Project: bathroom vanity with laminate over laminate

The kids bathroom in our house is one of three baths, used (of course) by our two teens (13 and 17 year old). While we are updating to sell the house in a year, this isn’t a make-or-break bathroom that needs to be over the top, it does need to be clean and updated throughout.

One part of the up-modeling is the counter. This bath originally had a blue laminate countertop that we put in 14 years ago when we built the house. It’s way overdue for that to go.

I first considered granite ($800), and then buying a premade vanity countertop with laminate ($225), but in an effort to keep cutting costs with DIY and sweat labor, decided to buy a sheet of laminate (Formica Flint Crystal) from Lowes. Wow! I picked it up from my local Lowes store within three days. It came rolled up in a box and easily fit in my hatchback.

I picked this color and pattern for several reasons. A similar pattern in Corian is at a local chain of gas stations as their counter (TIP! ~ commercial spaces often give a lot of good design ideas). I’ve noticed that it doesn’t show spills or stains easily and that it is a great neutral color scheme.

Gray is very big in design at this time, and with the white (cabinets and moulding), it should be a neutral color scheme appealing to buyers. TIP! ~ Gray could be paired with blue (think French), yellow, fire-engine red, or a neon color such as hot pink, lime green or lemon yellow.

Before laying your laminate, do some research first. It will make the job go easier with fewer mistakes. It’s not that laminate is hard to lay but a mistake or a scratch means re-doing the job and who wants that?? The Cabinetry Expert channel at Youtube has some very good DIY laminate tips:

Cutting Laminate with hand tools

Using a Table Saw to cut Laminate (if using this method, it is ESSENTIAL that your blade be new and sharp; anything dull will cause damage to the laminate. Laminate lays good side up with a table saw.)

Applying Contact Cement Glue (btw I would go with the glue and roller over the spray – and this stuff STINKS!)

If you need a file, he has directions on how to do this properly.

Basic instructions on how to laminate a kitchen countertop from start to finish.

There are some other great videos out there:

From start to finish – building the laminate countertop with an undermount sink. This video shows a beveled edge to the countertop that has been pre-made and just needed to be attached.

Laying over existing laminate – hits all the high points with a bulleted slideshow.

Making your own beveled edge. We couldn’t remove the countertop without damaging it but this would have been the preferred method if we could have (adapted for home materials).

Explanation about Router bits and how to use them.

Okay, so let’s move on to how we did our project. First thing we shut off the water and removed the existing sinks and faucets and plugged the open pipe (to prevent wood debris getting in).

Older houses may not have shutoffs at the sink – you may have to shut off at the curb. If you are going to all this time and trouble, I would recommend putting in sink cut off valves when you re-install the sinks. It provides some real future insurance against disasters such as frozen pipes and leaks.

We pulled off the back and side splashes and cleaned the counter top. If doing a kitchen counter with grease residue, use thinner. We wanted to remove the counter completely but it turned out the builder put it in pretty tight! So in an effort to save it, we left it in place but this meant the project took longer and had to be adapted.

The existing countertop surface is sanded using my electric Mouser sander and 80 grit sandpaper. It has to be roughed up for a better gluing attachment.

Before going past this point – use PROTECTIVE EYEWEAR — laminate really produces a lot of pointy and sharp debris. You could poke your eye out!

We used a circular saw and router to cut the laminate. Holding laminate sheets for cutting can be tricky, especially if they are large, due to their flex. Use sawhorses, boards, clamps, and a helper to support it.

We shortened the length with a circular saw; to minimize splintering, have the good side down when using a circular saw (if using a table saw, good side should be up). The pencil line is slightly off – cutting it a bit wider this first pass allowed room for error.

The Router (with a Straight Bit) came back to get a closer, cleaner edge. When using the Router some things to keep in mind: fatter blades cut slower and chops off more; and thinner blades cut faster.

