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September 2021
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Drywall Fun – Racetrack Ceiling

A Racetrack Ceiling is a ceiling with a band(s) of drywall applied to your ceiling and finished with 'L' bead. This is my living room with a single racetrack. It adds depth and interest for a small investment of time, over a more elaborate Coffered Ceiling.

For this project you will need a ceiling, some 1/2'' or 5/8'' drywall, enough 1/2'' or 5/8'' 'L' bead to enclose the inside edge, Powergrab adhesive, drywall tape and mud and a few coarse thread screws to hold the drywall in place while the Powergrab dries.

This is where I built a soffit for extending the HVAC for the media room. We are going to apply 6'' wide strips of drywall to the perimeter of the ceiling for our racetrack.
You want to cut these as straight as possible. Saves work later.

Here is the ceiling with the strips applied. They are held in place with Powergrab, and a couple of coarse sheetrock screws to hold them in place. Don't worry about hitting wood, you will be pulling them out soon.

I specify Powergrab because it just flat out works. If you want to hold it for 10 seconds you probably don't even need the screws. Liquid Nails, and other panel adhesives do not work this well.


Next, we tape out the inside corners around the perimeter of the room. Tape and coat the Wall angle of the corner before attaching the 'L' bead.
Then we attach our 'L' bead to the inside edge of the drywall with thin coat of powergrab and a few screws to hold it, while it sets up.

Fill coat the bead strips, mud the wall side of the corners, let dry, sand and repeat.

After sanding and before priming, run a very thin bead of caulk on the top edge of the 'L' bead to hide any holes that may peek out.

Prime and paint.

Depending on the size of your room, ceiling height, and amount of work you want to do you can apply a 9'', 6'', and 3'' racetracks around your room and 'step' it like a coffered ceiling.

Drywall can be fun!

Drywall Fun – Coffered Ceilings

Ceilings are one of the most overlooked elements in your houses. Flat, boring and in a lot of cases in newer houses, a gigantic space to toss your money away. In reality anything over 7' is heating and cooling space you will never use, unless you have a trampoline or a really really high and bouncy bed.

One way to add a bit of drama and keep your energy bills reasonable to build a coffered ceiling.
Here is a coffered ceiling I built in my old house. This has four levels. The ceiling where the lights are is 8' off the floor. The lowest level is 7' off the floor. This is constructed entirely out of steel studs and drywall.
The steps are 12'' wide and 4'' tall.

This can be added to an existing ceiling by constructing the steps in series. It is a lot of work, but the results justify the time. If you can hang and tape drywall, you can do this.

This is a view of the ceiling partially framed in. This ceiling looks a little unusual as I built it inside a vaulted ceilinged room. But you get the idea. I suggest steel studs as they are lightweight, straight and easy to work with. You can also get them in lengths up to 20'.

Having constructed your coffers or steps you want to tape the inside corners before install ing the corner bead. Which you will need a lot of.

After your inside corners, are taped and your corner bead is installed, tape one side of the outside corners at a time. This will give you the space and time to sand your work straight and smooth.

 A lot of work, but the results are worth it.

Cornerbead Finishes

Cornerbeads are the metals that protect and define corners in your spaces when working with drywall. In remodeling as well as new work, intersections where beads meet, can be tough to blend. Case in point is the Guest Bath Towel Storage opening.
Here is the raw opening for the towel shelf. Because the wall already has an existing texture and the back side of the opening is rough, I will use 5/8” ‘J’ bead to frame in this opening.
Raw opening for towel built in
Here is the opening with the bead in place. It looks smooth, but the corners are not perfectly flat in relationship to each other. Because there is no backing behind this opening, I elected to glue the beads in place with PowerGrab, the best construction adhesive ever.
Here is the 'J' bead inplace

To eliminate the elevation difference problem, I prefill the corners with mud, at a 45 degree angle to the corner.

Note: Here is where 5 minute speed set shines.

Starting from the inside of the opening and mudding onto the wall, I now have a smooth corner for the next coats. What is not shown in the photo is the mud that gets trapped on the bead inside the corner that you must remove.
Here is prefill on the corners to help with the next mud coats
Fill Coat
Here is our opening with the tape and mud in place. Using USG Dust Control mud, our new best friend in remodeling. I now have a flat face and a smooth inside corner without any ridges that would make this look bad. I am a bit anal about this because regardless how straight your walls are, how well you taped, having twisted, ridged, beads looks bad.
Metal bead fully coated and ready for sanding

Here is our opening with the texture applied prior to painting. It will look great.
Sanded, textured and ready for primer and paint
You can do this yourself. A little time and care, your house will look like a million bucks.

Fireplace Freshen 4

The Fireplace Freshen Project is headed toward the finish line.
Here are a couple of detail photos.
This is a closeup of the work we have been doing on the window openings.
Here is round bead in play on the front of the header and around the window

Here is a midrange shot with a different window treatment. This is a Redi Shade. Billed as a temporary window treatment, it provides light and privacy. This is up to think about a horizontal treatment for these windows.
Another view of round bead.
I like Redi Shades. Most of my windows at casa lemurzone are covered with them. Someday I will replace them something else, maybe.

Round Cornerbead Application 2

In our last episode on Round Cornerbead, I detailed the steps for using it on new work. Removing square cornerbead to replace it with round bead on existing walls is a major project that I don’t recommend unless you are really determined.

There are a few areas where it can be used on existing work. The Fireplace Freshen Project used it on the new construction, to good effect. (everybody who has seen it has gone ‘wow’)

The windows surrounding the fireplace are awkward. They have sharp corners. A lot of thought has gone into different ideas for covering up the windows. But this has been more to disguise them while allowing light through.
Here is a typical southwest ranch fireplace

Making Square Round

We are going to change that. This is an area where we can change the lines without having to do any demo work. Make no mistake. There is work involved, but it will be worth it.

