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July 2006
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Finishing School

Once the painting is done, it is time to fill the rooms back up.
This bedroom has a pirates of the carribean theme. The rail surrounding the bed is made from off the shelf rail parts. The ceiling decoration is wallpaper border. The curtains were standard until carl took the scissors to it.

The frames for the posters are painted on. Blue Painters Tape lets you do this. The wainscoating is painted on. The chair rail is standard molding painted the same color as the picture ‘frames’.

This bedroom is for a young lady whose tastes run to the fantastic. The curtains are bedsheet and tablecloth.

This bedroom is a more floral design.

For the boys, bunk beds, and poster space. There is a dedicated area for the computer. This is also the door that has the closet we hid the Home Networking components

There is also a dedicated area for TV and Gaming.

Door Painting

In our last episode, we removed the doors and painted the walls. Let’s look at the doors and paint them.

The vast majority of interior doors are flat slab hollow core doors. They have 2 sheets of masonite separated by a series of thin bits of wood and a honeycomb of cardboard in the center to keep the two panels from collapsing or booming like a big base drum.

Moving on. One of the things that hardly ever gets done is painting the top and bottom edges of the door. Paint’s other job besides creating a serene or energetic environment is to protect the surfaces of what it’s applied to.

See? The nail is there to be able to stand the door up after we paint it.

There are a couple of places in your house where this will bite you. The bathroom, kitchen and laundry room. Humidity will swell the wood, and in the case of masonite paneled doors, it looks like this.

House builders buy them prehung, bang them in, the painter sprays them, and everybody goes home. Painters never take them down and paint these edges. Time is money, and builders won’t pay to have it done.

This is your house now and you are painting. Let’s fix this problem.

Over time the bottom of the door swells, and the paint will peel. You can see this on the right side of this photo. The peeling on this particular door was due to the builder buying un-primered doors. Cheaper, and the painter didn’t prime before he painted. I see this crap a lot.

When I took the doors down, I marked the bottom. I had a garage and a couple of saw horses to set the doors on. You may be only doing one door. In any case, remove the knob and striker from the door, and put it in the ZipLock bag in the room that you got it from. This is why you need a gallon bag and not a quart size.

When you get back, take a piece of tape and write on it, what door it is and place it in the hole you took the knob from.

Now that you have the door off, you can do any sanding and patching that needs to be done. Here I have taken a sander and sanded down the swelling from the masonite. I have also put two nails in the bottom of the door. I also put a nail in the top of the door and bent it 90 degrees. This is so that I can stand it up and not ruin the paint while it is drying, and the nail on the top allows me to place it on a wall, and not have the top of the door stick to the wall. Put a coat of paint on the top and bottom being careful not to paint the face of the door. We will roll that.

After patching, sanding, and painting the top and bottom, there is one area we want to paint before we roll the door. We want to paint the hinges with a brush across the hinge and the hinge pocket. We also want to cut in the front of the hinge where it is inset into the face of the door, because this is a pain to do it after. Here is the door with your sticker letting you know where it goes.

After you have rolled the door, you can stand it up against a wall, and paint the rest of the hinge edge, and the knob edge. Since it is off the floor and away from the wall, you should have no problem painting these. Tomorrow is soon enough to paint the top and bottom edges again and roll the other side.

Painting Tips

Okay, first you need to get a 1 gallon ZipLock Plastic bag for every room you are going to paint.
This is where the screws, coverplates, door knobs and anything else, like towel bars and toilet holders are going to rest while you paint.

If it has been a long time between paint jobs or you are a smoker, you are going to want to wash your walls. Assuming that is done, take your screwdriver and remove all of the electrical cover plates and put them in the ziplock bag. Take a piece of tape and cover the outlets, switches, cable plugs, phone, etc.

Remove the doors. Close the door, drive the hinge pins up and out, place them in the bag, Get the door out of the room. This does two important things, You will be able to paint that spot behind the hinge on the jamb, and you will be able to paint the jamb without obstruction.

