Tag Archives: DIY

DIY Firewood Tote

As a blogger there are certain times I feel up to writing technical posts, and other times I don’t. Today, a day where I lose my wallet in the morning only to find it after work, and only to get home and find that I forgot my cellphone back at the office, feels like a day I’m up to writing a technical post. This should get interesting. 

What was also pretty interesting was the state of our wood tote as of a few weeks back.

DSC_8305When you heat your house primarily with wood it means firewood totes take a beating, and this one which we’ve had for many many years was no different.

DSC_8307I knew it was time to get a new tote, but I simply couldn’t bring myself to buy one. First, I can sew well enough that I figured I could make one. Second, a lot of the totes I saw seemed like they were constructed for the casual user which is great, but wouldn’t work for us. Third, after researching the ones that would hold up for us I realized the design was the same as our current one and it was a design we just didn’t love. I’ll get into that more in a minute.

So that left me with one option which I happily delved into—making my own firewood tote. Sometimes it’s nice to see the finished product before reading a “how to”, and sometimes it’s also nice to know the difficulty and item list, so here you go.FirewoodTote

DIY Firewood Tote:
Difficulty – easy leaning to moderate

  • 1/2 yard artists canvas
  • one yard (maybe a little more just to be sure) heavy duty nylon strap (also known as nylon webbing)
  • All-purpose of heavy duty thread
  • Sewing machine, unless you’re a glutton for punishment then by all means sew this by hand
  • Two pieces of wood, about a foot or 14 inches long each. I think my piece was about a 1/2 inch by 2 inches.
  • Way to cut the wood into the correct dimensions/trim if needed (I used our compound sliding mitre saw, aka chop saw, but a hand saw would work fine)

The Process:

The first part was researching to figure out what most totes were made from that could hold up to our near daily use for months on end. Cotton duck seemed like an option but then I found artists canvas. It’s the same canvas you see in art stores, just sold in fabric stores on huge bolts. I remembered reading online that someone had used this, and since I couldn’t find any cotton duck and the price was right I went for it. I ended up finding mine at the Marden’s in Lewiston for $3.99 a yard. It’s so wide on the bolt that I only needed 1/2 a yard for this project. I bought a lot more than I needed knowing I could make more of them for other people, and just to have around. The saying goes “You should have bought it when you saw it at Mardens”, so I did because Mainer’s understand it may not be there the next time you go.

FirewoodTote2014 (3)The second step was deciding what to do for strapping. Last summer some of the siding material Andy bought was from Coastal Forest Products. The product came wrapped in this cool nylon strapping with their name on it. I came outside, saw the strapping and immediately snagged it. I specifically remember thinking it could make for a really good firewood tote strap. Any heavy duty nylon strapping (webbing) will do though. I’ve seen it on amazon in 10 yard increments for pretty cheap, but I’m guessing places like Home Depot or Lowes would have some. Heck, if you wanted a wider strap you could even buy a nylon tow rope if you have the machine to sew through it.

FirewoodTote2014 (17) Finally it was time to solidify my design. So many firewood totes have flared out edges to help to keep it from slipping out the sides. Taking the time to make sure it’s carefully stuffed in the edges is just not something I’m willing to do for as often as we use it. I remember one time I did, just to see what it was all about and I never did it again. A basic rectangle was all we needed.

With artists canvas, strapping and design solidified it was time to start sewing. So here’s my method step-by-step (day by day – Patrick Duffy, you slay me).

