Since installing the cork tiles two weeks ago, my refrigerator has been in the living room (it’s a look), plugged in to a heavy-duty extension cord (I know, I know; it’s temporary). The stove is in the dining room, and useless without a gas hookup. I am tired of eating cheese and crackers, and have yet to find a frozen microwaveable meal that I like (to be fair, I’ve stopped looking). But there was one more step to complete before I can put the appliances back in place.
The cork manufacturer, APC cork, recommends that tiles in high-traffic areas, or in kitchens where wet things are likely to get dropped, get at least two top coats of Bona Traffic waterborne. Not only does the additional finish more fully protect the cork tiles, it helps to alleviate any “fullness” (tiles that are a couple thou thicker at the edges due to said factory finish) and to fill in any small gaps, thus keeping water, coffee or anything else from seeping in between. I’m a bit clumsy; it seemed like a good idea.
So last Friday night, in a probably vain attempt to get my life back together (for now, I’d settle for the kitchen being fully functional) I stayed up late to get both coats on, with three hours’ dry time in between. (Once the hardener is added, you have only four hours’ shelf life before it starts to degrade).
After cutting a couple pieces of cardboard to serve as doors/cat barriers, I did my best to get everything out of the kitchen I thought I’d need for the next several days. Ideally, one should stay off the fresh finish for at least 48 hours, and walk on it only in socks for five days longer. I stashed everything I thought I’d need in the dining room.
I didn’t occur to me that I’d need my prescription pain meds; I take them rarely indeed. When I do need those pills, it’s because a) my knees hurt (too many years of soccer) or b) my shoulder(s) hurt (tendinitis following several surgeries to address multiple dislocations).
Then, I spent the next three hours on my knees while sanding and slinging poly. Oops. (I resorted to Irish medication; the liquor cabinet is in the dining room.)
The first thing was to ruin (temporarily, I hoped), the perfectly nice factory finish that was already on the cork tiles by scuffing it all up with a #150-grit sanding block.
Then, I mixed the hardener into the finish, gave it a thorough shaking and let it sit the requisite 10 minutes. When I opener the bottle back up to insert the “supplied strainer,” I discovered that it was not, in fact, supplied.
So I panicked for about 10 seconds, until I remembered the wire mesh filter I’ve never used that came with my coffee maker eight years ago. (No idea why I kept it, but glad I did.) The mesh was a little small and clogged easily, but I just kept swishing things around and got it to work. (Really, the most amazing thing is that I was able to quickly find it in the pandemonium that is my dining room.)
I used a painting pad to apply the finish; there are enough cabinet toe kicks to get under and edges with which to deal that it wasn’t worth buying a proper finish roller setup (though my knees might say otherwise).
I’ve not yet been in the kitchen; I’m waiting as long as possible (we’ll see if I can make it to Saturday…), in large part because I know the cats will run in as soon as I move the cardboard “doors”…and I can’t get the cats to wear socks. But I did stick my phone around the cardboard to take the shot below. You can see a little telegraphing from an uneven join in the underlayment; I expected that. It’s an old house, and some things, you just have to get over – or never let them bother you in the first place.
So right now, as I wait to install baseboard then put back the appliances, I’m playing with ideas for an island/table/place to stash a microwave for in between the door and window. (Note that I’ve looked everywhere for one to buy, but nothing commercially available fits.)
Here are the challenges: it has to be no more than 22-1/2″ wide, and the legs have to clear the window trim that juts 2″ into the available space. The top can be no longer than 48″ (so as not to impede traffic flow). It must be 35″-36″ high. I want a table look (mostly because I prefer it, but also because of the heat vent), and it has to be on fairly thick legs to spread the load and thus not leave dents in the cork. The area for the microwave (a small one) has to be at least 25″ w x 15″ h x 20″ deep, and I don’t want to be able to see the back of the microwave. For the table part, I want to be able to slide two narrow barstools underneath when they’re not in use, and user legs need to fit under the table comfortably. Not that I’m picky.
Below is what I’ve been noodling with, but it needs work. There’s a drawer across the front…in my head, if not in the SketchUp file. I’m toying with slats rather than a solid shelf and solid back. And the legs need a bit of flair. At the moment, I’m thinking the same 1-1/2″-thick butcher block countertop as in the rest of the joint for the top, and a slight taper on the legs to pick up on the Shaker-style cabinets…but I might decide on contrasting stock in 3/4″-thick something or other for the top, and I might go crazy and do through-tenons or something on the shelf or aprons or both. While I like the concept of everything matching in style, materials and color, I’m leery of having it it feel a little too “Garanimals-like” in reality.