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August 2006
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DIY Video

With the popularity of house blogs and DIY sites, it was only a matter of time before somebody came up with a video site for DIY.
Video Jug is a such a site. It is hosted and run in England, and has a British flavor.

Currently in beta, it has a number of videos already posted. Like all of the other sites, you can upload your videos, and share them across the internet.

Interesting Times

Living Room Soffit Drywall and Mud

Drywall mud shrinks. This is why you need mulitiple coats for a smooth finish.

Running the flats.

Here is the corner that was so high with the drywall in place and the flat tape coats applied. In production , the corners would be run right after this, but I am not doing it that way, as I am getting slow and if you are going to do drywall in your house, this adds extra time on the front end, but saves a ton of time on the back end, especially when it comes time to sand.

Running the corners.
The next day, I run the corners. Note that I have wiped down the tape, and then mudded one side of the corner. Also note I am running the ‘opposite’ sides. The reason is that you are able to get a smooth run of mud without having to try to get the corner square and cutting into the mud from the other angle. I also spot the nails in the field of the soffit.

The next day, I take a dry knife and run it along my mud to knock off any little mudballs that may have been missed when I did yesterdays, work.
After the inside corners are established, I have installed the ‘L’bead on the ceiling, and run the flats on the bottom of the soffit, and run the bottom side of the corner bead on the soffit. I also spot the nails in the field of the soffit.
Note: The rest of the photos are in Black and White. I have done this to highlight the mud.
Next I take my 12″ knife and mud the entire face of the soffit. This can be done in two steps, with your trusty 6″knife, by running the ceiling inside corner, and then coming back and running the face of the cornerbead.
* Always work from the top down. Gravity is stronger in taping for some reason.
Our corners will blend in at the ends of the soffit, because we did those yesterday.
On the ceiling I am running a fill coat of mud in the ‘L’ bead as well, being carefull not to roll mud onto the face of the soffit. The mud rolls you see on the ‘L’ bead on the ceiling? Don’t worry, you will knock them off tomorrow. Also, I run the other sides of the corners around the soffit. I also spot the nails in the field of the soffit.

Okay, it is time to run the ‘L’bead. Since my ‘track’ is 6″, I am using an 8″ knife to run these. This way I get my inside corner and smooth my elevation to the edge of the ‘L’ bead.

Here is the finished product prior to sanding and priming. Always prime drywall. Always.

The other side did not get neglected.

Here is the soffit bottom.

Here is a view of the living room from the kitchen archway. The trim is coming off the doors, and the banding on the top of the window will form the top of the doors all the way around the room.
The ceiling fan is coming down and replaced with a light fixture, that I will have to build to get what I want.

The room will be a crossover of Arts and Crafts and Craftsman style. Arguably they are close enough to each other for historians to face off, but as long as I am happy with the result, I will enjoy it.

‘L’ Bead

One of the other useful beads for drywall finishes is ‘L Bead. L bead is useful in a number of places. Racetracking ceilings is one. As a finish edge next to ‘trimless’ window and doors. ‘L’ Bead comes in 1/2″ and 5/8″ inch sizes. It comes in various lengths from 8′ on. You cut it with snips.

Tip: Buy the longest lengths you can. Butting beads requires a keen eye or a bridge behind the two butted pieces.

Like Corner bead it has the same flange, and finished edge with one important difference. The short leg is a finished surface. It is primarly used as a finish for drywall where it meets trimless windows and doors.

It can also be used as a decorative element as in racetracking ceiling, and even walls. Here is a demonstration of ‘L’ bead on a ceiling.

Corner Bead

Corner Bead is the metal trim that creates outside corners on drywall.
This is a standard 90 degree corner bead. It comes in two flange widths. 1 1/8″ for 1/2″ drywall and 1 1/4″ for 5/8″ drywall. It comes in various lengths from 8′ on. You cut it with snips.

Tip: Buy the longest lengths you can. Butting beads requires a keen eye or a bridge behind the two butted pieces.

On the outside is the finished edge which is where one side of your drywall knife runs on when you are applying drywall mud.
The two flanges sit flat on your raw drywall. The diamond decoration along the length of the flange act as a keyway for holding the drywall mud to the drywall and the cornerbead. There are usually a series of pre punched holes inside the flange and the smaller holes that are usually 4″ on center next to the outside edge of the flanges on both side.

You don’t need to use nails in everyone of the holes. In vertical applications, the first foot from the floor should have nails/screws in both sides. up to 4 feet every other hole or 8″ is sufficent. Past 4′, every 12″ will work.

