Say I love you with…a toilet seat replacement?

Valentine’s Day is not just about giving candy and cards to significant others and friends, it’s about showing your love language. Which for my brother must be acts of service because it involves replacing a toilet seat.

Yep.

Well to be fair, I had already called my brother to help repair a piece of furniture, and we had both forgotten it was Valentine’s Day weekend, and since he already had the tools out for the furniture, he replaced the toilet seat in my guest bathroom, too. He uses that one after all. So, this really has nothing to do with love. Well, some caring.

Brief backstory: if you will remember my IG post from July 2020, I had this as a TO-DO project. It’s not a hard thing to do, especially with newer toilets like I have, but for some reason I didn’t have the motivation…or something to get this done. It’s probably a combination of not liking germs (I’m a little germophobic, and this is the guest bathroom) and scared that my phone would fall in the toilet while I tried to get a picture.

Instagram photo. The desk got done, the toilet seat not so much.
Before I had to return it for the right color. Oy vey!

So, after exchanging the seats because they were the wrong color, I just sat one in the guest bathroom and did nothing.

Turns out it really isn’t hard to replace the seat with the right tools. I knew this; I just didn’t want to believe it. The seat comes with all the hardware you need, and with a screwdriver and a basic adjustable wrench, you can replace your seat in 10 minutes.

The wrench is needed to hold the fasteners underneath (those white plastic parts) while you unscrew it at the top. The hardest part of the install was figuring out how to get the screw holes of the new toilet seat to lay flat so you can attach it to the toilet. Just a little spatial thinking (open the lid to work the screw assembly flat into place), and you’re ready to install. Easy peasy!

Now, I guess I’ve got to do my own toilet seat replacement. Do I love myself that much?

Home Office Reno, part 4 of…The Bookcase Debacle

In my Home Office Reno, part 4, I started off with two bookcases: a tall, 8-cubed unit in a satin maple finish, and a short, wide double shelf bookcase with an oak laminate finish that I spray painted an antique gold. Two finishes that no longer work in the space.

In a previous redesign, I painted the short bookcase (see that project here), but again, the outside paint no longer worked with the current design.

After a few tries with the taller bookcase (see that mess-up here!) I’ve finally got these two bookcases into the design. By purchasing another tall, 4-cubed bookcase, I now have a sort-of bookcase wall in my new home office!

Lessons Learned:

  • Sand, sand, sand – but in the right way. Always sand wood and laminate pieces with finishes or old paint on them so the paint can adhere. And don’t try a harsh sandpaper (like 80 grit) and then a light sandpaper immediately afterward (like 220). You will gouge and destroy your piece that way.
  • Before spray painting, fully cover up all areas you don’t want the paint to go. This is especially true for your work area and areas on your piece. It took more time covering up the inside of this short bookcase than it did painting it, but it was worth it! The finished look needed no inside touch-ups where the white paint might have gone through.
  • Repainting is worth the effort. I love the way this new bookcase wall looks in the space. I was pretty bummed that I had wasted 2 cans of paint on a botched repaint and discouraged that I had to repaint my shorter bookcase after painting it just 2 years ago. But the extra spray paint and time and effort was worth it. I love this look!

Home Office Reno, part 3 of… Desk is finally done!

Finally! the desk I dismantled and sanded in April 2020 is finally done 3 months later! If you’ve seen my IG, you know I did have to break my quarantine to go to a home improvement store (for, among other things, a new toilet seat. Toilet seat replacement in an upcoming post). So, of course while I was there, I had to purchase everything I hadn’t in months! So let the painting begin!

Desk before Project (top), and desk after (bottom). Use slider to view each picture.

Painting a desk like this one is fairly straight forward once you have prepped your surface. This required:

  1. Cleaning it out
  2. Removing the top portion ( which required taking off the back part as well)
  3. drilling and nailing some parts together that had come apart over the years
  4. Removing the pulls (handles) and other hardware.
  5. Filling in any holes with Plastic Wood filler (This desk is laminate.)
  6. Dusting, sanding then wiping off sanding with a damp towel.

I put a piece of cardboard under the desk to protect the carpet and so I could paint all the way to the bottom. This desk doesn’t have legs per-se or even furniture risers, so for a clean finish I had to paint it all the way to the ground.

With furniture, always use at least a semi-gloss paint. It costs more, but it is more durable in the long run. There is also cabinet and furniture paint specifically for these jobs that can be tinted. Here I just used a regular water-based latex in semi gloss finish.

Installing the new pulls required me to drill more holes for screws since the pulls are a different size. Always measure if you don’t have a template, so you’ll know where to drill the holes. I did one wrong by just eyeballing and not measuring. Can you tell which one it was?

Lessons Learned

After ripping desk from cardboard, some of the paint went with it!
  • Sand lightly, even if it requires 2 or 3 passes. (This just needed a 220 grit paper to get the shine off.) Some of the areas on the desk were slightly gouged because I was aggressive with the sandpaper.
  • Be prepared for multiple coats. Here, even though my paint had primer in it, I probably should have also primed because we are going from a darker color to a lighter one. this means less actual paint coats. But I had just enough!
  • Cut away the paint before lifting it from the cardboard. Paint adheres. That is how it stays on stuff, unlike stain, which seeps into wood. So when I painted down to the end of the desk, some inevitably got on the cardboard. Which means, the cardboard is now stuck to the bottom of the desk at that point. Of course, I just ripped it up, which caused a messy bottom edge. Tip: Use a craft knife to cut a paint line and prevent the messy edge look.

