Dining Room: Faux Tin Install

We have a ceiling!!!! I have been positively pumped for this moment ever since I decided to add faux tin panels to our dining room ceiling!

Why faux tin?  Tin ceilings are fairly period-appropriate for the house but legit tin is super pricey and would need to be nailed up.  Plus, the fake stuff is super easy to cut and manipulate–scissors and glue is all you need.  I also wanted the ceiling to remain white, like someone had painted the tin (which is totally even a thing) and that seemed like a waste of good tin. If you’re feeling super hard core though, check your local salvage places for tin panels. If you’re local, The Mall of St Paul on has some and I would assume Architectural Antiques in Northeast Minneapolis has some too (I got distracted by doorknobs last time I was there…. omg that place is pure heaven).

If you’re going to jazz up a ceiling with faux tin, here’s what you need.

  • Tiles in your pattern of choice (there are loads of options!)
  • Locktite Power Grab (you need an adhesive that holds instantly because gravity)*
  • Caulk gun
  • Scissors and utility knife
  • Chalk line
  • Measuring tape
  • Straight edge
  • Another person

Yup, that’s about it.

We had ordered 160sqft of tile and had 150sqft of ceiling, so we didn’t have a ton of wiggle-room in how the pattern fell.  Thankfully the electrical box for the ceiling light was already nearly perfectly centered.

Then we chalk-lined the center lines on the ceiling….and then adjusted them ever-so-slightly to make sure the pattern was centered on the light.

DR_tin_ceiling_1

We followed the directions that came with the tiles and ran a bead of adhesive around the perimeter, and then in 3 cross-shaped sections in the middle. (White-on-white isn’t so visible in photos, so I traced the glue lines in blue)

DR_tin_ceiling_2

We started in the center, cutting out a semi-circle out of 2 panels to sandwich around the light fixture.  Ideally you should cut the power and take out the fixture,  but we’ll be replacing this one soon, we just don’t have the new one yet.  #poorplanning

If you’re working with 2×4′ panels it’s really a two person job.  Because the panels are very thin, they’re also very bendy so having an extra set of hands to both support the other end and help line up that end is incredibly useful.

Depending on the shape of your room and the placement of any fixtures, you could start in a corner.  I just wanted to get our ceiling fixture centered on the pattern.  You may want to sketch up a quick layout too so you can figure out where the panels will fall.  Because our room was a simple shape and our light fixture was nearly perfectly centered, I was able to just visualize the layout and go.

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From there we added all the panels that wouldn’t need to be trimmed down.  Because the panels are designed to interlock, as long as you get the first one well-placed, the rest should follow suit.

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And then filled everything else in.

 

(sorry for the ucky pictures… we were working on this mainly after work so natural light wasn’t on our side)

These panels are super easy to cut–scissors will work just fine.  If you’re not putting up crown molding (although I would suggest it) you may want to use a utility knife and straight-edge for your cuts.   It did take us several nights of work to get them all up, mainly because the caulk gun started to give me blisters, so we’d max out at around 5 panels per night.

We saved the panel that would go over the radiator pipes for (second to) last because we figured it would be really annoying to get the cutouts just right.  We cut out one of the squares from the pattern so we had a big gap around the pipes.  Then I tested the cuts on some poster board and used that as a template.  Using some of our scrap pieces, I used a straight edge to cut out a single square (I cut just to the outside of the pattern sections that overlap so it would fit into place) and traced my template onto there.  Now it was much easier to manipulate a single square around the pipes.  We wedged it into place and pulled down the edges to add the adhesive (it would have gotten everywhere if we had put the adhesive on first).  Sorry I don’t have more pictures of this… I got sucked into the process and neglected my camera.

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Because the previous tiles were stapled onto 1×2’s we were left with a small gap between the crown molding and the ceiling.  No bueno.

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We could have just moved the existing crown up, but I decided to add on to what was already there.  I found some approximately 1.5″ cove molding at Menards (I can’t find it on their site, otherwise I would link) which was exactly what I was looking for!  Now the crown molding sort of curves into the ceiling.

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Crown molding is an absolute beast to put up by the way.  It’s an exercise in geometry and I’m pretty sure luck plays into it as well.  Uneven, not square walls make it especially beastly.  Basically I’m saying I’m not even remotely qualified to give you a tutorial on installing crown molding because we’re not even entirely sure how we managed it at this point.  There are tons of tutorials out there on youtube though.  Good luck.

And now we have an actually nice looking ceiling!  Pretty amazing right?  I think it’s amazing a least, so please just humor me here….

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The electrical box for the light sticks out a little bit because of the drop in the previous ceiling, but we should be able to find either a canopy or medallion that will hide that.  Our new light fixture has been ordered and is on its way so the end of this makeover is in sight!

