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These steps from DIYNetwork.com explain how to remove a popcorn ceiling using a texture scraper.

How to Remove a Popcorn Ceiling

How to Remove a Popcorn Ceiling by using a Texture Scraper.because I hate popcorn ceilings.

Part "4" How to tile shower Floor - Shower Pan mud bed & preparation DIY

This clip includes shower floor mud and shower floor tiles installation, cutting tiles around drain in walk-in shower - how to build shower step by step !


Homemade Concrete Cleaner & Degreaser

homemade grout sealer - Seal grout before using the bathroom. good for countertops.

20 DIY concrete projects

20 cool projects to make with concrete

I'd also be concerned about concentrating moisture from the block into the band through capillary action, as has been mentioned above. Right now, the block is drying to the inside below grade and outside above grade. As you provide more air & moisture sealing inside, the moisture content of the block will increase at the top, potentially wicking more water into the band. Stuff that has lasted just fine for 40 years can rot fast if you change the conditions.

soaking porcelain tile to bond in a thick-set discussion. Not super helpful, but may give some ideas

Tutorial:  How to paint your floor to look like tiles (her floor was in good condition to begin with.  Big detail.)

maybe THIS instead of trying to re-stain the concrete. ~KT {Postcards from the Ridge: DIY Faux painted tile floor}.includes link to in painters tape for "grout" lines