Today I’m here to share some more work in the kitchen. I know what you’re thinking: “Sage, didn’t you say you finished your kitchen? Why are you doing more work on it? We want to see you work on another room, we can’t take anymore of this.” Well too bad! I told you I was 99% of the way done with the kitchen, which means I have a few more projects to wrap up and tell you about.
Most of that work is to finish the cabinetry on the pantry wall, which I’ll be working on with my dad in late March. But the other big project I’ve been procrastinating on, because it’s so boring: installing new baseboard trim and quarter round. Blah.
As you may recall, I built my first baseboard in the dining room last fall:
Here’s that same view after many more months of work:
I built it because I really wanted the dining room to start feeling finished amidst the rest of the chaos, but I left a lot of other baseboards missing because I wanted to focus on wrapping up the big projects. That meant there were corners of the dining room, kitchen, and hallway that looked like this:
And that’s just a few photos I happened to snap, there was lots more where that came from. Clearly the trim was in dire need of attention, because in the meantime there were big gaps between the floors and the wall (the floors need some space to expand and contract, so can’t be installed right up against the walls).
I planned to tackle this during my winter vacation, but didn’t have the time. I knew I really needed two solid days (one to build everything, and then one to paint it), and I didn’t have that at any point in January. But finally the weekend before last I had two solid days and no more excuses, and so I got to work.
Basically I just followed the same steps I used in the dining room, moving piece by piece and using my compound miter saw to cut the mitered corners.
I used my brad nailer to nail each section in place.
It took me about four hours to work my way around the space. The transition between the kitchen and living room took awhile because I decided to replace some baseboard sections in the living room to make for a smoother transition (they were really damaged — at some point someone who lived here must have had a dog or something, because all the trim is in really bad shape). I used a screwdriver to pry off the sections I was replacing:
And then cut replacement parts.
The hallway was the most complicated, though, because of a really dumb mistake on my part. Prior to getting the floors laid down (by our savior, Nick), I removed the baseboards in the dining room and kitchen (just a few sections) so that he could install the floor up to the wall and then I could reinstall the baseboards to hide the gap. But in the hallway, I didn’t get a chance to remove all the baseboards and when Nick arrived he told me I could just use quarter round to hide the gap and I was like “great, one less step for me!” when in fact I was creating way more work because then I had to mess around with quarter round and I don’t even like quarter round. So in hindsight, I should have removed those baseboards.
I didn’t, though, so I suck it up and got to work. The toughest part was where the quarter round met the door trim, because the baseboard and door trim are the same depth and then the quarter round stuck out beyond that. I thought about adding plinth blocks to the bottom of the door trim, like this:
But then I thought it would be strange that this section of the hallway had quarter round and plinths and none of the rest of the house does, so I decided instead to cut a “return,” which is a slightly less jarring way to end it at the door trim. I still don’t love the look, but I figure I will barely notice it once I’m not actually on my hands and knees staring intently at the floor and obsessing over trim. We can hope.
Cutting a return is easy but requires some spatial reasoning, or you can watch this video like I did and just follow his every move. Spoiler alert: I think they turned out well, all things considered!
Another tricking spot was the built-in bookshelf in the hallway, since it has a slightly recessed area across the front:
I decided to cut a piece of scrap wood to the exact depth and length of this indent, nailed it in place, and then put a single piece of quarter round across the front. Here it is, pre-painting:
After installing everything, it was time to caulk. Caulking is so crucial, especially when your house is not square or level so all of your trim looks like this:
I knew caulk and paint would fix this, though. Caulking took another few hours, and then I also used spackle to fix a few holes in the walls.
I let everything dry overnight, and then in the morning sanded down the spackle and got to work painting. That took me another few hours since I also painted our baseboard radiators at the same time. By the time I was done, my whole body hurt from spending the weekend crawling around on our floors. But at least everything looks awesome now!
