Archive for the ‘Weekend Project’ Category

When we bought our house a little over a year ago we decided to add an upgrade for surround sound wiring in the family room. Although this was a fairly expensive upgrade considering the much lower cost to put in wires before the drywall was even up. However, it was not expensive compared to what it would cost after the drywall was up, so we went for it. We did save about a third of the cost by only having the wiring installed, and not adding the speakers. I’m comfortable cutting drywall, connecting wires, and repairing any drywall that needs to be patched. The upgrade was supposed to include “caps” on the ceiling, which I assumed would make my life even easier because I would know exactly where to cut the holes for the speakers, but there were no caps in place when we did the final walk through on the house. Although there was a little push back the developer agreed to put in caps when I pointed out that the title of the upgrade was “Surround Sound wiring with caps”

Last month I bought a set of 6 inch two-way speakers so I could install the speakers. I got out the tools/supplies I would need: a utility knife to cut the drywall, a stud finder, a ladder, a wire cutter, a wire stripping tool, a drop cloth, and a Phillips head screwdriver. The speakers came in pairs and each speaker pair included a set of instructions, a tool to remove the grills, and a template for cutting the speaker hole.

Like most of my weekend projects, I have never done this before, so I expect I will learn somethings along the way and have a few surprises. Once I had everything I needed handy I got right at it.

Step 1: Climb the ladder and remove the first cap.
Step 2: Close your mouth when the amazement of no hole under the cap fades…

Removing Surround Sound Pre-Wiring Cap

Apparently (at least it was apparent after I removed the cap) the installer had screwed the cap directly into the ceiling. Since, this was not what I was expecting it caused me to immediately become more cautious. Even though I was less comfortable I decided it would be fine as long as the caps were positioned on the ceiling in the same locations as the speaker wires. They looked like they were right but I wouldn’t know until I cut the hole.

Step 3: Mark the studs around the cap location with a stud finder to properly place the speaker.
Step 4: Use the provided template and a pencil to mark the cutout location.
Step 5: Use a utility knife to cut the drywall along the line.
Step 6: Stop cutting when you feel a stud behind the drywall as you push the utility knife into the drywall.
Step 7: Remark the studs in the correct location (even if it is in the center of your first marked cutout).
Step 8: Redraw the cutout in the correct location.
Step 9: Be thankful you didn’t cut further before you found that stud!

Locating and marking the first speaker hole.bmp

Step 10: Double check there are no studs behind your marked cutout. OK, triple, then quadruple check that there are no studs behind the marked cutout.
Step 11: Carefully cut along the correctly marked cutout lines with your utility knife and remove the piece of drywall.
Step 12: Note the speaker wires behind the cutout.

Speaker wires behind the first cutout

Step 13: Sigh of relief… only 4 more to go!

Before moving on to the other cuts I wanted to complete the process on one speaker, by installing it, connecting it, and hearing the sweet music come from it!

Most ceiling speakers do not “mount” to anything in the ceiling. They clamp on to the ceiling using turnout clamps that move into position and tighten up as you tighten the screws on the front of the speaker.

Step 14: Pull the speaker wire down through the cutout.
Step 15: Separate the wiring and strip about 3/8 inch of the sheathing from the wire.
Step 16: Remove the speaker cover so you can access the screws for clamping the speaker to the ceiling.
Step 17: Connect the speaker to the wire from the ceiling.
Step 18: Ensure the rotating clamps are rotated in and insert the speaker into the cutout.
Step 19: Tighten the screws in the face of the speaker until it is held firmly in the hole.

Connect and install the speaker in the ceiling cutout.bmp

Step 20: Remove the cover from the speaker wire cutout near your media center.
Step 21: Connect each speaker wire to a “hot” speaker wire coming from your stereo receiver until sound comes from the newly installed speaker.
Step 22: Mark the wire to match the speaker location if it is not already marked.

That’s all it takes to do one speaker location! Not too bad, but a couple of lessons learned.

For the second speaker I was more careful. After marking the cutout location and before cutting I checked the cutout location for ceiling joists very carefully. Of course I found an unexpected one. Due to the width of our family room there was a support beam running across the house right where I had marked my cutout. Although the speaker cap was on the side of the beam closest to the wall, it didn’t look right, so I cut on the other side of the beam = jackpot – second set of speaker wires located. I installed the speaker, connected it, marked the appropriate wire and prepared for speaker 3.