Take your roll of 2” painters tape, and tape off the baseboards at the floor or carpet. So your floor looks like this.

Here is the deal with painters tape. Yes it costs more. It’s not just the color. Painters tape is sold in a number of times, hours or days. The theory is that the adhesive un-sticks itself after a certain time, and does not leave adhesive residue on whatever you taped. I know from experience that it doesn’t leave residue, I can’t say about the time as I never leave it on that long. It also sticks to carpet real well which regular beige masking tape doesn’t. It is worth the money.

I use 3M Scotch Blue, myself. I use 2” tape as it is wide enough to catch the roller oops if you stop paying attention to what you are doing, or there is something real interesting going on outside.

Here is a photo of a door jamb and the wall with the tape masking off the floor and carpet. I use drop cloths, as I want to get the walls painted and not have to scrape or soak spills out of carpets.

Here is a photo showing the outlet covered with tape and a serious cut in job. Notice that I have brushed the area between the outlet and the floor. This is so when you roll, you will not have runners or skips in your paint job as you roll.

If you are painting with latex, get a 3” 100% nylon sash and trim brush. (oil base, China Bristle) It is the angled type. You want a 3” brush so that your cut-in (which is the part where you paint the inside corners , trim and around your outlets, where your roller won’t go)
The other reason is that your standard roller is 2” in diameter, which means the closest you will get to the wall is one inch. When you cut in, we want you to have beautiful walls. The 3” brush allows you to have a generous safe zone to blend the roller and brush work.
You will be surprised how much that ceiling will jump at your roller, if you make your cut in smaller.

What your mission is, is to have a sufficient amount of paint in the corner and a large enough area to blend the paint you apply with the roller, to get a seamless paint job. The best way of doing this is after applying the paint with the brush, we feather the paint edge with our brush. Remember to brush into your work as you go, so that you don’t have big ugly brush marks on your trim or corners. Since the tips of the brush are on an angle, we want to make our final brush strokes perpendicular to the wall to feather the edge. That looks like this:

So you don’t think I am a slave driver, your paint and brush will tell you when it is time to take a break. You can see here that the paint is drying up the brush and the bristles are clumping together leaving voids which will show up on your walls as gaps. Your friends will laugh. You will cry.

Depending on temperature, humidity and your ability, this will take around 2 hours give or take. You will notice that only the bottom half of the brush has been dipped. Don’t try to dunk the brush under the delusion that you will get more paint on the wall faster, you won’t. You will have a mess.

One of the indispensable tools for cleaning brushes is a brush comb. At the paint stores these are pricey items. Go to the pet store and pick the same item with a different brand name for a whole lot less. This is a Hartz dog comb. Besides after buying Good Paint, a Good Brush, and Painters Tape, you will want to save where you can:)

When you clean your brush, use warm water, a bit of soap and the palm of your hand. Wiggle the brush in the palm of your hand, under the water, until the paint is gone. Use the comb to remove the bits of dried paint that will be sticking to the outside of the brush. Repeat until your brush is clean, as clean as it was when you took it out of the cardboard sleeve it came in.
Don’t buy cheap brushes or variety packs. The bristles will fall out, the brush will get gummy and your job will look like crap. If you buy a good brush and take care of it, you will only need to buy one, and can give it to your heirs.

When you are done cutting in, your walls should look like this. No it only looks like you painted half the room. One of the things that I do, your mileage will vary is to cut the outside corners as well. This will help eliminate the paint runs from the roller going over the edge.

Take your time, you can do this and produce a professional job in the privacy of your own home.

Door Stops and Drywall Patches

Doors and walls are dangerous together. Especially during puberty. Door slamming and banging is a favorite sport among a certain age group. Using a doorstop to prevent damage to your walls by the door pushing the knob through the wall is a good idea. There are many doorstops available.

