Tim Gunn Stopped By And Said…

September 08, 2011   //  Posted in: Bedrooms, DIY   //  By: Emily   //  7 responses

“Make it work, staining-newbie.”

Obviously, no. Not really. But there was a time during this whole staining-the-shiplap project that I needed the encouragement and perspective of a Tim Gunn. Or Emily Henderson. Or Mike Holmes. Or my mom.

OK, I’ll back up for a second. Remember the new paneled headboard wall that I showed you Tuesday?

Shiplap wall: Progress.

Once the boards had been installed, I was so unexpectedly pleased with the natural wood appearance that I decided to try staining the wall instead of painting gray to match the rest of the room after all.

How about that? My only concern upfront was if I could find stain that would be dark enough to cover the bazillion knots in the (totally true-to-form) knotty pine. Naturally, you’ll know if you’ve ever gone brown stain shopping that there are about 100 different options to choose from, although once I had eliminated any that appeared to be too light to disguise the knots and passed over any there riddled by a mischevious reddish undertone, I was left with two. Meet Jacobean and Dark Walnut, my new samples subjects. Oh, and Ebony sneaked into the cart too just incase it knocked my socks off and complemented the already gray walls amazingly (at $4.50 a piece, the samples weren’t going to break the ol’ bank). I was joyous bringing them home, mostly because I like adding more dark cozy colors to the house, and I had a hunch that one of these would fit right in since most of the furniture in the house is dark walnut or that famous IKEA black-brown.

Minwax stain samples from Home Depot. $4.50 each.

Before I did anything stain or paint-related, I really needed to take care of the 100 or so nail holes and 4 noticeable seams in the paneling, like this seam that you can see right here:

One of the 4 seams on the wall. I was lucky to only have that many.

My wood filler is MIA so I bought a replacement product also offered by Minwax that was labeled as stainable and paintable. Did I want to stain it? Yes. Might I need to paint it? Yes. Check, check, this was the ideal partner-in-crime. Plus, it clearly stated on the packaging that it was the ideal counterpart for the stain samples I had already picked out. I should note that this is not a post sponsored by Minwax, they just seem to have infiltrated both Home Depot and Lowe’s (good for them) and I wasn’t able to find any of my tried-and-true Elmer’s wood putty at either store (bad for me).

Recommended Minwax Stainable Wood Filler.

The wood filler did seem nice and fresh. Not only did it go on as smooth and cleanly, but was like nice light mousse with a slight grain which was nicer to work with than other more putty-like fillers I’ve encountered in passing. Comparable to as if I was prodding my finger (for the smaller nail holes) and the paint scraper (for applying over the paneling seams) into a vat of tiramisu or lightweight wall spackle.

After a quick sanding, it left the nail gun holes undetectable to the touch.

Nail holes no longer detectable to the touch. Success.

To test each stain – the Ebony, Jacobean, and Dark Walnut – I applied each stain two ways; by leaving it un-wiped to fully saturate the board, and also wiped (after a minute of soakage) to see how a lighter saturation would appear and cover the knots comparatively. I was generally leaning towards Dark Walnut, the stain furthest at the bottom on the right that was allowed to fully saturate into rich color. Rich, warm, and sexy.

Stain sampling.

This is when I cried loudly for Pete (and the staining champ equivalent of Tim Gunn).

It was game-changer. On both the saturated and less-saturated examples, we had less than adequate stain coverage on the I’m-going-to-be-stain’s-best-friend wood filler.

Stain sampling. WAIT, that's not covering up the wood patching.

I sulked a bit. A lot. And then went back with a soaked Q-Tip to concentrate the stain directly on the problem areas.

Concentrating my staining efforts directly on the wood filler problem areas.

Still no success. Heart. Breaking. Was there anything I could do? Maybe. I started with research.