Speaker wires were on the opposite side of the support beam than the surround sound cap

I had gotten lucky with speaker 2, but the fact that the speaker caps were not marking the actual location of the speaker wires was a big concern. The last 3 speakers were all lined up so they would be in the same void between joists. If I got the first one right I would be good to go for the rest. Unfortunately, when I pulled down the cap and marked the joists I found that the cap was almost perfectly centered on the junction of a joist and the beam! I was pretty sure which side of the beam to look on, but had no idea which side of the joist the wires would be on. This time, ignoring my previous logic, I guessed that the speaker would be closer to the wall. I think I let my “wishes” get in the way of logic. I wanted these speakers closer to the wall, so that is where I check. No joy – my first empty hole.

Third cutout with no wires in sight

It was time to call the builder and complain about the way the speaker caps were placed and get some assistance locating the wiring before cutting any more holes! It took about a week to get the speaker wire installation technician out to locate the wires, but he was very helpful. He located the wires, drilled an access hole in the ceiling joist, and pulled the wires into the void I had placed the cutout in. While he did that for the first one, I cut the last two holes. He quickly pulled the other speaker wires and I had the last three speakers installed less than 30 minutes later. Once I connected and tested the whole system I installed the speaker covers and then took a break to enjoy the fullness of the new sound system.

Sorround Sound speaker with cover installed

I still have to patch the holes from the speaker caps (and my one small extra cut) and do some touch up painting, but we were able to enjoy the surround sound while watching a movie that night. As expected there were some surprises, and I learned a couple of lessons along the way, but I’m glad I saved some money on the speaker installation, and we’re very happy with the way it turned out.


2013 Collage

Last year, 2013, was a very good year for me. Although it will be hard to beat I’m hoping for an even better 2014!

In 2013 I checked a major accomplishment off on my Bucket List, I ran the Marine Corps Marathon and had a great time in Washington DC that weekend! In order to make that happen I ran over 500 training miles including two half marathons, the San Diego Half Marathon in March 2013, and the Rock and Roll Half Marathon in San Diego in June.

We had a great time camping near Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park with family. Although I’ve been many times, this was my first trip to Idaho with Jenny. We spent our first anniversary enjoying downtown Boise, went white water rafting, and biked the Boise green belt on the 4th of July, then headed north for a couple days in beautiful Stanley Idaho. For my birthday we had a terrific weekend on Santa Catalina Island. the trip started out fast with my first zipline experience, and we also had a terrific time hiking in the hills around Avalon and just relaxing in our hotel and at the Descanso Beach club.

We enjoyed our third year of Green Flash Concerts at Birch Aquarium and lots of other live music including a few of my favorites Sara Barelles and One Republic at the SDSU Open Air Theater, John Mayer and Phillip Phillips at Sleep Train Amphitheater, Steve Miller at the fair, and Fleetwood Mac at one of my favorite venues – the Hollywood Bowl.

We closed on our new house on 31 December 2012, so we had all of 2013 to get settled in. This inspired me to start a new category for my blog: Weekend Project. Although I got a good start on the house, there are plenty more projects to tackle over the next few years.

For 2014 I will do this a little differently than last year with a top 10 count down of predictions for 2014!

10. Week-end project – install surround sound speakers!

9. Develop an Android App and publish it to Google Play.

8. Weekend Project – Improve the storage in our garage so we can park 2 cars in the garage at once (novel idea)!

7. Our 4th consecutive season of Green Flash Concerts at the Birch Aquarium.

6. Bucket List (progress) – Complete at least 35 new (never been on hikes) in San Diego County.

5. Bucket List – Walk across the Grand Canyon not once but twice on a rim to rim to rim hike!

4. Check at least one item off my Bucket List in the travel section. Need to coordinate this with a few people so I’m not picking one now…

3. Visit family and friends in Iowa, Nebraska, Idaho, and even here in California!

2. One of my daughters will get engaged! (OK cheating on the prediction side of things as it happened on January 2nd.)

1. Bucket List – rock a grandchild to sleep in my arms!

I hope your 2013 was unbelievable, and your 2014 is unstoppable! Happy New Year!

