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high desert. small house.

Days 272-276: Paneling Part IV, More Bathroom…Again

Monday, 4/11
A day of fixing outlets and working on the shower enclosure.  Even though we had reset several outlets over the weekend, we were not satisfied with how they looked once the cover plate was attached.  Then, we learned of a great thing [finally] – box extenders!

The box extenders allow us to keep the nail-on boxes in their original positions and require no effort to install.

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Here’s what happens most of the time when you try to reposition a nail-on box.  It’s usually not JUST recessed, but also out of plane somewhat due to natural stud irregularities.

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Locally available box extenders. The white Arlington ones are the way to go for us as they have virtually no lower depth limit. The blue Carlon one – without cutting – seems like it has a minimum extension of 3/8″. All of our recess problems are in the area of 1/8″ so that’s no good.

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Brian found this ‘S1’ square driver bit that works 400 – 8000 times better than philips or flathead for installing outlets. Brian can’t believe we had this the whole time and didn’t use it till now.  It even works with the screws we stripped out already.

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Box extender in action. Its fingers on the top and bottom FIND the wall plane and….

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…voila! Perfect mounting every time.

Next shower enclosure update: after dry-fitting it on Sunday, we learned that the weird protruding studs that hold the front  edges of the side panels were a little too high.   Enter the oscillating tool – quick shave down and all is well.

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Studs that needed to be shaved down.

Brian was beginning to attach the panels to the studs when I arrived after work.  I helped counterweight the stool so Brian could lean over the shower base distance to reach the back wall and drill holes.  The plan is to attach the shower prior to applying the adhesive so that all the holes and placement are established.  This will enable a speedy attachment process so that the panels can get locked properly in place before the adhesive dries.

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The back panel is [prematurely] shimmed & screwed in place.

Tuesday, 4/12
Rain, rain go away….Pinos Altos even got snow.  Holy moly.

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The inexpensive way to get taller.

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The trench we dug last monsoon season ended up very shallow after we filled in the grounding rod trench. As a result – water pooling. Brian dug it out and fixed the slope.

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Once the house is done, we need to have another load of base course brought in to elevate the ground around the french drain [see gravel channel to the right].  At least the pools now disappear quickly.

Today Brian began working on the bracing system that will load the walls of the shower enclosure while the adhesive cures.  He also shimmed and screwed the side walls of the shower enclosure and readjusted the back panel to make the top flush.

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First attempt at a brace system.  Not sure whether to clamp or….screw it in place under load?

Wednesday, 4/13
Brian rant:

“The sphinx-people at Delta tech support like to recommend third party products in such a way that they are likely to remain a mystery.  Previously the manual requested a latex/acrylic sealant for the drain flange which I couldn’t find locally or on the internet until 3 weeks later.  Apparently ‘Master Plumber’ makes it.  This time I needed clarification on the sealant that goes between and around the panels.  They specify an ‘advanced kitchen and bath polymer sealant’.  “Silicone? No we don’t like silicone”, they say.  Reviewers of the enclosure corroborate, saying silicone detaches after awhile.  If you look at all available options, ‘DAP 3.0 Advanced Kitchen and Bath Sealant’ seems like the closest match.  But guess what?  It’s silicone based. What about the ‘polymer’ part of Delta’s description?  Well ANY caulk is polymer based – even silicone ones, so that doesn’t really help.  Anyhow, as far as I can tell, Lexel is what Delta is recommending and we’ll see how it goes.  A reviewer of a different Delta shower enclosure claimed that Lexel is the only thing that will stick to it.”

On the brace front Brian devised a way to use shims to create a brace system that would load itself in place.  This is an improvement on the system created yesterday.

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Shims attached with countersunk screws…

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…wedging against another shim set…

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….the result is self-adjusting, gravity-locked bracing.

Thursday, 4/14
A very exciting day at the Arched Cabin!!!

The shower enclosure’s protruding stud on the left side had a crown such that the middle was 4mm sunk in from the top & bottom.  Since the shower door rail mounts on this, the crown has to be dealt with.  Brian made a shim construct in the center and took pictures of it.

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Uncrowning complete. Now the shower door rail won’t have a bend in it.

Next up – filling the gaps on the bathroom paneling.  After cutting and attaching the piece over the pocket door side, we realized what we had once considered an inconvenience (the small gap) was actually an artistic opportunity to make the wall look really cool.  After seeing how cool it came out on the pocket door side of the bathroom, we decided we would replicate the look on the kitchen side.

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Beautiful wood paneling on the pocket door side of the bathroom

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1/2″ plywood complete on the pocket door wall.

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Braces in place, adhesive drying….

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Toilet temporarily used to back-stop the back-wall braces.

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We celebrated our 1 year anniversary (which is actually Saturday) by going out for dinner at Tre Rosat. We had the FANTASTIC Jam’d Kobe Burger and Fettuccine Alla Carbonara with Duck Confit.  Both absolutely delicious.

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Dessert was to-die-for Key Lime Pie. Best key lime pie we have found outside of The Keys.

Friday, 4/15
First task – remove the shower enclosure braces.  Next, attach the skinny piece for the gap on the kitchen side and reinforce the seam by attaching a bunch of ‘junk’ pieces of lumber (see last picture for clarification). Lastly, cut and attach horizontal panels for the remainder of the kitchen side.

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Kitchen side of the bathroom – we went with the same paneling pattern as on the other side.  (Close-up is featured at top of post)

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Inside of the kitchen wall – in order to attach the skinny strip between the two big panels, we had to attach some ‘junk’ to the studs that would be attachment points for the edge of the paneling. You can see the ‘junk’ because it is blue.  The lesson we’ve learned is to always end a tri-ply panel on a stud, or else it may have floppy gaps.  If you can’t end on a stud, you will have to make a stud out of scraps like this.  Waste of time.


  1. Chelsea, you know that I have built many homes and structures. My question would be, why no GWB, (sheetrock)? Required everywhere I have been, counting all the metal buildings I’ve put up. Required for fire blocking! Looking great!

    • We went with wood paneling because the sheetrock was unlikely to conform to the rounded walls near the top of the arch. Also, handling the 4×4’s up high was hard enough; I can’t image doing it with 4×8 sheetrock. Fire blocking – We’ve been given a green light at every inspection so I’m pretty sure we’re okay. Maybe NM is different? Or maybe some of the code doesn’t apply because it’s one room?

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