Posts Tagged Drywall

Spare Bedroom Almost Finished

So I described my work on the wardrobe and even the light fixture, but I really should have first talked about how much work I’ve done to get the bedroom ready. In reality, the wardrobe and light were like finishing touches compared to how long I spent re-wiring, adding outlets, repairing the plaster, drywalling & mudding.

First off, this room is behind the bathroom, where there was a door-sized opening connecting this bedroom with the bathroom. Since the bathroom is (nearly) finished, the opening was closed in on that side except for the hole-in-the-wall where my medicine cabinet will eventually be installed. But because the tub/shower was previously along this wall, there was major water damage even on the bedroom side of the wall. The plaster was bubbled and crumbling all along where the tub would have been. Each time I tried to scrape it flat in preparation to mud over it, it just kept crumbling. The ceiling wasn’t in the best shape either, it was sagging in the middle and had major cracks from one wall to the next. I could have spent time scraping out each crack, reattaching the plaster to the wood slats, and then mudding and sanding.

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But in my mind, I kept thinking it wouldn’t last long and I’d be unhappy with the ceiling in just a short while. So I decided to drywall both the ceiling and the damaged plaster wall. No need to tear the plaster off (a ridiculous amount of work, dust, mess, and trash). I found the ceiling joists & wall studs and installed the drywall right over top, making sure my screws were long enough to reach through the plaster and secure the drywall to the framing.

First though, a friend helped me re-wire this bedroom to replace the knob & tube wiring and put the room on it’s own dedicated breaker (less electrical demand on the “whole-house breaker” of whoever previously wired my electric panel). From the crawlspace to the attic, we re-wired the ceiling light, light switch, and upgraded the room from 1 lonely outlet to 1 outlet per wall – meeting today’s standard of  every 6 linear feet. This was not really an attempt to meet today’s residential electrical requirement, but more for convenience in the future since most standard lamps and other electrical items have a 6′ cord. When it came time to add outlets, rather than today’s standard height in the wall, I am installing them horizontally in the baseboard. There are already several rooms in the house where a previous owner added outlets in the baseboard, so to maintain a consistent look I decided that’s where I would add them also. The baseboards in my house are 9″ tall, so this places the outlets about 4″ off the floor. And a brown outlet and brown cover almost disappear on the dark stained woodwork.

Back to prepping the walls & ceiling. Once the drywall was hung I began to tape and mud all the seams and corners. This was my first time mudding drywall on a ceiling. Now this sounds like it would be the same as seams on the wall, but trust me it’s not the same. There is so much more coordination required with managing drywall knives while stepping up and down the step stool, and a lot more accidentally dropping (or throwing) drywall mud – landing on my pants, shoes, and the floor. I’m glad I didn’t tear the carpet out until after all this work, it caught all my mess. Lots of thin coats of mud, lots of drying time, and finally a few hours carefully sanding.

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No, water resistant greenboard drywall was not required for this ro0m – I purchased more than I needed when I renovated the bathroom and couldn’t return it. At the the end of the day it’s still drywall, and once painted no one will know the difference.

One detail I included in this room was an access panel to the shut-off valves for the tub & shower on the other side of the wall. It’s a simple plastic frame with a snap off cover if I ever need to do repairs or for some reason shut off the water lines to the tub.

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While mudding  I also tried my best to fix any cracks, holes, or divots in the plaster walls. These two walls below are not drywall, but rather plaster – and there is maybe more mud on these walls than on the new drywall.

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I also sanded out all of the previous owners bad patch jobs, like where they slapped on spackling compound and didn’t sand it flat to the wall. Sanding is a messy job, and I always forget that until I’m covered in dust after just an hour or so.

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In the end, I was pretty impressed with myself for how the walls turned out. Priming is the real reveal.

P1040685 BP1040689 BThere is one corner that isn’t perfect, but I can live with it. Imperfection is character, or so I keep telling myself.

I already had the woodwork for the windows scraped, sanded, stained & poly’d, and I was eager to nail it back into place once the walls were painted and dry. I still need to fill & stain the nail holes, but I am so happy with how this room is coming together. It will actually be the most complete room in the house in another weeks time when I get the baseboards nailed into place – and take some after photos of the full room!


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Optimus Prime-r

Tonight after work I swung by our friendly local Sherwin-Williams store to ask which primer would be best for fresh drywall. There’s nothing worse than spending hours prepping and painting a room, only to see each and every patch once the paint is dry because the primer didn’t prepare the walls like it was supposed to. Drywall paper will absorb paint differently than sanded joint compound, and I wanted to make sure I used the right primer so that these areas wouldn’t be noticeable with the final coat of paint.

Although they do carry a primer specifically for drywall, the friendly saleswoman assured me their Multi-Purpose primer would work great for the drywall and the existing ceiling both. Sure enough, the can lists that it will work on everything from glossy surfaces to patched surfaces to fresh drywall. Winner.

I already had roller covers and brushes, so I immediately went to work. I was a little apprehensive to prime the walls, because there is no hiding the imperfections of my drywall seams and patching once the primer goes on. Not to say I couldn’t fix those spots later, but it would point out any areas I hadn’t paid enough attention to.

