Another Saturday, in the Life of a DIYer

… and Thursday, and Friday, and Sunday, and Monday; ok already, the whole rest of the week.

Last time, we left off with some fool opening a water valve while looking directly into the out flow.  After he dried himself off, and after drying off the bathroom, it was time to install the glassdoor for shower and the “custom” vanity.



See, I told you the space was odd shaped and there was no off the shelf vanity that would fit.  The plumbing service can not complete the installation until after the countertop is installed and the countertop can not be installed until it has been fabricated.  So, it’s off to the internut, Lowe’s, and Home Depot to have a “custom” countertop fabricated.  My understanding of the way countertops are built is that they are usually 1/2 inch thick and the reason they look thicker is because they have a thicker edge attached that makes the whole countertop appear to be thicker.  My understanding was mostly correct, but …, there is always a but.


The helpful helper at the Depot took my drawing(s) and figured out the square footage and the price for necessary material and the price for fabrication of said material.  It was nice stuff that looked like soapstone, cuz we have decided that real soapstone would probably cost too much and the Depot does not have real soapstone anywhooz.  The estimate was fine, and only just a bit more than we had planned to spend.  But, …, here is the conclusion to the but.  But, there is a minimum price/cost.  And the minimum price/cost is about three times the estimate.  What the ____?!?!?!?!?!

Back to the drawing board, literally.  For that price, we can have real soapstone, unless there is a minimum, and of course there probably is.  Except that, yup, you guessed it, our small countertop can probably be fabricated from a remnant.  And a remnant will be less expensive and the minimum will be the price per square foot of the remnant, right?

Right!  Back to the internut, where it turns out soapstone is sold in 1 1/4 inch thickness, and no added edge, so gotta draw again.

 A little more internut reasearch leads to the discovery that the shipping will cost almost as much as the material, if we can find a remnant, so the trick is to find a remnant locally, and the only way to do that is to start calling.  Time for a plug here.  There is a remnant, that is appropriate for our little countertop and it will cost less than the normal price per square foot, (because it is a remnant), and it is local, (Escondido), so it can picked up instead of shipped, at Soapstone Werks.  Wendy, at Soapstone Werks is very helpful and sent photos of a kitchen made from the non-remnant slab that is the slab that our remnant is from.  Soapstone, being a natural material, differs from slab to slab, like granite, or marble, etc.  We like the photos and the color and consistency is just what we wanted, so off I go to Escondido, in my minivan, leaving work an hour or so early, without going home first to grab my tie downs, cuz home is just a bit out of the way, and I want to go get my material, cuz without it the bathroom project just sits there, cuz it seems like the countertop installation is the next step before anything else.  Oh yeah, Wendy gives us the option of having the slab fabricated there at Soapstone Werks, (If you didn’t click on it before, you did this time, huh?), or just taking the slab as it sits, actually as it stands, on edge, and that is an important piece of info which you will come to understand, if you keep on reading.  Now that you know me, how do you think that slab is gonna arrive at our home, fabricated or unfabricated?  Yup, see you know me.  If I think I can save money by doing it myself, I will, even if there are skeptics that doubt I save any money by doing it myself, and those skeptics include myself.

The slab weighs three hundred pounds as it stands, so a forklift with a special clamp is used to load it into the back of my minivan. ( My daughters are so embarrassed that I am the only dad who drives a minivan.  They think I should drive a truck which according to them would be more manly.)  When the slab is loaded, it has to stand vertically, or on edge.  It can not lie flat because if it is not perfectly flat it can not hold it’s own weight and it will break.  But, …, there is that but again, remember I did not have my tie downs with me.  So, a side trip to Home Depot is necessary before heading home, and the slab has to stay in one place without moving before the Depot is reached.  Luckily, the slab stayed in place, mostly, and another set of tie downs is purchased.  Can you really have too many tie downs?  Of course not.  Homeward bound.

The next step is getting a three hundred pound slab of rock out of the minivan.  Hmm-m-m-m-m.  And that slab has to accompany me to work and every place else until it is out of the minivan.


And how to get it out without ripping up the headliner since the slab is tall enough when standing straight to rip up everything in it’s path.  Rock is not pliable or forgiving.  First step is to saw off the unneccessary portion that may potentially cause damage.

