Carport + Patio


We’re back on the carport ceiling bandwagon. When we left off last time, we were waiting for the boards to be delivered. After the torrential downpours all across the Commonwealth of Virginia stopped, they were finally delivered. All sixty four of them…

Delivered Boards /

Trust me when I say it looked like a lot more wood in person. We actually started to think that maybe we ordered too many boards, but after we did the math again in our heads three times – okay, Greg did the math because I’m not a math person – we realized we were good to go with a few extras which we intentionally ordered just in case.

The second step of the ceiling makeover process was to prep the boards for hanging. There are probably about a hundred ways to apply stain to wood and each method has a different result. We decided to test a few methods on a spare board to make sure we were going to get the exact look we were going for.

Minwax Special Walnut Stain /

First, we applied the stain to the board (using a cheap 3″ straight brush) and let it soak in. Since the wood was raw, it took less than a minute to soak right in and be pretty much dry to the touch. Then, we applied another swatch of stain and wiped it down immediately. Finally, we sanded the next portion of the board with a vibrating sander until it was really smooth then applied another swatch of stain. The unwiped portion was a little darker than what we envisioned, and the heavily sanded portion showed the saw marks a little more than we wanted. That being the case, we decided to go with the stain/wipe method.

Carport Ceiling Makeover /

The stain of choice was Special Walnut by Minwax (our favorite stain color). We picked up a roll of these disposable shop towels from Lowe’s. They ended up being the perfect thing to wipe the stain off the boards. We only used 1 towel per board, so we ended up using just over one roll of towels. For less than $3 a roll, that isn’t bad at all.

Minwax Special Walnut Stain /

Before we got started, Greg ran back to Lowe’s and picked up a cheap set of saw horses for about $25. Worth. Every. Penny. Plus some. Seriously, I don’t know why we haven’t owned a pair of these before now. And, honestly, I don’t think we could have done this project without them.

Before staining, weΒ lightlyΒ sanded the rough edges with 80 grit sandpaper. This removed the excess “fuzzy wood residue” and gave us a good surface for staining. Like with our chosen stain method, we applied the stain to the board and wiped it off immediately.

Carport Makeover /

Sixty-four boards later, we were done. It took about three days working on them to get all of them finished, but they looked good and we were happy.

Switching Gears /

Now, I’m going to switch gears a bit… We’ve been so incredibly busy the past few weeks – especially Greg who’s been in “crunch mode” for two big projects at his 9 to 5. He’s been working nights, weekends and everything in between. I don’t know about you ladies, but there’s no way I could hang heavy planks on a 12′ ceiling without the mister’s help. That being the case, the sanded and stained planks hung out in the carport for almost three weeks. Once we realized our schedules were only going to get more and more hectic over the next few weeks, we decided it was time to call in a pro to finish the job. Simply put, there just aren’t enough hours in the day. I know, I know. Before you go all, “But you’re a DIY blog!” on us, we’ve actually never called ourselves a DIY blog. Like the About page says, around here, we’re more the “Semi-DIY” type. Sometimes, you just have to call in a helping hand.

Some new houses are being built in our neighborhood, and there’s a constant flow of contractors going in and out pretty much all the time. My dad, who’s one of those guys who never meets a stranger, ended up striking up a conversation with one of the subcontractors about what we were doing in the carport. The subcontractor ended up coming over to the house (which is less than a block from the new construction site) to look at what we had going on. While he was here, he suggested that we take down the drywall on the ceiling and attach the boards directly on the support beams. This would ultimately make the boards more secure, and would decrease the weight hanging on the ceiling beams. Perfect sense. Why didn’t we think of that? Three words: He’s a pro. To put a barrier between the boards and the attic, he suggested using a sheet of Tyvek, which would protect the space from unwanted critters and moisture. Again, perfect sense.

