Fan Arrival, Prep And Stupidity

The “Bala” fans arrived yesterday and as I suspected, they are really Ellington fans.


I immediately got to work converting the blades from wood tone to black.  The first thing I did was mask the darker side just in case I messed everything up and needed to revert to something original.


I scuffed up the lighter side and used some spray paint (Valspar Satin Black).


That’s where things got stupid.  Being in the South, the humidity here is typically over 100%, so painting is typically a futile effort, or at least the drying portion of the painting is.  Somehow, my brain said that I should paint these in a lower humidity environment, like my garage.  My garage is not really a garage, it’s been converted into a game room.  The bottom line is I spray painted the first set of blades inside my house.

After the first coat I stepped back and realized what I had done.  My fuckup was pretty obvious with the cloud of paint spray floating around and reflecting in the sunlight.  I closed the door off to the house, opened the windows and turned on a fan.  At least I could contain this stupidity, right?  I took the other set of blades outside, sprayed them and brought them back in to dry.  That would’ve been the smarter thing to do the first time, but what’s done is done.

But it was far from done.  While the blades were drying, I went around back and took care of the pool.  When I finished there, I went back in the house and was floored with paint fumes.  The game room was closed off, but the game room is also air conditioned.  That means it has a return register.  That means the paint fumes enclosed in the game room got sucked up into my A/C and efficiently distributed throughout my entire house.

I spent the night with all the house windows open and fans running everywhere.  The morning wasn’t too bad.  The house was about 77 degrees.  Today, I’ll pick up some matte clearcoat spray and tonight I’ll give a light sanding to the blades, give them a second black coat, then clearcoat them.  That should finish them up.

The next day, I shot the blades again with black paint and let it dry overnight. The next morning, I sanded the blades smooth again and shot them with the matte topcoat.  Immediately, something didn’t look so great about the result.  After drying, the topcoat had given the blades a slightly silver tone, they weren’t a deep, dark black anymore.  Sigh.

I sanded down the clearcoat and it looked better, but still had some shading issues.  Everywhere there were slight divots in the surface, the clearcoat was lighter.  So, my lesson from that is to only topcoat when you have a perfectly smooth surface.  But I accepted it the way it was and planned to use it.  The good thing is that after the final sanding, the blades were very nice to the touch.


I considered the project complete, so I just had to take off the painters tape from the other side and I’d be done.  I started peeling the tape and disaster struck.  The tape was pulling up the laminate layer on the blade.  As soon as that happened, I knew it was over.  There’s no way to repair that.  So, like a sensitive bandaid, I ripped it off.


And I ripped the tape off every other blade.  None were spared.  Every single one was entirely ruined.  So my clever idea of salvaging one original blade finish was pointless.  And in the end, I now have to prep and paint this side of the blades, too.

And this time, I’ll be a little wiser about where I do the spraying.

More Adorne Options

While I was planning all my outlets and switches using the Legrand Adorne collection, I was a little bummed that there weren’t any options for the other jacks in the house, namely, telephone, television, and network.  That meant I would still need to keep the traditional wall plates on the walls, diminishing the effect of the fancy wall plates.

I shot off a quick email to their sales department asking when they would have such jacks available for the Adorne collection so that I could have a consistent look throughout.  I got a reply saying they already had it.  It’s called the Connectivity series.  This series is very well thought out and includes RJ-11 (telephone), RJ-45 (network), coaxial (television), as well as HDMI, speaker wire terminals, speaker binding posts, and RCA jacks color coded for audio left/right/subwoofer, video, and RGB.  That pretty much covers everything.

That’s perfect for me. I don’t need a lot of pieces from that series: 5 coax, 3 telephone, and 2 network.  But having the reassurance that all aspects of outlets are going to be covered is great.  Kudos to Legrand.

Second Ceiling Fan Order

As I just reported, my order with 1StopLighting fell through because they have a ridiculous online shopping business model – listing products for sale that are not available.  After that fiasco, I turned to Amazon.  Well, before that happened, I searched diligently for another source.

