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…
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.
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.
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.
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, we lightly 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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…
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!