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remove popcorn ceilings

How to Remove Popcorn Ceiling and Make Smooth

What is the best way to go about smoothing a painted popcorn ceiling?  Scraping it is much too hard, so I guess a skim coat is the way to go, but what is the best material to use for the skim coat?Is it also possible to do a skim coat over unpainted popcorn, without scraping it?Thanks, Jeff

Our Answer

Jeff, taking a ceiling from popcorn to a smooth surface is no easy task, no matter how you look at it.  I laid out all the option in this guide to remove popcorn ceilings, but suffice to say even in the best circumstances, the drywall surface left once that popcorn is removed will still be quite rough.

If you truly want a new, smooth ceiling, the best approach is to add a 2nd layer of drywall to the old ceiling.  This may sound like a lot of work, but I think it's less work than removing the ceiling, or trying to smooth over what's left with more plaster.  You can use thinner, 3/8th inch drywall too and to avoid having to spackle the seam between the walls and the ceilings, consider crown moldings.

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foam crown molding

How to Install Crown Molding the Easy Way

I would love to install crown molding in my home to add value.  All the people that I try to hire want a fortune to install it and I can not cut all of the fancy corners!

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Installing crown molding is task that requires significant carpentry experience, as well as a set of specialized tools, capable of make compound miter cuts and more.  For those who want crown molding without that hassle, foam crown moldings are an excellent alternative.

Foam moldings are attractive, lightweight and easy to handle.  Corners, the most difficult part of any crown molding installation, are precut - making installation very, very easy.The foam crown molding installs with painters caulk to most surfaces like drywall, concrete, brick or wood. There are now specialized and expensive tools needed as the molding cuts with a simple hand saw and is attached with a caulk gun. .

To install, just apply a bead of painters caulk on the top and bottom of the molding, press into the wall and ceiling and then wipe off the excess caulk. The molding does not contract or expand like wood moldings, and needs only a single coat of paint, which you can apply even before its installed.

Foam crown molding is also available in a wide variety of styles as shown here.

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painting cabinets

How to Avoid VOC’s when Painting Cabinets

I'm concerned about VOCs, when painting cabinets.  Is it okay to use an oil based primer with a latex paint in order to cut down on the VOCs?  Also, if the cabinets I'm painting have laminate sides, do I need to prime those as well?

Our Answer

Certainly understand and appreciate your concerns about painting cabinets while avoiding VOC's (volatile organic compounds) which can be an ingredient in paint.  However, I don't recommend using a latex top coat.  While latex paint has come a long way, the one area where solvent-based finishes are far superior is durability.  Kitchen cabinets take a lot of wear and tear and latex paint simply doesn't offer the kind of abrasion resistance that an oil-based finish would.

The good news is that most name brand paints has very little VOC's these days compared to years ago.  I suggest you use both an oil based top coat and primer (including on those laminate sides) and take steps to ventilate the room while you are working on it.  Choose a nice day for your project and set up a window fan to exhaust room air to the exterior, and then open a couple of windows inside the house to facilitate the air flow.  When working well, fresh air will flow in the open windows, through the kitchen and out the window with the fan.

Be sure to properly prep the cabinets before painting to make sure the paint sticks!

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