TIP! ~ The Router must be moved around the OUTSIDE of a rectangle (or circle) on a COUNTERCLOCKWISE movement.

Photo shows a first cut with the Router and a visual verification we are on the right line (look upper left corner).

Clamps, straight edge and boards provide a guide and something to push against when using the Router.

If the Router is a bit off the line or too rough, and you have room to cut closer, make a second pass with the Router. If the roughness is slight then use a hand file to make smooth.

BTW the countertop piece was deliberately cut a little longer in depth so AFTER IT IS PLACED, the Router can do a final trim, getting it a perfectly against the front facing. Trying to cut this exactly before installion wouldn’t give as fine an edge.

TIP! ~ You can always trim back but you can’t add on after you cut 😛

When cutting the long leg, make sure your laminate is supported both at front, back and sides. The cut edge will become the front of the counter and it is marked with pencil and a piece of tape as such. This will help when we lay it on top of the existing counter and mark the holes for the sink.

Next, cuts are done on the long scrap piece. This piece will become the front edge.

The counter front has glue (contact cement) put on using a foam paint applicater. The back of the laminate is also brushed with glue. Both pieces are allowed to dry per the instructions (about 15-20 minutes) before being placed together. When the glue sides touch, it will form a chemical bond that will NOT BE MOVEABLE!

Contact cement is strong smelling; be aware of the need for ventiliation.

Note how the piece is actually taller then the eventual height. This allows it to be cut with the 45 degree ANGLED Router bit and gives a nice beveled edge. Before using the Router to trim it, rub the surface with a block of wax or candle. This prevents the laminate from being scratched by the Router.

The first pass of the Router left too much. We reduced the height on the bit and cut again. A final pass with a hand file trimmed it up nicely. The ends, where the Router couldn’t reach, we hand filed.

Router is used counter-clockwise

NOTE! This is the hard way of making a beveled edge. Since we didn’t remove the countertop we had to improvise. If at all possible, I would recommend removing the countertop completely and making the beveled edge the more traditional way (as shown in the above referenced video).

The counter top is ready to go on. Glue is applied to the old counter top and to the bottom of the new laminate to be placed. The blue painters tape on top of the new laminate marks the front of the laminate. No glue was placed where the sinks were marked out with pencil on the rough side of the laminate.

sticks separate the new from old laminate before laying it down

Again, a helper and some tricks (using sticks – see some of the videos listed above) can make this happen without it being a problem. Work from the center, outwards on removing the dowels and pressing it down.

Once the laminate is down, smooth it outwards to insure there are no pocket bubbles under the sheet. They sell a special J-roller for this; we used a 2×4 block wrapped in clean cardboard because this was a one-shot project. If we were laying a lot of laminate, I would have gone with the tool.

A hole is drilled in the center of the sink area (an empty cavity) to allow the Router access.

The Router (with a Flush Bit) uses the sides of the existing sink holes as a guide to cut a circle in the laminate. TIP! ~ When using a Router to cut the INSIDE of a circle or square, it needs to move CLOCKWISE.

The front edge of the countertop top is cleaned up using the 45 degree angle bit on the Router. It is traveling, left to right, which is a counter-clockwise direction.

Some paint thinner cleans up and removes any glue residue on the laminate. Sinks are re-installed and a line of white, bath caulking is put around each rim. The beveled edge that we weren’t able to cover with laminate, I will paint white next weekend. BTW the price for this project was about $60 as we owned the saws, Router, and bits needed. Cost was only the laminate and the glue.

Woohoo!!! So much nicer already!!

The backsplash will be a tile one; I just felt repeating the laminate as a backsplash would make it look cheaper. I’ll post about the backsplash install after we get the right tile ~ probably around Thanksgiving.

Project: tiling the bathroom floor

In the end, we decided to go with a small tile pattern on a connected grid 12″ x 12″, instead of the 6″or 12″ tile for the bathroom floor. The first reason was, once the 6″ and the 12″ was laid out on the floor we would have ended up with an odd cut against the wall, no matter how we arranged it. 

