Posts Tagged ‘How To’

HOW TO… Tile a Floor

My laundry room had linoleum over 12″ square hard floor tiles that were glued to the concrete floor. I know this because in various parts of this 8’x10′ laundry room I could see all of these three flooring surfaces. And, the linoleum was pretty badly worn where it still existed.

A few months ago a friend of mine gave me 10 boxes of 8×8 tiles – enough to tile this laundry room. It took me a while to get to it, but I did it!

Here’s the “How To” section – or at least the “How I Did It” section:

First off, pull up all the old flooring. I used a pry bar and that worked pretty well for the hard tiles underneath. I used a box cutter to cut manageable pieces of the linoleum so that I could pull them up and throw them away easily. The black stuff in the photo below is the old glue – but trust me, it was on there solid, so there was no taking it off.

Generally one would pull up the baseboards, but the baseboards in this room appear to have been liquid nailed to the wall – so I left the baseboards on (because I really had no desire to re-drywall this room.)

Then sweep and clean the floor surface well. I used a shop vac to get all the tiny pieces out of the corners – and everywhere else.

Items you will need:

  • tile
  • tile spacers (1/8″ are used for vertical surfaces, for horizontal surfaces it appears to be a personal choice. I used 1/4″)
  • notched trowel
  • thin-set mortar
  • a thick piece of wood or a heavy duty spoon or other type of tool for heavy stirring
  • 2- large buckets (one for mixing the thinset and one for mixing the grout) I used an old cat litter bucket I got for free off of Craig’s List and one I got for a few bucks at the box home improvement store.
  • tile cutter – can be rented at the box home improvement store – or borrowed from a friend as I did.
  • grout (sanded is used for spaces larger than 1/8″) – make sure you take a tile with you when you pick this out – there were roughly 25 colors from which to choose when I decided.
  • a grout float (which evidently is a type of trowel)
  • large sponge (or two)
  • bucket for cleaning out sponge in water
  • grout sealer
  • knee pads, or several thick towels – most of this work is done on your knees.
  • For those over 40 – Advil or other pain reliever (trust me, you’ll need it) and perhaps a heating pad.

I called on a friend, Ed, who had tiled a number of times in his past. In previous posts I have referred to him as the “toilet guy.” Actually, Ed is your basic Renaissance Man – someone who can do almost everything – cook, tile, plumbing work, electrical work, sew, etc. (in addition to being an incredible friend.) Anyway, when I told him I was going to tile, he asked if I would like some help. Not being an idiot, I said “yes.”

Before Ed arrived I did a dry set. Basically, I lined up the tiles in both directions with the spacers to see if we would need to do any cutting of tiles. I discovered that from left to right (in the photo) no cutting would be required (yea!), but from top to bottom, we would need to cut half tiles for the back wall (which will eventually be covered up with my laundry sorter) giving me a full tile just inside the door.

Mixing the thin-set was difficult the first time because we did exactly as the instructions suggested – put the water in then put all the mix in, then stir. Much of the powder got stuck to the bottom of the container and I had to take a yard tool with a long handle to scrape the bottom of the bucket and stir with. The next time we made thin-set I put the water in, and then a little of the thin-set and mixed and added more of the powder mix and stirred and added the rest and stirred. This worked out much better.

The rest of the directions on the bag of thin-set were very clear and helpful, and included illustrations in larger type for easy reference.

Bless Ed’s heart, he tiled when I had to leave and help my 100 year old friend who had fallen, and a good chunk of the work was done by the time I got back.

The basics for placing your tiles: Put your trowel into the thin-set and place thin-set on floor. Spread thinset over the entire area for each tile, then using the notched section of the trowel, scrape over the thin-set leaving some areas higher than the other, then place the tile. Insert the spacers and push into place. The tiles can be easily moved for quite some time if slight adjustments need to be made.

