Settling in for winter

We got a lot done this summer.  We did a bunch of plumbing and electrical work before having the new natural gas fireplace insert (slash furnace for our house) and tankless water heater installed.  I tiled the hearth.  Matt finished up the siding on the house and put in new soffits.  We opened some more interior walls and closed some of them.  We rearranged our living room.  We hired painters to paint the exterior of the house.  Matt started a new plot at the community garden closest to our house and grew a lot of veggies there and in our yard.  With some help from the internet, I fixed a problem with my sewing machine and another issue with our sticky deadbolt, and I also made some random things.  We played with and trained the dogs (update: they are both getting better walking on leash and coming when called).  Matt went on several bow hunting trips (several sightings, no shooting).

While our To Do list is ever expanding, we feel pretty good about all the stuff we accomplished, and on occasion hired someone to accomplish so it could be done in a reasonable timeframe.  The outside of the house is sealed up tight and ready for winter.  We have endless hot water and a lovely fireplace to keep warm snuggled up on plenty of couch space for the two of us, two dogs, and even a few guests. The weather is already turning to Seattle winter mode: cool, rainy, and progressively shorter days.  We’ll try to keep working on indoor projects over the winter, but for now we’re in a bit of a lull.  Matt is studying for a professional test and I haven’t been feeling well this week, so between that and our day jobs and regular chores, we haven’t been doing a lot of fun DIY stuff.  The guys from Filco will be working on the oil leakage in the front yard issue, but since we already filled out the paperwork, that shouldn’t take up much of our time.  I plan to spend some time emulating these two:

I’m already missing the great things about summer: long days staying outside, barbecuing, evening trips to the dog park, non-muddy dog feet, fruits and veggies fresh from the garden, open windows… but I’m looking forward to cozy nights in front of the fire and other fun winter activities.

Are you excited about fall and winter, or can’t get over summer?


Hearth tiling project recap

As if you haven’t heard enough about my hearth tiling project!  This may be of interest if you are embarking on a similar project of your own, or you are just abnormally interested in other people’s home improvement adventures (you are not alone, maybe we can start a support group).

Maybe the one perk of DIYing on the weekends only (as opposed to every day, which is what I would prefer to be doing instead of my regular job) is that it allows plenty of time between steps in a process.  Time for thinset to dry and cure before grouting.  Time to do more internet research on materials and methods.  Time to think about what went wrong, what could go wrong, and how to do it right.  Time to stop by the hardware store for that one extra supply.  Time for my back and knees to recover after spending hours on the floor.

The posts in the hearth project series correlate pretty well with how much time it actually took me to do each part. 

1. Demo

2. Prep phase one

3. Prep phase two including failure setback / learning experience

4. Set tile and grout

I find it interesting to note that what I originally thought of as being the whole process (part 4) only turned out to be about 25% of the process.

Materials used and cost (approximate):

  • K-rust slate tile (Brazilian), nominally 12x12 but actually a little smaller $5.88/tile x 10 tiles x 1.1 [10% extra for breakage] = $65
  • Schluter edging in antique bronze $22.10/piece x 2 pieces = $44 (with some left over for entryway project)
  • Schluter Ditra underlayment $83.70/roll x let’s say 20% of roll used = $17 (rest will be used for entryway)
  • concrete (left over from previous projects) $10
  • unmodified gray thinset (unmodified is a requirement when using Ditra) $5
  • natural gray sanded grout $6
  • sanded caulk $7
  • mallet $12
  • tile spacers $3
  • mixing paddle $13
  • 1/4” notched trowel $7
  • grout and tile sealer $11
  • sundry supplies & tools, some from garage/estate sales $6
  • wet saw $0 (gift)
  • other tools already owned

Total = $205

Let’s not factor in how much time I spent on this.  In reality, there is also some overhead in other tools that we have on hand, gloves, knee pads and the like, but I don’t want to get too crazy.

Last week I received an email from a reader who recently bought a house with a similar hearth.  She wasn’t sure about replacing her own hearth until she read about our project, and now she is doing it!  This is a scenario I had hoped for in writing this blog - that maybe sharing our experiences will help a few DIYers out there.  Hearing from someone who is finding this useful really made my day.  Thanks for sending me that email!