Perfect place in our closet for a shoe shelfA shoe rack in our master bedroom closet was the first weekend project I planned. The planning started the day after we decided to buy the house. We were walking through the house again, and I noticed an unused corner nook in the front of the closet. I told my wife, “That will be a perfect place for a shoe shelf”. She agreed. The house we lived in at the time had a small walk in closet, and a small master bedroom. The owner had carved a space out of the bedroom to add a master bath and has added on the space for the walk in closet. It was better than sharing 1 bathroom between the four people in the house, but it was not a good long-term solution for us.

I promised to make the shoe rack my first project in the house. Fast forward 10 months and the shoe shelf plans were still unrealized. Other things like ceiling fans, pet stairs (unfinished when we lost our cat), the garage floor coating, and landscaping the backyard had taken priority. When I did the bike lift project, and finished the structured wiring box in the master closet I started to wonder if I was starting to do less important projects to avoid starting the shoe shelf. Finishing the structured wiring box also led to the closet looking much better once I took the tools, and supplies out of the closet, rearranged a few things, and moved an extra chest of drawers into the closet. I decided it was time to get moving on this project.

Original Shoe shelf PlanI had drawn up plans for a floor to ceiling wooden shelf that would hold 2+ pairs of men’s shoes (room for some flip-flops in between), or 3 pairs of women’s shoes on each shelf. My wife’s Samsung 10.1 Note tablet makes it easy to hand draw plans and have them handy when you need them. There would be 3 fixed shelves and the rest, at least 7 more, would be adjustable.

Just as I was dusting my thoughts off on these plans we had dinner with my son and his wife and were shown their new “closet system”. It all looked great, but what jumped out at me was the shoe shelf. It looked to be the right size, would hold at two times as many shoes, and would be much less work! The deciding factor was the ability to hold twice as many shoes in the available space. It was not a cheaper alternative, so I considered modifying my plan so it would do the same thing. By the time I added full extension pull-outs the price was closer to the same. I found some shoe shelves that were similar design, but they were actually much more expensive. So we decided to go with the closet system shelves.

Elfa System top bar and down rods installed in our closetThe system is the Elfa shelf system from the Container Store. We had already had them design the system for us so we would know the cost, it was just a matter of calling them, completing the order and picking the shelving up the next day. The one downside to the system is that the top rail is pre-drilled and the holes are spread out fairly far apart. That means it is unlikely that one will line up with a stud. In our case they did not. I considered drilling an additional hole or two, so I would feel more comfortable that the system would stay up, but the instructions stated to just use the drywall anchor screws, so I decided to just follow the instructions. Our plan called for the top rail to be 12 inches from the ceiling, so I measured down 12 inches, placed the top rail, leveled it, and traced the hole in the top rail onto the wall. I drilled the holes following the instructions, inserted the anchors, and attached the top rail. When I assembled the drop bars, I realized that the plan measurements were off. The drop rails went all the way to the floor and were against the woodwork at the bottom. This would not work, so I removed the rail, dry fitted the drop rails to select an appropriate height for the top rail, and repeated the process of attaching the top rail. If you look close you can see the patched spots below the top rail.

After the down rails were in place the rest of the shelf went up fairly easily. Snapping the shoe shelf/drawers into place was the trickiest part. It definitely uses the space better than the one I planned to build.

Elfa Hanging Shoe Shelf installed in our closet

We were able to get all of our shoes off the floor and out from under the bed. Much more organized…

Elpha Hanging Shoe Shelf installed and fully loaded

Even though the shoes go two deep, they are easy to get to because the shoe shelves are on rails/glides, and easily slide out for access to the shoes in back.

Elfa Hanging Shoe Rack with shoes - shelf pulled out

It took 2 hours to put the shelves up including about 30 minutes needed to fix my mistake when I didn’t verify the height of the hanging bar before installing it. Add a couple of hours checking it out and having it designed at The Container Store, and this was much quicker than building one myself. Since we’ve put these up I’ve seen some things that are close to the same at IKEA, but they don’t glide as easily and they require wooden sided shelves. They were cheaper, but not that much, especially considering the difference in quality. I would recommend checking out the Elfa system at The Container Store if you have a spot all picked out for shelves. They have a lot of different configurations, they are reasonably priced for the quality, and they are very easy to install and configure.