The dark area in the middle of the floor is the drain (which needs to be cleaned well and painted.) And, yes, I can see from this photo that I have some touch up painting still to do.

Cutting the tile was not as easy as one would think. BUY MORE TILE THAN YOU THINK YOU NEED! If there is any cutting to be done you will probably have tiles that don’t cut as you would like and that you can’t use. Remember when measuring for placing tiles that you need to reduce the cut by the grout on both sides.

As we were nearing the end of placing the tiles, we almost ran out of the thin-set. I grabbed a rubber spatula and scrapped the side of the bucket. That worked very well. It cleaned up with no problem when we were done.

Now is the time you will want to take the Advil and grab the heating pad. There is a reason that nothing can be done on the floor for the next 24-48 hours… the person doing the tiling is recouping. I spent the next 24 hours with a icy hot patch on my back, Ed went to the gym and walked or ran several miles on the treadmill. By the following day we were both in much better shape (obviously he was in the better shape.)

After 24+ hours, remove the spacers. First I started to individually remove these – but after about 10 I thought “there has got to be an easier way.” And there was! I took a broom and started sweeping the spacers into a pile. Not all of them moved, but at the end I only needed to remove another 20 by hand, the rest of the 600-700 spacers swept up easily. I put them in a plastic bag to reuse for my next tiling project.

After I removed the spacers, I went in and wiped off the dried thin-set on the tiles with a sponge. It doesn’t matter how careful you are, the tiles will probably get dirty as they are placed. No worry, the thin-set wiped off very easily.

The next part of the project is the grouting.

Mix the grout in a bucket as specified on the bag… except, add the powdered grout a little at a time to the water so it all gets mixed well and with less effort.

Take the float, load it with grout and push into the spaced area at a 45 degree angle. The directions on the bag of grout were very easy to understand and included step by step illustrations. Follow these. They include wiping off the excess grout gently after about 20 minutes, then waiting 2 hours and wiping off the film on the tiles (I did this twice.)

Take more pain reliever.

Wait a day or two.

Apply sealer to the grout – twice.

Take more pain reliever.

Move all the items from your laundry room out of the room or rooms in which you have been storing them (for me that means my washing machine is no longer in the middle of my kitchen, and the various storage tubs of items I took out of the folding table/storage unit are no longer under my kitchen table, and the 3x6x4 folding table/storage unit that I built several years ago is out of the hall leading to my sun room.)




Read Full Post »

My front stoop was nothing exciting. A place just outside my kitchen door that held a chair a bench and a bunch of junk. It wasn’t terrible – but the stoop did have two different colors of paint – mostly peeling – blotching up the bare concrete. And… the door was black. Nothing on my house is black but this door and the door into the foyer (but that’s another story – and another project.)


First thing I did was to purchase spray paint suitable for metal. Cost of under $5. I covered the window and the surrounding brick and started painting.


I used paper for the window that had drawings and a diagram on the back from when a friend and I made a riser to go around a baptismal font with an octagonal base. On the sides I used a cut up shower curtain – purchased at the dollar store and used twice before as a drop cloth for painting projects.

While the door was drying, I went about working on the windows on either side of the door. Thankfully I had this paint on hand, so I didn’t have any additional cost here- just a little bit of effort to touch up. I also used some green caulking I had on hand to caulk around the door and windows.


Next I went about working on the floor. As I said, it had several blotches of paint on it.


I took a metal scrub brush that had a scraper on it and got the majority of the paint off.

Then I began to paint. Yes, I know I am supposed to etch and prime first – but I know that if I had to do all of that I just wouldn’t do it at all. Besides, I didn’t want to have to go out and buy anything for this project. I used what was left (about a quarter of a gallon) of concrete paint left from a project I did 10 years ago. I know it would go, because I asked my “color guru friends” what color to use with brick and hunter green (which is what was once in my sun room) – and this is the color that was selected.