These Doorstops suck. These are the cheapest ones available. Not just in cost but also in construction and durability.

Cheap door stops

These as you can see failed miserably. These are made by Stanley. They still suck.

In repairing damage to your wall, we will do a quick ‘tapeless drywall patch’. This is one hole that the homeowner started to repair the damage. Noble effort. The idea is great, the follow through is not. We want a square hole.

Cutting around the affected area

The first thing we need to do, is to square the hole. We are removing enough drywall to get past the cracked portion that the doorknob created. A drywall keyhole saw is the preferred tool for this.

Squaring the hole for the patch

Once we have our hole, take a scrap piece of drywall at least 2” larger in both dimensions than your hole.  We will make a ‘tapeless’ patch. We are going to remove an inch of drywall to leave a facepaper taping area.

Score the backside of the drywall so that you can carefully remove the edge piece so that the face paper remains. Do this with the other three sides. Your eyeballs are good enough to measure this as after the first cut, you can hold your patch up to the hole to see what else has to be removed.
Scoring the backside of our drywall patch

When you are done, your patch will look like this. We have eliminated needing a scrap of wood, screws, and drywall tape. This is for small repairs usually under 6” square.

Here is the front of our drywall patch using the face paper as our tape

Before we mud this in, we dry fit it to make sure that it will fit in our hole. Trim as necessary. It should fit snug, not tight.

Testing the fit of our patch before applying mud

Next we butter our hole with drywall mud. We are applying our mud to the surface to embed the ‘tape’ portion of our patch and the excess mud in our hole will seal the side edges when we install it.

Here we are prefilling our hole with mud applying enough to fill the gaps in our drywall and enough to fully embed the 'tape'

Insert the patch, and wipe it down, carefully so that you do not push it below the surface requiring more work.

Here is our patch in place, wiped down first coat

It will look like this. Let it dry as long as it needs to. With premixed mud, it is 24 hours. You can use “Speed Set”, which is taping compound that comes as a dry powder that you mix up yourself. It comes in 45, 90 minute times. It hardens chemically like concrete, but is a lot easier to sand. 45 minute ‘speed set ‘ has a working time, before it begins to harden and create a mess, about 1/3rd of the time (15 minutes)on the bag. You will need at least one more coat of mud before you sand.

Speed set is handy to have around, doesn’t dry out, and has an incredible shelf life. The down side is that it comes in big bags.

This particular wall was textured with a splattered ‘orange peel’, which requires more work. (don’t get me started on textured walls) The good news, is they sell spray textures in cans. so you can match this particular texture. One thing to remember, is that after you have re-textured, is to lightly sand the texture before you paint, so that the texture blends into the undamaged area. The texture on the undamaged area is smoother due to the paint that has been applied previously.

Finished and textured patch

Finally, before you repaint, put a quick coat of primer on the patch before you repaint the wall. This will hide the patch work that you did. Especially using semi or high gloss paints. Your finished repair should be invisible so that you can’t tell it ever happened.

Invisible repair

To insure that patching does not become a regular part of your life, replace all those bottom springy doorstops with a hinge mount stop like the one below. Take out one of the hinge pins, slide this on the pin, and set the pin back into the hinge. It is adjustable so you can limit the door travel. These were 99 cents at the home store.

Better Doorstops

Door Dance and Waterfall 1

Now that the storage in the master bedroom is done, a bit of privacy is called for.

The master bedroom is on the lower level, accessed by this stairway off the kitchen.
Not bad for snacking but lousy for love. We will be building a header for a sliding door, which will add privacy and present a dramatic detail for this opening.

The other side of this opening has this piece of glass, which presents some great possibilities. Oh yeah, that damn castiron railing is gonna go bye bye.

We will be removing the glass, installing the sprinklers and pump, and re-setting it in a stainless steel trough which will catch the water that will be running down the surface of the glass. It will be outstanding.
Still thinking about lighting it.

