We have WALLS!


It’s kind of amazing actually.

A few weeks back my dad and brother-in-law joined up for an Epic DIY weekend.  My dad and I kicked it off with some custom door and window casings.  Matt’s brother, Isaac, got in later, so he and Matt were going to tackle the ceiling on Saturday.

Matt and I had already gotten drywall up on the walls, and all the seams taped and mudded.  The ceiling was going to be a far more intensive job though and a little college boy labor goes a long way. The first step was to rent a drywall lift.  My dad was telling me that he and my mom drywalled a ceiling without a lift back in the 70’s…oof!  It cost us $15 to rent a lift for the most of the day (from Menards).  Totally worth it.

I may have mentioned before that my dad and I make up team Crazed Perfectionist.  We watched Matt and Isaac for a little bit to see if they would need extra hands.  They didn’t really, but we started getting a little twitchy about the lack of crazed perfectionism, so I suggested (firmly) for a division of labor.  Team Crazed Perfectionist would handle the measuring and cutting, and team Grunt Labor would handle the lifting and installing.  This actually worked out pretty well, especially since doing anything on the ceiling gets tiring pretty quickly so this gave team Grunt Labor a bunch of mini rest breaks.

We’re still pretty new to drywall so I’m not going to do a tutorial (I’m sure they are far more knowledgeable people out there who have already written them).  I do have a few useful takeaways we learned though.

  • Suck it up and rent a drywall lift!  We didn’t bother with it for the walls because we installed the sheets vertically, but it was MUST for the ceiling.  If you’re installing sheets on the wall horizontally, you’ll probably want it too.ceilingDrywall1
  • Align the factory edges of your drywall as much as possible.  The edges of a sheet of drywall have a very slight indent in them to help compensate for the thickness of the tape and mud.
  • Mark the ends of your joists on the walls, then use a chalk line to connect the marks to show you where to put your screws.  It’s MUCH harder to eyeball a straight line when you’re balanced and bent on top of a ladder.


  • THIN coats when mudding.  Seriously. Yes, if it goes on too thick you can sand it down, but drywall dust is horrendous. Thin coats should mean less sanding AND less dry time between layers so you can get more done in a day.
  • Once you’re at the sanding stage, try and tarp off the room as best as you can.  We hung plastic sheeting over the door and kept the door closed at all times.


  • We didn’t try this, but had multiple people suggest a drywall sanding sponge.  Wet sanding should help control the dust and joint compound is water soluble so it’s supposed to be faster.
  • We tried a sanding attachment for our shop-vac.  Awesome in concept, but according to Matt it was a little unwieldy.  The head would spin unpredictably making things a little difficult.  He did notice an improvement in the dust control though, so it probably depends on the person if they like it or not.
  • Get a bag filter for your shop-vac!  You for sure want one rated for drywall dust because you will be vacuuming up a LOT.
  • Wear a mask and full goggles when sanding.  I really can’t over-state how awful drywall dust is.
  • Make sure you keep a good moisturizer handy.  Drywall is incredibly drying on the skin.


You can see we ended up with a tiny little strip of drywall, which is usually frowned upon.  Based on where our joists were positioned, this made the most sense for us.  We were able to screw the edges of the second-to-last board directly into the joists and the last little strip was light enough adhere with construction adhesive (because we were drywalling over existing plaster instead of bare studs).  We screwed it in too, but there wasn’t a joist there which we would have needed to secure a larger piece.


After making it though the weekend without killing anyone, Matt kept working away on the mudding/sanding the seams.  It’s a process and, quite frankly, it sucks.  Actually, the mudding’s not so bad, but the sanding is possibly the worst home improvement task ever.  I was really happy to have solid excuse not to help.  Once Matt got things sanded, he would call me in to give the Crazed Perfectionist opinion and then I’d go around with a pencil and circle all the areas that needed more work.

Two weeks later we were ready to prime!  I’m specifically holding off on installing trim until the room is fully painted.  Painting goes SO much faster when you don’t have to worry about cutting in!  We knocked out all the walls in about an hour one evening after work. Unfortunately, it was starting to get a little dark at that point and the “fancy” bare drywall primer is nearly impossible to see until it dries so our first coat turned out super crappy.  Oops.  It also highlighted some spots that still needed a little extra smoothing (though not as many as I expected!).