Here is our opening which is pretty much standard in the Southwest, for aluminum windows. The window openings are wrapped and the windows are applied from the outside.
Standard square corner detail

Our ‘trimless’ opening has enough room to allow us to apply drywall to the opening without compromising the operation of the windows.

Taping the work area

Our good friend, ‘blue painters tape’ is used to cover the exposed window frame, to make our taping easier to clean up as well as forming a line to paint to.
Prep work for window treatment with 'blue tape'

What is not shown in this photo is the tape at the wall intersection in the corner. We are going to skim coat these walls also.

Drywall Application

We measure and cut our drywall so that it is narrower than our opening by a little more than a 1/2”. We do this so we can leave a thin gap on the window side to allow us to slip in 1/2” L bead on the window side and to be able to apply our round bead on the wall side so that it will lay flat against the existing wall. I mentioned this back cutting in our first look at round corner bead.

Remember the radius grasshopper.

Also on this type of application, we are using Power Grab to glue the drywall to the opening. The nails are only used to hold the drywall in place.
Drywall in place for attaching corner beads

Cornerbead Application

The installing of the beads are standard (measure twice, cut once), and we are also using Power Grab behind the beads to apply them to the wall. Nailing is standard to secure the flanges.

Here is our corner with our beads in place

Taping the beads

On square corner beads, I suggest only doing one side of the corners in any session. This eliminates the tendency of the mud to roll and chunk on the other side of the corner, creating more work for you, especially if you are not going to do this for a living. On round bead, you can do both sides in the same session as there is enough space between the two angles to allow you to fill and/or coat in the same session.
Here is the fill coat applied to our opening

Skim Coating

The existing walls around the windows have texture on them. We are skim coating them to blend the walls. I have more about Skim Coating here.

Note: On this project I am using speed set for the first coat on the walls and on the cornerbeads. It’s about not spending more time on this than necessary. Your mileage will vary and you should take your time.

Coating with eggnog

I am using the USG Dust Free mud for the finish coat. It is the color of eggnog in the box, it’s my blog and so I am calling it ‘eggnog’. You can call it anything you want. In any case it is what they should have invented 30 years ago.
Second coat with USG Dust Free mud

How dust free? Here is the floor and corner of one side. The floor is covered with red rosin builders paper. Regular mud dust would have covered the floors and walls and would still be floating around. I took this picture about 5 hours ago.
Dust Free mud in action

How dust free? This is the fireplace opening about three feet away. Regular mud dust would have made this almost white. Yeah it’s that good.
Clumps and falls straight down

Fireplace Freshen 3

Spent a bit of time last week detailing the fireplace including cutting in the edges where the new work meets the existing and painting the inside of the firebox with hi-temp paint. My son installed and finished the tile in the front of the fireplace.

One of the other details that will be addressed is softening the window openings with the radius corner bead used on the front. As I mentioned the other day, radius bead requires a different backing strategy than regular cornerbead. Here I will install drywall pieces on the window sides and attach our bead with one side on the new drywall and the other side on the existing wall. I will also skim coat the areas on the back wall. I will give the dust control mud a real test.
Typical square corner

In spending some time with the fireplace, it has been decided that we will reinstall the vertical blinds that were here. This is a mockup of what it will look like. These vertical blinds have the slightest amount of curve softening their lines. The fireplace door is not to scale. and the vertical line of the glass door are too fat, but you get the idea. The top bracket of the blinds will be hidden, and we are installing lights on the back side of the valances which will give this wall some real drama in the night.

The electrician will be by in a week or so to install ceiling lights, and the lights in the valances.

Round Cornerbead Application

Round cornerbead gives you a softer line with remodeling. It has it’s own requirements. In a standard drywall application, you overlap succeeding layers of drywall. This acts as a base for your corner bead. It is important that your drywall is not extending beyond the other sheet. Your bead will twist and your corner will look squiggly.
Drywall for regular cornerbead

Round bead has a radius, so that your drywall needs to just come to the edge of your framing and not overlap. Remember that the radius is rounding the corner, and will not sit right if you do not do this. You also need to mud the inside of the radius bead to supply support and cover the raw edges of the drywall. This is especially critical for vertical applications so the bead does not dent when something hits it. Enough mud to fill, but not so much that the bead bows. It takes practice. Use regular 24 hour compound.
Below is a shot of one of the valance wings.
Here is a photo showing the drywall ready for rounded bead

This is a detail shot of the valance where it meets the wall. This is actually a 2fer. The radius bead is installed with screws as the framing is steel studs. Also on the right side of the photo is a piece of ‘L’ bead, as we are not going to re-texture the walls on either side of the fireplace wall.
Here is the bead installed on a valance

Here is a photo of the valance with the first coat of mud. We also ‘L’ beaded the top of the valance panel so we do not have to repaint or re-texture the ceiling.
Here is our valance with the bead mudded

Inside Mitered Corners
Mitered Corners are done with the Radius Corner Bead Miter Marker Here you see the inside corner, which joins the two beads. I mentioned that the little jog of the Miter Tool was important to cut. This is why. The outside corner is open as this is the real world and not the Remodeling Channel. A little mud and it is all good.
Here is an inside corner detail

See? Here is our corner with the last coat of mud applied.
Here is our bead with a final coat of mud. The extra mud will  sand off.

Here is our corner with primer and paint. Clean and Soft.
Finished product clean and soft

Round bead gives you some options outside of the square box of most remodeling. Enjoy!