The Great Family Room Remodel - Part I

Finally. It was time to finish the remodel of our horrible family room. We suspect the room was an addition to the house, at least two owners ago, probably in the early 90's. Previous projects had revealed some poor workmanship and stupid install methods. For this room, we've already dressed up the built-in bookshelves, installed French doors, replaced the roof (hired that task out to the pros), and repaired some electrical problems that had cost us all of our entertainment center electronics, one-by-one, over the course of our first year in the home. The ugly, commercial-style drop ceiling is sagging, badly stained, and way too low. I had a week's vacation to tackle this. I figured I'd be done by Friday, sitting on the couch, in the complete room, watching videos. Yeah right.

Look at that horrible ceiling. It's only 7' 5" high. The only reason I can figure it's so low is that the original "remodeler" set an 8' sheet of drywall vertically and fastened the ceiling track down from there a bit. The room is 16' - 2" x 18'- 8" (302 sq. ft.) The TV stand is one of my early woodworking projects. There may be some visible evidence we have an infestation of children in our home.

Ye Ole' Medieval Death Spike
The awful tiles don't even match each other, much less the beige T-track. There is even some nice brittle, yellowed caulk where some creative genius had tried to solve the cupping tiles by gluing them to the track. It is especially impressive that that there are about five different patterns of tile represented in the ceiling.

My number one complaint involves the finial on the ceiling fan. Since I'm 5' 10" this rascal rests roughly 3/8" below the top of my skull.

Some of my most colorful language has been expressed after having forgotten my proximity to this death spike.

Ye Ole' Honda Ridgeline
Easter Sunday. The Armstrong Residential Ceilings ceiling planks came in, surprisingly over a week early; I thought I'd pick them up ASAP in case of damage or error. The lot is 552 lbs, 7 feet long, and served with a complimentary pallet. I really appreciated Lowe's Home Improvement help with the forklift. My trusty Honda Ridgeline handled it like a champ.  It was 90 degrees today. We start full-steam ahead in 2 weeks. I hope the heat holds off.

 Workday 1: One week before official launch. The family room is cleaned out. You can see the original bookshelf finish color in the lower center. The dining room is now the family room and eating area for the next two weeks.

Plastic sheeting is in place to protect the rest of the house. We're trying out some stick on zippers to make a working, roll-up door. <UPDATE> Oh yeah, that duct tape later pulled paint right off the wall. Awsome!  

The Superintendent of Snack Time
The stick-on zippers from Amazon Home Improvement work great. Just paste them on, unzip and cut the plastic with a razor knife. Grace stopped by on one of her many supervisory visits with some snacks and her shoes on the wrong feet. Next week, I will probably make better production without my little boss. Odd that it appears they designed the packaging design sometime in 1971 isn't it?

The tear-out quickly is underway. Most of the tiles were two layers thick, no wonder it was sagging. Some mental giant had even tried to caulk them to the grid. The good news is that there is no sign of mold, despite the previous roof leaks. The roofers had replaced the decking in the worst spots.

I'm taking a chance that I won't wreck something on the bookshelves and leaving them full.  <UPDATE> What the hell was I thinking? More on that later. The tear-out is basically done. There is already a mountain of trash to deal with.

Challenge # 1 discovered: No two ceiling bays are the same width. That's going to make it fun to insulate. 

Note that header on the upper left, that delicious slice of wonderful is  Challenge #2, and it's going to kill my schedule. You can see original roof shingles just above it.

This header for the addition is scabbed on to what I believe to be the original back wall of the house. It's sticking out nearly an inch beyond the face of the wall. Note the edge track for the drop ceiling, just barely below it. This is the reason they set the ceiling so low. I'm going to have to do something about it: box it out?, put two more sheets of 5/8" drywall on the wall and a 1/4" sheet just over the header?, or perhaps fur (furr?) the wall out with 1x 2's and drywall it again. Nuts. Cost & time.

Challenge#2 and flaunting it
Challenge #3 discovered: I knew the floor was out of level; I can feel it. I had hoped the ceiling joists were close enough to level to be able to simply shim the finish planks a bit. Slipping this handy little DEWALT DW087 "Laser Chalk Line" up, I discovered there is nothing remotely level up there. There's nearly 2" of variance between the highest & lowest points in the room, with all points represented in between. That's going to be a good cash hit. I'm going to have to install furring strips everywhere. Hopefully, I can still achieve an 8' ceiling.

I discovered the original roof was nearly dead-flat, with 3 tab shingles. In a heroic attempt to nearly solve what must have been nearly as leak-prone as a painted horizontal window screen, our predecessors put a lot of work into giving it a very slight increase in pitch by adding another layer on top. Why they didn't elevate it a bit more, while they were at it, and avoid flat-roof nonsense altogether, doesn't make sense at all. Ahhh... well, at least we have a new 10 year APP modified roof to get us by. I'll keep up with the maintenance.
  • Will the roof cave in when I pry that header off the wall?
  • Ever seen a grown man cry?
  • How the devil will we level out that crazy roof framing?
  • Will I be done & watching movies by Friday?
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