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DigitalHammer 10-12-2011 09:38 PM

My new house and the progress I make.
So I just bought a Rancher built in the early 1960s. We knew there would be some work to do. The kitchen needs to be modernized, the bathroom floors and kitchen floors need to be replaced, there are a few cracks in the walls, and there's a lot of nicotine on the walls.

I don't have good photos to post now, but my first debate was on how to paint the house. The previous owners were smokers... probably at least a pack per day... each. They only did that for around 20 years... I think.

I read This thread after some searching because I was looking at going with Behr paints. Between that thread and talking to a friend that is a painter and a friend of a friend who is a painter, I decided to not use Behr paint.

I ended up going with Sherwin-Williams paint. I put that in not really to advertise, but when I went to my local store, they really gave me good service. I know some people don't have great local stores, but I had a fantastic experience. I did buy a lot of paint, but when I needed some denatured alcohol, they were out of quarts. I didn't need it for a couple of days and they thought they'd get some in. When I came back, they didn't get any in and they gave me an opened quart they use around the store for free.

The first thing that we did, was to scrub the walls with a TSP substitute.

So as an example, here is a photo of the walls when I removed the curtain rod holder:

And here is the same spot after a brief rubdown with a TSP soaked sponge:

So most the walls and trim in the house were originally white. When I took ownership, they're a lovely shade of yellow. The cigarette damage is one of the worst things I've seen.

Once I got ready to start painting, I took down the ceiling fan from the master bedroom. Step 1: Take off the globe. Step 2: Trigger gag reflex.

I have pretty much never been disgusted by the stuff in the house. However, when I removed the globe from the fan, It had a puddle of nicotine/cigarette crud inside...

That was bad. So I set it aside and continued removing the fan. It was great up until I took it off the hook... its original 1960s... solid metal... the motor with no blades, lights or globes probably weighs about 40lbs. I tilted it as I took it down to the floor.

Once it was tilted however, my hands got covered in the same crud that was inside the globe. It covered my gloves, soaked through and poured out and all over the floor. I moved it out as fast as I can and was glad that I covered the hardwood floors with paper before hand.

Once I got it in the yard, took off my gloves, washed my hands... First things first... I took a photo of the motor (Its hard to tell, but if you look in the shadow, you'll see liquid. That's what didn't make it on the floor):

So anyway. I hope I've showed you how awesome the cigarette damage is in this house.

Back to where we were: I decided to go with a shellac based primer.

I did some work on the house, and initially in order to buy it had to do some work. I had to replace the fascia and soffit before purchasing (I elected to do this so I could know it was done right and for less cost (since I wasn't charging for my time). I tested some Killz 2 on the ceiling near the chimney inside. I was working to cover some water damage from a previous leak on the chimney. Killz didn't cover the stains at all. I didn't take a picture of this... however I felt like it looked like 2 coats of cheap white paint.

After that I did more research and came up with the thread i referenced above, and after further research on cigarette damage noticed that an issue with cigarette smoke is it is complex. There are many compounds... some water soluble, some oil soluble. Based on that and my experience with the killz on the ceiling, I went with shellac.

Due to the experiences I had at my local Sherwin-Williams store I went with 10 gallons of their shellac, but I'm sure that BIN or any other shellac primer would get similar results.

I left my camera at the house tonight, but I'll post a photo tomorrow. I took the worst stained area I found and put 1 brush stroke of shellac, and 1 brush stroke of Killz 2 on it. (I actually put two spots of 1 stroke each).

The shellac covers completely. You can tell there is something behind it, but it's a good enough prime to put finish coat on next.

The Killz dried yellow. It covered, but you can definitely tell that the paint is in fact yellow tinted now.

I'm jumping ahead a little, but it lines up with my other experiences. I've taken out a wall, and removed some other drywall. While mudding it to repair the holes, I found another effect of the damage. The drywall mud leeches the stains out of the previous wall as well.

(Try not to mock the awesome smoothness of my mud job)

Its important to note that the mud actually dried darker than the ceiling... that isn't just an "effect" of the photo or a "shadow" the photo has been slightly "edited." I loaded it in Picasa and hit "I'm feeling lucky."


DigitalHammer 10-12-2011 10:08 PM

So lets start with my living room/kitchen area.