Time to Hire a Pro /

The subcontractor quoted us $375 for taking down the old ceiling, attaching the Tyvek, trimming all the boards and attaching them to the ceiling. If you think about it, it was going to take us (plus some help from one of our friends) about two days to do what they did in one day. We also would have had to rent a nail gun and a chop saw, and we’d have to buy all of the necessary supplies on top of that (staples, nails, etc). All of that would have come to at least $200, so the $375 price tag for having it done professionally wasn’t bad at all and totally worth it.

The foreman of the new house site in the neighborhood (who works for a really well-known construction company in the Richmond area) told us the subcontractor we were talking to does really good work and would “treat us right”. We took that as a good recommendation and said, “Yes, please!” The next day, the subcontractor was at our house getting to work.

Carport Ceiling Makeover /

Within minutes of them being here, the drywall was down. The crew of three were working so fast, Greg barely managed to grab this quick cell phone photo. As it turned out, the beams ended up going in the opposite direction we originally thought. It was no biggie though, all that meant was that the planks would be hung left to right, rather than front to back – which is how I initially pictured it in my head. So, all was well.

Carport Ceiling Makeover /

While the contractors were cleaning up the drywall that fell on the ground, Greg took down the existing light boxes and installed a single pancake box for the new fixture in the middle of the carport. He also installed a single gang electrical box for the patio lights we’re going to hang around the perimeter of the ceiling. Greg will talk more about that process in another post once the light fixture comes in.

Carport Ceiling Makeover /

Before we knew it, the Tyvek was already up. Seriously. So. Stinking. Fast. They attached it directly to the beams with fancy staple guns (a hammer-looking thing with a stapler on the end of it) and made sure to tightly seal all the edges.

For the next four hours, Greg wouldn’t let me look out the window to see the planks being hung because he said I needed to be surprised when it was all finished. He kept checking on the progress through the window (at least once every 30 minutes) and would come back and say something along the lines of, “Aw, man, it’s really looking awesome!” Yeah, I was dying. The wait was worth it because, around 7:30 that night, we had a fully planked ceiling…

Planked Patio Ceiling /

Such a big difference! In the back of our heads, we were a little worried having a dark ceiling would make the space seem smaller, but it actually did the exact opposite. The whole carport covered patio area now seems so much larger. It’s like a totally different “room”. There are some white smudges near the light fixture box in the middle, but that’s just drywall dust that will easily be removed with a broom.

Planked Patio Ceiling /

We’re really pleased with the rustic look of the planks, and we’re really glad we decided to go with the Special Walnut stain rather than something darker or lighter. It really helps bring out the black bricks in the house and pulls everything together.

Planked Patio Ceiling /

We originally planned on adding trim to the entire perimeter of the area to give it a finished look and cover any gaps between the boards and the brick. Now that it’s done, though, we’re wondering if it really needs the trim. There aren’t any gaps and the wood fits really tightly along the brick.

Planked Patio Ceiling /

As soon as we figure out whether or not to add a trim piece, we’re moving right on to painting the floor. After that, we’ll be quickly moving on decorating and finishing touches. SO ready for that part! Speaking of finishing touches, here’s kind of what we have in mind for the console table area…

Covered Patio Area / 7th House on the Left

If you squint your eyes, you can kind of get an idea of what it’s going to look like, haha. First, we’ll hang patio lights from the ceiling. (They’ll be attached directly to the ceiling, not like they are in this sketch.) On the console table, we’ll have plants (that I hopefully won’t kill) and a few lanterns (I picked up two of these from Target a few weeks ago). Over the table, we have some huge wall art that we can’t wait to hang – it’s probably the thing I’m most excited about now that the ceiling is done. I’m not ready to show it to you guys just yet because we have some “alterations” to do, but I will tell you that it’s 96″wide. Ninety six! Over on the left, between the two doors, I want to hang something fun and vintage-looking. We haven’t officially decided on anything yet, but we have our eye on this. A planter by each door, and this area of the covered patio will be good to go.

We’re really excited to get this project done. We’ll be one step closer to having a fun, cozy and fun outdoor living area!

