I know you’ve all been eagerly awaiting the second part of this post.  I am happy to be able to satisfy your curiosity by concluding the epic story of how to turn plywood into rustic flooring!  Now, after all this time you’ll learn how to turn this…


Into this…!


As you might recall, I left you all with half of my floor glued & nailed down.  What I expected to be a lightning fast completion of the In Law unit floor, turned into a bit more of a task then I had planned for.  With that said, as with most of my In Law unit projects, I have a lot of information to share you.  This time, however, I’d like to take you on a journey.  Let’s begin this story…


…from Los Angeles, known as San Francisco…

Once upon a time, a powerful, wise and noble maiden worked tirelessly to renovate her castle.  She was working hard to install a new floor without having to sell her best milking cow just to afford the materials.  She finally completed the installation of the floor, with the help of her magical wand nail gun, and her trusty forest creatures glue applicator.


Once the floor was installed it was time to apply the stain.  After testing out about 15 different colors the maiden called her creature friends with an announcement.  “Hark dear friends, a decision has been made.  From henceforth, the color of this floor will be known as Honey Maple.”  Not wanting to get into the details of what led her to this color, the maiden simply explained that she chose the Zar brand of stain because Minwax and Varathane simply didn’t embody the beautiful hues of nature.

After applying the stain by hand everything was looking just as the stain’s name suggested, like someone had poured honey and maple syrup over the floor, leaving it with a beautiful golden gleam.

Even for a hardworking maiden in a castle far far away, the application process of stain was what you might expect.  Dunk one rag into the stain and spread it around liberally.  Then with a dry rag, wipe off all of the excess.  Here’s the end result:



Things looked so good that the following day the maiden decided to seal in the blemish free wood with a coat of Polyurethane, locking in its youth for all time.  She decided to use a water based Polyurethane because it dries so quickly, and because the creatures of the forest (i.e.: her dog & cat) could be impacted by the toxic fumes of an oil-based Polyurethane.

The maiden poured a strip of the Polyurethane (roughly 1” x 24”) directly over her Honey Maple floor and spread it out evenly by pushing and pulling with a microfiber applicator.


Finally, the floor was covered in the fresh shine of magical protective sealer.


Overnight, however, an evil sorceress entered the In Law unit.  Threatened by the beauty and glimmer of the floor, she wielded her magical broom and soaked up the stain so that there were huge spots where it didn’t even look as if stain was applied.  Cackling with satisfaction, she then covered over her handiwork with the polyurethane and fled to torment another unsuspecting DIY’er.


The next morning, the maiden headed down to her In Law unit, whistling a happy tune, when she stopped, stunned and terrified by the sight before her!  SPLOTCHES! Everywhere!


She had no idea how this had happened but suspected that evil was afoot.  What else could explain…this!?


The maiden, being more powerful than the cackling witch had assumed, pulled up her Cartharts and went right to Google.  She typed and clicked and read and watched until the answer came to her.  “Softwood” the Google machine whispered to her…blame softwood.

The Google machine went on to explain “oh powerful maiden, while you may be strong, your plywood is soft.  It is made of Pine, which has inconsistent pores.  Some pores are open and some are not, so some stain will soak in and some will not.  Had you consulted me before applying the stain you would have known that applying a wood conditioner or Tung oil before applying the stain might have solve the problem.  Alas, with your hard body comes a hard head, and this is how your lesson will be learned.”

After promptly slamming closed her laptop, cursing the Google machine and its all knowingness, the maiden went back to work.

In her rush to fix the problem bestowed upon her by the evil sorceress, the maiden rented a floor buffer to try and take the layer of Polyurethane off.  Unfortunately for her, the floor buffer was possessed and merrily threw her around the room like a doll.

While she did get free dancing lessons from the possessed beast, the polyurethane remained in place.  The maiden then went to her trusty palm sander.  After sanding her way through the protective layer, she applied around 4 more coats of stain over the many unstained spots. The reason for the extra coats was because the stain just didn’t want to soak into those spots.  Whatever evil magic that prevented the stain from sticking before, was still an issue when trying to reapply.

Finally, after the final application of stain, the maiden’s floor had been evened out.  After a solid vacuuming, then using a tack cloth to get up the remaining dust, she returned to applying Polyurethane.  This time, when the sealer dried the floor had the sparkle of honey, just as she had wanted.  Rather than bringing back the possessed buffer, she decided to use a pole sander and 180 grit sand paper to get rid of the bumps between layers of Poly.

pole sander

Finally, 3 coats of Polyurethane later, the powerful maiden was able to call her new floor complete!






She never saw that evil witch again, but she knew she was out there…waiting…


Last time I posted I showed you the brand new tile surrounding the bathroom tub!

Let’s take another look…


It makes me smile every time I see it!

Of course, while everything is coming together, this puzzle has a few more pieces.  Take for instance the floor.

One major lesson I learned while tiling the tub surround was that the smaller the tile, the longer and more tedious the project is going to be.  With this newfound knowledge at my finger tips, I decided to go the opposite direction with the floor tile.  No more pocket-sized tile.  This time, I went unwieldy, heavy and long!


