Finishing up Floor Removal (Particle Board, Tile, and Concrete, Oh My!)

There’s nothing like a delivery of boxes upon boxes of fresh, beautiful wood flooring to kick you into high gear for removing all the rest of the ugly old flooring in your house.

boxes of hardwood flooring

Yep, 59 boxes of flooring ready to be installed.  So while I was busy finishing up our planked ceiling in the kitchen, M was all over tearing out more of our floors.  We had two main areas left on our ugly-floor list:  1) the tile in front of our french doors; and 2) the shiny faux wood floors atop particle board in our breakfast nook.

old tile flooring

white table banquette breakfast nook

While we’ve removed hundreds of square feet of carpet, linoleum, and lots of other floors in this house, for some reason these last two areas were the worst.  First up, the tile.  The tile was laid on top of concrete backerboard, which had been glued down and screwed into the plywood underneath.  We tried a bunch of different removal methods (using the royal “we” here) and the winner was renting a jackhammer to get off the tile before unscrewing the backerboard.  Over 350 screws later, the backerboard was ready to come out.

torn up tile

Luckily, the glue they used to adhere the backerboard was all dried out and had minimal sticking power, so a little jackhammering got the rest of that job done.  Note to all DIYers, don’t use glue to stick backerboard to plywood – use thinset.  Although thanks to this shoddy workmanship, removal was easier.   Now we’re left with plywood covered in some remaining glue, which we are in the process of patching to prep for new floor installation.

plywood floor patch

As for the breakfast nook area, this thing was a beast.  Particleboard is thy enemy!  Am I even using the word “thy” right?  Questionable.  First we had to tear off the sticky, shiny, gross wood-floor-lookalike product, to expose the particleboard.  Again, a million screws awaited us.  Efforts to remove the screws or to pry up the particleboard just resulted in a sawdust mess.  This stuff disintegrated without coming out – it was the weirdest thing.  So we ended up using a circular saw and a crowbar, along with a dremel for the edges.  Oh wait, and then a chisel to get up some random sections of particleboard that had fused with the floor underneath.

removing particleboard

particle board torn up

Now we’re down to bare plywood (again with a few spots to fix).  While plywood may not be exciting for most people, just getting rid of the last of the old ugly floors in our house is a dream.  A dream I tell you.

uncovered plywood floors

Let’s get real.  That old stuff was gross.  And ugly.  And shiny.  And now we are one step closer to our new floors.  Most importantly, all this was accomplished by my jackhammer-wielding husband – my main job was to stare and glare at the floors while he worked on removing them.

We are hoping to finish up patching and prepping so we can start on the new floor installation next.  I mean, come on, we’ve got cabinets to install!

signature Brit pale heart

DIY: How to Paint a Planked Ceiling for a Perfect Finish

After installing our planked ceiling (here), I finally finished all the filling, caulking, and painting this weekend.

before and after ceiling

My hands hurt from the caulk gun, my legs are bruised from the ladder, I am still finding paint in my hair, but it is all worth it to have the planked ceiling I’ve been wanting for ages.  I loved it as natural wood but that just isn’t the vision for this kitchen.  After being painted, our new kitchen ceiling is all bright and happy and interesting, kind of like how I want to be … on a good day.  Enough about me – here’s how to paint a planked ceiling for a perfect finish.

how to paint a planked ceiling for a perfect finish

Step One:  Fill and Sand

These particular boards require lots of wood fill, and that’s even before addressing all the nail holes.  I wanted a less rustic ceiling, so spent a ton of time filling every single knot, gouge, and imperfection.  And nail hole.  I used a spackle knife and a large container of wood fill (and afterwards I totally used this great tip from Sarah to keep my wood fill lasting longer).  Here’s how the ceiling looked after the wood fill but before sanding – all the darker spots are the wood filler, pre-sanding

wood fill planked ceiling

To speed up the sanding process, I used my orbital sander and went over the entire ceiling, paying particular attention to smoothing out all my wood fill.

Step Two:  Prime

Knots can bleed through white paint, so to avoid that, I used Zinsser’s shellac-base primer over the entire ceiling.