The next reason was this bathroom has two rooms that do not match in size. Putting larger size tile would have made the adjoining rooms look even more lopsided then they do now.

It’s a problem also because the toilet is not centered in the bathroom so when you enter the first room and look forward, the toilet is off-centered. BTW toilet location is determined by code as it must be so many inches away from the wall and so many inches away from the tub (as determined by your city).

New light in toilet area and yellow paint brightens it up

Because we are changing the floor, I always like to paint before the new floor goes in so I don’t have to worry about paint splatters and drop clothes. I paint the ceiling first, then walls and cabinery. Any electrical work (such as adding the side sconce in the toilet area) should be done before painting and tiling.  

It’s best to completely remove vinyl before proceeding; we used a mat and putty knife to remove it. If you have a lot of layers or old fashioned linoleum, they do sell a floor scraper for removal; it has a broom handle and a blade scraper on the end.

Plug the toilet drain to protect yourself from sewage vapors

The tiles are mixed thoroughly between boxing. Mixing the tile ensures, if color is different between batches, it won’t be noticeable once the floor is laid. The same (mixing wood from all boxes) should be done if you are laying wood floor.

Dry lay just means we are setting out the pattern without afixing it. Take your time here and make sure you get the layout you want.

wood block along wall is the new moulding depth

It’s also the time to make guide line marks in pencil or with a chalk line. This helps keep the tile line straight when being laid. For this project, laying the tile started from the back wall, behind the toilet. But it needs to be measured and aligned from the front entry door so the tile appears straight when entering the bathroom.

pencil grid keeps laying of tiles straight

When going through a doorway pay particular attention that tile is straight both horizontally and vertically. Because these tiles are attached to each other on a 12″ x 12″ sheet they are easier to lay and keep straight then free, individual tiles.

Dry laying helps you check alignment

Most houses don’t have perfectly straight corners. For this reason, dry lay and keep adjusting and make marks where you visually want the tile to lay. For example, we wanted the doorway to be the straight line but that meant it was a bit off from the tub (on the left) so the line was slightly adjusted to appease both area.

TIP! ~ make sure you measure by the true width of YOUR tile. Our so-called 12″ inch, square sheets actually measure at 11 3/4″.

Door way jambs have to be trimmed to fit the new height of the floor.

A Coping or hand saw used to trim out door jamb

Here’s a video showing more detail:

Professionals recommend mixing your own custom Thinset so you can increase the latex and thus the flexbility of the floor (for example if you decide to lay over plywood which can be dicey), but we couldn’t find those materials easily so went with a pre-mixed Thinset by Mapei which had added latex.

Follow your package instructions on making your Thinset and make only as much as what you can do within the drying time the product gives. Make too much and you won’t get it down before it dries. Our floor (about 50 sq. feet) used the entire 50# bag for Thinset and Grout.

Thinset is applied using a grooved trowel (link shows trowel sizes due to tile size; also check the Thinset bag directions; the type of flooring subsurface can effect groove size too). Too little and it won’t adhere – you want an even coat throughout. Too thick results in bumpy tile. It’s not as hard as it sounds – it’s like frosting a cake!

Trowel shown mixed thinset

Because we used a smaller tile, we were able to use a hand tool (nippers) for trimming tile for toilet and wall edges (wear protective eyewear when cutting tile!). For larger tiles (6″ or 12″) use a wet tile saw.

Clamps hold tile for trimming

The tile is left to dry 12-24 hours (read your Thinset directions) before grouting. Grout is applied with a tile float at a 60 degree angle. Excess grout is then removed with a slightly damp sponge. Have some buckets on hand to rinse and clean the sponge as you work through the project.

After grouting, we left the project to dry for 5 days and then I applied a protective topcoat. Without it, your grout will become dirty and change color over time.


original toilet light is on in this photo!

