is one of the greatest inventions ever, RedGard (better known as "red goop" in our house).

This stuff is wonderful!  It creates a waterproof membrane that is crack resistant due to the elastic nature of the product.  It is an absolute mess to deal, will ruin any clothes it gets on and basically just glops everywhere, but it is sooo worth it.  In most instances, people will use RedGard to paint over the seams of their hardy backer joints, but we like to use it everywhere.  Case in point:

In about fifteen minutes, our bathroom went from this to hot pink.  I simply roll it on with a roller brush.

Note, the walls are not painted in red goop, just the floor.  Once we are ready to tile the shower, red goop will also be applied there.

 I think of it as an additional insurance policy against water damage.  Whereas concrete mortar will crack with time due to the natural shifting of the house, red goop will not.  Seems like a no brainer to me.

After giving the goop a three hour drying time, we were back to do our final step in tile preparation, which is to lay out our tile placement lines.  Essentially, you just want to create a perfect perpendicular and parallel line across the center of your floor to place your initial tiles with.

It is definitely easier said than done because no walls were perfectly square to one another.  It usually takes us a couple of tries with the chalk lines to get it looking visually perfect.  Another thing to consider when doing this is to account for how to maximize your tiles and minimize the number of complicated cuts that you have to do.  Luckily, Eric likes to figure out these types of things so after an hour of his calculating and considering, we had our lines down just as we wanted them.

Up next, we actually get to start tiling!  See you on Wednesday for that update.