Sep 17, 2016

Removing a Popcorn Ceiling

I should probably preface this post by saying that, since just about everything went wrong with this project, you absolutely should not treat it like a how-to manual. It's more like a how-not-to manual.

removing a popcorn ceiling

Each of the three bedrooms, along with the living room and entry, have a popcorn ceiling. When we originally viewed the house it was the first thing I mentioned would be going, if we bought the house.

Now I've lived with a popcorn ceiling before - both of our previous houses had them - it wasn't my favourite feature, but at least they had been done professionally. I'm pretty sure these ones were done by the previous owner, or a friend "who's really good at that stuff". You know those friends - we all have them. This popcorn was heavy, uneven, and badly finished at the edges. Here is a prime example....

removing a popcorn ceiling

removing a popcorn ceiling

So I did my research, and the general consensus was that as long as you tarp everything, it's pretty easy to remove. You just wet the "popcorn" with a spray bottle full of water, wait a few minutes, and then scrape it with a wide putty knife or plastic scraper. Easy-peasy, right?

Hold up. Not so fast. The popcorn isn't melting. Why isn't the popcorn melting? Of course they painted over it. And now it's completely waterproof. Occasionally I could get some water in behind it and pry some off, but more often then not, that just softened the drywall underneath and damaged it.

removing a popcorn ceiling

So we spent a couple of days (by this time I'd enlisted Tom's help) chiseling away at dry popcorn. It wasn't until the third (fourth?) day that we discovered the magic of the U-shaped paint scraper.

When Tom brought it out I threw myself in front of him, terrified that it would gouge the heck out of the ceiling. But surprise, surprise, it worked!  A few passes and the popcorn was gone, leaving smooth, undamaged drywall behind. In the photo below, the back corner is the area that was scraped - you can see that there are almost no marks on the drywall.

removing a popcorn ceiling

The next step was skim-coating the ceiling with drywall mud. Initially I was stressing myself out, trying to get it perfectly smooth. But once I realized that sanding would take care of any uneven areas it became fun - sort of like icing a cake.

removing a popcorn ceiling

removing a popcorn ceiling

removing a popcorn ceiling

Less fun was the sanding part - holding an orbital sander over my head for extended periods of time. Sometimes I would switch to hand-sanding, just to give my arms and shoulders a break. On the plus side, check out those muscles I developed:

removing a popcorn ceiling

The ceiling needed to be skim-coated three times and sanded three times to get a nice smooth finish. I really hated the mess it made each time so I spread this job out over weeks. Eventually I'd had enough, was tired of the dust everywhere, and tired of sleeping in the guest room - I wanted my room back! I had spent days and days (and days) looking like this:

removing a popcorn ceiling

I applied 2 coats of drywall primer (Behr Premium Plus Drywall Primer & Sealer), and then 3 coats of white, untinted, ceiling paint (Behr Premium Plus Interior Ceiling). Most ceiling paints have a flat sheen to keep imperfections from showing.

removing a popcorn ceiling

And finally it was finished! I also painted the walls before we moved back in - Edgecombe Grey by Benjamin Moore. Our last bedroom was painted in BM Stormy Monday, which I loved, but it felt a little too cold, so this time I went with a warmer, taupe-ier grey. I will probably always stick with neutrals when it comes to wall colours - I like being able to change out the accents without having to repaint the whole room.

removing a popcorn ceiling

removing a popcorn ceiling

The edges are still a little rough as there was quite a bit of damage to the paper corner tape when the popcorn was removed, but we are intending to add crown moulding, so that won't be a problem.

And we're still on the hunt for the perfect light fixture. For now we're just making do with this $10 cheapie from the hardware store. When we moved it there weren't any ceiling lights - so this is a step up!

My final evaluation of the process - I love the flat ceiling, but it so wasn't worth the amount of work necessary in this case. The whole house felt like a construction zone for weeks - even though we tarped the openings, there was still drywall dust everywhere. We have two more bedrooms and the living room/foyer remaining. For those areas, I'm either going to hire it out or just drywall over the popcorn and start fresh.

I did learn a lot though. I can tape and skim like a (semi)pro now. Some people made fun of me for putting in so much time and effort, but one of the biggest parts of DIY is honing your skills. To get all cliche on you - sometimes it is about the journey and not just the destination.

Aug 24, 2016

Aqua Dogs - Sutton Fair and Horse Show August 2016

A couple of weeks ago our town held its annual summer fair. It's our first year living here so of course we had to go and check it out.

It's a pretty small fair and we thought we wouldn't be there very long. You know - see the cows, pet a goat, buy some mini donuts, head on home. But they had something else that grabbed our attention and kept us there for hours (without sunscreen or hats). They had......Aqua Dogs Dock Diving!

Aqua Dogs Dock Diving Sutton Fair 2016

Dock diving is an agility program, run in Ontario by RuffSport, where dogs run down a man-made dock and jump into a pool of water, competing for distance, speed, or height. We watched the distance competition and it was AMAZING. Dogs of all sizes and ages were doing it, some able to jump 20+ feet!

Aqua Dogs Dock Diving Sutton Fair 2016

The dogs and the handlers were all having such a good time that we couldn't stop talking about how our dogs would take to the training. Chloe loves to jump into the water but hates to run, while Sasha loves to run but hates swimming. Bit of a conundrum there.

