Painting the Basement Storage Room

Ok, I finally pulled my ass off the couch long enough to do something useful. Or at least long enough to make a mess.

So we’ve got this basement, right? And it’s mostly just a place to store stuff. It hasn’t seen any investment in a long time, so it’s starting to look a little ragged. Previous owners had painted the concrete block walls and some of the interior walls, but it’s all yellowing, dingy, flaking, and pretty unsightly. Also, it’s just not very well organized. There are shelves, but not the right kinds, and not where we want them. Other spaces are undefined and not particularly useful.

Our goal with this project is pretty much just to paint everything, probably build a few new shelves while we’re at it, right? We have too much crap laying around to do the whole basement at once, so we’ll have to do it one room at a time. We’ll start in the storage room. It’s a decent sized room. Almost too big. Big enough that if you don’t have stuff stacked up in the middle of the room you feel like you’re wasting space. When we built our garage, a lot stuff ended up in the basement that should be in the garage, and a lot of it hasn’t made it’s way back out to the garage again yet. First we just had to haul all the stuff out. It’s just stuffed around in other places of our basement, which is now mostly unusable because of crap.

Ok, on to the pictures. Here’s what our basement looks like full of useless stuff.

Basement storage room is full of stuff.
Basement storage room is full of stuff.
One little shelf on that wall is dumb.
One little shelf on that wall is dumb.
Boxes and stacks of stuff next to the laundry chute.
Boxes and stacks of stuff next to the laundry chute.
Stuff stacked under the stairs.
Stuff stacked under the stairs.
Massive set of shelves.
Massive set of shelves. I never loved the doors on these. They’re always awkward.
Flaking paint. Looks like water damage, but dry to the touch.
Flaking paint. Looks like water damage, but dry to the touch.
Flaking Paint.
Flaking Paint.

After we had all the stuff moved out, we heavily debated what to do about the massive shelves. They are as sturdy as 200 elephants, but the wall behind them was in pretty rough shape. We wouldn’t be able to do a great job painting the wall with them in place, so we decided they needed to come out. We salvaged a lot of the lumber to use elsewhere. Anyway, the basic tasks here were as follows:

  • Use a wire brush attachment on a power drill to power scrape all the loose paint off
  • Use a hand wire brush as necessary in problem areas
  • Vacuum the walls
  • Scrub the walls
  • Use quick-setting hydraulic cement to patch some of the holes
  • Place three coats of DryLok paint on the masonry walls
  • One coat of primer on the interior wood framed walls

Here are some before-and-afters. More accurately, these are still in-progress shots since we don’t have the final coat of paint on any of it yet. The “before” shots are also after we’ve already brushed, vacuumed, and scrubbed the walls.

View 1 - Before
View 1 – Before
View 1 - After
View 1 – After
View 2 - Before
View 2 – Before
View 2 - After
View 2 – After
View 3 - Before
View 3 – Before
View 3 - After
View 3 – After

Really brightens up the space, huh? Even after three coats of the heavy paint, the walls are still yellowing a bit. Maybe we shouldn’t have gone with white paint?  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Next steps are to finish painting the walls, scrub the floor, paint the floor, then build some new shelving in here. Stay tuned.

Painting the Basement

Insert something here about how I never post anymore.

Welcome back to ReubensCube. Here today with another DIY project that most people could have finished in a weekend but it took me a month because that’s just the kind of person I am. I’m talking about painting the basement. Here’s a refresher of what our basement looked like the day we bought the house.

Basement when we moved in.

My favorite part of the room was the little counter on the left there with the hole in the wall. I guess previous owners used to throw parties down here or something and that was the dry bar? I dunno. But 70’s faux wood paneling, drop ceiling, brown electrical outlets, harsh florescent lights.

Where to start with a space like this? Long term, this whole space just needs to be gutted and reconstructed from scratch, but we didn’t have time or budget for something like that right now, so we just needed a bandaid fix to last us a few years. My wife and I agreed that neither of us were up for the task of removing the paneling and drywalling – too many unknowns and too big of a project to do it right.

But we did put a lot of thought into the ceiling. We both hate the harsh lights and the drop ceiling and wanted to remove it, but what to replace it with? Like I said, neither of us were up for drywalling the space right now. We spent a lot of time  looking for design ideas. I was really drawn to the open joist look and thought pretty hard about giving it a shot in this space. I love the look of fully finished floors and walls with completely raw and rough ceilings.

But, ultimately, even that was more effort than we wanted to put into it right now, so we agreed the whole space would just get a coat of paint, including the drop ceiling. We ended up buying a handheld spray gun to do the painting – that experience probably deserves a post of it’s own (that I’ll never write).

Here’s a before shot of the room:

Basement - Before
Basement – Before

And here’s an after shot of the room:

Basement - After
Basement – After

Pretty big change, huh? The walls are a light grey color, the ceiling is white. In the photo above, you can also see that we collected our three mismatched bookshelves along the back wall, and used some 4″ lag screws and 2×4’s to anchor the things into the wall to keep them from toppling. The shelves have always been a bit wobbly and unsteady, and we have been worried for some time about one of the kids trying to climb the shelves and winding up in an awful situation. Not a very attractive solution, but it gets the job done.

We also finally got around to hanging a bunch of bike and Minneapolis themed posters.

Blank Wall.
Blank Wall.
More Bike Themed Wall Art.
More Bike Themed Wall Art.
Bike & Minneapolis Themed Wall Art.
Bike & Minneapolis Themed Wall Art.

We also swapped out the brown electrical outlets for white, but we’ll have to live with the awful florescent lights for the time being.