Here are general learnings gleaned from basic online searches, Rehab Addict’s Nicole Curtis, and the Minwax customer support forums:

1. Stainable filler doesn’t mean that you can stain over it and expect it to absorb the same way as the wood. In fact, stainable means that you can tint the filler before you even use it to match the stain you’re using. No, this is not mentioned on the wood filler package, nor are there directions on the package for how to mix with stain, but a smartiepants all over the Minwax forums was all over correcting about 300 other people who had complained about the same issue I was experiencing.
2. If you stain over little holes without filling them, they would probably have been undetectable anyways. I’m sure this doesn’t also apply to the seams in the boards, but knowing this ahead of time would have meant that I wouldn’t have filled the little nail holes.
3. And proposed solutions from Minwax customer support:
A) avoid a fine sandpaper (lower than 100 grit) to keep the filler porous (I probably went to fine. Remember how the patches were undetectable?);
B) stain immediately after the filler cures (I had, and there was no trying again.);
C) apply Minwax Stain Gel in the same tone with a paint bruch (may be my last resort);
D) and the option D, which I’m trying right now, dampen a piece of 100-grit sandpaper with the stain, and basically wet-sand the color into the effected area.

Initial impressions of Option D? This might work. There are still some obvious show-throughs, let alone the fact that you can see right on through to my original test swatches (OOPS). And my fingers are going to be permanently stained dark walnut. Here’s my progress as of just this morning…

Staining progress. Splotchy and blotchy.

I still have some work to do on the other side of the window, not to mention inbetween each panel with a finer applicator.

And you’ll notice, there aren’t many visible patches. If visible, they present like the knots in the wood.

Staining progress. Knots and patches.

Will I keep it? We’ll see; Minwax recommends a 48-72 hour dry time on its stains, so hopefully by the end of the weekend I’ll have a good idea of how well the stain has taken, and whether it’s going to make the cut as a permanent bedroom feature. In any case, this is the largest and most challenging thing I’ve ever attempted staining.

And I’m surprised by the level of difficulty.

Dramatic Driftwood Wreath

September 07, 2011   //  Posted in: Curb Appeal, Decor, DIY, Entryway   //  By: Emily   //  19 responses

I loved my summertime succulent wreath. It hung wonderfully, and didn’t fade, droop, or melt out of shape in the extreme heat in the cavern of fire which formed every morning between that pretty all-glass storm door and the eggplant-painted entryway door. Thank you, sunshine.

But now we’re encroaching on autumn, and as my almost-martha-stewart-mom would do, I’m packing the succulent wreath away until next spring and replacing it with something more seasonally appropriate.

Packing the succulent wreath away. To be seen again next spring.

I didn’t want to go full-on-autumnal quite yet, and I’ve never been much into the faux-colored leaves decor, but the fresh green succulents (or anything green, flowery) seems a little too springy for the cool nights (which are an awesome relief, by the way). The new wreath, I decided, would take advantage of totally-free driftwood from the local beach (you know, the same I pulled all of this beach glass from, and found the future base of this driftwood lamp on).

FREE driftwood. I see some potential in there.

After all… many of the smaller pieces left behind as useless (or from campfires) could be arranged nicely to, you know, take on a not-so-surprising wreath shape.

Round layout. Good? Good.

I kind of liked the idea of doing a square wreath. Nice thought, bad in trial. I’m a square-wreath lover at heart, just not in a driftwood-y execution.

Square layout. Good? No.

Not with my supply, at least. Not even this way, which is a little bit o’ circle, a little bit o’ square.

Square layout number 2. Good? Still no.

I had a few different ideas of how to assemble the circle of different sized sticks.

Plan A (formulated even before I went to find my natural beachy materials) involved drilling through each and stringing a wire to connect them. Luckily I realized that would going to be a challenge, and probably sloppy too. Plus, I was looking for a finished wreath that looked more lush and layered than a singular strand of driftwood.

Plan B that crossed my mind was buying an embroidery hoop, and gluing the wood pieces to that. Good, you know, because it’s perfectly round. Bad though, because there’s not a whole lot of surface to actually glue to. Potential for driftwood floppiness.

The easiest (and free!) plan C was to create my own hoop using a piece of scrap MDF that was leftover from when I assembled the built-in shelves. Pete’s idea, actually. After all, the piece I found (covered in dog fur and possibly basement mold) was a good size for the front door. I used a round dining plate to mark off where I would need to cut (using the jigsaw, awesome).

Free MDF with an already-owned handy template (dinner plate, yo).

