Random House Updates (Asbestos Test Results, Ceiling Tiles, Hardwood Floors, and Front Door)

As of today, we’ve owned this house for a full week.  And in that time, I’ve succeeded in making a huge mess!  🙂  But it’s the good kind of mess.  The necessary kind of mess.

I just received the results from the the asbestos tests on the tile and adhesive that are in my kitchen.

Possible vinyl asbestos tile - VAT - in my kitchen

I’m actually pretty pleased with the results.

The tiles are asbestos tiles. According to the lab results, they contain 3% Chrysotile, which is asbestos. However, I’m not too concerned about the tiles since they came up so easily (most of them came up with me just using my fingernails under the corner), and they came up in whole pieces (except for the ones that were already broken).

But the best news is that the adhesive contains NO ASBESTOS! I’m thrilled with this, because that means I can sand the boards as I had hoped, rather than having to go through some extensive removal process using special chemicals that would just create a big mess.

I just need to be careful in handling the tiles to bag them up (careful not to break them, etc.), then do some research on how I’m supposed to dispose of them, and then I’ll be ready to sand!

While I was waiting on those test results, I decided to do a little investigating into those ceiling tiles that cover the ceiling of living room, dining room, kitchen, Matt’s game room, master bedroom, hallway, and hall bathroom.

12 x 12 Polystyrene (Styrofoam) ceiling tiles in my home

I know many of you expressed your concern that those ceiling tiles might contain asbestos as well.  I was concerned about that too.  In fact, I’ve been trying to come up with ideas for covering them up, rather than removing them, just so I wouldn’t disturb them.

But then yesterday, my curiosity got the most of me, and I just HAD to see what was behind those tiles.  And I’m so glad I took the plunge!  The tiles were attached to pieces of 1″ x 4″ lumber, which were attached right to the drywall on the ceiling.

Polystyrene (Styrofoam) ceiling tiles in my hallway

And best of all, they’re 100% polystyrene (what we commonly refer to as Styrofoam, although that’s a brand name and not a generic name).  There’s no asbestos in them.  I guarantee it.  Here’s a little video I took.

(I’m so sorry about the iPhone video faux pas, i.e., the vertical video!! I’m used to using my Kodak video camera, which is only slightly bigger than an iPhone, and automatically takes horizontal videos. I’ll try to do better in the future.) 🙂

These tiles are still readily available at home improvement stores, and they cost about 62 cents per square foot. Evidently they’re good for blocking sound, as well as providing extra insulation in your home. And if you like the look (which I don’t), they can also be used to easily cover a popcorn ceiling.

So that’s a huge relief. No asbestos on the ceiling. Just lots, and lots, and lots of polystyrene. And it looks like I won’t have to purchase 1″ x 4″ lumber for quite some time. 🙂

I’ve also been trying to decide how I want to refinish my hardwood floors. I really don’t want to polyurethane them. Polyurethane is basically plastic that encapsulates the wood, i.e., it sits right on top. I want something that will soak into the wood, giving it a more authentic, hand-rubbed appearance.

I considered doing a tung oil finish, but after reading the whole how-to on the Real Milk Paint Co. website, it just seemed so labor intensive. Then I considered just using wax (after Joan at For The Love Of A House told me that a waxed floor was her favorite, even though she has tung oiled floors now). But after watching videos on waxing hardwood floors, that seemed too labor intensive as well.

(It’s very possible that I was just tired, or feeling lazy, when I was reading these articles and watching the videos.) 😀

So I think I’ve decided to use Waterlox, which is basically a finish that’s made with tung oil, along with some other stuff.

I did a little test spot in my office…

(Again, another vertical iPhone video. Hopefully this will be the last one.)

The only problem is that Waterlox is expensive. I would want the satin finish, but in order to get that finish, you have to actually start with the regular finish (glossy), and then go over that with the satin finish. Which means an added expense. Which means that purchasing enough Waterlox for all of my floors, and the adequate number of coats in both the original finish and the satin finishing coat, would cost right at $700.

That seems so expensive, so I’m still thinking about it.

