Hey guys! Slacked off the last couple days. Busier than average weekend with little project progress to show for it. Saturday we pretty much just hung out and did some necessary, yet un-blog-worthy cleaning. Anyone want to see a post on cleaning out a fridge? No? I didn’t think so. Sunday we headed up to NEPA to have a memorial mass and lunch in honor of my father’s passing. He’s been gone for five years now, which is completely crazy. Eventually I’d like to throw in some more personal posts, especially one about him. Funniest guy I ever met and missed very much. It’s tough making time for that kind of a tribute though. I’d want to do it properly and not just throw something together. Maybe later this year.
So now for something less depressing or still somewhat depressing depending upon how you look at it. Our daughter is nearly two. She’s growing up quick. Over the past several weeks it’s becoming more clear that maybe she could do with a bedroom change. We’ve transitioned her crib to a toddler bed and it’s nice, but it’s not ideal. When we painted and decorated the room, we didn’t know if we were having a boy or a girl, so we kept the nursery neutral. We’d really like to get her into a room more suited to a little girl. Plus, if we get her a twin bed, we can keep her company until she falls asleep if she wakes us up crying or is reluctant to goto bed. It’s tough to do that with a toddler bed. Thus, some of the urgency.
We’re still working on the sitting room… in that we’re waiting for the electrical permit to be approved and we’ve been batting ideas back and forth. As far as the new bedroom for our daughter goes, there are a few things we’ve already decided. We’re going with a white Hemnes twin bed from Ikea… and that’s about it. We already have a small dresser from our guest room that we bought when we got married and we also just picked up a small round Hemnes nightstand. I don’t have any room pictures for you yet, it’s actually her playroom at the moment, but I do have some pics from our Pinterest account we can show you that illustrate some ideas we’re considering.
The paint: The whole room decor is Lisa’s call. As far as room color is concerned, she still wants to keep it neutral, but introduce a lot more girly features that really wouldn’t work in the nursery without a whole reboot. We’ve talked about a soft pink paint, but we both really like a greyish beige (greige?) like the photo above.
The walls: Who wants wainscoting in this room? This guy. Right now, this is the big decision for this room. Do we or don’t we. I’m not interested in spending 3 months on this room like we did the dining room, but I think I can pull something off in here relatively quick and much simpler. Lisa is not in favor of a bead board, but maybe a board and batten look. Board and batten tends to be very tall, 48″ or higher generally. I’m thinking something shorter since the room is for a little girl. Another option is the board and batten with the bead board as the panel. None of them should take very long, fingers crossed.
Built-ins: Ideally, we’d love to give this room some custom built-in shelves for all her books and displayable toys. The room has a nice double window that would look great with a cushioned seat under it. We’re a bit hesitant to add that feature until she’s old enough to truly understand gravity. Still, shelves on either side of the window would look awesome!
What do you think? What would you do? Do you go with the pink paint tones? Do you like a simple wainscoting idea? What are you up to?
Didn’t I say I was taking the week off? Well, I am… except for this little guest post we wrote for Remodelaholic. If you’re a regular reader, then you’re already familiar with our wainscoting project. If not, head over and check it out. I tried to compress about a dozen posts on the wainscoting project into one with an emphasis on planning and sizing the layout… because that IS the hardest part of the process.
Big thanks to Cassity for having us! It’s a great way to close 2012 out.
Have a happy and joyous New Year!
-John and Lisa
Finally. We’re done the dining room wainscoting project. Yep. All done. Well, except for some minor paint touch ups and a little bit of caulking. BUT, it’s on a 6″ section of doorway baseboard molding, so.. technically, it’s not really IN the dining room. So, like I said. We’re done. High five.
I don’t want to seem like we’re spiking the football here. We posted last week when we finished up the painting and we got a lot of very kind comments. I almost feel guilty posting about it again. Almost.
We started the planning for this project back in February with an intro post. We started the demolition and electrical work in March and April. The actual trim carpentry started on May 15. So, it took us about 6 months from planning to final brush stroke. Yikes. It was worth it. Here’s a more thorough wrap-up of the work that went into the dining room.
Our Dining Room Wainscoting Project, the Cliff’s Notes.
A year ago, the room was completely unpainted. We still have quite a few rooms in this builder boring state at the moment.
