The Sink Tumor that Killed the Concrete Countertops

Sink Tumor

Sink Tumor

That is probably the grossest picture ever posted on a half-assed blog ever.

(Side note.. google chrome suggested I change grossest to greatest.. so at least I have that going for me)

That’s the picture of the sink tumor that we came home to late one Sunday night in June.

We had both been gone for the weekend on different work trips.  I swung by the airport and grabbed Hubs and we arrived back home around 11pm.  He spotted that 3D swell area behind the sink while getting a drink right before bed.

It almost caused a huge fight.

It was so big you could see it from the front (may be the first time that phrase was used not in reference to a large butt).

I know that the brown is gross behind that faucet.. The main part of it is putty from putting the sink back in that hadn’t got cleaned off yet.. because the countertops weren’t done for that long.  Then some of it is just gross dirt around a gross kitchen faucet.  That thing was so filthy (spoiler alert we’ve since replaced it) that every time I’d clean it more dirt would seep out of it and take the old dirt’s place.  Marinara monster – I swear it.

Anyhow, Hubs touched the sink tumor and it was soft to the touch and then chipped right off.

We resolved right then and there to rip them off and replace the concrete with laminate.

(I have other pics of other holes that developed.  For instance, we had a run of the mill knife block sitting to the left of the oven.  When we picked it up to move it, it ripped a bunch of the concrete off with it?  Don’t know why.  I can post these pics if people like, but it’s truly overkill in my head.  If you don’t get the idea by now, I am sure its just because you are blaming us for it not working haha)

 

Stay tuned.

 

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The First Sign of Failure

The First Sign of Failure

The First Sign of Failure

There it is.  The first sign of failure in the beautiful ardex countertops.

(Click that image and it’ll enlarge, by the way)

The criminal?  The George Foreman drip tray.  It got sat there and forgot about for a day or so.  When I finally realized it and picked it up , it left behind that huge stain and those holes.

I know its gross that a drip pan of grease sat there for any amount of time and that plenty of people will judge us for being disgusting, but I am just keeping it real.  I am sure there are plenty of people out there that wish they were more OCD about picking things up and are in the same boat as we are.  If thats you and you are reading this and still thinking, but I’ll just BE super cautious about these because I want them so badly.  Stop.  I did that.  I was super cautious.  I was constantly wiping things up as soon as they touched the concrete.  It still happened.  The good thing is I now wipe countertops constantly even though I ripped the concrete out.  So maybe if you want to train yourself that way, you SHOULD do this, but expect to be redoing it in two months.

That hole and stain up there was within 2 weeks.  We hadn’t even gotten around to doing the rest of the countertops yet and that one already had to be chipped and patched and resealed.

 

Moral of the Story.

Not worth it.

 

Not everything you read online is a good idea.

This and other amazing insight.

Brought to you by… Ardex Countertops.

 

I haven’t been blogging lately because my spirit was crushed.

I am so dramatic.

When we bought this house, my eyes lit up with the possibilities.  I was so excited to tackle every single project the moment we were handed the keys.  I just wanted to dive in head first and not even check the water depth first.  A year in and my enthusiasm was yet to bend.  Then came the ardex kitchen countertops.

We started renovating our kitchen to give it a quick pick me last June.  We just wanted to put some lipstick on a pig and be satisfied with it until we could gut it and set it up better.  I just wanted it to look pretty while I had to live with it.  When we moved in, it was filthy.  So gross.  It looked like somebody had murdered a marinara monster and it’s marinara guts had sprayed everywhere.  Everywhere.  Inside of cabinets, under the countertop.  Everywhere.  It was filthy.

So we started by stripping and painting the solid wood cabinets.  Great start.  It didn’t go smoothly.  If I were to do it over again, I would have used different primer. But that was last year and they have held up great.  I’ve touched up a couple spots, but they’re seriously in great shape.  Maybe I’ll post pics of that soon.  Let me get to that.

We knew we also wanted to paint the walls (obviously), replace the floor, and do something with the disgusting pink countertops.

As you know from the blog, the floors went perfectly.  Everything went down quick and easy and they turned out beautifully.  They’re still one of my favorite things in this house – if not THE favorite.