(tile grout still drying so some variation in color is noticeable)

Before the new toilet goes in, we are putting up Board and Batten halfway up the walls with new baseboard and trim.

Beginner Tips:

Tiling isn’t out of your reach but it does take some research and planning beforehand to have a great end product. Great website with lots of information and tips on tiling!

Definitely do some research about your specific floor and what would work best – especially if you have an older home. Size of your tile, the surface you are laying on, and type of tile (i.e. popular glass tiles take a special Thinset) effects the choices for trowels (i.e. size of teeth) and grout.

Depending on how bad the subsurface is you may even have to replace it or smooth it beforehand to get the best end result!

It’s wise to invest in some knee pads if you plan on doing any tile job. They really REALLY help!

Choose tiles for floors that are labeled FLOORS! Some tiles are only graded for use on walls.

If tiling a kitchen or bath, make sure your tile is rated for slippery, wet areas. You may be better off going with a rougher, surfaced tile in a bath area if you think the bathroom users may need  extra security under their feet when stepping out of the tub or shower. Smaller tile with more grout lines also gives additional foot security.

If cutting 6″ or 12″ tile, use a wet tile saw – NOT the small cutting machines sold at home improvement stores. A wet tile saw can be rented from tool rental companies and is well worth the investment. The cuts go faster and are very professional in appearance. If you have used a regular saw of any type they are not difficult to learn how to use (wear protective eye gear when cutting tile!).

For your first project, try to use a tile that is mounted on mesh backing or attaches a group of tiles onto one sheet (our used glue dots). It provides a straighter line, goes down faster and is easier for beginners to work with as opposed to individual 6″ or 12″ tiles. It will also not require spacers since the distance between tiles is set by the mesh backing or glue dots.

Laying tile on the diagonal can be tricky. Wait until you are more experienced before attempting it. This also seems to be going out of fashion right now.

Spend time dry laying your tile and experimenting with how it will cross the floor and where the cuts will be. When we did this project, the smaller tile was definitely more attractive in the cut placements then 6″ or 12″ tile.

Room: Ta-da the new, powder room (bathroom)!

What surprised me about this remodel is I came into it with a plan – and much of that plan was thrown out! It became important to be flexible and it’s one reason the room took longer then expected. Although the room wasn’t quite what I had originally imagined… it’s far better!

As we progressed, it became clear that some things weren’t going to work out. The cream color for the cabinets just didn’t look good with the bright blue of the walls; the bird paintings were too yellow and square for the vertical height of the wall (and were moved to the hallway outside the bathroom), the first, selected light fixture was going to be too dark for the light feeling of the room, and the dark mirror frame got changed to silver.

See the gallery of the new bathroom!


Thoughts on this room ~

For some time, I’ve felt that the height of the room (9 feet) needed to be featured. We did that with a speciality, pearl paint (Winter Blue Fox from Lowes) in a metallic silver for the ceiling, two patterns of crown moulding and a cabinet that reached all the way to the ceiling. Vertical artwork also draws your eye upwards.

Originally we had picked a stock vanity but I kept looking for a unique table that we could use instead. This became a big headache because the space was so small that most dressers (at 34-36″ were too wide) and end tables were too low. Persistence paid off when we found this table at an antiques mall in another city. Stripped, sanded, and redone in the grey to match the cabinet it is topped with Italian marble and a vessel sink.

For such a small room, it was expensive, time consuming and a pain in the neck. While I think it turned out lovely, I’ll be glad to work on some larger bathroom projects that don’t need as many changes.

Total remodel cost ($1400):

Wall finish– Lowes’ Venetian Plaster Aquamarina #67. Because we started with flat walls, one gallon did the job ($40).

Ceiling – Lowes Pearl paint (Blue Winter Fox) with crown moulding ($80).

Vanity ($120) – with marble top ($250), vessel sink ($125), and a new faucet ($150)

Overjohn cabinetextended height size with molding and wood, repainted, and new door pulls ($150).