We started the upgrade process by adding some molding beneath the crown and painting it all semi-gloss white. Then we painted the room accessible beige by Sherwin Williams.
Then the rest of the process went like this…
– Removing the existing chair rail molding
– Adding a new outlet behind the buffet
– Planning the options, look and layout of the wainscoting
– Installing the poplar frame (1, 2, 3, 4)
– Adding the MDF panels
– Adding the bolection molding and capping
And now we’re all done…
You know you’re getting old when wainscoting is considered eye candy.
Couple things to note. See if you caught this. The dining room table is missing a chair. It was in another room when I was taking the pictures. Oops. Lisa noticed. I didn’t. Also, we’re going to be adding some additional decor items at some point and eventually replacing the cellular window shades. For now though, this is fine.
Any items you’re dying to remove from your to-do list?
I was originally thinking about skipping all the posts on our dining room wainscoting until we were completely finished with it. Staged and all. However, it may be another week until it’s all buttoned back up, so I think I’ll just get on with it and show everyone where we’re at.
The last couple weeks we’ve been painting. A lot. We finally finished painting the wainscoting and this past weekend we finished painting the walls. We had hoped to avoid repainting all the accessible beige, but the touch ups were pretty visible, so we ended up repainting ALL of it.
One tip I learned from painting the large panels of the wainscoting is definitely worth sharing. I was getting some major streaking or flashing with the semi-gloss on some panels. You can see the brush strokes. For some reason it just wasn’t going on evenly. It was driving me mad.
To remedy this problem, I just used a small roller and applied a nice even coat just to the MDF panels and then used a dry brush to flatten it out. Worked like a charm.
Yesterday, I started adding the outlets. Since they are situated in the MDF panel part of the wall, the boxes need to be extended by 3/4.”
I was able to find outlet extenders at Home Depot. They come in varying sizes (1/4″, 1/2″, etc) and can be screwed right onto the existing boxes.
When installed, it brings the receptacle flush to the wall.
Here’s some shots of the room. We still have to finish up a few more outlets and add the oak quarter rounds to tie the walls to the floors. Then we’ll need to clean up and bring everything back in.
Can’t wait to be done with this already!! Late last week we were in DC for a couple days, which is why we skipped out on posting. We’ll be sharing some of our experiences with that trip later this week.
Do any painting this weekend? What are you looking forward to finishing?
I think this is going to be the last progress post I write on the wainscoting until we’re finished. I’ll probably do one more post on how we replaced the window sill, but that will be it. We’re that close. Over the weekend we were finally able to prime the panels. Instead of brushing on all the required coats of paint, I thought we’d get a better result if we sprayed on the first two coats, which are the primer coats.
There, that should do it.
Now, if you paint unfinished wood like this wainscoting, you typically need to apply several coats of paint to hide the darkness of the wood and to achieve your desired finish. Painting unfinished wood with a brush for all of those coats can end up giving you a goopy look with a lot of visible brush marks. After four coats of latex paint, it tends to do that. To avoid that look, you can spray paint the primer AND the paint or just spray on the primer and then brush on two coats of the finish paint. Get it? By reducing the amount of brushed on coats, you can get a smoother, more professional looking result. Why would you even bother to brush on any coats if you can spray them all? It’s useful if you want to match some existing paint in your home like trim or crown molding. It’s a perfect approach for built-ins.
For larger projects like our wainscoting, it’s a little impractical to use cans of spray paint. Not sure how many cans it would take, but I’m pretty sure it’d be a lot. Instead, we’re using an HVLP (high volume, low pressure) paint gun. You’ll also need an air source. You can use a large compressor, smaller pancake compressors don’t provide enough air. We’re using a turbine system, which provides air like a large compressor, but it’s very compact. They’re available used on ebay or craigslist for reasonable prices and they may be worth it if you’re planning on doing a LOT of spray painting. We picked our’s up when we built our first home’s kitchen cabinets. The paint guns are fairly inexpensive and there are a ton of used guns available.
We still have to do some light sanding after this primer coat and then we can actually apply the finish paint coats.
We’re hoping we can finally get this done soon!
What’s been keeping you busy lately? Any projects dragging on?