  1. Lay out your canvas. Cut it at about 1/2 a yard (or a little wider than your typical size log). The width of artist canvas makes it hard to keep everything square, so I’d recommend using a rotary cutter, ruler and self healing mat if you can.FirewoodTote2014 (5)
  2. Once you’ve made the cut, take the two long sides and fold them over about 1/2 an inch or so. The good thing about artists canvas is it’s easy to press down. I wouldn’t recommend putting a hot iron to it though. You’re welcome to try, but I wouldn’t trust ruining my iron to test my theory that it would melt. This fold is going to make for your first seam. I found it easiest to make this seam by placing my ruler on the inside of the canvas and folding over the edge of it.FirewoodTote2014 (6)FirewoodTote2014 (7)
  3. Sew the seam down. Make sure to lock the seam down (going forwards and backwards) a couple times at each end. Keep in mind that this can be a bit slippery. My stitches weren’t perfectly straight, but they got better the more I got used to sewing on the canvas.FirewoodTote2014 (8)
  4. To really add some strength to the seams I did a double fold and then sewed down again. Once the long sides were done I repeated step 2 to 4 on the short ends.FirewoodTote2014 (9)
  5. With the edges all sewn down I added some extra structure to the ends at the (awesome) suggestion of my brother in law. He made the good point that adding the wood would help keep the edges from falling over when you’re hauling, and I’ve found it has made the entire thing easier to pick up. To judge where to make my pocket for the wood I laid the canvas out, laid down the wood, and simply folded it over, giving myself enough room to make a snug but not super tight pocket. I ended up cutting my wood pieces a little shorter so I would have enough room to sew the final end shut once the wood was inserted.
    FirewoodTote2014 (11) FirewoodTote2014 (12) FirewoodTote2014 (13)
  6. Next up came attaching the straps. Attaching the straps is a little more on the moderate side of easy, but it definitely isn’t difficult. Start by turning your freshly creased canvas over so the folded seams are facing down.FirewoodTote2014 (14)
  7. When you place your straps, you’ll want to remember that you will not be sewing above the crease. Remember that you’re folding that over to sew down to put the wood in. You can’t sew the wood pocket before you put the straps on, because they you would sew the pocket shut that you need to put the wood in. You can’t sew the straps on after you put the wood in, because you can’t sew through wood. So you’ll want to start your handle height from the crease. For instance, in the phone below I wouldn’t sew the strap on above the “e” in “Forest”.FirewoodTote2014 (15)
  8. The next step of sewing on the strap is two fold. First, it’s important the strap is one long giant circle before you sew it on—think hoola hoop. I did this by sewing my nylon strapping together. Keep in mind (as you’ll see in the next step) this nylon strapping is going to be hauling a lot of weight. You don’t want this to snap or you’re going to end up with a lot of heavy wood slamming down your legs. This would be less than pleasurable. I sewed mine together in about a million different ways to ensure there was plenty of stitching holding them together.FirewoodTote2014 (16) FirewoodTote2014 (17)
  9. Second, I’d recommend starting to sew the strap at the center of the canvas. This ensures you end up with an equal handle on either side.  To find the center, fold down the two top sections like you would if the wood was inserted, and then fold the rectangle in half again, like you see below. Also I recommend laying everything out before sewing, and pinning if you need to (second photo below). FirewoodTote2014 (18) FirewoodTote2014 (19)
  10. Finally, start sewing! Here are some photos of my stitches so you can see my technique. To start I did a single stitch just to get everything tacked down. Then in the center and on the ends I did super extra stitching in a box and X shape. I then did two more long stitches overall to give extra strength and to help keep the strapping from folding up on the edges or catching on anything. FirewoodTote2014 (20) FirewoodTote2014 (21)
  11. Finally it came the time to sew down the shorter edges so the wood could be slipped in. I stitched it down, and then sewed up one side which left a pocket for me to slip the wood into. FirewoodTote2014 (23) FirewoodTote2014 (24)FirewoodTote2014 (26)
  12. The final step was making sure the wood was far enough back in the pocket and then stitching the open side shut, sealing the wood inside. FirewoodTote2014 (25)FirewoodTote2014 (27)

That’s it! This entire project cost me $2.00. If I had to buy the webbing it would have come out to a few bucks more (though I’d have lots of strapping left over, but that’s no problem around here as it would be used). The other option for straps if you don’t want to buy nylon strapping would be to make some canvas straps. It wouldn’t be horribly difficult to cut some wide straps, sew them all together, and give each strap a good solid hem on either side (same method as hemming the actual tote). It would be a heck of a lot stiffer and maybe harder to sew overall but it would definitely be doable. I’m debating on trying this method in the future just to see how it works. If I do, I’ll be sure to update you.

xo

Heather

P.S.  I waited to write this to ensure it held up and I can now say after at least a few weeks of daily use it’s held up great. Removing the weird side pockets was a great decision, as was adding in the wood for stability. Overall I’m really happy with how this turned out.