There are benefits and drawbacks to each type of tile.  Subway tile is easy to maneuver, can be held in one hand and takes about 30 seconds to cut.  With that said, there were about 1000 cuts that needed to be made, and each subway tile needed to be level (which took a tremendous amount of precision and focus)

In the case of the floor tile, it was seriously heavy and unwieldy, but on the plus side I only had to make a few cuts.  This was particularly good given that I needed to  maneuver these monoliths through the Easy Bake Oven of wet saws.  For those of you unfamiliar with the magic of baking deserts under a lightbulb, let me illuminate you on the wonder that is the Easy Bake Oven…

Easy Bake Oven


Now, imagine feeding a one ton piece of tile that is as long as a small tree into that flimsy plastic contraption and you’ll understand the risk I was taking.


I pre-cut all of the planks of floor tile so I could lay them all down in fell one swoop.  I also ‘dry fit’ the tile prior to mixing the mortar to make sure everything fit together well.

The process of laying the floor tile was essentially the same as the wall tile, but I didn’t need to constantly check that the tiles were level.  Everything ended up going down really quickly.


throan room

Once the mortar dried it was time for the grout.  Just as I did with the wall of tile, I saved some of the wet grout to do some touching up after the first layer dried (about 20 minutes later).





Now, you might think that this was enough for one blog post, but no!  After all, what is a throne room without a throne?  While new tile is great and all, the truly under appreciated star of the bathroom is the toilet.

Once the floor tile was ready to be trampled all over, I wasted no time having my plumber come out and finish installing the shower head, nozzle, drain, and yes…the toilet.







The bathroom is almost done.  I still need a vanity and a shower door (along with a bit of molding), but now its time to shift my focus back into the main room.  Stay tuned for my upcoming post on flooring!

While I would like to throw out excuses as to why you haven’t seen a post from me lately (perhaps the recent debut of the Game of Thrones or the cunning way my dog dictates my ‘play’ schedule), but the reality is that putting up tile takes a long time!

I mean, sure, you can slap up some mortar and stick some tiles to the wall in no time, but what you’re left with would cause anyone with even moderate OCD to fly into a fit of rage.


As someone who appreciates clean and level lines, I decided that I would take my time putting the tile up the “right way.”  Now, you might be asking “Beth, what IS the right way to put up tile?”  Well, blog reader, as someone who has just completed her first tile job, I’m a wealth of information.  Okay, perhaps I’m more like a coin jar of information.  Regardless, here’s what I learned:


 Step 1:  Waterproof your tub surround

Awhile back I had a “tile guy” come out and install a mortar bed around the tub.  The reasoning for this was twofold.

 Reason #1:  None of the walls around the tub were square or plumb.  If I were to just slap up some concrete board and install the tile, the crooked lines would have caused immediate and unstoppable twitching that would have eventually provoked  the beast within to emerge and completely destroy the bathroom.  Clearly, this would have been counterproductive & put my work behind schedule.  A mortar bed is essentially putting a concrete like substance up on the wall and then molding those walls until they are square and plumb.

 Reason #2:  The mortar bed is completely waterproof!  No need for any additional liner, waterproof membrane or anything else.

Now that we have our bathtub surround waterproofed and square, it’s time to get down to business!



Step 2:  Select Your Tile:

One of the reasons this tile job took me around a month to complete was because I selected subway tile.  The smaller the tile, the more time it takes to ensure everything is level, and the more cuts you need to make.  For those of you considering doing some tiling, but are working on a tight timeline, I do not recommend working with subway tile (although it is beautiful!)

We decided to go with a sea-foam green glass subway tile.  The glass is slightly rippled, making it look refreshing and wet (two adjectives that seem at home when describing a bathroom)




Step 3:  Get your Materials:

For this job I got the following items:

  1.  Tile
  2. Mortar specifically for glass tile
  3. Polymer additive for mortar (this makes it a little extra water proof)
  4. Tile Spacers
  5. Notched Trowel
  6. Grout Float
  7. Sponge
  8. Level
  9. Bucket for mixing
  10. Tile Cutting saw.  (I decided to buy a cheap $80 saw rather than rent one for $50 a day.  It was an excellent purchase and I highly recommend others do the same.  At $50/day to rent, by the time you’re done you could have bought a fancy tile cutting saw.  I got the Skil 7″ Wet Tile Saw at Lowes.     It is the Easy Bake Oven of tile saws, but it worked great for my needs.



Step 4:  Planning

The most important row of tile you’ll lay is the first one.  That first row needs to be perfectly level in order for the rest of the wall to follow in its footsteps.  If your first line of tile is off level by even a fraction of an inch, by the time you get to the top of the wall you could be off by inches.

I started my planning by marking the center of the walls (vertically and horizontally) with level lines as guides.







Step 5:  Mix It Up!

