Master of the Bath(room)

This blog will feature a fabulous look into the renovation of our master bathroom. This project has been a long time coming and we are ready to get this thing done and update our tiny en-suite to make it more usable and attractive.

The Starting Point

When we bought the house, one of the seller’s claims was that the master bath had been remodeled. While this was technically true, the remodeling had taken place 8 years previously and the design choices and uhhhhhh, workmanship were a little suspect.

Consider the following photographic evidence.

The cabinet and sink were too big for the small space. Only a very small corridor existed. It was hard for two people to get around in – and only one sink. Not great for a master bath. The barf colored tile really reinforced how hideous this area was.
I mean, I think they tried to make it attractive, but that is the same tile they used on the floor. I think the style is called “Uglia”. The tub was an extra wide old Jacuzzi brand tub (no jets). When you stepped inside it the bottom would flex 😱
Another view of the questionable tub. And this was AFTER it had been scrubbed multiple times. You should have seen it before that. Or maybe not. Probably not, really.

Other fun stuff was the mirror on which they had used the same accent tile from the bath area to frame the mirror. They had just glued it on to the mirror edge and never grouted or caulked it. The ceiling fan was not a wet area fan and had started to decompose. Fortunately there were no electrocutions. The oversized cabinet also took room from the toilet space so…. watch your left elbow when sitting down or…… OWWWWWW!


We started demolition by removing the gargantuan cabinet. This actually came out pretty easily since the granite top was not actually secured to the cabinet itself. The cabinet was made of… wait for it…. PARTICLE BOARD. The cabinet was easily disposed of by breathing heavily near it. It came apart pretty quick and found a new home at the dump in Kekaha.

Yes, it is gone. And bonus, you can see the unfinished trim job on the mirror as described earlier.

I’m not going to belabor the demolition. I’ll let the pictures do the talking. Well, I might belabor it a little bit because I can’t help myself.

Breaking it down. At least they used cement board behind the tile. 🙂
Blowing out the glass tile was no fun… Broken glass all over the place.
Finally it was time for the tub to be removed. It was a lot lighter than we thought. No worries.
Yeah, so here is how the drain was hooked up. They used a flexible pipe to connect the drain instead of hard plumbing it correctly. It worked I guess, but this is jury-rigging as far as I’m concerned. Plus….. kind of a BIG HOLE in the floor!
Everything is gone including the toilet. The hole in the wall behind where the toilet was had been patched with drywall of the wrong thickness so it stuck out from the rest of the wall. Some of the subfloor around the toilet area was rotted through and open to the ground below the house.
You can see that we removed a bunch of drywall. We had to do this because I needed to re-plumb the drain in order to accommodate the drains from the new sinks. Again there were some holes that had been punched through the subfloor for drains but never used. They neglected to fill the holes. Seriously? We found a few rodent droppings in this area. A miracle there weren’t more. I guess even the mice didn’t want to stay there.
We removed the old subfloor around the toilet as it had some water damage and minor wood rot. Not too bad but we wanted a fresh start here.

The Prep Steps

We cut away some more subfloor that was also a bit questionable just to be sure. We also added some extra support members around the toilet area to discourage any floor flexing.
It looks better already!
Here you can see the drywall put in to cover the old medicine cabinet area and the newly framed opening for the double sized medicine cabinet that we will install.
Barbara taped and skim coated the entire bathroom, including the ceiling. We didn’t feel we could match up the existing texture so we went with a semi-smooth coating. She did a great job and saved us a bunch of drywaller money.
Yes, after a couple coats of paint, the walls look awesome!