The long march towards a completed dining room wainscoting continues. At this point, the only thing I have left to do is finish up some caulking and do some last minute sanding. Then it’ll be PAINT time. Right now the plan is to spray the first two coats of primer and then we’ll brush on the last two coats of a regular latex semi-gloss trim paint. Since we want it to match our trim, we have to use the latex, but I may try to water it down a touch so it doesn’t goop up.
Today I’m going to show you how we went about capping our wainscoting. The cap is just some thin poplar that runs along the top of the wainscoting and adds some interest to balance the look out. It will also serve to hide any gaps where the frame didn’t sit completely flush against the wall or where the corners were a touch open, like here.
Since we needed to replace our existing window sill anyway, I thought it would be easier just to use a trim piece that had the same profile. To make a new window sill, I need to use a window sill router bit, so using the same bit for both applications kills two birds with one stone.
Before we made any decisions, we reviewed a couple of the raised panel wainscoting pictures we had pinned and noticed the top cap on those were minimal and at least one of them used the same sill profile.
(via New England Panel)
Once we were okay with the look, I ordered the bit from Amazon.com and shortly after it arrived, I got to work. The router bit is much small than the raised panel bit, so I had to make a quick modification to our router table to accommodate it. The hole in the router table where the router sits shouldn’t be much wider than the bit itself.
Ideally, I didn’t want to buy more material for this cap. The cost of this project has been adding up and I didn’t want another SUV full of poplar. When I cut the wood for the top rail, I had a lot of small strips left over. The top rail is the long horizontal piece that runs the length of the room. It’s a 4″ piece, so it needed to be cut from a 1×6 to get the 4.” A 1×4 is actually 3.5.” That 1.5″ left over is where the scrap came from.
Before we started, I routed a sample piece with one small section of the scrap wood and then another with a piece that was a little wider. Lisa then picked the width she liked the best.
The good news is Lisa picked the smaller trim piece. The wider piece was from scrap, of which I only had a few feet. If she picked the wider one, I’d be heading to Lowes. Very happy she liked the more narrow cap.
To start the installation, as I do with any trim work, I cut two small 45 degree sample pieces. I use these samples to mate up with the piece I’m installing. I used this same approach when I trimmed out the bolection molding. It basically ensures that the pieces will meet up well. In the picture below, I’m using the small sample to match up with the piece on the left, which is actually getting installed. You can see that the corner seam looks pretty tight, so it won’t need any adjustment. The other piece just hanging out there on the far left is the other sample.
This particular wall section is longer than the caps, so I’ll have to join two pieces. To join them, I cut the first piece on a bias and then start the next piece with the exact same angle. I’ll add a good amount of wood glue in that seam.
After about 45 minutes, the entire room was capped and I didn’t have to buy a single piece of wood for it. Hopefully, we’ll make some major progress this weekend.
Any plans for the weekend? Anyone else in dire need of rain?
Back to life, back to reality (Thanks Soul II Soul). After taking off five glorious days from work, it’s back to my day job. Oh to be retired at 32. Maybe if this blog thing works out I can retire early, like 70 instead of 72. I know, I know, I’m getting ahead of myself. We hope everyone had a fun holiday!! While we mainly did some home improvement projects to beat the heat (106 in Jersey on Saturday!), we still found some time to relax with family and also squeezed in a quick trip to the shore.
To bring you up to speed on the dining room progress… it’s really coming along. Last week I openly hoped to have the room completed by today. Unfortunately, the last couple tasks took longer than expected and we’re not quite ready to paint it.
We started the holiday break with the dining room looking all clean and polished. We had just finished installing the raised panel MDF sections to the wall.
To protect the floor from the torment we were about to unleash in this room we rolled out some rosin paper we had left over from the hardwood floor installation.
First thing on the agenda: fill all the little nail holes with wood filler and sand. Luckily, I was able to get help from Lisa on this one (jackpot). She’s a whiz (like cheese whiz) with the random orbital sander. The frame saw most of the sanding, but we did do some light sanding on the MDF panels as well.
Next up: prep the MDF edges. Since I’m using medium density fiberboard (MDF) instead of solid hardwood for my panel centers, I need to dress up the routed edges before they can be painted. When cut or routed, MDF tends to fuzz up a little wherever it’s cut. That fuzz needs to be smoothed out. Here’s a zoomed in shot if what I’m talking about. You can see the front of the panel is as smooth as glass, and the edges are soft and furry.
