Friday, February 15, 2013

DIY Faux Tin Tile Ceiling

Our laundry room makeover is slowly taking shape, so I thought I'd share an update, plus the most interesting thing we've completed so far: our new ceiling!

First, let me get you up to speed on what we've done so far. Here's the room after John had removed the washer, dryer, and hot water heater: (Brace yourselves: IT'S BAD.)

This is also after John took up the old adhesive floor tiles and trim, so at least that part wasn't *quite* this ugly before. Still: UG.

As you can see, the ceiling is old stained popcorn. We've slicked out almost all of the other ceilings in the house, but this was one of the few remaining holdouts. (That little green strip is where the hot water heater sits; we couldn't get behind it to paint last time. And the panel in the ceiling is our attic access.)

John laid new tile:

And here's the room after we finished painting:

Ahh. That's better.

The recessed shelving on the right used to be an exterior door, believe it or not. John removed the door and built out that recess in its place. (The outside has insulation and exterior siding to match the rest of the house.) Since we never used that door, it's been a super handy upgrade for more storage.

Ok, now let's get to the fun part: our new ceiling!

If you've never heard of this product before, then I'm about to blow your mind:

These are Styrofoam ceiling tiles you can glue up right over popcorn ceilings! No prep work required!

I've already used tiles like these in my office and bedroom closet, and I freaking LOVE them. There are dozens of different designs you can choose from, they're surprisingly cheap (no more than $4 per 20-inch tile), and they go up in a matter of hours.

Here, take a look at my office ceiling:

You can barely see the seams for this design, which makes it look like a big mass of swirly circles up there. So fun!

And here's my closet:

Yes, my closet is pink and has a tiny crystal chandelier in it. WHAT.

Ok, back to the laundry room:

You can work from a corner or the middle of the room. Since we have a light in the middle, that's where we started. Here John's using a laser-level to find the middle line:

You can also just use a string or chalk line, though. The first tile is the most important; if it goes up crooked, your whole ceiling will be off.

Working out from the middle. (I cut the center corners of the tiles off with scissors.)

You stick the tiles up with construction adhesive - the kind that comes in a caulking tube. We used Loc-Tite, which I highly recommend. (Don't get the foam kind they tell you to; it doesn't stick! Just get the general all-purpose kind.)

The only trick is making sure you squeeze out really high piles of glue at each spot, the better for it all to smoosh into place once it's on the ceiling.

Making progress!

Once you have all the whole tiles you can fit in place, it's time to move on the smaller pieces. The tiles cut easily with a utility blade, so it's just a matter of measuring your space, marking your tiles with a straight edge and a ballpoint pen, and then making your cuts:

Make sure you mark the *back* of your tile, of course, so you don't have any ink left on the front.

We even stuck the tiles to our access panel, to make it blend in with the ceiling a bit more:

Even with all the small cuts and odd corners, John was able to finish the ceiling in just a few hours.

After you get all the tiles up comes the really time consuming part, though: caulking in all the lines.

These tiles are great, but they're not perfectly square. That means you'll have small gaps here and there between them, which you have to fill in with caulking. Not a big deal, but it does take a while.

Once the caulk is dry, you can paint the ceiling with any water-based paint you like. We debated going bright silver for an extra authentic tin-tile look, but then decided white was pretty enough. They'll just look like painted tin tiles. So, a coat of satin white paint later:

Pretty, huh? We're aiming for a vintage industrial vibe back here, but of course nothing else is finished yet - not even the light. Stay tuned for updates as I have them.

Ok, resources: there are several sites selling these tiles (just google "Styrofoam ceiling tiles") although most seem to have all the same styles. Almost all of the sites have every design at a set $3.99 per tile, but I price-shopped around and found mine for only $2.18 per tile over at StyroDecor. (SOLD!) Shipping was $14, so the whole ceiling only cost me about $65. And the tiles were here a day and a half later - that's the fastest shipping of anything I've ever purchased online!

And since I'm gushing, let me assure you I'm not being reimbursed in any way for anything in this post. (If only...) I've also purchased from Ceiling Tiles By Us in the past, and that was an equally awesome experience. I think they even e-mailed a week later to ask if I needed any help, and to see how the install went.

K, that's all for now! Hope you guys enjoyed seeing what we've been up to the past week!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Epic Mario/Ghostbusters Animation

What do you get when you cross Mario Brothers with Ghostbusters, and then condense the entire movie down to just under four minutes?