Puttin’ the New Stuff in…

We installed the new lights once the paint was dry. We have lights to work under again!
We also installed the ceiling fan to keep the air moving and cool us off while we work. It’s a small fan for a small space and is rated for moist areas. Perfect for this bathroom.
First the cement board goes in. This didn’t take too long but it was good to feel like something was actually going IN instead of being removed.
The next step was to lay down some mortar under the new shower pan to keep it in place and give some extra support. This pic is just before we did that. You can see where the big opening around the drain area was patched so we didn’t have that large hole in the floor.
Our new medicine cabinet is installed without the doors. We’ll wait on putting in the doors and shelves until the flooring is installed. We positioned it closer to the entry so that it wouldn’t be directly across from the vanity. This gives us another inch or two of corridor space to get around in once the vanity is installed.
Things are moving fast now. The tile is going in! We are using Versabond LFT mortar to secure the tiles.
Ta da! A couple of hours later the tile is down. Now we wait for the mortar to set before we can grout. The floor looks a lot better now…
Let the grouting begin! We used a pre-mixed grout in Natural Gray. It doesn’t need sealing and is spot and water resistant. Plus we didn’t have to mix it ourselves. Big time saver and worth the extra $$$
An hour or so later the grouting is done. It is remarkable how much the grout changes the look of the floor. Next up is putting in the baseboard and trim…
It was raining off and on when I was trying to cut the baseboard. So you have to keep a tarp handy and some coconuts to hold it down in the wind. Kauai problems haha. Later I drained the coconut water from the coconuts for a refreshing drink 🌴
We were under a bit of a time crunch here as we had guests arriving soon and would need a functional toilet and sink to accommodate them at the very least. So we were trying to make it look less constructiony (I know that’s not really a word) and at the same time not have to come back and repeat work.
After the baseboard and quarter round went in for the long wall, Barbara could caulk and paint that wall. The baseboard on the long wall will not have to be removed later since it won’t border the shower. So it is in for duration.
We added some new escutcheons to the water supply and drain line because it looks groovier than ragged holes in the wall. Yes, I know that no one will ever see it, but it makes me feel better.
OK! We are ready to install the toilet and cabinet. Finally!!
Boom! Mr. Commode is in and we now have a working second bathroom. Seems kind of lonely in there all by itself though…
We had preassembled the cabinet a week or two early so we could use it to fit everything up and make sure everything was in the right place. Now we got to attach it for good.
The new medicine cabinet. We added the fish knobs for fun and a pop of color.
Our double sinks are in. During this time we were having intermittent power blackouts and it was cloudy and rainy. So attaching the plumbing was… challenging. A lot of four letter words were utilized during this phase.
We made it through the problems and our new sinks and cabinet are in. Nice!
We added two mirrors and a hand towel ring in between. We are now ready for our guests. Whew!

Shower Time!

Time passes. Our guests have come and gone. The planet continues it elliptical trip around the sun. But now it is time to get back to work on the project. First though, we had to get some procrastination time in so we let it go for a few more days. Then we took a quick trip to The Big Island for some R & R. Then we came back and took another quick trip to San Diego.

Finally we were back home and ready (not really) to continue our project. So here we go with the shower…

We framed in some niches. The top one is for all the shower “Product”. The little bottom niche is for putting a foot in while shaving legs. I can tell that this one will be no fun to work with during the tile/grout phase of the project. 😬
Since the tub is gone to tub heaven or whatever afterlife tubs have, the plumbing also had to be replaced. I was able to use Pex tubing with Sharkbite fittings instead of soldering copper pipe. It made it easy to add in the new valve, reposition the shower stub higher, and not burn the house down while soldering copper tubing. Not burning the house down checks a lot of boxes for me.
Sweet. Looks a lot better than the bare studs…
RedGard was used as a water barrier. It comes in a bucket and you just paint it on. It has a really strong smell though, so wear a mask if you use it. But it works really well.
The tiles go in! This was a long slow process, but it’s looking good.
Originally we had chosen some dark penny round tile for the accent strip but weren’t feeling the love when it came time to install it. We changed directions and went with this stone accent tile. A little more dramatic and a better fit. It’s difficult to tell from these photos but the accent tiles have some blue and green highlights in them. Not obvious, but enough for a little interest.
The trim is in around the big niche. Not too bad putting this in. But the little foot niche is still haunting my dreams. Or is it my nightmares…?
2 hours of my life are reflected in the trim part of the little niche. But it is all in the past now. I’m trying to move on. My good friend Jack Daniels helped me through this troubling time.
Finally the tile is all installed. The grouting is still to come.

The wall where the shower valve and head will be.
Took me a week – I did sections after work during the week and finished the big wall on a Saturday – the grout is finally done! Still needs caulk, trim and the shower hardware installed.
The grouting is finally finished! Hallelujah.
The fun stuff… our new shower hardware.
Less fun is the window… needs sanding and painting after the removal of the old jalousies.
Ok, looking better. The frame is painted and the new vinyl jalousy mechanisms are in. This was the last window in the house we had to replace the jalousies on – they are all new now. 16 of these total were replaced throughout the house.
We used 2 1/2” casing to trim the window and to cover the edge of the tile. It required a bit of routing at the edge so it would lay nice and flat over the edge of the tile. We had to shim around the window frame to get the trim to sit even with the drywall.
On the other side we had to trim around the corner. Just needs some paint and caulk now.
OK the trim is painted. Caulk has been applied. The project is nearly complete!
Add in the Seahorse hooks and the shower curtain and we are done! (OK, we have some shelves for over the toilet on order, but I didn’t want to wait another week to post this…)

Wrap Up

It felt like this project took forever, mainly because of the breaks we took in between for guests and some short travel trips. But it also felt like a grueling project. After nearly 3 years of remodeling projects we are pretty tired of renovations lol. When we moved to Kauai we thought we would be spending time at the beach and playing live-in tourist. Clearly that has not happened…

On the other hand the bathroom – and the house in general is looking really good 😎

So join us next time for another episode of “Spending our whole lives fixing shit”. Aloha!