But the countertops.  Ugh.  The countertops that killed my blogging sharing spirit.  The paint we knew wasn’t going to work.  We just knew it.  $20 and your countertops are gorgeous?  Ha. Ha. Ha.  Even before we decided to “just try it” – I had my heart set on concrete.  I had all of the tutorials pinned on how to pour your own or the -ohlala- “quick and easy and cheap” alternative of just skimming on some concrete topper known as Ardex Feather Finish.  But I agreed to try the painting first and as soon as it chipped up I swooped in with PLEASECONCRETEPLEASE JUSTPLEASTLETSTRY IT.  The hubs reluctantly agreed and I ran to the nearest supply store and ran back with my $20 bag of feather finish.

We tried it first on an old laminate shelf we weren’t using anymore.  We could NOT get it to seal.  It looked gorgeous but we test spilled all kinds of stuff on it and all kinds of stuff stained it.  I was convinced we were sealing it wrong and switched the sealant out AND bought some food-safe wax.  Flipped it over and started the experiment anew.  New application of feather finish, new sealant, new waxing.  Spills and spills and everything was fine.  Hubs again reluctantly gives in (It has to be hard arguing with a lawyer) and we rip the painted laminate off of the countertop and start applying.

I posted some pics of the during process and then nothing more.

And you know why?  Because it was a miserable, terrible, horrid failure.

OK now I am really being dramatic.  It wasn’t that bad, but I do regret doing it.

Immediately it started staining.  Let me stop right there.  I put NO LESS than 4 coats of concrete sealant on these THEN wax.  By all definitions they should’ve been sealed.  However, that didn’t help.  The first disaster was the tray from a George Forman grill left a nice ring that DID NOT come out.   I love the natural “patina” of concrete, but that was ridiculous.

Then we left for a few days and came back to find that we had missed some water behind the faucet and it had got under the concrete and swelled and exploded.  It looked like the sink had a tumor.  THere was a giant hole.  It was not a fun argument getting home at 11 at night on a work-night and finding a hole in the countertops we had just done 8 whole weeks ago.

So it broke me.  I was disappointed and frustrated and was sick of working and redoing a kitchen that I swore was going to be 3 leisurely months and done.  But instead we’re into a year later and STILL devoting most of our time to this kitchen.

So that’s why I’ve been absent.  It’s not that we haven’t worked on other rooms.  It’s that I was frustrated and done sharing for awhile. I just didn’t have it in me.

So what’s changed?  We redid the countertops again over the weekend.  For the THIRD time.  And final time.  Because this time we didn’t take shortcuts or try some “quick and easy” tip we found on one blog that NEVER mentioned it again.  We bought a sheet of laminate for $90 and my husband and his dad relaminated the countertops.  I opted out because of previously mentioned feelings of self defeat.  But they’re done and ready to be installed and they’re beautiful.  They are leaps and bounds better looking than the concrete was on it’s best day.  People judge laminate.  But its a beautiful, durable, affordable option.  And I am really excited to blog about this kitchen and whole house again.. because those laminated countertops have restored my enthusiasm.  And I needed that.  I finally feel like sharing again.

 

 

Funny Flooring Pun.

As mentioned yesterday, it’s been a huge long while since I’ve updated this blog (sorry again), so I am way out of practice on my home reno related puns.  Let’s pretend this post is titled funny.

When we last addressed the kitchen floor (here) way back in September, I mentioned that our plan included the keyword of “cheap”  – and I’d say we nailed it.

First, lets look at what our kitchen came with in the way of flooring…

Our Original Kitchen Flooring

Our Original Kitchen Flooring

Who doesn’t love pink, filthy, chipping linoleum tile from however many decades ago?

Oh, me.

So in that post way back in September, I listed out about a dozen different ideas we had running through our minds, but we eventually settled on vct tile.  We had our reasons, but the real reason we just went for it was my stumbling upon this post at design*sponge that just had the most fabulous cheap floor ever.  I was immediately obsessed.  To me, it was just the perfect floor with huge visual impact and in our price range (Under $1.50/sq.ft).