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  • Reply
    Rhonda K
    July 16, 2013 at 10:14 am

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your choice in stain and the ceiling in general. The first thing I thought when I saw this was “WOW, how modern this room looks. Just absolutely beautiful. Good job!

  • Reply
    July 16, 2013 at 10:35 am

    It looks amazing!!! I love all the choices you’ve made so far–planks, stain etc. it is going to look great when you’re finished. And I don’t think it is a big deal at all to hire contractors. You don’t have to explain yourselves as far as I’m concerned. It’s your blog and your house and you can do it how you want (and in this case need) to.

  • Reply
    Darnetha @ ChippaSunshine
    July 16, 2013 at 10:50 am

    The ceiling looks amazing! Love!

  • Reply
    July 16, 2013 at 11:11 am

    Good for you! It looks terrific and you made the right choice by delegating the work. If I could only agree to get someone to mow our lawn *just one time* not all summer while we are in the midst of a home improvement project…sigh. The birds can’t see over the grass anymore.

  • Reply
    Kristin Q
    July 16, 2013 at 11:15 am

    The ceiling looks amazing! I wish I had a carport just so I could do something like that to it!

  • Reply
    Stephanie @
    July 16, 2013 at 11:40 am

    Love it! And who cares if you hired someone? Not me! LOL

    • Reply
      July 16, 2013 at 12:31 pm

      Haha! Thank you! : )

  • Reply
    July 16, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    WOW! This looks gorgeous. And what a great price to get all that work done – definitely worth it. Sometimes it just makes sense to pay someone else to do the heavy lifting. Can’t wait to see this space come together!

  • Reply
    July 16, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    My husband and I we are full believers in hiring out work! Before I was married, I was totally into the weekend remodelling project. As newlyweds, we loved to tackle home improvement jobs! But these days, with a toddler and both of us commuting to 50hr/wk tech jobs, it’s just not an option for us.

    I know DIY is often a cost-saving strategy for most people, but for us it’s a luxury. I would LOVE to have the time to learn the best way to remodel our bathroom (because, man, does it need it!). And dealing with contractors isn’t always a walk in the park–especially if you’re detail-oriented and like things done juuuuust so. For now, we’re saving up for a pro because we simply don’t have the time.

    • Reply
      July 16, 2013 at 12:30 pm

      We totally know what you mean. We (again) took the “semi-DIY” approach with our hall bathroom reno. The key for us was to take our time between stages (layout, tiling, vanity, etc) to make sure all of the details were right and the way we envisioned before bringing in the next pro. But then again, we don’t have a toddler, haha!

  • Reply
    July 16, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    Amazing!!! We have a wine console we stained in Special Walnut. Love it! I wonder if the color would convince the hubs to do this to our covered porch?! So glad to see the reveal, I’ve been waiting for it! πŸ˜‰

  • Reply
    July 16, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    looks great!!

  • Reply
    Megan @ Rappsody in Rooms
    July 16, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    Wow! That looks amazing! Definitely love it. I also love that you hired it out. With real life, rain, and day jobs getting in the way, it’s nice to know that all bloggers aren’t super heroes (doesn’t it feel that way sometimes?) and are just wonderfully talented, normal people. Can’t wait to see more!

  • Reply
    July 16, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Beautiful! Makes me want to clean up my patio. lol

  • Reply
    Michelle @ birdsofberwick
    July 16, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    This looks great and I’m so happy for you that it’s done! I also appreciate that you hired out. The hubs and I also have 9-5’s (more like 7-7, sometimes) and definitely can’t get as much done around the house ourselves as we would like. But, you gots to pay the bills, right? And in the meantime tackle the projects you can tackle yourselves when you can. You should still feel great about all the work you put into staining all those boards so beautifully, and the money you saved if you hadn’t gotten to do that step yourself too!
    Seriously, it looks fantastic! Can’t wait to see the rest!

    • Reply
      July 16, 2013 at 2:29 pm

      Thank you, Michelle! : )

  • Reply
    John @ Az DIY Guy
    July 16, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    Looks great! There’s absolutely no harm in bringing in the pros, especially if they do good work. You still get full credit for the vision. Plus, its done so quick.

