DIY Planking – what NOT to-do

It is no secret that I am an avid admirer of just how clean planking looks and how it has the power to transform a small misshapen nook of a dining room into a light and open space. Four years ago, we decided to embark upon our first DIY-Planking escapade and two years later, with a lot of breaks in between, we were finally able to enjoy our success. Was it perfect? Far from it but from the picture below, it’s hard to see the imperfections as they just added to the charm.

Despite the unexpected issues we came across, after thinking ourselves newfound experts thanks to endless blog tutorials and YouTube tutorials, I am happy to report that our love of planking entire rooms or mere accent features has not dulled in the slightest.

However, that being said…I did want to offer a bit of advice to anyone about to plunge into a wood plank/Shiplap project before you get started so you don’t make the same rookie mistakes we did on our first try.

 

A few in-progress photos…just a lil’ tasting!

 

Tips & Tricks of the Trade we SWEAR by:

  1. Paint the walls you are intending to cover FIRST. If you don’t, removing planks and starting over is a major pain in the neck…not to mention that whatever current wall color is present will bleed through the gaps in the planks which will throw off the overall look. (We opted for a Flat Enamel finish on the walls in a Paint/Primer combo and then used a Satin finish for the planks themselves.)
  2. When you do have all of your planks fastened securely to the walls, make certain to paint the planks horizontally. Apply only a thin coating over a foam roller to lessen the likelihood of any paint smudging in the gaps between each plank. (We used a 6″ foam roller for a smoother finish and due to the fact we elected for 6″ wide planks. Made it go by in a breeze! …once we got going that is. ^^)
  3. If you are going to have your 8×4′ sheet cut down into individual planks at your local home improvement store, just be aware that they never guarantee precision cuts. There is always the likelihood that they may not remeasure before each new cut. Always just ask nicely / remind them to do so, otherwise by your last plank, you may find it 4 1/4″ vs 6″ wide.
  4. Once cut, because the material is lightweight compressed plyboard, the edges will very likely have a good deal of splintering. Very carefully hand sand those edges before applying the planks to the walls or painting, it will save you a headache later on. Always move in one direction, following the wood grain, and in gentle motions so as not to splinter the edges further. If they aren’t perfectly even or straight after sanding, DON’T WORRY, once all is said and done I promise you, it only adds to the charm and yields more character.
  5. The best advice for any home project, to be honest, #thewallisneverperfectlystraight. Ever. Seriously. Our former home that we did this dining nook in was a new construction home and each wall was off by at least 1/8″ and certain areas nearing the ceiling bowed out slightly. Measure, measure, and re-measure!
  6. Remember to account for any electrical outlets and fixtures that you will need to cut out in advance before applying your planks to the walls.
  7. Last but most importantly, once you finish painting a plank go back above and beneath the plank, in that little nickel wide spacing you’ve left, with a clean toothpick to smooth out any potential paint that’s gummed up inside the gap. If you don’t, you will lose the integrity of the “planked look” and it will appear far less pronounced.

But in the end, it’s always entirely worth all the sweat work. I’ve included a couple photos after we’d finished planking, painting, and applying caulking. What do you think? Not too bad for a couple of rookies, right?

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Stonecreek Dining Room

Cheers!

~Christy

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Problem-solving on the fly – Not this again!

“Do you ever have déjà vu, Mrs. Lancaster?”
“I don’t think so, but I could check with the kitchen.”
-Groundhog Day – 1993

    It’s always nice when things fall neatly into place, but quite often it seems that will not be the case because the house throws you a curveball or three and suddenly it’s as if you’re stuck in the Groundhog’s Day of home remodeling.

Since we started on this house 3 1/2 years ago, we’ve learned more than our fair share of lessons the difficult way. Not for lack of trying mind you, more so due to … what we will call a lack of information.

    The way most projects go is as follows: make a plan and do any and all appropriate research, materials are purchased, project is started, and then, the “Oh S*** moment” happens where all the hard work and planning you’ve done starts to fall apart at the seams and you’re forced to take a step back and rethink everything.

    Let me back up a bit here. We started painting our closet and quickly realized that the areas we had so painstakingly spackled and sanded smooth, stood out starkly against the rest of the rather textured wall.

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Sanded vs original

With the walls already primed, we decided against trying to skim the closet walls, opting instead to complete painting and move on to the next area.