Base Moulding – removed and replaced with larger molding ($20). Painted Chef White (from available paint)

Fixtures and extras – lighting fixture ($25), mirror ($60), towels and towel bar, toilet paper hanger, toilet bowl brush, trash can ($60).

ArtArtwork from Bed, Bath and Beyond (bought with $5 off coupons for $20 each small, $40 for the large) $120.

Toilet – The one chosen for the downstairs powder room is a space saver, quiet flush from Jacuzzi ($200).

This bathroom is now finished except for a few extra touches such as a towel bar and a soap dispenser — whew!!

Project: table to bathroom vanity 2

This is the first time we’ve tried making a bathroom vanity out of a table so I’d like to pass on some things we have learned that I have not seen on the decorating shows…

We had the Italian marble cut at the shop because the job was too small for them to come out to the house and keep the cost reasonable. You will need to know the location of the faucet and the drain hole for the sink – as well as the size. Do bring the sink, the faucet and the drain stopper with you.

The Italian marble was cheaper then the granite option because of how they cut and waste the sheet. It also needs to be stored on it’s end because it cannot support it’s own weight. If you laid it flat it would crack.

The tabletop wasn’t level – after all it was aged, so a wooden rasp was needed to take down the bulges.

It also turned out that the heavy marble was putting way too much pressure on the legs. The legs were re-glued, reinforced and the crack in one leg (from the marble weight) repaired. It was filled with wood putty.

If you are painting (not staining) any good wood filler will work to repair holes and cracks. When staining you need to match the wood product (i.e. fill with oak on oak etc…). For small holes I like to use my finger to press the wood filler in and then smooth it out. Once it dries, I’ll sand lightly with sponge block, repaint and glaze to match the rest of the piece.

We removed the rollers and put in four more supportive legs that are half hidden by the shelf. This should distribute the weight of the marble and basin evenly from top to bottom.

All the legs have new pads on them. I touched up paint and glaze on the repairs before the install.

Plumbing was extended from the wall to match the drop of the drain from the sink. Plumbing isn’t complicated but make sure you turn off the water, plug up sewage when it is open to prevent fumes, and use the products made for plumbing such as special glues and epoxys.

The table is anchored into the wall with a support at the back underside.

Silicone caulking applied in circles on the underside of the marble will afix it to the table. The marble is “rolled” down gently to prevent cracking. The backsplash is applied with silicone caulking to the wall.

The sink is installed first, attaching it with silicone caulking on the bottom, and installing it’s drain plug. The faucet is then installed and it is hooked up to the water lines.

Marble needs to be sealed as it is porous (just like granite). A commercial product is wiped on before we go to bed – and wiped off in the morning.

Thoughts on the project:

Definitely if you plan on using marble or granite, buy a table or dresser which can support such a weight.

Buy and have on hand all the plumbing equipment before you have the marble/granite cut. Don’t go by the sink hole – get the plug; and be aware that faucets do come in different sizes so don’t “guess” the size.

Do a dry run on measurements before you have anything cut.

Put the table in the bathroom, especially if the room is small, and live with it for a few days to make sure the space works for you.

Project: converting table to a bathroom vanity 1

On a recent trip out of the city, we found an antique table ($120) that will be converted for the vanity in the powder room remodel. When we got it home, it looked even better then we thought!


In the past I’ve used Handi-Strip and personally have had little luck with it. Lately, I’ve started using NEXT paint stripper as it is biodegradable and actually works! However, it does go on thin and it also needs time. Use a paint thinner to remove the residue the stripper leaves. 

Since we will be using a glaze, it’s important for every groove to be well defined. A variety of tools were used: a metal bristle brush, hand held sanding blocks with a slanted edge, metal scraper, bendable steel brush pads, and the Mouse Sander.

Before sanding we fixed one of the pieces on the decorative trim by recyling off a piece we had taken off the drawer front (we won’t be using the drawer so it was removed). It was attached with glue and finishing nails; put through pre-drilled holes and then gently tapped down.