Bin shellac primer

This stuff was a lot thinner than I expected, so I rolled it on lightly.  Even then, I had a few watery drips drop on the floor.  Luckily, our floors in the kitchen haven’t changed much from this.  Here’s how it looked after one coat of primer.

first coat primer ceiling bin shellac

Step Three:  Repeat

After priming, you will see spots you missed when filling and sanding.  Or in my case, an entire row of spots you missed (it must have been late…).

missed sanding spots

You will be pretty discouraged at this point.  Swear words come to mind.  Loudly.  But it gets better!  So put on your big girl pants and launch into another round of filling, sanding, and priming.

ryobi orbital sander

re-sanding ceiling

re-sanded ceiling close-up

first coat of paint planked ceiling

The process goes so much faster the second time around and really helps improve the whole ceiling.  Before the next step, take a final look around for any knots that still show through the primer, like this.

knot bleedthrough

Give those a third coat of touch up primer so there is no chance of bleed-through.

Step Four:  Paint

I tried a new paint for this and went with Sherwin Williams Cashmere in Extra White in low lustre (which is in between satin and semi-gloss, so probably similar to eggshell).  It is supposed to go on really smoothly and have a nice silky finish.  I thought it was fine, but nothing exceptional.  I applied it by brushing the grooves and then rolling over the entire ceiling.  Make sure you only paint a couple of grooves at a time before rolling over the area so that the finish stays smooth and uniform.

white planked ceiling

Step Five:  Caulk

I waited to caulk until after painting because paint fills so many of the cracks.  More paint fill = less caulking, which is a win in my book.   But some gaps need more than paint.

gaps in wood planks

If your hands are wimpy like mine, and if you are cool with gaps, feel free to skip the caulk.  I prefer that look for things like my white painted floors, but for this particular ceiling I wanted a more finished look.  So caulk and hand pain it was.  No tricks to this, just use paintable caulk and keep the caulk opening small so that you don’t overly fill the grooves.

Step Six:  Final Coat of Paint

Finish off the ceiling with a final coat of paint (with the same brush-then-roll technique) and that’s it.  Done.

perfectly painted planked ceiling

close up white painted planked ceiling

Here you can really tell the level of sheen, when the sun was shining directly on the ceiling – pretty sweet.

ceiling sheen

I finished on Sunday afternoon and then celebrated with a late outdoor lunch and then fun with the kiddos in the backyard.

backyard celebration

This planked ceiling is the first thing we’ve completed in our kitchen (other than demo) and it feels sooooooo good!  I love the look of progress.

signature Brit pale heart

Linked:  Home Stories A to Z; DIY Showoff.

DIY: How to Install a Wood Planked Ceiling

The wood planks are up on the ceiling – yay!  So now I’m finally sharing how to install a wood planked ceiling all on your own.  Yes, I’m talking a one-person planked ceiling install – the stuff young girls’ DIY dreams are made of (sprinkled with only a few splinters and pulled muscles along the way).

DIY how to install a wood planked ceiling

I will be painting my planked ceiling bright white (much to wood purists’ dismay) but will share my filling, priming, and painting tips later.  Let’s get to the install.

There are a few good tutorials out there already for installing wood planked ceilings, or tongue and groove ceilings, like this one from Jenna Sue Design and this one from Sawdust Girl.  But our kitchen had a few constraints which meant I needed to use different materials and a different approach.

First, I needed lightweight boards.  I was installing on top of our plaster ceiling so didn’t want to add a lot more weight to the already heavy lath and plaster.  I also planned to (and did) install this by myself so needed to be able to  hoist 8′ boards into the air with one hand while nailing them with another.  Second, I didn’t want to take too much height out of the room.  Our ceilings are a little over 8 feet but we need all that height for our new cabinets and trim.  Third, I wanted narrow-ish tongue and groove boards – well, somewhere in between the width of beadboard (sans bead) and 6″ standard tongue and groove boards.  Ultimately, I chose these pine boards from Lowes which are a little over 3″ wide, 5/16″ thick, and 8′ long.  And they are super lightweight so I could easily lift them.

So once you’ve picked your boards, here’s how to install the wood planked ceiling.

Step One:  Prep

Measure your space and buy way more boards than you need.  The boards I chose tend to have quite a bit of damage, so you want to avoid using the damaged sections and still have enough to cover your ceiling.