So I started to research VCT Tiles and what I found out sealed the deal.  As it turns out, they were way under budget (Around 75cents/sq.ft).  Also, they came in a huge rainbow of colors and I could customize to exactly what I wanted.  Originally, my heart/head said I wanted grey (to match the cabinets and backsplash), white (the neutral), and a pretty blue (because, thats just where my head went).  I went to Home Depot and on about 10 different occasions asked somebody in the flooring department to help me with VCT tile ordering & nobody ever knew what I was talking about to help me.  I would literally be standing in front of the big poster they have at home depot telling you to “custom order VCT tile” and the worker would tell me that wasn’t possible. So I gave up on that and went home to order it online.  However, Home Depot’s website was even less helpful than their store workers.  As a result, for this project, I switched teams and ordered from Lowes.com.

If you search VCT on Lowes.com, you’ll come with about 300 (I don’t even think thats over-exaggerating) results.  Be cautious, some of them are ridiculously priced (I still haven’t figured out why, but I didn’t really look into it- I just didn’t order any of those ones).  I ended up ordering about 14 different colors – a few each of blue, grey, and white – because I couldn’t decide based on what my monitor was showing what would look right in the kitchen.  And it’s a good thing, too, because the ones I would’ve swore were perfect ended up being horribly horribly wrong.  The whole bill ended up being north of $450. I called Lowes and double checked that whatever tiles I decided I didn’t want, I could return & was triple-ensured that was the case.

About a month later, we got the call that our tile order was waiting for us at Lowes.  We headed down and loaded up our haul.  I never considered how heavy these tiles could be.  I actually didn’t think they would be heavy.  I was wrong.  I couldn’t lift a single box.  I won’t even try to wager how much they weighed, but our small Corolla was quite the low rider.

When we got them home, we quickly realized that the colors I had previously had my heart set on were wrong.  But first, we tried out a ton of different patterns to make sure it wasn’t the pattern’s fault it looked awful.  Spoiler alert: it was my color choice.

Here are some of the patterns we ran through, just in case you’ve stumbled upon this entry in hopes of finding VCT floor patterns.

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Eventually I realized it was the colors that were all wrong and switched them out to be something much more subtle and classy.   More on that, soon!

 

New Rug!

Our living room is coming along…  Here’s an update of how it looks as of today!

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All that junk on the sofa table?  Just keeping it real.

But the living room has made a lot of progress.  We’d like to thank Kev’s parents for the beautiful blue rug.  It was our Christmas gift.  If you’d like it, it is the moroccan trellis rug in Blue on Overstock.com.  We got it on a sweet Black Friday deal.

You can also see that the artwork above the fireplace is now mounted and the houseplants are gone…because we killed them.  Whoops.  We had no real great place we liked them in this house so I guess it doesn’t really matter.  Poor planties.  I also switched the position of the chair & tiny table & switched it out with another lamp we had in another room.  I like it better this way, but I have to shim up the other leg of the chair so its stop wobbling (only one leg is on the rug).

The Living Room POA-

Here’s the living room plans-

  • Paint fireplace grate
  • Buy new curtains
  • Possibly buy a new more fashionable blind
  • Buy an area rug
  • Box out the hidden windows
  • Probably buy a new couch
  • Build built-ins on each side of the fireplace that are mantel height & the TV can be hidden in
  • Paint the trim glossy white
  • Paint the front door
  • Mount the artwork (I made that) above the fireplace
  • Pare down on the houseplants.  (actually we accidentally killed them.. so that was an easy step…unfortunately)

I’ve actually bought a couple different pair of curtains to try out here and haven’t made a decision yet.  They’re probably all going back to the store.  We also picked out a huge (96in) bamboo shade on discount from Home Depot the other day as well.  I am hoping to get that hung up in the near future.  When I go into the living room now I feel really at home.  It’s starting to feel warm and inviting instead of just a mishmash of things thrown in there that we already owned.  We haven’t really bought a lot for it, but the little adjustments make it feel more intentional than its previously thrown together.  Happy home.

Then & Now – Living Room Edition

The end of November & beginning of December brought a lot of rapid fire changes to the living room area.  It was an area that basically remained stagnant from when we finished the painting and ripping up the floor.  We filled it with furniture we already owned and went on with life.