I still need to put out a few accent pieces (I think I will use purple) in a chair cushion, a large flower pot for the plant on the bottom left (that is very root bound), a rug with purple in it (or I’ll paint a rug with a purple design), and I’ll make an art piece or two to hand on the wall. But, with all that still not done, I’m pleased with what I have at the moment.


Since I had most of the materials used, my cost was just under $5 for the spray paint.

Read Full Post »

A few weeks ago I had my 15,000 visitor to this blog. That just blows me away!

I thought I would share links to those blogs that are most read:

HOW TO… Tie a Quilt

HOW TO… Transplant Tomatoes

HOW TO… Fix a Toilet

HOW TO… Build a Raised Bed Garden

HOW TO… Fix a Washing Machine

Let Me Walk in Beauty

Read Full Post »

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have 20 people coming over for a party this Saturday, and if it isn’t raining, I hope that many will enjoy the outdoors. It will make it much easier for the 100-year-old birthday honoree to hear with fewer people talking nearby.

So, as I’m trying to find an easier way to pick up gum balls (I try vacuuming them up with the mower – but that doesn’t work very well), I realize that my old picnic table is in pretty bad shape (notice how easily I can be distracted from gum ball pick-up). I use it for working on my art during the summer, so it is covered in various shades of paint; it is pretty green with moss; and there is a great deal of damage to parts of the wood.



I decide to see if I can clean (and patch) it up enough for folks to use without having to purchase anything new.

Step 1: Clean the table as best you can. I used a scrub brush, water and a little bleach. This is messy, so if you attempt this, wear something you don’t care about. I now have little bleach splatters all over one of my favorite pair of sweat pants.


Step 2: Rinse with clean water (I used a hose with an attachment that let me get a hard stream of water). table4

Step 3: Let it dry in the sun. Once it is dry it looks so much better.table-9

Step 4: Patch the wood. Since I don’t have a gallon of wood putty laying around, I decided to use construction adhesive. I generally have this around because I use it in my cultural artifact art.table-5

I used an scrap piece of wood to give me a flat surface to spread out the adhesive into a nice even area. This needs time to dry.table-6


Step 5: Now to paint. I had some green semi-gloss paint left over from painting the trim last year.

Step 6: For the part of the picnic table that was so badly damaged…

table111I painted the damaged part as best I could, then covered it with a planter.






Read Full Post »

I have already started a large number of plants indoors, and have seeds for many, many, many more. So, I will need to use the area around my pond for a good deal of the garden – and I needed to create some raised beds just off my patio for additional garden space

I was lucky enough to have a bunch of landscape timbers laying around my side and back yard, and that was what I decided to use (having recently discovered that the railroad ties I was going to use would have contaminated my soil.) That’s ok – free is much better than going out and purchasing. They were not all in great shape – but the bad part was face down to the ground, so it really didn’t matter. I also had a few broken pieces – which was good for extending the front part of my bed.


First off – I outlined the area with a single row of landscape timbers – and used a shovel to dig out and mark around the area. I used smaller pieces as needed, and will saw off the excess on the longer ones.


Secondly – I dug out the soil. Not only will I get the depth from my landscape timers, but probably another inch or two from taking out the sod. Actually I have been digging out the sod a row or two a day for the last week – and I’m still not done. It doesn’t matter, because I was told that my dirt place didn’t have any amended soil ready just yet.

Third – Stack the timbers so that they overlapped at the corners. What you don’t see is that up against the patio there is a small gap where I pulled the bottom timber away slightly so I could get this result. I could have cut the timbers, but I didn’t have use of the chop saw this week – so I didn’t cut. I can easily but a stone or brick in the opening in the back before filling with soil and no one will ever know. If you are doing a square bed and buying new timbers, this overlap thing will work perfectly without any cutting required.


Forth – Drill a hole with a 3/4″ bit. Drill through the first timber and into the second, then take off the first timber and finish drilling all the way through the second timber (because the drill bit isn’t long enough to go through both at the same time). Re-stack the timbers.