Long term, we’d like to buy a second TV an hang it on the wall. I didn’t take a picture of it, but we removed the old counter/bar, and (poorly) patched the hole in the wall – that space would work nicely now for mounting a TV. This is shaping up to be some sort of family room or play room or something, so you know, kids gotta watch Curious George somewhere…

Anyway, thanks for reading.

Basement shelves

We’ve been working hard on the garage project lately, but we needed a bit of a distraction to get our minds on other things for a while. Luckily, our messy basement provided an easy afternoon project. Our basement was a holy mess, with all our tools and everything thrown around everywhere. It also doesn’t help that we have everything that should be in the garage stored down there too, including 6 bicycles, which take up some space! Here’s a shot of the back corner of the basement:

This place is a mess.

But hey, lookey here! After a bit of rearranging, a nice space in the corner emerges where we could build some shelves right in front of the sump pump.

Nice place for some shelves.

It’s probably not a great idea to build shelves in front of the sump pump, but we think we’ll still be able to access the sump if we need to…. not that it’s doing anything anyway since it hasn’t been plugged in since we bought the place (there are no plugs anywhere near the thing!).

So we set out to build some shelves. KP was an excellent helper for the day. She loved carrying around a box of screws, dumping them all out, then putting them all in the box again. So helpful!

Little Helper.

Actually, I know nobody really wants to hear stories about how adorable someone thinks their own kid is, but she was pretty darn adorable. Since she was holding the screws, any time I needed another one, I just had to hold out my hand and say “another one please”, and she would reach in the box, pull one out, and hand it to me.  If you don’t have kids, you’re thinking “blah blah kid story blah blah”. However, I assure you it was adorable.

KP handed me screws one by one.

BAM! Here’s what Mel, KP, and I ended up with! It’s made entirely out of 2×4’s and 1/2″ OSB. Four shelves, the bottom one 4″ off the ground to help keep stuff dry. The rear two posts are attached to the floor joists above to keep the shelves from tipping over.

Shelves in place.

I could put anything I wanted to on here! Items! Artifacts!

Empty Shelves.

Little Helper trying out the shelves with small booties.

Strong enough to support at least a dozen KP’s.

Then I couldn’t really think of a lot to put on them…. I’m sure I’ll think of something.

Loaded up. Sort of.

OK, nice little diversion, but now it’s time to focus on the garage again…

Install a Secure Sump Pump Cover

Our TISH re-inspection is tomorrow morning, so we had to finish up our last repair item from the list. Remember this item?

1. Sump Pumps – Sump Pump lacks a secure cover.

I don’t have much experience with sump pumps, so I had no idea how the covers are typically attached. I tried googling it, but didn’t find too much. I really wasn’t sure how to approach this one.

So I sent an email to the inspector who will be doing the inspection tomorrow and asked him what he would be looking for. He said it didn’t need to be anything intense, that a few screws through the lid to hold it in place will be good enough.

“Sweet!” I thought. “This will be easy.” And I set off to get the job done.  The sump pump is located in a corner of the basement, somewhere behind all this crap:

The Sump Pump is hidden back there somewhere.

After spending a few minutes moving all the junk out of the way, here’s what the sump basket looked like. Clearly, the cover isn’t attached. It’s just kind of flopping around there. It’s can’t go anywhere, since the permanently installed pvc pipe goes right through the middle of it, but it’s still not securely attached. I’m not sure why this is a big deal – maybe something about babies falling in or something? I dunno. At this point, I’m not asking questions – I just need an inspectors signature on the line tomorrow.

The cover is not securely attached.

A little aside about sump baskets, since some of the readers might not know what they are or why some houses have them. They’re installed in houses with high groundwater. The sump basket sits flush with the basement floor, and the bottom of the basket extends about 3 feet beneath the basement floor, and it has a bunch of holes in it. The idea is that if the groundwater gets higher than the bottom of the basket (i.e. less than 3 feet below the basement floor), the basket will fill up with water before any water gets in the basement. As the basket fills, the sump pump pumps the water up the pipe and out the side of the house. If the pump can keep up with the rising groundwater, hopefully your basement stays dry. Here’s a look inside our sump basket, and you can see the pump.

Inside the Sump Basket.

It seems to me that the city code should more concerned by the fact that there isn’t an electric outlet anywhere within a 30′ radius of the pump (and the pump cord is only 5′ long…) than the cover not being secured, but whatever… I’ll tackle that project another day.

To fix it, I just used three deck screws through the lid into the basket. It should have taken 5 minutes, but on one of the holes the screw was hitting a chunk of concrete from the poorly poured floor, so I had to make a trip to the hardware store for a masonry drill bit. After that, though, it was a snap.

See the three deck screws around the edge?

Ok, well our TISH inspection is Monday morning. We think we’ve got everything crossed off the list.

1. Sump Pumps – Sump Pump lacks a secure cover.
2. Smoke Detectors/CO Detectors – Improperly located smoke detector in the basement.
3. Electrical Service Installation – Missing house side grounding clamp at water meter.
4. Water Supply Piping – Corrosion noted on water piping in areas.
5. Plumbing Fixtures – No backflow device installed at laundry tub.
6. Plumbing Fixtures – Improper air gap on toilet ballcock.
7. Exterior Pluming Backflow Prevention – missing backflow preventers on exterior faucets.
8. Electric Service Installation – Electric panel located in bathroom.
9. Electrical Outlets/Fixtures – Power mast is loose.

Wish us luck. I’ll let you know how it goes. If you read any headlines that say “Homeowner Strangles Inspector, Blames Sump Pump” you know it was probably me.