Fireplace Facelift 3

waiting on the tile guy. but the space is livable.

Micro Fiber Auto Cloths

Rags, Cloths, Cleaning Aids.
These are Micro Fiber Auto Cloths. I got mine at my Costco. This is my second pack, as Costco is sort of weird on how they stock products. Somethings are there forever, some vanish in days.
These are absolutely amazing. A friend of mine uses them for dusting his gloss black scooters, and swears by them. My mechanic uses them and swears by them as well. Hell and I thought when I bought them, I was on to something. When I told my friends about them, they drug theirs out. Besides holding dust, and cleaning real well, they are increadible sponges, for picking up spills and holding water. They wring out almost dry which is an added plus.

I haven’t has a chance to try them for staining wood or using them for faux finishes, but they probably won’t dissapoint here either. Highly Recommended.

Home Networking

Home Networking. Most folks wifi out. Then they run into all of the issues of wi-fi, from coverage, blockage, the neighbor’s kid playing Second life, to security in many flavors of bad.

A client of mine wanted to wire up his split level. He has Cable Internet. Not a problem. First we located the closet with the scuttle hole for the attic. This serves a couple of purposes. You are going to have to crawl around in the attic to find where the electricians drilled through the top plates to run the electric wire. In most cases there is a one inch hole containing only one or maybe two pieces of romex. There is a lot of room to run Cat 5e, the successor to Cat 5, and with the right parts, capable of a 1000MB, which in your house you can’t get yet, but connectivity has always gone up and price has come down.

This is where I installed a shelf in the closet, for stuffing the Cable Modem and the Cable/DSL Router. This shelf is above the top of the door trim so it is out of the way. The other reason for using this closet is that when you are pulling wire around your attic, it goes a lot smoother, when you are not trying to go though the cutout, and the hole on the top plate while you are negotiating around your attic.


The attic is a dreadful place filled with insulation, and years of dirt and dust. You will want to wear a mask and make sure your shower works well for your adventures here. Here in arizona the attics get real hot. You will sweat like a marathon runner. You will have to pull the insulation back out of your way so you can figure out where the walls are and where the electrician drilled holes for his wire. You will be using these same holes for your cable runs. This project is a two-fer, as the client decided in mid stream to put in CATV cable as well. Since you have a computer, for 30-200 bucks you can install a TV Tuner card in your PC and watch the news while you are surfing.


From left to right, an ‘Old Work’ outlet box. Looking closely, you can see the wing at the back/top of this type of box. There is one at the bottom as well. These work by cutting a hole large enough to hold the box, and when you insert it, and tighten the wing screws, they rotate and clamp the box to the drywall. Yes you can get all sorts of ‘speciality’ low voltage boxes, weird rings, but if you use these standard boxes, you only have to remember one type at the hardware store, you can get them in bulk, and you will only have to learn one cutout style. Plus. you can get them at just about every hardware store.

Next is a roll of tape, in this case 2” painters tape, which was the first roll I found. This is for marking the wires as you pull then through the walls and around the attic. You tape a flag to the end of the cable with the location of the other end, #1, #2, etc.

I have two cutouts here. One is for the network cables, and the CATV run which will run the cable modem to power the router. The box on the left is for a standard 110 volt outlet, to power the modem and router. Most houses of this type usually have staggered closets. The wall between the bedrooms is split in half, which means that it is the wall in bedroom 1, is the same wall as the back of the closet in bedroom 2. Almost always there is an electric outlet on these walls, making getting power for this outlet a relatively simple proposition.

Here is a situation where we need to install a cable outlet. You can take off the cover plate to figure out which side of the electric outlet the stud is, measure an 1/2” over and make your opening, or you can simply install the box below the existing electric box. Do check inside the box to make sure that the romex is entering the box from the top, which it is in 99% of the cases, as electricians almost always drop into a box from the top. The exception is in multi-story houses, where they may be using a larger box as a pull through, for another circuit going to a lower floor.