Tuesday, November 20, 2012


So when we left off with the sink base, it looked like this:

I had also painted it by the time I last shared it, but my phone ate that picture, and then I forgot that it had and I didn't take another one.  Oops.  This was the area where the sink base was destined to reside:

You should note (1) hideous '70s cabinets; (2) weird textured-top white formica (I should've taken a closeup); (3) sink at an angle; (4) stove to the right of the sink area; (5) faintly-visible tileboard (painted white) above the countertop.  I decided that I didn't want a sink on an angle.  Instead, I wanted the sink basin right next to where the stove is (well, ideally I wanted to move the stove to the right and put a cabinet between, but it looks like that's not happening).  And I wanted a drainboard in that corner spot, since I thought it would make that into a useful space.  And the cabinets and the countertop were awful and had to go.  The dishwasher stays. 

For reference, this area is immediately under the site of my first big project, known to the world as Cabinet #1:

(In both of these pictures, you may note that I have taken all the cleaning products out from under the sink and put them in the bucket, and sprinkled the countertop liberally with tools.  That pry-bar will figure largely in the cabinets' next few hours.) 

So then I put the sink base in, and I cut Carrara marble tiles (that I got at the ReStore for $.50 apiece!) to fit - I used broken ones on the edge where they would be hidden.  And then I caulked them (I don't like the caulk color, though it was the closest the store had, so I'm going to tint it closer to the tiles' color).  And I also put beadboard (the white stuff) behind where the sink would go before I put the sink base in, so I could get a nice tight seal behind the sink.  Also in this picture, I have already removed all the lower cabinets on the wall to the left.  And ripped off all the tile board.  And put in the new cabinets.  And leveled and attached them.  And measured and cut the butcher block countertop and attached it...I may have failed to document some steps here.  But I may cover the rest of the lower cabinets later.  For now, we are talking about the sink. 

Anyway, you may notice some interestingly-painted wall-board underneath the white beadboard that I added.  Here is a better picture of that board:

(This is before I ripped off the last of the tile-board - more on that in a second.)  I was hoping this picture would come out better.  That is solid wood board.  As you can see by the heavier seams, it's tongue-and-groove - i.e., assembled out of smaller pieces, unlike the beadboard I'm now using, which comes in four foot by eight foot panels.  Also, it has ordinary single beads (like the stuff I'm now hanging), but every other separation has a triple bead (if you open this picture full-size, I think you can see it): 

I've never seen board like that - it's very interesting.  So are the remnant paint colors on it.  Based on the material and the colors, it looks to me to be quite old; I think it might even be original.  There's not enough of it to rescue, and I'm not sure how I could replicate it.  If I were having a pro redo my kitchen, I might consider having custom replication made for the walls. 

But do you know what this means?  I went with beadboard because it was a reasonably historic type of material, something I knew how to work with, and I already have it in the laundry room and powder room, so I know it's right for the house.  But this sample shows that my material choice is very close to how the kitchen was originally!  YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

This is in contrast to the loathed tile-board, which clearly was not original, and which looks in no way original to any decade but the 1960s.  And which doesn't look anything like actual tiles (unlike the beadboard, which I think is a reasonably decent fake).  You like the pastiche of former colors visible on this sample? 

As you can see in that photo, I had just removed the switchplates.  'Cause that tileboard was just about to have a rendezvous with a pry-bar.  As of Saturday, THERE IS NO LONGER ANY TILEBOARD IN MY KITCHEN.  HAAAAAAAAAA!!! 

I seem to have forgotten that we were talking about the sink.  You remember the sink:

Well, I put the sink on that sink base with the marble:

Do you see now what I meant about using this picture as an inspiration? 


OK, well, anyway, that's not what's really important.  What's really important is what you can see just at the bottom of the picture: a p-trap and a feed line to the waste pipe.  I BUILT THAT.  That right there:

And this end, too:

(Maybe I should have taken the pictures before I put all the cleaning products and the plastic bags back in.) 