A few photos,

Starting from the far side of the kitchen facing the living area, moving to the living area facing the kitchen, then turning to the left to face the hall to the bedrooms, and then moving to the hall to the bedrooms and back towards where I took the previous picture:

So plan one by my master decorator/interior designer (aka my wonderful wife) is to remove the wall separating the kitchen from the living area.

My wife and I have a wonderful relationship. I have an above average level experience with construction... She can use any tool I give her to do exactly what I say (no more, no less)... I can't design things for crap... but I can build anything she wants. It works out well for us.

On to the wall:

There are two switches and two electrical outlets that take 3 breaks to turn off left.

To remove the rest of the sheetrock, I had to remove the oven, remove it's electrical, and then pull the cabinet that held it.

This involved removing the bulkhead above (which was built out of plywood instead of sheetrock?).

Figuring out which breakers turned off the lights and outlets in that wall led me to another frustration...

The 3 breakers that disable "that wall" turn off the basement lights, most the upstairs lights, and most the upstairs outlets. That's one more thing to fix later...

And now, the wall is removed (Ok in this photo I haven't taken out the wall cap, the floor 2x4 or the end 2x4s.)

I moved the light switches to the wall where the oven used to be, and I dropped the outlet wires back to the basement, in to a junction box and then capped and covered them.

DigitalHammer 10-12-2011 10:21 PM

So now that I've got the electrical moved, here are the switches:

I found out after mudded all this... Where the fridge is now, is going to be the new range.

Where the switches are is going to be a cabinet that is going to be left over once we move the dish washer....

That cabinet is going to be my wife's coffee station...

What do coffee machines, espresso machines and coffee grinders need? Oh thats right... outlets.

What did I just remove from that wall? Electrical. So yes. I removed the new sheetrock today. I also opened the hole more... I didn't like mudding the "L shapped" hole. So I extended the hole to have a nearly square opening (28"x29").

I added an electrical box that wouldn't overlap with the switch plate. Then to put one on the other side that wouldn't overlap I added a piece of 2x4 to the stud opposite the box, and now I have two side by side electrical boxes with enough space for the cover plates. (photo tomorrow).

In the process of completing all this, I used my shellac primer in all 3 bedrooms, the hallway and two of the closets. That took ~5 gallons of shellac. I took two breaks during it, and spent the whole time wearing a mask. I only took the mask off during breaks. I highly recommend that if you go with shellac paint... buy a mask. Wear a mask. Love your mask. Shellac paint drys fast, covers everything, and has a more potent odor than anything you can think of.

The shellac covered everything well in one coat. My wife went back and ended up doing two coats of her colors, but I'm pretty sure she could have done only one... if the roller had more paint on it. Either way, we planned on two coats, so we had plenty of paint.

DigitalHammer 10-12-2011 10:34 PM

Next up came the wallpaper...

Wallpaper needed to go. I hate wallpaper. I told my wife that I'd kind of rather re-sheetrock the kitchen instead of removing wallpaper.

She assured me she could take care of the wallpaper and that it'd give her something to do while I did the other stuff. I went to work and sent her a text a few hours later to find out how it was going.

The response was... "Do you think we could still replace the sheetrock?"

So yes... I pulled the accessible sheetrock and will do the rest when we re-do the kitchen floor...

I'm going to be pulling the kitchen counters, all the sheetrock, replacing the floor, replacing the cabinets, and then pouring concrete countertops.

So yeah.. here we go:

Sheetrock partially gone:

And now sheetrock gone:
Notice there were some outlets to the left of the door frame... Thats where the new fridge is going.. so yeah I moved those. And speaking of the door frame... they really attached those things in the 60s.... The trim was stapled, nailed and glued to the frame. I pried it off, and then chiseled the glued parts off. Yeah.. That added a lot of time to removing trim.


Also note above if you compare... we aren't sure why but there was a brick "planter" that had been installed with a wooden countertop on top of it... It was low to the ground and not level... A friend of mine came and broke apart the bricks (hammer and chisel... no fancy power tools there). The counter top we lifted off. The bricks... I can only hope any brick on the outside of my house is that well glued together. The mortar in those bricks was fantastic. Every brick was a struggle.

federer 10-12-2011 11:44 PM

damn lots of work ahead for you! keep up the good work!

twinAK 10-13-2011 01:50 AM

Looks like you got your work cut out for you and been doing well at it. Since your house was built in the 60's you might consider testing for lead paint which was in use up until around 1978 or so.

