Category Archives: Home Improvement

I hate popcorn

I generally like popcorn, especially the one without a lot of butter on it. But I hate the smell of popcorn, especially the burnt one. If you’ve seen a microwave after someone accidentally nuked a bag of popcorn for 4 minutes instead of 2, you know what I’m talking about.

I hate even more the popcorn on the ceiling. I’m not talking about mistakenly popping the kernels and getting them on the ceiling, I’m talking about popcorn ceiling. Sometimes referred to as acoustic ceiling. I don’t need it for its acoustic abilities (unlike cement/concrete, drywall does a pretty good job of absorbing the sound). Some peope suggested it may be there as a fire retardant. That may have been true back in the time when they were putting asbestos in it, but that is no longer the case at least since 1976. To me it looks like styrofoam particles embedded in some gypsum-based compound.

From several sources I found out that, if you buy a new house, it will come by default with popcorn ceiling, and you have to pay extra to get the smooth ceiling instead. The only possible explanations for this, that I was able to find, are:

  • builders are too lazy to properly finish the ceiling. Unlike popcorn, smooth celings show minor imperfections in the drywall patches.
  • builders realize what a nightmare popcorn ceiling is for consumers, but they’ve purchased the sprayer and have to justify it. And they corner the buyer to fork more money for something that should be cheaper to begin with.

After reading directions on how to remove the nasty crumbs from your ceiling I’ve ventured to try it myself. It’s not really that hard, it took me about 2 hours to remove it in a medium-size room, but that’s just the first step. Second step is sanding, patching, sanding again. Repeat as long as necessary. Then two coats of primer and some flat white ceiling paint shoud do the trick. Once you get to the painting stage, the mess is gone.

Is it worth it? I don’t know yet. I do know painting it is just as messy as removing it, but once removed you don’t have to go through that pain again. Probably the place I noticed the most how nasty popcorn ceiling is was in the kitchen. Above the stove, it was yellow and probably saturated with 15 years worth of dirt and grime and food junk.

As I was inhaling dust while scraping and sanding, I thought popcorn ceiling must have been invented by a programmer (first intention was to say Perl programmer, but language doesn’t matter that much in my analogy). It’s complex to install, the benefits are uncertain and it’s a nightmare to maintain. Hey, I’m one of them. But then again it must have been the dust in my lungs getting me to think this way.

The week of vacation

Who said home improvement projects are not fun. I am so sore now.

But the kitchen looks really nice now. All that’s left to to is fix the threshold and paint the base molding. I will post pictures with the project’s timeline some time soon.

In other news, I ran a 5K this morning. I timed myself at 21:17, which is exactly one minute slower than my personal best, achieved 2 years ago in the same race. Not a bad result, considering that I’ve been sporadically running, trying to recover from my calf muscle injury. I believe it’s still faster than the result 3 years ago, which was 22:07 (but I can’t find the archives to back my memory).
That’s the reason I decided to not run the Inside Out Classic Half Marathon next week (that, and the conflict with the orienteering event on Oct 22).

Update: the official time confirmed my 21:17 reading. (I started 2 seconds later, hence the gun time showing 21:19).