This is a new kind of post. Well, new for me. I never thought people would be interested in my lack of ability to improve my home, but it has been suggested by readers of my game blog that there might, in fact, be some interest in the topic. Whether it be for the unintentional comedy, I’m not yet sure. But as this topic doesn’t seem to align with gaming or geekery of any kind (though I guess you could argue there are home improvement geeks and have been for a long time), I’ve decided to stick it over on the personal blog, where themes are irrelevant.
First off, I’m not an incredibly handy guy. My father (and grandfather before him) were always the fix-it guys of the family. I never really needed, nor had the desire to learn this important life skill. But, something happened along the way. I got married and bought a house. Thus, as much as I’ve tried to avoid it, the little fix-it jobs just keep finding me.
Several months ago, I decided to tackle my biggest job yet: redoing an entire bathroom. This bathroom was never technically “finished” – it still had primer on the wall – and was having problems with mold. So I ripped everything out in order to start over with new mold-killing primer and paint. Also, I put a laminate tile floor over the old, dated linoleum.
My next step for the bathroom is to start trimming it out. I was thinking of buying a miter saw, but when dad found out he told me to wait until he returned from Minnesota and he’d give me one that he doesn’t use. So my weekend project shrunk considerably. I’ll have to do a majority of the trim in a few weeks.
In all my years, I’ve never had to install a carpet transition. You know, that little strip of whatever in a doorway that ‘transitions’ from one kind of flooring to another? Well, to install the tile, I had to rip out the old metal transition, and let me tell you, it was a pain. Long story short, it must have been installed before the door was framed up because one of the masonry nails holding it into the concrete was underneath the door frame. Thank goodness for bendable saws-all blades.
The first thing I did to prep for the new transition install was to cut back some of the carpet that overlapped the new tile. I just used a utility knife, since all the “carpet knives” I saw at Lowes looked suspiciously like utility knives.
Yeah, the carpet’s ugly. Sorry about that, it’s original with the house. And it’s in the basement, so it’s pretty much got nothing going for it.
Next, I had to measure off the doorway so I knew how far to trim down the transition piece. Sara and I decided that wood looked better than metal, so I got a 3 foot oak high-to-low transition piece. I’m using the term “high-to-low” to indicate that the carpet is taller than the tile, requiring a special transition piece that’s lower on one side. This picture shows how it’s too long for the doorway. Aren’t I a good photojournalist?
Once I got the piece cut down, the rest of the install would have been pretty easy…if I was installing it on an upper level into a wooden subfloor. But, since this is me and every job is harder than it should be, I happen to be installing this piece in the basement into a poured concrete floor. Those self-tapping wood screws that came with the transition piece weren’t going to do me much good on concrete. I had to pre-drill holes into the floor. Luckily, I do have a set of masonry drill bits. I picked a size that would freely move through the transition piece, and used it as a guide for where to drill. Once I got them started, I moved the transition piece to finish making the holes deep enough. the foot in this photo belongs to my 13 year old, who briefly came down to watch me work, just like I used to briefly watch my dad’s projects prior to getting tired and wandering off.
Next comes a little trick I saw on YouTube, and it’s kind of key to this whole deal. Since the wood screws won’t really grip into the concrete very well to keep the transition tightly in place, you need to put something down into those drilled holes to give them something to grip. In this case, I inserted a toothpick into each hole and broke it off flush with the floor. that way, I could still use the wood screws that came with the piece and they, with the pressure generated by having a toothpick crowding them out, would stay tightly in the hole.
In case you were wondering, this is a toothpick:
Here’s an action shot of me breaking the toothpick off in the hole. That’s why it’s so blurry. My ninja-like toothpick breaking was difficult to capture.
Now, I just place the transition piece back and screw it into place.
Tada! The finished product. Didn’t take too long, once I figured out how to do it. Luckily, I had all the supplies on-hand. That usually makes a job much easier.