My wife is traveling this week, visiting Naples, Florida. While she is away I have begun our next phase of home renewal. We are replacing the floor in her sewing room. It sounds easy since we just finished the master bedroom and have all that new knowledge and experience. Shawn’s suggestion was I leave it until her return but I am looking at the calendar and the approaching holidays and figure a week of delay would not be a good idea. Besides the prep work does not involve power tools so I won’t be in danger of putting my hand into a table saw like I did during her last Naples trip. I have been told the vacuum cleaner, washer/dryer, and the dishwasher are not considered power tools and I am free to use those as needed. Power tools have cords and rotating blades.
Step 1 on a room makeover is to get everything out of the room. And it all has to be put somewhere so it will not be in the way of the work or the normal living. This is a logistics problem, kind of like solving a 3 dimensional puzzle and I like a challenge. There is a large “L” shaped work surface that holds the sewing machines and all kinds of what-nots. On the wall are two 16” shelves, 12 feet long stacked with plastic storage boxes and all kinds of sewing room goodies. And the closet is another trove of stuff, some of which I cannot identify. But it belongs to Shawn and with great care I invested 3 evenings to get everything moved and stowed away. I hope I can remember where it all went.
The sewing room’s first occupant was our daughter Amanda. She claimed the space the day we bought the house and as I dismantled things I found some memories of her childhood. Amanda is creative and is the CEO, owner, and genius behind Wit&Whistle . Check it out sometime. Her blog rocks and has followers all over the world. ( http://witandwhistle.com/blog/ )
Look at this little eyelet installed on the back of the door. This is the last remnant of Amanda’s self-designed system of strings and pulleys that allowed her to stay in bed and open or close her door. Pull one cord to open it and another to shut it. She showed me her plan one evening, sketched out on paper (wish I still had it) and we were off to Ace hardware to get the parts. I was ok drilling all those holes in the sheetrock and the door. Spackle is cheap. Memories are valuable. And creative children need to be encouraged, not squelched because it might cause a mess.
Once the room was clear, the carpet could be removed. It is hard to remove carpet with furniture sitting on it. I am amazed at the little piles of sand I found under the padding next to the subfloor and assume the carpet acts as a sieve to filter out all the nasty stuff, leaving the pretty sand behind. I cut the carpet into manageable sized portions and rolled the padding and carpet together to make it easier. The length was determined by the length of the bed of my pickup as well as the limits of how much I can pick up and carry. At the dump each roll had to be lifted over a safety fence and propelled into a large dumpster. That action can be a back breaker if the object being dumped is heavy.
The floor had some squeaks so I used wood screws in the subfloor to quiet those. It is not an exact science and after many tries I still have one combination of stepping that will cause a squeak. Oh, well! Our home has character. All the staples and tack strips used for the carpet had to be pulled up. And the room door as well as the double sliding mirror door on the closet had to be removed.
Our home was built with something called popcorn on the ceilings. It is a splattering of a spackle like substance that covers a multitude of sheetrock shortcuts. I hate this stuff. I hate even more taking it off. It is a dirty, messy job and some professional painters refuse to tackle it. Wear old clothes and make sure you have safety goggles protecting your eyes. Nothing like a trip to the ER to stop a DIY project before it gets started. As this is now my 4th job removing popcorn, I am learning some helpful tips. Buy plastic sheeting and cover the entire floor. Tape it about 4 or 5 inches up the wall using painter’s tape. I did not go high enough and ended up with the droppings stuck to the baseboards which then had to be cleaned up. After the popcorn is harvested, the plastic can be rolled up with all the mess and tossed. The popcorn will stick to shoes, clothes, eye glasses, hair … OK, you get the idea. I started in the far corner and worked toward the door and still had 1/2 inch of gunk stuck in my shoe treads. At least it was not doggy doo!
We are lucky that our popcorn was never painted. Removal requires simply spraying a section at a time with warm water, waiting a minute or so, and scraping gently with a wide putty knife. Hold the knife at about 10 degrees so the edges do not gouge into the ceiling. Go slowly – wet sheetrock paper damages easily. Also the paper trim used at seams and along the borders with the ceiling will fall apart if it gets too wet so proceed with caution. Expect the job to be tedious. I would suggest taking breaks but once you start this it is probably best to keep on till it is done. Some sections will have to be re-sprayed and scraped a second time.
The room went pretty well – I had to re-spackle along the edges and replace one small piece of sheetrock by the heat vent. The builder messed up the size of that hole and used a thin layer of spackle to hide his very large mistake. I attempted to recover it with spackle but gave up and did it right. And another warning – the ceiling fan motor and blades will attract falling popcorn so switch it off and cover it with plastic. I removed the fan and hung up a cheater light during the project but that requires some knowledge of electricity and wiring so do not attempt it if you are not trained.
It has been 3 grueling days sanding and painting but the ceiling is done, the walls are primed and when my lovely bride returns, she can pick her wall color and I will get back to work. What motivates me to take on a project like this one? Do I like being covered with sheetrock dust?
Nope. I love my wife and she does so much to make my life great. Giving her an updated space for her sewing adventures is such a small way to say, “Thanks, Honey!”
Here is a picture of the finished ceiling with the fan and new vent cover installed. I think she will like the result.