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February 2011
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Popcorn Ceiling Removal

One of the most sworn at design details in housing is the popcorn ceiling. They collect dirt, dust, spiderwebs, and all sorts of crap. You can’t wash them. You can’t dust them. You can paint them if you want to spend an enormous amount of money on paint, and don’t mind a stiff neck.

You can remove them.

Here is a quick look at the procedure.
Take down any lights or fans on the ceiling. Remove the furniture, because you need to bag the entire floor. If you cannot remove the furniture, you will have to move it to cover the floor, move the stuff and cover the rest of the floor, and move it again to keep it out of your way while you are scraping the stuff off. If you are not painting the walls at the same time you will want to poly the walls. A quick look on bagging the walls can be seen here.
Bagging the floor consists of covering it with a layer of poly sheeting to catch the popcorn as it comes down. You can buy it in 10′, 12′ and even wider sizes. .7 to 1 mil. is all the thickness you will need. Buy the widest stuff you will need. It comes in 400′ rolls. Clean up is a lot easier with not having seams on the floor.

First up is moistening the ceiling. This does two important things for you. It softens the popcorn making it easier to remove and the moisture reduces the dust, which is especially important if you are living in the house.

Here my friend Rich from Arrowhead Drywall is using a simple pump up sprayer to spray plain water to moisten the popcorn.

Next is scraping the ceiling.

Rich is using a standard 6” taping knife to scrape the ceiling.

Here is the floor after the popcorn is down.

Here is the ceiling after.

At this point you need to roll up the plastic and dispose of the trash.
You will need to decide how you want to finish the ceiling. Skim coating it for a smooth surface, or a texture effect like a skip trowel, knockdown, or some other effect. You will need to rebag the floor.

Termite Treatment

Last week we had a termite inspection done. Here is the termite diagram.

Having discovered the termite problem, we move to treatment.

I met with Donovan, the technician from Bills Pest and Termite who showed up on time. He and I walked the property discussing the problem. Professional, Courteous, and Knowledgeable. He then began the prep for treatment. On the interior a series of holes are drilled through the slab into the ground beneath. This is a shot of the garage.

One of the amazing things here is two handed drilling.

Yep. He ran two drills punching holes with a precision and speed that was a joy to watch. He drilled the entire perimeter of the garage and not just the area highlighted on the bug chart above.
Moving into the house proper, we detached the carpet and pad to make the drilling easier.

After the holes were drilled the treatment began. Using a wand, he pressured sprayed the termiticide into the holes.

Having completed the inside, he moved outside and cleared a channel around the entire structure and performed an ‘outside wrap’ which is a complete perimeter application.

Part of the outside treatment was treating the sidewalk slab at the front entry.

After completing the treatment, he sealed all of the holes, swept up the dust, replaced the carpets and put back the rock and filler he had moved treating the outside. It was almost like he had never been here.

Finally he attached the treatment sticker, which doubles as the warranty to the water heater.

Why the water heater? Most folks in moving never take the water heater. It is a fixed convenient location for it.

If you need termite treatment in Phoenix, Bills Pest and Termite is the company to call. Highly Recommended!

For the time and money crowd, the inspection was free and took 90 minutes. The treatment was just under $700.00 and took 2 1/2 hours from opening his truck door to his driving off. Your situation will be different. This is this job only.

Termite Hunting

A recent project has me up close and personal with termites. We are cleaning up this property to sell it. The owner had lived here 30 years or so. Needs paint, carpet and some updating. This house also has subterranean termites. You cannot sell a house that has termites in Arizona. At All. There are really only two areas that will kill a sale in Arizona, Roofing and Termites. Especially if you get a mortgage. Crappy roofing invites damage from above, Termites from below.

It is almost gospel that in Arizona you will have termites. The question is when and what kind. This is one of those parts of ownership/remodeling where you call the professionals.
Here is a bedroom wall photo.

This is a termite infestation that penetrated the wall and was chewing on a wood picture frame.
Here is a photo of termite tubes in a closet.

This is a photo of the pony wall 3/4 of the length of the house away from the bedroom wall termite damage.

This is a closeup of the trim underneath the wood cap. Note the direction of the damage.

Jon from Bills Pest and Termite came by for the inspection. This was probably the most informative 90 minutes I have spent with any contractor in some time. I now know way more about termites than I did a few days ago. He was courteous, knowledgeable, professional and was happy to answer my questions and explain the process as we went along. Bills is highly recommended.

Having completed the exterior inspection we moved indoors.
In the garage the inspection revealed a couple of ‘tubes’. The black vertical squiggly’s between the floor and the bottom of the trim.

Pulling up the carpet in the bedroom beneath the wall damage revealed this tube.

Here is another photo showing the termite freeways on the tackless strips used to hold the carpet in place.

The reason that this is significant is that in re carpeting, most companies will just reuse the original tackless strips rather than replacing them. One of the reasons is that when they are first put down the concrete is soft,(relatively speaking) and has not had 30 or so years of hardening. Nailing anything to fully cured concrete without drilling is extremely hard.

Every bid that you will get on re carpeting will have a line on having to replace tackless over a certain length as an extra, because of the difficulty of putting down new strips. In the photo above you can see where this needs to be done because the termites have destroyed it.

Because of the nature of the infestation, they will be pulling the carpet back, drilling a series of holes through the slab inside the house, introducing the pesticide and then sealing the holes. So if you are not replacing the carpet, note that you will need to probably replace some of these. (this falls into the remodeling ‘surprise’ category as normally most folks would not think about this)

But Wait! Before I leave you I want to take you back to the pony wall.

Here you can see an angled shot of the damage on this trim.

One of the things I learned is that this type of termite only consumes the wood between the growth rings, which is why the damage runs parallel to the grain rather than across it like the dry termite.

Here is how these termites got to the wall.

There is a crack in the slab from the garage to this wall. You can’t see them in this photo but there are termite tubes in that crack.

Next week I will post the procedure, and move on.