DigitalHammer 10-13-2011 08:01 AM


Originally Posted by twinAK (Post 747771)
Looks like you got your work cut out for you and been doing well at it. Since your house was built in the 60's you might consider testing for lead paint which was in use up until around 1978 or so.

That's a great suggestion that I haven't done. However I'll explain why :-)

Due to when the house was built, I decided instead of testing, I would just assume. I'm working on the house assuming that things I remove have lead paint on them, and that the smallish (5" or so) tiles I found under the brick planter/kitchen linoleum are asbestos.

I could get both tested to know for sure, but instead I just minimize things that kick up dust on the old stuff unless I'm wearing my shellac painting mask. Its rated for the removal of both because I went overkill on it.

On another side note: Here's my Killz2 vs Shellac test area.

This is the photo before I put the Killz on. The whole ceiling was roughly the same color as the trim until I came through and shellac'd everything.

It seems like something that that should be posted higher resolution... SO here's a link to the larger image:

Large Version


Here's a picture of the hallway painting in progress. I tried to get it white balanced as possible... Yesterday I changed the white balance on my camera... but until I start using those photos I have to try to compensate for having the camera set for fluorescent while I'm using flood lights for lighting...:

kwikfishron 10-13-2011 08:12 AM

199 Attachment(s)

Originally Posted by DigitalHammer (Post 747607)
And now, the wall is removed

:eek: Did you check to see if that wall you removed is load bearing. It sure looks like it is.

DigitalHammer 10-13-2011 08:21 AM


Originally Posted by kwikfishron (Post 747835)
:eek: Did you check to see if that wall you removed is load bearing. It sure looks like it is.

That's also a good question :-)

I had checked and was 90% sure it wasn't, but I had a couple of guys who do construction check it out for me as well. It isn't load bearing, and its because of one of the things I do like about the house. The house is just slightly T shaped and built with Large "W" Trusses. The only load bearing portions of the house are three of my outside walls, and the inside wall where the two directions of trusses meet.

I'll post a picture of the trusses later today hopefully.

I'd also recommend to anyone looking at taking out a wall.... be sure it isn't load bearing. Don't just assume it isn't or that you know best. Especially if you're not a structural engineer of some kind.

kwikfishron 10-13-2011 09:25 AM

199 Attachment(s)

Originally Posted by DigitalHammer (Post 747837)
I'll post a picture of the trusses later today hopefully.

Please do. :)

DigitalHammer 10-14-2011 07:47 AM

And we're back. Got back from the house around midnight last night. I'm hopefully in the home stretch. Between my work schedule and everything, since I bought the house, I was left with 8 days to get everything I wanted done before we move the furniture in.

The bedrooms need some paint touchup (when I went to install new vent registers yesterday I discovered the new ones were shorter than the old ones. This left a 1/2 inch unpainted unprimed area above... So I removed the new ones, primed it, and will be painting it today.

I replaced all the electrical outlets and switches in the bedrooms yesterday (4 outlets, 1 switch per room). I hung the new light fixture in the master bedroom yesterday as well.

So besides the paint touchups, I've got faceplates for outlets and switches, and floor trim to install. I'm not really looking forward to it. But I bought a new saw in order to make sure I could make good cuts :-)

Once the trim and paint touchups are done I believe the bedrooms will be complete.

So on painting, I brought my camera home. Here is my Killz vs Shellac board:

Shellac is the larger spot, and Killz is the smaller spot with a "swish" of paint coming out of it. (And if things are working the way I hope you can click for a larger version.)

The photo isn't quite "balanced" from a photoshop point of view, however due to the awesome floodlight on the floor + photo flash its needed to show the difference in the paints.

And as promised, here's a photo of the trusses:

Anyway, another day awaits and I need to head to the house. I'll check in again later.

