Tag Archives: 2017

Kitchen Exhaust–Cabinet Retrofit

modified cabinet bottom

A duct cutout and new screw holes were required to accommodate the new microwave.

In addition cutting open the house to fit a new duct, I had to modify the cabinet to fit the new microwave. Because the microwave was on order, I found installation instructions online and used them to layout the bottom. I had to drill new mounting holes and a rectangular cutout for the duct, neither of which was especially difficult and further simplified by having the cabinet off the wall. Continue reading

Kitchen Exhaust–Assembling the Duct

Duct drive cleat

A drive cleat joins the ends of two sections of ducts and is then hammered flat to lock the joint.

Rectangular metal duct connects the holes in my kitchen ceiling and exterior wall. I assembled the duct out of three-foot long flat sections, folding two pieces into ell-snapped walls and joining those to form a section of duct. To join the two sections I needed together, I used S-cleats on the long sides drive cleats on the short sides as outlined here. I then sealed the seams with mastic, which seemed to take forever to dry. For the long seams, I opted to use a high-quality foil tape, an approach I’ll use for any future duct work I do given its ease of use and instant gratification.  Continue reading

Kitchen Exhaust–Preparing for a New Duct

external duct opening

Cutting a hole in your house is a bit troubling. Here I’ve squared my opening. A hint of the house’s original green stain is visible on a shingle on the bottom right of the cutout.

Installation of a waterline for an ice maker was prompted by the purchase of a new fridge, which in turn entailed replacing the stove and over-the-range (OTR) microwave to ensure matching finishes (fortunately the dishwasher was an integrated model and concealed behind cabinetry).

Continue reading

Refinishing the stairs–runner

New runner on refinished stairs.

A runner completes the stair project.

It felt a little wrong to install a runner over stairs from which I’d stripped carpet and then refinished, but the stairs were a little slippery under foot. I had no desire to install the runner myself, so we spent an afternoon at a local rug and flooring shop looking for something that would suit both the dining room at the foot of the stairs with its deep green walls and sea-green rug and the upstairs with light tan walls. We settled on a tannish vine pattern over a blue-green base in 100% wool. Picking the pattern was the hard part: a few weeks later the installers spent a difficult three hours installing pad and runner, measuring each step to make sure the runner stayed centered on stairs that were inconsistent in width.

Refinishing the stairs–topcoat

After sanding, I applied three coats of Bona Mega using a lambswool applicator.

After sanding, I applied three coats of Bona Mega using a lambswool applicator.

After the final sanding, I vacuumed and taped the walls, then was ready to apply my topcoat. I chose Bona Mega to match the existing finish and applied the Mega using a 5″ lambswool applicator, following the manufacturer’s directions. It was a surprisingly forgiving process–pour the finish and spread to an even coat with the applicator. So long as the next coat is applied within 48 hours, you don’t need to sand between coats, but I did hand sand with 220 grit before my final coat. Because stairs are high-traffic, I applied four coats over the course of a weekend. While it cured to final hardness, we could consider runner options.

Refinishing the Stairs–Sanding

Sanding the stairwell before refinishing.

Sanding off the old finish was slow work made more bearable with good dust collection.

Welcoming the excuse for a new tool, I picked up Festool’s DTS 400 REQ to reach areas where my Festool ETS 150/3 wouldn’t reach (aside: the DTS 400 REQ worked well for its intended purpose, but I agree with one reviewer who missed the symmetry of the DX 93: You go through more paper not being able to rotate a sheet on the pad). I began sanding at 60 grit and regretted I didn’t have any 40 grit (or even lower) on hand. I used the ETS 150 as much as possible, then switched over to the DTS 400 to reach into the corners of the treads and risers, working through higher grits to 180. After a weekend of sanding, I vacuumed the freshly-stripped wood and wiped it down with a damp cloth. As a probably-not-necessary step (or act of masochism), I then took a quick pass over the stairs with a card scraper. With one last vacuuming, the stairs were ready for a new top coat.

Refinishing the Stairs–Before

Carpeted staircase

Carpeting covered the entire stairwell.

After ten years of indoor and outdoor projects, we were left with one last effort that wouldn’t require removing sections of the roof or overhauling basement drainage: refinishing our upper staircase.

The stairs were covered in the same bad carpeting as the downstairs bedrooms when we moved. Unlike with the bedrooms, where we removed carpet and underlying linoleum to reveal the original fir floors, we left the stairs untouched while we worked on the rest of the house. The carpet wasn’t pretty, but it was inoffensive, protected the stairs, and provided sure footing for pets and toddlers. With the summer in full swing and all my contractual obligations fulfilled, it was time to confront the stairs.

I began by thoroughly vacuuming to minimize spreading dust when pulling up the carpet. Then it was simply a matter of finding an edge and bringing a pair of needle nose pliers to bear. The carpeting came up easily, and for the first time in the history of our pulling up floor coverings in the house, it revealed no ugly surprises–no glued down linoleum, no layers of newsprint, no strips of tacked down salvaged tin strips, not even padding or tack strips.

Instead we found worn but serviceable old growth treads and risers with a failing finish, an ideal candidate for refinishing.

Carpet removed from the staircase

The carpet comes up, revealing no ugly surprises.