Tile Completed, Counter Tops Installed, Painting and Finish Work Continue

July 10, 2011 - With most of the heavy lifting out of the way, we turned our attention to completing the installation of the floor tiles, installing the laminate counter tops, painting several walls and ceilings, installing the toilets and we even took some time to visit two of our vendor companies. By far, the most exciting work was getting the laminate counter tops installed in the kitchens and bathrooms. If you have not used laminate in a while, you might be surprised by the number of new styles and edge treatments available.

I grew up with laminate counter tops, and came to appreciate their relatively low cost, the ease of maintaining them, and the fact that with the right tools and patience, they can be installed by most DIY'ers. Even so, I was really surprised when I visited the WilsonArt web site and paged through the new patterns and textures to see just how closely they mimic a variety of natural materials.

WilsonArt produces decorative laminates. These types of laminates are manufactured using kraft papers and decorative papers with a layer of overlay on top of the decorative paper. After the components are set, they are thermoprocessed and become high-pressure decorative laminates.

It is an interesting process with a history that dates back to the middle of the last century. On their web site you will find a video on the history of laminates that features the Wilson House, where the company founder tried out a number of ways of using laminates in the 1950's that were simply revolutionary at the time. It is very inspiring and worth a look.

For installation, we began by sanding and cleaning the particle board counter top surfaces taking care to remove any paint or oil. We using a panel saw (because we had one), but you can use a circular or saber saw.  It is best to cut from the back side of the laminate and use a low angle. These saws cut on the upstroke and using this technique will prevent chipping.  The pieces were cut over sized so we could trim them in place.

We used contact cement and applied it to the counter surface and the back of the laminate sheet. When it was dry to the touch we took extra care to position the panel in place before making contact. Once contact was made, we used a hand roller to remove any trapped air. We then used a router with a special laminate cutting bit to trim the excess and make cutouts. After routing, the edges can be sharp, so we finished them by using a small file.

Next, we set the sinks. We used our APOLIC Aluminum Composite Material (ACM) to trim the 2" x 4" studs. We installed the toilets, the lids, and mirrors. Next week we will install the cabinets and hook up the plumbing under the sinks and our work in the bathrooms will be done.

On the outside of the building we began cutting steel to size to be used for the walls around the ADA ramp. The steel panels came from the center walls on the interiors of the adjoining containers we removed back in January. Very little of the steel will be going to the scrap yard or landfill.

We also met with Ron Saikowski, our engineer, to review our work and make sure we are on schedule for the Fire Marshall review in the next week or two. He pointed out where we need fire extinguishers, emergency lighting, and checked to make sure everything else was up to code. We also began talking with security companies about installing the alarm and CCTV systems for the building.

We also took some time out to visit with two of the vendors that did a great job for us on the building with their products and services. Mascoat supplied us with their Weatherbloc insulative paint, and we used cellulose from ComforTemp. We visited a Mascoat site in Pasadena, TX and took some photos and video showing their heavy duty industrial tank coating being applied. At the ComforTemp plant in Houston, we had a chance to see how waste paper was converted into the cellulose that was used in our walls and ceilings to insulate the building. We have really enjoyed working with and highly recommend these two companies.

We posted a checklist of all of the things we need to do to finish the building and rated each item A, B or C. The A items need to get done before we can get approval from the Fire Marshall. The B items need to be done before Silver Rock can move in, and the C items are just a punch-list of things that can wait. The list is a long one, but everyone is focused on getting it done.

Category: Container Building,