We’ve covered the patching of small holes on Ali Does It before, but this one’s a bit of a doozy. When we moved in to the Tower we discovered that the previous tenants had built a shelf in the garage that attached to the wall. It was huge, and it stuck out so far that our teeny tiny car would not fit inside the garage. So we had to take it out. The previous tenants had built this shelf, however, with more enthusiasm than carpentry knowledge, and the 4″ decking screws they had used everywhere were all stripped and nearly impossible to remove. Finally we had to yank the shelf out of the wall and twist it to be able to saw through the last one, and that’s why we have this giant big hole. It was the only way.
Now keep in mind that this hole is about the size of my outstretched hand, and that’s about as big as I would go when fixing using this technique. Anything larger and you’re probably better off replacing the drywall instead so you don’t weaken the structure.
Not to fret, though, because we can fix it easily.
First you need to clean it up. Get rid of all the little bits and pieces that are sticking out and smooth everything down. Use a knife.
Add a bit of crumpled newspaper as back fill (this is really only necessary on big holes). Pack it in there nice and firm so it doesn’t want to come back out again. It’s going to give you something to push against when you’re laying on the spackle.
Then you use this nifty adhesive mesh tape to cover over the hole and give yourself a surface to work with.
Mine wasn’t very adhesive as it’s pretty old so I had to use strips that were a little longer so I had more traction.
Then you grab your trusty spackle and a putty knife.
I love that this stuff is pink when wet and dries white. I love it.
Now when you’re patching a big hole like this you want to start from the edges so the tape is well and truly stuck down.
Don’t worry about getting it perfect on the first go-round – if you press too much on the mesh you’ll just push all your spackle through the holes and that’s not very good. Let that dry for a while.
All ready for round two. It’s so pretty.
Lightly sand off all the little protuberances. I like a sanding block for this because it’s easier to hold but you can use sandpaper.
Now more spackle. Don’t be as generous as last time.
Try to get the layers on as thinly as possible but still covering up the imperfections. If this were my living room wall I would be more careful but as it’s the garage I’m not too concerned if it’s perfect or not.
These little lines can be easily sanded off when it’s dry.
Now you just need to wait!
I’m not going to leave you with a picture of dried plaster to end this boringly-photographed post, so you get a picture of a happy Gren instead.
I found this table in the garage. Like a bunch of other stuff in there, it’s a little run down and has been lying around for years. And I’m kind of in need of a table in the kitchen by the window. I’ve been using my step stool instead, but more often than not I need it as a step stool rather than a table.
Because the table isn’t mine, and doesn’t likely have any real value, I’m not concerned with doing a super good restoration job. It won’t be anything like Danger K’s coffee table project, but it’ll do for now.
Of course I decide to do these sorts of things in the worst possible weather. November in St. John’s is wicked windy, and I’m about to use spray paint. I know. I’m so smart. Also, do you like how my porch is rotting away beneath me? Yeah, I thought you would.
First I need to scrape away all the flaking paint that I can. I’m not that concerned with getting it all. I just need a cleanish surface that I can wreck. So I used a putty knife to pry up the loose paint.
And a barbecue brush to scrape away all the other bits that I could. I’m not going to bother sanding it.
Ready to paint. Not that you’d notice, but I didn’t want to get too much paint on the porch, so with some tricky tricks I managed to get some newspaper underneath in all the wind.
I used the same spray paint that I used to re-paint the fire grate in our living room. I gave it two coats and was pretty satisfied with the result.
I actually kinda dig how the white paint shows through in places.
As I’ve said before, elementary plumbing is nothing to be afraid of, and knowing your way around your bathroom fixtures can save you a lot of money and time.
When the Pie and I first moved in together, we had a massive apartment in Ottawa’s Little Italy: fifteen hundred square feet. Three bedrooms, each with its own sink, two bathrooms, and of course the kitchen sink. And every single faucet dripped. Not only was this loud and annoying, but a complete waste of water.
When confronted with this conundrum, my landlord, whose grasp of English was rudimentary at best, thought hard for a minute before telling me to “just-a turrrn eet reeeel a-hard.”
Not surprisingly, this rather simplistic solution had already occurred to me. And of course simply turning the tap “reeeeel a-hard” did nothing.
Fixing a leaky faucet is probably one of the more simple things you can do yourself, however, so I was able to fix the six sinks myself in no time.
Faucets usually leak because the washer in the faucet needs to be tightened or replaced. In most cases, a simple tightening will do. Each tap handle has a little cap on it, usually the thing that tells you whether the tap is HOT or COLD. Use a putty knife or other flat object to pry these caps off.
Underneath you will see the screw that holds the washer in place.
If the washer needs replacing you can just unscrew it and stick a new one in, but most of the time you just need to stick the screwdriver in and tighten the screw as far as it will go.
Replace the caps, maybe after cleaning around the hole a bit first, and there you go. No more leaky faucet. Five minutes of love gives you so much peace.