Aqua Dogs Dock Diving Sutton Fair 2016

There were a couple of dogs like Sasha - they ran down the dock but then skidded to a stop at the end, refusing to go in. The handlers can encourage them but aren't allowed to push the dog into the water.

Aqua Dogs Dock Diving Sutton Fair 2016

And then there was one dog that wouldn't get out of the pool so his owner had to go in after him. He gets points for style if not for distance.

Aqua Dogs Dock Diving Sutton Fair 2016

We loved it so much we stayed for the second show, featuring all new dogs. I took dozens of photos and many, many videos. Here are some more of my favourite shots. (Let's face it, they're all my favourite.) If there's a show near you, you have to go and check it out.

This guy has form. "Forget the toy - I'll get it later."

Aqua Dogs Dock Diving Sutton Fair 2016

Even the big dogs got some pretty good distance.

Aqua Dogs Dock Diving Sutton Fair 2016

Give him a cape. Super-dog!

Aqua Dogs Dock Diving Sutton Fair 2016


A more delicate landing.

Aqua Dogs Dock Diving Sutton Fair 2016

Invisible motorbike.

Aqua Dogs Dock Diving Sutton Fair 2016


Aqua Dogs Dock Diving Sutton Fair 2016

This one makes me laugh. Same form every time. They measure from where the base of the tail hits the water, so if you can tuck your butt, why not?

Aqua Dogs Dock Diving Sutton Fair 2016



This little guy looked so serious. Focus. I got this.

Aqua Dogs Dock Diving Sutton Fair 2016



This looks like he's jumping from her arm  but he's just getting great height, aiming straight for the toy. That's Heather McLeod in the shot - the lead trainer and owner of RuffSport. Does she have the best job or what?

Aqua Dogs Dock Diving Sutton Fair 2016

~~~~~

And of course the other animals at the fair were adorable too. I'm pretty sure that I need a llama and a sheep. And maybe a turtle. Oh, and a cow......

Llama Sutton Fair 2016

Sheep Sutton Fair 2016

Sheep Sutton Fair 2016

Turtle Sutton Fair 2016

Baby Calf Sutton Fair 2016

Aug 8, 2016

DIY Deck Gate - Made to Match

One of the great things about our new house (I will probably call it that for years) is the back deck that runs the entire width of the house. There is more than enough room for a BBQ area, a dining area, plus a casual seating area.

The dogs love to spend time out there watching "Squirrel TV" through the glass panels. Unfortunately we couldn't leave them out there alone as the deck is open at one end with a stairway down to the side parking pad and then down to the backyard. The yard isn't fenced in and we can't trust that the dogs won't see something interesting and take off after it.

squirrel tv

What we needed was a gate, but we wanted it to blend in with the railing that's already there. The previous owners had left behind all of the extra railing pieces, so we went through them to see what we had. We found that we had top and bottom rails and enough pickets and spacers for a gate - we were just missing the hinge post and latch post (the ends that sandwich the pickets).

The company that makes our railing - Classic Railings - does have a gate kit, but you have to buy the entire kit. It also relies on you having an end or corner post on either side of the opening to mount to. We wanted to secure the gate directly to the brick of the house, so we brainstormed a few ideas, including just making a gate entirely from wood, even though it wouldn't match the railing. But Tom was confident that he could make two side pieces that, once painted, would blend in with the metal, so we decided to give it a shot. Since we had all of the materials we wouldn't be out any money if it didn't work.

The horizontal rails come in 8 foot lengths but can easily be cut down to the correct size. Normally these rails attach to brackets built into the corner and/or end posts. These brackets slide right over the rail (or more correctly, the rail slides into the brackets). But you can also buy the brackets individually, so we bought four - two tops, two bottoms - and attached them to the hinge/latch posts Tom made from planed down 2x4s.

DIY gate Classic Railings

Since a gate isn't fixed in place like a stretch of standard railing is, we wanted to make sure it wouldn't ever wobble. We ran a 1/4" threaded rod along each side of the gate, just below the top railing, and one more rod below the bottom rail.

DIY gate Classic Railings
DIY gate Classic Railings

The rods are fed through holes drilled into the wooden uprights and locked in place with hex nuts that are countersunk into the side so that they aren't visible. One day I'll fill the holes with putty and repaint to hide them, but for now it will do.

DIY gate Classic Railings

One of my fears in using lumber to square off the gate was that the raw wood would stand out and it would be an obvious DIY job. But a search of the spray paint aisle at Lowe's turned up Anodized Bronze from Tremclad. We took the gate apart (good thing the rod holes weren't filled!) and I gave the wood pieces several light coats of paint. It's a perfect match. Then it was just a matter of putting it all back together.

DIY gate Classic Railings
DIY gate Classic Railings

The gate is anchored to the side of the house with heavy duty hinges, with a standard auto-locking gate latch on the other side to secure it to the deck railing. Of course with everything the same shade now the threaded rod became more obvious, so we covered each one with a black PVC sleeve to help it blend in. The way they coordinate with the hardware it almost looks like it was planned.

DIY gate Classic Railings
DIY gate Classic Railings
DIY gate Classic Railings

Now the dogs have free rein to hang out on the deck and enjoy the fresh air. It's also great when we're out in the yard using power tools or firing the bows - the dogs don't have to stay cooped up in the house - and we don't have to worry that they're underfoot or in danger.

DIY gate Classic Railings
DIY gate Classic Railings
DIY gate Classic Railings



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