(On a side note, I have another photo where I shellac'd the ceiling, and then when we painted that area, the ceiling paint went over on to the un-shellac'd area. I feel like I keep obsessing on the paint and staining... if people are interested in the photo I can post it, otherwise I think I've got enough paint staining documentation up above.)

bubbler 10-15-2011 10:58 AM

Good stuff...

Your pics are mirroring mine, I'll have to put up a retro-active project showcase thread one of these days. We closed last Nov, our plan was to move in during Jan '11 which quickly turned into Feb, then Mar, and finally April... We were doing a mix of about 50/50 DIY and hiring out work, due to some delays with contractors and my progress being slow. It was def. a hit on a our budget to carry our rental apt + utils for an additional two-three months, particularly in the winter... even tho we lived only 2~3 miles away, it was also really tough to get motivated to do work when it was pitch dark and 20* out after work most nights :(

It's been 6-7 months since we moved in and the house is still in a bit of a shambles with lots of unfinished projects, but it's livable, comfortable and not dangerous anymore :laughing:

I thought I had heavy smokers at our place, but yours takes the cake from the pics you've got up. The worst room we had was the bedroom where the last family member had spent most of his time before selling, it was so heavily stained you could literally scrape the sticky goop off the walls. Also had a ceiling fan, but the glass diffuser was long gone and fortunately no liquids inside the motor :wink:

We used Killz on the ceiling & walls, I found that it took at least 2-3 coats to stop bleed through, especially on the ceiling. We also went w/ S.W. paints based on getting decent service and good vibes from them. The biggest issue we're running into now is that the SMELL is still lingering in that room. It has had the hardwood floors ripped out and replaced, all surfaces painted, all moulding and doors replaced, all electrical stuff replaced and washed out the heaters w/ TSP solution.... still has that lingering smoker smell. I have a feeling it's because we went w/ all latex primers/paints instead of an oil primer, in hind sight I wish we had used oil base for the primers.

Good luck, and I look forward to seeing the progress!

DigitalHammer 10-16-2011 06:52 AM


Originally Posted by bubbler (Post 749212)
The biggest issue we're running into now is that the SMELL is still lingering in that room. It has had the hardwood floors ripped out and replaced, all surfaces painted, all moulding and doors replaced, all electrical stuff replaced and washed out the heaters w/ TSP solution.... still has that lingering smoker smell. I have a feeling it's because we went w/ all latex primers/paints instead of an oil primer, in hind sight I wish we had used oil base for the primers.

Good luck, and I look forward to seeing the progress!

It sounds like you've tried almost everything to get rid of the smell. If you're still willing to try something, I'd really recommend you try painting the room with shellac. Lay something down over the hardwood floors from edge to edge (<$15 for roll of brown paper), 1 maybe 2 gallons of shellac ( if you can't get the sherwin-williams for ~$40 or less a gallon go to HomeDepot and get Zinsser BIN), That' will dry in less than an hour. Make sure you get a mask.

If you've still got enough of your paint to repaint the bedroom, you can try the shellac for $70 - $130. Use throw-away brushes and rollers with the shellac.

Since the shellac will dry in less than an hour, if you're paint has good coverage you can paint the ceilings and walls and get the trim re-done in one day (one coat of shellac, one coat of paint).

I make these recommendations because our house stunk pretty bad, but right now there is 0 smoke odor in the bedrooms. Since we aren't living there yet (moving in 5 days... ready or not :eek:) I'm a little concerned about the ventilation system. I have vacuumed out the vents (floor vents). However, we haven't turned it on yet. I'm worried, but I have high hopes because the whole HVAC system was replaced in June/July (but not the ductwork...).


On to the days work:

This was my original electrical service area:

I hired an electrician to redo my fantastic service area shown above. Reason 1: It's a Federal Pacific StabLok.
Reason 2: I didn't really think I needed another.

While I had that work done, I added dedicated circuits for the refrigerator, coffee Island, sump pump and the 42U computer rack I'm installing in the basement.

I also added new outlets in the dining room and put them on their own circuit. Over time I plan to rewire most the of the house... take all the outlets off the lighting breakers, put bathrooms on their own breakers, put the outside lighting on a separate breaker from the inside lighting (although if I can isolate the outside lighting with a GFCI I might do that instead).