Edit: Waterlox is expensive (in my opinion, and especially compared to the cost of polyurethane), but I just figured the cost of the tung oil finish as outlined on the Real Milk Paint Co. website, and it would cost about $500 MORE than Waterlox. For some reason, I had assumed that it would be cheaper. Guess that’s what I get for assuming! 🙂

And one more small update…

I didn’t have time to actually do any work at the house yesterday, but I did go over to meet with the plumber (who will be removing all of those gas spouts for me early next week).

While I was waiting for him to show up, I decided to remove the storm door from the front door.

Exterior - front of house 02 - resized

I was really quite ill-equipped for the task. I had taken my electric drill with the screwdriver bit over to the house, but I had forgotten an extension cord, so it did me little good. Fortunately, I found a regular screwdriver in my purse. (You carry a set of screwdrivers in your purse too, right? That’s not weird at all, right?) 😀

I also didn’t have a ladder at the house, so I couldn’t reach the top row of screws. I finally found a stack of cinder blocks on the side of the house, and dragged one of those onto the front porch to use as a step stool. It lifted me up just enough so that I could reach the top screws if I stood on my tip toes. (You know I’m only five feet tall, right?) 😀

But finally the task was done, in about ten times the amount of time it should have taken me had I taken all of the right tools. Oh well.

Front porch - screen door removed

I know that’s just one small thing on a front porch that needs lots and lots of attention, but just having that dark door removed made me breathe a sigh of relief.

Of course, I wont be keeping the door blue. I actually have no clue what color I want to paint it. I do want all of the trim around the door, windows, etc., to be white. But I have no clue about the door.

Any ideas?

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  1. I painted my front door a deep, dark purple. Because I like purple and it’s different for a front door. I smile every time I open it.

    1. We have a deep purple entry door too! I used reclaimed lumber to build the door. The different shades of wood tones didn’t sit well with us, so we finally decided to paint it and that dark purple turned out great. =D

  2. You crack me up…but love this blog! Glad to hear the asbestos testing worked out in your favor- whew! And yes, those ceiling tiles have to go..WHY did people do that? must have been the IN thing to do at one point..noise reduction or temperature monitoring…I don’t think they helped with either really.

    Paint your door a hot coral orange! I love vibrant colors…OR paint it matt black and then you can put all sorts of beautiful hangings on it..not that you couldn’t do that with the coral. I saw a chair painted that color recently and drooled a bit.

    1. I have a feeling the ceiling tiles were put there specifically for added insulation. I just prefer my insulation to go ABOVE the drywall on the ceiling where you can’t see it. 😀

      I’m intrigued by the idea of the coral color. I do find myself being drawn to that color lately. But the black door with accents of coral also sounds great. I’m gonna see if I can find some doors/front porches in Pinterest with those colors. That might be the winning combination!

  3. I really admire your mad decision making skillz, lol. Seriously, I have been renovating for almost a year and my laundry room and kitchen are still torn out because I can’t seem to make up my mind. Do you ever do distance interior decorating? I could really use some professional help.

    1. Unfortunately, I don’t do any decorating for other people anymore, locally or long distance. Those days were fun while they lasted, but life is so much more peaceful now just having to worry about my own home. 🙂 But I have full confidence that you can do it!! I think the main thing is just not to over think it. And remember, often times you’re just dealing with paint colors. Painting a wall or room is simple, so it’s not like you absolutely have to live with it if you don’t like it.

      But I do understand indecision. We lived in the condo for three years before I finally decided how I wanted to decorate it. I was paralyzed with fear of making the wrong decision. And interestingly, that was during the time I had my interior decorating business. I could easily walk into another person’s home and know immediately what they needed to do. But with my own home, I simply couldn’t make a decision. I finally just forced myself to decide on something, and just went with it.

  4. Are you going to try to get the ceiling demolition done before you start on the floors? What about the (hall?) closet you said you wanted to remove? Too bad there’s not a team of locals who could come in and blitz the grunt work so you can get on with the fun stuff. Then again you may be finding satisfaction in all the demo. At least for now. 😉

    As for the color of your door… what makes you smile? What makes your heart sing? Go with that.

    1. I’ll at least need to get that closet removed before I sand the floors. I just ordered the Waterlox, and it’ll be in next Wednesday. That means I have four days to remove the closet, clean the floors, and get them sanded. And that’ll give them JUST enough time to dry (although not enough time to cure completely) before our scheduled move in date. Soooo…it doesn’t look like I’ll have time to do the ceilings also before then, unless I can find my Wonder Woman cape. Where the heck did I put that thing? 😀

      1. You mean you take off your cape to shower and sleep? 😉 Seriously, lots of us out here in blog-reading-land think you ARE Wonder Woman. Truly!

