Saturday, November 30, 2013

Painting My Office Ceiling - Part 1

Here's the thing with this office--  The wood in here is beautiful.  Even with a thousand staples and nails in the walls and ceiling, it's still so pretty.  The color is warm, golden, and I love how the sunlight looks in here.  But the wood just sucks up any bit of light.  The one ceiling fixture only illuminates the middle of the room, even though it has three bulbs.  I have two other lamps and two other hanging lights elsewhere in the room, and when they're all on it's OK in here.  But it's still difficult to do any art or sewing projects with the light that's here, and I want this room to be more functional.

I have gone back and forth a hundred times on whether or not to paint the ceiling in here.  And if so, which parts?  Just the middle, or the sides, too?  Or leave it as it is-- pretty honey-colored paneling that matches the knotty pine walls...   Once daylight-savings came this fall, I really got my answer.  There is NEVER enough light in here.  If I want there to be more light, I need to paint the ceiling.  I won't touch the knotty pine walls, but I need some white on the ceiling to help the light reflect through the room better.

Since the test primer stuck really well, I got started on painting the ceiling today.  It's late and I'm too tired to continue, and... I'm almost done.  There are a couple areas that are tough to get to, because I didn't move my stuff far enough away.  And the ceiling over the staircase is going to require some creative ladder-ing.  K will get some ladders set up for me later so that I can do that part.

Taping and plastic everywhere, and lots of painting by hand....  I'm trying to leave the two strips of trim unpainted, so there are all those edges to paint carefully. 

There were also quite a few things that needed to be removed from the ceiling before I could paint...
The first thing I did right away last year after we got the house -- there were about a thousand staples and pushpins and nails that needed to be removed from the walls and ceiling.  The previous tenants had obviously papered every surface in here.

Staples with tiny bits of paper...  Everywhere.

Then there were the letter stickers on the wall and ceiling.  Brilliant gems such as "Jazzer Size," "Fun Wasp Life," "Oops I Pooped," and "Golly G."  Actually, I think it's funny that I didn't take those off until now!  I guess I just got used to seeing them.

And the last thing were these mirror circles, stuck on the slope of the wall.  I didn't mind seeing them, and they actually reflected light from one of my lamps.  But after prying them off the wall, I want to kill whoever put them up there!  The adhesive has gotten SUPER sticky, and I'm pretty sure I've lost a layer of skin to the back of these things.  And I sliced my index finger with my razor scraper when I was trying to pry off a circle.  Not all of the glue came off the wall, but luckily the primer covered it up pretty well.

EVIL glue behind those mirrors!

The priming went really well, though.  I'm using a low-VOC oil-based primer, some that K had in the house already.  It's sticking very well, and covering everything I hoped it would -- there were random paint and marks in quite a few places.

I can't wait to be done with this project, because my room is a mess.  And I'm anxious to see what it will look like.  With just the flat primer, there's already a huge improvement in the light in here!

And K's been working all evening on shelving in the basement storage room.  She's re-using a bunch of the wood from the old work-bench.  I can't wait to see how it turns out!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Basement Storage Room - Part 1

Four-day Thanksgiving weekend seemed like the perfect time to get a project done...  Or at least started.   K got the idea that she could work on organizing the storage room in the basement -- getting rid of some things, organizing her tools.  And that turned into an all-out demo, cleaning and painting of the room!

This is how the room looked when we walked through the house the first time.  The tenants took the dresser with them, but the workbench was built in.  The carpet, the posters over the windows, and all the paint cans stayed and waited for us, too.  And once we moved in, we just put more stuff in there -- air conditioners, cabinets, tools...  Since it's out of the way, it was an easy place to stash things.

Workbench mid-demo

K was going to keep the workbench, because it was a nice size and she could either use it as a workbench or for storage.  But it was built right next to the walls and at some point there was moisture down there, so the wood had gotten a little rotten and weak.  It seemed like it would be better to start over, plus we could really clean the wall behind it and the floor beneath it.  Surprisingly, there wasn't much underneath the workbench-- just a lone flip flop and an empty condom box.  

First came vacuuming all the dirt and old spiderwebs, and then we did a good scrubbing with bleach & water.  The walls did have water-barrier paint on them, already, but it was dirty and the bottom had old mold on it.  The floor was mostly painted at some point, too.