Island Anniversary- A 4 year check in

April 7th marks the 4 year anniversary of our arrival on Kauai. Our life here on the island is definitely different than we thought it would be.

As anyone who has been reading these blog posts (both of you haha) would know, we went from a small single wall construction home to a little larger home with a pool and a great view. When we first moved here we had anticipated slowing down and working less, but as fate would have it, we have actually worked harder here than on the mainland. But a LOT of the work has been centered on the rehab of our home.


Work has been good over the last year. I have stayed busy and the government LOVES taking a bunch of my money so they are happy as well LOL. Barb’s job continues at the school and is challenging and rewarding at the same time. The fact that she gets summers and fall, winter, and spring breaks off is a bonus.

The House

Yes, the house. This is where most of our time goes when we are not working our paying jobs. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Out of 10 rooms in this house (if you count the hallway as a room) we have renovated 7. That leaves only 3 left to do. The great thing is that we have brought the place up to a level where all the broken/structural stuff has been fixed. So there is really nothing we HAVE to do. But there is still plenty we WANT to do.

The Yard

The yard is pretty much in a holding pattern. It’s being kept up, but we would like it to look a little nicer with even more cool plants and flowers. So that is on the horizon.


In between all the other stuff, I have still been able to play a bunch of music. I play weekly with One Lane Bridge (rehearsals) and get together with another group of musicians that we call the Ai Jam Band. The jam band is just that. We get together and have a little music party every few weeks. It’s pretty free form and we are great at dragging songs out for 10 minutes LOL. A real blast though!

The Cats

Yes, the overlords of the household, Sheyna, Cali and Mr. Beasely rule the roost out here in Hawaii. They actually live the Hawai’i lifestyle that we aspire to. They don’t work, they eat numerous times per day and nap whenever they want. That’s the life.

Sheyna and Mr. Beasely. Sheyna is super friendly and gregarious. Mr. Beasely likes to wear his tuxedo at all times.

This is Cali. She is used to getting her way all the time because she is so damned sweet.

Our Fixer Upper Progress

And here are a few before and after pix of our Kauai fixer upper just to show the progress we have made so far.

The Living Room – Fireplace removal.

Living Room before we removed the fireplace

Living Room after fireplace removal 😀🌴🤙

The Guest Bathroom

The guest bathroom was a total re-do…

Before the renovation. This picture doesn’t do justice to how utterly disgusting this bathroom was. The toilet was actually about to fall through the floor.

The new sink, cabinet and floor.

Another view…

The shower was a total replacement. Nice now!

The Master Bedroom

Like the other renovations, the master bedroom needed extensive work. Floor refinish. Cabinet work. General de-ickifying of the entire room. Jalousies replacement etc.

Oh the humanity!

Don’t be deceived. These built in drawers housed mice at one time.

The refinished floor.

Much better!

The Office and Laundry Room

I just grouped these together since they are in the same area.

I’m going to miss the garage door opener in my office…

The office today 😀

The Floor Refinishing

The hardwood was in pretty bad shape throughout. Thankfully all of the hardwood has now been refinished. It looks great, too!

The old abused floor

A new look with the natural finish


The Outdoors

The lanai and the pool needed some work….

And now the pool…

It looked ok at first, but then….


Just like new again!


Our plan is to get the master bath renovation started in a couple of weeks. We hope to finish in June. As always I will post the pics and disastrous findings that we run into during the demo.

This post went on a bit longer than I expected (sorry haha) and had a lot more pictures than I had initially thought. I hope you found it interesting and hope you stick with us for the next posts.

Aloha to all!!!!!!!

The Office Floor…

Sometimes our projects are just last minute decisions. We see an opportunity to update something and we just go for it. The floor in my office is just such a project.

The office was originally a carport that was the enclosed and became a one car garage. Some years later the previous owner converted it to a ‘Hobby Room’. In a previous blog post I detailed the condition (poor) of this room and the start of the repairs which included removing the flimsy soffit that had collapsed and removing the GARAGE DOOR OPENER that was still in the room. Also framing out, sealing up and drywalling the hole at the top of the wall that the soffit covered.