I care about the outside lighting because there's a lamp post near my driveway. I'm on a corner lot. All I need is one out of control driver (or drunk) who hits that lamp post and shorts teh wiring... and all my upstairs lighting is dead almost. At least until I can get the car off it and fix the short... If I'm out of town, my wife will be stuck. That isn't an acceptable solution to me.

Outside of replacing light switches and outlets in the living room once it is painted, I will probably not be doing any more electrical until I do the Kitchen remodel.

One of the reasons that I put in all the dedicated circuits mentioned above is that the neighborhood I'm in only has one power feed. Its not common, but I'd say its at least once a year that something will happen (tree branch, wind, etc) that knocks out power. Long term I'm planning to have a generator hookup added that is wife proof. If I'm out of town, I want her to be able to hook up the generator, hit start, and turn off all the breakers except the important ones... Coffee, Refrigerator, Computer, Lights, Well Pump, and if it's cold Heat.

I don't own the generator yet, but I figure as long as I'm replacing the main panel, I might as well wire everything as if I did now instead of re-doing it again later.

DigitalHammer 10-24-2011 08:59 AM

And now we're moved in (hence the delay). Still finishing up several projects:

1) Cracks in the living room wall with the fireplace (I've got a plastic bubble set up for sanding so we can continue to use the living room).
I just mixed my own drywall mud to use on it (first time mixing myself) Using a bag of 20 min... Fantastic stuff. I like mixing my own significantly better.

2) Fixing the ceiling where the wall I removed was.
This is on hold until we do the kitchen remodel... it's just cosmetic at this point and the dust will be too much. Since I'm redrywalling the kitchen anyway, Its going to hold.

3) New Flooring in the hall bathroom.
Just started this.. Pulled the toilet and the vanity... removed half the flooring... significant water damage (subfloor was a particleboard of some kind and was sawdust instead of solid). I'm looking at the plywood on the beams and it had some mold growth.... Bleach took care of that, but I think parts of it are too weak now. Going to start a thread in the flooring section and seek advice... Sort of planning on pulling all the flooring, pulling the plywood off the beams in that area, re-laying it and going up from there.

4) Base boards
I'm still working on getting all the baseboards and toe-kick installed in the rooms I've finished and we've moved in to... Luckily I can "take my time" because it's cosmetic... and I got a Paslode 18ga nail/brad gun at a steal of a price... so when they're cut it's easy to install them...

I'll post a link to my floor post in a bit...

Edit: Flooring post:

DigitalHammer 10-24-2011 06:18 PM

(sorry for cross posting... I want all my entries in one spot for family and friends)

I'm working on the hall bathroom:

(and realized I took super crappy "before" floor shots...)

I removed the vanity that was in there... And in the process learned the hot water valve was corroded open... Besides one incident where I thought the hot water was completely turned off when it wasn't flooding the bathroom a little bit I got the valve replaced no problem...

Then I pulled the toilet, then I pulled up half the floor (The easy/damaged half)

Now I have this: (looks better in these photos than it did... I sprayed it with bleach last night to ensure any mold was dead...)

So now I'm trying to figure out how to proceed...

I was recommended to let the plywood dry, throw 1/2" hardibacker down (liquid nailing it over the joists and screwing it down) and tile on top of that.

After further research even if I do the 1/2" hardibacker I'm going to be using thinset under it...

My floor is 1/2" plywood over 9" beams that can support ceramic tile according to the calculator.

There's some warping of the plywood by the toilet...

I'm considering replacing that plywood instead of just going over it... But I was thinking of cutting out the damged section (leaving the 4" section next to the wall) and then replacing what I pull with 3/4" plywood and adding 1/4" everywehre I don't replace...

My goal is to have the tile end up nearly level with the hardwood floor elsewhere in the house... That floor is 3/4" hardwood over 1/2" plywood.

Alright... so I made a hole...

Then I installed some new plywood. Life was good. Sure seems springy and full of give. Must be that crappy new wood instead of the nice 1960s plywood.

Hmm that would seem odd to be that different in the spring. Oh. Right. I ran the grain with the beams.

Good thing it was installed with screws.. Luckily the toilet was in a position that I could flip the previous piece and cut it to length and it still fit.

however, now I have one scrap left. And it's not enough to finish the hole. Back to the store for more supplies.

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