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Textured Drywall Patch

A recent job had me checking the plumbing on a house being freshened up. After replacing the mixing valve in one bathroom I came to find out that the previous owner had never used the shower, which filled the valve body with crap requiring replacement. This of course after the walls had been painted and carpet laid. Since the shower was tiled. entry from the front was a non starter.

After measuring the walls, I got lucky and discovered that the common wall was in a closet. In order for the plumber to get in, I needed to cut him a hole. Because the walls were textured, I needed to minimize the damage, so I cut the access with a utility knife. This takes longer than with a keyhole saw or a router, but the walls have been painted and new carpet installed.

I bagged and taped off the floor and cut the hole.

Here is the hole.  The studs were already in place. Yeah the plumber got his work done in that little hole. He is that good.

Next up is re-installing the drywall.  Because of  the backing screwing it back in was a breeze. Looking at the bottom of this photo you can see where I taped off the trim and taped it to the poly on the floor.

I used my old friend mesh tape for covering the seams. Here I have taped the horizontal and vertical wall seams. If you look closely you can see the tape line where somebody else  had opened this wall before to work on the drain.

Tech Tip: When you tape or repair drywall always do the butt joints first, cover the ends of the butt joints with the flats, (factory recessed seams) and finally the corners allowing you to overlap the ends with your corner tape. It makes taping easier as you will not telegraph the seams requiring more sanding to finish.

Here is the final tape. Notice the corner tape extends beyond the flat. This helps with finishing.

Next is the mud. Here your coats need to be thin enough to just cover without creating large bulges that are more work.

Because this is a ‘knock down’ texture After the mud is dry and you have sanded it lightly, texture in a can is applied. Follow the directions on the can as far as testing it on cardboard and following the directions in terms of drying time before ‘knocking it down’.

After this dries, before you repaint, lightly sand the area to match the original finish. You want to round the edges to hide your repair especially if your wall has been painted many times. I took the time to cover and texture the previous repair since I was in the neighborhood.

All done! the photo sucks but nobody who has looked at it can find it. And that is name of the game.

Skip Troweled Ceilings

Popcorn ceilings were sold as an enhancement for many years by tract developers, advertising ease of maintenance by virtue of being white, so as not to require painting, and it acoustic properties in reducing sound. Both of these claims are of dubious value, when the reality is that it was cheaper for builders to spray ceilings rather than finish them.

A typical taping job requires a tape coat, a cover coat, and one or more finish coats to produce a smooth finish. By eliminating the ceiling finish coats builders saved time and labor by spraying ceilings. Some builders would not even apply a cover coat, but would spray the texture on extra heavy. Cheaper for them, a pain in the ass now.

Having removed the popcorn on the current project, we were luck in that the builder did use a cover coat before spraying the ceilings.
We still have work as scraping ceilings is not an automatic process. Here is a scraped ceiling.

The popcorn is gone but the ceiling is rough. Because of time and budget constraints we are going to texture the ceilings using a ‘skip trowel technique.

Skip troweling is a technique that used regular taping mud applied to create a cover and a texture. This is what it looks like in process.

Here is Rich using a wide knife to apply the compound.

If you look closely at the knife you can see that the compound is thick at the edges and thinner in the center. When he applies it, the thin areas get skipped as he applies the mud, giving the skipped appearance. A quick troweling smooths the ceiling giving it the illusion of depth while making it easier to paint and clean. This can be done using smaller knives, it just takes more time. And a lot of practice.
Here is a ceiling just finished but still wet.

This gives you a better idea of the ceiling with the new texture.

Remember that you will need to use a primer/sealer before final painting.

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.

Taping Carpets for Paint

So you want to paint and have carpet. Here is a quick guide to taping carpets for paint.
You need some blue painters tape and a 2” putty knife. Blue painters tape adheres very well and does not leave residue like masking tape does.

First vacuum the carpet around the baseboard.

Start your tape on an angle like this photo, so you have a small trough, about the size of a pencil or ball point pen,(this depends on how high the pile of your carpet is) lightly smoothing down the center of the tape with your finger to start. Only work about 2-3 feet at a time.

Next use your finger to tuck the tape over the edge of the carpet. Your finger is acting as a wedge to tape the edge of your carpet and keep it away from your baseboard. If you find carpet fibers in your baseboard as you are taping, they did not use these directions.

Next take the putty knife to gently press the tape into the edge of the carpet.

Next use the flat of the putty knife to gently press the tape into the carpet fibers.

Use the putty knife as a cutter as you go along so not to rip your tape loose.

