Home Improvement Part 8

Home Improvements, Part 8

This is part 8 in a sequence. If you want to begin at the beginning, you can go to Part 1. The following shows the contents for this and adjacent parts.

Part 7 (separate page)
  • Wallpaper removal, etc.
  • New Roof
  • Pool resurface
Part 8 (this page)

(initial section posted 2/26/19)

Closet Repairs - Popcorn Removal

It was just about a year ago (at the time I'm writing this) that I was working on the "Minimization Challenge", which you may recall was triggered by my closet "explosion"-- a broken shelf that required repair. You know how they say bad things come in threes? Well, that seems to be the case with closet repairs, because in the last year I've also had to repair two other closets, both because of roof leaks causing popcorn ceiling damage. One was in the craft room (that was the leak that triggered getting the new roof) (pic at left). The other was in the other walk-in closet in the master bedroom (pic at right). Interestingly, that one had made its first appearance not long after we first moved into the house. At that time, we simply had the popcorn repaired; I don't recall any associated roof leak (I think they may have looked but didn't find anything obvious). It was many, many years (like maybe 20?) before I saw any evidence of the leak returning, and I thought perhaps it had been just an aberration. But it did return, just a couple of years ago. At first it was just a stain, but eventually it, too, started dropping pieces of the popcorn, so was gonna need real repair. As with that first leak in the garage roof, I decided it made sense the get rid of the popcorn. The closets were relatively small, contained spaces, so I figured I could do it myself. The tricky part would be emptying out each closet, because popcorn removal is very, very messy and it's important to clean everything out of the area that you can.

Now, the closet that was done a year ago, I'll call that closet #1 for the purposes of the story. Closet #1 needed just a shelf repair, so I only needed to remove the stuff that was on that shelf. However, I did need to find another closet to put the hanging stuff in, which I will call the staging closet. But before I could move the hanging stuff from closet #1, I had to make room in the staging closet by moving the stuff from its floor and shelf onto the floor elsewhere in the room... which meant another mess that would need to be cleaned up later. Then, prompted by the Minimization Challenge and my need to downsize, I took extra time to edit the stuff I was moving around. And once I started doing that, it made sense to continue to work through the other shelves in closet #1. (It's a walk-in closet, so it has a lot of shelf space.)

So that's why, even though the initial repair on closet #1 happened very quickly, when the new leak in the craft room closet (which I'll call closet #2) appeared 5 months later, I wasn't finished with closet #1. I was still in the process of going through it, cleaning and minimizing, a small section at a time. Fortunately it was completely functional, so it was no problem to find a convenient stopping point and call a hiatus on that project, to allow myself to focus on the leak problems in the other 2 closets.

I decided to start with closet #2, because

Alas, it didn't make sense to actually complete the repair until the roof was repaired enough to stop the leaks. But there was a lot of planning and prep work to do first anyway, the bulk of which was going to be getting the closet totally emptied.

Closet #2 had almost 2 feet more hanging space than the staging closet, and it was packed very tightly. Also, the staging closet still had stuff in it from the partly-done closet #1 process. I'd decided it would be a good place, even for the long term, to "stage" clothing that I intended to sell on eBay or similar. So, even with some pre-editing of the stuff, and packing the staging closet as much as I dared to, I still had to find a few extra feet of hanging space in order to be able to totally empty closet #2. There actually was some room in closet #3, although I needed to move a bunch of boxes that were stacked on the floor for that space to be usable, and the only place I could put the boxes was elsewhere on the floor of the master bedroom... sigh. The level of disarray in the house was getting worse.

But, closet #2 did get emptied, just about the time work was progressing on the roof, so I was ready to start work on the popcorn. First I made sure to check online for videos and tips for how to do popcorn removal. Some of them suggested attaching a scraper to a shop vac to help suck up the debris as you work, which seemed like it might be a good idea. I did have a small shop vac but decided against using it because I thought it would be difficult to wrangle the vac in the tight spaces of my very-cluttered craft room. Since the ceiling area being scraped was pretty small, I figured I'd let the debris fall where it may and I'd just clean it up when I was done. Otherwise I basically followed the directions of wetting the popcorn first to make it easier to scrape, and it was tedious, but went pretty smoothly (interim pic at right).

