As dedicated DIY-ers, my husband and I tend to think we can do everything ourselves.  In our last house, save for installing the counter tops and laying one room of carpet, we didn’t hire a single contractor. Certainly, it does save a lot of money not hiring outside help.

But at what cost?

Several things are different in our new pile of bricks: we have a very short time-line until we have to be out of our rental, we have to move ourselves this time (missing those military movers right now!), and my husband can’t take 2-3 weeks off work like he did last time.  It is definitely making a difference in what we can handle ourselves.

So, the den. Our original plan was to scrape the ceilings and hang new drywall ourselves (we’ve done drywall before) but after removing the faux foam (yes, they really are made out of foam) beams, we discovered that the beams had been attached to 2×4’s screwed into the ceiling with lag bolts (WHY?!).  Between these holes and other assorted problem spots where odd light fixtures had been, the ceiling looked like a lovely piece of Swiss cheese.  Emmentaler, anyone?

It also became apparent that the ceiling was not popcorn as we had thought but actual plaster and scraping was not going to be a simple matter of “spray and remove”.  Thus, we decided the ceiling had to go.  Between this new unexpected fun! and the fact that we’re still trying to get the plywood underlayment done over all the floors (which we MUST get done ASAP so the wood floors can be installed because no floors=no move, hello end of lease and double hou$ing payment$) it became pretty apparent that unless the two of us somehow morphed into 4 or 6 of us and decided to totally reject sleep as a lifestyle choice (not that there’s anything wrong with that) we needed some help. STAT.

So I probably broke all the “rules” about shopping around and getting multiple bids and I went with the one and only estimate I got on the job.  In my own defense, the contractor had done a very complicated plaster repair on the rental that we live in now and the work was flawless – so I knew I was in good hands.  Also, his crews show up when they say they will and clean up after themselves.  We needed this project knocked out quickly and they could accommodate that.  They also do plaster work, which many drywall contractors don’t do – and since the rest of our house is plaster, we thought it would be nice to remain consistent.

Honestly, I had no idea what I was getting into.

Y’all, two guys had this room (including the ceiling) covered in blue board (the substrate for plaster work) in an hour and a half.  An hour and a half.  It was stunning.  It was like watching synchronized  swimming, These guys moved in unison with out even talking, only occasionally calling out measurements to each other in some kind of secret code. I was gobsmacked.  They must have thought I was crazy, standing there with my mouth hanging open.  If only they knew what I was really thinking:


It would have taken Russ and I at a week to do this. That’s all I could think.
The next morning, I had some errands to run before going to the house.  I got there about 11 am (Russ, of course, was already there) and the paster guys were LEAVING.  Not leaving as in leaving for lunch.  Leaving as in DONE. FINISHED. FINITO.

I will admit that I got teary eyed when I walked in and saw the room, transformed.  This picture doesn’t do it justice, as the plaster was still wet and there is no light in the room, but it was the first one I took:

And all I had to do was write a check. That took about 30 seconds.  30 seconds vs. a week of our life.  Yes, it cost more than doing it ourselves but in the end I think it saved us money going forward by not holding up the rest of the house.  I know this phrase is overused, but I’m just going to say it anyway: best money I ever spent.  Remember the before?


The Den "before" - note paneling and fake foam beams

Here it is a few days later, all dry and primed:


If anyone needs drywall/plaster work in Hampton Roads, I can’t say enough about Wenger Tile & Plaster.  Awesome, awesome, awesome.

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5 Responses to Reinforcements

  1. Russ says:

    Awesome work. I was so glad to have someone do the plaster for us. I’d still be fixing my mistakes.

    • Kiki says:

      What a great entry! You had me laughing out loud then tearing up because I shared in your relief that the room was finished so quickly. It looks wonderful…but be careful, that check writing can be addicting.

  2. Sean says:

    Man, you guys are brave and adventurous! Glad it is going well for ya’ll! Good luck with the rest.

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