 

*You’ll need LOTS.  I originally picked up 3 tubes, then went back for another 12… we ended up using 11 total for our 150sqft ceiling

 

All About That Baseboard*

After fighting with them for a week, the dining room baseboards are now installed and they look FABULOUS!  Trying to mimic Victorian baseboards with trim you can find at an accessible hardware store can be a bit of a pain in the ass, but guess what?  It’s doable!  It’s not exactly cheap (it cost us around $200 for a 150sqft room), but it is still reasonably affordable.

To recap: This is what the rest of the house has that I was trying to at least somewhat match.

diningBase_existing

And I ended up being my neurotic self and choosing a 4 part baseboard option.

diningBase

(This image isn’t exactly too scale since, so the base cap really isn’t that chunky)

If I hadn’t had a specific plinth height to work around at all the doorways, I probably would have gone with a 5 1/4″ baseboard, the chair rail, and quarter round since the look would be very similar, but about an inch or so shorter than what I needed.

diningBase2

I’m pretty sure I saw all the same pieces at Home Depot, Menards, and Lowes (I’m positive of everything except the base cap), but I ended up buying the Chair Rail and Base Cap from Lowes and the 1×6 (select pine) and quarter round from Home Depot, just because I happened to be at Lowes when I had my trim meltdown.

When buying your trim pieces, not only do you need to measure your total length of trim, but you should also calculate how many pieces you’ll need to avoid as may same-wall joints as possible.  Example: our longest wall was 15′, we could only fit 8′ boards into our car so after cutting pieces to fit that wall we’d have 1′ of board that would effectively be dead to us since we don’t have either a 1′ long run or a 9′ long run anywhere and piecing in a 1′ long piece unnecessarily would look a little awkward (you want to try and limit as many seams as possible). Basically just be aware that you may have to overestimate more than you might think.

I decided to paint everything before installing it (although you will still need to fill and touch up your nail holes later on).  I used 2 coats of primer (the bare wood absorbed quite a bit of the first coat so I decided to play and it safe) and then one coat of Benjamin Moore Advance.

After everything was dry, I moved on to the install.  Matt and I decided to buy a brad nailer for this very purpose since, let’s be honest, while you can definitely hammer everything in by hand it will be a beast.  We also have other trim we’ll be replacing in the house later on so buying seemed like the best option.  Most hardware stores have tool rental options you could look into as well.

We started off with the easiest section of wall–single length of board, no miters.  You want to measure as precisely as possible because if you cut your pieces too short they’ll be gappy, too long and they won’t fit.

I dry-fit after each cut: cut my 1×6, dry fit; cut my base cap, dry fit; cut my chair rail, dry fit.  This way I could figure out after one cut if I screwed up my measurement somewhere before possibly ruining any of the other pieces.

base_1

I felt like a champ after doing this bit!  It fit together like a dream and looked perfect!  I was on top of the world! I was going to conquer this dining room in less time than I thought!

And then I moved on to a corner.

Oh sweetzombiejesus kill me now.

A pretty well known fact about old houses is that nothing is square.  As a teenager I once watched my dad, my aunt, and my uncle work to install a hardwood floor into a 150 year old farm house… you think I would have learned something from that.  Apparently not, but here’s my best advice for tackling a baseboard install.

1- Dry-fit ALL your pieces before nailing anything in.

I started by working wall-by-wall (luckily only with the 1×6) and at my very first corner I hit a snag (see above re: walls not square).  So I had to rip off the first board and yank all the nails out of it.  Ugh.  THEN I did the same damn thing while trying to join the boards on the long wall. *headdesk*

Also, pick a start point and work consecutively from there.  If you have sections of walls that don’t have corners you can do those independently.  Otherwise though you want to go in order rather than trying to make something meet in the middle.  We had a couple spots where we had to shim up the 1×6 to make it level with the previous board and other places where we had to grind off a bit of the floor to make a piece sit level (what we took off from the floor was entirely under the previous baseboard and was a combination of some sort of adhesive and a height change from years of refinishing the exposed floor).

2- Keep your saw close by

We keep our miter saw in the basement so I had maneuver 8′ boards up the stairs and around a couple corners and sometimes the cuts require a  bit of tweaking so I’d to haul them BACK downstairs and back up again.  This  virtually destroys my motivation.  After 2 days of not much progress we shoved the dining room table into the  living room and I moved the saw into the same room I was working in.

3- Saw blades have width

I actually knew this before starting, but if you’re new to power tools this is worth noting.  Basically, when you’re going for very precise cuts where you line your saw blade up with your cut mark matters.  It’s also why if you’re cutting multiple lengths out of one board you don’t mark off all the measurements an then cut–you’ll get progressively more off the more cuts you make.

