Yes, that post title was a Tom Haverford reference, so you might want to grab your super water and sandoozles before we get into the nitty gritty.
As I was trying out some new floor-planning apps to write last week’s post about our office floor plans, I took some screen shots and photos to share with you guys, and then that post felt full of enough graphics and words without them so I thought “eh, I’ll just skip that stuff.” Well, no less than a few dozen of you asked for more info on how the floor plans were made – and lo, this post was born. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes.
We’ve talked about techniques and tools for planning a space back in 2010, and also did this post about software for planning in 3-D back in 2011. As much as those 3-D versions were helpful for planning our last kitchen, we still usually plan in 2-D (like this floor plan that we made of this house’s “before” layout using Floorplanner.com). On that post about our new house’s layout, a few of you mentioned some new phone apps for making floor plans, so I thought I’d use this office conundrum to take a couple for a spin and see how well they work.
Both MagicPlan and RoomScan were free (well, to download… more on that later) and I chose to try them because unlike an app that just helped you enter wall measurements and then noodle around with furniture icons, these two actually promised to create the floor plan for me – no measuring tape required. There may be others out there like these, but they were the only two I found in my search of the iOS App Store. Let’s start with MagicPlan. Its basic premise is that you stand in the middle of your room and spin around in that spot, using your phone’s camera to mark each corner and doorway as you go. And yes, I’m regretting my decision to have Sherry snap photos of me doing this because I just look like a giant nerd.
Here’s a screen grab I managed to capture in the process. You’re supposed to line up each corner of the room along the green axis, where it will then drop a virtual cone. You can also mark doorways (not windows, though) and mark “through furniture.” The latter is a bit difficult because you have to judge for yourself where the corner sits behind the object.
Here were the results of my first attempt. You can see that it was, well, yeah…
Admittedly I was a bit fast and loose with my corner marking since I wasn’t sure how much the app would compensate and adjust. So I gave it another try, trying to be more more careful about dropping my cones precisely where two walls met the floor. The results were MUCH better.
The screenshot above is after I did a bit of adjusting – namely adding two windows and manually fixing some of the measurements. I was kind of disappointed that I did have to break out the measuring tape, just to check things – but if I hadn’t, the app’s measurements would have been within 2-4″ so I’d say they’re pretty reliable for general space planning purposes. Speaking of which, MagicPlan does have some placeholder furniture (including a drumset!) that you can play around with. I liked that it was pretty easy to adjust the scale of things, but so much was locked in the free version that it wasn’t really worth it.
Yup, I was definitely bumping up against the “free” threshold. Since I couldn’t furniture plan in the app, I decided to export it. They offer lots of export options, but most of them come at a price. I tried the one free export option (a PDF and JPG emailed to me) but it’s so watermark-tastic that it’s not really what I need.
Let’s compare that to the other app I tried: RoomScan. After my difficulty getting the hang of marking corners, I was intrigued by the promise of this technique. You basically walk around the room and hold the phone flat against the walls at several points. Seemed pretty dummy proof (and no, I didn’t look any less nerdy doing it).
Here’s a screenshot of what I was seeing on my phone. The instructions they provide as you go are super easy so I felt like I was rocking my first scan… although the rough sketch that it was drawing in the background had me a bit nervous.
The resulting final floor plan was better than the sketch, but it still wasn’t very impressive. You can see the path I walked too, just like I’m Billy from Family Circus.
I tried it two more times – stopping at more points along the wall in my next attempt, and going the other direction in my third. Nothing turned out any better, but like MagicPlan I was able to go in and manually fix the measurements so the room became less askew.
With my room looking better, I couldn’t seem to do anything else with it without purchasing the full version (which is $4.99), but because the free version really didn’t spare me the trouble of busting out the measuring tape, I wasn’t convinced to go pro.
For the sake of experimentation, I did spend the $2.99 to export my MagicPlan layout (the first one I tried) over to Floorplanner, since it automatically sent it to my Floorplanner account with the same email address. I wasn’t able to accomplish much in the Floorplanner app (that’s also free, but it looks to be better suited to a tablet) so I went over to the desktop version that I was used to using and I was right back in my comfort zone… plus I could play with my room in 3-D!
That’s also how I was able to make the three different floor-planning options that you saw in last week’s post (along with our hilariously weird “current office” layout). It was a combination of measuring in MagicPlan, and then adding furniture with floorplanner.com.
In the end, I’m not sure I’m a total convert to app-based floor plan making – especially if I need precise measurements for building, but for creating a quick mock-up of a space (or even a whole house, since MagicPlan allows you to connect multiple rooms) I’m glad to have it in my back pocket.
Has anyone else had a good or bad experience with these apps? Do you have better tricks to share, or other apps I should try? I don’t think I’ve hit my monthly quota for looking like a doofus while awkwardly holding my phone in a room by myself yet, so feel free to lay them on me. Meanwhile Sherry’s upstairs painting something (it’s like a race against the baby clock), so she’ll be back with those details tomorrow.