Again, awesome in idea, poor in reality. Maybe a factor of the jigsaw blade that I was using, or maybe because MDF is harder to cut through than diamonds, but it took me about 10 minutes to carve out half of the circle. I knew I needed to find something more usable before I had a right-arm-only popeye bicep from forcing the saw through the material. Plan C was axed but quickly replaced by Plan D, to use a piece of thin plywood that I found hidden in the basement.

Out with the MDF, in with the thin plywood. Same ol' dinner plate template!

The plywood thankfully cut like butter compared to the MDF, although maybe my new bicep is owed that credit. In any case, from the minute I found the plywood in the basement to when I snapped this next photo of the finished ring, only about 2.5 minutes had passed.

Wreath base, check. Any imperfections or non-symetrical cuts were going to be covered by branches anyways.

The driftwood was slowly attached to the totally-free-and-DIY’ed and sanded down wreath ring with plain ol’ hot glue.

Driftwood wreath, underway!

Once it was all secured and dried, I did flip it over and reinforce those little pieces of driftwood further with hot glue along the back. Couldn’t hurt, right? So now, I think it should really withstand any door shutting and whatever wind-blowing it encounters.

I added some reinforcing squirts of hot glue to the underside of the frame to try and latch the pieces of wood on as much as I could.

I’m especially happy with how the layered pieces present in person; much nicer than a single ring of driftwood would have worked out. Plus, the added layers disguise the wooden ring completely.

Oh, woot. I love this driftwood wreath. FREE driftwood wreath, I should say.

When it came to hanging it on the door, I made another one of those simple wire hooks (like I did once before with the old wreath), so it lays comfortably and securely against the door.

Large custom DIY hook made from a piece of wire.

The concern had been (briefly) that if I tried to hang the wreath directly on the wooden ring, pieces of wood would rest unnaturally against the door and possibly pop the hot glue out of place. Never know, that was just my gut instinct, so a less forced and tight hook helps to hold the weight of the wreath in it’s final home.

Finished, and hung effortlessly on the door.

If you don’t have access to driftwood, I think this would look fantastic with natural tree branches chopped to length. I think I’ve probably seen something like that on Pinterest before, so search around if you want.

Finished, and hung effortlessly on the door.

If you figure out how to make a nice square wreath, I want to see it!

Shippy, Cabin-y Bedroom

September 06, 2011   //  Posted in: Bedrooms, Decor, DIY   //  By: Emily   //  24 responses

The shiplap whipped me into ship-shape and shipped the bedroom off to have a whole new look and feel.

Shippy! Not really in a boat-y or cruise ship sense… my bedroom was transformed to be more cabin-y than anything else. And it’s still a work-in-progress, but I’ve definitely made serious headway in the last week.

Shiplap wall progress!

The shiplap paneling that I bought (and showed you a bit of last week while it was still loaded in the car) was awfully (or pleasantly) knotty (depending how much you like pine and lots o’ knots). Its appearance wasn’t about to deter me; the indivdual boards of paneling were unimaginably straight compared to any other lumber I’ve ever sourced and dug through at Lowe’s, and in my book, straight, non-bowed, non-warped, un-damaged boards are a win-win-win-(win?). Plus, the plan all along was to paint the finished wall to match the other three walls, only standing out as a paneled accent but still blending in to the overall cozy feel of the room, so knottiness wasn’t necessarily an issue as long as the cuts were smooth.

The project was easier than I expected, and that says a lot since I thought that installing a paneled wall would be cake compared to building a deck, or porch railings, or pergolas.

Because the boards were going to span the length of one wall (the “headboard” wall of my master bedroom), I wanted it to look finished, and part of that was making sure that the left and right edges of the wall looked completed. The walls themselves are lath and plaster, and it’s uneven in places just due to the original construction and whatever natural sinking of the house has taken place, so trimming a 1″x2″ furring strip to wall-height and affixing it to either side of the wall and nail gunning it into place acted a bit like the picture frame edges that we needed to give it a finished-off look.

Of course, there were some unexpected-but-sort-of-expected snafus along the way. The first of which being that the upper crown moulding needed to come down from the wall-in-progress. Not that it was especially difficult with the help of a utility knife to score the layers (and layers, and layers of paint), but it wasn’t something I thought would need to happen upfront. I was successful at preserving that original trim, and was cautious to take my time and not break the board by getting all rushy.