4th from left to right is damaged
new piece in front ready to be glued

Luckily, all four spindle pieces (one in each corner) were in good condition. If not, we would have moved the two that would be against the wall to the front (the best ones) and not replaced the back spindles.

Next, a coat of latex enamel priming paint, tinted gray, was applied with a bristled brush. A foam brush would have worked but I find they start to split when using it to push into recessed spaces. Spraypaint primer would have also worked, but I just prefer paint. Of course a professional, spray paint application would have been optimum.

All the lovely detail emerges
primed table ready for sanding

Paint brush marks are slightly visible but are not after being hand-sanded with Fine grade sandpaper. Special attention is paid to the grooves, spindles and decorative trim as these areas will highlight the glaze endcoat. The tabletop is unimportant as it will be covered with granite when converted to the bathroom vanity.

Primer is left to dry for 24 hours before the first THIN layer of semi-gloss latex paint (Valspar Waverly Classics – Gull W38006A) is applied with a foam roller. When loading the roller, do not saturate it with paint. Bring it down and get it slightly wet, then roll it in the upper portion of the tray (where the paint does not sit) to get it evenly covered.

The first coat is lightly sanded (Fine) and left to dry for 24 hours. Second coat is also lightly worked with with steel wool. It’s important that all drips, if any were made, are removed.

TIP: When painting a table, I like to put it upside down on sawhorses for the first coat; then I flip the table right side up and work on any missed areas. Working upside down seems to minimize the chance of missing drips vs. if you had started working with the table right side up.

Next, a layer of Valspar’s Antiquing Glaze (ready made black glaze from Lowes) is applied. It has a 15 minute working time so if you need more time, dilute it with the transculent mixing glaze it adds more working time. This paint color and glaze was the same as used on the cabinets in the bathroom.

Finally, two top protective coats are applied in a water-based, varnish. If applying a varnish over latex paint, it must be water-based or you’ll end up with some nasty bubbling and/or yellowing. Varnish also needs to be applied with a nice brush, not a roller. First coat is sanded (Very Fine) before the last coat.

The top of the table isn’t worked with glaze because in the end it will be covered with a marble top once it is fitted into the bathroom as the vanity. Not quite done… still have to select the marble countertop, the vessel sink and the faucet for it to become the downstairs, powder room vanity.

Project: savings on light fixtures

The original bathroom lighting was a chrome, 2 bulb fixture that wasn’t going to work in the final remodel (btw this photo shows the old wallpaper and mirror – yuck!):

Which I had planned on replacing with a $169 fixture from LampUSA, but money was tight so I kept looking and found this $25 Craigslist find:

The tulip light matches the theme of the x-ray photograph artwork in the bathroom. After a fresh coat of Krylon spraypaint – Satin Blossom White – (Westlake Hardware) it really looked great!

Money is a BIG consideration with all the house remodeling… and it turns out that it looks great so all worked out in the end even though it was a nightmare trying to get the guy who was selling it to actually SELL IT!

Here’s the story: two weeks ago I saw the light and thought it might work. Ran it by hubby and he liked it so emailed the person with “is it still available? Can pick up anytime.” Got a “yeah, when do you want to see it?” Gave him some different times but mostly I’m open anytime except the night I go to school.

Didn’t hear back for a week. Since I still saw the ad, emailed again. He emailed back that he was out of town and would get back with me when he returned. Never heard back but the ad was posted AGAIN! Had husband email him from a separate email and I got an email saying “he had another buyer and was I serious?” – this after me sending my phone number 3x to this guy and asking for a time to meet or a phone number I could call him! What a moron!

Husband finally got him to commit and when he arrived turns out they live in a la-de-da gated community in a rich house and he was selling this stuff for the in-laws. Bitterly complained to husband that the entire $25 was going to in-laws despite all the inconvenience to him!

This is why Craigslist can be soooo irritating!