  5. I love demo. You can really feel good about what you have accomplished and it is fast compared to when you have to start building it back!

    1. I love black doors! I think it would look great with white trim and the beige siding/stone. I do wonder if black might just make it kind of disappear. I’m concerned that since my front yard gets almost no light because of the big trees, that I might need something a bit brighter to stand out. Hmmm…I just don’t know. But every door I see on Pinterest that just really jumps out at me is either black or dark blue.

      1. How about taking a digital pic of the front door/front face and Photoshopping different colors onto the door to find just that “right” one?

  6. Loving your blog!! The first thing I do each morning (with cup of coffee in hand) is click on your blog to see what you have done while I was asleep! I am so excited for you (and me…I am working on my house by myself and am working along with you…you have no idea how much of a load you have lifted off my shoulders! It was a God given miracle when I found your blog!) Guess I think you work 24/7 – sorry…. Every little thing makes such a big difference, like just removing the storm door. I think Navy or Eggplant would a good color for the front door.

    1. Well then, I’m so glad you found me, Darlene! We women who have to tackle these projects ourselves need to stick together and encourage each other along the way. 🙂 We can do it!

      1. Yes we CAN!!!! I’m right there with you Kristi and Darlene, working on my house by myself. Of course I hire out whatever I absolutely cannot do, but I do as much as humanly possible. (my budget demands it, lol) But there is quite a lot of satisfaction in making this house MINE (my husband left 4 yrs ago). It feels good to be a strong woman. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again — YOU ARE SUCH AN INSPIRATION KRISTI!! 🙂

  7. I just want to know how you do all this stuff by yourself. Do you work out with weights between projects? Seriously, I am taller than you, but the idea of trying to lift a lot of heavy stuff is just totally daunting to me. What is your trick?

    1. Honestly, I chalk it up to my personality type, for the most part. I’m very (VERY) independent, strong-willed, and incredibly determined. My mom tells me that one of the first sentenced I put together as small child was, “Me do it meself!” And that attitude has just stayed with me all my life. And I become even more determined if someone tells me that something can’t be done. 😉

      1. i am the same way…dont tell me i cant do something…i like proving you wrong. 🙂 i can wait for you to sand the floors. i pulled up carpets,pulled tack boards and now living with unfinshed hard wood floors . i want to sand them …not sure i can handle the sander…i am waiting to see your blog about progreess..pros and cons…and basically how to do it. lol

  8. You must be so excited. What a great place. I look forward to seeing how you are going to tackle it. As for the door colour how about lime green. My house is grey with white trim and that’s what I decided to paint mine when I get around to it. Cheers

    1. A lime green front door would be fun! I think I’ll let you do that and then enjoy your pictures. 🙂 I think I want something a little more subdued. Still not sure what, though.

  9. Kristi,
    Seriously, you could earn a ton of money if you ever offered 5-day workshops to teach the things you show on your blog. You could offer a total of 6 workshops: 2 for those who don’t know what power tools are & how to use them; 2 for people with modest experience using power tools; and 2 for people like you (but are there any people like you? If there were, they’d be having their own DIY blog. The money you earned from teaching the rest of us–colors, tool use, ideas, and hands-on learning–would finance money for future improvements of your home.
    Plus, a lot of us would get to meet you in person… I think all your readers consider you a friend already!
    Just an idea.

      1. Kristi,
        I love the workshop idea and to “build” (get it build, lol) on that idea, make it a hands-on over night camp at your new house where all of the learning takes place working on projects that need to be done ON your house. It could be a win-win for everyone. We would gain valuable experience guided by a wonderful instructor; and you would gain a whole lot of eager helpers.

  10. Check out the door on John & Sherry’s house at Younghouselove.com. I love it!!! That is my future door color – when I’m not in a townhouse that limits my options!

    1. I love the color they used, but I’m hoping to move away from those colors and towards something new and fresh for me. I’ve been using teal, turquoise, orange, apple green, and yellow for seven years now. I need to get out of this rut, and a new house is the perfect opportunity to discover new colors that I like. 🙂

  11. I used hard wax oil on my oak floors. It gives a satin finish that I just love. I got mine from Environmental Green Products in Oregon. It soaks into the wood and if you have a spot that looks a little worn you lightly sand, reapply the wax and buff when dry.