Once you pick these up, let them acclimate in your house (preferably the room where they will be installed) for at least a few days – a week is even better.  This will help avoid expansion and shrinkage after install.

tongue and groove planks acclimating

Step Two:  Cut

I used a miter saw to do all my cuts.  I did my cuts on a 45 degree angle, to create scarf joints.  This is just a fancy way of saying that I angled the cut on the face of the boards so that when putting them together, they overlap, which hides seams better than butting the two boards together.

miter saw scarf joint cut

scarf joint

Step Three:  Install

Before the install, plan it out in your head.  If you have wood floors, consider installing the planks the same direction as the floors.  You should also consider the way the joists run – it is best to install perpendicular to the ceilings joists.  And when you install, install with the tongue facing the open room – it’s easier that way.

installing planked ceiling

Install your first board leaving a 1/2″ or so gap from the edge of the wall.  Keep the 1/2″ gap around the perimeter of the room.  This will allow for expansion of the wood and should avoid problems with buckling.  You can hide the gap with crown molding or a trim piece.

expansion gap

Glue is good, but I skipped the glue and just used my trusty pneumatic nail gun for all the installation.  Let me tell you, this tool is life-changing.  It has carried me through a bunch of tasks in the past few months including our playroom storage and our master closet beadboard.  When nailing for this project, I tried to nail through the tongue, but the wood was so soft it just split.  So I face-nailed my boards into the ceiling joists and in between.  Use 2″ nails to make sure the boards are really secure.

Then work your way across the room row by row.  Make sure you stagger any seams row to row so you draw less attention to them.  Also, I used a tape measure to check my planks every few feet to make sure I was staying straight.

ceiling tongue and groove planks

Step Four:  Lighting

If you are doing this in a kitchen, or another room with recessed or overhead lighting, you’ll need to cut around the lighting.  Saving this step to the end will make your install process go much faster.  Once you are ready to cut your light holes, the best way to do this is with a hole saw bit.  We used a recessed light hole saw bit.  Just make sure you measure – we ended up having to buy a second hole saw when our first one was just a little too small, and these suckers aren’t cheap.  When in doubt, go up a size, the trim kit should cover it.

recessed hole saw

Step Five:  Be Realistic

This project took quite a bit longer than expected – although it probably didn’t help that I did a lot of it late on work nights.  But once you get into the groove (#sopunny), it picks up speed and goes pretty well.  A few tips to get you into the groove faster (I just can’t stop):

  • Cut a bunch boards at once and then install all of them.  This gives you flexibility for staggering seams, less running down the stairs and to the saw, etc.
  • When you install, some of the boards may be curved or seem tough to connect, but just use your muscles and it will be fine.  If you need more power, use a scrap piece and hammer into the scrap to push the groove of the board onto the tongue.
  • If a board is causing you too much trouble, just switch it out instead of trying to force it.  Alternately, just break off the tongue (which is usually the problem) and then fit the boards together.
  • Your boards won’t fit together seamlessly – just know that going in.  That’s what caulk is for.  Or if you are going natural wood, you will never even notice.

diy install planked ceiling close-up

You could easily finish this wood ceiling with a sealer, or a stain and sealer, or go with paint.  I’m going with white paint to keep with the light and bright vibe for our new kitchen.  I showed a peek on IG of how I started my priming process and I hope to finish up this weekend so I can share next week…

diy how to install a planked ceiling

Anyone else have good tips for how to install a wood planked ceiling??  I can’t wait to get the ceiling done so we can move onto floors.  And cabinets.  And a life.  :)

signature Brit pale heart


Random Progress

You sure wouldn’t know it from my lack of posts, but things are getting D-O-N-E in this household.  It’s like I always say “less think, more do” but in this instance it’s like “less blog, more do”.  Around here I’m doing the daily marathon of kid stuff (two kiddo birthdays, end of school, and other general fun-ship), hectic work-work, and nighttime multi-tasking with the usual paint roller in one hand and champagne in the other, like this.   So here’s an update of all the random stuff we’ve been working on lately and where we are now, with hints of what’s to come.  And let me tell you, the future is very bright indeed.  Let’s start with the most exciting thing first.


The floors have arrived!  Well, half of them.  The other half ended up like this:

floors on the ground

The ones that made it into the house are pretty, pretty sweet.  Picking out these floors deserves its own post so I’ll spill more soon.  In the meantime, let’s just say I’ve got hundreds of square feet of floor installation in my future.


