Posts Tagged ‘repairing fixer upper houses’

Ode to Grout, and fixer upper houses

Monday, April 7th, 2008

There are very few conversations that include the word “grout” in them. Grout is one of the most under utilized words, and unappreciated substances in the English language. Yet, where would tilers be without grout? And yes, where would all of us who have tiled floors or walls be without this cementy substance?

This weekend, in a never-ending effort to finish repairing our fixer-upper house so we can rent it out, the family undertook to tile the closet floor. This was one of several smaller do-it- yourself projects that remain to be done before we can call this house finished.

Here is how it went down.

Step 1.

Number 1 son expertly cuts tile for the floor (note ear plugs -not an MP3- for protection).

Number 1 son precisely mixes the mortar to the right “peanut buttery” consistency.

Number 2 son carefully transfers the mortar from the mixing bucket to the transfer bucket.

Number 2 son and I precisely apply mortar to back of tile. Number 2 son expresses amazement over incredible precision.

Angy relentlessly spreads the much-anticipated “grout” into the spaces between tiles.

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Grout in Old Houses — Don’t let it get grout of control!

Friday, December 21st, 2007

A common problem encountered in older houses is the grout can look dirty. For the 1957 fixer upper house that my wife and I are presently working on, the tile grout in the master bathroom was dingy (see picture above). My plan since I bought the house was to remove the old grout and replace it with new grout.

However, last week before beginning the grout removal, I checked my copy of Home Depot’s book “Tiling 1-2-3“. The book suggested cleaning the grout to bring it back to its old glory.

So I purchased some Agua Mix Grout Deep Clean, and some White Tile Grout Coating for good measure.

First, I used my grout saw to lightly scrape off dark spots in the grout.

Then, I used the Grout Deep Clean, which to my surprise, actually did make the grout look cleaner. I let the liquid “dwell” on the grout for 5 minutes, I “agitated” it with a scrub brush, then I waited 2 hours for it to dry. But it still wasn’t as bright as I would have liked.

Next, I liberally applied the Tile Grout Coating to the grout.

The coating did a remarkably good job of coloring the grout to a strong color of white. I was very happy with the results. After the coating dried I applied grout sealer.

After all was done, the grout looked like this.

So, the lesson is, as long as the grout is not badly cracked, you’re better off cleaning and coating the old grout. It can save you a lot of time.

Info on Terry’s Book

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Completing repairs on fixer upper house

Monday, October 15th, 2007

Repairs on the fixer-upper house that we are living in and repairing on Calle Canis continues. As mentioned previously, my wife and I bought this fixer-upper in order to live in it for at least two years and then sell it. We will pay no federal capital gains taxes for the sale because we are following the steps to receive the exception under the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997.

There isn’t that much left to do, but often it seems like the closer we get to the end, the further away it moves from us. The list of final repairs include,

1.) refinish two permanent wooden cabinets, one in the kitchen, one in the hallway;

2.) paint new indoor doors;

3.) applying a little more mud (joint compound) to cracks in guest bathroom and paint it;

4.) finish painting outdoor trim of house;

5.) fix cracks, paint, install pump and fence in swimming pool;

6.) spray for termites (we just discovered that we have them).

Presently, I am working on the guest bathroom and my wife is painting doors. We mostly operate early in the morning while the kids are asleep.

Sometimes, when we have to focus on our rental houses, it pushes back the work on this house. But, except for a few extended breaks, we have made pretty good progress on repairing this house.

This is a 4-bedroom, 2-bath 1600 sq. ft. house that we have completed the majority of repairs on, including landscaping the front and back yard, floor tiles on bedrooms and bathrooms, new (or almost new Re-store) kitchen cabinets, wood planks in the TV room, rebuilt master bathroom, ceiling fans in all rooms, new room for the washer/dryer, fixed wall cracks, paint all walls and ceilings, and other odds and ends.

Kitchen before repairs:

Kithecn after repairs:

Mostly, we just fixed or replaced what was broken or missing. Since we plan to sell the house, we are spending a little more to make it look good than we would if we were going to rent it. With the weak market, I sometimes ponder keeping it as a rental until the market perks up again, but we don’t have to decide right now. As Lincoln said, ‘we’ll jump over that ditch when we get to it.”

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