January 2007

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6 January 2007 — Paint in the Den

It's only been 19 months since we started working on this room and we finally have paint on the walls!

It's hard to tell from the pictures, but the color on the walls is different from the color on the ceiling. Although I'm sure the colors in the pictures are not completely accurate, my perception of the color changes dramatically depending on the light. In the daytime, the ceiling is obviously lighter than the walls and looks like the cream color on the paint chip but at night in artificial light, and depending on whether the ceiling is in direct light or partial shadow, it can appear to be almost the same color as the walls, or even darker and somewhat beige.

As you can see, I've also cleaned the floor and moved all the tools out. Progress!

Now all we have to do is refinish the floors, install the trim, build(?) and install cabinets and a sink, move furniture in, and probably a hundred other things. Maybe we will be done in another 19 months.

7 January 2007 — Clayton House

We took a tour of this modest house today. Amazing woodworking in all the rooms we saw. It makes my little room with the bare bulb and pull chain look a little sad. Ah, to have been super-rich in the Victorian era.

13 January 2007 — More Carpet Removal

Today we removed the rest of the carpet from the stairs and second floor hallway.

Here's one cat who won't be too happy with this change as she loved to lie on the stairs and scratch the carpet covering the risers.

Happily, the floor and stair treads are in pretty good shape.

A challenge for the future will be recreating the curved shoe moulding around the corners at the top of the stairs that was removed when the carpet was installed.

14 January 2007 — Floor Repair

Yesterday, I glued some oak together for the floor in the den. This board was a shelf in the old built-in bookshelves that were in the room when we moved in. Today I trimmed it up a bit, added a groove in the back side to match the existing flooring, and rounded over the front edge (that's the glued-up section which needs to be thicker than the 3/4-inch floor so that it looks more like a stair tread). I also sanded it some more to remove more of the stain and installed it. I would have used a new board but I haven't found a hardwood supplier nearby yet and everything at the BORG this wide was glued up. At least this old shelf is a single piece of wood.

I think it will match reasonably well with the rest of the floor once it is all refinished. Speaking of that, I'm running out of legitimate excuses for not refinishing the floor in this room, so I guess I'm going to have to rent that floor sander soon.

20 January 2007 — Wallpaper Removal and More

One last look at the wallpaper in the living room before it disappears.

While removing the wallpaper we uncovered another electrical box stuffed full of newspaper and covered with joint compound with live wires still inside! This makes five we've found now. This one had a portion of the comics page from the local paper from January 30, 1965. It's been this way for around 42 years and the house hasn't burned down yet, so I guess it shouldn't bother me, right?

I also had an urge to do a little demolition today and found myself ripping up the hearth tiles. They looked OK before, but were too high without the carpet.

I'm guessing these ugly tiles I uncovered are original. I pulled up two of them on the end and found some mortar and gravel(!) underneath. Now, the odd thing is that this part of the first floor is over the basement, and there is just wooden subfloor under the gravel. We're thinking about some kind of slate tiles for the new hearth. I guess we'll be cleaning all the tile, mortar, and gravel out and replacing it with some cement backer board under the new tile.

21 January 2007 — Still More Wallpaper Removal

Every room in the house had wallpaper on the walls when we moved in and we are getting rid of all of it, so I expect there will be many more entries with titles like this one. Today we removed more wallpaper in the living room in and in the stairway. We still have some cleaning to do, but we are making progress, even if it is slow.

I built this handy platform to use while working in the stairway. The time spent building it was definitely worth it as this makes for a nice stable surface to work from. I put non-slip shelf liner on the bottom of the feet to keep it from slipping off the stairs.

We uncovered a little damage. I think this is pulling away for the same reason I think the ceiling in the living room is sagging. My guess is that when the master bath was added, someone cut some floor joists to run the drain line for the bath, and didn't do a real brilliant job of it. I think this picture makes it look worse than it really is, but it is something that we will need to take care of. I hope it can wait until we remodel the master bath and have to open up the floor anyway.

26 January 2007 — Winter and Wallpaper

After a really warm December and early January, we are now experiencing something approximating a real winter.

So with nothing better to do, we removed more wallpaper, this time in the second bedroom. We've found we get decent results by scoring, steaming, removing the top layer of paper, steaming some more and scraping the last bits of paper off the wall, cleaning with dishwasher detergent and water, scrubbing the glue layer with a scratcher pad, then a little more cleaning. Finally, we wipe the walls down with a dry towel. It's a lot of work and a pretty slow process, but it gets all the glue off so the walls are completely clean and ready to be repaired and painted.

I couldn't resist the temptation to remove more carpet and find out what the floors look like.

Note the line of joint compound connecting the two wall plates in the first picture above. The one in the center is an original outlet and the other two are add-ons. I haven't chiseled it out, but this wall is solid brick and tile, so I'm guessing that the wire that connects the new outlet box to the original is just barely buried in the joint compound. I think the wire to the box on the left is running behind the baseboard trim. Ugh. Well, I disconnected these add-on boxes shortly after we moved in, but this kind of thing bugs me still. I don't have a picture of it, but in a frame wall on the other side of this room, there is evidence of another job like this where there are small patches every 16 inches or so, where the wire was obviously fished around the studs, coming near to the surface to go around each one. Well, I guess that's faster and easier to do than cutting out enough plaster to actually drill some holes through the studs and fish the wire through them.

Anyway, back to the carpet removal and discovery operation. Once again, we found the original pad stuck to the floor. This pad seems to be some thin foam backed with something similar to cheesecloth. The foam has disintegrated, mixed with the finish on the floor (wax?) and affixed itself with varying degrees of stickiness depending on the amount of traffic and pressure. Pointy furniture feet make little black spots of goo and high traffic areas make wider paths of goo. Still, not as bad as what we found in the dining room floor.

After some scraping and scrubbing with Murphy Oil Soap (it's the best thing we've found to cut this tar-like residue) the floors are looking a little better, though once they are dry it is clear they need refinishing—there is essentially no finish left at this point as the soap and scrubbing has stripped the wood bare in most places.

27 January 2007 — More Wallpaper and Carpet

Can anyone tell me why a carpet pad must be so aggressively stapled down? I mean, is it really going to slide all that much with if it has staples every six inches or so instead of just about every two inches?

By Saturday night we had all the wallpaper down, the walls were clean and the carpet was all up.

28 January 2007 — Cleaning the Floor

I finished cleaning the floor in the second bedroom today. After a few more hours pulling staples, scraping, and scrubbing, it is starting to look more like the rest of the house—chipped plaster and floors in need of refinishing (and to think we had such a nice house when we moved in). But seriously, even though there is still some wallpaper to remove in the closet in this room, I'm so happy that we are this much closer to being able to get some paint on the walls and make the floors shine.

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