You can also see (in the sink picture above) a somewhat forlorn-looking faucet.  Out of the back of it extend flexible supply hoses.  They are hooked up to the hot and cold water sources.  THE SINK WORKS.  That whole drain assembly worked on the FIRST try with no leaks.  I am beyond delighted.  I know that the credit goes to Ss. Anthony and Joseph, whom I harassed endlessly in the last few days, so anxiety-ridden was I about this project.  (Not having a kitchen sink four days before you host a party will up the ante on your projects a little bit.) 

However, the feed assembly is not perfect.  There is one leak, where the hot water line joins to the faucet.  I forgot to wrench-tighten the brass coupling after I hand-tightened it, although that step was on my mental to-do list.  I'll have to shut the water off, undo the fittings, re-wrap the Teflon tape, and tighten again, but that's not difficult.  Once I get that done, I will have to find some sort of construction cement to get that faucet to stay against the wall of the sink.  (It was not built for quite the installation method I have used, so a few work-arounds have been necessary.)  For now, its inclination to pitch itself into the sink basin is for the best, since it causes the leak to run down the drain, instead of down the wall. 

I may actually finish this by Christmas...


I ultimately discovered that while the hot water side of the faucet leaked noticeably, the cold water side had a slower, sneakier leak as well.  And there was ANOTHER sneaky leak under the sink (in the silver hoses you can see in the picture above).  The latter problem I solved by returning the hoses to the store and buying new ones, which do not leak.  (Yes, the leak was in the hose I had just bought - not in its connection to the old hose.) 

I also found out that the fix I was proposing for the hot water faucet (i.e., tighten the brass coupling) was NOT effective.  So first I did that, this time wrapping the Teflon tape around five times instead of three.  Still leaked.  Then I decided to change the whole thing into a compression fitting (those are much less leak-prone).  To do this, I had to create my own compression fitting, but I found some rubber washers in the right diameter.  My first try didn't work because the washers weren't tall enough and slid around.  So I went to a different store with more rubber washers, and found ones in the perfect size.  This didn't work either (it leaked a LOT), because the connection is not straight - the water turns a corner to feed into the faucet.  So it has an opportunity to sneak right around the rubber washer and back into the mysterious gap between the metal threads.  (I am now the proud owner of many useless rubber washers.)  So then I decided to try wrapping the Teflon tape ten times around.  Leaked (barely).  Twelve times around.  Leaked (more than the ten times - ?).  Tried pipe dope instead of Teflon tape.  Leaked plenty.  Tried pipe dope on the threads with Teflon tape OVER it wrapped ten times around.  WORKED!!!  I literally used THE ENTIRE ROLL of Teflon tape.  But now my faucet works:

(I ripped out the sink on Saturday the 17th, and had the faucet working again as of Wednesday the 27th.  And spent almost every intervening day trying to get the faucet to stop leaking.  This is why the beadboard is not finished yet...) 

I was originally going to cement the back of the faucet to the sink so the faucet would stay up.  That sounds to me like something a plumber would do.  But it is irreversible.  And pipes sometimes leak (as I would know).  So it didn't sound responsible.  The solution I came up with to hold the faucet's weight (which I am confident is structurally sound) is therefore more responsible in terms of stewardship of my home, but looks like a kludge:

(This is a repeat of the picture above.  But when you saw it before, you didn't realize those wires were attached to the faucet above, did you?) 

So I'd like to come up with something that looks like professional-quality work and is effective and reversible, but I have this feeling that if I had called in a pro, he would have jerry-rigged it too, because what with all the vintage pieces, custom work-arounds are unavoidable. 


And, I am sharing at Metamorphosis Monday!  Lots of beautiful Christmas ideas there today - check it out! 


  1. Wow, you are brave. It looks great.

  2. You are my hero! Are you sure you don't make home-reno house calls? That looks terrific!! Oh, and I may soon have info on the bathroom situation and various other home projects. 2013 is shaping up to be the year of Hebrews home improvements. I just hope all of these improvements translate to $$ when we eventually resell!