Look, if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you probably noticed something about me: I only want to do a project if at least some part it sounds like a terrible idea.
The recent living room and dining room makeovers are prime examples. All I did was paint (a lot) and hang some pictures. Neither of which was a terrible idea. And I hated that project. I let myself get peer-pressured into not doing the parts that would take extra time or effort or create extra mess. Booooorrrrring. You know what would have made it more fun? Getting rid of the popcorn ceiling and adding crown molding and revamping the ceiling fan and maybe touching up the dining room chandelier.
Conservative, rational, logical DIY makeovers do. not. float. my. boat.
Which is why I’ve spent the last two weeks trying a new de-popcorning technique and testing new methods of paint stripping in the bathroom. Don’t those sound like terrible ideas?? YAY!!!
Before I tell you about all that, though, one big announcement: The Blitz is coming! August 6-8. And if you’re astute and you’re reading this on the day it’s published (which I know you are, because I’m sure all of you obsessively check in every day, sometimes more than once, just to make sure you haven’t missed anything), you will realize that August 6th is TOMORROW.
TOMORROW WE SMASH!!
But today, we take on two projects that never fail to be frustrating and slow and messy, just in case the 3-day bathroom gut-and-remodel proves to be too rational and logical and easy for me. My old nemeses: 1) popcorn ceiling and 2) doors that need a coat of paint but already have way too much paint on them for me to be okay with just adding to the problem.
So first, popcorn. Love it with butter, hate it on my ceiling. Hate it with an irrational intensity that cannot be understood by those that have never experienced this instinctual reaction to popcorn ceiling. I’ve tried to explain. But I have never succeeded in convincing anyone who just doesn’t have this visceral reaction. I just…I can’t…the popcorn must go. That is all.
And if your reaction is, “But, why?” Lucky you. Think of all the time and energy you’ll save by simply living with your popcorn ceilings. I would love to see more of the world through your eyes.
I’ve tried the scraping thing. What a fucking mess.
I won’t be doing that again. All the scraping, then priming to repair the torn paper, then three skim coats with sanding in between, then prime again, then paint…no. Even for me, that was a bridge too far. But then I was like, what if I just skipped straight to the skim coating? Why remove the popcorn when you could just go over it, and cut out two major steps?
I turned to the interwebs for advice, and of course everybody there told me not to do it, because joint compound that is more than 1/4″ thick will crack, and blah blah blah, it won’t work.
But THEN, because that wasn’t the answer I wanted to hear, I kept looking. And eventually I found an article – or more accurately, one guy on a forum – which I did not bookmark and haven’t been able to find since, so I can’t prove it to you, but HE said that it has nothing to do with the thickness of the joint compound and something something something about moisture content and if it hasn’t cracked after 3-4 days it isn’t going to and even if it does crack on the first coat, the second and third will cover it up.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!
I also saw this one video online of a guy skim-coating a textured wall using a paint roller with a 1-1/4″ nap to apply the joint compound, and I thought, that looks like a time saver. It didn’t work. It didn’t even come close to filling in the popcorn ceiling. After two minutes, I was like, nope. I threw the roller away and used a 14″ taping knife to put the rest on.
After one coat, the ceiling looked like crap.
And – surprise! When it dried, it was covered in little cracks.
And I admit I am worried. Because as of this writing, I have sanded the ceiling, and I applied the second coat yesterday, and while I don’t see any cracks yet, I am afraid it’s a little too early to judge whether or not that one guy on the internet who was saying the opposite of everyone else on the internet was right.
But so far, it sure looks a hell of a lot better than popcorn.
While we wait for the exciting conclusion to this year’s popcorn-ceiling-removal adventure, let’s talk about this year’s door stripping adventure. I’m sure I’ve talked about it before, but the layers of paint in this house affect me just like the popcorn ceiling. I wish I could just live with it, but I can’t. Don’t ask me to explain.
As much as I hate the idea of simply adding another layer of paint, I also hate the idea of undertaking my usual method of stripping these doors, which is with a heat gun (described with frightening accuracy by a total stranger here). It’s messy and smelly and requires extremely careful containment due to the likely presence of lead paint, and it takes 8 hours per side. That’s 16 hours per door, not including sanding and repairing and repainting.
Add in the whole 7-months-pregnant thing, and the heat gun method starts to sound like a terrible idea, but like, in a bad way.
Unwilling to give up on the idea stripping the doors, I contacted 7 different places to find out how much I would have to pay someone else to strip the doors for me. Estimates ranged from $225-$600 per door (and actually I have three doors, not just the one, but that’s for another post), just for the stripping. Of course, I don’t have $225 per door. Or, more accurately, I don’t have a marriage that can withstand $225 per door.
So no heat gun, and no hiring it out. And obviously, no adding another coat of paint and calling it good. It was time to revisit strippers.
I’m going to cut right to the chase, because we’re already over 1,000 words here, and are you really still reading?? I found one eco-friendly no-VOC stripper (Peel Away Smart Strip) and one chemical stripper (Klean Strip Premium Stripper) that actually managed to get all the paint off my door in only 2 applications. Everything else sucked.
The key to both of them, however, was to lightly cover the door in plastic wrap after spreading the stripper on. It keeps the stripper wet, which is crucial, and it also helps keep the top layers from bubbling up and lifting the stripper off of the lower layers.
I found that both strippers worked equally well, but the chemical stripper worked in about 20 minutes, and the healthy stripper had to sit for about 18 hours to get the same results. The chemical stripper was also a third of the price.
Chemical stripper for the win!
I still have to do the other side.
Oh wait! One more thing. I took off the casings and, as expected, wrecked the drywall in the process.
I know I said at the end of my last post that I couldn’t live in a demolition zone for an indefinite period of time, but you didn’t really believe I could restrain myself once we set a specific date for the Blitz, did you? This is what my bathroom looks like now.
At least it’s not technically demolition. Yet.
TOMORROW WE SMASH!