Fifth – The only things I had to purchase for this project so far (I will pay $4-$6 for good amended soil) were these spikes. They were US 65 cents a piece (just over $5 total) at one of the big box stores 2 miles from my house. Pound these into the holes you have drilled. You will want one on each end (attaching different sides to one-another) and a few along each side. They should be long enough to go through all your wood material and into the soil a few inches.


Now – in the interest of full disclosure – I didn’t finish the project. My drill ran out of juice, and I had an incredibly busy week and needed to get ready for another meeting. I still have to drill a few more holes and pound in the stakes then add soil. But, the fact that I got this much done means that it should be a few easy steps (before actually hauling the soil) to be done. I’ll add a picture when it is completed.


Use an electric drill – the battery powered drills do not have the life or the energy to drill the pilot holes for the stakes.


Here is the bed – finished, filled with soil and planted.  It was so easy, I did a second raised bed.


Each timber cost me $2 – and I did this one three high, since the newer landscape timbers I found were smaller than the older ones I used on the first,  I purchased 6 stakes.  The raised bed construction cost me right at $22.

Read Full Post »

HOW TO… Caulk

Caulking is one of my favorite things to do (ok, I know, it’s an illness 🙂 ). Caulk hides a multitude of mistakes, makes a project look very finished, is kinda fun to do, and is INCREDIBLY easy to do correctly. By doing it right, you can have a very professional-looking job.


  • Caulk Gun
  • Caulk
  • Rag or Paper Towels
  • Disposable Gloves



I have seen these for as little as a buck, so they are not too expensive. Items that are helpful to have on a caulk gun are: a cutter and a long piece of metal for puncturing through the foil often found inside the caulk tube. To the left is a pic of the caulk gun I use for adhering items for my artwork. As you can see, it has been used quite a bit and is a little gunked up – but it is the only one I have that still has all the parts to show you.

caulk-cutterThe pic on the left shows the cutter part of the caulk gun. This is used to cut the tip off of the caulk tube. I recommend this be done very close to the tip of the caulk tube, and done at an angle, instead of straight down.

caulk-wireThis shows the wire used to puncture the foil inside the caulk tube. This wire rotates and lays flat against the caulk gun after use. Just insert this wire into the area where you just cut it open to break the foil seal keeping the caulk in the tube..

caulk-handleThis photo shows the handle part of the gun. The flat piece is used to release the long plunger-like part of the gun. If you push this in, you can pull out the plunger-like piece and place your caulk tube in the gun. Once released, the act of squeezing the handle of the gun will squeeze the caulk out. When done with a section, press the flat piece to stop the pressure on the tube, and stop the caulk from coming out.


There are several types of caulk. All of these will be addressed on the tube of caulk. There is caulk you can paint, and this is used around baseboards, crown molding, cabinets that are (or will be painted) and around windows. Some caulk can not be painted. Some caulk is indoor only, and some is for use indoors and outdoors. Paintable caulk in my area is roughly $2-3 for a tube.


While I generally don’t like to use anything disposable, I make an exception when caulking. It is messy and cleaning it in the washing machine may just ruin other clothes. Paper towels are messy with caulk, but can be pitched. If you use a rag (which will work better) be prepared to throw it away rather than trying to wash it.


Again, did I mention it can get messy. Save yourself a lot of time and water trying to get this stuff off your hands, and wear a pair of disposable gloves.


Holding the gun at a slight angle, start at an area closest to you and push away from you while pressing slightly on the trigger. This way you will be pushing the caulk into the areas you want it to go. I know just about every person I have ever seen caulk pulls the gun toward them – but I have asked several professionals how they do it – and they always tell me they push it away from them. Once finished with a line of caulk, hit the flat piece used to release the plunger – this will stop the pressure on the caulk, and stop it from coming out of the tube. Now, with a gloved up finger, slide the finger over the fresh caulk, making a uniform flat line between your surfaces.