Tip: Hanging a heavy mirror

Since the mirror is so heavy, we used a pattern to help center and decide the measurements on how it would hang over the new vanity we will be installing later this month. A pattern can be easily adjusted until you get it exactly where you like it, versus the mirror was extremely heavy and using it during this planning phase might have broke it.

a pattern can be easily adjusted

Because we made a template of the backsplash (white cardboard in above photo) we know how high we have to get the mirror up. We also know the measurements of the new light fixture so we don’t get in it’s way either (the silver one in the photo is going to be replaced).

Before mounting the mirror, adhesive feet are put on the lower, back corners. This prevents the mirror corners from banging the wall and should also be used on your larger, wooden picture frames. You can find these at any quality framing store.

This is an extremely heavy mirror so here’s a tip on mounting it… at hardware stores and at frame shops (or make your own), you can find special mirror wall mounts called a French Cleat (want to know more? Check out this video). These are for hanging heavy objects on your wall and this mirror certainly qualifies!

part of French Cleat

The French Cleat comes in two pieces which fit into each other – one part goes on the wall and the other on the object to be hung. They will slot into each other making a strong, level hanging that can’t be “bumped” off the wall by accident. Make sure you hit some studs (a stud finder is a great investment) when mounting the bar on the wall. And use a level to make sure you are aligned correctly.

picture perfect!

Project: silver foiling a mirror frame

Did you know mirrors are pretty pricey? If you try to find one, made of real wood (not plastic) it can be in the hundreds of dollars. However, junk and antique shops have plenty of reasonable priced mirrors. They are also one of the easiest projects to work with and can easily be changed to suit any room.

Upon junk/antique shopping I found this mirror (mirror glass has been removed for painting in the photo) hidden at the back of a vendors cubicle for $69. It’s rather large at 25.5″ x 38″ and was quite heavy. It was painted a bronze-gold color probably popular in the 1970’s. So I started with a primer – since it has a lot of ornamentation I switched from a brush to a spraycan.

…and ended up with a black mirror, touched up with a bit of lighter glaze, that I thought would work in the downstairs bath. But after leaning it against the wall in there for a week, it was too much black – too Gothic – for a bathroom that was going to be light and airy with shades of blue, white and silver.

After selecting the other artwork for the bathroom, I decided to go with a silver foil (leaf was too expensive) which can be found at Hobby Lobby (and other craft/hobby stores). This entire package of 25 leaves was used for this project.

First spray or brush on an adhesive and then apply pieces of foil one at a time, using a clean brush to pick up the paper and to tap it down on the surface. In the end, everything was so sticky, that I found that it was easier to just use my hands.

a large piece worked best for me
once it is down, you can’t reposition it

This mirror had some lovely corner decorations and I wanted the silver foil to be broke up a bit, showing some of the black. My plan was to let alot of the black show through so this worked out well, however, if you have a highly ornamented piece, realize you will have a lot of cracking of the foil and will need more foil if you want it covered completely.

Use a brush to tap the foil down

General tips on foiling:

  • It’s pretty messy so do it outside.
  • Depending on how fast you work, you may want to do one section at a time before applying more adhesive, especially if you are working over a large area.
  • Laying down one large piece was easier to me then trying to do smaller pieces.
  • I used a brush to push down the foil into the crevices; be aware that any brush used, will be destroyed by the end of the job due to glue.
  • The adhesive is quite sticky- go with a light spray coat instead of heavy.
    You can always go back over it if need be.
  • Once the foil is applied, if you want to fill in gaps in the silver, just put down more foil. It attaches quickly and using the brush gently over the top presses pieces together, and blends all the foil.
  • The spray adhesive and top protective coat spray are both extremely smelly (think model airplane glue) so be sure to do it in a ventilated room (would not recommend your house).