All that turned out great, as did the fresh paint in the room, but the flooring was still, ummmmmmmm, bad.

Even though it was kind of ugly and worn, the floor was not in as bad of shape as many of the things in this house had been. Here are a few photos.

Scratched, scuffed and generally worn out. The seams were not tight and in some areas the fake bamboo print was separating from the planks.

We decided to renovate the floor with some new vinyl planks. We opted for the multi width planks and, since we went with a gray floor paint in the laundry area that is part of this space, we opted for a rustic ‘Seasoned Wood’ flooring.

The hardest part of laying down the flooring (it is a floating floor, no glue) is just getting the first two rows locked together. The pieces have interlocking edges and will just lock together when set correctly. Once we had that done the install picked up speed.

The interlocking edges of the planks…

Day 1:

We started by clearing the room of all my music and work junk. Which turned the rest of the house into a storage unit. The floor was vacuumed and the old trim removed.

The first two rows!

The instructions give you two different road maps on how to lay down the flooring: you can lay it down in rows with the same width plank all the way down or you can mix the widths up to give it a more random look. We decided to go with the more random look.

Almost halfway done.

This is where we stopped at the end of day 1. We spent about three and a half hours of actual flooring installation to get this far (additional time was spent clearing and cleaning the room).

Day 2:

Day 2 was all about just putting the rest of the flooring down. We had to reposition the floor multiple times to keep a quarter inch gap around the edges for expansion.

Almost there…

Measuring for the final cut pieces

The floor is in the HOOOOOOUUUUUUSE!

Day 3-6

The floor looked great but the wall trim needed, uhhh, trimming. So we were off to HD again for trim, paint, and quarter round to finish up the project. As anyone who has ever done these types of projects knows, this requires multiple trips because I always forget “the one thing we need to finish”.

The trim matches the rest of the trim in the house and is simple square edged. The quarter round finishes everything off and hides any gaps that might show with just the trim by itself. You might say that the quarter round trims the trim. Or you might not, I don’t judge.

The reason this took us 3-4 days was that you have to cut the trim pieces to size, you have paint the trim pieces with 3 coats of paint and let them dry, you can’t cut the quarter round yet because you want the trim in before you measure for those cuts. You have to go back to HD for more supplies. Then you have to install the trim, measure the quarter round, cut the quarter round, paint the quarter round, go to HD for more supplies. Final touch up once the trim is down….

And let us not forget about caulking. Because caulking is always great fun.

Well, you get the picture. A lot of watching paint dry blah blah blah.

Anyway here are the pictures of the finished product. Feels like a new room!

Just checking to see if you are paying attention. This cat visited Barb and is quite unfriendly… as you can tell by how it’s exposing its belly so it can be rubbed. We don’t know here it came from but it’s a nice kitty.

Looks good even with all my junk back in!

A Final Word

This project took us about 6 days total. But we took a lot of breaks.😁

The total cost for supplies ended up around $600. 350 for the flooring itself and the rest for the wall trim, paint, etc.

I hope you found this little project interesting. Aloha!!!

Our Kauai Fixer Upper: A Short Lanai Follow Up

This will just be a short (sure it will) note about the finishing touches on our lanai remodel. In my previous blog about the lanai renovation (The Great Outdoors), I bloviated incessantly about the repair/refresh of said lanai. The final steps in this process were to install railing that might actually keep you from plunging to the lawn below and possibly becoming maimed or, at the minimum, having your dignity destroyed while crowds of people pointed and laughed at you. Plus we wanted it to look nice.

As a preamble, let me just say that we decided to stay with the 2 Sunsetter awnings as a covering for the lanai rather than building a permanent structure. The main reason for this is that we wanted to use the money towards renovating our master bathroom (and yes, this is a shameless plug for an upcoming post on the master bath reno) before we worried about covering the lanai. We already owned the awnings so there was no additional cost.

The railing is a Trex system and is your basic 36″ in height. The main delays in getting this installed have been getting past the holiday season and waiting for the parts for the stairway rails to arrive from the mainland.

But I digress. Let us take a peek at the condition of the original railing before it was rightfully demolished by the construction crew. If you cover your eyes with your hand while looking at the photos they will scare you less, just like when you cover your eyes while watching a scary movie. Maybe.

Is it leaning? You BET it’s leaning!

That is a whole lot of NOPE!

These conditions were repeated for every section of the railing. Very bad, very bad indeed.

But, as sunshine can burst through clouds on a blustery day, so can renovations transform disastrous nastiness. Also, here are the ‘after’ pictures.

So yes, pretty awesome results. A nice place to hang out and no more worries about wood rot or any of that other nonsense.