Here’s what it looked like at our first walk thru.  When we “fell in love” with our diamond in the rough.

Living room - February 2012 (before we bought our home)

Living room – February 2012 (before we bought our home)

Gross carpet, ugly blinds, brassy fireplace cover. But also- beautiful fireplace, huge window, great bones.

Now here it is on Thanksgiving Day 2012 (about 9 months later)

Living Room on Thanksgiving 2012

Living Room on Thanksgiving 2012

So what’s changed in the last 9 months?  Well the obvious – it’s been painted and the carpet was ripped out.  We put our own furniture in it.  But also, Kevin used high heat paint (its actually marketed for a grill – Rustoleum makes it) in flat black to paint the fireplace cover.  How much better is that?  Seriously amazing.

We have a lot of plans for this space.  All in all from the wall in the left of the photo to the window is about 12 feet.  From the fireplace to the wall that I am standing beside when I took this picture is either 19 or 20 feet.  I don’t remember exactly.  So with where the couch is the living room is about 12×10 roughly.

Here’s the living room plans-

  • Paint fireplace grate
  • Buy new curtains
  • Possibly buy a new more fashionable blind
  • Buy an area rug
  • Box out the windows hidden in this photo
  • Probably buy a new couch
  • Build built-ins on each side of the fireplace that are mantel height & the TV can be hidden in
  • Paint the trim glossy white
  • Paint the front door (can’t see it here)
  • Mount the artwork (I made that) above the fireplace (it’s just leaning in this picture)
  • Pare down on the houseplants.  (actually we accidentally killed them.. so that was an easy step…unfortunately)

It’s basically a whole whole bunch of buying.  So that’s why it’s coming along slowly.

Luckily though, a lot of this list was knocked off over Thanksgiving weekend… Thanks Billionaire (thats what I call my father-in-law, Bill)!

Gross Grout

5 people read my blog on a regular basis.  Five.  I spell it out so you know that’s not a typo.  You, one of the five.  So it’s really silly that I type this like it’s some sort of big shot blog, but I like to cover my bases.  With that said, nobody paid me for this post or any other (seriously though, where do I sign up for that?  Cash money.)   Not a dime is made from this blog.  I actually make negative money when you think about the time I put into it means time I am not getting paid for my actual real job.

Rejuvenate White Grout Restorer Marker Pens

Rejuvenate White Grout Restorer Marker Pens

You may have heard me say the word gross..or disgusting.. or dirty before in reference to our house and specifically in reference to our kitchen.  We love our little first home.  It gets more perfect everyday.  However, it really was filthy when we moved in and some things refuse to come clean.  Like the white grout in our kitchen.  So one day early on after moving in I was in our Second Home (Depot) and discovered these bad boys right here.

They’re about $6 for two of them and I love them.  I should tell you I ruined the first one.  Completely utterly destroyed it trying to grasp a technique that works well.  If you have ever used a paint marker, you know something about these.  In fact, I can’t specifically say these aren’t just paint markers marketed for a specific purpose.  I don’t have any inclination of what makes them special to use on grout.  But I bought them and love them and would totally buy them again.

Let me tell you about some tips I picked up while ruining the first marker.

The package says to press in the tip to get the paint flow.  Yes, that’s a great idea.  But a bad idea is to press it into the grout to get the paint to flow.  That will eventually destroy the tip and you will end up like I did with a 3/4 of the way full marker and no tip to use it with.  Luckily I had enough with my second pen and I never ruined it, but learn from me just in case you have much more grout than I do.

I eventually worked out a system.  It consists of finding something that you can stick the pen into when you are using it to store it point down.  Mine was a fancy trivet thing that I don’t use as a trivet.  It has a little hole in it that the capped marker fit perfectly in.

Got your trivet like thing?  Great.  Now, start by cleaning your grout.  Always clean everything.  It sucks, just do it.  I hate cleaning and I did it so you can manage.

Once you’re clean and dry (and so is your grout), then get your pen and some sort of rag you don’t mind ruining.  I happen to have a gigantic pack of lint free cloths that we bought when we painted the cabinets, so I used one of those.

Grab your pen and shake it like a salt shaker shake it like a salt shaker shake it like a salt shaker (I know not a single other line from that song).  Once you are convinced your paint is flowing well, press the tip into the rag gently.  I’d say gently as if you were popping a pimple (just keeping it real) or squeezing a grape, but not like you hate the pen or it threw a drink in your face or perhaps works for Fox News.   You’ll see the paint start flowing out on your cloth.

Once you can visibly see the paint, run the marker gently (don’t press too hard – just hard enough) over the grout either until the paint stops flowing or you’ve done about a square foot of grout.  You don’t want to do too much painting at once because if it dries, you can’t get it off.  As far as running the marker over the grout, I found that dragging it down the tile so that the fibers in the tip weren’t pushed against themselves worked best. To say it another way, if you look at that picture of the hand holding the pen in the product picture – holding the marker like that, drag down, DON’T PUSH UP – NEVER UP, so as to maintain the pen tip.

Now you’ve got your square foot of paint done or however much you just did (hey maybe you don’t listen and you just read random blogs to not follow their advice), put your marker cap back on and place it in your little trivet hole so that the ink can follow gravity towards the tip.  Take your throwaway towel and wipe off the paint that got everywhere but your grout.  I found that if I put light pressure on the rag and just ran it on the grout lines, the paint genuinely stuck to the grout but came off of everything else.  Every once in awhile, I had to focus in and really detail get the paint off the tile. Generally tho, the quick wipe was all I need.

Once you get the paint off the tile, pick the pen up again and give it a couple shakes and then run it over more grout.  You may need to press the tip into the rag every once in awhile, but once I got into the rhythm  I really did not do that often.  I found letting it rest tip down while I cleaned up the excess paint was the most helpful at keeping the process rolling.

Also, I am 27 years old and I still can’t spell rhythm.  Thank god for spell check.

So here’s the side by side I snapped while I was doing the worst part (directly above the st0ve).  The black thing to the top of the pic is our exhaust fan.  The grey is the cabinet to the upper right of the stove.  And just in case I have to point it out, the gross orange is how the grout started out before the paint and the white is the after.  It’s not perfect brand new looking white in these really awful parts like the area in the picture, but I think it still looks pretty incredible.

Grout Side by Side

Grout Side by Side

Not bad for $6 and a couple hours of work.  Granted it’s work that some people would find tedious.  But I think the after makes it gratifying.  I don’t know if I have any parks & recs fans out there in the 5 of you that read this, but if not, really get on that.  Its incredible.  Anyhow, there’s a scene where they have to stuff envelopes and Jerry finds out he’s really relaxed by mundane repetitious tasks.  Me too, Jerry, me too.

I still have a small part of the grout to do in the back corner behind the sink. I just can’t reach it comfortably.  So when we take the sink out (again) to redo the countertops (again), I am going to pop myself up in the sink-hole and get that back part.  Why endure the back and neck pain to do it before then?

So all in all, I seriously seriously recommend these pens.  It’s really gratifying and worth the time.  It’s very easy.  Very affordable.  Just do it!

I’d add the kitchen list & update it.. but this was never on the list so.. bonus! ha

 

 

Rustoleum Countertop Paint

I read up a lot on Rustoleum countertop paint.  I hated the idea of it.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  I loved the idea of slapping paint down on a countertop that is pink and dirty and disgusting and it suddenly looking lacquered and beautiful and flawless.  I hated the idea that it didn’t live up to its promises like a high school boy.  Every thing I read said either you needed to seal it or it’d let you down in a heart beat.  Buttttttt sometimes people…sometimes I… don’t listen.  Kevin & I went back and forth on it for a few weeks (probably longer) and had initially said no, we aren’t going to waste our time, let’s just re-laminate them.  But we got to looking at prices of laminate and delivery costs.  We determined we couldn’t just buy a cheap countertop because of the awkward corner sink area.  We’d have to rip off the old laminate and put down a new sheet on top of it.  We’d have to buy a gigantic sheet so there wasn’t a seam.  It started to seem like a whole lot of work and money to drop on laminate.  So we decided, hey for $20 this countertop paint can’t really be a complete waste of time.  So what if it only lasted 6 months?  In that time we could save up and come up with a different idea for the countertops.

The bad news?   It lasted just days before it got dinged up.  The good news?  Even with how dinged up it is, it was still “good enough” that we got rid of the pink dirt and came up with a better idea (but more on that later).

It’s now December.  We actually painted these countertops in early September.  Over 2 months ago.  So I feel like 2 months is a good “use time” that I can give you a fair review of my thoughts.

Let’s start with how we did it.

 

Countertop Painting

 

 

So yeah.. that’s it.  Seriously there isn’t much to it.  Just move quick and try not to pass out from the smell.. Actually do as I say not as I do and wear face masks n’at ’cause that stuff smells like you are swimming in nail polish.  Which every time I mentioned that Kevin said, “well thats basically what it is.”  I get it, Kevin.

So what’s my beef with the countertop paint?

It’s cure time is ridiculously long.  Yes, I know the can says just a few days, but they lie.  We painted this on a Wednesday evening & got up Thursday and left town until Sunday.  We didn’t touch it until Monday evening.  So it cured LONGER than the minimum.  And it chipped as soon as we sat something down on it.  Kevin brewed coffee & sat it down on the countertop & it left a ring here it had melted the paint.  We don’t drink super hot civil lawsuit degree coffee.  It’s just standard heat.  It melted the paint.  Then the rest of the chips came from less-than-standard things… like accidentally dropping a wrench and some other tools in random places.  It chipped it up like crazy.  Then a few weeks later, we sat a chicken on a platter on it and spun the platter to carve and it left a huge scratch in the paint.

HOWEVER – after that first month or so, the paint stopped chipping so badly.  I’d say if you could let this stuff cure for 6+ weeks before touching it, it may just work the way its supposed to work.  I don’t know who has the luxury of not using their kitchen for 6+ weeks, but if that’s you, then this $20 paint should work great for you.

With that said..We haven’t had much problems with it since the chipping stopped a few weeks ago.  It looks crappy now because we did so much damage (I’ll post pictures of that later probably) early on.  So we started brainstorming other ways to redo the countertop.  I’m not sharing just because I don’t want people to try to talk me out of it (I am looking at you, Billionaire).

 

 

Operation Kitchen Overhaul… Started.

Emptied (ish) Kitchen

Emptied (ish) Kitchen

As the picture above basically explains, we’ve removed all of the doors from our little kitchen, pushed the fridge out into the dining/living room, and emptied the countertops and lower cabinets (doggy proofed!) so that we can start with this kitchen update.  That pic was taken August 4th, I can honestly report that kitchen things are still all over our house basically making our life even more chaotic.  Here’s the wishlist/to do list for the kitchen:

  • Prime, paint, and seal the cabinets.
  • Buy new hardware and add it to the cabinets (duh)
  • Paint the walls and ceiling
  • Re-do the countertop (either paint or re-laminate)
  • Replace the floor
  • Finally finish installing the big light
  • Replace the under cabinet light
  • Find a permanent solution for the trash and recycle bins
  • Make the upper corner shelf open shelving
  • Possibly replace the above-window light
  • Add some sort of curtains to the window and the door
  • Strip and repair the doors to the outside and to the basement
  • Paint the doors to the outside and the basement
  • Bright high glass white paint on the trim
  • Create a family command center on the big open wall that includes a calendar, mail center, meal planner, and anything else we may find useful.
  • Decorate.
  • Enjoy.

 

I am tired thinking about it.

Our first before & after reveal – The Main Bathroom, During (Paint Fixin’)

Progress Removing Old Paint

Before we did anything, I had to remove all of the old paint from the top of the tile. There was no ‘clean line’ where the paint stopped.

One of the first things I tackled for the new bathroom was removing the old paint off of the top line of the tile.  I really liked the mint green & yellow combo, thankfully, so this was more of a facelift than a reno.  But the last owner painted the bathroom a very plain white and got it all over the tops of the tile.  In the pic above you can see where I removed the paint starting from the right and was working my way left.