Monday, May 5, 2008

Our long awaited arrival

I'd say that this house has been like giving birth, but it sure is taking longer than 9 months.

This was a good weekend, mostly because we hit some sort of Babysitters Club Book jackpot at the library's used book sale. They had about 45 of them at 25 cents each (I just reached for the "cents" key and it doesn't exist anymore :( I guess there's an option+ keystroke, but how very sad that it's not obvious; I just looked this up and, um, looks like maybe there never was one on a computer keyboard. Does this show my age, or how little I use that word...or both?). I think the kiddo was a little overwhelmed that we told her she could buy all of them-- she would only take 12.

Anyway, if we'd done nothing else all weekend, that alone would have made it great.

But luckily, we did get a ton of stuff wrapped up. First and foremost, as I mentioned in the last post, we got our backsplash installed. This is what it's looked like for about 8 months:

And now:

I cannot stress enough that it looks metallic-- not nearly so browny chocolate. The final layer is several thin sprays of metallic copper outdoor paint so the initial sheen is that of copper, then an oil rubbed bronze base coat. It's fairly dark under our cabinets, even with the lighting, so you see those subtle metallic highlights when standing in person. Unfortunately, with the flash, it washes out the highlights; without the flash, it just turns yellow. So there you go. We still have one side wall to do, and once we get an over the range microwave, we'll extend the backsplash behind the stove. I'm also faux finishing the outlet covers and switchplates to match.

I'll quickly explain the process for cheapest backsplash ever while it's still fresh.

These were 18X24 inch pressed aluminum panels from MBoss, Inc. ($6.50 each for 12, plus shipping). First we rubbed them with 00 steel wool and primed them with Rustoleum's heavy duty primer for rusty metal ($4/can, for 2 cans). Then we dry fit them into the space and used kitchen shears to cut out the window. We decided to split the back wall into 2 sections for ease of handling and storing and painting, etc. Once we had decided where the split would be (under the window), we glued the panels together using PL Construction Adhesive (there's an overlap in the pattern for this purpose). After each set was dry and adhered, I used a fine grit sanding block and my fingernail to get rid of any glue that squished out, and reprimed any places that had been sanded off. Then, we added the trim pieces. These are plastic edges that create a smooth transition to the countertop and in the corners. They're from Home Depot's plastic/composite backsplash panels kit usually housed back in the cabinet showroom ($0.99 each). I laid out the whole wall's worth of panels on the lawn and snapped on the edges, then made sure that the center seam would piece together naturally and adjusted the edges accordingly. Then I painted it all together.

We used Sophisticated Finishes Blackened Bronze, an acrylic medium with powdered bronze mixed in (Michaels, $8/ bottle, for 2 bottles), so it looks a little more authentic. It's also rated for outdoor use. I brushed it on very thinly with a sponge brush and then very, very lightly patted it with another sponge brush to take out the brush strokes. After it dried, I misted several layers of the outdoor copper spray paint (Krylon, I think, about $4) until it looked like we wanted it. We decided it would be best to err on the side of copper, considering how dark it is under there. (FYI-- we used outdoor grade everything so it could withstand getting wet.)

After they were painted, we dry fit, yet again. We had to scoot the edge pieces down on one side and shim a place where the concrete wall dips, but everything fit well otherwise. While the panels were up there for fitting, we applied blue tape up against them on the counter so we knew where they laid. We pulled them out and ran a bead of siliconized caulk behind the taped line (NOT silicone caulk, after what happened last time...), then applied PL adhesive to the back of the panels. Of course, we ran out halfway through one panel and you only have about 10-15 minutes with this stuff, so I had to sprint to the hardware store. They didn't have any of this particular brand, so I opted for Liquid Nails Heavy Duty. Liquid Nails hasn't failed me yet-- my dad even tiled the upper portion of their mantle with liquid nail. It's the best. Anyway, we'll see how it holds up. We set the panels onto the caulk and raised them into place. So far so good.

And that's it.

See? No flash turns EVERYTHING yellow. But this pic shows how our lights are like little spotlights.

I know it sounds like a lot of steps, and it's certainly not the swankiest or most polished looking backsplash possible, but with an uneven concrete wall, and at about $150 total, this seemed like the way to go. Throw in another $15 of testing paints and that's a grand total that would barely buy the plywood, hardibacker, thinset and tapcons that we'd need to tile-- forget paying for the tile itself! That wall was just a nightmare. Even if it lasts us a few years, I'll be a happy camper. Hell, we could have set a toddler up there with a pack of magic markers and it would have been better than what we had.


Jennifer said...

Score on the BBC books! I LOVED those!

I think the backsplash looks GREAT. We are trying to figure out what do do for ours... right now we don't have our new countertop, so we haven't done anything yet.

Karen in Wichita said...

It looks great, and it's something I'm gonna keep in mind when (someday) we redo the kitchen (currently: veneer bricks with black(!) mortar).

Also, on the yellow thing: when you turn the flash off, make sure the lighting setting is right. Yellow usually means the camera is convinced it's natural light... you gotta find the "indoor" or "tungsten" setting, or something along those lines. (Yes, I just got around to finding that setting on the not-so-new-anymore the other day. Coming soon: Karen learns when to switch it over to "macro" so it's in focus, too... but hey, at least it wasn't yellow.)

Amalie said...

I loved those books too! I keep thinking I'm going to go buy the ones she didn't want so I have them when she runs out, which will probably be next week.

Good call, Karen-- it's a shameful thing to admit, but my father was a professional photographer after his arthritis put him out of the house-building business. He was a master with lighting. I, on the other hand, just did what I was told. And my camera that I use now is a little pocket digital-- I always used a good old film slr. I plan on getting his Fuji pro level digital and playing with it...Hopefully things will get better in the photo department around here!

Karen in Wichita said...

Yeah, Carl's got a real DSLR, and often when I post to the blog I get an email telling me what I did wrong with my little toy camera. "Dude! It's on AUTO! Tell it to the camera!"

Dawn said...

Eek I just read your entry and thought "tapcons" said "tampons." I had to do a double take, because I was like whut? Tiling and tampons must be a new trick of the trade haha!