Removed the crown moulding in the bedroom to prepare for installing the shiplap paneling.

I left the baseboard and window trim in place as-is because all of it was considerably thicker than the shiplap was, meaning the new boards could rest on it and not make it look too funny or out of place. At least I think so. It’s as subject-to-construction-debate as anything else I’ve taken on.

The second snafu is that someday we’re going to have to replace the ceiling. The stippled ceiling had seen it’s day, and the cloth that held the material to the ceiling is beginning to bow downward, detatching from whatever is up there. Talk about a nightmare. As long as we get to it before it gets to us (meaning: falls on us during the night), it’ll be good.

I removed the crown moulding to find that the cheesecloth-like-material in the stippled ceiling was beginning to fray and sag.

Following basic instructions for installing shiplap paneling, I started from the bottom, working my way up gradually. I lucked out in a lot of ways, namely in how 2 boards fit exactly between the baseboard and the bottom of the window with only the need to trim out the 1/2″ rabbet (shown by the arrows). The end result actually makes it look more like the window was installed after the shiplap.

We cut out the 1/2" rabbeted edge of one board in order for it to fit under the windowsill seamlessly.

I was also especially happy to find that we could use one single board, cut in two, to fit around the window. My original measurements told me that that we would need 8′-1″ of lumber to make that happen, and since Lowe’s didn’t have boards longer than 8′ even, we figured we were screwed into using extra boards (hence why I bought 22 8′ pieces of lumber). I should note: there was a different kind of shiplap available in longer lengths at Lowe’s, but it assembles more like a tongue and groove product, not like clapboard.

There are two possible explanations for this surprise:

1. The boards are an inch longer than marked for expected uneveness during millwork? I’ve encountered this before on other lumber I’ve purchased; sometimes my 12′ boards really measure 12’2″ or 1 board out of 5 measures longer than the others, randomly.

2. Or maybe I mis-measured. Virtually impossible, I know. And yes, I had already taken the furring strip width into account.

Fitting boards around the window sill, working up from the bottom.

The trick for installing shiplap is to nail through the bottom part of the board, but not through the lower rabbet.

This really allows for access to the nails for easier board removal if ever it’s rotting or damaged in an outside application. Not likely in the bedroom, but we still wanted to install the boards correctly. We attached each board with 1-5/8″ nails using Pete’s Bostitch nail gun and pancake compressor, with each nail going in about 1-2″ up from the bottom of the board where the gun is positioned in the next photo. The overlapping board that sits on top of the the one below it locks the loosened top part of the board into place.

Nailing in the shiplap board by board, attaching methodically about 1-2" from the bottom of each panel.

The best tip I received prior to starting this project was from Robbie (owner of that fabulous beach house I exposed last week, and creator of its dreamy shiplap bathroom).

She revealed that to make the consistent gaps between her bathroom panels, they used nickels as spacers between each board. If not for the spacers, the boards would rest flush together eliminating most (if not all) of the line break in the panels.

Instead of using nickels, I decided to go just a smidgen wider and use quarters. Sets of two quarters hot glued together, to be exact, which held up well for getting the job done but came apart without trouble (since, as you can imagine, I wasn’t about to spend an extra $1.50 on this project after dropping $150.00 into lumber). I think a wider gap will allow for more shadow in the paneling detail, accentuating the wall when it’s painted a dark color.

Glued together quarters serve as spacers in the paneling.

It worked really well, helping to create the consistent spacing from top to bottom.

Quarter pairs act as spacers as we install each board.Once the boards were installed, I was unexpectedly pleased with the natural wood appearance. And super excited because I was able to return 8 of the original 22 boards to Lowe’s for a savings of $60. That means the whole job was under <$100, not including tools and nails that we already owned.

Totally transformational.

Shiplap wall: Progress.Shiplap wall: Progress.Shiplap wall: Progress.

We’re so pleased with the wooden accents, in fact, that we’ve been considering staining the wall instead of painting it after all.

What do you think? I’m off to pick up a few samples of stain at Home Depot today. Will let you know how it goes!