Every place I've ever lived has been designed for that "average American family," with lots of bedrooms, living room, dining room, family room, etc. The problem was that I was a single person, not an average family. I needed space, but for hobbies, not people. And because I'm over 6'2", bending over to use sinks designed for children was a constant frustration. Over the years, I collected a list of things I would change if I could have my dream house. As I approached retirement, I realized time was running out for that house; it was now or never.

Dreams are not always perfect, however. I could never afford my dream house, a spacious Southern California home overlooking the Pacific Ocean. But I could afford a modest ranch house, with a 20-mile drive to the beach. It was a very long way from perfect, but it had potential.

This blog documents the process of turning that small average house into something that matches my lifestyle. It will be as close to my dream house as I can make it. I'm doing all the work myself to stretch my resources. By not hiring contractors, I can afford high quality materials, and I'll know the job is always done right. The remodeling will be my primary avocation for a few years, even as I try to fit in my writing and other hobbies.

It promises to be an interesting journey, and a challenging one!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The New Water Supply System - Part 2

So mostly I've been working on the new pottery studio sink cabinet, and finally moving the only sink in the house from its temporary location in the new kitchen, to the pottery studio.  I also ordered the new commercial stainless steel counter top for the kitchen (from the most respectable internet kitchen supply company I could find), but a few days after charging my credit card, they informed me the shipment had been "unexpectedly" delayed (for a month!).  They hope it will finally go out by March 25.  We'll see.

I also ordered the plastic laminate for the cabinet top from Home Depot—that came promptly.  I used contact cement to glue the laminate on 3/4" plywood, cut slightly larger than the actual top, and fastened it to the structural 3/4" plywood cabinet top.  So, the top is 1.5" thick!

Birch trim will cover the edge of the top, so the two layers have to be perfectly flush.  Impossible to cut and fit them perfectly for that—hence I made the top layer a little large, and then trimmed it with a bottom-bearing flush cutting router bit (I used one of my larger routers and a bit with a 1/2" shaft).

Then the birch trim went on (after using the router to create a rounded-over profile).

Okay, so I forgot to take photos of plastic laminate being glued on the top, but I did take photos of the plastic laminate going on the backsplash (same deal, but smaller scale).  After cutting the plastic laminate a little larger than the backsplash pieces, the contact cement is applied with a disposable brush on both the plywood and the laminate.  Let that dry until it is slightly tacky and the surface is slightly glossy (you need to be generous).

Then you apply the laminate onto the plywood, making sure the laminate is positioned such that there is a little overlap all around.  You can't let the two touch until they are aligned, because they stick on contact.  If you inadvertently let them touch before they are lined up, you'll have to start over.  So for larger pieces (the counter top), the normal practice is to place wooden dowels on top of the plywood, and then lay the laminate on top of the dowels and slide it into position.  Then withdraw the middle dowel and press the laminate against the plywood, working from inside out to prevent entrapped air bubbles.  Use a roller to apply pressure.  Keep withdrawing dowels and rolling, working out toward the ends.  While you can skip the dowels with smaller pieces (such as the backsplash face and edges), I used dowels to illustrate how I did the large countertop.

Once you have the plastic laminate glued to the plywood, you need to trim off the excess laminate, using—surprise!—a laminate trimmer.  That's basically a small high-speed router.

I'm running the PEX water supply lines through the attic, just above the ceiling drywall and covered by at least 10" of insulation.  I decided to run them down from the ceiling to the sink cabinet through 1.5" PVC pipes through which I pulled pipe insulation.

Once the supply lines were inside the sink cabinet, I attached stop valves to them underneath the sink (where the lines from the faucet would attach).  I use ProPEX (made by Uponor) fittings, requiring a special tool to expand the PEX.  You attach other fittings (elbows, tees, connectors, manifolds, etc.) the same way.

The drain pipe was assembled from 1.5" ABS, with a PVC trap assembly.

Here is the sink cabinet, mostly done.  I'm still working on the doors for the front opening (white with birch trim).  It's now operational, with no leaks.  Hooray!

Work now shifts to the kitchen and the master bathroom.  Oh, and a new four-legged family member arrives in a couple of days (of the canine persuasion).

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