And speaking of getting the love, today is our second wedding anniversary. Love you Pie! Seven years along and still going strong …
Normally we have a little rack here where we hang the clothes that are not quite dirty enough to wash but worn enough that we can’t justify putting them back in our drawers. One week we got a little lazy and overloaded the rack. And it fell off the wall, taking the screws with it. Leaving these holes.
It’s strange how such a little thing can alter your whole life. Because we don’t have the rack at present, the Pie and I are putting our clothes on the backs of chairs in our room. This means that some of the things we normally keep on the chairs are now in our closet. Which means that our closet is full, so some things that are normally in the closet are on top of Gren’s crate. Which means that things that normally go on top of Gren’s crate end up on the floor. Our room is a certified disaster zone, all because of a stupid $15 clothes rack. It’s utter chaos. CHAOS, I tell you.
Gotta fix it to achieve equilibrium.
Patching small holes in gyp-rock or plaster walls is an easy process.
First, take a box cutter or other sharp knife and cut off the bits of plaster that are sticking out from the wall. Sand the rough edges so everything is flush and level.
Use a filling putty like this Dry-Dex and a flexible putty knife to apply the compound to the holes. Depending on the depth of your hole, you may need to add a little bit of compound at a time and allow it to dry between applications.
I like this stuff because it goes on pink and you know it’s dry when it turns white.
Lightly sand the dried compound, then wipe the dust off with a soft damp cloth.
Prime it and paint it. We always save the dregs of our paint for just such an occasion. You can just put it in a yogurt container and it will stay fresh, though you will probably have to stir it well.
When you are putting up stuff that is going to hold other stuff, it helps if you can get your anchoring screws into a joist. If you use a stud-finder this is an easy task (the last time I put this up we didn’t have a stud-finder). And the bonus of this particular model is that it also tells me when I’m about to drill into a power line, saving me from auto-electrocution. Handy.
And now our life is back to normal. PHEW! Balance restored.
My parents bought the house they live in now about twelve years ago, and the house is about twenty years old now. In fact, it’s the first new construction house my parents have ever owned. So new, in fact, that when we all moved in back in 1997, it wasn’t quite finished yet. Like it didn’t have a back porch. That sort of thing. It also used to be a rooming house, so there were some weird things going on. The room that is my dad’s office was designed to be a laundry room, and when they bought the house it was actually being used as a kitchen. As it was pretty low-priority in the scheme of everything else that goes on in my parents’ busy lives, it remained in more or less its original state.
This is the before shot, when my dad and I were clearing out all the furniture and stuff.
You can see the artful sponge painting that outlines where the laundry sink used to be. And the place where the faucets come up and out of the wall.
This dryer outlet and vent also needed to go. As did the b-awful linoleum. I hate linoleum.
So out came the mouldings and the overhead lighting.
After checking to make sure the fuse was dead, out came the dryer/stove outlet.
Make sure you check it more than once before you start cutting wires.
This rubbish bin was filled and emptied many times before the job was done.
The vent will get cut flush to the wall and filled with expanding spray insulation.
The faucet pipes were capped and sealed with solder and the plastic frame removed.
We will put a piece of gyp-rock over top and patch that sucker, same with the one on the floor.
Just screw it in place, using shims as a backing, and trim off the excess. Fill the holes with Durabond-90 or other crack filler and you’re good to go.
All the other holes and cracks got filled as well.
There were plenty.
Now for that ugly awful floor. This was my especial project and it took me FOREVER.
Whoever put the lino down GLUED it, which is not something you normally do. And they didn’t just lay down lines or dots of glue. No. It was like they took the can of glue and spilled in on the floor. But not all over the floor. This part came up super easy, so we thought it would be more of the same.
I spent about seven hours with a pair of gloves and a putty knife peeling up the rest of it.
And let’s not forget all the glue that stayed on the floor.
Which my dad spent three days scraping off.
It was a sticky business.
Back to the walls. On with the primer. Note you can still see the terrible, terrible sponge painting shining through. Took a couple of coats of paint to get that hidden.
Next the crown mouldings went on and were lined up.
Nailed and glued in place.
You can use wood filler to artistically cover the spots in the corners where it doesn’t quite line up.
And to cover your nail marks as well.
Now for the floor, which we replaced with a nice floating bamboo one with interlocking pieces.
You can see the grooves here.
Make sure to measure out everything ahead of time. It helps to label your pieces and to draw yourself a little map.
You will need to cut pieces to fit the vagaries of your room.
Dad glued down the first section.
Make sure to follow the instructions on your glue. This little grooved applicator enables the glue to spread under pressure.
You want to make sure your pieces are super snug together, so a rubber mallet is very handy.
We noticed that the glued section was making cracking and popping noises, so the next sections were nailed in place as well, with the nails going through those little grooves I just showed you. It cracked the grooves but kept the things on the floor, so there you go.
The moulding on the floor will cover up that wee gap there.