The next evening we tackled the touch-up spots and the ceiling.  We’ll take another look at everything in full daylight, but it seems to be going well.  I’m planning another coat of regular primer just so we don’t get any surprises when we paint.  And when will we get to the actual paint?  Well, my ceiling fan is now back-ordered until the end of April and I need the fan to decide on the ceiling color and I need the ceiling color to decide on the wall color.  Matt just sort of shakes his head and asks why we can’t just get a white fan.  I tell him he because he married a crazy person which he really should have been aware years ago.

Until my beloved fan comes in I’ll be sanding (with a mask!), priming, and painting all the trim pieces.





Presidents Day Dry-walling

Last year we went to Vegas with some friends for the Presidents Day/Valentines Day weekend.  This year, we dry-walled a nursery.

Well, we started dry-walling a nursery.

Yes, getting older can be a little lame.  Like I tend to tell people though, I’ve never been cool a day in my life and don’t intend to start now.  So yeah, dry-walling.


As a quick refresher, this is where we were at with the nursery.  We had ripped out the gross ceiling tiles, the lame trim, the prison-esque light fixture, and the grody paneling.  I voted to just hire someone to come in and skim-coat ALL THE THINGS but Matt wanted to just re-drywall.  It’s definitely cheaper so I didn’t argue too much.

Last weekend we headed to Menards, rented a truck, and bought a crap-ton of 1/4″ drywall.  We opted for 1/4″ because we weren’t ripping out the existing plaster and wanted to minimize extra bulk.  I helped Matt haul this into our house, all the while thinking I’d fall, have to call the emergency mid-wife line and explain to them that I slipped on some ice while carrying drywall because the first thing we decided to do after finding out I was pregnant was to demo an entire room.  Thankfully I remained upright and told Matt he would need a different assistant to help haul the sheets up the stairs.*

One of the issues with adding a layer of drywall was that door frames would be a little awkward.  If you drywall up to the edge of the door, you’re stuck with a bare edge of edge of drywall.


Ew ideed.

To solve the problem (without redoing the entire door frame) we bought 1/4″ strips of wood to frame out the openings first, and then butt the drywall up against the wood.


The change in materials (and the gap) won’t be an issue because we’ll be adding new trim to the entire room as well, so all we need is an even surface. Once the rest of the doorframe gets painted, you’ll never even know it was there.

Speaking of even, have I mentioned that old houses are not even remotely square?  Yeah.  We’ve got some seriously half-assed looking drywall happening in here.


Although it’s hard to tell from the picture, so feel free to think of us as drywall masters.  We’re cool with that.


…but I’m honest, so here’s a close-up of the piece above the window.  It is the exact same length as the piece below the window that has nice, tight seams.  This is what happens when you assume things are even.  Except you really only make an ass out of u, because if me had been there I would have put a stop to these shenanigans because I know not to trust old houses.

Aaaanyway…. We can get away with some half-ass-ery because we’re dry-walling over an existing solid wall rather than bare studs.  This is also why we opted to hang the sheets vertically instead of horizontally.  I usually see drywall hung horizontally so I researched it a bit and the conclusion seemed to be that it doesn’t matter a lot, but horizontal hanging will be a little more structurally sound.  Well, we already had existing walls, so that I wasn’t a huge issue for us.  It was easier to hang the sheets vertically, so we went with that.


The drywall sheets were 4’x8′ and the ceilings were about 8’3″ tall.  We’re planning on installing baseboards that are taller that 3″ so the bottom seam wouldn’t be issue.  We grabbed a couple scrap 2×4’s (thanks to the brilliance that is modern lumber dimensions, 2=1.5) and were able to prop the sheet up so it would sit even with the ceiling while we screwed it in.

So now we’re almost half way done with the walls!  There’s still the other half, plus the ceiling, plus all the mudding/taping/sanding.  We’ve recruited my dad and brother-in-law to come help in mid-March so we should see a big chunk of progress made then.  I’m planning on haz-matting myself up and diving in too because I start getting twitchy if I see people doing things that aren’t up to my standards.**  I’m mostly concerned about all the dust from sanding (since I’m already asthmatic and prone to bronchitis) but I figure a heavy-duty mask and a sander that attaches to a shop-vac should leave me pretty safe in that area.


*He opted to do it himself and as a result we have two more broken picture frames.

**Drywall joints pre-compound are clearly not one of my higher standards