  12. I do carry a set of screw drivers in my purse and a knife. I used to carry my battery operated saw and drill in the truck of my car. I build a wooden tool box that I paint cobalt blue with stars. I got tired of waiting on my husband to make things on my wish list. I signed up for a community ed course and started doing it myself.

    Have fun.

  13. Ok, I lived in a very old, crappy house once upon a time. It had wood floors. I had a rabbit that I was trying to house train. He would poo all over the room he was in overnight. I mopped the floor everyday with linseed oil for about two months. The bunny refused to be trained but my oh my did the floor look GORGEOUS. It was the best wood floor I have ever lived with. I swear, linseed oil is the best thing for wood floors.

  14. So happy for the results of your Asbestos tests and also the great news about the ceiling tiles. On a whim, I painted my front door with AS chalk paint, Provence. I love it. I’m know you’ll find that Wonder Woman cape, because I’m sure you have one. BTW, I would love for you to do a workshop!

  15. When I sold real estate in San Antonio, I noticed that many of the homes had the tiles on the ceiling. I thought it was awful, and asked my broker why so many homes had it (I was a rookie then). She told me that the ground shifted so much in some areas that the ceiling would crack, so to hide that, the tiles were put up. I can also see that owners might have thought it was good insulation (remember popcorn ceiling insulation-ugly). Supposedly it was used by builders to better insulate the home. Come to find out from a few builders I knew that they used it to cover crappy sheetrock jobs. Kristi, you also may have some lead-based paint in your house. Wear a mask any time you do any sanding. It’s not that much to worry about, though. Just don’t breathe it or chew on the window sills!

  16. I don’t think $700 for the floor project sounds too bad… I just had my hardwood floors refinished by a professional and it cost $3000 for only about 600 square feet!!


  17. I’m glad that your kitchen tiles were mostly unbroken and that you can bag them up and have them hauled away to an appropriate facility and then sand your floor. I liked your ceiling and floor videos and amazingly, your voice was just as I thought it would be. Very easy to listen to. : ) I agree with one of the other posters that there are probably artists or others who might want that styrofoam for projects – maybe even some schools? As for your front door – you can’t go wrong with something bold like red. Our front door is a deep wine red, which was a compromise with my husband who thinks the only two colors are white and tan. I wanted candy apple red so this wine color was a compromise and I love it with our tan siding. Can’t wait for your next blog post…

  18. I carry a Leatherman-type tool in my car (it’s too heavy for my purse). Does that make it a Leatherwoman? 😀 At any rate, I constantly find a need for it.

    I’m a former antique refinisher, and Waterlox is an excellent product, though I’ve never used it on floors. Will you be going shoeless in your house? Many people are doing that these days in order to preserve the finish.

    We recently painted the outside of our house, and the front door is inset, which means it’s already in shadow. Add to that the live oaks in the front yard (like yours), and it’s quite dark, so I wanted a color to make it stand out. We painted it sort of a burgundy color, which isn’t too bright but really shows up at the street. It goes well with the brick front of the house and the green of the trees.

    1. I don’t think I’ll be going shoeless, or asking visitors to do that. One of the reasons I decided to go with Waterlox is because you can spot-refinish the floor. If there’s a scratch or stain or something, that one area can be sanded and then Waterlox re-applied, and it’ll blend right in. You can’t do that with polyurethane.

      But if I find myself having to spot-refinish too much, I might implement a no shoe rule. I’ll see how it goes.

  19. I painted my door coral after lots of agonizing over whether it old be too bright or gaudy. I love it. It makes me smile. Look for a color that makes you smile, Kristi!

  20. YYYYIIIIIPPPPPEEEEE!!! No huge cost to remove the glue!! 🙂 So glad! And then No asbestos in the ceiling! Your 2 for 3!! The ceiling cracks me up though… isn’t funny what some people do? Can’t wait to see the floors finished… however not going to lie. That would be the last thing I do since I wouldn’t want to damage the new finish w/ all the other work you need to do! Love the front door already, w/ only the storm door removed!! And I agree w/ the Black door!! So looking forward to all these changes. When do you plan on MOVING IN to the house???