I started planning the structured wiring project before we moved into our new house last December. This ended up being a 2-3 weekend project altogether, but only a few hours for each of those weekends. I just did it in phases so that I would have time to play on those weekends too. The box was in our Master Bedroom closet and had coaxial and Cat-5 cables from ports in every room coming in to it. Unfortunately the builder did not connect any equipment to these cables nor did they offer an upgrade for this. I had put Cat-5 wiring into all the upstairs rooms in my last house, so I felt comfortable with planning and installing the equipment in the structured wiring box.

Within a couple days of moving in I had set up a temporary set of connections using our existing equipment and by adding coaxial and Cat-5 terminating plugs to the end of the cables that we would be using initially. I split the incoming Cable TV signal line so it could be shared by the 3 rooms that would have Cable TV boxes and plugged the incoming cable internet line directly into the cable modem. The Cat-5 lines were “sort of” labeled with the rooms they came from. By “sort of” I mean, not all of them were labeled and some that were labeled were wrong. That didn’t stop me from getting things connected, it just meant that I ended up wasting a few Cat-5 modular plugs – luckily they are cheap. I don’t have any pictures of what this phase of the project looked like, but it wasn’t pretty! But it was functional, so I let it stay like this for several months.

Structure Wiring box model and manufacturer InfoWhen I finally got off my rear on this project again I started by determining what equipment I would need and the best way to mount it into the structured wiring box. I figured this would be easy. The idea of a structured wiring box was so you could mount your equipment in a standard way. I looked at the box and got a couple of important clues from the box cover, the brand and the model. Unfortunately when I went to the Linear Corporation website the options for what I wanted to do were limited. The routers were old and slower than I wanted my network to be, and the universal connectors for mounting my own components relied on two-sided tape. I knew I wouldn’t be satisfied with that. I also didn’t want a connector that required me to drill into my component or remove any case screws. It took quite a bit more research than I thought it would but I found a universal holder the Channel Vision C-1312 Universal Holder that had some info online that stated it would work in an Open House enclosure. I shopped around and ended up buying that and some other parts, like a mounted Channel Vision power strip, and some replacement quick connectors for at for a reasonable price.

I was a bit concerned that the Channel Vision parts would not fit in the Linear Open House enclosure, but they fit perfectly. The next step was to find a few other components I needed. A wired router as I planned to connect the wireless router to an open network plug-in a central location in the house. Inside a metal box is not a good place to put a wireless router. I knew that there were 12 Cat-5 wires coming into the structured wiring box, and that I would want to connect 2-3 other things to the router directly in the closet. So I would need a WAN port and at least 15 local ports. Although there were cheaper 100 Megabit routers, I wanted the connection inside my network to be as fast as possible so I limited myself to looking at Gigabit routers. I decided on an 8 port wired router that had some interesting security features that I thought would be useful and added an 8 port switch, both with 1000MBps speed. I also wanted to get a 12 port punchdown patch panels to better organize the incoming wires from the house. This will allow me, with a little extra work, to label each incoming line so I know exactly which room I’m connecting or disconnecting. It will also look better.

In phase 2 of the project I focused on reconfiguring and reconnecting the already in use wires. It only took a few hours, so not too many complaints from the big internet users in the house. Although I don’t have a “before” picture I can tell you that after phase 2 I was very happy with the way it was starting to look. Here is a picture of the structured wiring enclosure after phase 2 was complete.

Phase 2 complete

Although the system was completely functional, there was still quite a mess left in the closet and there was no way to close the structured wiring enclosure.

Still a bit of a mess after phase 2

Although I planned to finish this quickly, it was actually several months later when I found the time and the motivation to complete this project. I was getting tired of the mess, planned to move a chest of drawers into the closet, and wanted to finish before there was something else in the way. Over the months of use I found a couple other flaws in the phase 2 solution. The hybrid system of networks between the wired and wireless routers was in the way for accessing some shared devices like the networked printer and the media storage device. Creating additional active LAN ports throughout the house will allow the printer and the wireless router to each be connected to their own separate ports.

This was not a time-consuming project; however, the connections to the punchdown patch panel and making Cat-5 cables of the right length to ensure the wires are organized did take a focused effort. I made a few mistakes along the way, like making a few cables that didn’t work, but in the end I think this project was worth the effort. Here is the structured wiring enclosure after phase 3 of the project.