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But in reality, I had very little to be worried about. If I do say so myself, I am quite the drywall master! I barely did any sanding, yet the seams turned out almost invisible, and there are just a few tiny little areas of bubbles or lines that I might go back and put a thin layer of joint compound over. But even if I don’t, the areas are so small and hidden that probably no one except me would ever notice them.

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I did not tape the seams between the walls and ceiling, because I know I will line the room with crown molding, which will end up covering this gap. That also means not having to prime all the way up to the ceiling.

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The perimeter of the attic opening looks a little unfinished, but that’s because I removed the trim pieces since they were so caked with thick ugly layers of paint. I’m not going to strip them down to natural wood, but simply sand them a bit so they aren’t so crude looking. The attic opening will be painted white to look the same as the rest of the trim in the room.

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The primer I used is pure white. This will be ok for the ceiling, which will be a very pale gray. But for the walls, I’m going to apply a 2nd coat of primer that has been tinted gray. Painters recommend a gray tinted primer for most dark colors and even when painting reds, as it helps the actual paint color come through. I’m planning on very dark gray – almost black. Below is almost exactly the look I’m going for: dark walls, lots of white tile, black framed artwork.

white gray bath

It’s monochromatic, but in no way is it cold or dull. It’s masculine and bold,  minimalist yet timeless. The only difference is that I’ll warm up the space with a stained wood vanity – (because if I went with just a pedestal sink, this bathroom would have almost zero storage space) – more on the vanity cabinet soon  And maybe a stained wood door. Haven’t fully decided yet. And that is a whole separate conversation – I don’t have a bathroom door. The one I removed was a cheap hollow core door, with a few holes and about to fall off of its hinges. The one bedroom doesn’t have a door at all, so I want to find a style I can use for both. But more on that later. I mean, come on, without a working toilet why would I need a door yet?


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Mud Wrestling, and how the ceiling turned yellow

Not really wrestling, more like flinging. Because taping and mudding all of the drywall seams actually went pretty smoothly (no pun intended), but I did throw a little mud. There is definitely a knack to mudding drywall, flinging it from one trowel to the other to keep it manageable and at the edge of the knife. I watched several videos with tips and step by step instructions. The main lessons I took from the videos were 1) be generous with the mud first, then 2) scrape off as much as possible. Number 3), professionals use paper tape for seams. 4) Thin coats are the secret to a professional looking mud job. As are the correct drywall knives.

That being said, I started on the wall where I knew most of the seams would eventually be covered in tile. I figured that would be the best way to begin.

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Sheets of drywall are 4′ x 8′, so laying them sideways  in a typical house with 8′ ceilings results in 1 seam in the center of the wall. My house has 9′ ceilings, which throws off that whole system. Since I know I want to tile the walls from the floor to plate-rail height (about 4′-6″ off the ground – to match the wainscot in the dining room), I put the 12 inch stripe in the center of the room where the two seams will be hidden once the tile goes up.

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Even after the 2nd coat of joint compound, each coat is so thin that the tape is still visible. I cannot stress enough that scraping off the excess mud after each coat is the most important step. Lather on, scrape and scrape and scrape off. And all the joint compound scraped off can be thrown back into the bucket and used for the next seam.

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I’m not sure if I had to, but I went ahead and taped the seam between the drywall and cement board along the shower walls. I haven’t fully made up my mind about how tall the tile in the shower will go. I’ve seen some examples where they tile clear up to the ceiling:


and some other examples where they leave anywhere from 12 to 24 inches of drywall to be painted:

Liska Bathroom; Liska Architects; Darris Harris Job#1090

I’m leaning toward leaving drywall to be painted. There’s going to be plenty of white, so leaving that much wall space will bring the paint color onto all 4 walls.

I also like how in this shower, they part wrapped the window opening with tile, and then above the shower head height, they wrapped the upper portion of the window to look like the rest of the home’s trim. I’m thinking this is how I will wrap the window, except using the style of trim that matches my house.


Now onto the second half of the title. As the photo below shows, the ceiling in the bathroom is white  was white. The ceiling’s plaster is in really good shape, so I only wanted to patch the cracks and few small holes. But first I used a 3″ putty knife to scrape off the areas of chipping or peeling paint. And that’s where “areas” turned into a larger and larger section of peeling paint. Not just a small area either, a huge area. And it wasn’t just a few layers of paint, I’m talking like every layer of paint in the history of the house. It must have been nearly a 1/16 of an inch thick. Back to a really early layer of most likely oil base paint, possibly the original plaster coat.

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It just kept scraping off, I never got to a point where I felt comfortable leaving it. An hour later, the entire ceiling was scraped. So that’s how the ceiling turned yellow.

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But the good news is that I got all of the paint scraped off. Better now than down the road when steam from the shower might have caused it to peel or pieces to fall off. And although I did fill all of the cracks, I wasn’t all that particular. If the ceiling looks just a bit crackly and old, that’s fine. After all, every room should have something that helps show the age of the house. It will give it character. After just a light sanding on the ceiling and all the walls, the bathroom is ready to be primed.

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