New Hardwood Floors

A little over a month ago, we bought our first house. Every single day since then we have been tearing, scraping, stroking, rubbing, and hammering on some surface until complete exhaustion overcomes us or at least a mean blister appears.

In some cases the work has been so good that it appears like nothing has been done. To me that’s the best compliment – it means the craftsmanship and design match everything else, and that’s what I’m going for.

Here’s a little rundown as to what has been done.

Breakfast Room

  • Ceiling fan removed
  • Popcorn removed from ceiling
  • Wallpaper removed from wall
  • New ceiling floated, primed, and painted flat ceiling white

Dining Room

  • Wallpaper removed from wall
  • Ugly wooden border removed from 8 feet up the wall
  • Chandelier removed from 18 foot ceiling
  • Popcorn removed from ceiling
  • Carpet and pad removed
  • Baseboard removed
  • New ceiling floated, primed, and painted flat ceiling white
  • New outlets and switches installed

Living Room

  • Ugly wooden border removed from 8 feet up the wall
  • Popcorn removed from ceiling
  • Carpet and pad removed
  • Baseboards removed
  • New ceiling floated, primed, and painted flat ceiling white
  • New outlets and switches installed

Entry

  • Tile removed from floor
  • Popcorn removed from ceiling
  • Baseboards removed
  • New ceiling floated, primed, and painted flat ceiling white
  • New outlets and switches installed

Master Bedroom

  • Wallpaper removed from wall
  • Ceiling fan removed
  • Popcorn removed from ceiling
  • Carpet and pad removed
  • Baseboard removed
  • New ceiling floated, primed, and painted flat ceiling white
  • Walls were celaned with TSP, patched, and painted.
  • New outlets and switches installed

Master Bath

  • Wallpaper removed from wall
  • Heater removed
  • Vanity removed
  • Popcorn removed from ceiling
  • Carpet and pad removed
  • New can lights installed
  • Vanity assembled
  • Baseboards removed
  • New ceiling floated, primed, and painted flat ceiling white
  • Walls were celaned with TSP, patched, and painted.
  • New outlets and switches installed

Tomorrow, finally, the new floors begin to go down. I get a 3-day break!

House remodeling – living room painting episode

The day started with me taking out my iPhone with serious intentions to document the process with photos.  I soon realized after one coat of  Behr ultra pure white flat enamel on the ceiling that there was no way to keep my beautiful communicator free from paint.  So you are only getting one crappy cameraphone picture.  Deal with it.

Here is a 6-foot section of rented scaffolding
Here is a 6-foot section of rented scaffolding

FYI, the ceiling at the highest point is 18 feet up.  I had grand plans to put in some recessed lighting, there is lots of extra money in the budget, but absolutely no spare time.   When you combine the 6″ of the rented scaffolding, the 6.5 feet of the roller with extension, and my 8-foot reach, I can just  barely hit the top of the crest.  

The first part of the morning was covering the newly plastered ceiling with a coat of primer.  After a quick break for lunch, the first layer of color went up on the ceiling, and then I started to work the walls.  By the end of the day the entire room was covered. When it is all said and done, these are the final colors:

hardwood floor - Brazilian cherry
hardwood floor - Brazilian cherry
Flat White
Flat White
Behr Day Spa
Behr Day Spa
Behr Cottage White
Behr Cottage White

The easiest way to remove a popcorn ceiling

Ever since I put up a post about popcorn ceiling removal I’ve gotten hundreds of hits from Pinterest & Google about popcorn ceiling removal.  Thanks for visiting, and I hope you find this little blog post helpful.  Ask your questions in the comments below.

I hate ceilings with texture.  Ceilings should be smooth, flat, and painted white.  Not just any white, but ceiling white (it’s a special white paint for ceilings).  To me, any room that doesn’t have a normal ceiling just looks weird.

Plus it doesn’t take that long to scrape.  Maybe an hour or two for a normal sized bedroom.  Most of the time is used to take all the furniture out, anyway.

Increase the value of your home by $10,000

Every house I buy, move in to, or remodel, gets this treatment.  It is messy, but the results are incredible, and I know for a fact that it increases resale value (because I’m a Realtor).  Exactly how much is hard to say, but when the room is scraped and painted, with no traces of texture on the ceiling, it seems larger, brighter, and cleaner.  And I know that is what homebuyers want.  I’d guess that for every room you remove a popcorn ceiling, you are adding $1,000 to the value of your house.