A friend at work suggests using dowels to roll it, just like the ancient Egyptians did to move rocks out of their minivans when they were building the pyramids.  Another friend comes by a couple of days later and we moved the slab from the minivan to the garage.



Then, of course, fabrication.  Oh yeah, I have never cut stone before.  It is fun.  You can’t really make any mistakes that aren’t expensive, but the result is satisfying.




Okay, the slab is now in shape to install, but, … there it is again.  Remember the drywall patches?  Not only do they need to be patched, but they need to be textured to match the existing knockdown.  And it is best done before the slab is installed so the slab isn’t damaged.  Knockdown is usually applied with mud being thrown into a hopper and sprayed on, and a few minutes later knocked down with a blade or a trowel.  I’ve got the diaphragm compressor for argon gas, but not the hopper, and don’t feel like spending 80 bucks on a tool that I may never use again.   But if I have to, I can buy it, use it, and then sell it on Craig’s List.  I don’t have to.  The Depot has a texture product in an aerosol can; perfect for a few patches which I determine by reading the instructions and applications.  I wish I had read the reviews, but I was at the store.  Some advice: it is really helpful to read the reviews before buying a product at the Depot, or Lowe’s, or … .  A few days previous I purchased a diamond blade to the cut the slab and before I bought it I read the reviews which were awful.  The blade was cheap, not inexpensive, but cheap, but the reason for which everyone said it sucked did not apply to my saw, so what the heck.  Reading the reviews and buying a cheap blade not only worked, but it saved me some bucks.  Oh!  And another great product that only prompted my interest because the reviews were good.  I don’t normally like gadgets, but this one works and works well.  It is this cup thing that holds water and guides a diamond hole saw when drilling holes through tile, or in this case, 1 1/4 inches of Soapstone.  Check it out!


If I had read the reviews on the texture in an convenient, easy to use aerosol can, I would have found out that not only did others think it sucked, but it sure as heck wasn’t gonna work for what I was gonna use it for.  It was a waste of $25 for two cans and now there was stancky mud on the walls that I was gonna have to sand off.  Back three steps.  And now there are 7 lousy reviews of this product.  But, what to do about the patches?   Back to the internut.

(This just added; last minute)  I almost forgot.  This weekend’s highlight was when I left the water running in our laundry sink, which I also use as my clean up sink, and because I was washing rags for removing tons of over splatter from that piece of junk texture in a can, instead of my usual sponges for grout or mortar and paint tools, the water overflowed the sink.  I usually leave the water on for a few minutes after I wash out mortar or grout or this time canned texture crap, so that the material I am washing out does not adhere to our pipes, and usually I can leave a grout filled sponge under the running water whilst using another sponge.  Ya know, a kind of trade off thing.  But rags do not pass water as readily as sponges and by the time my wife yelled my name and asked me, loudly, to come in, there was a 1/2 inch of water in our laundry room and it was starting to flow out the hall into the family room.  Nice, eh?  Too bad; no photo.  I was too busy sopping up water to grab the camera.

test fit

Aw-Haw!!!  Found something!  It is a trowel  texture applicator that costs less than ten dollars and takes up little to no room in my garage after I am finished with it and I don’t have to bother with Craig’s list.  Is there a catch?  Of course there is a catch.  There is always a catch.  It is sold on the internut ONLY, which means I gotta wait.  What am I gonna do while I wait, for days, or maybe a week, or two?  I am free from my wife’s looks no matter how long something takes as long as I am working on it, even if I am making negative headway.  I just have to look busy.  Kinda like my job, while I am typing this.  As luck would have, as soon as I am completing my online order and getting ready to figure out what to do to look busy, the door bell rings and the UPS guy has left our waincotting order that I ordered a week ago, on our porch.  Do I have perfect timing or what?!  Ok, maybe the doorbell didn’t ring right then and the order was on the porch the next day, but close enough.  Besides, I watched the UPS order status as the wainscotting made it’s way accross the country from Ontario, Canada and I knew it would be arriving the next day.  So there!

Is installing the wainscotting before completing the drywall texture a good idea?  Gonna have to blue tape and plastic the wainscotting when the time comes to throw mud on the walls, which would not even be necessary if I could do things in the right order.  But it beats the alternative, which is doing stuff on my wife’s honey do.