Sunday, February 24, 2008

Tripping on the ceiling

Are we attempting to make a low-budget sequel to a Space Odyssey? Just who is that limber alien?

If we've learned anything during this long process, it's that home renovations are seldom straightforward. Some little problem always arises to trip us up. Even so, when we get on a bit of a roll we get excited and start to believe we can keep up the pace. Our minds rush ahead to the next steps and just as we're feeling really optimistic some stubborn obstacle brings us to a stand still. Saturday morning's stumble came when we were just about to finish securing the vapour barrier to the ceiling in our eating room. A little investigation with the six-foot level revealed that our assumption of several weeks ago that the ceiling was pretty much level, was wrong. To level the old wooden ceiling joists we had to pull out all of the fibreglass insulation that N had neatly installed between them last week. We used lightweight metal studs to level the ceiling. It's a technique N read about in Fine Homebuiding magazine. The metal pieces are installed alongside the existing joists--no shimming or planing necessary.

Steel studs--lightweight, square, easy to cut

Late Saturday night, N was still working on the time consuming and exacting job of levelling. I doubt anyone but a homeowner would take this much care. But N cannot stand wavy drywall, so the joists were leveled before we called an end to the day.

This morning N donned the white space suit and the respirator (with filters colour-matched to the insulation), and once again fitted the itchy stuff between the newly leveled joists.

p.s. The sprightly person in the fancy jump suit above is N reinstalling the itchy pink stuff in the newly leveled ceiling.

After the glamourous work was done, I smoothed out the wrinkles in the vapour barrier and taped up all the cut edges with red tuck tape. Then I marked the location of the joists and pot light centres on the walls while N went to buy drywall and rent a drywall lift. Unfortunately, I don't have the neccessary braun to hoist 5/8" sheets of fire rated drywall overhead for minutes at a time, so the lift is an invaluable tool, and its bright yellow arms never tire.

The drywall lift in action

While we work away to restore our eating room, our indefatigable tile installer, Harry Dunbar, is busily tiling our master bathroom. The tiling process is taking longer than Harry anticipated, but he is doing the most beautiful work. We know that Harry is pleased too because he says he'd like to hire a professional photographer to take pictures once the whole room is complete. Every night after he leaves, we go into the room and enjoy the tile. It's beautiful and will be even moreso once the tile is grouted. We are very happy with our tile choices and can't wait until we can use our new bathroom, even though that luxury is probably still a couple of months away.

My version of Alton Brown's brownies

During our work breaks we've been refortifying ourselves with the brownies I baked last night. If you're a fan of cocoa-based, cake-style brownies with a crispy, shiny surface, these are fantastic. They're from a recipe by Alton Brown, who apparently is a celebrity television chef. I've never seen his show, but I'm a fan of his brownies. In fact, I think this will be my default brownie recipe from now on. The recipe didn't include any chemical leaveners like baking soda or powder and didn't specify a type of cocoa, so I used a Dutch-process, fair trade, organic cocoa powder from a company called Camino Cuisine. The depth of flavour is fantastic--better than I would've expected from a Dutch-process cocoa.

So, it's late now, on Sunday night, but we're still hard at it so we can return our drywall lift first thing tomorrow. We have three more sheets of drywall to install before we quit. Here are some things about attaching drywall to metal studs that we didn't know when we started:

  • the metal studs (of the flimsy gauge, dimpled variety available at home supply stores) don't hold screws very well

  • in fact, when using self drilling drywall screws (supposedly intended for metal studs) with a regular drywall drill, most of the screws strip out

  • So, we now know to use regular, fine-thread drywall screws

  • the bevel edge of drywall is often much harder than the rest of the drywall board and can cause screws to strip

  • So, we now know to baby the screws into the drywall bevel--either by drilling a pilot with a self drilling screw, or using our regular battery operated drill

At 10:30 pm, we have two sheets of drywall in place, two to go. Our rate of progress should get us into bed just a little before 6:00 am. Wish us luck.

1 comment:

hex said...

what's going on with the bathroom progress? I want an update!