   Now, most paint rollers will leave some sort of texture on even a completely smooth surface such as drywall. The thickness of the woven cover a.k.a. the “nap” of a roller will determine how much of a texture will be left on your walls and the type of surface you’re painting on will determine how thick of a nap you need. They can range in thickness from 1/4″ onwards to 1″ and are labeled with their thickness and best uses.

   Back on point here, we chose 3/8″ nap rollers which are a fairly common choice for walls and ceilings and only leave a slight texture. The previous owners, however, must have used a much thicker nap roller as the rather obvious texture on our walls makes it look like they used an orange peel instead of a paint roller. And when you add sloppy brushwork (drips and all), with uneven and heavily textured walls, and well, you can start to see our predicament.

   Skimming walls would be the ideal answer but from our experiences thus far in wall skimming, it’s incredibly labor intensive and material intensive. We easily blew through more than one 5-gallon bucket off drywall mud on the two skim jobs we did earlier in the year. And working in a small 5’x5’ish “room”, the mere thought of trying to maneuver a bucket, ladder, paint tray, and all our other supplies in such a small space is cold sweat, panic-inducing kind of stuff nightmares are made of.

    So now what? Well, they necessity is the mother of invention and while we didn’t actually invent this method of skimming, I doubt we would have tried this had our hand not been somewhat forced. Now many of the online DIYers prefer what I call the quick and dirty skim method which is just drywall mud, a trowel (or tray) and a putty knife, as opposed to using the roll-on method that we had previously used.

   We simply laid on as thin a coat of non-watered down drywall mud as possible. It was just enough to fill in and smooth out the walls. It took a bit of doing to get the right rhythm and thickness down but once we got in the groove, it turned out quite nicely.

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   Once everything had dried, only a light sanding was in order to get it ready to paint. Will we continue to use this method on future walls? I don’t know. Working in a 5 x 5 space is a lot different than on a 12′ long wall. I guess we’ll just have to see. (Also, my apologies for so many boring pictures of plain walls. Perhaps the next post will feature slightly more dynamic photos.)

-Cheers!

Paintbrush in hand and here we go!

It’s been a busy few months for us at Parkside. Life just keeps rolling by (brakes anyone?) and we’ve been hard-pressed to keep up with everything going on. At least now that the holidays in full swing, I have a moment, albeit a very brief one, to stop and play a bit of catch up on all these projects.

Our biggest update to the house in recent weeks has been painting. It’s only taken 3 years to get to this point but it’s finally happening! That’s right – we PAINTED. I’ll let you have a moment to let that news sink in. (Technically we did paint a couple years ago but since that wall had to be skimmed over, I’m going to say it doesn’t really count so shhhh! Also, there’s the fact that the color we had previously used turned out much darker than I had originally thought and I ended up not really loving it.)

But back on track now – with the walls of our side (main) entryway painted a lovely soft gray, all that’s left to do in there is hang trim and our closet organizer. It’ll be our first fully completed room project since we started. There aren’t enough words to express how excited I am! Stay tuned for more excitement to come!My husband did a good bit of the painting with help from my stepson who was all gung-ho about it, jumping and practically chest bumping the walls to maximize his limited reach. It was quite entertaining to watch.

 

 

 

Spackle & Sand 2.0

It’s day #22,147,895 of remodeling here at Parkside. As of late, it’s been a seemingly never-ending repetition of spackle and sanding. We’ve just started in on our 4th? 5th? 5-gallon bucket of drywall mud. The drop cloths are being washed for the second time in a week and my floors are covered in a fine white dust from sanding which makes me wonder if they’ll ever be clean again.

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So much drywall mud!

The hubby and I spent a good portion of our weekend working in the hopes that we’ll get one step closer to painting (the paint that’s been sitting in our someday-rec room/current storage of whatever room since Memorial Day weekend.) And while what we’re doing is not terribly difficult work, it is slow and tedious. But still, we press on! Using the good old divide and conquer method, I went to work sanding while he spackled over the corner beads in the other room.

Sexy right?

I thought my short little self would be super clever and use the pole sander on the ceiling negating the necessity of a step-stool, but that quickly turned out to be a clusterf*** of a nightmare so the pole sander was relegated to the corner of shame to think about why it wasn’t being helpful. Step stool and sanding blocks it was.

 

I’m hoping that sanding still counts as arm day so I won’t have to work out double.