    1. As of today, our move in date has been postponed. We were planning on moving in next Tuesday (Sept 3rd), but today the plumber discovered that we need some more extensive plumbing repair that we had originally anticipated. And then I tacked on a few special requests for the plumber, so all of that will be done next week.

      THEN, I’m hoping we can move in. 🙂 If we move in before then, we’ll have to live without hot water, and…well…I can’t do that. Ha!

  21. So exciting to watch and read as your home dream unfolds! I know you’ll make this place amazing, Kristi. I can relate to your floor excitement and dilemmas- the same exists aplenty in my house. We’re getting there…! Glad to have seen Terrie’s comment about hard wax oil- one thing we’ve not yet tried. Also: very glad the kitchen tiles weren’t worst-case-scenario! Best wishes!

  22. This is fantastic news! With the little bit of asbestos in the tiles and considering you can bag them up without breakage, you should be all set to go! I’m glad that the glue and ceiling tiles are safe as well. Wonder why they hung those ceiling tiles like that? Just one of those DIY mysteries I guess. Hard to figure out what another person was thinking! The finish for the floor you’ve decided upon is so pretty! I like how it takes the red out and gives the wood a nice matte finish. I had wood floors like that once, only darker, and I liked the matte finish (it didn’t show every little footprint either). Color for the front door. That’s always an experiment. What about something bold like turquoise or something rich like a deep, deep purple? Is the exterior grey? I always thought yellow was pretty with grey and white, maybe with some black accents somewhere. Nice cottagey combination. I’m sure there will be a lot of staring at paint swatches and maybe even testing no the door but you’ll find just the perfect color!
    Loving the updates so p lease keep them coming! Hugs, Leena

  23. Kristi, the porch looks so much better already and you’ve only removed the screened door!
    As for a color, I’d wait a little longer to decide until you have some firm ideas for the rest of that area. I think the right color once you have the rest of the equation. My front door is a wine/Burgundy color that I love. But to set the scene, my house is stucco and painted a medium beige color. My trim is different from most home in that it is darker than the house color and is a dark brown. The front door and shutters are the wine/burgundy color. I love the darker trim. It is in the same color family so its not a dramatic change but rather it is more of a smooth transition. It was a beautiful jaw dropping change from the white trim the previous owners used. Also, the other stucco houses in the neighborhood are a light beige or a gray with white trim and black or dark navy so they are very different from mine. I’ve found out that even though the dark burgundy stands out it also acts as a neural background for anything you would like to put on it.
    Asbestos – have you tried contacting your city or county waste removal, or the building permit office to see if there is anything available in your area regarding the disposal of “tainted” materials. Now, given my luck it probably won’t be in either of those departments but its a start. I would think most areas have some program in place because the municipality has to dispose of its materials. Some have opened a version to the residents.
    List those Styrofoam panels on Craigslist and watch them disappear. Top the listing with Starving Artist and that will definitely get action.
    I am closely following your every move, especially since I am now so limited in what I am able to do. Its still fun to watch. I’m very proud of you and all the gals out there. In my era women were not encouraged to do things like this for themselves – get your father, husband, brother, anyone as long as they are male. Ha! bet me. Personally, my thoughts are they just didn’t want us to know we could do it and… better.

    1. I just contacted the local landfill today to see about disposing of the asbestos tiles. They won’t take them. 🙁 They said I’d need to take them to either Austin (90 miles away) or Itasca (46 miles away). It seems ridiculous that a tiny town with a population of just over 1600 would have a landfill that is equipped to take asbestos tiles, but Waco’s landfill isn’t equipped for that kind of waste. It’s quite frustrating.

  24. A black door is a must for me! Black is always classy and serves as a perfect backdrop to whatever I have on the door and on my small porch. I feel my front door and it’s decor are the jewelry of my home. With a black door any seasonal dressing will be showcased. I want to say that I very much admire your attitude of looking at all of the challenges of an older home as being exciting opportunities. I look forward to hearing about your progress !!

  25. So, did you ever figure out how to dispose of the tiles? I’m in the same situation, but in Chicago (which has draconian rules)!

    1. You just have to contact your local landfill and ask what their requirements are. There are only certain landfills that can take this type of material, so they might direct you to another landfill in another (hopefully nearby) city.