The exact model of fan I wanted is AVL56TIT5RW.  Deciphering the model number (a’la would result in Avalon 56Titanium 5-blade Remote Wired.  The other model in the series is  AVL56BNK5RW (Avalon 56Brushed Nickel 5-blade Remote Wired).  The titanium model has black/titanium blades and the brushed nickel has maple/light maple blades.  When I visited a local lighting showroom, they suggested I buy the nickel model and buy replacement black blades.  That’s a viable option.

So searching for the nickel model number, I came across a seller on Amazon that was selling that model, but with a brand name of Bala.  The fan I’ve been searching for is made by Ellington, which is a brand of the manufacturer Craftmade.  Searching the internet for Bala fans returns a decent number of hits of products.  It appears that Bala might be a “house brand” for Ellington/Craftmade.  So good for me, I’m getting a high-quality fan that’s been private labeled.  Actually, two fans.

Now about that blade color.  My first thought is that the maple color would kind of steer my design decisions in the rooms to include more wood tones (“more” from a planned amount of zero).  But then I gave some consideration to painting the blades.  A quick search showed that yes, painting blades is a viable, frequent, and very popular solution.  It’s even promoted by ceiling fan manufacturers.

Now I’m settled.  Instead of a titanium fan body, I’m getting brushed nickel (which might even be better for me) and I’m still getting my black blades.  I’m paying a little more, but not paying as much as if I insisted on the original.

Resource: 1StopLighting

I recently posted about finding the exact ceiling fan I wanted for an awesome price at a particular website.  I had seen this fan listed plenty of other places and most all of them said “Unavailable”, ”Discontinued”, or “Out of stock”.  But not here.  At the time I first found this website, I was still wondering if I could mount the fan on my sloped ceiling.  So I sent them a question through their website asking about mounting options.

The next day, when I learned from the installation manual that I could install the fan on my ceiling, I returned to their website and placed the order.

Oddly, I didn’t get an email confirmation right away.  I thought that was really weird.  So I went to their Order Status page, but I need my order number before I can check the status.  So I fired off a quick email to their service department.  Then I had the idea that I should just call – it’d be quicker.  So, while on break, I called.  The lady was pleasant and gave me the order number I needed.  She also emailed me a copy of the sales confirmation.

Later in the day, I got a second email with my sales confirmation.  I’m not sure which was from the CSR and which was from the website, but a picture was starting to form in my mind and I didn’t like it.  This company has human review of every order before confirming an order is valid.  That’s pretty old-school and I don’t like it.  Mind you, my credit card had been charged immediately.

Later on yet in the day, I got another email.  This one said the products I ordered are discontinued and can’t be fulfilled.  Mind you, my credit card has been charged already.  So I immediately called them and cancelled the other items on the order, the downrods.

Then I get an email from my original contact with the company asking if I could mount the fans on my ceiling.  They replied that the item was discontinued and couldn’t be ordered.  Then after that, I got an response on my other request about my order number saying that they have resent my order confirmation. Holy shit.

Look at the disaster that happens when you try to have an old technology website/business operating as a real-time/modern business.  It completely falls apart.  And the end result for me is that I felt very betrayed.  They didn’t have any product availability status on their website.  They didn’t have any stock status (because they don’t keep stock, they just order from the manufacturer when an order comes in).  They charge your credit card before they confirm they can get the product.  Their customer service, while not bad at all, is still not speedy enough.

This experience damaged my impression of all other resellers in that industry.  I browsed around looking for alternative sellers and couldn’t bring myself to try any of them.  Where did I end up?  Amazon.  I relegated myself to buying the maple blades instead of the black blades (for now).  The seller showed a specific quantity in stock, so I had faith that I would get my product.  The price was a bit higher. $194 instead of $134, but still not $260.  And the product should be here within a week, instead of 4-6 weeks. 

Just one more reason Amazon is taking over the world.

First Ceiling Fan Order

I talk a lot about consistency in the remodeling of the house.  Right now, I have four different ceiling fans in all my rooms.  I want to improve on that.  Also, the master bedroom and living room have cheap contractor fans in white and shiny brass (although, matching!).  Yuck.  So I want to improve on those as well.