We put new water-barrier paint on the walls, and caulked around the windows to keep spiders from crawling into the house that way (we can see lots of old nests on the other side of the window!)  And since the windows aren't functional right now --they are covered with insulation and siding-- we decided to paint over them, to cover the caulk and so we don't have to stare at the insulation.  Someday, when we replace the siding, maybe we will replace the windows with some that seal and insulate better.

The floor, as it was drying

Painting the floor was as big an improvement as painting the walls, I think!  The room is brighter and doesn't feel gross and dirty anymore.  We'll be putting some shelves and cabinets in there for storage. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Happy Concrete Slab Day!

It's 7:20pm and the concrete guys have just finished up!  The poor guys were working out in the dark and cold for the last few hours.  K helped them through the day, but they did the finish work alone.

This is the picture K sent me in a text at 2:15 today:

"Check it!"
It was probably about 30 degrees in the early evening when they were working.  And once the sun dropped out of the sky, the guys were working in the dark by truck headlights, work lights, and little LED headlamps.  Pretty amazing stuff.  I watched them from the patio door.

Now they're putting the insulated blankets on the slab, and they'll let it cure overnight.  K will cut lines into the slab tomorrow. 

K is EXHAUSTED.  She worked this morning at 7am, then left at 11:30 to come home and help with the concrete.  She's overtired, but still thrilled.  I can't wait till she's done with the cuts tomorrow, and then the relief can really set in.  Already tonight, she got excited for a moment -- "All the boring stuff is done, and now comes the fun stuff!  The framing!"  And she means it -- framing is her absolute favorite.  And this time she'll be building something that will belong to her, to us.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Speedy Inspection

Yesterday when I got home from work, K had great news!  It had been pouring rain yesterday, so she had a rain day at work at around noon.  She called the inspector again about our concrete form, and said 'Hey, I know it's last-minute, but I'll be at home today if you can come by.'  And it turns out that the inspector could!

It was also a good thing that K was home when the inspector came by because she (the inspector), had questions about our lot.  Since it's such a weird shape, she wasn't expecting the markers to be where they are.  But K was there to point them all out to her and they got the inspection done quick and easy!

So now back to bids from concrete crews.  A few months back, when we were optimistic about the project going quickly, K had posted an ad on Craigslist and got a handful of good responses.  This was a few months back, however, and concrete companies are busier in the summer.  Now that it's late fall, her new ad got a flood of responses and the bids were much lower!  She'll probably save at least a couple hundred dollars having the slab poured now, versus in the summer.  That's comforting, considering how frustrated and apprehensive this project has made her feel. 

She's hoping to line someone up for Friday, so we very well could have a slab done by next week!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Finished Prepping For The Slab

Lucky for us, this weekend was gorgeous!  We were able to get so much work done for the slab, and now it's all prepped and ready for inspection and pouring the concrete.

Started out with me taking a trip to the rental place to get the plate compactor/tamper, again.  Since the one didn't work well last time, we got a credit for another use.  This time the machine worked like a champ.

We put down all the rock and soil that we had, and got it compacted really well.  K dug trenches all along the sides of the form.  She's making a reinforced slab, so it can carry the weight of the garage and hopefully won't crack too much in the future.

In this picture, you can see that we really had to build up the left side of the garage floor to keep it level.  The ground slopes quite a lot in the back yard, so we dug down the right side a bit, but still really had to add to the left side.  The floor does slope to the front just a little, and the driveway will slope down to meet the existing asphalt.

The next step was to add a layer of poly as a vapor barrier.  The garage will be heated with some kind of space heater, and the poly will be there to help keep moisture from seeping up from the ground into the concrete slab.

It was a windy day, but we got the three long sheets of poly stapled to the sides of the form and taped along all the seams.

Next was the rebar, and we did this mostly in the dark, so I only have one photo.  K put rebar posts into the ground every few feet, and then we connected two rows of rebar to those posts, horizontally.  These will give strength and structure to the thicker sides of the slab.

It was pretty chilly by the time we were working on the last of the rebar, but we got it done.  K covered up the whole thing with tarps again last night, and this morning she called the inspector to see about getting it looked at.

Really, really hoping we can get that slab poured this week or next.  It will be a big load off K's mind to have that done before the cold sets in.  And then she can work on her plans for the building and materials, and take her time.  If the cold and snow holds off, maybe she will start building this year.  And if not, she will be good and ready by the spring.