  • Reply
    hena tayeb
    July 16, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    Looks great.. sometimes hiring someones is the smarter solution

  • Reply
    July 16, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    That. Looks. FABULOUS!

  • Reply
    July 16, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    It looks great already! Can’t wait to see the floors painted. I agree, the color stain looks really nice with the black brick, good choice!

  • Reply
    caroline [the diy nurse]
    July 16, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    It looks so fantastic! Sometimes… especially when you’re a workin couple, you just have to hire out. Also, there are things that aren’t fun. No guilt, okay?! Can’t wait to see more

  • Reply
    July 17, 2013 at 2:58 am

    It looks SO. STINKING. GOOD! I feel you on hiring some things out. In fact…we should have some electricians at our house in the next couple of days! (Trying to preserve jim’s sanity after a crazy summer. πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    July 17, 2013 at 7:49 am

    INCREDIBLE! Looks fabulous!

  • Reply
    July 17, 2013 at 11:32 am

    Your new covered patio looks amazing. You got an awesome deal by having it done by a contractor. Down here in Texas we would have paid twice that much (or more) for the labor. Y’all were really smart to do what you did. Now you can start working on all the fun stuff. Can’t wait to see your end results.

  • Reply
    July 17, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    Love it! Sometimes it’s worth calling in the pros. We are going to do that exact thing for our front sidewalks. We could do it ourselves but between the time, money, and other projects going on, we decided to call in the pros. I can’t wait for them to start!

  • Reply
    Jackie B
    July 17, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    When I saw “carport” in the post title, I got excited. Being a Minnesota girl, those are rare! πŸ™‚

    I love the rustic wood ceiling. It sets the foundation for a beautiful outdoor living space. So exciting that a huge step is already complete!

  • Reply
    July 17, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    Love this. We just did the same thing for our back porch, but we are still trying to decide if we will stain it or paint it the traditional light blue that most are done in!

  • Reply
    July 18, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    It looks sooo good, Ashley! Can’t wait to see it all zsuzs’d up!

  • Reply
    Hollie @ I'm Busy Procrastinating
    July 19, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    Looking great! Totally worth it to pay someone at this point … on to the fun stuff!

  • Reply
    July 19, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    I am so excited for you!! I started reading your blog just as you were starting to plan your carport makeover! and it look so fabulous now, it makes me happy! You must be thrilled! Looking foreward to seeing the rest!

  • Reply
    July 22, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    wow! Amazing. Beautiful. I wish I had a carport!

  • Reply
    July 22, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    I’m so happy you all finished the ceiling! I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting. Checking every week to see if it was done. LOL This coming from a girl who doesn’t even DIY her own toenails! It looks great. Special Walnut is our favorite stain color, too. ENJOY!

  • Reply
    John @ Our Home from Scratch
    July 23, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    Looks fantastic. Great job. Perfect stain.

    Honestly, for under $400 even I would’ve paid someone to do it for me and I do EVERYTHING myself.

  • Reply
    July 24, 2013 at 11:55 am

    Absolutely no shame in hiring out. It looks great! I was wondering if you had considered the double-opposite-direction-stair issue in the carport. Maybe create a deck/platform and one set of stairs off of it? You know, go up the stairs and choose which door to access.

    • Reply
      July 24, 2013 at 12:12 pm

      Thanks! We’re probably going to keep it the way it is now because if we decide to stay here a looong time, we think we’d close in the whole area and build a floor level with the house.

  • Reply
    June 17, 2016 at 5:50 pm

    Hi! I realize this is an old post but I have a question about your beautiful carport ceiling. I was all set to stain my patio ceiling and all the soffits this exact special walnut Minwax but was told that this stain is for indoor use only. How has yours held up? I am so bummed because I can’t find the same color in an exterior stain – thanks!

    • Reply
      June 26, 2016 at 9:56 pm

      Since we did this project, it’s faded *maybe* a little bit – but not much. Obviously, it might react differently in different climates.

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