This jaw-droppingly fantastic animation by James Farr:

The 8-bit music, the graphics, the Yoshi eggs, the Tully 'Shroom, the Star Puft (!!) - I WANT THIS TO BE A REAL CARTOON. You know, a regular Saturday morning kind!

We may not get a whole series, but Farr *does* say a sequel is coming. I'm already picturing a giant Princess Peach Statue walking through the streets of New York...

Oh, and here's a neat side note: Farr is the same guy who made that Portal bedroom and bathroom for his son that went viral a while back, not to mention the Doctor Who/Back to the Future mash up cartoon you may remember from last month. Farr, you have TOO MUCH TALENT. Stop that. You're making the rest of us look bad.

(I'm kidding: NEVER STOP. Can you make a Princess Bride/Holy Grail mash up next? ["Fetch me...a SHRUBBERY!" "As you wish."])

I think Kendra C. was the first to send that in, so many thanks to her for the epic-ness.

Also, I thought this was especially appropriate considering the shirt I just bought last week from The Yetee:

Clearly some great minds out there are thinking alike!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

No Regretsy

Regretsy is Shutting Down, via BoingBoing

Many of you no doubt already saw this as it happened on February 1st, like I did, but BoingBoing just posted a snippet of an interview where April describes the behind-the-scenes work of the site that really struck home with me. I've always felt a kind of kinship with April, though we've only swapped a few e-mails in our whole acquaintance, and I'm sorry to see the Regretsy community go. April ran the Cake Wrecks of Etsy crafts, and I ran the Regretsy of cakes. Save the subject matter, we were in the same business. April was and is so much braver than me, though, and I confess I often read Regretsy with a guilty kind of glee mixed with envy - her snark is as legendary as it is unrepentant. And while at my heart I know I'm just a gentler jokester, the fact is I look to writers like April to say the things I can't (or won't) sometimes, and to joke about things that make me gasp like the Dowager Countess, imagining the kind of hate mail I would get if I DARED make *that* joke - but I laugh all the same.

Seeing Regretsy go also strikes home my sense of mortality for Cake Wrecks, since Regretsy was actually younger than CW by nearly a year. It feels so strange to have outlived it, in a way, but when I think of all the times John and I swore we would shut the site down only to recant at the eleventh hour, maybe it's not so strange after all. Traffic isn't the issue; we've been at a respectable plateau for ages now, although our ad revenue continues to tank at an alarming rate. (Last month we made less than a quarter of what we did three years ago - even with more readers now than we had then. But that's how it is for everyone online these days, and it's still enough for us to live on for now, so I can't complain.) It's more what April said about the long hours and e-mails and heartache and how everything has to be bigger and badder and more shocking to please the readers - and she's right: even if you love every second of it, you just can't do that forever.

(Actually, April didn't say anything about heartache - that one's all mine.) 

Don't worry if you're a CW fan, though; I may not be able to do this forever, but I can still do it a while longer. And it's not like I'm alone; I have John and Lindsey and Sharyn to help back me up a bit. Even if I do drive them all a little crazy with my editing and general control freakishness.

Anyway, sorry if this sounds a bit melancholy; I haven't been able to spend as much time as I'd like here on Epbot this past week, and that always gets me down. (It is my hobby, after all, and has to take a back seat to the "real job.") On the bright side, one of the reasons is that pantry/laundry room makeover John and I are working on. I have a washer and dryer in my dining room, every piece of food stuff we own is strewn throughout the house, and we just hooked the water heater back up after three days for some much-need hot showers. Heh. You can bet I'll have all the gory before and after pics for you as soon as I have them, and I hope a few tutorials as well, since I've convinced John to let me try some crazy fun stuff in there. (Three words: Sliding barn door. OH YEAH.)

Getting back to Regretsy, though, go read the whole Wired article BoingBoing linked to. It's an eye-opening glimpse at the world I used to take completely for granted, until I fell into it myself. It's also a comfort to know April will still be online, writing her own Epbot, as it were, at Fads and memes and niche blogs may fade away, but I like to think that any strong writer who has a platform to write whatever she likes will always "stay interesting." These personal blogs may not have the viral successes, but they have something better: staying power, variety, and a real personal connection.

At least, that's what I'm banking on. ;)