This isn’t very exciting, but it has taken up the vast majority of our house project time.  We finished hanging all of the drywall and spackling it too.  The kitchen renovation has affected every room on our main floor along with our basement and our boy’s room, all of which required at a minimum filling door-sized holes and at a maximum hanging entire new walls.  We hired some weekend help on this but it still took 4 (or 5?, or a million?) weekends of work to get it all done.  I’ve lost track in a haze of drywall dust.  For a while there, we were living like this:

drywall dust plastic sheeting

But now instead of holes, we have walls.  Real walls.

drywall walls

Boy’s Room

While we have lots of rooms on our “in progress” list, at least one has made it to “finished for now”:  our son’s room.  Remember when we took out the smaller closet in there to add it into our master closet?  Well that left a door-sized hole in his room.  We filled that in as part of the aforementioned wall progress and then also had to add in some new baseboards.  Somehow, this tiny area took way longer than I expected – luckily this kid is a heavy sleeper and I could totally paint the room with the lights on in his sleep.

fixing drywall boy room

finished boy room wall

Kitchen Progress

Things are also happening in the kitchen.  Well, things other than cooking.  I’ve been working on my planked ceiling (which is slooow going) and we’ve even just about decided on our cabinets.  I have high hopes we’ll be done in time for Christmas.  Until then, here’s a sneak peek of our ceiling to tide you over:

planked ceiling


With all the drywall work, we’ve got a ton of priming and painting going on all over the main level of our house. I’m priming the drywall with Kilz PVA drywall primer and painting the ceilings (Behr flat ceiling white).  I haven’t committed to wall paint yet for our living/dining/kitchen area, but when I have a sec to hit up the paint store, I’m all over getting samples and sharing them.  I’m thinking white.  Or close to white.  Bring on the sunglasses when you come into our new house.  Or maybe a light gray so sunglasses aren’t necessary.  But in the meantime, thousands of photos of primed walls is not sexy enough for this blog, so you’ll just have to live on this one:

primed walls

So smooth.  So wall-a-licious.

Okay, enough of that smorgasbord.  I am excited to share more on each project soon!  And I’m really excited to get all the drywall dust out of my hair…

signature Brit pale heart


Deck Time

We have had such unusually lovely weather these past few weeks here in Seattle that getting our deck prepped for summer shot to the top of our to do list.  So on Saturday we pressure-washed, set up out furniture that had been under cover, and went all in for a bright and happy deck with the addition of a couple of new outdoor rugs.

top view deck CB2 outdoor rug

outdoor wicker sectional

turquoise and orange deck

So happy!  While I tend to like a little more of a neutral color-scheme in our house (well, except our playroom and our current boy and girl rooms), I really like our deck to scream:  SUMMER!  I feel like teal and orange, with some chartreuse and yellow, just can’t be beat for making our deck a bright and cheerful place.  But before this weekend, things weren’t so cheerful.  Here’s what things were looking like when we got started.

deck before

Womp, womp.  Our first order of business was pressure-washing the deck.  Can you see all that speckled grime on the floor?  Ew.

deck mildew

Sure, I could have scrubbed it, but pressure washing is so much better and easier (says the person who watched her spouse wield the pressure-washer).  Our deck is part-fiberglass and part-Trex, so the only maintenance we have to do is pressure washing once a year.  And then we can run outside in bare feet all summer long – no splinters!  After cleaning the deck, we set up our sectional and other furniture in the “living room” portion of the deck.

bright and happy outdoor deck

outdoor wicker sectional

We used pretty much the same stuff as last year in that area, but wanted to brighten up our dining area so it would be just as happy.  So we purchased an outdoor rug from CB2 to go under our dining table.

cb2 outdoor rug on deck

cb2 outdoor rug

Yes, it is a little small, but it is more for some added color than anything.  I love that it is bright white, instead of that dingy cream/beige some companies try to pass off as white.  It is plastic-y, but I think it will be much easier to clean up than our old rug.  And did I mention it is bright?!

trex and cb2 outdoor rug

We also added another CB2 rug to go in front of our french doors leading out to the deck.  This one is more subtle but still nice and cheerful.

cb2 outdoor gray white runner

cb2 outdoor runner

In the summer, we spend way more time outside than inside so having our deck prepped and ready is great.  And it was a welcome break from all our inside jobs (well, I got a few things done inside too … hope to share that soon).  Now I just can’t wait for it to get a little warmer so we can sit outside at night under our string lights.

deck with string lights

Anyone else get all ready for summer with some pressure washing and deck prep?  Or maybe just use outside cleaning as an excuse to get away from indoor chores?  Oh yeah, that is so me.


  • posts for string lights – diy here
  • dining table, benches, chairs – Ikea
  • colorful rug – CB2 (oops, looks like it’s no longer available)
  • gray and white rug – CB2
  • white tablecloth – World Market
  • orange dots on table – Land of Nod
  • outdoor pillows – World Market
  • wicker furniture – Costco, similar here

signature Brit pale heart