Reader Request: DIY Concrete Hearth Update

On my Facebook page this week a reader named Glenn asked about our concrete hearth

“Just discovered your blog while searching for concrete hearth stones. Michele and I have also been searching for the right stone and have looked at granite, slate, etc. We think we’re going to go with the low cost concrete alternative. Have you finished the hearth and any pics? Would love to see how yours turned out.”

I realized it would make a great reader request update and immediately went to work taking photos. Hope this helps you out!

DSC_7929-01First things first, we really enjoy our concrete hearth. Post pour we had planned to seal the hearth as it was. After the concrete cured we realized we had a mild dusting issue on the very top surface of the concrete which led us to change our plans to polish the hearth instead. Polishing would expose the stones within the concrete for a smooth salt and pepper look. The more we talked the more we realized we actually liked the look of the raw rough surface if we took just a wire brush to it. The decision to forgo the polish step was solidified, and we don’t regret it at all.

DSC_7934-01DSC_7937-01The rough rustic nature goes well with our reclaimed pine floors and our design preferences in general. We easily could polish the hearth in the future (after not so easily removing the wood stove again), but I can’t imagine that we will. For a finish, we used Thompsons Water Sealer. Andy can’t remember how many coats he did, but it wasn’t many.

As far as any issues we’ve had with the hearth there has only been one…ish, and one we don’t care in the least about. To be honest, I’m not sure I would even classify it as an “issue”.

DSC_7932-01Once we put the wood stove on the hearth, which was task in and of itself, we adjusted it. As we did the adjustment the stove came off the planks we were using and it scratched the hearth. It’s not even a gouge, just a surface scrape. The white is just a light dust that shows up when you scrape concrete in general. If we touched those with a damp cloth they wouldn’t show up as prominently when they dried. As you can tell, we haven’t done that because it bothers us that little. You can get a better glimpse of it in the photo below.  The white dots in the photo below are ash. The scratches are directly by the legs.

DSC_7940-01Over all, we’re really happy with the concrete and we’d absolutely do it the same way if we had to do it all over again. No doubts about it. It saved us a ton of money, it fits our style, it suits the need, and it looks nice. The difference in color in the photo below is because the light was streaming in and hitting the hearth. It’s uniform in color.

DSC_7941-01Hearth aside, I’ve also been asked if the wood stove being in this location means the other areas of the house are cold. 99% no. The 1% is the toilet seat in the bathroom. Even when that room was heated with oil when we first moved in, the toilet seat would be pretty cold. Let’s just say this – it wakes you up in the morning. The upstairs bedroom on the road side is slightly chillier in the morning than the master but that’s often because we keep that door shut, and because the master bedroom is directly above the living room. The heat not only comes up the stairs to get in the room, but it also resonates through the floor. The house in total stays toasty warm with just this stove. It’s going to be even toastier once we fix all of the insulation in the original house. We also have a monitor heater in the same room which will kick on at a certain temperature. This helps keep the house comfortable enough when we’re gone that the pipes won’t freeze. It never kicks on as long as the wood stove is going though. Even when the wood stove goes out it takes a long time for the house to drop low enough for the heater to kick in.

I hope all of that helps! If there’s anything else you guys want to seen an update on let me know in the comments below. There must be other things I need to tie up the loose ends on!

xo,

Heather

 

Wednesday Renovation Recap: So Many Stair Parts

Hey, friends! I have something to tell you before I delve into this renovation update. Here it goes.