So if you have a 3 bedroom house, you can easily add $10,000 value to your home – (kitchen, 2 bathrooms, 3 bedrooms, living room, dining room, hall, and entry way).

Items needed for popcorn ceiling removal

You will need to buy 5 things if you don’t have them already.  You can get them from your local hardware store, Lowes, or Home depot, or even Amazon.com (I have Amazon Prime, and buy everything from them) .

  1. A ladder – 6 foot or high enough so you can easily reach your ceiling -(Yes I even bought my ladder from Amazon Prime).
  2. A Garden Sprayer.
  3. A large flat blade putty knife or scraper. 10 inches is the perfect size. larger, and the ceiling might not easily scrape off, and smaller and you need to make more passes
  4. a bottle of Dawn dish soap
  5. A gallon of distilled white Vinegar.

Should I test my popcorn ceiling for asbestos?

YES!  Absolutely!  Asbestos is a known carcinogen.  It causes mesothelioma, a type of lung cancer that might not show up for years.  Testing your ceiling is easy, and can potentially save your life, as well as your family.  Asbestos use in homes ended in 1978, so if you home is newer than that, you don’t have to worry.  But in older homes, it is worth a quick check.

Testing your ceiling is easy.  I just did a quick web search for Asbestos Testing in Austin, and came up with a couple of labs.  After a couple of quick phone calls to get the price and how long it would take.  I found a place that could do it in 24 hours for $30 bucks.  They asked me to scrape a 2×2 inch section into a plastic bag, and drop it off.

I did just that, and got the results – no Asbestos.  I was cleared to proceed.  If your sample does come back positive, you may need to hire a company and follow local or state guidelines for removal and disposal.

 How to scrape popcorn off your ceiling – step by step

You are going to want to remove everything from the room.  Take out all the furniture.  Take off any curtains or blinds.  Remove any rugs.  Cover the floor in a large plastic tarp.  I’ve seen other people tape plastic all over the walls, but that’s really not necessary.  Yes, this gets messy, but the scraping action doesn’t get everywhere.  It just falls down on to the floor.  A little tiny bit may get onto the walls, but it easily wipes off with a damp rag.

I tried a bunch of different removers, and found that vinegar and dish soap was the fastest (and cheapest) way to do it.  You can also use plain hot water, but it takes longer.  The idea is to find the right mix so it penetrates the paint and popcorn before dissolving the wallboard underneath.

  • Fill the garden sprayer with HOT Water.  The hotter the better.
  • For every gallon of HOT water add 1 cup vinegar, and 7 tablespoons of Dawn Dishsoap.  Too much soap, and all you are going to get is bubbles.  Too much vinegar, and you are just wasting it.
  • Pump the sprayer.  Pump, pump pump, and make sure you have it good and pressurized.  You want a good stream coming out that sucker, not a little trickle.  Also the pumping action mixes up all the vinegar and dish soap.
  • Scrape popcorn off ceilingSpray the solution on the popcorn ceiling.  The idea is to get it just wet enough so the stuff scrapes off easily, but not so wet that you soak the drywall underneath.  Here’s a guide:  spray enough so it is exactly this wet – just wet enough so it doesn’t drip down in your eyes.  If the water mixture starts dripping onto the floor, you have sprayed too much, and are wasting water, and overwetting the popcorn ceiling, and potentially soaking the drywall.  Get some towels and dry the area that is too wet.  This photo is what it looks like if it wasn’t wet enough.
  • After wetting a 3 foot by 3 foot area, 9 square feet, wait exactly 2 min 37 seconds to let the stuff do it’s job. OK that’s an estimate, not scientific at all.  But you want the solution to soak in.  When done properly, the putty knife just slides across the ceiling, and it is easy to scrape the popcorn off.  Your time may be longer depending on age, amount and type of paint and total styrofoam content of the popcorn.  With a smooth motion, scrape the ceiling with the scraper.  You should get a wide strip of the stuff just falling off the ceiling.  If you don’t, try again.  There isn’t a wrong way.

Soon, you will be able to do a decent sized bedroom in about an hour – in fact, you will probably spend more time cleaning the floor than the ceiling.

Leave a comment with how it worked out for you!