Note* Do not over hammer or screw your beads, they will twist, dent and pop out on the opposite side.

You will end up with a corner that looks bad, requiring extra work. If you bang the finish edge, rip it out and start over.

Do not buy bent corner bead or cornerbead that has nicks in the finish edge. Bent bead is a PITA to use.
Getting straight lines is a ‘challange’ Bead that is nicked on the finish edge will show up when you start coating as the nick will telegraph the defect into your mud requiring extra work in finishing and sanding.

There is a number of schools of thought as when to apply beads during the drywall process. Some folks slam them up as soon as the drywall is up, and before any taping is done. Some folks apply them after the tape coat is done, but before second and subsequent coats of mud.

I am a tape then bead guy. If you tape first, the corner bead will act as an additional fastener for your tape. This allows you to get a smoother finish with less work. Relatively speaking, as the tape then bead requires you wait a day between the tape coat and the corner bead application.

There are all sorts of other decorative corner bead styles, such as rounded corners which soften your corners, but require different strategies to use.

Drywall Tape – Mesh and Paper

Drywall tape is used to cover the seams and create inside corners when you remodel.
There are two types that are useful. Mesh Tape and Paper Tape .


Paper Tape has been the standard for many years. It is a tough paper with a crease down the center to allow you to fold it for inside corners. It has no adhesive of its own. One of the little known things about drywall tape is that it is actually wedged shaped. The edges are thinner than the center. The better drywall tapes are manufactured this way.
Paper tape requires that you apply a coat of mud to your seams before applying it. If you do not apply enough mud to bed the tape or you have bare spots underneath the tape, the bare spots will create bubbles in your finish. Overwiping the tape will actually squeeze the mud out from under the tape giving the same problem. Underwiping your joints will make the tape stand up, requiring you to apply a much wider seried of coats to acheive a ‘flat’ appearance, and more sanding.

Mesh Tape is a relative newcomer to the drywall scene, and has some attributes that make it a valuable thing to have around. It is basically a fiberglass mesh that does have adhesive on one side. Originally created to bridge old and new work, such as repairing a plaster and lath wall, it makes a strong and solid bond that would flex enough that cracking was minimized especially in the northern climates where your inside tempeture would change dramatically during heating season.

Because it has adhesive you can apply it directly to your flat seams and butt joints, saving some time over paper tape. You are able to put your bedding and cover coat in one application. You do need to make sure that it is in full contact by rubbing it down. This will almost eliminate bubbling.

Soffit Construction

To be clear most soffits are just badly built boxes to make your kitchen cabinets look good. Usually the only thing you find in them is the duct for the fan over your stove.
They can become useful members of society.

In remodeling casa lemurzone, enclosing the carport to create an office, I needed to extend the HVAC to the new space. The closest place to get it was on the far wall in my living room, 15 feet away. So I built a soffit!
I built it out of steel studs, because I can and I love working with them, and to be able to fake flat, which is neccessary because of the age of my house.
Here is the soffit with the flex duct in place.
I purposely cut the face drywall the same size so that I could see the problem that I knew was there.
As you can see it rises quite a bit to the corner.
Faking Flat.

My solution to this is to fool the eye. I am going to racetrack the ceiling (racetracking is method of applying multiple narrow strips of drywall in layers, to create the illusion of additional space). It is a lost art as, it is labor intensive, and new home construction thinks that bullnose cornerbead is the cat’s ass.

I am only going to go one level as it is a lot of additional work.
Here is how we fool your eye. I glued thin strips of drywall in various thicknesses from the low spot of the soffit to the corners. I continued by gluing 2″ strips of drywall to the to the ceiling next to the wall to change the elevation of the wall ceiling intersection.
I then glued my 6″ racetrack strips to the ceiling with two beads of glue, one at the outside ceiling edge of the strip, and one two inches in from the wall to catch the corner of the backing I glued previously.
Which brings us to the field tested testimonial for PowerGrab construction adhesive from Loctite
Gun it press it to the ceiling and walk away. It sticks. Liquid Nails will drop, Gorilla Glue will drop, and the other adhesives that I have rejected over the years do not bear mentioning. Highly Recommended!

Which brings us to this point.
See? Looks flat! When it is finished it will fool the eye for 99% of the world. You will know, but you can keep a secret!

Once I get this finished I will create a step by step photo album of the process, so If you want to, you can.

There are other ways to add drama to a room.

Coffering is a deeper method of adding drama to a room. This was my old office, in my old house. The steps are 12″ wide and 4″ tall. The ceiling where the lights is 8′ off the floor and the ceiling at the walls is 7′.
Here is a step by step illustration

Door Dance and Waterfall 3

The Door Glass is in and Mounted. The glass is a 3/8” thick panel with a raised surface called ‘Rain”

Rolls smooth as silk. There is some temporary materials in place for sizing.
The stainless waterfall reservoir is in place.

My name is Alan the head lemur and I am a remodeler.

My name is Alan and I am a remodeler. There, I have admitted it. I thought that I could stop.

I spent my childhood around carpenters and cabinetmakers. I spent my early adult life building, painting and remodeling, where I learned to build houses, cabinets, commercial buildings, from foundations to trim, including framing, eclectrical, plumbing, heating, air conditioning, drywall, siding, roofing, insulation, drywall, taping, painting, tile, carpeting, and details.

I moved to Arizona and managed to kick drugs and alcohol. I even stopped working construction, by getting a job in a millwork company, running a panel saw. I got married and bought a brand new trailer. I thought I was free.

I quit the millwork business and went into the wrecking yard business. A new career with new things to learn, and different tools and about as far from wood as you could get, in the same universe.

The call was too strong. I remodeled my boss’s house.

I changed careers. I went into the bodyshop business. I thought I was free. I thought that this was my salvation. The call was too strong. I remodeled my new bosses’ other business location.

We bought a house. I left the bodyshop business. I sold my mechanics tools. I made a clean break, letting the dealer work on my cars from major service to oil changes, and became a web designer/pixel mechanic.

Finally a career that required no more tools than my brain, a computer and an internet connection. I thought that This was the change that would stop me from cruising building supplies stores looking at materials, fixtures and hardware. I stopped my subscriptions to Fine Homebuilding and Fine Woodworking. I read computer magazines.

No, I fell off the wagon with a whimper. It was just a little paint. Little projects around the house, minor catastrophies. But I was spending more time on the internet. Maybe too much. My marrige cratered so it became walls, enclosures, additions, landscaping, drywall, ductwork, electricity, plumbing, counters, cabinets, and more painting.

I moved into the house I am in now because it was clean and did not need to be fixed up. I thought that I was free and clear. The very first thing I did was to go to the building supply store and buy material, and enclose part of the carport so I had a place to put my remodeling tools.
I installed two security doors, and put my tools away.

I didn’t see it. Really! I thought that I was done and I could devote myself to the internet and this blog, offering pithy observations about what folks were doing with this shiny new toy.

I was happy, secure in the knowlege that I hadn’t picked up a hammer in months. I even blogged for dollars, thinking that I was on my way to having my life revolve around the cool glow of the monitor, the subtle clicking of my keyboard, the attentions of my 17 loyal readers and my dogs.

I thought I was free and clear. I hadn’t been in the tool shed in months. I was even thinking about getting rid of my tools. Silly Me.

Then I had one of those days.

I should have stopped with doing the minimum cleanup. I tried calling folks to do the repairs. I really did. I opened the tool shed and it was like coming home after a long tough day. My tools were sitting in the racks I had bought for them, sitting in the places I had put them, quietly regarding me with a silent quiver of anticipation that I would pick them up and put them to work. Yes, folks we are gonna do a little work around the casa lemurzone.

I settled with the insurance company, and began making lists. I made a few calls and got some friends over to help me with stuff that really needs two folks. I thought I could stop at repairing the ceilings and painting.

The call is too strong.

I have an office set up, that I am using to compose this, and in the back of my mind, at some point I was considering enclosing the carport, but I had thought that I would wait a few years, before I did it.

It’s really not a big project, at least in my frame of reference, having done projects whose timelines have been measured in months. Just a little bit of lumber, siding, a bit of electricity, some drywall and paint, and I will be good to go.

Oh No… I even started another blog, remodeling for geeks, to what I thought was just going be a recap of various projects I have done over the past few years, and maybe pass on some tips, ideas, observations and hard won experience. You can watch Norm, Bob, or any of the other folks who have shows on television, but you are on the internet aren’t you? Besides, I will relate mistakes, and gotchas, which are things that those folks won’t.

My name is Alan and I am a remodeler. The delusions are gone, the guilt has evaporated, and I feel grand. It is comfortable in the same way that your favorite things bring you pleasure.

Now that you know what sort of person I am, we can move on, unless of course, you have decided that home improvement is not for you.

Since I decided that I will be here for some time, and am building an office, I am going whole hog. Gonzo remodeling without the drugs and alcohol, which are contraindicated for any sort of work with power tools.

I mentioned my love affair with Light Guage Metal aka Steel Studs the other day, here and here.

I showed you the last ceiling that I created with them in the last world headquarters, well here is a peek of the progress at the current world headquarters.
This is the one thing thatI, Norm, Bob and the rest of the television remodelers agree on.
Wear EYE PROTECTION!! Make it your FIRST tool purchase. You will thank me.

Moving on…..

After the wood framing was complete on the front wall and the door is in place, it was time to consider the ceiling.
Since the ceiling and the roof share joists, this house having a ‘flat’ roof, actually it slopes for runoff during our monsoon seasons, I decided that I would racetrack or Coffer the ceiling. This allows me control of placement of vents, wires, and fixtures. The nice thing about remodeling is that within limits, you can control your entire little universe. This is not a bad thing.

This is looking at the ceiling construction along the inside wall.

This is an oblique view including part of the front door.


This is a view of the current west wall. The lowest level is at the same elevation as the top of the window. This will wash the ceiling in the afternoon.

Admittedly, it is a little hard to see the various levels, there are 3, but once I get the drywall up, things will get clearer.

It is a hell of a lot of work, especially since most folks will never see it in person, as I don’t go out much, and entertain even less. But if you are going to be in town, I will be happy to show it to you. If you really want to see it and are on the web the necessary contact details are available.

I am the head lemur and I am a remodeler.

Door Dance and Waterfall 2

On our last episode, we were waiting for the door guy to install his track.
Here it is. The tank for the waterfall is made, the electricity is in, the glass is in storage, the awful wrought railing is gone, and we are ready to drywall the holes left over from the track installation. I have already taped the face of the track off, as it already has a finish on it.

Here is a closeup of the header on the stairwell. This is also the first challenge. We need to change the slope of this opening, so that the bottom of the drywall is at the same horizontal elevation as the ceiling when viewed from the kitchen. The other issue is that we cannot drill through the track to attach blocking.

Here is the underside looking north toward the stairs. As you can see, this equated speed as progress. This is one of the Other Guy / Next Guy deals

Here is the track looking south. These guys didn’t think about the drywaller. There was about two hours of carpentry to get blocking in here to have something to attach the drywall. Yes it is a small space, and you might think that all you need to do is bang up a couple of firring strips. Consider the owner whacked an opening, the track guy just put in what he needed, and left the drywaller to make them look good. I have to provide blocking to support the drywall, and the ‘L’ metal which will form the detail for the ceiling and track.

Here is the underside looking north over the stairwell with the drywall in place. Just to the left of center is the cornerbead I managed to salvage, eliminating having to recut,frame, and drywall the corner. What is not apparent from this photo, is the drywall piece over the stairwell, which I backcut at 45 degrees so I could maintain a straight line for the “L'” metal that will form the finish detail for the drywall where it meets the ceiling track.

Here is a closer view. There are a lot of little angles and pieces that have to meet and work.

Looking north the tape in on and the ‘L” metal is attached on one side. It is easier to run the tape and then the metal after the tape is on and before the second and other coats of mud.

Here is the back side of the track with a small piece of L metal. This track doesn’t have an endcap so the details are important.

Here is the “L”metal that will span the track from the stairwell wall to the end of the track. I have split the metal and bent the flange to around 45 degrees to cover the angle portion over the stairwell.

Here is the stairwell with the metal, tape and cover coats.

Here is the underside with the metal and cover coat.

Here is the detail at the stairwell where the old meets the new. Touch of sanding, a little orange peel in a can, and it will be ready for paint.

Other Guy or Next Guy

Jeanne at House in Progress noted:

no one will prep a worksite as carefully as the person who has to clean the house.

This is so true on so many levels.
Remodeling projects from simple painting to building additions all have things that need to be done, in order for you to grin like an idiot when you are done, releasing endorphins and giving you that warm buzz, and not have folks laugh at you.

In remodeling, which I have mentioned is biblical in terms of one project ‘begating’ another, you will become one of two types of remodeler.
Other Guy or Next Guy. This is a gender neutral designation.

Other Guy is the person who does the minimum necessary, and will cut corners, thinking that the Other Guy will work around or fix the problem. There are a hell of a lot of Other Guys working on houses all over. Not just carpenters, drywallers, electricians, plumbers, HVAC, and all the other ‘trades’ that are involved in houses, but there are quite a few Architects here also.

Next Guy is the person who not only knows their job but will also look ahead to make sure that the Next Guy can do their job.

You really want to be a Next Guy.