I, Heather, am totally into the now-cancelled show Ready For Love. There, I said it. I’ve been watching the season on-demand since it’s been cancelled. I don’t even care that it’s like a jacked up version of the Bachelor without any roses, plus three bachelors and dating coaches. I also think the Rancic’s are a totally cute couple even though I literally know nothing about them outside an interview I saw and the fact I watched about four episodes of their reality show in a row one time. To be blunt, this show just makes me inexplicably happy due to the love factor and the hilarious awkward laugh factor. So the lesson is this, don’t question what makes you happy, even if it’s awesomely bad TV. I sort of wish it was going to have a second season.

Whew! I am so glad I got that off my chest. With that said, let’s get into the renovations! As you know we finished the living room and we’ve pretty much just been enjoying it since, with little work on the rest of the house. That doesn’t mean we’ve been sitting around though. We’ve been working on the garden (update to come next week!) as well. With all of the enjoying and planting going on it doesn’t mean we can stop working on the house for too long. With that said, we need to get these darn stair parts finished and out of the master bedroom so we can lay flooring and move up there already!

DSC_3923-01Over the last couple weeks or so I finished up the stair treads and finally was able to take them off the scaffolding and move them aside so I could start the balusters, trim and a few other boards.

DSC_3930-01Once the stair parts were moved out of the way, I used the scaffolding to set up all the other parts. You never quite realize how many stair parts there are until you’re prepping them all!

DSC_3943-01I think total, between the balusters, trim, risers and other wood parts Andy asked me to take care of, there were over 50 parts I was priming. Yep, you read right, priming. Believe it or not we do paint wood, just very selectively. All of this wood is poplar which was both free for us (sawed from our woods),  but it’s not exactly the best wood to seal and let the natural shine through. I actually asked Andy to keep them natural but he really wanted them white. Truthfully, I’m okay either way. I’ve learned that Andy’s ideas are often beautiful. While he’s almost always against painting wood, he absolutely loves contrasting staircases that allow gorgeous wood to shine. By painting the “meh” poplar white, we will be able to showcase the walnut rails and the beech treads. Don’t expect to ever see white trim in our house though, you would be just as shocked as me.

DSC_3946-01With the stair parts finally primed, we’re ready to paint white! While we aren’t there yet, we will be soon. I’ll be picking up basic bright white eggshell paint this week. We’re going eggshell to allow the white parts to “sit back” from the glossy wood we’re trying to accentuate while still allowing the white parts to be easily cleaned. Update: I bought the paint and we’re going with satin since it has a soft sheen to it, and is easier to wipe down than eggshell. After researching it more I realized that eggshell was a pretty bad idea for high-traffic surfaces. We’re not painting the stair parts Dover White like the rest of the main downstairs area simply because it isn’t bright white. We really want it to be a classic white just in case we ever decide to repaint. The Dover White we have from Sherwin-Williams is a beautiful white but it does have a slightly yellow undertone, which we don’t want. It will also be best if we ever decide to change the wall colors, so we’re not left with a staircase with a slightly yellow undertone which could clash dependent on the color we re-paint. We’re certainly not intending to, but it’s a lot easier to repaint a wall than repaint stairs!

DSC_3940-01

Balusters in process!

That’s all for now in the stairs department. With the treads and railings finally done, and all the other parts close, we’re still making progress.

DSC_3925-01Though, I do have to admit, it’s pretty hard to keep progress going when all you want to do is stay outside planting your garden until dusk and then sit in your living room you’ve been waiting years for. On and up though! Next milestone goal: Move into the new master bedroom!

xo,

Heather

Reclaiming Our Living Room

We’re in the mountains of Maine today reclaiming our sanity, which has given me some time to edit some photos and catch up on some posts. I have to tell you guys how relaxing this is. I’m sitting in a rocking chair, in front of a wood stove, in a stream of sun, with a mug of hot tea. To say this is nice is an understatement. So while we reclaim a sense of balance and relief at being away from renovations for a couple days, let’s talk about our reclaimed southern pine floors we put down in our living room.

