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Upper Hall Reno. Part 1 – ceiling and walls.

When the weather cools, it’s time for indoor projects. Next is the upstairs hall1. Along with the desired redecoration to get into the original period of the house, there’s some ‘wrongs’ to be considered for righting. 

The attic could use more insulation (this is part of the hall reno because the access to the attic is in the hall). Neutral in my house plan. It’d be nice to have, but not essential for function, aesthetics or safety. In cases like this, if I can do it myself, and it appeals to me, I’ll do it. It’s easy enough to rent stuff from the DIY place to blow in insulation, but requires finesse to get into the corners properly, and learning doesn’t interest me. If I found a reputable contractor to do it, then I’d go for it, but haven’t yet. So, back-burner insulation the attic. Also, not hard to change my mind at any point. 

This original opening to the attic was very visible on arrival on the 2nd floor. Ideally, it would be moved to a less visible corner of a bedroom. No idea why it was put where it is in the first place. A guess is because it’s required by code and this is the middle of the second floor. 

The hatch size is nowhere near the code I can find on public web, at only 14″ of the required 24″ wide (by 24″ long, making code), providing another reason to redo it. Fixing this would require building an opening through the existing floor/ceiling joists, adding headers and trimmers to retain structural integrity. Since there is nowhere to go in the attic – beneath the roof trusses there is only enough room to crawl from one end to the other under the peak – spending time on the opening isn’t a priority. The opening is existing, so I’m going with what is.

The engineering of the hatch/cover is functional, a piece of OSB cut to friction fit (i.e. square peg in a square hole that stays there because it fits but easy to move with a bit of jostling). But the aesthetics – oh my! A slab of OSB in the drywall ceiling screams ‘doing the minimum required’. 

To blend the attic hatch with the hall ceiling, I started by covering the OBS with drywall. That took care of the texture. Getting the hatch as level as possible with the ceiling was the next goal to make it as unnoticeable as possible. Pulled wires through to create handles to tug the hatch into place (the wires will be hidden once the door trim was installed). It worked, kind of. Initially the hatch wouldn’t sit flat, like it had warped, so tugging wasn’t useful. As time went on, gravity levelled it into the space.

The hatch and the ceiling now matched in height and texture, but the boundary was still visible. Trim is typically used to support the hatch and cover the seams. The thinnest piece of wood I had was iron-on edging (1/32″) left over from a door-making escapade. My reasoning is that getting the closest to flat against the ceiling in the same colour and same texture is as good as it will get. I applied the wood strips to the hatch hole. The flatness was encouraging.

Then, I get the great idea to apply drywall compound to the edge to feather in the edge of this trim to the ceiling. One side worked fine but the trim bubbled, repeatedly, on the other side. Eventually, construction adhesive was involved. Drywall compound smoothed the transition from ceiling to wood strip.

Ceiling and walls are ready for paint.  

A few years ago, I’d covered up some unused wall outlets (after the electricians disconnected them) and built a door to cover the open wall and floor in the back of the linen closet (used for access to the bathroom plumbing). Otherwise, there was no repair required to the drywall (old casings and trim came off without damage to the paper, unlike other rooms in the house). As for the colour, since the walls and ceiling are continuous with the recently painted kitchen and stairwell, the colour was already chosen.

Painting this area was the easiest paint job ever, because:

  • ceiling and walls the same colour 
  • no need to be careful of floor as it’s being replaced
  • no trim or baseboards to cut in around, as they were removed prior to painting
  • ceiling is reachable by brush or roller from floor – no need for ladder
  • have accepted that a ‘paint job’ is one coat of smelly (oil-based stain etc covering) primer and two coats of paint.

And, BTW, I used the highest nap roller I could find, labelled ‘for rough surfaces’, even if it isn’t. I like the texture, it reminds me more of plaster than drywall.

Next: Part 2: The floor.

1 Inventory of rooms renovated vs. still to do. Renovated: upstairs bath, master bedroom, office, kitchen, basement, downstairs bath (in order of doing, which I’m sure says something about the doer). Still to do: living/dining room, entry hall, two more bedrooms. There have been many projects completed in the still-to-do rooms, such as electrical upgrades, drywall improvements, trim replacement etc. but they’re not at the state of standing back and saying “it’s done.” And this is inside, outside are other posts.

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