Transformation of 'Mud Room'

clover8May 22, 2009

Let me first explain. Our "mudroom" or addition to our 1911 house was put on in the 1930s as a garage. Built on slab. Concrete under the carpet (yes, carpet, which was put in for staging reasons as we just bought it last year).

Anyways, we have those ugly drop ceiling tiles, and I couldn't resist myself today and just had to pull a few off (ok, maybe more than a few) to see what was underneath. Because, from the outside, it looks to have a nice somewhat cathedral ceiling.

So, ok, after removal of those tiles, there was that big pad of black bag insulation (looks like it is full of sawdust) topped with fiberglass batting. I pulled enough down to see the beautiful sloped wood ceiling (almost 2 feet in some areas), and 3 beautiful trusses. I probably adds another 4-5 feet in height. I saw the main holding beam and the cross beams too.

So, me being curious, pulled down most of the insulation, bagged it, and got up on a ladder with a flashlight to "see" what I had. Looks pretty good. I wouldn't mind exposing this somehow. However I could see the shingles thought some tiny cracks in the wood, so I would have to put some sort of foam insulation panels in.

My boyfriend was furious with me since he saw what I did, but I did point out to him that I did discover old frayed knob-n-tub wiring over the insulation (a big no-no) and that we need to get that taken care of while everything is still uncovered. And it is not like he would do all of the work either. I understand he is Mr. Black-n-White, but to me, discovering 2' wide boards is like opening a Christmas present. He needs to chill out and have a little creativity in him and help me work this out in a practical way so we can take advantage of the beauty of this frame.

Any suggestions, or should I leave well enough alone and just put back a dryboard/plaster ceiling on the already ferring strips. Seems a shame not to expose this, but I may loose alot of heat and I like in the Northeast, over a slab none-the-less.

What would you all do? Give it to me straight. I can take it. Really, I can.

Thanks in advance!


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well I tore out part of the ceiling on our front porch 'cause I just knew it was a drop ceiling and up inside would be beaded board. I was right...but it has major damage in places so back up went the cheap luan board for now. But it haunts me and one day I will get it restored.

Then I tore up the layers and layers of other flooring in the back hall and 1/2 bath while the floor guy was at lunch 'cause I just KNEW there was old heartpine under all that other c&*(. I was right. Yeah ! And they agreed to refinish it all along with what they were already doing. Everytime I walk into my back hall which is about 2 dozen times a day I smile.

So perhaps I am not the best one to ask but if you can afford it and if you can get someone to do it right then I would sure fix up that area. How big is the sq ft of the floor area ? Do you have pics? It really helps to have pics. You have time before the cold sets in to get it researched. Ask others in the area who they have used to do work and go see what they have done.

As an aside...maybe the boy friend is not someone for you if you like this kind of adventure and he is already behaving this way...chill is right. Sorry...just a thought :) c

    Bookmark   May 26, 2009 at 4:50PM
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I like your sense of adventure. You sound like me when I'm looking around my house. I was a disaster when I bought it. I keep looking around, seeing what it could be and what we could make of what is there instead of covering things up. I feel like I'm treasure hunting. I would like to see some pictures, too. I would be nice to have an idea of what you are working with.

I live in PA and the winters can suck the heat out of a space. I'd like to know how much work you are willing to do your self and just what you have in mind.

Dying of curiosity.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2009 at 12:57PM
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Thanks for the responses.

Trailrunner: I'm glad to see others share my sense of curiosity and I'm not the only one who is curious to see what is behind the curtain, so to I'm inspired that you went with your instincts and discovered the heart pine in the back! Doesn't it feel great to "discover" what has been covered up for years and years and then bring out it's full beauty. That's what drives me. I am currently researching how to go about restoring the ceilings. They are too good to hide, they really are.

I'm working on getting pictures up, so once I do, I hope to get some more insight on what people think I should do.

Right now, the whole house stinks to high heaven because half of the ceiling is ripped out and the insulation is moldy smelling. But, I'm praying that at least when we get the old insulation out, the smell will go away.

Yes, and I agree that the boyfriend doesn't really share my sense of excitement about the house and it really is a downer. I pay the mortgage and half of the bills, so its not a matter of money. He just thinks its an annoyance and another thing he has to fix. I really don't like that attitude. So, he may have to go with the old

Peanutmom: That's exactly how I feel, like I'm treasure hunting. I like knowing how things were put together back then, and what clues the house can tell me about how it was built, what problems it might have for preventive mantainence, and the possibility of uncovering something beautiful and special to the time period.