Flooring (22)These floors are my dream floors. The beautiful variation, the saw marks—count me in. They are the type of floor you see on Houzz and keep as an inspiration piece. They are floors you look up price wise and, when you’re on a budget like ours, gasp and fall over sideways when you see the cost. They are also the floors which my husband managed to divert from the waste stream.

Because of how this floor is laid, when all is said and done there’s a decent amount of waste. When Andy saw this he realized there was enough to do the floor in our living room, floor the small space in front of the new stairs and maybe, just maybe, build a someday farmers table for our someday porch—and keep these extra pieces out of the dump. So of course, it came home.

It was his first wedding anniversary gift to me and to say I was delighted would be a gross understatement.

We had been keeping this flooring in our barn for months on end, so it was important to bring it into the house to acclimate before we laid it. It was a little more organized than this (the day we started laying it) but more or less there were piles of flooring everywhere. My shins are direct proof of these piles. You would have thought at some point I would have learned to step over or walk around the piles instead of directly into them. Lesson not learned.

Flooring (5)When it came to laying this flooring it definitely took time. Unlike regular flooring, with reclaimed flooring you have to match widths, sometimes you have to fix splines, and in general it can be a little frustrating to line up. To make it easier for us I decided we needed to pile all of the flooring by width so we could easily grab what we needed. The boards ranged from 6″ to 12″ so there was definitely a huge amount of variation. It was much more efficient versus our original layout kind of seen above and below. In other words it was not the most efficient method.

Flooring (13)To start laying the floor we needed to make a border around our concrete hearth. Andy took two of the shorter and narrower width pieces, put a 45 degree angle on each and laid them on either side of the hearth. They were held together in with biscuits and secured to the subfloor with construction adhesive and finish nails through the face (top) of the flooring. One of the advantages of a floor like this is that you either will never notice the finish nails, or they look like part of the original product.

Flooring (4)Laying the first course of flooring was pretty much like any other flooring—start in the center. To do this easily we found the center on each wall with a measuring tape, marked it, and use a chalk line to connect the two center marks.

The next step shows why this flooring takes longer than other types. With most flooring you can grab whatever works and lay it, as they are all the same width. With this type of flooring it was vitally important for us to lay every board for our rows out ahead of time for two reasons:

  • We needed to ensure we had enough of the same width to create the entire row.
  • We needed to ensure the great variations in the wood would look visually appealing when put together. A very clean red piece of wood could either look great, or horrible, next to a darker very marked up piece of wood. In floors like this they don’t need to perfectly match because in the end we wanted a varied look. There were a few times however we swapped pieces out because they just looked wonky.

Once test laid, we had to ensure the butt ends (where the two boards meet up end to end) would sit flush so we cut the ends off to make them square.

Once we had a chalk line on the floor we followed that line with our boards while making sure the flooring was centered, and not to the left or right of the line. To secure this type of flooring we glued it down and biscuit jointed on the the butt ends.

Flooring (3)After the floor is laid and we were sure it was centered, we braced it on one side. We did this with scraps screwed into the subfloor firmly against the non-tongue side (but not so tight it bowed the flooring). This is so when we installed one side we didn’t throw the flooring off kilter from the original straight row. Flooring (11)From here it was a matter of laying everything. Some of the boards weren’t perfect on the edges so they needed to be planed down a little, some needed to be stood on in order for them to slide in easier, and some of them worked perfectly. It was important not only to lay down our rows prior to securing it, but to also test fit the pieces too.

Flooring (6) Flooring (8)With the test fits complete, we banged each piece into place (using a scrap piece of wood, not hitting the actual flooring) and nailed it securely. Andy used his pneumatic flooring nailer, but there are plenty of just fine regular ones too—you just have to hit them harder.

Flooring (10)Once we finished a few courses we removed the blocks we initially secured against the first course and kept on going in the other direction.

