What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Kitchen Renovations - Finishing Touches

Finishing touches are very important when completing any renovation project. These are the little details that can make a huge difference! Not only do they make the project look finished some of them will keep your project looking good for years to come. So always pay particular attention to those finishing touches. Take your time even if it means the project will take a bit longer.

Grout Sealing

Two houses ago our then brother-in-law installed ceramic tile flooring in our kitchen. He said not to bother with sealing the grout and to only wash the floor with a vinegar solution. We took his advice but I still think that sealing the grout ads that extra level of protection. When we bought this house there was already ceramic tiles on the kitchen floor. It is a gorgeous floor although I don't care for the high gloss shine as it tends to be very slippery when wet. Since the kitchen opens onto the back patio getting wet is a real possibility. The first thing I did was wash the floor good then seal the grout with three coats of TileLab® SurfaceGard® Penetrating Sealer. This sealer provides maximum protection and has a 20 year guarantee. My primary concern was protecting the floor against any water damage. The grout is a deep beige so it hides dirt a bit. Protecting against staining was secondary but aesthetically important.

The countertop will see heavy use so protecting it from water damage is critical. Stain prevention is also very important. I used the same grout sealer for the countertop using a squeeze bottle brush applicator to apply three coats. Application is not difficult but with smaller tiles it is a fair amount of work. After filling the applicator bottle you twist the bottom part of the brush to open then remove the cap. Turn the bottle and hold similar to a pencil. Go over the grout lines then wipe away any excess from the tile after 10 minutes. Remove any haze after an hour with a rough cloth. Repeat if necessary after 2 - 3 hours dry time. I will be keeping a close eye on the grout lines. While they should not need any further sealing after three coats, if I think they need another coat I will apply it.


I watch a fair amount of HGTV for renovation ideas and tips. One thing that Mike Holmes stresses whenever a tiling is the importance of caulking. He says that any time a joint is grout only it will eventually crack. Caulking is one more level to help prevent water damage.

The kitchen countertop presents several joints where water could eventually get through and cause damage. The joint shown is between the countertop and high cabinet (pictured below). Sealing this joint seals out the possibility of water seeping down between the countertop and cabinet. At the same time caulking provides a nice finished look. Once the caulking was dried any film on the cabinet was rubbed off.

I ran a bead of caulking on all joints whether tile to tile or tile to another surface. This simply ensures watertight joints. The stove is a slide-in model which leaves a very, very narrow gap between the lip of the stove and the countertop. Water really would not do much damage as the floor below is finished however food spills could get down this gap. A normal range or slide-in stove could easily be pulled out to clean any spills but ours has a down-draft system so it really doesn't just slide in. It has to be disconnected and lifted up and over the down-draft system. This would be a major pain just to clean up any spills. I ran a bead of caulking around this gap as well.

I used Weather Shield® 20 year durability acrylic caulk that stays flexible. This is a low odour, water clean-up, interior/exterior paintable caulk. It is easy to work with and performs nicely. This is my caulk of choice for most caulking projects. A caulk tool gives a nice finish to the bead while ensuring the caulk is pushed tightly into the joint.

Shelf Edging

There were built-in appliances in the kitchen when we moved in. In their time they were high-end appliances but through age and neglect they were unusable. We would have removed them anyway as we had new, energy efficient appliances with the exception of the dishwasher that we bought to replace the one here.

Pictured is the cabinet we removed the built-in oven from. We put shelves in and planned on having doors made to match the rest of the cabinet doors. However, we have had so many compliments over the open storage we decided to leave it open. What was missing was the wood trim to finish off the shelf edges. We bought a length of 1" x 2" popular, cut to fit then finished the pieces to match the cabinet. The bottom trim had to be cut down to ½" x ½". The shelves will see heavy use so each piece of trim was glued and nailed with the exception of the bottom trim that was only glued.

Window Trim

Natural light in the kitchen is not an issue however I don't think a kitchen can ever be too bright. The large, deep set kitchen window is at ground level. We have an amazing view of the water making the placement of the sink under the window even more desirable. Adjacent to the wall with the window is the common wall to the kitchen and family room but patio doors with an expanded view of the water take up much of that wall in the kitchen portion. We have wonderful critters like raccoons and skunks. There is absolutely no way to get to either the window or patio door to close them in the event of a roaming skunk so we are careful to keep foods off the counter when the screens are open.

Almost immediately upon laying the tile around the window frame we came to the conclusion the trim was the wrong colour. It was initially painted the middle shade of the paint chip to match the patio door frame and common wall of the family room. The pale sea green created a visual divider forcing the eyes to stop there before looking through the window. After the tile was grouted we painted this trim with the same melamine paint used on the tile edge. It had been tinted to match the tile. The end result was the window now flows nicely into the outdoor view. It also has a cleaner look so I'm glad we decided to paint this trim.

Garden Gnome