You can add another strip overlapping this one or use a drop cloth.
When your paint is dry, use the corner of the putty knife to separate the tape from your baseboard. Trash the tape, fluff the carpet and you are done.

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.

Fascia Repair

Normally the things I post here are projects that most DIY’ers have the ability to do. This is not one of those projects. This is a demonstration of what can be done in a similar situation.

Arizona is brutal to anything containing moisture. Especially exterior wood. Most homes in Arizona are of either block or wood frame with stucco exteriors. Roofing ranges from shingles to clay or concrete tiles, and in some cases closed cell foam. The trim boards at the bottom edges of the roofs are almost always wood, and are called Fascia. Recently I repaired some fascia that had been savaged by the Arizona sun and rain.

Be advised that this is not a novice repair nor is it recommended if you are on your first skil saw and have less than a couple of hundred hours of cutting time. Call a pro for this.
First, you are not on the ground.
Second, you will be cutting at eye level, in order to control your cut.
Third, removing and replacing the fascia is heavy and awkward.
You have been warned!!

Here is a photo of the damage a few years created. This is not just peeling paint and warped boards. This is dry rot. This creates an interesting problem. This is a carport with a foamed roof. The fascia is 2×12” material. Removing the fascia completely is not an option.

A foam roof’s drip edge also forms the dam for the roofing foam. So removing the drip edge to replace the fascia would entail removing about a foot of foam roofing and the drip edge to replace the entire fascia. This is not a repair you want to undertake at home. After you removed the foam, drip edge which will end up needing replacement, replacing the damaged boards, you will need to install new drip edge of the proper type and find a roofing company to foam the space you created,(the foam in a can looks like roof foam, but it is not) and re-coat the roof.

What I am doing is cutting the fascia at the bottom of the drip edge, replacing it with new material, gluing and screwing it in place, priming and painting.

The plywood outriggers are screwed to the roof joists and the arms extend beyond the fascia to act as a holder for the old fascia and as a guide for the new material. Here is a side view.

Next up is a photo of the area I am repairing. Notice that the fascia below the drip edge is in good condition, which is why this type of repair will work in this situation.

The new material is ripped to depth,(In this case I started with a 2×10 -9 1/2”actual. and ripped it down to 8 1/2”) and cut it to length. I am using PowerGrab glue on the top of the new fascia and on the faces of the roof rafters, and screwing it in place with 3” deck screws. Note: The top screw is angled up at 45 degrees to pull the new material tight to the existing fascia. Then there are an additional three screws in the field. I also used 1 5/8” deck screws through the miters to hold them tight. I used a countersink bit to pre  drill my holes.
Here is the result.

I used DryDex ”pink stuff’ spackle for the screw holes and a 35 year paintable latex caulking, for the edges and the gaps on the back side where the old and new material joined.

I used Glidden Gripper Primer for this. Fantastic Primer. Couple of coats of Behr Exterior Latex and it should be good for 5-10 years.

Home Depot’s Curious Faucet Section

6a00d8345237e469e20115715fefa3970c-800wi I was in the Home Depot last week looking for a repair kit for this
faucet. I was in the orange store as the client remembered getting it
there. It is a Delta Cierco Around 170 bucks.

Here in Arizona the water is bad, not being toxic
or smelly, but in having large quantities of dissolved minerals. Folks
in other parts of the country probably wonder what products like lime
and scale removers are for but here in the southwest they sit next to the glass cleaners.

These minerals act like abrasives on seals and the moving parts of faucets, so they leak. They all leak. I don’t care what the ads or salesman tell you, sooner or later your faucets will leak. So when you are spending money on a faucet you should make sure that repair kits are available.  Really. If the place you are buying it from does not have repair kits in the same section as the faucets, run away! Unlike a lot of products, faucet manufacturers have pretty explcit instructions for repair. Plus faucets are not like electric outlets where the only decisions are amperage and color. They are different and do not share parts.

Home Depot and Lowes both offer a selection of faucets that will work
fine and look good. What they do not do but should, is on those cute
little tags with the price and model numbers is to put the model number
and location of the repair kits for them. I mean really, the repair
kits are right there on the other side of the aisle. I mean you are already installing the thing, so knowing that you can fix it later will make you a hero.

Some expensive faucets have parts that are only available through plumbing supply houses. These require a plumber, usually twice. First to figure out what brand it is, then another service call to install it after ordering the parts hoping that they are, 1-available, 2-not on back order,3-not more expensive than the faucet is worth.