Flooring (12)With the easier of the two sides done (to the left of the hearth from the direction in the photo above) it was time to tackle the right side. It wasn’t particularly harder, but it did require just a little more work.

Flooring (14)The first row we laid on this side was the most complex. We had to both secure it to the hearth, and attach it to the original course. To tie into the hearth side, we used the biscuit jointer to pull everything together. The issue was the original course had the groove where we needed a tongue. Why was this a problem? This meant only one thing—a spline.

A spline is a thin piece of wood inserted into the groove of flooring to turn it into a tongue. Since we needed our center board to have two tongues, a spline was the only way to do it. I didn’t get any great picture of a spline, but if you look in the photo above there is a thin piece of wood sitting on the concrete hearth—that’s a spline. They can be bought, but Andy made ours on the table saw with some scrap wood. To put in the spline we glued it into place and then finish nailed, and then set the nails, to secure it and to make sure the nails were flush so the next piece of flooring would actually fit.

After this part I didn’t get many more photos of day one. We were getting to the final courses laid on this side, we were hungry, and we were in the last push for the night.

The next day however, we got up early and started again. Andy’s friend stopped by with his black lab and while they chatted they laid the last course. His buddy is also in construction and builds furniture too so it was great to have him stop in to inject some energy, and help, into the final push.

Flooring (19)When all was said and done, and a day and a half of work later, we had a beautiful floor.

Flooring (20)There was much rejoicing and dancing.

Flooring (21)

We’ve had this floor laid for about a week or so now and it grows on us more and more each day. There was something off though and we weren’t sure what it was until it hit us. The thing with our house is that we’re going to have a lot of different flooring. We’re keeping the oak in the original house, we’ll have beech upstairs as well as beech on the staircase and in the downstairs bedroom, and we have the beautiful reclaimed floors in our living room. When we stepped back we realized the reclaimed floor just wasn’t tying together. It looked great, but we needed it somewhere else so it looked like it was on purpose and not just an after thought. That’s when we realized we had enough to lay in front of the stairs and how well it would bring everything together.

While we are going to finish the staircase first, we laid a few boards and I’m happy to say it totally fixes the balance issue. With the wide living room and the small amount in front of the staircase it looks great together and looks purposeful.

Flooring (1)We’re very happy with the floors so far, and frankly, everything. The house is pulling together so nicely and we love it.

I’ll be back next week with an update of all the little things we’ve been doing including higher-quality photos of the lighting we installed, new lighting we’ve put in since, paint in the staircase and more.

With all that said, I’m checking out and am going to head out into the woods. We’re going to go tap some trees to try and get a little more maple sap before the season is over, cut some wood, and spend the day with family cooking over a fire outside and having fun in the snow.

xo,

Heather

Our Dyed Concrete Hearth & Lessons Learned

When it came to a wood stove hearth in our new living room we knew we wanted something that would hold up but was also sleek. Oh, and it had to be affordable and easy. We simply didn’t have the money for a big slab of granite, slate, or anything similar. We also really didn’t want tile. We had been eying dyed concrete for a while for the kitchen counters but decided to give this a go first. Though Andy had poured huge slabs before, we had never poured a small slab…in our house…dyed…in winter.

I’m going to be up front when I say ours didn’t turn out perfectly. We had a dusting issue, which admittedly kind of stinks but things happen, you know? I’ll explain more below. This issue had to do with after it’s poured though, and not how we mixed it. All said, this was a good “test run” so to say about what we can do better if we do concrete counters.

The first thing Andy did was mark out where we wanted the hearth on the floor so we could assess if it fit our needs. We always prop our winter boots next to the stove, and like to stand next to it too on the hearth, so we knew it had to be big enough for more than just the stove.

DSC_2094-01Once we had a general idea of the layout, Andy cut the wood a little longer than we drew out just to make sure we liked it. We decided we really didn’t want it any longer so he cut the wood to length and adhered a construction grade plastic to one side of the wood to make a concrete form. The plastic would allow the form to release later on, instead of have the concrete adhere to it during curing.