4- Know your joints

There are 3 main types of joints you’ll deal with for trim: butt, miter, and scarf.

woodJoins

You can use a butt joint for corners when you have straight pieces (I used it for the 1×6’s).  You can also do a version of a butt joint with fancier trim pieces; this would be a coped corner.

The other option for corners is a mitered joint, but this can get finicky when your walls are not square.  If you’re painting the trim and it’s just a little off, it’s not a big deal because you can caulk the gap unless it’s ginormous.

The scarf joint is for joining two straight pieces of trim because most trim you find will be 8-10′ long and many walls are longer than that.

5- Cut your longest pieces first

This way if you screw up you can just keep cutting them down and use them in a shorter space.  I managed to do this without even thinking about it–go me!

So after a couple of false starts and a few headaches we got all the baseboard molding up!

The 1×6 was the worst to deal with–it’s not flexible and has the most area to line up well for corners.  I opted for butt joints with this because the mitered corners were not lining up well at all.  It also didn’t help matters that the miter saw would slide a little on our hardwood floor, making some of my cuts off because the board I was cutting would no longer be square against the blade.  ARGH!!!!  This took a couple evenings of work, but getting the first layer installed well would make everything else a lot easier.

diningBase_done_1

Next up I added the base cap.  SO much easier.  I was able to knock out this layer in about an hour and my scarf joint were much, much cleaner.

diningBase_done_2

And finally, the chair rail.

diningBase_done_3

I still have to add the quarter round,  fill the holes, caulk any gaps, and touch up with paint.  The worst is over though and it’s looking good!

 

 

*I don’t think any reasonable person could truthfully admit that they wouldn’t have even considered that title.

 

In Which I Inevitably Complicate Matters

I’ve been on the hunt for baseboard molding for a couple weeks now.  We have to replace all of it in the dining room because chunks were cut out behind the bookcases and we’d never get a perfect match unless we had someone custom make it. So I’ve been trying to find something with a similar weight and style to the rest of the house.

diningBase_existing

Finding something comparable to Victorian trim in today’s shops is hard.  The existing trim was about 10″ tall and you can’t detour too far from that height because there are 10″ tall plinths at the base of all the door moldings and it’s designed to be a similar height as the baseboards.

I figured I’ve have to get two different trim pieces (technically 3 once you figure in quarter-round) and that’s even how the existing trim was made.  The trouble was that I couldn’t find two pieces of trim that, when combined, gave me the look I wanted at the height I needed.

At this point normal people may have settled.  It’s clearly what happened in our kitchen and it’s not bad… but the base trim is barely visible in the kitchen and will be quite prominent in the dining room given the contrast with the walls.

Also, I am far from normal.

After being disappointed with Home Depot and Menards I trekked out to West St Paul to hit up Lowes.  At this point I was ready to buy trim come hell or high water.  I spent a good 45 minutes there laying out different combinations of trim on the floor and muttering to myself and eventually I settled on a 4 part baseboard plan. (FYI: All the stores seem to have nearly identical trim options).

It goes as such:

diningBase

Because that’s not going to be a pain in the ass to install at all.

Since we’re painting, I went with pine for all the pieces since it’s inexpensive (and the MDF was more warped and I think the plasticy stuff is just gross).  I chose Select Pine for the flat base piece because it’s straighter and less knot-y than standard pine boards and paint won’t hide knots.

This weekend we also picked up a new toy to help us with the install.

nailGunWheeeeeee!  I did NOT want to hammering in 4 different types of trim pieces by hand.  Plus, we’re also going to end up adding on to the crown molding AND we’re going to redo all the moldings in Matt’s study at some point* AND fixing some broken quarter-round throughout the house so this seemed like a reasonable investment vs renting. Plus it’s cordless and doesn’t require a compressor, how cool issat???

Pro-tip: If you go with cordless tools, try and stick to the same line so the batteries are interchangeable.  We’ve opted for Ryobi since it seems pretty well reviewed for the price point (not necessarily for the professional user, but good for the homeowner with some projects, i.e. us). Added (and completely useless) bonus: I love the green color.

We were originally hoping to install the baseboards this weekend, but since I didn’t pick out trim until Thursday night and it all needs to be primed and painted, this is the current state of things:

diningBase_progress_2(Isn’t our basement lovely?)

and this:

diningBase_progress_1

But it’s going to look spectacular!

 

*Somebody really hated that room.  It has the same janky ceiling tile as the dining room, trim that belongs in a 1950’s ranch and walls that appear to have been paneled and then heavily painted? Poorly skim-coated? Something… Needless to same that room does not quite match the rest of the house.