Ok, so it’s not crazy-out of control- fuzzy, but you get the idea. To correct this problem, there are a few approaches that may provide some relief. One of them was recommended by Alex from Old Town Home.
The results: mixed. After two coats of this process with the follow up sanding, the edges hardened up as advertised, but it wasn’t smooth. It actually had a bit of a texture. Texture is going to ruin the smooth look I’m after, so this process didn’t work for me. Moreover, the texture was kind of pitted. Now, I don’t want to throw Alex under the bus, after all, there were several serious woodworkers online that swear by this process. It obviously worked for them. So, why am I so special?? Did I mess something up here?? After thinking about this problem for a while I think I have an idea. I think my slow router speeds may have led to some rougher surface texture. Slow router speeds are recommended for large router bits like the bit I used. Slow speeds though mean rougher cuts. Rougher cuts equal slight material tear outs and a crappier surface in general.
If I had decided to use plain hardwood (like poplar) for these center panels, I wouldn’t have had this problem. Hardwood presents its own issues though. For starters, it’s much more expensive. It’s not wide enough for my needs either, which means I’d have to glue a few of them together for each panel. Then before I glue them, the edges would have to be jointed, they’d all have to be clamped over night, I’d need more clamps yada yada yada. You get the picture. MDF is much cheaper and it’s probably less work anyway. Not always the perfect choice, but for a paint grade project, it’s a no brainer.
After sleeping on it, I took another approach to the texture issue. I figured if I could fill all those little divits with wood filler I’d be in business. So, I thinned out some wood filler with a little bit of water until it was the consistency of a runny hummus and I applied that all over the MDF edges. After it dried, I sanded the edges lightly with a piece of wood block with a sheet of sandpaper wrapped around it. Worked like a charm!!
Here’s a shot of that MDF edge ready for paint (ignore the molding, I’ll get to that in a sec). Do you see all those light brown spots on the MDF edge? Those are divits that the wood filler… er, filled.
With all the edges ready for paint, I could finally start trimming out the panels! The trimming turned out to be a little easier than I had expected. Still a little tricky though and tedious!!! Took forever!! See, the trim that wraps around these panels sits at a bit of an angle. That little angle means it can’t be cut laying flat on a miter saw. It needs to be propped up a bit… you have to cut it like it’s installed.. kinda like crown molding.
To figure out how high to prop the trim up, I need to know how it will sit on the poplar frame and the MDF panel. I can get that height by just measuring the distance between the two. That dimension then becomes the thickness of the prop I’ll need.
Over at the panels, I used another useful trick that is extremely helpful in all sorts of trim installations. I cut a couple trim pieces out of scrap wood and I used them to help with measuring the trim length needed. They also were a huge help with getting the trim lined up to the next cut section. Working with a small sample piece is good practice for baseboards, window trim, you name it.
After about 12 hours worth of trim time, the panels are all decked out. To make things go as efficiently as possible, I brought up my miter saw. A miter saw in the dining room means sawdust all over the place. To keep that dust from escaping to the rest of the house, we setup overlapping plastic tarps for an exit door.
So before we paint, we still have to cap the paneling with some sort of decorative trim. Will hopefully be low-tech and easy to do. Then it’s just caulking and we’re set. Can’t wait!!
So, did you do anything exciting over the 4th holiday? Anyone else stay home for a gratuitous amount of time?
Major dining room progress this week! It’s actually starting to look sorta close to done! This past weekend I was able to start and mostly finish installing the MDF raised panels onto the walls. I only have the two sections remaining under the window to wrap up and then I’ll be ready to finish up the trim and start painting. The goal is to be done everything (paneling wise) sometime next week. Keep your fingers crossed.
So, last time we talked about this project we had cut out and were routing the raised panel sections on the router table. Btw, if you’re interested in seeing how the router table was built, check our guest post at One Project Close here. Once all the panel were routed, I brought them all in and staged them in the room.
Installing them took some patience. I went easy on myself at first and installed the panels without any electrical outlets in them. I just sat the panel on some shims and tried to center it in the square. All of these panels have an outline in them that I can line the panel up to. The panels are a touch smaller than I would have liked so they don’t line up exactly with these outlines, but they are close. My primary goal with these MDF sections is to make absolutely sure the top of the panel is level and square to the top of the frame. I’ll get more into that once I start trimming out the panels, but for now, just concentrating on that made it a little easier. If the the sides aren’t perfect, you’ll never notice. Once the panel is lined up, it’s glued using Liquid Nail adhesive and then nailed into place using a finish nailer.