The end result was too shiny – it was a bit too Christmas ornament looking LOL!, so I first knocked it back with a very light spray of white (very light!). Then I glazed some areas with Pearl paint, Blue Winter Fox color (leftover from bathroom ceiling) mixed with transculent glaze. After drying four hours, it’s sprayed with a topcoat (metals, including metal foils, will oxide if left unprotected).

click any photos to see a closeup
finished mirror!

PS to find out how to hang a heavy mirror, look at the next post!

P.S.S. I also love this mirror re-do at Before and After using the product Rub’nBuf. It’s a bit softer then the above mirror but still with some silver.

Tip: finding art to fit a room

A couple of things about art, you can look at it in the store and think it will work and get it home and it flat – does – not. Most of that is about light and color which changes throughout the house, and at the store you were probably under bright, flourescent light.

When I bought the two bird paintings for the bathroom, I was sure they would work. After living with them for a week, I just knew they did not. The yellow didn’t compliment the blue walls, and the dark frames, while beautiful, were too much of a contrast.

Luckily, they found a better home in the hallway.

Here is the new artwork for the bathroom …. much, much better!


Project: glazing the bathroom cabinet (black over gray)

The original cabinet in the powder room was standard builder work. Though made of nice oak, it was just a box that hung on the wall. With the high ceiling, I always felt it should be a taller to draw the eye upwards.

Hubby made a box out of Aspen to mount on top of the existing cabinet. The carved work was recycled from an old vanity harp with very decorative moulding which I had bought years ago ($20), thinking I would make a shelf out of it. The edge of one piece of the molding was damaged so we used molding epoxy to shape the end piece.

The new box was attached to the wall, and molding trimwork used at the top and bottom of the old cabinet to make the unit appear as one.

Since the original cabinet had been stained and coated with a protective finish, it had to be sanded down to a point where all the old stain and varnish was completely broken and ready to receive paint. We goofed by not working hard enough at it and the first coat ended up peeling! DON’T SKIP SANDING AND PREPPING!

Danielle Hirsch (formerly of Color Splash) has a video here about cabinet doors. She recommends cleaning, sanding, (and on the show – not this video) priming with an oil-based as the first coat, covered with latex paint.

If you want a protective cover coat, and used latex paint, use a water-based poly (good) or water based varnish (better) – preferably applied with a paint sprayer. If you use an oil based over latex it will yellow the overall look. Oil based varnishes and poly’s also will yellow as they have a natural amber tint.

I apply latex paint with a foam roller designed for cabinet applications along with a 2″ inch bristle paint brush (to push into the crevices). I like the foam because it leaves no marks when you make the last pass.

In this case the undercoat color was Valspar Waverly Classics – Gull W38006A. The gray was lighter then I wanted the end product which was deliberate as I knew the glaze would darken it somewhat.

Thickly apply the Valspar’s Antiquing Glaze, a black glaze over an area you can work in about 15 minutes (dilute with their clear glaze for longer working time if you need more then 15 minutes) .

With a clean rag (cut up t-shirt), work the glaze into the crevices with a circular motion. The crevices is where you will want the glaze to remain so you remove the glaze from flat surfaces.

If you have removed too much glaze, just reapply with your paintbrush, working it back into the crevices.

The end wipe should be in the direction of the wood. For example the long sides were an even stroke all the way across; the short sides an even stroke. Match the wood grain with your strokes and lift off at the end so there is no end mark with your rag or brush (similar to dragging).

click photo for closeup comparison

Once the second door is finished, the two doors are compared to make sure the glaze looks the same on both doors. That’s why it’s best to have one person to do the project, the amount of pressure, amount removed, will be more consistent.

Glazed detail on moulding
Three coats of wipe-on, water based poly with the 2nd coat steel wooled. If this bathroom had a tub/shower, I would have used a different topcoat as the wipe-on poly isn’t extremely durable but will be fine for the light use of this room. 

Want to see more about base moulding and moulding projects? There’s more on the blog right here

Want to see more about cabinets? There’s more on the blog right here….