So… this was short and sweet. Hope you like these final pix of our lanai transformation.

Aloha and thanks for dropping in!

Our Kauai Fixer-Upper: Cleaning up the Laundry Room

The Dirty History

December 16, 2016, a day that will live in laundry room infamy. OK – maybe that’s a little dramatic. I mean, it’s just a laundry room.


Ask yourself these questions:

  • Would you paint the laundry room an ugly industrial green – the same color that they used to paint all the machines in the television factory that I used to work in?
  • Would you use a 3 gallon BBQ propane tank that sits on the floor under the laundry tub to provide the gas for your dryer?
  • Would you hang closet doors at the opening to the laundry room that block at least half the egress to the washer/dryer no matter whether they are opened or not?
  • Would you install shelves very low over the decrepit laundry tub that limits your use of the laundry tub?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you may be the previous owner of this house and probably don’t want to read the rest of this post. You are welcome to skip to the end and view the “after” pictures. BUT, if you answered an emphatic “NO” to all of these questions, then you are welcome to continue on this laundry room journey.

Let us embark upon our laundry adventure.


The before pictures… these were taken before we had moved into the house. Keep in mind that this was how it looked after being prepared to show potential home buyers. I can’t even imagine what it looked like normally. Well, I can imagine it, but that’s just icky. 🤮

I don’t even want to know why there is cookware stacked in the laundry room. 🤭

The sign is appropriate I think 😱

So, everything had to go. We got rid of the washer and dryer ASAP and had the propane plumbed in correctly from a real live propane tank OUTSIDE of the house. We bought a new washer and dryer to replace the oldies that we gave away. But we didn’t do anything else since we were busy with other more pressing projects. We just lived with the ugly laundry room because, well, it’s a laundry room!

Fast forward to now. Most of our critical improvements have been addressed ( if you don’t count the master bathroom, which will happen next year). So now we can clean/pretty up the laundry area.

First things first. We removed everything from the room and took out the old, crappy shelves.

There were 2×4’s that were (ostensibly) being used as backsplash. No no no no NO!

Yes, the beat up laundry sink was removed too and cut up. Don’t mess with Tony Montana! The faucet was leaky and is now pushing up daisies.

These broken jalousie mechanisms are goners, too.

The big shelf can stay. Lots of storage there.

OK. We removed everything so we had room to work. I’m not going to get too windy in this blog because, well, LAUNDRY ROOM. But pictures can talk, so….

Nice view, ugly room

Removed the old jalousies and found hundreds of gecko eggs. 🦎🦎🦎

After removal of old jalousies and a couple coats of paint. Better.
Let the painting begin!

The new vinyl jalousies look way better. Also sealed against geckos. 🦎🦎🦎

Amazing what some paint will do for a room. We patched holes and sealed up openings against bugs and also re-screened the windows with new material. The valves for the sink were replaced. We had to cut back the plumbing because it stuck out far enough to hit the back of the laundry sink and keep it from meeting up with the wall. We ordered a new sink and faucet to replace the old battered setup.

Light and bright!

New plates for the valves. The small things make a big difference sometimes.

A new LED light for the room.

We decided to repaint the concrete floor with a gray concrete paint. This is the first coat.

After the final coat. Still wet. The paint is the non-slip type and is a little rough – like sandpaper – to the touch.

Here is the floor after the paint has dried. Also notice that we painted the drain cutout and replaced the old electrical outlet with a GFI outlet to bring it up to code.

We are almost ready to reinstall the appliances now but we wanted to add some quarter round trim to clean up the edges that no one will ever see or look at. Because that’s how we roll. 🤙

Still a little rough around the edges but caulk and touch up paint will take care of that.

We filled the gaps between the T-111 and the trim with caulk and spackled the nail holes on the trim before we did final touch up.

The trim looks way better after the final touch up painting. Not bad!

First the sink… we got a nicer faucet with a pull out sprayer. No leaky faucet any longer!

Next we put the dryer in. Attaching the vent hose is always great fun. 🤬

The washer is in and hooked up. But we’re not quite done yet..

The Final Touches

The last part of this fabulous narrative will detail (and I use that term loosely) the final pieces of the project. Here we go…

Storage additions. We added hangers for our brooms and cleaning instruments. Between the washer and dryer we put a rollout drawer that has three shelves to store laundry related items on. A lot of the stuff we had on the wall shelves went here. At the top of the picture you can see the galvanized pipe for hanging clothes after removing them from the dryer. We also put some hooks on the wall to hang the laundry basket from.