Psst- Clara’s having conversations again. This time on the subject of favorite farm animals and another baby name idea…
Update: Our Monday afternoon giveaways will be shifting to Tuesday afternoons. Just wanted to give you guys a heads up. We have a sweet international one all queued up for tomorrow!
Whilst discussing office plans last week, a few of your comments about the blue trim situation in that room were the push that we needed. We were fooling ourselves to think we should paint all that trim by hand (we’re talking baseboards, crown molding, and five windows totaling 66 individual panes). So we decided to bite the bullet, break out the paint sprayer, tape everything off, cross our fingers and toes that we didn’t get any bleed-through on those wood floors, and say hasta la vista to some more blue trim this weekend.
We had painted all of the upstairs trim with the sprayer before we moved in and before the new floors went down, which was an easy no-brainer decision (nothing to worry about ruining). But for the downstairs trim that we’ve tackled (just in the kitchen and foyer so far) we’ve worked by hand – mainly because those rooms needed to be remain functional during painting, so we didn’t want to cover them with paper, plastic, and tape while a fog of paint-spray flew through the air. The office, however, didn’t have much furniture to move out, and could easily be sectioned off in a paint quarantine for a few days. So we went for it.
Last Thursday morning we emptied the room (except for the file cabinet, which was heavy enough that we decided just to cover it) and basically took over the dining room and foyer with all of the displaced items. Good thing we’re comfortable with chaos by now.
As excited as we were to attack this blue trim using a new method (we’ve never taped off a room to spray it before) we were both curious to determine if we felt like it was ultimately much of a time saver, since the prep is obviously a lot more intense. Although some things – like wiping down the to-be-painted surfaces and taping off the floor – would’ve happened anyways.
Next we rolled rosin paper out all over the floor since we’ve learned that paint mist gets EVERYWHERE from our particular brand of sprayer (which I’ll admit I’m growing less enamored with). We did our tape edging and our rosin paper as separate steps, just so we could focus on getting the taped edges nice and secure (paint on the hardwoods = our nightmare) before shifting our focus to taping each row of paper down. It meant that we ended up using more painter’s tape than we probably needed to, but the extra precaution felt like good nervous-first-timer insurance.
So here’s the room with the floors all taped over. Clara thought it was the coolest thing ever, especially when we let her come draw on the floors while we worked on the next prep step: windows.
I’ll admit I was a bit perplexed about what to do with the windows. I’ve heard lots of talk about “liquid masking film” that you can paint on your windows before spraying, which helps the dried paint just peel off seamlessly afterwards. It sounded awesome, but after reading some message boards it started to feel too good to be true. Lots of pro painters complained that it took 2 or 3 coats of it to work, so most recommended just doing the old fashion scrape technique anyways.
Wanting to save ourselves a bit of trouble, Sherry came up with the idea to roughly cut some rosin paper squares and tape them to the center of each pane. We didn’t meticulously cover every edge, but figured this would at least save us time on the back-end from scraping the entirety of each of those 66 panes. I left one empty just to test if the paper was a waste of time (spoiler: it wasn’t – that uncovered pane was a giant pain!). Oh and that big paper-covered thing between the windows is Sherry’s overflowing bulletin board full of Clara-art that we decided to just cover instead of removing (it was nailed right into the wall at the four corners as opposed to hanging on a hook).
With furniture out (or covered), floors protected, and windows “dressed” our last prep step was to seal off the office from the rest of the house. We carefully taped up a tarp across the doorway (on both the inside and outside of the door frame) and then used this handy instant zipper thing we found at Home Depot (it basically sticks to any tarp and then you slice an opening as you unzip it, giving you a resealable doorway in your tarp. Best $10 we spent on this whole project. That thing was airtight, which meant it single-handedly kept all of that swirling primer and paint dust from sneaking out into the foyer (while still allowing me to enter and exit the room between coats for a lot less hassle than a taped off tarp would provide).
Next, Sherry saluted me and wished me luck as I loaded in all of my supplies: paint sprayer (we have a Graco Truecoat II), extension cord, and a can of primer (we used Kilz Premium). I also got dressed in the painters suit and booties that I bought and told Sherry to send reinforcements if I didn’t emerge in a few hours. I don’t know why, but I was actually kinda nervous about how this would go.
Well, it didn’t go great. At least it got off to a rocky start. For starters, my paint sprayer immediately got clogged, so before I could aim it at any blue trim, my hands were covered in primer and my sprayer was sputtering and leaking. About 30 minutes later, I was finally spraying. By this time it was about 4pm, and between clouds rolling in and all the paper on the windows, the room was suddenly pretty dark. And it only got darker as I sprayed the windows with primer. I’m so used to this room being crazy bright that I hadn’t even thought about needing a work light. Oops.
I actually didn’t own any work lights that we didn’t mind getting misted with paint spray (between this and just recently buying a dolly, you guys are probably questioning our preparedness) so I ran out to Home Depot after I was done with the primer coat and bought a couple, along with the trim paint that I’d need the next morning (Simply White in semi-gloss by Ben Moore). The lights revealed that my priming wasn’t perfect, but it’d do the trick.