Okay, I have everything I need, and now it’s time for tiling.  Much like working with concrete, I had to get the mortar all mixed up:



Step 6:  Start Tiling!

I begin by placing my first tile directly to the left of the center line.


The idea behind working off the vertical center line is that by the time you get to the end of the line, you’ll be left with a ½ a tile (if you measured correctly).  When you start working in the other direction, by the time you get to the end you can use that remaining ½ a tile to finish up the row.  This saves you time on cuts and money on wasted tile.

When I do the 2nd row, I will place my tile directly in the center of the vertical line, thus alternating the tile seams.  From there, you just keep on building up until you’re done with the wall.



9 rows

Step 7:  Start Tiling the Side Wall

When working on the side walls, not only does the first row need to be perfectly level (just like the wall you just finished), but the tiles should appear to wrap around in a continuous line.

wrap around



Step 8:  Cleaning

Now that all of the tile has been installed and allowed time to dry, it’s time to clean between the tiles so the grout can fill those holes.

Mortar is a very hard substance when it dries, so to clean between the tile lines you may need to use an X-acto knife.  I also used 0000 steel wool to clean the mortar off the glass without scratching it.


 Step 9:  Grouting

You mix your grout in a similar way as you did with the mortar.  Once it’s ready to be installed, you use your grout float to spread the grout between the lines of the tile at an angle.  You work your way down the tile, making sure to fill every crevasse.   Once you’re done with the initial installation, you let it dry for about 20 minutes and then scrub the excess off with a sponge.



After cleaning the excess grout off with a damp sponge you may be left with a light film on the surface of the tile.  This film can be easily wiped away with a damp sponge.



Step 10:  Polish

Once you’ve cleaned the grout film off, you’re left with this beautiful final product!  It may take awhile to get here, but it’s well worth the time and energy!








What has it been?  1 month?  2 months?  Point being, I have been severely shirking my duties of keeping you, my valued audience, up to date on the In Law unit project.  For this, I apologize, and, I intend to make it up to you in this very exciting post!

As a child, one of my favorite past times was to draw up the full architectural layout of my future home\s (along with the occasional amusement park).   In most cases, the home would include a fully equipped stable where I would have direct access to my horse from my bedroom.  I mean, how else would I be able to swiftly swing into action as the horse riding superhero that I was?  In other cases the home was actually a multi-level medieval castle with a large room where my pet dragon could spread her wings and fly around.  Of course this room would be separated from the stable so the dragon and horse wouldn’t get jealous of one another.


The best part of the home design process was getting to imagine how these spaces would be decorated.  For the dragon room, of course I would go with an open concept design, primarily built out of stone (which is naturally fire resistant).  The stable, on the other hand, would embody more of a farm-house aesthetic (with the exception of the super-modern secret room where our superhero uniforms and gadgets would be stored for safe keeping.  Also, by “our superhero uniforms,” I, of course, mean my uniform and my horse’s uniform).

Now, that I’m a grown up I get to relive those childhood past times.  This time, however, after conceptualizing a space I actually get make it real.  With the In Law unit, I’ve finally achieved the point in which construction is essentially over and now I get to play around with decorating & design.

Over the last couple months, which you might remember as “that chunk of time where Beth didn’t update her blog,” I’ve been working to tie up a few loose ends in the In Law unit.  For starters, I’ve painted the walls to the main room.

Since the space is somewhat small, we decided to go with a light beige color to keep the room feeling open, with a green accent wall for a pop of color.



Once all of the walls & ceiling were fully painted, I moved onto putting up the ceiling molding.  You see, the exposed joists gave me the rustic look I was going for, however, they didn’t look particularly tidy. 


The drywall didn’t terminate in a clean way against the joists, and there was drywall putty splattered on the wood.  This goes against all of my OCD (or as I like to call it, attention to detail) qualities, and had to be fixed!  To remedy this situation, I installed molding between all of the drywall and joists. 

Now, you might be thinking “Beth, installing molding sounds easy enough.  Why haven’t we heard from you in months?”  Well, blog reader, that is an excellent question.  You see, putting up molding is a multi-stage process.

First, you need to measure, select and purchase the molding.


Then you need to paint everything.



Then you need to measure and cut the molding to size, and at the correct angle.  Keep in mind that nothing about the In Law unit is square.  As I like to tell people, 45 degree angles are for children.  Around here, we like our angles inconsistent and unconventional.

Once the molding is nailed to the ceiling,  you spread caulking between the molding & the drywall to make it look nice & clean.


Now, let me take a moment to get serious.  Here goes…feel free to write this down.  Caulking is the magic that hides all of those finishing flaws you have.  Poorly cut angles, goop them up with caulking.  Nail holes, fill those with caulking.  It’s the kind of magic you can get for $2.00 at the local hardware store, and you get to avoid having to eat your way out of a cookie house to escape an evil witch!  


Lastly, you do some touch up painting and voila!  You’re all done!



The next steps are to install the tile and the flooring!!  I can’t wait.   I’ve already started testing stains for the flooring and will be looking into tile this week.  Stay tuned.