If you are apprehensive by the selections in the orange or blue store, a plumbing supply
house will have you hearing the danger music  from  Jaws screaming in
your brain.

Lightyear Sunken Bath Episode 12 Solid Surface Installation

Before and After
Here is where we started and here is where we are finishing.

Before and After

Before and After


In our last episode I was working on the access panel for the jacuzzi. Having sorted that out, I spent time finishing up the skim coating and priming and painting in anticipation of the solid surface.
Tuesday Morning.

Morning Light

Morning Light

Painting is done on the soffit ceilings and the walls up to a few inches behind where the solid surface will go.
Here are a couple of the lads from Pro Tops Inc. setup and cutting the large side panel.

ProTops lads assembling walls

ProTops lads assembling walls

On the left is a portable swamp cooler as the temperature was over 100. With the canopy it is a pleasant place to work if you have to work outdoors in Arizona in the summer.

The big panel has been installed and they are building the template for the back panel. They built the sides of the three glass block openings and attached them to the panel before installing it. Slid Right In.

Long Wall installed. The lads are building the template for the back wall.

Long Wall installed. The lads are building the template for the back wall.

The templating system that they use consists of 1/8” luan ply and hot melt glue to measure for the panels. Works slick. When you are working on material that has no room for error, it is important to get it right.

Here is the finished product.

Finished and done

Finished and done


Here is the access panel for whoever may have to work on this in the future.

Finish Access Panel

Finish Access Panel

It is mechanical and all mechanical things break down eventually. The guy who will have to fix this years down the road will thank me. So will the client not having to tear up the bathroom to fix a pump or leak.

Drywall Skim Coating - Inside Corners

In remodeling you sometimes decide to bridge the new work to old or existing work. Matching or changing your wall surface becomes a consideration. This is a short guide on skim coating existing walls to match the new construction.

The previous wall surface is a heavy knockdown texture. Basically what happens is that the walls are taped and second coated, and then taping mud is thinned and sprayed on the walls with a texture hopper, and after a few minutes, it is ‘knocked down’ with a taping knife resulting in a textured wall. It is a cheap finish system and all too often is done badly.

This is the alcove where the toilet sits in the Lightyear Sunken Bath Project. In this case we decided to make the walls smooth. This has just about every thing you can run into when remodeling with drywall between old and new construction.

The left of this photo shows the edge of the drywall that covers where we installed a pocket door. The back wall shows where we installed a glass block for light and replaced the piece of drywall we cut out previously. You can also get a good idea of the ‘knock down’ texture.
The right side shows where we framed up the new partition between the toilet and the shower with the opening for the open shelf unit.

Throne Alcove with New and Old work.

Throne Alcove with New and Old work.


Here is the beginning of taping this area. We use mesh tape for the flats, and paper tape for the inside corners. Taping on texture has its own issues. When you feather your mud, the knife running over the texture telegraphs and creates ripples in your mud coat.
When taping inside corners on these areas, mud and embed your tape, and wipe down the new flat side first. This creates a guide area for wiping down the other side and give you a clean smooth corner.

Taping cracks and establishing Inside corners

Taping cracks and establishing Inside corners


Here the process is a bit further along with the introduction of the open shelf unit and the metal bead. This unit is trimless, so I installed ‘L’ Bead along the outside edges of the shelving unit. Not shown in this photo is a piece of mesh tape applied diagonally just below the high side of the bead. This strengthens the joint, minimizing cracking, and reinforcing the gap made by the bead and the drywall. We also taped the flats and installed the corner bead.

Wall and Shelf Detail

Wall and Shelf Detail

Look at the bottom of this photo and notice the grey triangular area. This is where I did not cut through the corner deep enough when I removed the old drywall prior to rebuilding this.

Here is where I have prefilled this area thinking that I had gotten all of the loose paper removed. Bzzt! not so fast. You can see the bubbles from a bit of the paper that had separated. You have to remove these and fill them in. If you do not, succeeding coats of mud will bounce, and look bad. You can also get an idea of the texture filling with the splotchy area outside of the triangle.

Paper Detail

Paper Detail

Here is where I have taped the flats and the corners. You can see the diagonal line of where the two ‘L’ beads do not match up perfectly. This will be fixed on succeeding coats. The magazine rack also gets taped. If it is an inside corner it gets tape.

Reading nook detail

Reading nook detail

The most important part of skim coating is taping the inside corners to provide clean sharp angles.

Inside Corner Taping

Inside Corner Taping


Once your corners are done, you can then begin the process of skim coating to smooth your walls.

Wall Skimming

Wall Skimming