After letting the primer dry overnight (and thoroughly cleaning and de-clogging the sprayer) I woke up early the next morning (Friday) ready for my first coat of paint. This is the room right after I finished that coat. Note the paint fog.
After cleaning the sprayer once again, I let that coat dry the entire day since we had showhouse stuff to do that afternoon in Northern Virginia. I was hoping the next morning (Saturday) would just be a clean up day, but we weren’t entirely satisfied with that single coat of paint. It did a great job covering, but it didn’t get all of the various nooks and crannies of the trim.
This was one of my fears about spraying this room because it’s virtually impossible to get all of the angles and sides of the trim in one swoop, and you can’t just go back right away and spray from a new angle because you’ll apply too much paint and get drips. So instead of getting to dive into clean-up with Sherry on Saturday, I did a second coat of paint in an effort to get those spots that the first coat missed.
So now we were on Day 3 of paint quarantine in our office, which was also looking not so pretty from the outside. Luckily by now I think the neighbors are used to us always being the middle of a project, so it doesn’t really raise many eyebrows anymore.
We let the second coat dry all day Saturday, and started the clean-up process yesterday morning. You can tell by the photo above that our homemade window coverings were far from perfect. We learned just how imperfect they were as we started to peel them off… leaving chunks of rosin paper stuck behind in various places. I was ready to curse our decision, and the time we had invested, in those quick little coverings.
Sherry and I tag-teamed window scraping, since neither of us had the stamina (or the hand strength) to scrape 66 windows clean ourselves. The coverage was so thick (one coat of primer, two of paint) that it took lots of effort to peel it off, but some serious scraping did the trick. In the end, the best method we found was using straight razors to get most of the windows clean, and then going back to scrape the corners with an exacto (we also tried using a putty knife for those corners, which was a little bigger and harder to control, but also worked semi-well).
This basically ate up half of our Sunday (with breaks to feed Clara, hand her a few new activities, take bathroom breaks, etc). It sucked. I won’t lie. The whole time I was brainstorming what I’d do differently and it mostly boiled down to not owning windows, which I don’t think is a great solution.
But I said above that we don’t regret the rosin squares. That’s because the pane that we’d left completely uncovered was ten times worse. Maybe even a hundred times worse. My fantasies of this one magically peeling off in one giant sheet were far from reality. It was hard and grippy, so we could only chip it off slowly. It took Sherry a good 30 minutes to do just this one pane.
But by around one in the afternoon we had them all cleaned and enjoyed a nice celebratory lunch. It was glorious to have our bright office back (and even brighter).
We considered calling it quits from here (our hands were both aching) and we thought it might be nice to leave the paper down while we painted the rest of the room (walls & ceiling), but I was getting paranoid that our rosin paper on the floor had only performed as well as it had on the windows (I was picturing giant blobs of paint having leaked through) so we went ahead and peeled it up. And it was PERFECT. Phew!
So here’s the room as of now (Sunday afternoon, when I’m writing this). It’s looking a bit gnarly with all of the over-spray beyond the trim on the walls and ceiling… but there’s no blue in sight!
We’re excited to go ahead and paint the ceiling and walls, since we figure it’ll be easier with all of the furniture still out. And we’re used to painting without the floors being completely covered, so there was no harm done by pulling up all that rosin paper.
But our trim-painting task isn’t quite over. For some reason my second coat of paint was especially drippy (once again, I’m less enamored with our sprayer than ever), so we had to sand down a bunch of spots that are still in need of some paint touch ups by hand.
But before I break out the touch-up paint, we still need to do some caulking. I didn’t realize how rough some of our trim was looking until it was all painted white. So there are a bunch of spots where the moldings and walls meet that need some filling.
I also never noticed how yellow the paint was in there until now. Sherry and I are still debating colors. We’re both thinking of something nice and light, but not white – and maybe with a hint of color. Not sure yet. Though you can see below that we’re starting to tape off where things like the built-ins might go, just to try to picture everything and make a final call on layout/placement.
Oh, but the verdict on spraying vs. painting by hand? I’m not totally sure yet. Spraying was definitely WAAAAY faster when you just measure the time spent painting. It took me just about 30 minutes to do a single coat, so one primer coat and two paint coats were a total of just 1.5 hours spent spraying – versus a single coat probably taking around 4+ hours by hand. But we’ve still got some kinks to work out in our prep/clean-up system before I’m convinced it’s less trouble overall (for example, when we paint by hand, we don’t get nearly as much on the windows so it’s a lot easier to scrape, and we don’t have drips in the trim that we later have to sand and touch up).
I’d love any tips or suggestions from those of you who are more well-practiced in the art of paint spraying. We plan to spray the dining room when the time comes since, like the office, it has little furniture and can easily be sectioned off. So I’d love to work out some kinks before taking that room for a spin – and then share all the “this worked better” tips when we get ‘er done. Can you believe that room is our last room with blue trim?! It’ll be a big day when it’s done.