I’d love to hit a stud with my nails, but to be honest, once the glue dries it’s not coming off. Really, the nails just keep it in place until the glue sets up anyway. The longer nails of the finish nailer are crucial here. I wouldn’t be able to use a brad nailer, since MY brad nailer only allows 1 1/4″ as the longest nails. I need to go through 3/4″ thick MDF and then 1/2″ of drywall… that adds up to 1 1/4″, but in practice it needs to be longer. The finish nails are around 2″-2 1/2.”
After going around the room with the outlet-less panels. It was time to go back and finish up the more challenging panel sections. Each panel that falls on a section of wall with an outlet needs to be marked and cut to remove a small box for the outlet. To help make this process really easy, I used a long, straight scrap board I had lying around, but you could also use a long level if you have one.
I begin by lining up the board with the edges of the outlet opening. Then I mark the frame above, below and to the sides of the outlet box. Make sure you mark both sides of the outlet and both the bottom and the top. This extra step will allow you to transfer those marks more accurately.
With the frame around the opening marked, I temporarily install the MDF panel. I’ll use a couple shorter brad nails to do this part since it only needs to hold it for a couple minutes. With the panel up, I’ll mark it by using the same long board to transfer my marks from the frame to the panel. This is where marks on both sides of the frame pay dividends. I can line up the board with both sides and I know I’m dead nuts on target.
With the outlet box marked, I’ll take the panel down and cut out the hole using a drill to start the corners and then cutting the straight sections with a handheld jigsaw. Then the panel is just reinstalled like all the rest.
Even though I could put in the receptacle at this point, it won’t go in until the very end of the project. Gotta say this room is really coming together nicely. Still have little ways to go, but we’re getting there!
What are your plans for the 4th? Do you spend time with family and friends or are you hanging out at home?
What a weekend! Got a lot done in the past few days. I was able to finish up my router table (more on that later this week) and finally get cracking on the getting those center panels cut and routed. We were also able to squeeze in some much needed R&R.
The first thing I did once the router table was setup was to move it outside. If you’ve never used one before, they are extremely loud. Plus, they remove a ton of material when they cut, so there is a crap load of sawdust. If you follow me on instagram (john_ohfs) then you may have seen a sneak peak of the router table and the results from its trial run.
Sweeeeeet. That trial run was done on a scrap piece of poplar. It’s gorgeous. I would love to make the center panels out of that stuff instead of the MDF, but using hardwood in large sections like that means dealing with it stretching and shrinking from the humidity and seasonal changes. That means paint and caulk lines cracking… extra work on a regular basis. No thanks. MDF is stable. No expansion. No contraction. No worries. Moreover, MDF is cheaper. Plus the panels are so wide that I’d have to glue them together… on and on… You convinced yet?
So, with the router table standing by it was time to start cutting the center panels out. I bought a couple 4×8 sheets of MDF way back when and they’ve been gathering sawdust in the basement for a while now. To make things a little more organized, I numbered every panel section on the wall. Then when the MDF pieces were cut from the sheets, they got a matching number. Although the heights are the same for almost all of them, the widths are subtly different. Keeping them numbered, keeps me from ripping the hair out of my head when we go to install them.
Another little treat was to getting to see how the raised panel sits next to the bolection molding. I sat that little poplar scrap piece inside one of the panel sections and used a small molding piece to help with dimensioning the gap. Looks good! Like Ron Burgundy good.
If you’re confused by the photo, don’t be. That little molding will be wrapping around the perimeter of the opening. The raised panel piece will have that profile around the entire perimeter of itself as well. The gap between the raised panel and the frame will be the same all the way around. If you can’t visualize it, just trust me. It’s gonna work.
I think I’m going to need to sit in this room at some point and drink some scotch on a leather sofa. It’s gonna happen. Is Merlin Olsen still around? No? Crap.
Any small victories in your world this weekend?
Hope everyone had a wonderful Father’s Day! I sure did! Lisa and I slept in until 730, which for parents of a 16 month old is NICE! We caught an early mass at our local parish and then Lisa cooked me breakfast. She made me eggs over easy with a side of scrapple.