The next step was patching a couple of damaged spots, and sanding. That went pretty well. There were a couple of areas mostly near the corners that were just difficult to get as smooth as I wanted, and I had to remind myself it was just a ceiling inside a small closet and nobody else was ever going to look at it as closely as I was looking at it and I needed to let them be.

Then I had to clean up the debris, it was messier than I had expected... all over the wire shelf as well as the floor, and a mix of big chunks as well as fine dust... and the dust tended to get tracked around. I'd need to do something better with closet #3.

Then, prime and paint. Because it was bare drywall, I first used a sealer/primer (which I'd learned about from Chaz, the home painter). That stuff doesn't provide any color though. I had some leftover spray primer/paint that had worked so well for hiding simple stains (as opposed to actual damage) on the popcorn, and tried using it as basic ceiling paint, but I guess because it's a spray, it didn't provide sufficient coverage. So, regular ceiling paint with a brush and roller it was. Small space, went quickly, and ended up looking good:

It took less than a week (in mid-Sept 2018) to complete the repair after I'd gotten the closet emptied out. Of course I had to take the opportunity, while the space was clear, to clean the shelf and the floor. Then began the far more tedious task of putting stuff back, and of course editing it down in the process. I obviously couldn't start on closet #3 until most of the stuff from closet #2 was put back or otherwise dealt with.

In thinking about closet #3, I figured I'd probably need to allocate at least a full week time span where there was little else going on. I figured around Christmas-New Year's time should work, so that was the plan.

As the time approached, I needed to clear out closet #3. There were a lot of boxes on the floor, which I figured I could easily move to the floor elsewhere in the house just before I started the actual repair work. As usual, the difficult part was going to be the hanging stuff... and this closet had maybe twice as much stuff as closet #2. I was pretty much done with the editing of closet #2, but hadn't had much opportunity to sell or otherwise attempt to process the designated "staged" stuff, so the staging closet still had a goodly amount of stuff in it (including, still, staged stuff from closet #1). I ended up moving the staged stuff from closet #1 into the office closet (small amount of space, but small amount of stuff), then the staged stuff from closet #2 onto a portable rack that I put into the dance room, then I stuffed the staging closet as much as I could. I had a section of dance practicewear that was wrinkle-resistant, so I piled it on a big chair in the master bedroom. There was still a couple feet of stuff left, so I cleared off the rack in the laundry room for it (some of the stuff there was actually being staged from before I came up with the concept of a staging closet). At this point, I pretty much had every other closet in the house packed, and then some. After I'd moved the boxes out as well, the clutter level of the house was stressing me out. But closet #3 was empty and I was ready to start on schedule.

This time I was a bit smarter. I put down a disposable dropcloth to catch most of the debris. Also, I had seen a YouTube vid that showed a gadget (which I got from Home Depot) that was basically a scraper with a gizmo mounted on it that allowed you to attach a small garbage bag to catch stuff. It did help some, but the scraper was a bit awkward and tended to be harder to use over the rougher spots (like the seams in the drywall). I think the dropcloth was far more help in terms of reducing the messiness. (Interim pic at right.)

Once I got started, again, everything went pretty smoothly. Of course, I had to work more hours each day (compared to closet #2) because of the larger area, but the basic process was pretty similar: scrape, patch, sand, prime, paint. Interestingly, the area where the visible damage had been had no real damage underneath and so didn't need any extra patching work. However, there was an area near the A/C duct where there was some pretty bad damage that had been totally hidden by the popcorn surface. That required 3-4 cycles of patch-and-sand before it looked OK. And I still had to remind myself this was just a closet ceiling, so it didn't need to be perfect.

Finished pics below. The first pic is where the original visible damage was; the second is where the "discovered" damage was.


Then it was just cleanup and putting stuff back. As mentioned, the dropcloth helped the debris cleanup. As I write this (late Feb.) the putting-back is still going on though, for the usual reasons of trying to edit stuff while I'm at it. At least I've got most of the extreme overflow processed so my stress level is back at a more normal level.


To be continued....


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