Then you paint. Again. Always a good time.
See? This is after it got a nice shiny coat of enamel.
You can scrape up your spills by covering a scraping razor with a piece of cloth, and then you won’t scratch the floor.
This is mid-cleanup.
And after everything was moved back in again. What a difference!
Elizabeth is our house. On the outside, she’s kind of pinkish, with an orange roof that leaks, and windows in need of replacing. On the inside, she’s a cozy nest that we adore. When we moved in, however, we were confronted with wall upon wall of the most disconcerting beige I had ever seen. In no one’s conception could this beige be considered a neutral. It looked to me like someone had taken a brown paper lunch bag and vomited on it, then left it for dead in the rain.
In other words, I hated it. The Pie didn’t really care, but he’s a boy. Something had to be done. We had to paint. We had an agreement with our landlord that we could paint the apartment any colour we wanted, and if she didn’t like it, then we would simply have to repaint when we left. That is a good deal. We had to leave the hallway as it was, because the ceilings were too high for us to paint safely, but the rest of the place was fair game.
We went with ICI Dulux Inspirations Paint for its low odor (very few of the windows in this place open so we didn’t want to fume ourselves out of house and home).
Because I was spending a lot of my spare time in my office, this was the first room to be painted. I’ve always found green to be a good colour for productivity, so I went with “Kiwi Fun”:
I managed to only spill paint on the linoleum once, which was a high achievement on my part.
Cheers! was the name of the bright yellow I used in this tiny room. All our fixtures are 1960s green, and all our accessories have blue in them, so it seemed only appropriate to make a tiny dark room a cheery yellow.
This was the job from hell. This particular paint came out super thin and runny, and it took me SIX COATS to get it done, and that’s working with a tiny roller and sponge brush around all the fixtures. I had also decided to re-do the woodwork and trim in the bathroom because years of dampness had caused it all to crack and mildew. There’s nothing like scraping black mould out of crevices you didn’t know existed.
I had a really hard time getting the enamel to stick to the woodwork. I think even that too four coats or so. A smart thing I did was paint the ceiling with the same enamel, as well as the rusting out light fixture and the air vent.
Three lessons I learned from the bathroom experience: (1) don’t leave painter’s tape on any surface for longer than 5 days; (2) make sure the paint has fully cured before you stick stuff to it (even painter’s tape); and (3) sand the crap out of shiny surfaces before you paint them.
I had hung curtains in this room that we were very pleased with: vertical stripes of brown, taupe, turquoise and green (sounds weird, I know, but they’re quite nice). Having spent all that money on the curtain fabric ($250!) we wanted to paint the room to match them, as well as coordinate with our black bed and brown chests of drawers.
Bramble Tan was the one we went with. In the sunlight, it looks more like a warm, wet clay than anything else. It’s relaxing and inviting at the same time, and I love it to pieces. The consistency of the paint in this can was more like pudding than anything else, and we finished the room in a day with only two coats.
Living and Dining Rooms
Pie thought we should paint these rooms the same colour, so as to draw the eye to the magnificence of our kitchen, which we intended to paint a bright red. I wanted something plain because our furniture in these rooms is a jumble of everything, and a bold colour would only make the place look cluttered. In the end we went with Stowe White, an off-white that reminds me of cream. It makes our hung pictures really stand out and yet it’s not a sterile white – cozy is definitely a theme in our place.
These rooms we did about two weeks before we left town for our wedding, so they were a little rushed, it was hot, and we had many other things on our minds. Nevertheless, they turned out really well, and we made very few mistakes.
We went with Cranberry Zing, to match the red tiles in the floor, and to make the white and black fixtures really pop.
This room, I was determined, was going to be my pro job. I was going to do it right, just like my dad does, and not take any shortcuts.
We had a leak in our roof the previous fall, which had since been repaired, but it had left some damage on the ceiling and the wall above the stove. I took a wide, flat putty knife and used it to carefully lever away the damaged paint so I could assess the drywall underneath. While spotted with dried mould and water-stained, it was still pretty solid, and so I just patched over it with Drydex. I like this stuff because when it’s wet it’s bright pink, and you know it’s ready to sand and paint when it turns white. It also doesn’t smell and is easily washable.
I washed the walls down, then I sanded them, then I washed them again to remove the last particles. I taped everything up well and I worked wall by wall, so we could still use the kitchen while I was painting it. It took three coats. I didn’t spill anything, nothing broke, and it turned out really, really well.
I did this in January of 2010, while procrastinating on studying for my final comprehensive exam. This is why I had the time to get it right. I even managed to wait a week before putting all the stuff back up on the walls.
The one issue I had is one that had to do with my roller. For some reason I can’t explain, the roller this time left bubbles on the walls as it passed, and when they dried you could still see them. In certain spots it looks like I have sparkles on the walls. It’s not entirely unpleasing, but it is a little weird.
In any case, we are both in love with our ‘new’ kitchen and we spend a lot of time in there.