There are a lot of options out there for ceiling fans.  It has been days upon days of searching for a style that I even liked.  And, like my closet light, I found myself emotionally whipsawing between “That looks good” and “oh, it’s $600”.  When you get used to going to a big box store and seeing things you want for $75-100, it skews your perception.

But I still had to find a style I liked.  One of the bigger hurdles to overcome was that I didn’t want an integrated light, at least for these rooms.  The bedroom fans will require one since that will be the only lights in the room.  After a long time of searching, I did find a style I liked at a price I could live with.


This fan is about $260, and I need two of them.  I want the fans in the master bedroom and living room to match.  Those are the two biggest rooms in the house, so the extra size (56” instead of the existing 52”) will be better suited.  Then I started doing the research.

Both of the planned rooms have vaulted ceilings.  When you have vaulted ceilings, you need to make sure the fan supports being mounted like that.  I couldn’t find anything saying these fans could be.  That means I couldn’t use these fans.  But I didn’t want to believe that.  I searched for angle mounting kits.  I even visited a showroom and asked “experts”.  They said that the fan could be mounted up to 20 degrees.  I wanted to confirm this through another source, but I couldn’t find anything that said so.  After a lot of hunting online, I finally ended up on the manufacturer’s website where I could download the installation manual for that fan model.  Perfect.  The manual showed that you could install the fan on a ceiling with a slope up to 25 degrees.  My calculations say that my ceiling is 10-11 degrees, so that’s set.  I dreaded having to find a different model of fan.

The next hurdle is the downrod.  More of a concern than a hurdle, but the manual confirmed that the downrod could be swapped out with a longer one.  The fan comes with a 6”, but I wanted 12”.  Besides, the wider blades will probably require that extra space.

Then, as I read through the manual, I saw that the fan was run by remote control.  Damn it.  I looked closer and saw that you had to use their ugly remote control wall switch, too.  That takes this fan out of the running, because I was set on using Adorne switches.

But I wouldn’t give up.  I spent too much time getting this far to give up.  I studied the manual and saw the fan itself had standardized wiring like any other fan.  I saw the remote receiver was wired in-line with the fan’s wiring.  What if I just eliminated the receiver?  I searched for info on that idea and on a Home Depot forum, an expert confirmed that as long as the receiver isn’t integrated and it can be removed, you can use traditional wall controls with a fan that is remote-capable.  Shortly after, I got an answer to an email I sent to the manufacturer that said I could hardwire the fan.  This fan is a go.  So the cost will be a little over $500 for two fans.  Not bad considering a lot of fans I didn’t even like cost more than that individually.

Now, about that price.  The particular model I wanted has been discontinued.  Some online stores didn’t have them in stock anymore.  The replacement model of the fan had a black body instead of titanium.  I was willing to buy the current model until one of sites I visited (and I was on tons of websites) listed the discontinued model for $146 plus a 12% coupon.  Well, that looks like a sign to jump on this offer.

So, today I’ve ordered both fans plus two 12” downrods for a total of $267 – essentially half of my original budget.  The downside is that it will take 4-6 weeks for delivery.  That’s ok, I have plenty to do.  Today, I also bought the Adorne switches and outlets for the master bedroom for $112.

Looking ahead, I need to find two matching fans for the bedrooms with integrated lighting.  Then, one more fan for the lanai/office.  I may repurpose a fan I’ve had in storage ever since I bought the house, as long as I can cap off the light fixture on it.


As I’d mentioned in previous posts, I am dropping a lot of money on fancy electrical switches and outlets to hype up the look of my house’s interior.  It’s not cheap at all.  But another aspect of this plan is that it is slightly overwhelming.  Product-wise, I have 3 different switches, 2 different outlets, and 4 different wall plates.  These products are used in varying combinations in 9 different living areas.  As I go room by room, I need some sort of way to know what I will need so I can place an order and have the parts ready to go.