All jokes and sarcasm aside, it’s been hard. And it’s been slow. There are many days when neither of us has the motivation to work, days when the progress seems so slow and the work yet to be done is cripplingly overwhelming. As much as I hate to admit it, I’ve had a good cry or three about this house and desperate prayers whispered in the middle of the night for continued perseverance and patience.

Then I look at how far we’ve come, in spite of how much work there is left to do. We had beautiful new floors and carpet installed this spring, the corner beads are mounted and we’re nearing the end of the mudding that needs to be done on those.

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One more coat should do it!

I think of how much I’ve learned here, and while I would never consider myself or the husband experts by any means, we have learned skills that will make the next remodel project just a little bit easier. And so we continue to work, and we laugh and cry, and maybe have another glass of wine to help cope with the stress.

Living the spackler’s life

Progress on the house hasn’t been booming. We hit what I’d guess would be a lull or maybe a slump after vacation and now we’re slowly crawling back out. Slump aside, I’m starting to feel like we’ll never get past the spackle and sand phase of the renovation. Ceilings, walls, patch here, more walls. Someone save me from the madness!

Our current project – the one we’ve been at for awhile now – is corner bead spackling. The corner beads are pretty much all mounted so now the task of mudding over to make them smooth and even with the wall. It’s not SO terrible really, just a slow process when you’re unable to do the entire doorway in one go. I mean any spackle project will usually require multiple coats as well, so add that to the mix, stir well and voila! A half-complete doorway! Baby steps right?

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Once this doorway is finished, we have one more to mud, then we sand. And someday we’ll get to paint it. Someday…

Before I go though, I leave you with this: what happens when ginger cat decides he wants to be in on the action too AKA rubbing up against the still-wet drywall mud and leaving cat hair and hair marks in it.

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We were so proud of his contribution he was immediately rewarded with a partial bath – something he was none too thrilled about. Heh.

The Joys of Corner Beading

Okay ladies and gents, this week’s lesson is on corner beads! While it sounds like a super fun craft activity, corner beads are a staple in home building. Apparently they are used to protect the outside corners of your drywall. Now I grew up in the 80’s where people used plastic exterior corner guards so I didn’t even know that these existed until this year.

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Vinyl corner beads seem to be the way to go nowadays so we jumped on board the trend train and a-wayyyy we went!

They’re actually quite easy to install, messy but easy. Whereas metal corner beads need to be nailed or screwed into the wall, vinyl ones can be set with spray adhesive. And the adhesive is nicely colored so you can see where to apply the corner beads after you spray. I think this goes without saying, but just in case, make sure you lay something down on the ground before you spray or do it outside so you don’t get sticky crap all over.

As you can tell, I’m absolutely winning at this spray thing. So proud of how awesomely terrible I am with aiming and spraying it on evenly.

Next on the list is to mud over the corner beads to hide them and then it’ll (hopefully) be time to paint.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to wash my hands again for the umpteenth time. Stupid sticky spray adhesive.

Until next time!

Wall Skimming 2.0: More lessons to learn

So 20 YouTube videos and 2 skimmed walls later, the hubby and I are total pros at this now. If only.
At this point, I’d say we’re semi-capable DIY-ers who are having lots of fun with our hands-on learning.

Here’s a list of things we’ve learned so far:

1. Consistency matters. There doesn’t seem to be a set formula for determining how much water to mix into the drywall mud i.e. 1/2 c. water to 1 g. of drywall joint compound. YouTube and DIY blogs have recommended the thickness be somewhere between mayonnaise and creamy peanut butter. Real talk here: I love that people are using condiments as a reference for mud thickness. I mean, how else are we supposed to gauge it right?

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Looks about right.

 

The first time I think we made it a little too thick and it coated well but it made for difficult rolling. Round 2, I thinned out the mud more and while it rolled on quite easily, it did not coat well. Now they say you’re your own worst critic, but after all was said and done, it was quite obvious that it was an uneven coat with certain spots of the wall being more visible through the skim than others.

2. The second coat should be skimmed at 90 degrees to the first one. So since coat one was pulled vertically, coat two had to be done horizontally. Something we didn’t know to do the first time around. I guess it’s to fill in the gaps better or to get it more even? I’m still learning here!

3. Keep a spray bottle of water handy. The other thing we didn’t know our first time through is that the magic trowel should be wet. We used the spray bottle to keep the squeegee/trowel wet and for keeping the wall damp during pan refills.

Some sites recommend that a quick set compound is used rather than a pre-mixed one since it has a faster drying time but both the hubby and I felt like that was just an extra hassle and the time frame for the quick set compound was too tight to work in.