Overall, I am excited to finish this paint project! It is a pivotal part of the home office renovation. Now on to next steps: hanging my new curtains, cleaning, arranging, and even some more painting. (My bookcase is getting another paint job!) And of course creating some creative accessories–like maybe a new clock?

Even DIYers get it wrong…

Parts 3 and 4 of my Home Office Renovation are to paint 2 pieces of major furniture: A double bookshelf and my desk.

The desk interior cubby needs one more coat, but after that, I’m stalled while doing my part to #StayAtHome. After all, there’s so much more to do on this renovation.

I thought the double bookshelf would be a snap–just spray paint it white, let it dry, and it could go back in the office. Two cans of spray paint later, and it’s in my living room waiting to be fixed. How did it happen?

This is a case of doing too much and not paying attention. Firstly, I was doing three projects at once: painting a wall in my home office, sanding my desk between coats, and trying to declutter this very same bookshelf’s contents. I did all of this with relative ease. Getting the bookshelf down the stairs and out the door was a little harder.

But my mistake was in not sanding. Like in other paint projects I’ve done here, I’ve played hit or miss with sanding. Every time I miss sanding, I always come out with a not-so-good result. Here, because I have a shiny laminate on top of this engineered wood, I need to sand the shine off so the spray paint can adhere. That’s why It came off on the right side (below pic)

Well, now I need to sand off more than that. See the drips? I’m pretty sure it’s mostly my fault for not sanding and for spraying too heavily and too close ( I was pretty tired that day). Although, I did get a better spray paint–one that I know works well. Hopefully, try number 2 will yield better results!

Going tankless: Thoughts on tankless water heaters

Happy 2019! First off, thanks for sticking with me into 2019! While I have been focused more on my novel WIP (Work-In-Progress) and the last volume of my eStory trilogy (see ymnelson.com for that), I’m still doing home improvements, DIY projects, crafting, and generally breaking stuff up. To get all the juicy posts about my Weekend DIY Girl antics, subscribe if you haven’t, or stay subscribed if you have!  —> (hopefully, I have some notification button over here. 🙂 )

Now, about the water heater…

This is not a DIY project. In fact, stay away from this unless you are a professional plumber and electrician (yes, you will need to be both), and if you have a gas water heater, doubly stay away from it. In most areas, you have to have a special certification to connect and disconnect gas lines. In my city, you have to have permits and inspections for this installation, so I did not do this myself, and you shouldn’t either, weekend DIY-ers.

I wanted to veer away from my usual  just to talk about my fairly recent experience with replacing my regular tank water heater with a tankless one. I would not say I got talked into going tankless, but the benefits combined with some serious efforts to pay down debt,  swayed me to going tankless when my water heater started leaking.  A tankless water heater is almost 2x the price of a regular one. So, purchasing one in an emergency without some emergency savings or available credit is probably not something an average homeowner can do.

What a tankless water heater can do (Benefits I’ve found)

When the system calls for hot water, A tankless water heater will send heated water through the system and will continually do so as long as you have your hot water faucet on. This eliminates the “shower gets cold”  issue you have with tank systems. This means  that you’ll never run out of hot water, which is good for those with full households, or people who take long showers. Everyone gets a hot shower!

I’ve also noticed a slight drop in my gas bill and my electric bill. Now while this is off-set by the fact the tankless heater is more expensive, tankless heaters also last longer. So, it will pay for itself and then some over the expected life of the heater.  Also, it may have a utilities rebate attached because of the energy savings it provides. (Consult individual utility companies for your situation. Not available in all states, counties or cities.)

What a tankless water heater can’t do (Know before you buy)

Tankless water heaters do not immediately give you hot water. What I have experienced most often is after using hot water in the shower, I turn on the sink and may still get some hot water, then it goes cold before going hot again.  The initial hot water is water left over in the plumbing system after I turned the last faucet off, but when it gets cold, that’s the new water coming through when I turn the next faucet on.

If your salespeople and installers are good, they should tell you this up front before purchase. There is a recirculation pump/part that can be added to the system, which keeps the hot water in the system hot the moment you turn on the faucet (it’s kind of the same concept as what a hot water tank does:  but just done through your plumbing system), and you can have the best of both worlds: hot water fast. UPDATE: some tankless water heaters are  now being made with the recirculation pump as part of the unit. Make sure to ask if that is a concern of yours.

Tankless water heaters have to have an annual descaling. Unlike tank systems, which we often neglect, in order for tankless heaters to run smoothly, they need to have annual maintenance. This is something that can be done yourself. Here’s a YouTube video showing how to prepare a solution to descale your tankless water heater. I cannot verify  the technique’s effectiveness, as I have not had my water heater long enough to need maintenance, but Matt Risinger is well known in the building industry as a trusted information source.

Overall, I like the tankless water heater. I get hot water when I need it, and with the new unit, I don’t have to wonder, is this the day that the hot water’s going to go out? Plus, I have a cool little table/stool that the water tank was sitting on that I can now upscale into something else. Lookout, Weekenders!