Catching up

12 07 2012

As the summer heats up, a number of things start happening at my house.  The grass starts growing, then gets mowed, then grows some more, then the horrendous lack of rain turns it brown, then it gets watered, then it grows out of control but still brownish, then it rains finally, and the cycle continues.  As the temperature outside rises, the desire to be outside and have fun in the relatively short Wisconsin summers increases; but at the same time, the extreme heat prompts a rise in the desire to be in my wonderfully cool, sub-arctic feeling, cool glass of lemonade feel on a hot day climate controlled basement, where even with the air conditioning not running all that often it is probably a steady 68-70 degrees on even the hottest of days.  This certainly makes it easier to stay motivated when there are projects to complete; and even the Wisconsin summers can, at times, be too hot to handle.  It also tends to make my writing more infrequent.

With the basement basically finished and livable, Melissa and I assessed where we stood on the final areas in the basement that have not to be given the Matson Stamp o’ Completion.  The Bar area was still not finalized, and the bathroom was barely even started.  For those not in the know, we are expecting our first child in October, and since it might be a while until he can grow into his tool belt and handle a power tool, we decided that we needed to set some goals for where we want to be once this little handiless-in-waiting graces us with his presence.

We decided that the bar needs to be completely finished with the cabinet and countertop in place, the plumbing finished, and a little learning-experience adventure/mishap with the bartop epoxy corrected.  We also made a plan for the bathroom.  At the very least, by the time the little player to be named later joins our family, the bathroom must have a toilet.

Finishing The Bar

I had a little adventure with the bartop epoxy.  The solution is a mixture of a resin and a hardener.  The two are mixed together and then poured on the surface.  I must not have mixed them together the best, because after about 4 days, there were still some spots that were pretty tacky.  I read up on it and found out that if the epoxy is still tacky after that many days, I probably didn’t mix it good enough and it will never get any better than that.  Perfect.  Who needs coasters when your glass will simply adhere itself to the counter?  I’ll just make a bunch of glasses permanent fixtures on the bar and we’ll just get a bunch of straws!  I chiseled out the effected area and poured a new mixture.  This time, I went all MacGyver on it and fashioned a coat hanger into a fancy mixin’ device and stuck it in my drill.  This made mixing it much more efficient and I think much more thorough.  This final application not only came out much much much smoother, but it completely hid any and all of the chiseled areas that I thought for sure were going to be visible forever.

We also finished up the cabinet and counter.  With the help of a friend of mine, we got the cabinet in place, cut the counter top to length and depth, and installed the sink.  I have since assembled the drain which involved a lot of YouTube-ing and some advice from my friendly neighborhood TrueValue.  The last thing I need to do to put the stamp of approval on the bar is to install the faucet.

I also want to point out that I built the shelf above the microwave.

The ultimate sports bar, or at least it’s mine

The Bathroom

I had started drywalling the bathroom when we decided that I had about 3 months to get it into a working state.  The had been something along the lines of drywall, install shower, drywall rest of shower area, mud, paint, floor, finish rest plumbing (including toilet).  Since our object was altered to make the most important aspect getting a toilet working, I changed the plan to: stop drywall, get flooring in, do all the plumbing at once, (including installing the shower, install the toilet flange), then finish drywall, mud, paint, install toilet.  The reason the shower is important is because a) it actually makes up one of the bathroom walls, and b) I can’t finish the drywall until the shower is in, and I’d rather do all the taping, mudding, and painting at one time.

After learning how to install tile floor in the bar, the bathroom seemed quite easy.  It really only took me a couple of days.  I laid out all the tile that needed to be cut and had pretty exact measurements for it.  I used my dad’s wet saw tile cutter, and I even bought an angle grinder to cut a hole in the tile where the toilet flange will go.  About tile, on an effort to results ratio, it is about the easiest of all the projects I’ve done for the results.  In other words, other than the thought and planning that goes into making sure to maximize the full tile usage, limit the number of tiles needed to be cut, and making sure to cut tiles to the correct size–oh, and making sure the whole thing is square (details)–the actual process is extremely simple and difficult to mess up, even down to the slotted trowel that makes 1/4 inch by 1/4 inch rows of mortar so there is no guessing how deep or even to spread the mortar.  The next step is installing the shower, and the work continues.