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Dried skim-coat. Pre-sanding

Quite honestly, I’m still not 100% certain we’re doing it correctly. There seems to be quite a bit of texture on the walls even after a light sanding. The question now is, do we sand it down further, do a third skim-coat, or just paint it and hope for the best. With it taking approximately 2-2.5 hours for each coat, I’m not a particular fan of the third coat option, which leaves us with more sanding or throwing the towel in in favor of painting.

So many decisions and so little time!

Floor Money, Floor Life – Part 2

So. Floors. More specifically the carpeting. I apologize for the 4 million pictures on my last post but it was necessary to show exactly how things were.

It took us an extra week but we finally have gorgeous new flooring and carpeting. It was supposed to be a back to back install. Vinyl one day and carpet the second. Instead there was a slight weather-related hiccup with getting the carpet installed. 

Plans. Heh. Why do we even bother sometimes?

Carpet install day arrived, pouring rain and all. The installer team was concerned about delivering in the rain and us not having a space available (at the time) to cut the carpet indoors. We rescheduled for Saturday. 

Day three arrived with the prospect of carpet installation but sadly it ended with a no-show no-call. We were expecting a late afternoon/early evening arrival but apparently they got tied up on another job and it put them quite a bit behind schedule. Whatever happened to delay them so much during that day, we will never know. I will say that the company’s handling of the situation was professional and prompt, filing a ticket and calling us back quickly to reschedule with priority status for our new install day.

As promised, we were the first appointment for the following Saturday. The install team showed up at 9 and they were quick and efficient, even being kind enough to haul away all the old carpeting as well as leaving the extras for us at our request. (There will be cat tower building in our future. Hopefully sooner rather than later due to the hubby is threatening to turn the cats into Chinese food if they tear up the new carpet.)

Now we have beautiful, soft, new carpeting in both hallways and up the stairs. Another big upgrade from the dingy, worn down carpeting that came with the house.

(Yes the old stuff is quite dirty from the remodel but since they were going to yank it up and haul it away, we figured why bother vacuuming.)

The worst part of this whole flooring experience wasn’t the cancellation and install pushed back or even having my hardwood and laminate dreams dashed once we found out how bad the subfloor really was or the fact that the cost was at least 2.5x’s more than we had hoped for. The hardest part was getting everything prepped and ready for the installers to come out. Pulling up the carpeting itself was easy enough. Getting it rolled and stored out of the way, slightly more work but still not terrible. No. The worst part of this whole process – removing the tack strip and staples after the carpet was up. If you’ve never had to do this, I pray that you never will because staple pulling can be quite hellish.

I felt like one of those characters from Greek mythology who were forced to spend eternity doing labor. Specifically, the guy whose punishment consisted of rolling a huge boulder up a rather steep hill only to have it roll back down before he could reach the top and he’d have to start all over again. An eternity of useless effort and endless frustration. Except for me, it was every time I thought I cleared an area, I’d find more staples, as if they had magically reappeared just to torment me. Okay so maybe I’m exaggerating a bit. It’s not really quite as much of a soul sucking torment as all that but it was incredibly tedious and it most certainly made my knees and back ache. In the end though, the labor, the pain, the cost was worth it all. 

This is the kind of renovation I love, the kind I live for. Pretty new floors and carpet, picking out paint and trim which is next on our list. Not the crap of dry-walling uneven ceilings or the hazards of replacing light switches and outlets. If only things were always this way. One can dream right?

Floor Money, Floor Life – Part 1

One of the biggest hurdles in completing the front section of our house has been the floors. The majority of the house is carpeted, notable exceptions being the kitchen and bathrooms and a few small sections of linoleum near the exterior doors. A month-ish, maybe longer, into owning our new house we pulled up the linoleum and carpeting in the front hallway, partly due to the fact that it was peeling up at the corners and partly because we considered it just plain ugly.

So a month-ish, maybe longer, into owning our new house we pulled up the linoleum and carpeting in the front hallway, partly due to the fact that it was peeling up at the corners and partly because we considered it just plain ugly.

And it’s been that way for the better part of the 3 years we’ve lived here, that section of the house has had bare floors.

Being that our house is approximately 100 years old, I had hoped and prayed that there would be beautiful or at least salvageable wood floors underneath the carpet, even though what we had seen so far was slightly less than hopeful. But as we’ve learned thus far, what we hope for, plan for and what reality gives us are very different things. So we made a backup plan: we’d buy laminate flooring from the local big box home improvement store and lay it ourselves to save some extra money.