If you’ve never had scrapple before, I highly recommend it. I think I need to do an entire post on this stuff, especially for my friends that aren’t located in the Philadelphia region. It’s pretty much the scraps of a pig ground up with some corn meal. It’s sliced and served fried. It’s slightly salty with a crunchy exterior and a soft interior texture that isn’t overwhelmingly meaty. Very greasy and very bad for you… like all good breakfast meat should be. It’s kind of an acquired taste, but it’s not a jarring flavor that would immediately turn you away. People in Philly generally love it or hate it.
What else did we get done this weekend? We finished our last section of wall framing for the raised panel wainscoting. I’m really excited to be done this portion of the project and will be starting the router table this week. Lisa is also doing a small painting project and she’ll be posting on that later this week.
If you want to learn how to scribe, this is the post for you.
This last wall section didn’t go down without a fight, so I thought I’d share with you the technique I used to get it installed. There were two main challenges that needed to be dealt with for this wall. First, the wall is just shy of 10 feet long and I can’t bring up anything longer than 8 feet from the basement due to the way the stairs turn. So, right off the bat, I need to make two sections. This stinks because I like to assemble the entire structure in the basement to make sure it goes together okay. Then I have to disassemble it to bring it up, then reassemble it again and install it. The second major obstacle is the adjoining wall isn’t square, it’s angled away. None of the other walls were that out of whack, but this one was off enough that I can’t just fill in any gaps with caulk.
Since I was too busy (irritated) to take any photos, I made some quick illustrations in MS Paint to explain the process. If you ever do anything similar to this project, even like a beadboard, this technique will come in handy. Even with new houses, there are always some walls that just aren’t as straight as you’d like them. This is usually a bigger problem in older houses.
Before I started constructing each wall section, I measured it. In the case of this wall, I measured from the paneling I added near the window to the door opening for the kitchen. I measured in three places, at the top, middle and bottom of the wall. If each measured length is within about an 1/8″ of the others, you’re probably fine and don’t need to make any corrections. Anything over that and you need to compensate.
In this particular instance, the wall was 3/8″ longer on the top than the bottom. That looks something like this… it’s exaggerated for effect.
Stinks right? So how do you correct that? Well, I think there are a few ways to do it, but I like the scribing method the best. All you need is a basic compass, like the one for drawings circles in art or geometry class. Thought that would be the last time you used one? Nope, I keep one around just for these reasons… and for drawing circles. To start, build the panel section to the longest measurement you took. Then you can butt it up against the crooked wall, make sure you level it and then re-measure the gap. Sometimes, having the piece there leveled out can affect the gap. So, after I did this, I still had a 3/8″ gap. I then took my compass and set the distance between the needle and the pencil to the width of the gap, 3/8.” Starting at the floor, I ran the compass along the end of the panel all the way to the top with the needle on the crooked wall and the pen or pencil on the new section. That basically ‘scribes’ the profile of the crooked wall onto the new section… see the drawing below. The red line is from the compass.
With the panel section marked with a line, I can basically cut along that line with a circular saw or a jigsaw. Once the line is cut, the new wall section can be slid right into the crooked wall and it there won’t be much of a gap at all. It’s a pretty clever solution to a difficult problem (I can call it clever since I didn’t invent it). It works really well on wavy walls too, nut just crooked walls. It’s a good trick to keep in your back pocket.
Here’s how that wall section turned out…
And here’s that joint that was out of square until we scribed it… still not perfect, but much, much better than it was before.
If that wasn’t enough trouble, I also managed to cut one of my bottom boards too short!! Luckily, I think I can get away with screwing in an extension piece. Plus, if you look closely, you can see two pocket holes that I plugged (Kreg also makes plugs). I had to flip the board over when I was making the panels and I didn’t feel like spending another twenty some bucks for a whole new board. If I was staining this, I’d be screwed. Since I’m painting it though, I can add some wood putty, sand it and I’m good to go!
How was your Father’s Day? Eat any good food? Ever have scrapple? Do you own a compass for circles or for maps or both?
Hey! Thanks for stopping by. We're Lisa and John and this is our DIY and Home Improvement blog. Feel free to browse our DIY project gallery or our latest posts. You can read more here.
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