DSC_2125-01DSC_2127-01Once we had the form in place we put some painters tape in a level line to the form. Side note here: You will want to keep a wet cloth on hand. As you pour the mix, it may splatter. We had no issues with it dying our wall which was pretty great. Score one for the Sherwin-Williams eggshell paint, it was super easy to clean. If however you are concerned, I would recommend taping up some thin plastic above your pour line to minimize splatters on the wall. No matter what, you should expect some bleeding up the wall. You may be able to wash this right off, you may have to touch up that area of your wall with paint.

DSC_2139-01When it comes to concrete you need to follow the directions for mixing, and curing to ensure it turns out properly.

DSC_2073-01For our dye we decided to go with a black from Direct Colors, Inc. in hopes it would turn out dark gray.

DSC_2090-01We used a scale for weight, versus a measuring cup because it’s important to ensure each batch has the same ratios to have a uniform color. To get our ratios we just followed the directions that came with the dye for how much per pound of cement, and measured it out in a container that I tared to zero before each weighing.

DSC_2136-01After mostly mixing the cement and aggregate you want to slowly sprinkle in the color while you finish mixing. It was hard to get photos, but the mixing/dying process looked something like this (one of the mixing photos is after we poured a few batches already, ignore that).

DSC_2172-01 DSC_2176-01 DSC_2132-01 DSC_2138-01 DSC_2217-01 DSC_2218-01 DSC_2219-01 DSC_2145-01Once you have everything mixed pour slowly. We didn’t put a protective plastic sheet up so instead once we realized there were splatters we improvised. As Andy poured I held the cardboard at a few inches back from the tip of the wheelbarrow and a few inches off the ground. Success.

DSC_2220-01To make the slab itself we poured a few batches, followed by re-bar, followed by a few more batches.

DSC_2179-01 DSC_2189-01 DSC_2192-01 DSC_2195-01 DSC_2199-01 DSC_2207-01 DSC_2213-01Then came smoothing everything out and running a level over the top to get the water off the top while ensuring a level surface to the slab. Once everything was level we took a sander, minus sandpaper, and vibrated the form and the floor to release any air pockets throughout. This process will also bring water to the surface.

DSC_2226-01 DSC_2234-01This is where we may have hit our snag. Once we finished vibrating we troweled the surface smooth. The only thing we can think of to cause the dusting was we troweled the water back into the surface layer. There are a few reasons dusting can occur, but the only one that made sense in our setting was excess water being worked back into the surface. Lesson learned.

As the slab cured (concrete is cured through a chemical reaction, not drying the water out) it wasn’t just dark gray, it was black. I mean really, really, black. It sort of grew on us and we really liked it with the flooring we would be putting down.

DSC_2239-01As it kept curing over the next 48 hours it started getting lighter and lighter. Eventually it cured to a medium gray. While not the dark gray we intended, or the black that we ended up really liking, the medium gray was still darker than a natural concrete slab and will still be nice against the reclaimed pine floors we’ll be laying.

DSC_2348-01It was about this time we started seeing an issue. When we ran our finger across the top it came up with a dust (hence the name, dusting). Once the dust was blown away we were left with a patch of rough material. Womp womp.

DSC_2369-01We put some spray sealer on but realized this wasn’t going to fix the rest of it from dusting. So that said, we’ve come up with a solution. We are going to take a concrete grinder and grind it down. Instead of looking like a slate slab, it will have smooth exposed aggregate which will give it a salt and pepper look. Overall it should still look nice when done, and I’ll definitely blog about it once we do it. In other words, we’re still turning it into something still nice—and we’ve learned something valuable for our kitchen counters if we decide to go with concrete.

When your cake comes out broken, mash that cake in with frosting, roll them in balls, put them in chocolate, put a stick in them and call them cake pops. Just like you intended.

Who wanted a smooth slab anyway?

xo,

Heather