Then last month we pulled up the carpet in our future rec room, and all dreams and hopes were immediately dashed. While there was indeed wood flooring underneath, it was not in any kind of “nice hardwoods” salvageable condition.

We even found concrete used as a leveler between different sections of the house as shown by the pictures taken at floor level. Concrete??? What in the…..??? Why?? Just why???

In spite of that setback, we sallied forth with our plan to lay laminate and consulted with the flooring department at our local home improvement store, getting a rough cost estimate based on the size of the rooms and halls we wanted new flooring in.

While we really appreciate the effort they made, we eventually decided that it just wasn’t the best option for us. As with everything else in this house, nothing goes according to plan. With the condition of the floors, the added hiccup of concrete covered areas, and the floors not all being completely level or even the same heights, doing it ourselves just wasn’t realistic. As the big box store’s valiant effort, they really did try, but they simply weren’t able enough to handle all of the “what in the heck happened here?” stuff that had been discovered when we pulled back the carpet. Finding a flooring specialist who could better advise us on how to handle our uh…interesting… situation became our next priority. (Ah the endless questing. Did I just step into a real life MMO?)

 flooring specialist who could better guide and advise us on how to handle our uh…interesting… situation became our next priority.

Empire Today flooring was where it was at. As skeptical as I was going into it – their free estimates and tv commercials all seemed a little too good to be true – but I checked my doubts we called them anyway. And we were pleasantly surprised. It was a good experience. They were very helpful, informative, and communicative not only with helping us select the right products for our home but also with keeping us in the loop. In spite of all that we were still terrified they’d come out take one look at our floors and run for the hills. But no, they stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park so to speak, covering the subfloor and leveling the floor a bit more with wood.

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Final product: wood look vinyl planking. Both durable and flexible enough to cover the imperfections in the subfloor. I am super impressed not only with the appearance but I love that you can’t even tell how messed up the sub floor is by looking at it. Yes, there are still areas where you can feel the dips but that fact that they aren’t visible is a huge improvement over what previously existed.

My lunch is calling so I’ll sign off for now. Flooring part 2 still to come!

Skimming the Walls and Other Lessons in Drywall Mudding

Ah, wall skimming. Sometimes, it’s not enough to spackle the dents and holes in your walls. Sometimes, there are just too many to deal little marks and dents to deal with and trying to cover each one individually is just plain tedious.

I present for your viewing pleasure, Exhibit A (left side) the wall in our soon to be the rec room. This little beauty comes pretty much as is – minus a few attempts to spackle over the dents in the wall we have done nothing to it. Exhibit B (right side) is a wall in our hallway we have spackled again and again and then finally painted in hopes that some of that paint would cover the imperfections.

Sadly that was not the case. This is where skimming comes in. Now it’s been pointed out to us that there are two types of lighting – we’ll call them “every day” which is just your normal room lights and “up close and personal” flashlight or lamp light meant to look for imperfections. While both pictures were taken using “up close” lighting to really show off how bad it is, the imperfections on the walls are still quite visible in the overhead lighting of both areas.

So back to wall skimming. Frankly, neither of us are quite adept enough to go at it with just a hawk and trowel it so we used the roller method. A rolled on skim coat is like… the love child of painting and drywall mudding. It’s a little bit of both all rolled into one. Essentially you use a roller to paint on a thinned out coat of drywall joint compound and then pull out most of the texture with a rubber trowel.  Bucket of thinned drywall mud – check, trowel – check, roller & paint tray – check, spray bottle to keep the wall damp – check, rag for wiping – check.IMG_20170503_095736637

Skimming is my first real “solo” adventure since we’ve bought this house. (Painting doesn’t really count since I’ve done it countless times before.) My hubby has been doing the bulk of the work and while I’ve assisted with cutting or hanging drywall, I’ve not undertaken any project by myself up til now.

For my first time skimming EVER and my first solo project, I think I did alright. While the starting section was less than pretty, I found that it go progressively better as I went along and found my groove between rolling and pulling.

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The walls will still need to be sanded down but after the first coat, our rec room is already looking much better. Total run time: 2 – 2.5 hours from prep to finish not including clean up. This week I’ll tackle the hallway and once we get the rest of our flooring put in we’ll be ready to paint! But more on that later 😉