Thursday, 21 June 2012

I Didn’t Know That! D’oh! (Part 1)

So, while I optimistically think of myself as reasonably handy with tools, logical and well informed, there’s always a few ‘aha!’ moments in the course of working on a big project.    With every project I’ve undertaken over the years, my skills have been refined – sometimes with baby steps, sometimes with giant leaps of ‘Oh, how could I not have known that!’.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far.  Feel free to laugh and mock as appropriate.

#1: Screwdrivers (at least the better quality ones) are color coded to indicate varying sizes.  And here I thought they were just pretty.  Sure saves time staring at the end cross-eyed trying to guess if that Philips one is the right one.  I won’t mention that I still confuse Philips and Robertson types.

#2:  Waterproof membrane:  you don’t have to use the cumbersome orange waffle grid Schluter membrane.  Our tile guru used a couple of coats of a roll-on liquid.  Looked like raspberry yogurt in the pail, but is much easier to work with and dries to a striking hot pink color.

#3: Critical dimensions.   Toilets are supposed to be 15” to centerline from the inner face of the wall.  The plumber doesn’t care about ‘high efficiency space planning’ – he just wants to meet code requirements.  The tile guru wants a new layer of plywood not because he’s a pain in the @ss, but because a 1 ¼” underlay is required.  Fine.

#4:  The elbows in copper piping is made of a different material and must be separated from the straight lengths of copper pipe if you want top pricing from the metal salvager.  Thank the gods for the Sawz-all.  Two dollars a pound isn’t enough motivation to get me to spend an afternoon using a hacksaw.

#5:  Commercial door frames are wider than residential door casings.  I knew this somewhere in the recesses of my brain, but still managed to frame a couple of rough openings too wide.  Shims to the rescue!

#6:  Tape measures have a diamond at apparently random places (19 3/16”?).  There’s actually a logic to this as it divides standard lumber/plywood into equal spacing.  Thanks to Scott for the tip.

#7:  You don’t have to order the jets in a whirlpool tub directly from the manufacturer as the supplier often has an in-house department to do after-market refits.  Plus, this option turns out to be cheaper.  Thanks to our sales rep for screwing up our order and allowing us to find this alternative.

#8:  Don’t be lazy and keep the electrical plug in its box when drywalling.  Spend 30 seconds per receptacle to undo a couple of screws and pull it out so you can cut the edge of the drywall tight to the edge of the box.  This will greatly reduce the amount of eye rolling and mocking from the drywall finisher. (Vat eez  theez  sheet?   Quel eediots!  Merde!)

#9:  Forming tight curves with drywall can be done a couple of ways.  Yes, you can score the back of the sheet.  Or, you can buy ¼” thick drywall instead of ½” and most of the problem takes care of itself.  Plus, you can use a spray bottle to dampen the drywall to make it easier to form into curves.  Thanks Mr. Drywall and Stucco Supply Store Man!

#10:  When framing a sleeper floor to raise the level to a uniform height, keep in mind that plywood subfloor comes in 4’ x 8’ sheets.  You will realize that leaving an unsupported edge of plywood (bouncy, bouncy!) is Not A Good Thing and you’ll now need to add yet another sleeper to keep everything stable.  Not difficult, but it wastes time and materials.  (And I get the chance to post another photo of Jean modifying the Family Room ceiling.)

#11:  There’s a big difference in the quality of stainless steel sinks.  Wherever possible, buy one that you’ve’ tire kicked’ in person.  Thanks to Chris and Kim for warning us about a bargain sink that turned out to be a pain to keep clean.  Keep an eye on the gauge of steel used and pick a heftier one if possible.  However, if your sink doesn’t come soundproofed, and each drop of water resonates like a cowbell (Digression:  google the ‘ SNL Needs More Cowbell’ video and enjoy the Christopher Walken silliness.) it is possible to add this later.  Adhere a layer of mass loaded vinyl (essentially flooring underlay product) to the underside of the bowls.  We may be experimenting with leftover blueskin dampproofing membrane product as it has similar qualities.

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