Adventures in Epoxy

18 06 2012

Having finished up the hardwood flooring that was to make up the bartop, I applied a coat of polyurethane in preparation for the bartop epoxy that would create a crystal clear sealant/protectant and bring the top to life.  This was the last step before I embarked on a process that would essentially be irreversible, and quite possibly disastrous if done improperly.  The days leading up to my eventual embarkation were ones of slight anxiety and a little lack of sleep.

I had to figure out how much of this stuff I needed.  The product I went with was EnviroTex Lite, and I was able to find it at Menards.  The dimensions of the bartop are about 91 inches by 28 inches, or 17.5 square feet.  According to the product website, this would require about 2.25 gallons of the epoxy (you can look up the product at Menards; it’s not exactly cheap) to be poured onto the hardwood flooring that was trimmed in with a 3/16 in bordering lip.  Piece of cake, right?

I had Melissa help me.  The plan was to mix two of the one gallon kits in separate 5 quart ice cream buckets, and then pour them on.  I did my best to tape up any area underneath the trim that I thought could potentially be a place of leakage.  So Melissa and I poured the resin and hardener into our ice cream buckets, stirred for two minutes, and then poured the mixture as evenly as we could onto the surface (I then quickly mixed up the additional quart and poured it on as well).  It did it’s thing and found level, filling out all the way to the edge of the top without any human interaction.  Then the fun began.

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A Unique Counter

24 05 2012

I gave a sneak peak of what the bar top was going to look like a few weeks ago.  Instead of a boring old kitchen counter top, I went with a design of hardwood flooring.  Now that this phase is done, it looks really good.  It wasn’t without adventure, however.  I bought a bundle of unfinished hardwood flooring in a quantity of about 20 square feet, which should have been plenty considering the dimensions of about 7.5 feet by 2.75 feet.  All told, the area of the bartop is about 18 square feet.  I should have had plenty of flooring, right?  Well, not really.  Here’s why.

The design was a series of diagonal zigzags.  So every place the flooring met the edge of the bar resulted in a triangular piece of waste.  The implications of this didn’t make itself apparent until I started getting close finish.  At one point, when I had only 2 long pieces of unused wood left, I calculated that I had about 330 square inches left to fill in on the bar top.  I then calculated that I had only about 310 square inches of  uncut wood left.  I was able to use some of the triangular scraps to fill in places and do it in such a way that it looks natural.  Not it only did I end up with enough, but the result of this particular area looked much better than if I hadn’t used the scraps.

With that said, the next step is applying a couple coats of polyurethane on the sides and applying the bar top epoxy to seal in the hardwood floor top.  Until then, cheers!

What a look

The angles give the top quite the character

Bar Top Preparation

1 05 2012

Through the process of planning and dreaming up the bar, I found that the design is really only limited by your imagination.  So when it came to figuring out what to do for a counter top, I was pleased to find out that expense wise, there were lots of options to choose from.  I initially thought that regular old kitchen counter tops were going to be the easiest, and cheapest.  It turns out that while this might be a simple solution, the look can leave much to be desired.  When learning that something like using hardwood flooring was not really any more expensive than laminate counters, we decided to go that route.

You can see pictures from the previous post, but the bar has a dark finish to it.  So I figured I’d contrast the dark with a brighter stain for the top.  I bought unfinished oak hardwood flooring from Menards, and stained it with Minwax Natural wood finish.  We are going to assemble the “flooring” in a sort of zigzag fashion to give the top some character.

Once the top is assembled and in place, we’ll seal it up with an epoxy designed for table tops.  This will finish off the top with the equivalent of about 50 coats of polyurethane and will make a nearly indestructible finish.  The trim around the edge of the top will allow for the hard wood flooring and then a 3/16 inch layer of the epoxy.  (Here is a YouTube video of what this will entail).

The hardwood flooring that will become my bartop. Sanded, stained, and sitting in my garage.

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