Structured Wiring Box nearly completed copy

I call this the end of phase 3 instead of the end of the project because there are still a couple of things I would like to do to finish this project. There are two components that don’t fit inside the enclosure. The base for our multi-handset phone system, and the media storage device. I could hook these up to any open network port in the house, but would rather keep at least the media storage device in the closet. To do this right I will need to add a network port to the wall inside the closet to avoid running the Cat-5 cable into the enclosure. But that is for another day. For now it looks much better…

Looking much better after Phase 3

and both the phone line and the Cat-5 cable are flat, so I will be able to put the Structure Wiring enclosure’s cover on!

Structure Wiring Enclosure with the cover on

If/when I completely finish this project I’ll post some final pictures. I’ll have to keep that Hawaiian shirt at least until then!

Update: 2/25/2017. I’ve done a few things differently since I completed this project. The main thing that impacted the project was cutting the cord – eliminating cable.. I’ve done this a couple times with a year of renewed cable in the middle, but the second time I’m fairly certain will be permanent. One of the things that had to change was instead of sending cable TV through the media box I now have an over-the-air HD antenna. In order to push the signal from one antenna to all the TV’s in the house, I have replaced the cable splitter in the media box with an antenna signal amplifier. That had a large power adapter and cord so I have finally done the work to not have the wires pass through the media center cover. Since this is in a closet I took the easy approach and just put a grommet through the drywall to pass the wires through the wall and up into the box.


Now I’m able to put the cover back on the media box and the shelf I installed lets me hang clothes, and keep all the media accessories that don’t go in the box neat and organized.

Cover on the media box

Hopefully I’ll be able to leave that cover on the media box, and move on to other projects!

Lifting a bike on newly installed Racor Bike Lift

This would hardly qualify as a weekend project if I was only going to install 1 bike lift, but the plan was to install four. There’s a cool factor to having a bike lift, but “cool factor” can lead to “buyer’s remorse” so I bought one to try it out. I found the Racor 1-Bike Ceiling Mount Bike Lift on the Home Depot website. Unfortunately, they did not carry it in the store, so I had to wait several days to have it shipped. I choose to have them ship it to the store to get free shipping. I have a Home Depot less than a mile from my house.

Installing the bike lift was easy. I used a stud finder to find the joists in my garage ceiling. The bike lift is designed to be attached to a single joist. I choose to put it near the back wall of the garage, so it would be out-of-the-way. My garage ceiling is higher than most at 11.5 feet. I was hoping the bike would be suspended at least 6 feet up, so I could walk under it without worrying. I could tell from the product picture that the bike would not be right against the ceiling, so I was not positive it would be high enough.

Threading the pulley’s, especially the part that went through the automatic stop/release was the most difficult part of the installation to follow in the plans. Line diagrams made the path of the rope hard to see. Even though it was difficult to follow it was pretty easy to figure out; you just bring the line straight through…

Threading of rope through the clamping mechanism

and it works like a charm.

Operation of the clamping mechanism

It is a little awkward to connect a bike for the first time, but with a little practice getting the bike connected is fairly straight forward.

Racor Bike Rack with Bike Lowered

Lifting the bike is easy. If you let go of the rope at any point the weight of the bike causes the clamping mechanism to engage and the bike just hangs there.

Racor Bike Lift with Bike Raised

There is a metal tie down point to attach to the wall, but it doesn’t hold the weight of the bike under normal circumstances.

Once I got the bike up, I was still unsure if I would get more than two lifts that could both go right along the wall. The second row of bikes will be about 3 feet from the back wall and in the way if they are not high enough. When I first put the bike up the bottom of the tires was at about 5’10”. I noticed that the seat was up quite a bit, and could easily be lowered with the quick clamp on the post. Once I lowered the seat the bike was high enough in back, but still a little low in front. Moving the handlebars is not a good solution, but it will be possible to connect the hooks in different places, or create a lower clamping location. I stood under both wheels to check the wheel height.

Front tire is not high enoughLowering the seat makes the back wheel high enough

If you decide you want to get this kind of bike lift, ensure you have tall ceilings. To get a rough estimate of how high the bottom of the bike will be add about a foot to the height of the handle bars and then subtract that from the height of the ceiling. If this will not be high enough you may be able to raise the bike about another 6 inches if you can connect the hooks lower on the front of the bike in some way.