We installed two new shelves that we made ourselves. One for holding the laundry soap and the other for miscellaneous storage. We added a paper towel bar under the back shelf. A hook for hand towels was hung under the side shelf.

The final result!

This may not have been the most exciting project (helloooooo, laundry room!) that we have been involved in, but we really like the result. The space went from feeling dingy, dark and broken down to light, bright and functional.

Aloha and thanks for reading my blog!!!

Our Kauai Fixer Upper – Pool Party

When we bought the house back in December, 2016, one of the “bonuses” was that the property had a pool. In San Diego we had installed pools in each of our last two home and got a lot of use out of them. So when we saw that this house boasted a pool we were pretty excited.

Now the pool itself is not a gunnite and plaster pool as we were used to on the mainland. The pool is actually an in-ground (or in-deck in this case) vinyl pool. Which means that even though it looks like a regular pool at first glance, it is actually lined with vinyl instead of plaster. The benefit of this is that the pool is much less expensive to build here on Kauai. The downside is the liner will wear out and need to be replaced periodically.

We had the pool inspected before we bought the house by a local pool company. The inspection revealed that there was a water leak on the filter and that the controller for the filter/pump did not work so they couldn’t do any diagnostics on the salt water chlorination. They did not find any major problems with the liner other than its age.

During our purchase of the house the seller up and moved and left the pool without any supervision. The next door neighbors would come over and throw some shock into the pool periodically and add water. We would come by pretty frequently and try to maintain it but it wasn’t our property yet so technically we weren’t supposed to do anything with it. Algae was a problem and the filter would never shut off because of the bad controller. It was shockapalooza with concentrated chlorine powder for a couple of months to keep the pool from turning into a mucky mess.

Let the Repairs Begin!

Finally our escrow closed and we were able to start fixing things. The house itself was a dump – as I have already chronicled in previous blog posts, but the pool needed attention as well.

The first thing I did was to fix the leak on the filter. The outflow pipe from the filter was cross threaded into the valve housing (really?) and so there was a continuous leak when the pump was running. In addition, when I went to remove the fitting, the flexible PVC pipe came right out of the connecting fitting on its other end – badly glued. I had ordered some new tubing and fittings and was hoping that I wouldn’t have to replace the valve due to damage from the cross threaded fitting in the valve housing. Fortunately with the new fittings I was able to clean up the threads and, with the help of some pipe sealant, I was able to repair the leak.

The next thing was the controller. $400 for a new display module that runs the controller and the fix was done. I could now let the pump run on a timer instead of having to turn the breaker on and off manually. The new controller also let me know that the salt chlorine generator had passed on to the Big Pool in the Sky and that also needed to be replaced. Not cheap!!!

With the new chlorinator in place, I didn’t need to shock the pool anymore to keep the chlorine level up and I was adding less water since the leak was fixed. The previous owner had also been using chlorine tablets in a floating dispenser which is not good for a vinyl pool as it can cause the vinyl to degrade – I threw that thing in the trash. The salt level in the pool also stabilized since it was no longer leaking so much water.

This was all done between the months of December 2016 and March 2017. In March we were swimming in the pool. 😁

In April we noticed the first small hole in the liner. It was in the corner above the water line, and was barely larger than a pinhole. I got a vinyl patch kit and patched it but we could see that it wouldn’t be that long before the liner would need to be replaced. The voice of doom.

The pool was actually fine through most of summer of 2017. Some more holes started showing up in another corner of the pool and then some longer tears in the vinyl. Also, towards August the pool started losing a LOT of water. The level was dropping an inch and a half a day at least. Normal is maybe one quarter of an inch. The holes in the vinyl that we knew about were all above the water line so WTF!? We started shopping for a new liner and someone to install it.

In the meantime I got out my snorkel gear and became a leak detective. Using a syringe with red food dye I would swim around the pool and find where the dye got sucked through tiny holes in the liner. I patched 5 or 6 of the little buggers but the pool was still losing water. Then, suddenly, it stopped losing water. Weird. We think that the hotter weather had caused the plastic skimmer faceplate to warp and that the water was escaping there. When the weather cooled down a bit the leaking stopped (mostly). But the vinyl was starting to show larger and large holes in one corner and was very brittle.

I tried patching this monster hole with flex seal tape but it kept getting larger and larger

We continued our search for someone to replace the liner. There was a mom and pop vinyl pool place on Oahu that would come to Kauai and measure, order, and install a new vinyl liner. We started to get the process moving on that but, part way into it and ready to order the liner, one of the owners started to have serious health issues. So we delayed the replacement until she could recover. The pool was holding water ok, and we really liked the couple who were running the show there, so we decided to give them as much time as we could before looking elsewhere.

