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Bryan Baeumler Answers your Questions

Hi, Bryan. I just saw an old episode of Disaster DIY where you used faux tin ceiling tiles. I was wondering who would carry a good selection of these tiles. We have a popcorn ceiling in our front foyer which has been poorly patched over the years due to a toilet overflowing upstairs. Do you have any other ideas for going over top of this?

Hi Debbie! I remember the episode — but that was a while ago. You can definitely install a veneer panel over the popcorn, but depending on the material you may want to strap the ceiling with 1 x 2s first — that will give you a nice solid place to attach the panelling or veneer. As far as stucco repairs, it’s definitely more of an art than a science. If you’ve had significant water damage and multiple repairs in that area, you may be best to scrape the ceiling smooth, repair or replace the drywall, and start over. You can get pressurized stucco repair cans, but they take a bit of practice and are really only meant for very small areas. Your best bet is probably scraping and repairing the existing drywall before putting anything on top.

Bryan: Occasionally we’ve had slight mildew problems on the old bathroom tiles, which were fixed with a bleach solution. Now we have acrylic walls and we are seeing a slight pink scum in the shower area. We had a vent installed but it made no difference. It is easy to wash it off but it keeps returning. What is this pink gunk, what causes it and how do we get rid of it permanently?
Hi, Barb. My guess is that your vent is wired in with the light, and/or doesn’t run long enough after you’ve had a shower to remove enough moisture from the air. I’m also going to assume that the shower is on an exterior wall, with insufficient insulation, which would mean a little condensation even when you weren’t using the shower, adding to the problem.

If any of that moisture was getting through the grout lines into the organic materials in behind the tiles, you’d start to see mould and mildew growth. Now that you’ve installed acrylic walls, that should eliminate the organic problem but it won’t eliminate the moisture, obviously, considering it’s a shower. Try running your fan a little longer, and leaving the bathroom door open to reduce moisture in that room.

As for the pink scum, you may want to get your water tested — water high in iron tends to leave a reddish residue. It also sounds to me like it could be shampoo residue, but I don’t have a lot of experience with shampoo anymore!

Dear Bryan: We’ve remodelled the bedroom over the garage at our bungalow, and want to replace the old carpet. As you would guess, the floor is cold due to the garage not being insulated. Can we put down in-floor heating and then hardwood on top of that or do we first have to insulate the ceiling of the garage? The garage is mainly used as my husband’s work room. Which is less expensive and best for the long term: in-floor heating or blown-in foam insulation?

Hi, Sybil. Avoiding cold floors above a garage is relatively simple when the house is built, insulated and heated properly. It’s a little more complicated and costly after the fact.

Garages are typically designed to be unheated, which means you need an effective insulation and vapour barrier between the garage and any living space. There are two things you can do here: either add heat, or reduce heat loss. Adding radiant heat to the floor of the bedroom, without insulating properly, means a lot of that heat will be lost to the cold garage below. Insulating the ceiling of the garage with spray foam (being sure to maintain an air gap between the insulation and underside of the subfloor to create an effective thermal break) will reduce heat loss from the bedroom, but it won’t warm up the floors. My guess is that both options will cost approximately the same — but adding heat will be an ongoing cost instead of a one-time purchase.

If your budget allows, I’d do both! Since the garage is mainly your husband’s workshop, you might also consider insulating the exterior walls and adding heat. That would keep him comfortable, and keep the bedroom floor warm.

Hey, Bryan. I’m wondering if it’s possible to stop a bouncy floor without removing the plaster ceiling below or the floor itself? Can holes be drilled through the plaster, with some sort of spray foam injected into all the joist cavities? This is a 1970s triplex. The living rooms are all 15 x 15 feet and they only used 2 x 8s back then.

Hi, Kaz! Sorry to hear about the bouncy floor. According to current codes, the current max span for a 2 x 8 floor joist is under 15 feet, which explains the bounce. Although injecting foam might stiffen up the floor a little, it’s not really something I’ve seen done or would recommend.

Before you do anything, you should bring in a structural engineer, licensed designer or architect to give you specific suggestions based on a site visit. From the sounds of it, apart from ripping down the ceiling below and sistering up the floor joists to stiffen up the floor, there are only a couple less destructive options:

1) You could look at cutting down the span of the floor joist by either installing a midspan partition wall, or a less invasive beam below to help support the floor.

2) It may be possible to put posts in the exterior walls and have a dropped beam bisect the room, and cut the joist load in half. If you’re looking at replacing flooring upstairs, another layer of ¾-inch T&G subfloor, glued and screwed into place, would also stiffen up the floor. But there are height implications when it comes to stair openings and such things to consider.