I'm willing to do the demo myself, which I've already started. It is pretty easily. The cardboard tile ceiling comes down in rows - but the insulation is really messy since it has been chewed through by mice through the decades. But, after 70 years I agree it should be replaced. The mudroom is cold as ice, even in the summer (I think because it was built over the cement slab), so heating it with the tiny woodstove we have in there during the winter takes quite a bit of effort. I'm thinking better insulation would help to resolve that problem.

Plus, I discovered the old knob-and-tube cloth wiring siting right over the insulation...not good. In fact, it is a fire hazard, so that needs to be replaced. I feel that there was a purpose behind me finding all this well in advance of any possible accidents in the future.

This house is in RI, so I'm on the east coast as well and I agree that the winters are downright rough and demand lots of heat. The better insulation, the lower the cost of fuel, and that's good all around.

After much research, I'm arriving at the thought that those ceilings may need to be covered up after all, but keeping them cathedral style. It is too bad, they really are beautiful, but leaving them exposed would be akin to keeping the doors and windows open. And money is tight, so knowing the heat is escaping would drive me crazy.

I'll be posting pictures soon, and would love to hear your opinions on what to do.

Thanks for the input in advance!

    Bookmark   May 28, 2009 at 9:09PM
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My guess is that you will need to insulate and then decide what to put over the insulation, stained beadboard, painted beadboard, dry wall (ick), but keeping the slope of the ceiling. It doesn't sound like a hard job to me. I bet if you goodle, you can find some nice looking cathedral ceilings that you could mimic.

I would have done the same thing. I ripped out our ceiling tiles expecting to see damaged plaster and instead saw lots of wallpaper over a perfectly good plaster job. Now it is beautiful.

I expect that the boyfriend doesn't share your feelings about old houses returned to their splendor.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2009 at 12:27PM
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Alternative explanation.....

Your boyfriend may be fine with taking on projects, but you might have a tendency to start new projects without considering what he might want to do. If you are going to work on home improvement projects together, you both need to be making decisions about what gets done and on what schedule. Ripping a ceiling out without consulting your partner is a good way to start a fight.

As for the ceiling, it can be challenging to insulate a cathedral ceiling well. The heat naturally wants to rise, so any little air gap will act as a heat chimney. You might consider spray foam to the depth of the rafters and then put a beadboard or tongue and groove ceiling over it.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2009 at 2:47PM
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There is a thread on the kitchen forum about several cathedral ceilings. You may want to look...if you search "truss" you will find one beautiful example that a gals husband built.

I agree w/ billl know this guy better than we do LOL. Also yes the smell does go away after you clean all of that out and let it air well. There is also the gel stuff at HD that you put in a room to rid the is in a jar and you open the lid...lasts 30 days I think and I have read great things about it. GOOD LUCK...please keep us posted. c

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 2:54PM
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Hi Clover! I think you me and Peanutmom could have a grand old time if we ever got together!

DH did the same the 2nd day we owned this house, though to a much smaller degree. He pulled out "just one" of those ceiling tiles to "see what was under there". Then pulled down the whole section LOL We spent the whole winter looking at the support beams for the dormer and the insulation. Did wonders for our heating bills, I tell ya! And we haven't fixed it yet, either. I know exactly how you feel though, there are so many things here I want to "just see". The thought of something bad too big for me to take on right now behind wall paneling has stopped some of it though ;) That and the fact that I have way too many things sorta started. I need to finish *something* first!

As for the bf, well, I agree with everyone. Sometimes I think it's a curse to see all sides of an issue. Admittedly, it's awesome to share my enthusiasm with my guy, however, the whole thing is overwhelming. Especially as I am the more 'get things done' of the 2 of us. That said, I've definitely started my share of projects and left them unfinished. And there are plenty of his projects that make me crazy because they sit without progress for so long. If the relationship is worth it to you (and previous comments weren't *just* venting) it might be good for the 2 of you to sit down and openly discuss feelings and make plans/compromise now, before things get bad. I too handle significantly more of the bills, so I know where you're coming from. I've heard so many stories of house renovating ruining relationships; it's better caught and dealt with right in the beginning.

Best of luck and can't wait to see pics! Oh yeah, is it possible to do something sort of temporary right now, then in a few years re roof and make it all nice and wonderful and weather tight above those boards so you can keep them visible? Is that actually possible and advisable, I don't know, just thought I'd throw it out there.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 4:45PM
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