In the meantime, the old Hayward motor on the filter gave up the ghost and we had to replace that. The new motor was more efficient and way more quiet (to our neighbor’s delight). The liner continued to degrade but we just kept patching the corners every time new holes showed up.

Spring 2018 came and the pool folks from Oahu were still busy with medical issues. The liner was not getting any better but we weren’t losing a lot of water yet so we were content to wait.

Then the weather started warming up and we started losing water again. We began a new search for someone to replace our liner. We found a pool place in Kapaa and went over to talk to the owner. At this point we thought we might just replace the pool with a swim spa or see if we could get it resurfaced with plaster. The owner there told us they didn’t do vinyl, but also dissuaded us from changing the pool due to how expensive it would be. At least 40k to start for either alternative! The liner, on the other hand, might be 6 or 7k. They didn’t do liner replacement themselves but she knew a guy who did. She put us in touch with him and we got the process started.

But things move slow here. The first step was to make sure that the leaks were not also in the plumbing. It wouldn’t do us any good to install a brand new liner and then have leaks in the piping leading to the pool. So we let the pool sit and allowed the water level to keep dropping so we could see if it stopped when it got lower than the return lines etc. We were bummed that the pool was so low and mostly unusable. Well, again the pool stopped leaking on its own while it was still higher than the plumbing so we determined that the plumbing was OK. We filled the pool back up so we could use it and got the new liner measured and ordered. The quote for the whole job actually came in well below our initial estimate of $7,000.

Fast forward to October. The liner is here and ready for install. Here are a few pictures of the process.

As you can see the new liner is quite a bit darker. We really like how it looks.

So, the end of the pool story.

Not so fast.

Once the pool was filled, I added salt and a little chlorine to get it started. The next day I came out and the level had dropped TWO AND A HALF INCHES! This was WAY worse than before we had replaced the old liner. I called the installer and let him know what was going on. He said he would come out the next day and figure out where the leak was. In the meantime I got out my snorkel stuff and the red food dye for detecting leaks and identified some pretty significant leaks. One looked like his helper had gotten wonky with a screwdriver and poked a hole in the liner next to the steps. The other was very close to the first leak but it was leaking through the gasket where the liner connects to the steps.

So the installer comes out the next day and patches the leaks and is very apologetic. He is a good guy and very conscientious. I would hire him again. We fill the pool back up.

End of story right?

Not so fast.

We are still losing about a half inch of water a day, about double what it should lose. I do some more leak detecting but can’t find anything. However to make this very long story short, the enclosure for the light fixture had a small leak from its original installation. I used putty to seal the leak where the wire comes through and it looks like it is all good now. Pool is losing less than a quarter inch a day now.

End of story, right?


Here is the finished pool. Groovy. Another project checked off the list.

Our Kauai Fixer-Upper: The Great Outdoors

Where we’re at…

Now that we are done refinishing the floors, we have turned our attention to getting some work done on the outside of the house. That means that the lanai (porch or deck to my mainland friends, ha ha) is next on the hit parade.

One of the selling points of this house, according to the person we bought it from, was the huge lanai with the awesome view. Which was true if you discounted the fact that the boards had started cracking and warping, most of the railings were unsafe due to wood rot and she had just painted over the old paint in an effort to hide the soon-to-be rotting boards through out the lanai. Oh and the bonus was that the Sunsetter Awning that she had installed as a cover was rickety and corroded and falling apart.

That being said, it IS a huge lanai, about 840 square feet. Almost as large as our last house lol, which was 912 square feet.

This is a general “before” shot of the lanai. Gotta love the rope rails.

Yeah I peeled the paint up with my fingers. The wood underneath was saturated with water. It was just a matter of time until these turned to mush.

Don’t lean against the railing!!!!!!!!! Moisture damage has consumed this, and many other boards.

I understand you want the hardware to be tight, but…. DON’T CRACK THE WOOD!!!!!

The stairs and rails were built so close to the house that you couldn’t maintain the rain gutter or the dryer vent from the laundry room. The rain gutter fell apart and the water would just pour right under the stairs. Plus they built the stairs on top of some stepping stones. WTF

The railing on the other side of steps. Totally rotten.

You can see the cracked paint where the water gets in and gets trapped.

The underside of the lanai was also pretty ugly. Since the overhang was pretty large, it didn’t get a lot of sun. So “stuff” was growing on the wood. Even though it looked gross, it didn’t actually damage the wood.

Well, you get the picture(s). The lanai needed some work haha.