While shopping for the best prices, I found that the website had as good or better prices than a lot of others.  When I went to place an order for the master bedroom, I discovered a great feature that’s earned my future business with that supplier.  That feature is “My Projects”.  For a contractor, I think this would be invaluable, but even just for me it has a lot of value.

The Projects feature is, at its core, a saved shopping list.  But each project can be divided into different rooms, with descriptions and notes for each.  I was able to add the switches, plates, and outlets for each room into my project so I could see easily what was needed.  The project shows the total for everything you need and you can add the entire project to your shopping cart or just one item from one room.  It’s a great organization tool.

While I was building my list, I found I missed a couple of switches for one room.  The Projects page provided a great feature “Copy to another room”, so I found the switches in another room and copied to the room where I needed them.  I didn’t need to use this, but “Move to another room” was another option.  It’s very well thought out.

So, the future damage for all outlets, switches and wall plates is currently $776.  Yikes.  However, using this tool, I can just work on switches and do the outlets later.  It will remember what I need where.


Master Bedroom–Removing Popcorn

It’s been a little while since I’ve kicked off a new project.  I had planned on doing the laundry room next, but reprioritized to work on the master bedroom so that things can start getting moved around.  This is going to be like those sliding number puzzles until everything in the house is in order.

After a slow prep period of removing the ceiling fan and AC vent, covering up the recessed lights, restocking supplies like primer and getting new supplies like plastic sheeting for the walls and a new garden sprayer, I was ready to start.  I didn’t use plastic in the closets when I scraped their ceilings, so I was curious to see what a difference this could make.  Honestly, it wasn’t really useful at all, especially since I was going to repaint the walls anyway.  Part of the reason I wanted the plastic up was to protect the switches and sockets from the water I was soaking the popcorn with.  I didn’t even really need to worry about that.  I could have just covered the sockets with plastic and tape.  Very little water got on the walls.  Judging by how hard the scraping went, I probably need to open up my spray nozzle and put out a lot more water.

The ceiling in the master bedroom is vaulted, from 8 feet to 10-1/2 feet.  This means I had to get the bigger ladder out for one side of the room.  Spray and scrape, spray and scrape.  It was a couple hours of work and an incredible mess.  In the time since doing the master closet, I already forgot how messy the process was.  Plus, being over twice as big, it was over twice the mess.  I also forgot how useless papering the floor was.  When I would go to roll up the paper, the popcorn would just spill out anyway.  But I did fill up a tall kitchen garbage bag with popcorn and damn is that stuff heavy.

The next morning I looked in the room and once again was surprised at how much bigger the room looked.  Still have sanding, patching, sanding, priming, and painting to do yet, but progress is being made.

Learning As I Go

I have a personal issue where I can’t accept that it takes time to learn things.  In my profession, I’ve been doing it for over 20 years, so I just sit down and do it, I don’t have to think about it.  When a problem arises, it’s usually something I’ve seen before, so I just fix it like I’ve done a dozen times before.  It’s not quite like that with home improvement.

It’s not that I’m new to it, since I’ve been screwing things up for decades, but it’s that I don’t do it regularly enough to really get a handle on the cause and effect, or of the proper steps to be successful.

Take the simple task of painting a door.  Sounds pretty easy; put paint on a door.  But to do it right, you should take the door off the frame, remove the hardware, then paint it.  No problem.  But to do it better, you should clean the door up and sand it down first.  Well… ok.  But if the door is dirty, stained, or marked, you should prime it first.  Well, this is a little more subjective.  What is “dirty”?  And my paint is supposed to be “paint+primer”, is that good enough?

So I removed the door, stripped the hardware, sanded it, then painted it.  The result wasn’t all that great.  Ok, so I need a second coat of paint.  Next day, put on a second coat.  Still not good enough.  I should have primed it.  Plus, a seam of old paint had to be sanded off.  A waste of two days and two coats of paint.

I’m looking forward to the day that I have a proper routine and just do it right the first time, instead of having to constantly redo my mistakes.  However, I believe that if you don’t see the result of doing it poorly, you won’t know why you’re doing it the right way.  So, this must just be an expensive, time-consuming training exercise.

