Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Patio Concrete Stain

Early last summer I saw a project on Beneath My Heart about staining their concrete patio.  It transformed the plain concrete patio into something beautiful!  In my head, I started secretly planning to do the same thing to our concrete patio.

Our patio has come a long way since we moved in.
Here’s what went down:
  • we tore down the ugly screens
  • we power-washed the chipped paint off the ceiling
  • Dylan replaced every two 2x4 supports with a single 4x4 post
  • Dylan tore off the old flat shingled roof and replaced it with a pitched tin roof
  • we primed and painted the ceiling and posts (with the help of friends)
  • we cut down an ugly evergreen shrub/tree and improved the landscaping

After all of that, the patio was already looking much better than when we started, but I felt like staining the concrete would take it to the next level.  My parents and sister Amy were planning on visiting us during a weekend in August, so we decided to work on it that weekend.  First I swept off the concrete and scrubbed it with muriatic acid and a hard bristle brush.  I was extra careful in this step, because muriatic acid is some nasty stuff!  Don't you just love my nerdy protective goggles?
The next morning we used a carpenter’s square and tape measures to mark off 18 inch square “tiles” on a diagonal pattern.  After I’d gotten several lines marked off, my mom and Amy started taping off the tiles with ½ inch masking tape.
Note: ½ inch masking tape isn’t easy to find…fortunately I found a place in St. Louis on their route that sold it, so they picked it up on the way.  I didn’t want to use standard ¾ inch tape, because it would make the taped off portion (the grout lines) too wide.

This part took awhile, but we were already getting an idea of what the finished product would look like, which was exciting!
And, of course, we did all of that under the supervision of the cutest kitten in the world.
In the next step, we hit a glitch.  In the blog tutorial on Beneath My Heart, she found her concrete stain at Lowe’s, and they had several options for the color of stain.  Because I live in a tiny town, our only option was Home Depot.  While usually I like it just as well or better than its counterpart, Home Depot didn’t have many options for concrete stain.  We were hoping for a brown-ish gray color that would coordinate with the tin roof, which was called "Burnished Slate."
After seeing the limited options (most were too red) and discussing it with the paint counter pro, we decided to use the jet black stain at 30% of the power (hoping it’d give us a gray color).  However, when we got home, for some reason the “black” looked decidedly blue, which was not the look we were going for.  We were able to return it and get our money back.  At this point, we decided to go with some semi-transparent concrete stain at Walmart, in the color “Brownstone" of the Seal-Krete brand, and add some blacking to it, which we purchased a bottle of at Home Depot.  This way we were able to get more of a color we wanted, with the only down side being that adding the blacking meant that the stain was no longer semi-transparent, but rather opaque.
We started rolling it on, and loved the way it was looking!  After all of the time-consuming cleaning, measuring, and taping, this part flew by!
However, as always seems to happen, we ran out with only a few square feet to go.  Bummer.
The coverage wasn't perfect, though, and there were a few places that stroke marks were visible, so a second coat wasn’t the worst thing.  Back at Walmart, we bought another gallon of stain and took it home to mix up our custom color.  As the patio needed more dry time, and we’d been at it all day, measuring, taping, and finally staining, we decided to do the second coat the following day.
Sunday after church we got busy staining, and this time around it went very quickly.  As the stain dried we carefully tip-toed around the patio and peeled off the masking tap.  Fortunately we didn’t have to deal with the tape peeling off the stain like sometimes happens with paint.  The family headed back to St. Louis shortly after, and Dylan helped me put on three coats of clear, glossy concrete sealer later that night.  One gallon was enough for all three coats!  The concrete sealer goes on milky white, but dries clear.
Finally the next day we were able to see the finished product in the daylight.  It looks like real tile!  We had a few friends over and they commented on how great it looked, and were taken aback when I told them that we’d stained it.
One of the greatest things about this project is how inexpensive a transformation it was!  Here's an estimated cost breakdown (because by now, I've forgotten the specifics!):
  • muriatic acid: $8
  • stiff bristle brush: $5
  • rubber gloves: free (already had)
  • 1/2 masking tape: $5 for 3 rolls
  • concrete stain (2 gallons): $50
  • blacking: $5
  • concrete sealer: $25
Grand total: About $100.

Not bad at all!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Duvet Cover Sewing Project

In preparation for the baby's arrival (the due date is 4 weeks from today!), we've been rearranging some furniture around here, which has thrown off some of the color schemes.  When we moved the twin bed into the nursery, we had a navy blue comforter amidst the gray, golden yellow, and dark turquoise color scheme, which bugged me every time I walked in the room.

Fortunately, we have an extra twin-sized comforter that is nice and fluffy, but we weren't using because not only did the the color clash, but the fabric was discolored in some places.  As we've been trying to stop spending money on home decor for this house, buying a new duvet cover or comforter wasn't an option.  I've been sewing a lot lately and decided to sew a duvet cover that would match the room.

However, finding fabric wide enough for a duvet cover (without piecing it together) is not easy.  Not to mention trying to do this as cheaply as possible.  I found a plain gray twin-sized sheet set at Walmart for only $10, and though I knew I'd have a tight fit as the dimensions wouldn't give me any breathing room, I decided to try to make it work.  In retrospect, the hardest part of this whole project was working with the twin-sized would have definitely been easier to buy a sheet set that was a size larger, but Walmart was out of full-sized, and the queen-sized added another $10 to the price.

Sewing a duvet cover is not a hard task (there are plenty of people that have already written great, easy to follow tutorials online), but I didn't just want to use the sheets as they were, because I thought it'd look like a cheap giant pillow case.  After looking up ideas online, I settled on the idea of using pintucks to add visual interest (and distract from the fact that it was made out of cheap bed sheets).

The width of a standard twin comforter is 63" and the width of the flat sheet (after pre-washing) was 61".  With 1/2 inch seam allowances, the duvet cover would be about 3 inches too small.  This wasn't really a drawback, though, because it would give the comforter a little more body instead of seeming flat around the edges.

After ripping the seam along the top edge of the sheet, I had about 12 inches of extra vertical length to use to make my tufts.  I followed a tutorial I found online to make the pintucks, arranging them about 12 inches apart in each row, with rows spaced 6 inches apart.  I laid the sheet out on the living room floor for this step, and it should be noted I do not recommend this project for women who are 8 months pregnant. :)  After marking the location of each pintuck with safety pins, I started sewing the pintucks.  I expected this part to take forever, but it actually went faster than measuring and marking the locations.

Finally I was ready to actually assemble the duvet cover!  This part when quickly compared to the rest of the project.  I lined up the edges of the top and bottom piece (the bottom piece was the fitted sheet with the elastic taken out and extra material sewn together to make it a perfect rectangle, but as it won't show, that didn't bother me), with right sides together.  I sewed around three sides of the duvet cover, leaving the middle of the bottom edge open (to make the corners crisp on this fourth side, I recommend sewing about 8-10 inches on each side).  I used pearl head snaps on the bottom edge, as they were easy to attach and look nice with the gray color.
Dylan helped me slide the duvet cover on the comforter, and after a bit of adjustment, I laid it out on the floor so I could see if all of the time and effort was worth it.  The verdict?  I love it.  100%.
I left it laid out on the living room floor for a couple of days and smiled every time I saw it.  Even after I finally put it on the bed in the nursery, I walk by the room and get excited just looking at it!  It definitely doesn't look like two cheap twin sheets sewn together (as I think it might have if I hadn't added the pintucks), and I know we'll want to keep it for use in our next house.