I decided to get 3 more of these bike lifts. I’m certain I will be able to hang the bikes so that they are at least 6 feet above the floor. I found an alternate source to buy them on for about 6 dollars less per bike lift and ordering 3 qualified for free shipping to my house.

Update Aug 20 2013: Here’s a picture of 3 of the 4 bike lifts installed. No fourth bike to hang yet. The bike in the front row is several inches higher so there is no problem walking under it.

three bike lifts in the garage

I see at least one other project in the picture… need to fix the legs on the beer pong table!

We looked at several places for the “ceiling fan of our dreams” (OK, slight exaggeration there), but ended up back where we started, Home Depot. We fell for the cool curved blades on the Hampton Bay Altura ceiling fan. It came in several sizes (56, 60, and 68) and two finishes – rubbed bronze and brushed nickel (brushed nickel is no longer available as of April 2016). We also found a couple similar looking fans for the other upstairs bedrooms.

First step in mounting a ceiling fan is read the instructions. The second step is read the instructions. The next step, if it is not in the instructions is to turn off the power to the room, or if you are unsure, the whole house. Then follow the rest of the instructions.

What happens if you don’t read the instructions (what self-respecting handy guy needs to do that)… you’ll have a fan in one room that looks like this…

First fan with extra parts left over

and the same fan in the second room you do, after discovering the extra part at the end of mounting fan number one that looks like this…

Second fan with all the no extra parts left over

Notice the extra little bit on the top? I’m hoping no one but me notices it is missing on the first one. Of course now that I’ve shown it to everyone I’m likely to get comments and eventually break down, take the fan apart and put the missing part where it belongs, not in my tool chest, but on the fan!

Extra Part in tool chest

Well marked electrical boxLuckily I’ll only have to turn off the power, completely remove the fan, disconnect all the wires, then remove the downrod from the fan motor, put the missing part on the downrod, then put it back together, and install it in accordance with the instructions I failed to read. If no one notices (even after reading this), I’ll move the extra part to a less obvious place.

Speaking of turning off the power, did I mention to be sure to do that before you go near the ceiling mount. My house is new construction and very well-marked, so it was easy to determine which breaker to flip off. Even so I tested the wires for power before starting.

We got two of the Altura model fans. One for the Master Bedroom and one for the Family Room. I installed the Master Bedroom fan first, and even though I read the instructions I ended up redoing the wiring a couple of times. Not positive, but I think the issue ended up being matching the codes on the remote to the controller in the ceiling. The Altura Ceiling fan does not come with a lighting kit (although the remote has the ability to dim the light). For the Family Room we were OK with that, but for the bedroom we found one that fit the style of the fan at Lamps Plus. It was more than the basic lighting kit costs at Home Depot, but it’s style matched the ceiling fan much better.

Master Bedroom fan - 56 inch

We ended up really liking the way this fan looks in our bedroom. Really works great to cool the room too.

Ceiling Fan Ceiling MountCeiling fans are designed so that one person can install them. Once you install the mount on the ceiling and assemble the downrod and fan motor the fan will support itself on the ceiling. By the way, be careful to put all the covers on the downrod before you attach it to the fan motor because they won’t fit over the ball at the top of the rod once these two parts are connected. I know this from experience, actually multiple experiences… anyway, the instructions are clear about this too.

Ceiling Fan mounted and ready for connectionSimply lift the downrod up and place it in the ceiling mount. Avoid pinching any wires and be sure to follow any other instructions, for mine it was to line the groove in the ball up with the pin in the mounting bracket. For the Family Room we got the 68 inch fan which came with an 18 inch downrod. As soon as I had the assembly up I knew the downrod was too long. Time for another trip to Home Depot! In order to pick the right downrod, I followed the guidelines above the parts rack for ceiling height and downrod length. I wasn’t happy that Home Depot doesn’t sell downrods for their own Hampton Bay brand of fans, but they said the Hunter downrods would work. Of course once I started moving parts from the original downrod to the new one, it became obvious that they were not completely right. The bolt holding the ground wire to the downrod was too large for the new downrod… one more trip to Home Depot! This was a small bolt, so I had to buy a bags of them. This was not a big problem because the bag cost less than $2. Either I’ll have a supply for future projects, or my kids will have to dispose of them some day.

Once I had the downrod reassembled it was about another 30 minutes to connect the wires, attach the blades, turn on the power, and cool off under our new ceiling fan!