Lighting: Going LED

I previously wrote about the fancy, expensive LED light I got for the important living space of the master bedroom closet.  I said that I wanted to go LED as much as possible in the house.  This is still true.

Prior to the house becoming mine, in my dreaming and planning periods, I wanted to replace all the recessed lighting with LED equivalents.  But, prior to actually designing that out (because you have to determine what type of cans are installed), a sale came up on for LED bulbs.  I bit.

Tonight it’s storming outside, so I can’t go out and get my ladder.  That means I can’t change out any bulbs in my living room or bedroom.  But I can change out the bulbs on the lanai – the future office.

I’d done this room once before, when CFL was the hot newness.  I had a pair of mismatched bulbs, of different wattages and different color temps.  It was really stupid.  And for all the claimed benefits of CFL, I tried to shrug off the warm-up delay they all suffered.  Well, I’ve kind of had enough of it.  Instant-on LED is where it’s at.

Before starting, I measured the old lights.  The two old bulbs registered this brightness on my phone’s app:


According to the app, it was like a cloudy day in my office.  After quickly installing the LED bulbs, the readings changed dramatically:


Not a bad upgrade if I say so myself.   (The extra light in the first reading was spillover from the kitchen, which says just how poor the old bulb really was.)  For comparison, this new light level is the same as my office at work.  The office where the “kids” complain about how bright it is all the time and how they want half the lights turned off so they can work.  Damn vampires.

I then changed out the bulbs in the hallway and entryway and despite the change from a 75W incandescent to 65W LED, the brightness change from the lower wattage was hardly noticeable at all.  And since these bulbs are all the same batch and model, the color temperature is going to be consistent throughout the house, which is nice.

Project: Cooking Hinges

I have four closets in the house that have bi-fold doors.  With the updating of the door hardware to nickel, I have a small issue with the hinges on these bi-fold doors.  They’re brass and I wasn’t able to find any drop-in nickel replacements for them.  Well actually, the hinges are painted over, which might be even worse than being brass.

It’s not a huge deal because you only see the hinges when the doors are open (that’s how bi-fold doors work).  But still, I want things to look good when they’re visible.  So, I think that having the hinges unfinished instead of painted will be an improvement, and I want them to at least look like they are nickel.  So, I’ll just spray paint them and hope that looks sufficient.

But first, I have to get the old paint off.  I heard from the Internet that this is a simple task involving heat and water.  I’m pretty sure it is, because I used the same technique when getting the paint off my closet shelving brackets.  But this is probably going to take a while to get off.  To accomplish this, I purchased a cheap $20 crock pot and the hinges will soak in water on high heat throughout the day.  The paint should be “fall off the bone” ready when I get back from work.

While prepping for that, after removing all the hardware from one door, I got to try out my new sawhorses.  With the doors propped up, I sanded down the edges of each part of the door and scuffed up the surface for the new paint.

If this soaking and spray painting trick doesn’t work out, a subsequent search with more appropriate keywords brought up some places to find my hinges.  Not knowing what the hinge is called was holding me back.  Apparently, the hinge is a “3-leaf non-mortise hinge” and is commonly used for shutters.  …And my doors, for whatever reason.  I would need 18 of the things, which would cost about $40.  That’s a bit more than the cost of the spray paint and crock pot that I bought, so maybe it won’t come to that.

And while I’m at it, the two single bi-fold doors on the linen closets need some adjustment.  The top anchor seems to have drifted a little, so the door presses up against the wall when closed.  In both cases, it’s actively damaging the wall, so I need to repair the wall and adjust the anchor.  Not sure why I lived with it like that as long as I did.

The soaking did the trick.  The paint just slid right off.  However… the painting of the first set of hinges resulted in some pretty shitty results.  Terrible-looking.  I know I said I wanted everything in my remodel to be quality, so I don’t even know why I cheaped out on this.  So, I guess I’m ordering new hinges for those doors, too.  And no more slow cooking brass.