I didn’t mention it the other day, but Andoni injured his shoulder while playing soccer on Sunday, and he has to wear a sling for a few days. Luckily it was nothing serious and he’s much better now. Although I’m pretty sure his handball coach is pretty bummed out he’ll be missing this week’s game. Also, our place is a bit of a mess because obviously he can’t do chores with a single arm, and I’ve been crazy busy this week, since I finally started teaching undergrads and it’s the last week of my online classes. Can’t wait for things to get back to normal – although I really don’t know what’s normal around here.
So of course, that means we’ve had to put a few plans on hold. For starters, he’s in no condition to finish smoothing out my parents’ walls (we were going to start today); it requires a lot of arm and shoulder movement. So we’re not sure when we’ll be finishing that.
On the other hand, we were able to move along the pass-through project last Friday & Saturday and I have a ton of pictures to show you. When we last left off, we had re-wired and it was looking like this:
The edges were really rough, and the wall needed to be retiled in the kitchen and spackled in the living room. Since we had “emptied” the brick to leave space for corrugated tubes (and wires) we had to fill that up besides smoothing down the rough edges. We weren’t sure how to do this because there was a lot to fill, so after thinking about it we decided to do sort of a “casing” with lumber. We clamped a piece of lumber to both sides of the wall, starting with the lower edge, since it had a lot of empty space. Once the lumber was tightly attached to the wall we poured concrete into it.
Like you can see we had a couple of helpers, my cousins. For this part of the process you need at least four people there – two on each side of the wall holding the lumber in place, making sure it’s level, adding the clamps… there’s no way you can do that if there’s only two of you.
For the other three sides, we did the same thing with a slight variation: the concrete we poured was thicker, because we had gravity to think about; and also, we clamped the lumber so that it ended exactly where we wanted the edge to be. This way it was easier to scrape/smooth out the edge. It would’ve been better to do the lower edge like this as well but it didn’t occur to us until later. Live and learn right? Of course since we didn’t have enough pieces of lumber and clamps for all sides at a time so we did this in two steps.
Once it was cured enough for us to remove the lumber and clamps, we were able to focus on fixing both sides of the wall. First things first: retiling the kitchen. The first step in order to retile was to remove as much of the old mortar as we could. Otherwise the retiled area would’ve stuck out a bit. This was done with a hammer and a chisel.
When that was out of the way we started tiling. We had removed an unnecessary column of tiles (miscalculation on our part, thought the passthrough was going to be bigger) so the first ones were easy because we didn’t have to cut them. We then proceeded to cut tiles one by one: put one tile in place, mark the next one, cut it, put it in place; mark the next one, cut it… etc. Depending on the type of cut we used a different tools. For the side-to-side cuts, a manual tile cutter came in very very handy. Seriously, those cuts were a piece of cake.
For the corner/awkward cuts, we had to use an angle grinder (at least that’s what I believe is called in English). This generated a lot of dust, every day we clean and every day new dust settles. But we were able to get all the cuts we needed, even a super awkward one that had a cut for the passthrough corner and another U-shaped cut for the outlets.
Oh and another tip when retiling just an area of the wall: if you have trouble fitting all the tiles again, you can grind the edges on the back side of the tile for it to fit a little better. Our tiles, at least, are a smidge bigger on the back side than on the front so grinding the back edges made them fit better in place and was unnoticeable from the front. After a few hours of work (so.many.cuts.) we had a retiled kitchen ready to be grouted. Thankfully grouting it was very quick and easy.
The last step pre-trim? Fixing the living room side of the wall. A ton of spackle, sanding, spackle, sanding, and we’re now ready to paint the wall and – FINALLY – framing out the passthrough! We picked up the materials for the trim last week before we did all if this so we already have them. We needed pretty specific lengths so of course we had to buy MDF and we’ll be cutting it ourselves.
Have you ever had to do anything like this before? It’s taking way longer than I expected, but it’s definitely worth it. I love it so much and now I can’t imagine living without the passthrough!