Family Room Ceiling Fan

The four fans ended up taking a couple of weekends and one week night to install. We were busy so I couldn’t spend the whole weekend on this, and we had to special order the one larger fan. But if you follow the instructions, installing a ceiling fan is a one person project and can be done in about an hour. We expect to enjoy these fans for years and getting them installed before the summer really kicked in was great timing.

Rustoleum Epoxy Garage Coat Applied
I’ve always wanted an epoxy coated garage floor and decided it would be worth the effort required to do it myself to save $500+. With some research and advice from a friend I choose to use a Rustoleum kit and to add a protective premium clear coat to add durability to the finish. I actually started the project before we moved in by etching the concrete, but San Diego had some cold nights between January and March so applying the coating had to wait for warmer weather. The instructions were detailed and very clear but that didn’t keep me from making a couple of mistakes. The instructions clearly started to mix the 2 parts, wait a period of time that depended on the current temperature, then stir the mixture again before you start to use the coating. I forgot to do the last stirring. This did not have a huge impact for my garage as there was plenty of coating material but it would be important for a larger garage. Without the final stir the hardener settled to the bottom and the last inch of the coating material was unusable. When I realized my mistake at the end of the second can I was concerned the coating might not cure but it was fine.

When applying the clear coat I made sure that I did the final stir and had just enough to roll on the last patch of floor. But I still had another lesson to learn. The clear coat is very hard to see under certain lighting conditions and I could not see it while applying it. I tried to be careful to hit every spot but noticed several areas that didn’t get a full coat after it hardened and I could walk on it. At some point I may buy another gallon to get these spots and possibly coat the sides, but for now I’m satisfied with it. It is a good strong floor coating even though I know it isn’t perfect.

The final step of the project was to put up our shelves, organize our stuff and leave plenty of room to park a couple cars.

Finished Garage with shelves

Update 8 February 2015: I had a question today about whether I still recommend the product I used for this project. I absolutely recommend it. It has been almost 2 years and the floor still looks great! It is so easy to keep clean. If there was one thing I would recommend might be to stop the paint just inside the garage door. I went all the way to the crack by the driveway and this shows outside the door. It looked OK to have that show outside when the door was closed, but the sun has yellowed this part of the paint. Still I’m very happy with the Rustoleum floor coating.

I’m adding a new category to my blog to plan and describe some of weekend projects around my house. I’ve been feeling guilty for not hiking or sailing as much lately. When I sat down to think about it I decided that it was a combination of the big running goal, preparing for the Marine Corps Marathon, and all the weekend projects needed to get settled into our new home. Even the running has dropped off lately with my injured calf, so that took the guilt up a notch. But I’m not spending a bunch of time on the couch… I’m getting things done around the house. When you first move in to a new house the number of things on your Honey Do list can be overwhelming. Unpack, organize, donate, fill new spaces, yard, garage, and the list goes on and on. After a few months the surge of immediate to-dos have been taken care of and it’s time for some projects that should be more fun, or at least pretty rewarding. This is the third home I’ve owned and some of the things that sounded like fun before, like landscaping aren’t as appealing anymore. Maintaining and improving the landscape once it’s in will be fun but things like trenching for sprinklers, laying a patio, and other hardscape projects can be done by a contractor this time!

My first “fun” project was coating my garage floor with epoxy. It turned out great, but there were definitely some lessons learned. This will be my first post in the new category.

Rustoleum Epoxy Garage Coat Applied

Next on our weekend project list was painting. The biggest challenge here is picking colors that work for the space, and since our house has a fairly open floor plan, the colors have to work together. We had a good idea of the color we wanted in the guest bathroom, so this was the first one to tackle. In this picture the tape was still up and I hadn’t painted the shower area, but the color was exactly what we wanted in this bathroom.

Painting the Guest Bathroom

Future projects include a shelf for shoes in the master bedroom closet, a built-in entertainment center in the family room, adding the speakers for the pre-wired surround sound in the family room, and putting a wine cellar in the large walk-in space behind our garage. I can think of others, but want to keep the list manageable to be sure I still have time to travel, hike, paddle, sail, work-out, and prepare for the Marine Corps Marathon. However, weekend projects around the house are a rewarding part of a full life, so I will add info about mine to this blog.