25. The ceiling is up and divorce is narrowly averted…

There were only two of us who showed up to work this weekend, and the grunt laborer should have called in sick. The pay isn’t good enough to work through sneezing, coughing, nose running, head aching, sore throat type of days. But this is no union job, as Mr. Homeworks Contracting reminded her several times.

There were four days to get the job finished. It was already a week behind schedule (lumber shortages), so when the truck pulled in with thirty 14 foot pine boards strapped to the roof, everyone was ecstatic.
Fourteen foot boards are long. Very long. Picture the old Three Stooges episode with Curly carrying a board, turning around, and hitting Moe in the head… Each of these thirty 14-foot boards got moved at least nine times during this project. When the laborer complained that we were moving the boards a lot, Mr. Homeworks Contracting got huffy. Mr. HC got huffy at least nine times during this project; the laborer complained — whined even — at least ninety-times-nine times during this project…

So, the laborer thinks, The wood is delivered, let’s get this stuff up and call it a day and have a beautiful new ceiling.

Hah, that’s why the laborer doesn’t get paid the big bucks!

First, Mr. HC goes over the boards with a fine tooth micro-lens to detect knots, holes, and the tiniest indentations. Each spot is circled and wood putty is put on the small problems, bondo for the bigger holes. The repairs have to dry and then be sanded. The entire boards are then sanded with fine grit sandpaper.

Then the boards are moved to a new spot and primed. Then the boards are moved to a new spot and sanded again. Then the boards are moved to a new spot and…wait, am I repeating myself? There are thirty boards. It’s a small house. We covered the front yard,the back porch,

and the living room.

It took three days of prep time before we could even think of putting them up onto the ceiling. Here are boards painted with the first finish coat of Sherwin Williams Steamed Milk semi-gloss latex. Of course, they had to be moved again — outside to the saw — and cut to the correct length.

So far you have only heard the board story; the ceiling story is bad too. Of course, it isn’t level. It’s an old house and the kitchen is not exactly on a foundation — more like attached to the foundation. Shims take a long time to put up. Luckily the laborer was busy painting and whining while the supervisor was quietly putting up shims and trying to not fire the laborer.

Anguish for Mr. HC who has to have everything straight within 1/16 of an inch.

Monday morning dawned early. It was a beautiful sunrise and the work crew was ready.

By this point, all expectations of finishing the job were gone; but here’s the point of this entire post: Prep work takes patience (I think I’ve mentioned before that I might be somewhat lacking in the patience department…) but if it’s done correctly, then the finish work goes quickly! Mr. HC has enough contractor experience to know this; the laborer is still learning.

We worked well as a team on Monday (finally). Of course, the team effort had Mr. HC cutting the boards, as well as air nailing them in place. It was also his bright idea to wax the boards so the tongue would slide easily into the groove. All the laborer did was hold up her 7-foot part of the board and pound it in place. Mr. HC also invented a nifty little gadget to help hold the boards up in the middle. This gizmo went all the way to the floor and had foam attached to the top so it will hold the board in place without scratching the finish.

At 4:30 we were having celebratory glasses of wine while looking at our new ceiling, all complaining, whining, nitpicking, and disagreements behind us.

Just in case you forgot what the old ceiling looked like:



And the fabulous new ceiling:

new wood ceiling

Ceiling boards, $350 from Wayne Lumber


Critics often accuse blogs of painting pictures of life that are too rosy, too upbeat, and too unrealistic. Not this post; this one is warts and all. It wasn’t an easy weekend, and there wasn’t much laughter. So what did we learn?

  1. Expectations ruin everything — and this includes all of life: work, play, marriage, relationships, friendships, sickness, health, future plans, you name it. Get rid of ’em.
  2. Patience is a virtue. Patience is a virtue. Patience is a virtue…
  3. Silence is a virtue too. Don’t whine. Don’t get huffy. Put in earphones.
  4. Call in sick when necessary.
  5. Love each other and forgive. A glass of wine helps; if you don’t drink wine, practice hugs.
  6. Celebrate together. Hurray, we have a new, gorgeous ceiling!

(My husband’s name is Mr. Homeworks Contracting and he approved this message.)

11 thoughts on “25. The ceiling is up and divorce is narrowly averted…

  1. Ha, ha – I have so been there with my Mr Renovate (my husband)!! I have held many ceilings in place over the years. The lesson I have learned from 23 years of renovating together is to always keep the ‘after photo’ burning brightly in my mind. Keep up (no pun intended) the good work!


  2. This is why I can’t understand those foolish folks on TV, who think they can just “Flip A House!” And make an instant profit!!!!!

    They should read your blog first! Great post!


    • I try not to watch HGTV because I could easily become addicted… but I think those flippers just want it to look new — they don’t care about quality, because they won’t be living there. I also try to remember that mostly it’s been really good and really fun to do this; we all have bad weeks :-)


  3. Loved this – reminds me so much of our projects. Hubby the REmissionary is pretty good at this too, and you are SO RIGHT. Patience is a virtue, patience is a virtue, patience is a virtue…..


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