This is the BEFORE picture – a built in book case that doesn’t look very built in because of the seams.


PUSH the caulk into the area – push the caulk gun away from you while dispensing the caulk.


Slide your finger over the caulk line to smooth it out. Smooth out the top and bottom parts as well… so it is not lumpy. The goal here is a nice clean look!


Let the caulk dry for an hour or two before painting. Caulking is easy, inexpensive, and it will take something that looks OK and make it look finished!

Caulking, can also be used to insulate… the same steps apply.

Next time you are looking at an inexpensive way to spruce up your house or weather proof – just check out the caulking aisle at the place you buy paint and hardware.


Read Full Post »

OK – I am rather proud of myself – I fixed my washing machine. I actually emailed friends telling them I was the goddess of washing machine repair! To have a repair person out would have cost me $140. To fix it myself cost me just over $16 for the part (including tax).

I first thought it was the belt – because the water ran, but it would not spin. I found out that many washers don’t have belts, they have something called a “motor coupling”. Most of this process was quite easy. This is what a motor coupling looks like. It is actually three pieces that fit together.coupling1

I have a Roper top-loader. However, I have discovered that most of the top-loading machines are pretty similar inside. Please note that I am not a professional repair person – just someone who figured out how do do something and is sharing what I know.

To fix the motor:


2 – Depending on the type of machine you have and how new it is, there will probably be tiny screws that hold the panel with all the settings onto the rest of the machine. On some machines they can be found on the front bottom of the settings panel, and on others – like mine – they are found on the back of the machine. When you find these screws – unscrew them and lift the panel up moving the bottom part of the panel toward you and then up. It will hang by its hinges.



3 – Unplug the wires between the controls and the machine.


4 – On either side are odd-looking brass clips. Take a screwdriver and pop out these clips. This might take a little bit of effort to do. I didn’t worry if I scratched the machine with the screwdriver – this part is hidden.


5 – Pull the outer part of the machine toward you and lift off. This cabinet is remarkable light and easy to lift and place. Obviously I couldn’t take a picture and lift at the same time – it is light, but bulky.

6 – Remove the pump from the motor. Sorry, I don’t have a picture of this either. On my machine the pump was held to the motor with pressure brackets. They came off quite easily with a regular (flat head) screwdriver. The pump is the white part in the bottom left of this picture that is attached to the hoses. This is what it looks like after the pump has been removed.


7 – Unplug the wires leading to the motor.

8 – Remove the tiny screws on the pressure brackets attached to the motor.

9 – Remove the pressure brackets holding the motor in place. On my machine the bottom one came off pretty easily, but the top one required a little more muscle – but I was still able to do it with just a little more effort.

10 – Once the motor is free from the base, in back (and it was a little tough to see) is where the coupling is located. The old coupling came off incredibly easy, and the new one went on in only seconds. There are three parts to the coupling – here is the broken coupling I took off my machine.


11 – Line up the coupling so that all pieces fit together. I found it easier to put all three pieces of the coupling together on the base part, and push the motor back onto it to make it fit.

12 – Reattach the pressure brackets and attach the screws. I will tell you that putting on the first bracket and screw was easy – the second about did me in. This was the toughest part of the fix for me. The top one was done first, and finally I ended up taking a mini bungie cord and hooking it to the back of the pressure bracket, resting a large hammer over the base of the machine, and pressing down on the handle of the hammer (which acted as a lever) and pushed up on the bracket while I pulled on the bungie cord. Reattach the screw on the second bracket. You may not have this kind of problem at all – I imagine it just has to do with how tightly each model is put together.

13 – Reattach the pump with the pressure brackets.

14 – Reattach the wires going to the motor.

15 – Replace the cabinet to sit on top of the metal base.

16 – Reattach the brass brackets.

17 – Reattach the wires.

18 – Put the controls panel down and screw back into place.

19 – Plug in and check your work.


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »