Utility Room and Tiling
A week off should fettle the utility room… you think I’d know better by now. I’d done my usual and considered what I’d already done was the hard stuff and the new stuff would just be a tickle of paint away.
First job though was to finish off the stripping out and this meant getting rid of the rather deadly electrics. I managed to remove a carrier bag full of deathly joints and aging insulation, it was a fulfilling end to the strip out but it did mean work for me and a trade in the future.
I did reroute the light too, the old setup had the light pendant offset in the room. Planning though had meant I had a spare bit of wire in the centre of the room ready to attach to new switch wiring I’d installed after puling out the ancient original cabling.
To get at the cabling meant lifting the landing floor again – but this went hand with my work on the landing radiator and stripping out superfluous pipe work too. Not a job I’m crazy about but the wiring and pipework is looking far better and less dangerous than it was.
Paint, don’t talk to me about paint. I did the paint fandango for a week.
If I wasn’t painting I was filling and once I’d painted I’d forlornly spend time waiting for it to dry before I could start the cycle all again. What came first the filling or the painting, I was in a constant cycle of doing both.
The ceiling was ok, a bit of filling a bit of sanding then paint, then one more fill and sand with a spot more paint and that was it. Oh if the walls could have been that easy. The walls were pitted and scored, my plastering was patchy at best, some spots were good, some spots were awful. The walls where I’d removed battens for the hardboard were terrible and there were bits a large batten had been fixed into – yet into – the fabric of the wall, removal constituting a new plaster and skim.
Now I’d done filling and painting before, this was probably as bad as it got, but there was the extra added bonus of the end walls and patches not taking paint. I would apply paint and while the rest of the room dried out then these oddments would remain soaking. Not sure why, they didn’t seem wet or damp, they just seemed cold. I aired out the room, I fitted the radiator (fitted the landing radiator too, though it is yet to be plumbed in) in the room and had it on full pelt, nothing worked. Eventually though I resorted to Thompson’s Water Seal paint, I’d remembered that this had been the solution in a similar case of paint-not-going-offedness so I dug some out and applied it liberally to the problematic sections. Perhaps a bit too liberally though as good as it is, it is gooey and it does form ribs of paint that make the filled and smoothed walls unsmooth. Anyway it worked and once dry I filled and sanded it to a level surface, put on paint (which now dried) and then had to fill and smooth it out once more before I applied more paint.
Anyway this all took – along with other jobs – almost the entire week I was off. I had had a picture of me finishing the floor and getting the electrics in, but hey ho I only got the flipping painting done.
It does look rather good though.
The woodwork painting was quite simple in comparision, it did mean a lot of work – there is a lot of woodwork – it did mean contorting myself into some miserable little spaces to get at shelves but although time consuming it was far simpler than the paint on the walls.
Next the tiling. Tiling I believe is something to leave to the professionals, if you get it wrong it looks awful and you waste a lot of money. So I turned to the professionals, a bit of research later and a visit from a seasoned professional and I had a quote and estimate for the work to be done.
Prior to them coming in to work I had to do a bit of work on the cooker back wall. I’d tried fixing the new cooker hood to it using some plasterboard fixings but they just weren’t good enough and it pulled these fixings through the board and ruined the wall. I resorted to an extensive fix, I realised there was still a couple of inches to play with between this wall and the cooker top so I filled it with some studwork and polished it off with a new plaster wall that I duly feathered into the existing plasterwork. You’d never know it was there… as you wouldn’t know I moved the power lead too.
Bish bash bosh, tiles bought, tiler – like any other trade – turned up here there and everywhere, I got panicky that something was going wrong. The tiler, however, plugged away and did a marvellous bit of work. The kitchen splashback is now finished and looking fantastic, the bathroom needs some more grouting, sealing and cleaning but apart from that it took a bit longer than I thought it looks great. The only problem is my choice of shower tray, the tray is a bit black and looks at odds with the travertine, I wish I’d got a former now and tiled the entire base.
I think I may have done a disservice to the excellent tiler in my last paragraph, it was quite amazing what was done both of the tilers involved, on the first day Andrew (original tiler) left frustrated that the walls weren’t as true as he thought and I was presented with a wall splattered with some plaster and a pile of tiles that had once been attached to it. Over the weeks though a second tiler Paul was seconded in, Andrew was off on holiday and Paul and Andrew worked in tandem although they were separated by miles. Paul had new ideas too, I’m sure my original designs would have been a bit too fussy and we reigned in the design and came up with a new brief.
Paul was equally frustrated by my walls, the bits I’d done from scratch where I’d attached the HardieBacker board to studwork were good but the ones where I’d affixed it to the walls were out. I’d trusted – never trust – the walls but they were a little out of true and this meant uber-difficulties when using mosaics. Still Paul was great and using abundant amounts of adhesive managed to come up with a fantastic solution. I have yet to see it in all its glory, as it’s currently covered in a dusty tile sealant – but I’m sure it’ll be as good as the kitchen is great.
I purchased some laminate from B&Q and I made a start on the flooring in the utility but realised it would be best to get the washer cabinet in place before I started on the floor. So what I did I ripped out and put aside to work later.
For the unit I needed some timber and I needed it quickly so I phoned Travis Perkins one lunchtime to arrange a delivery that afternoon, I knew it was short notice but the guy on the phone reassured me it would be delivered that afternoon. I sent emails detailing that I’d not be in and to leave the delivery on the lawn and made payment on the phone reiterating the fact I’d not be there and to just leave it. Getting home from work I found there wasn’t a delivery, I’d had a call while I was driving home but was unable to answer, I checked my voicemail – nada – I tried returning the call – nade.
The next day was a Saturday and as I’d already lost a precious evening of work I phoned Travis Perkins just as it was opening. I asked about my delivery and was bluffly informed that as I’d not been home the person on the phone had pulled the order. I said I’d made it very clear both on the phone and in an email that I’d just wanted it left – I’d even said on the email that I’d take full responsibility for any loss or weather damage. The chap on the phone said no-one had told him and that the driver had tried twice to phone me, I said that although this was beside the point (I’d informed them by email and phone just to leave it as I wouldn’t be there) that the driver had rang only once to my knowledge, not left a message and not taken my call back. I asked if there was anything they could do and was informed that as it was a Saturday they wouldn’t be delivering. It was basically hard cheese mate, the chap was really rude and I said I thought I’d arranged this with the manager and he said that was impossible as he was the manager. He then told me it would be delivered on Monday and I said it wouldn’t as I was cancelling the order and not to bother.
This really has irked me, can you tell, what I can’t reflect in this prose is the totally bluff nature of the manager. He was about as unprofessional as one could be, I remember JT Atkinson missing a delivery and actually making the driver come in on a Sunday and open the yard to get me a missed delivery. I will not be using Travis Perkins again, the guys in the shop and delivering are fine but that level of almost hostility was way beyond anything I’d encountered with any supplier, whether trade or not.
The Saturday morning was spent running around trying to find someone to supply me with timber for the job and timber that would fit in my car. I managed to get most of what I needed eventually in B&Q and after a visit to the wonderful staff in Screwfix I headed home, dropping off for a burger in Tony’s layby café near Staindrop.
The afternoon was spent cleaning up the pipe work that would be under the utility room sink and getting the sink unit base into place. I’m sure that I would have got twice the work done that weekend had I not been running around looking for wood or spitting feathers in anger after that phone call.