Fortunately we obtained a referral from a person we met while trying to find a contractor to replace the vinyl liner for our pool (that will be a whole different post). The contractor had done some work for this person and she was highly complimentary of his work.

So we called him up and he was able to get us a quote pretty quickly. When he came over with the proposal, we were pleasantly surprised to find out that he was ready to have a crew over the next day to get started. We actually had him wait a day so we could get all our things off the lanai and retract our awnings.

Let the demolition begin!

Two days after signing the proposal, there was a trash dumpster parked in our front yard and a crew of guys that began removing the deck boards and railings.

Surprisingly enough, the wood underneath the lanai was not in bad shape or rotted. A few places were splintered from removing the deck boards but generally the wood itself was still strong. The overhang at the front of the lanai was going to be cut back which is more sound structurally and also makes it easier to maintain going forward.

Unfortunately, other problems were found. When the guys were measuring the lanai out from the house to make sure everything was square they found a problem where it looked like the structure had pulled away from the house. The measurement on the front side was OK and square but there was a gap somehow on one end of the lanai where there wasn’t any on the other end… so it looked like the lanai had pulled away from the house there. Since the supports were only secured with a single bolt at the bottom, we thought that they might have pivoted forward a bit.

As it turns out, there used to be a 1×4 between the house and the lanai. But it had rotted away and instead of replacing it the previous owner had someone just put some wood screws in to try and hold the lanai there. Cue the carnival music, please.

The contractor and I went under the house to see what the deal was and it turns out that the girder for the house there was completely eaten through by termites. There were no live termites but it was left over from when they had tented the house 3 years ago. We actually found the damage by accident because the girder looked fine to the eye. I happened to knock on it while down there and it sounded hollow. I actually was able to just push right through it with my finger.

This is a view underneath the house of the bad girder…

These supports only had a single bolt in them and allowed the lanai to pivot and lean forward.

So we knew we had to replace the girder there under the house, which added $$$ to the project. Fortunately, the guys that were there were able to replace the girder. They actually used a larger 4 x 12 piece (instead of a 4 x 6)of wood so it could hang down further and we could secure the lanai to it.

Here is the same area with the new girder and spacer board.

An added expense to be sure, but I’m glad we found and fixed the damage before it collapsed on its own. It seems like there’s always something when we start digging in on these projects.

It only took the guys about a day to complete the repairs and then they were back on track to continue prepping the old structure for the new deck. There was, of course, more shoddy workmanship/installation found. The stairs leading up to the lanai from the pool deck had extensive wood rot from water damage. The railing was totally ready to collapse and the right side of the stairs would list to one side if you stepped on them. As a bonus they built the stairs right up against the house. The laundry room is on the other side of the wall and the dryer vent was right there also so there was no way to get in and clean or maintain that area.

Here is a photo (below) of the area from when we were buying the house. The rain gutter was conveniently run down the side of the house and under the stairs. They actually did run the drain under the stairs but tried to do it using just rain gutters. Which fell apart. So….

Here are photos of this fabulous area once the stairs were removed.

Nice eh? I like how they used stepping stones to support the stairs instead of, you know, securing them to the already level and solid CEMENT DECK!

You can see how the wood under the one side had just fallen apart.

Problem, what problem?!

Happily, this nonsense is now all removed. The new stringers for the stairs will sit on the cement deck and I will run an underground drain beneath the stairs to keep water from pooling there.

These are the new stringers for the stairs. We will now have about 3 or 4 feet between the house and the stairs in case we need to get in there and maintain the area.

Anyway, back to the deck, er lanai.

After squaring up the deck to the house, new wood was installed around the edges.

All of the overhanging supports were cut back even with the front girder. The stairway that used to be up front was removed. Good riddance, I say!

All of the supports in front were replaced. Not because the wood was bad but because they were uneven and they caused the lanai to have a “wave” to it. The old supports were used to replace the center posts to completely level the surface.

Much better! Level, square and fresh paint. Which brings us to…

Making it pretty

Now that all the remediation was taken care of, the Trex could be installed. Moisture barrier was applied to the top of all the supports and then the Trex installation actually began. Here are some pictures after about a day and a half of installation.

The trim boards have some screws showing, but the main part of the lanai will have hidden fasteners.

The lanai is trimmed into three different sections to give it some interest and reduce waste.


Voila! The lanai is done. Clean and beautiful and a lot cooler on the feet than the old wood deck. We are also going to build a cover for it and get rid of the awnings, so we are waiting until we have that quote next week to design/install the railings. That will be another blog post.

In the meantime, I have to go and board up some windows as hurricane Lane spins towards us….

Yep, ready for the storm now. Wish us luck!

%d bloggers like this: