Sponsored Links


June 2010
« May   Jul »

Storage Project 5

Getting close to the end of the Storage Project. Here is an update. The base is in and the walls and baseboards are painted. The baseboards are 3” tall rather than the standard 2”, due to the walls being 97′ 1/2 ‘ tall rather than 96.  We had to rip a bunch of drywall down to an 1 1/4 ” to create a base for attaching the baseboard.  This also allows the wheels of the storage carts to hit the trim and not the walls. The lights are energy efficient fluorescent  giving a lot of light.

I am doing the doors separately, due to traffic issues.

Tech Tip: When painting raised panel doors like these, paint the panels and reveals first. This allows you to get in the corners and capture any drips along the way. After the paint dries, paint the flats. Touch up anything that may have gotten away, and you will have a beautiful door.

The new exterior door has a molded neoprene gasket. This should not be painted. If it can’t flex, It can’t seal. To paint around it, I use a drywall knife as a shield. On the one side(illustrated) the knife is held in place by friction. On the other side you will need to slip it undef the gasket and angle it up to paint underneath the gasket.

This allows you to paint right up to it without getting it painted. If you don’t have a big drywall knife any reasonably stiff thin cardboard can be used like the side of a cereal box. The longer the better, as you can paint more between moves.

On the other side the taping, filling and skim coating has made the patching almost invisible.

I also used some of the baseboard material to re frame the scuttle. Working overhead is a pita. But it can be made easier. After determining the scuttle is not square, (no surprise here) I took my measurement, so I have at least a 1/2” for the cover, and cut my pieces mitering the corners and placing the thin section to the outside.

I used quick clamps to hold my pieces in place while I positioned them. One at a time I took them down, Glued the back side and screwed them in place. Scuttles always get beat up. In Arizona construction is almost exclusively slab on grade, which puts all the utilities with the exception of water and gas in the attic.

Here is the scuttle finished.

After the alarm guy and the phone, TV and Internet guys are done, I will insulate this space including gluing insulation to the back of the scuttle cover.

Next up is the floor.In the foreground are the three craters left from the cut nails that were used to nail the stub wall to the floor.

Midway is a crack in the slab between a 1/16-1/18” in width. Too large to fill with paint. At the back in the corner is where somebody decided to put a hose bib outside after the walls were complete. This was complicated by this being the main water line to the building. They  hammered the crap out of the block and the floor, and just poured some concrete patch compound which was not floated to the surface, requiring repair. Half ass crap always bites somebody in the ass later.

We are using Quickcrete Epoxy Floor coating. We used it on the Artroom Expansion Project here.  This is a great product. It comes with floor cleaner, the coating in a lot of colors and chips to make it skid proof. After the floor sets, I will  silicone all the gaps between the baseboard and floor.  Scorpions are a problem in this neighborhood.

While this is going on, I will be working on the Closet Office, which was the original job.

Storage Project 4 Details - Long Post

At the beginning of the Storage Project I said, “What I am going to do is to open this side of this wall, remove the pocket door and frame in the opening, remove the short wall between the existing opening and the new wall creating a long storage room. I will wire it for cable, network and electricity for future uses.”
This is standard stuff and sounds easy. If you do this for a living it is. If you are just starting with a small project around your house, here are some of the drywall detail work to help you conquer your projects.

I have mentioned that I screw drywall. After you have bought the basic drill, circular saw, and hand tools, you very next purchase should be a screwgun. Screws work better for holding drywall. A screwgun has an adjustable nose so you can set depth of your screws just below the surface. This is important because of the design of drywall screws and the ability of them to hold the drywall to the walls without popping.
You cannot use a regular drill and get a consistent depth for maximum holding power by hand. You will be either not deep enough requiring you to use a screw driver to get them deep enough or you will go to deep past the paper making the screw useless in terms of holding power. Trust me on this one.

Here are a few of the details on this project.
Wall Fix.
This is the wall where we removed the small wall that formed part of the old storage closet.

The ceiling is how they hung the drywall just over the top plate. You can barely make out the mesh tape I have bridged the gap with. The wall was a little different. I cut a line into the inside of all the corners before removing the old drywall, to prevent the walls from running. After I removed the old drywall and studs, I used a 4” mud knife and slid it along the wall cutting into the leftover corner material before filling in the gap left by the old studs. I screwed the drywall to the blocking that was in the wall that they used to build this wall. I meshed taped both seams. This will be filled with speed set. I use speed set for pre fill as it dries quickly and shrinks very little requiring much less labor to blend. (That comes later when I skim coat) Also I can add less water to produce a stiffer mix to fill these gaps without runs or bulges.

Ceiling Outlet Repair

This is a typical ceiling outlet hole.  This is made by using a circle cutter and then bashing it open with a drywall hammer. When you are hanging footage, it takes 5 seconds to bash the hole, and up to 30 seconds to use a keyhole saw. Bashing the hole this way breaks the core of the back side of the drywall, which you remove by sweeping it with the hatchet side of your drywall hammer. You should take the time to cut these out with a keyhole saw.

I mention this because if you have small pot lights or retro fit ceiling cans, that keeping falling down or loosening up, this is the reason. There is not enough material around the sides to allow the clamps to hold it tight to the ceiling. You can loosen the clamps, rotate the light and hope you get lucky, or remove the light and build up the top of the sheet with compound. It doesn’t work very well in most cases.

Squaring the hole.

Just like it sounds. Cut a square scrap of drywall, cover the hole, trace around it, and cut it with keyhole saw.


Install blocking above your hole. This is a scrap lumber that is long enough to extend beyond the cut line and narrow enough so that you can hold it tight while you screw it in place. The point here is to repair the area and keep it flat. On walls you can use the “tapeless drywall patch technique” But on ceilings I recommend blocking.


Screw in the block that you used as a template for cutting the hole.

Mesh tape and you are ready for mud.

Here is a wall patch. This was an exploratory hole for a cable run into the dining room. Measurements get you only so far, Sometimes you just have to perform surgery. Here also I used blocking rather than a tapeless patch which is really much better on smooth walls.

Here is our hole covered before skim coating.

Here is another patch. This is actually a twofer. When I disconnected this outlet, it turned out not to stop here but was also connected to the porch light. So I had to cut it open both top and bottom to trace the wiring. I wire nutted the connections, pushed them in the box, and will be covering this with blank cover plate.

Never !Ever! bury  a box that contains live circuits. It is against code, and if there is ever any problem, you or your electrician will thank me.

Note that I covered the box opening with blue tape. This prevents filling the box with mud as you work. This saves time and aggravation when it comes time to  install outlets,switches,  and cover plates.

It makes taping easier not having to worry about crap in the box or loose wires sticking out, live or not.

Drywall over Concrete
This is the west end of the storage area. On the left and back is the concrete block that forms part of the veranda in front and the garage wall.

Here we use drywall with heavy adhesive(PowerGrab) on the back and use short spiral shank concrete nails to hold it in place while the glue sets. Here is the intrepid client lending a hand.

In the photo below on the right side, the brown area is where we did not cut the inside corner deep enough  so when we pulled the drywall down, the top ran, taking the paint and texture off. This will have to be pre-filled before skimcoating.

The walls are taped and covered coated prior to skim coating the walls smooth. Because there is so much patching, skim coating is the best wall treatment.

Skim Coating
Because of depth of texture multiple coats of mud will be needed. This is the first coat applied vertically. The second coat should be applied horizontally, and the final coat, with vertically. I used speed set for the fill coats and Dust Control mud for the final coat. Because you have to sand it smooth eventually:)

Second Coat.

Sanded and Primed

Not everything goes according to plan. In finishing up one last connection in the attic, which is another whole post. Suffice to say , in arizona the shortest distance for wiring is anywhere you want.

Attics are dark dusty, and slippery.

One small step for mankind, one more repair for the taper.

Here we installed blocking between the ceiling joists, and screwed through the joists into the blocks with 3” screws, because folks will step on any thing that looks solid. So screw up the drywall, tape over the cracks, and skim over it.

The repaired area is in the middle of the ceiling over the end light. Came out okay.

These are some of the most common challenges you may face in remodeling, but hopefully not all at the same time or in the same room.

Before You Remodel – Utilities

You have a house and you want to change it. I say go for it, but I remodel a lot.   A good idea before you begin remodeling is to figure out where stuff is. This serves two important functions.

First, it helps you to understand how stuff works in your house, helping you become familiar with things that you will contact once you start opening up walls or changing fixtures.

Second, if you have a professional helping you for work that you are not comfortable doing, knowing where stuff is helps them do their job better and faster saving you money.

This is a rough guide on how to find out where the primary utilities Electricity, Water and Natural Gas, are and what they do. You may want to get a (big) three ring binder with plastic pocket pages to hold various things you discover as well as manuals for your appliances. You can use this to track your progress as well as keeping your notes and things in one spot.


Find out where your main panel is and how big it is, how many breakers you have, whether or not you have any blank spaces for expansion, and most importantly where your circuits go, and what they feed. Get a piece of paper and draw a picture of your panel.  Ignore the writing on the panel around the 15 and 20 amp breakers especially if it is an older house. Take another piece of paper and make a drawing of the rooms of your house. As you test the outlets and lights make marks on it showing the locations. Your panel has numbers on it so you can mark down what circuit feeds what outlets and or lights.

Buy a simple plug in circuit tester with lights on it to test your outlets. They are only a few bucks and can save you lots. The lights will indicate that you have a properly wired outlet, or if there is a problem what it is like having reversed wiring. (the Black wire is the Hot and goes on the gold screw of your outlet, the White wire is the Neutral and goes on the silver screw of your outlet, the bare copper wire is the Ground and is attached to the Green screw-There are No Exceptions to this. ), an open neutral or open ground. Open meaning that there is a connection missing in the white path or the ground wire back to the panel. In either case this is something that must be corrected.

First start with the largest breakers 30, and 50 amps. Most 50 amp circuits are for electric stoves, electric heaters and a/c units. If you have a really large house with a 200 or 400 amp service you may see a 100 amp breaker, but it is uncommon in most houses. Confirm that they actually control what is marked on the panel. Turn off the breaker and try to run the appliances that they say they control. Mark it down on your paper.

Next start on the 20 amp breakers and turning them off one at a time. Plug in your tester into your wall receptacles until you have no lights on the tester. Once you find one, check the rest of the outlets in the room you are in. Also check the outlets in the next rooms on shared walls. There is no requirement for circuits to feed a single room. There is only a requirement on the maximum number of devices on a circuit. A single circuit can span multiple rooms. Normally 20amp breakers feed outlets, and 15 amp breakers feed your lights. Test the lights at the same time. They should be separate, but in tract homes, saving a few bucks on wire by feeding a light off a outlet circuit is much more common than folks admit.

Also is the devils spawn of the switched outlet. Some designer somewhere decided to eliminate overhead lights and use the switch to turn on and off an outlet, the theory being that it was more elegant or some such nonsense. If you don’t have a ceiling light, you probably have a switched outlet. And these can be on a totally separate circuit daisy chained with other rooms with switched outlets.

Yes the first few breakers will have you testing every outlet in the house, but as you go the number of choices will go down as you cross off rooms on your list. Mark these down on your paper. Continue until you have identified every breaker and circuit in your house.

While you are tracking down your circuits, also test  your GFCI outlets in the bathroom, kitchen and anywhere else they may be, most typically on exterior outlets.

Take new  paper and make a clean copies of what you have discovered and put them somewhere safe. So when you go to remodel you will know what to turn off.


Find your city main shutoff and note its location. Check all your plumbing fixtures to see that they do not leak and that the shutoffs work properly.Turn them off and check that water is not leaking past them. If they are jammed or do not work properly, make a note to replace them. To prevent this problem in the future, cycle them monthly.

Check to see if you have a shut off in your house from the city line so that you can turn off the water in your house without needing the weird wrench most cities use for their shut offs.

Kitchen: Check the shut offs by turning them off and turning on the faucets, one at a time. Check for manufacturer names and model numbers where applicable in case you need or want to repair vs replace.  Check the bottom of the sink cabinet for leaks. Check around your garbage disposal for leaks or looseness.  Check your dishwasher connections.

Bathroom: Check the shut offs, and test them including the toilet shut off.

Check your water heater. Find out if it is gas or electric and where the shut down and start up procedures are. Check it for corrosion and leaks. You will also find draining instructions. You should drain it on a regular schedule depending on the manufacturers recommendations or more frequently if you live in a high mineral area like Arizona.

Check your laundry room washer connections and shut offs and examine the supply hoses for age. Especially if your laundry room is in an unheated portion of your house. If you have a utility sink, check its shut offs. Your dryer should be checked to see that vent to the outside is clean. If it is electric, you should have discovered what breaker controls it already.

Also check your drains for leakage, loose couplings, and damage.

In Arizona and parts of the southwest an item of interest and irritation are swamp coolers. Basically a box that sprays water on aspen pads and a fan that circulates ‘cool’ moist air through your duct system. They require regular pad replacement. Checks for leaks not only at the shut off, but also with the pans rusting out, pumps failing, fans stopping and belts breaking.

Natural Gas

Find the meter and shut off and make a note. Check all your appliances that use gas, and use soapy water and a small brush to check for leaks at the couplings. Water heaters, Gas dryers, Furnaces, stoves and ovens. If you do not have instructions for shut off and start up, make a note of the name and model number, visit the manufacturers websites and download what you need.

Good hunting!

Storage Project 3

In our last exciting episode we had done the demo, framed the new walls, filled in the old pocket door area, ran wiring for CATV, network, and electric.

Here is the inside of the new storage area. This is looking east.

On the left side is the pocket door opening and the new doorway framing. The door in the center of the photo leads into the house. Note the switch and push button on the left side of the door. They are the garage light and the garage door opener. Moving right, is the original wall. the two wires on it are the CATV and Network cables for the dining room.

Note the two electric boxes on the right side  wall. We removed the outlets and are covering them with blank cover plates. As it turned out, the boxes were also a feed for outlets further in the house. So after tracking and reconnecting the necessary wires we will be using blank cover plates.

Tip. If you are removing outlets or switches and not removing the boxes, Do Not Bury Them!! Wire nut  whatever connections are necessary and use blank cover plates. Make a note with a sharpie on the back explaining what they fed or/are feeding.

Moving toward the right is a dark vertical line. This is where we removed the stud on the short wall. Further right are the horizontal lines left from the shelving in the old storage room. Also note the drywall stops there and the concrete block continues. This marks the end of the house framing and the concrete block formed a wing for the front porch.

Here is the west view. On the left is our dining room wall and beyond it the concrete block wall which also turns the corner and becomes one of the garage walls.

We will be dry walling the block, patching the drywall, and skim coating the inside.  It is about half new sheetrock and half old wall with a relatively heavy texture. It is a judgment call. I can skim coat much faster than I can texture so that is the way we will go.

We have run our wiring, marked the location of the studs on the floor and ceiling,(this is so you know where to screw your drywall) and are insulating the wall. This will act as not only an energy feature but also sound control.

Drywall is up.
Here is the west garage wall where the pocket door was. Note that the right side does not extend into the storage cabinets on the right side. This is by design. It is much easier to float the mud this way and get a smooth wall.

Here is the east garage wall with the door installed. On the left are the garage light switch and the door button. In the center of the photo are two outlet boxes on top of each other. the bottom is the outlet, the top is the network and cable for the flat screen TV when this becomes a play room or man cave. In doing these projects, I always cover the outlet boxes with tape before drywall. This keeps mud and dust out of the boxes, and makes installing outlets and switches much easier if you are not excavating the boxes and the screw holes.

The new storage area.
This is looking east toward the house. The blue tape on the trim will prevent extra labor when taping and skimming that wall. The box above the new door is one of three for new energy saving florescent lights. All the flat joints are mesh tape and the corners are paper tape. The first coat is done with 90 minute ‘speed set’.

This is looking west. We have covered the block wall with drywall fastened with PowerGrab adhesive and short spiral shank masonry nails to hold the drywall as the adhesive sets.

Next post I will show some of the details of blending old and new work.

Storage Project 2

After moving the stuff out of the ‘storage’ unit demo commences.  Here is that wall with the drywall removed.

This offends me on so many levels. To call this shitty construction would give shitty a bad name. Notice that the header has no trimmer, nor are there any cripple studs above the ‘header’. This is not a load bearing wall, but it is just poor construction. Notice that the drywall on the inside of the wall is intact. This is because when they installed the pocket door they did not attach the drywall to the door stretchers. No screw holes! They had three nails holding the top of the frame attached to the header and two cut nails attaching it to the concrete. Basically the drywall and trim boards held this in place.

This home was a premium house when it was built. Block construction, large rooms, full baths, pool, blah, blah, blah.  If this is how little home builders care about the details just because it is a garage, think about where else they cut corners. Better yet don’t .

10 foot Living in an 8 foot world

I mentioned that I had a 10’wide opening to frame in. I have 8 foot material. The bottom plate would be cut open later for my door. So I measured and installed the bottom plate with PowerGrab and Drive anchors.  The guy who takes this out will swear a lot. I put the ‘seam’ in the middle of my doorway.

Since this is not a load bearing wall I will not be using a double top plate. Nor is there room to frame it up as a wall section and horse it in place. I measured and cut my material to get the length I needed. To get it up in one piece I screwed a piece of material to hold it together while I installed it. I screwed it in because I will be removing it later.

I cut my two end studs and angled them next to the wall to give me room to install the top plate. I glued the top of the plate with PowerGrab, installed one end and snugged up the end stud. I went to the other corner and snugged up that stud. I then framed in my wall.

Because the door is a prehung exterior unit I did not build a double header, but I did cripple it.

No remodeling project no matter how small is complete without a surprise. Where the new wall meets the old lurks the first one. The old corner was bent in about a half inch. I had to cut it to straighten it. I screwed the new stud to the old one to maintain its integrity.  Figure 2 is where the original framer had to cut the wall stud to drywall.

I framed in the old pocket door opening and installed cripples above(not shown) and started the wiring for the various utilities.

Here is today’s Arizona construction tip. In the summer do the work in the attic early. It may be a dry heat outside, but in the attic it is not.

Storage Project 1

Storage, Storage, Storage!!! You have stuff, I have stuff, everybody has stuff. You need to store your stuff. Unless you live in a warehouse, you probably don’t have enough storage space. I am not talking about hoarding,  collecting burger shop glasses, or hobbies that involve large stationary power tools, but  just normal stuff.

Holiday stuff, camping stuff, sports stuff, and for those of you who live up north, your winter and summer stuff. (You know who you are and you know what I mean)

This is a photo of folks who have stuff. Look carefully at the photo as I explain how we will make storage. This is the back end of a garage.

Notice first the wire shelving on the left. It is a stainless steel rolling unit from Costco. About 90 bucks and worth every penny. It comes with 6 shelves that are 48” wide and 16” deep. It comes with serious 4”solid rubber casters and is 6 feet high when assembled. (I own 2 of them and recommend them highly) It is rated at 600 lbs, but in my own field testing have put more on them.  Moving on…

If you look about a foot to the left of the open door you will notice a 3-4” concrete curb. This curb is actually  part of the house slab.  The garage floor is at grade level.  The curb is going to support a wall that will run the width of the garage (23′) and be 44” deep inside.

This is the east side looking from the garage door area. It is 10 feet across from the door to the wall. Here I will frame a wall with a 36” steel door across this entire opening to meet the wall on the right.

This is the other side with the ‘storage’ originally designed. On the right is a storage unit that was added later. It is full too.

This unit has a pocket door, which is the only intelligent idea here. What I am going to do is to open this side of this wall,  remove the pocket door and frame in the opening, remove the short wall between the existing opening and the new wall creating a long storage room. I will wire it for cable, network and electricity for future uses. Stay tuned.

Maytag Dishwasher Recall

Maytag, Jenn-Air, Amana, Admiral, Crosley, Magic Chef, and Performa by Maytag Dishwasher Recall, 2010.
Details Here.
For the textually challenged there is a video

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled dishwashers, disconnect the electric supply by shutting off the fuse or circuit breaker controlling it, inform all users of the dishwasher about the risk of fire and contact Maytag to verify if their dishwasher is included in the recall. If the dishwasher is included in the recall, consumers can either schedule a free in-home repair or receive a rebate following the purchase of certain new Maytag brand stainless-steel tub dishwashers. The rebate is $150 if the consumer purchases new dishwasher models MDB7759, MDB7609 or MDBH979; or $250 if the consumer purchases new dishwasher models MDB8959, MDB8859, MDB7809 or MDB7709. Consumers should not return the recalled dishwashers to the retailer where purchased as retailers are not prepared to take the units back.