I’m not sure I should do this professionally, but here’s it’s definitely an improvement:
These are the little things that make the difference between a finished space and a space that still feels under construction. Also things like this:
That’s right, I finally built a threshold for the doorway between the kitchen and sunroom! To refresh your memory, this is how it looked for the last ~8 months:
I was really stumped by this one for a long time, because the gap is wider than any pre-fabricated threshold I could find (7.5″, when the widest I could find anywhere was 6.5″), and the floor also slants in an uneven way (which is why we couldn’t just continue the floor across this gap — it wouldn’t have been able to lay flat).
Originally, the gap looked like this:
To make it a little more palatable in the short term, I nailed down some scrap plywood, leaving the sight you’ve become familiar with over the past many months:
But once the baseboards were down, I know it was time to suck it up and deal with it. Since I couldn’t find a pre-fabricated threshold wide enough, I knew I would have to make my own somehow. I was planning to buy a board and cut it/sand it down myself, though I was definitely doubtful I could make the angles cuts along the sides of the threshold even enough for it to look good.
I was wandering through Lowes last weekend feeling uncertain when I decided to take one last look at the pre-fab thresholds. And that’s when it hit me: why couldn’t I cut the threshold down the middle, add a board in the middle to make it wider, and glue the whole thing together like a single piece?
I found this 6′ long piece that’s 4 & 5/8″ wide, made from red oak:
The next step I messed up, because I should have gotten a single additional red oak board, but instead I got two shorter strips because their depth more closely matched the depth of the pre-made threshold. I didn’t think about how the plywood-covered gap is lower than the floor itself, so a slightly deeper strip down the middle would have been okay. It worked out okay, but there’s one more seam than there could have been….
In any case, I brought it all home and got to work. The first step was the cut the threshold in half:
Then I cut the two red oak strips I’d bought to be a total of 2 & 7/8″ wide each so that the total finished width of the threshold would be 7.5″.
Next I used wood glue and clamps to glue the boards to one half of the threshold:
Once that dried, I glued and clamped the other half on, using boards clamped across the top to keep everything flat.
Once that had dried, I was left with a single piece:
Because of some warping in the boards, the seams weren’t perfect in a few places (especially in the middle, which is why I was kicking myself for not getting a single middle piece to begin with), but I thought that with sanding, wood filler, and stain I would be able to get a pretty smooth surface. Or I hoped, at least.
First I brought it upstairs to lay it alongside the door opening and mark exactly where to cut the ends to ensure it was the perfect length, then made the cuts on my table saw. Next I used my orbital sander to smooth out as much unevenness as possible, then used some pre-stained wood putty by Minwax to fill the gaps, then applied a coat of “Early American” minwax stain that I already had on hand. After letting the stain dry, I brought the threshold upstairs along with my air compressor.
I was worried that the sloping, warped gap would prevent the threshold from laying flat, but the wood was flexible enough (while still plenty sturdy) to lay flat along every edge. Phew! Before nailing it in place, I laid a narrow strip of thin wood right down the middle of the plywood gap for the threshold to rest on, that way there was no space between the threshold and the plywood underlayment (which is a little lower than the floor), which I worried would cause the threshold to sag over time (especially given pressure on the glued seams).
I used my nail gun to put nails through every 6 inches, to ensure that the threshold was held down tight with the floor along the entire span. Then I used some of the stained wood putty to fill the nail holes so that they’re barely noticeable:
I didn’t want to use polyurethane since I didn’t want a shiny look, so I used some Feed-N-Wax (affiliate link – read our policies) that I already had to give it just a little polish. And here it is, finished!
The sanding, staining, and wood putty definitely made a difference. The middle seam is a little bit visible, but the whole threshold is totally even and smooth.
I would have loved if we could have had a continuous floor, but that wasn’t possible so under the circumstances I’m loving this threshold. Oh also while I was at it I laid down smaller thresholds by the front door and doorway to the basement (using pre-fab moulding for the front door and an aluminum strip for the basement doorway):
So glad these projects are in the rear-view mirror!