February 2007

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2 February 2007 — Still More Wallpaper Removal

We removed the rest of the wallpaper from the second floor hallway (no more stripes!) and the closet in the second bedroom.

The closet was a bit of a mess. There were two layers of wallpaper on the walls and ceiling and we found some moldy/mildew spots along with a substantial crack in the plaster.

At least the spots cleaned up with the detergent solution we've been using to remove the glue.

3 February 2007 — Dining Room Wallpaper Removal

We spent most of Saturday afternoon removing the paper in the Dining room and cleaning the walls. We also removed the large mirror that was mounted on the wall, which left a big dirty spot. In the second picture, you can see the difference a little detergent makes. Hmm, that shot also shows off the cracks in the paint pretty well.

This paper was a little harder to remove, but with some patience, it was possible to get large sections of the top layer of the paper to come off. On the plus side, the glue was harder to get off the wall too.

Here are Some after shots. Our current plan is to remove the wall that still has paper, so there's not much point in stripping the rest of that wall.

4 February 2007 — Cleaning the Walls in the Living Room

While cleaning the last of the glue from the living room walls, I found this outlet box full of lint, dust, and cat hair. Ugh. This is one of just two or three outlets that have not been replaced yet.

Finally, clean walls! You can also see that I've removed a bit of base trim. The piece I removed next to the door is on one of the outside walls that is brick and tile construction. I had no idea how these trim pieces were attached to the outside walls (glued? nailed to the plaster? stuck on with chewing gum?) and I was worried that I wouldn't be able to remove them without destroying them. But fortunately, they are just nailed in with standard finish nails which pulled out fairly easily and felt like they were driven into wood. So I think there is a nailing strip or some nailing blocks embedded in the wall. I'm hoping it is a strip, but I will have to do some more exploration to know for sure. The good news is that there is no glue involved, so it looks like we will be able to remove the base trim, clean it up, and move it to the den (we have some crazy plans for raised-panel wainscoting in the living and dining rooms).

10 February 2007 — I Love the Demolition

I just can't resist doing a little demolition. Today I pulled the faux-panel trim and chair rail off the walls in the dining room. The first picture shows the wall between the dining room and kitchen where a heating vent was covered with some masonite. The rest of the half-round trim pieces were stuck directly on the plaster with very short nails and paint. The chair rail was nailed to the wall (plaster on brick) with large hardened-steel concrete nails.

Later, I tackled the removal of the ugly tile hearth and the sand, gravel, and cement mixture they were sitting on. All of this material was installed in a well about three to four inches deep. Most of it had to be chiseled out, which made quite a mess. About a third of the way through, there was some doubt about whether I would be able to get it all out without breaking something or maybe going through the floor to the basement. In the end, it was just another job that initially seemed easy, then impossible, then merely a minor PITA.

Almost done. This last bit was the worst, pretty much like solid concrete.

All cleaned up. Now I just have to decide how to frame this so that a layer or two of concrete backer board plus tile will match the level of the surrounding wood floor. In the lower part of this picture you can also see that there was a border around this opening made with two floor boards, mitered at the corners. I'm thinking of replacing it with a single wide strip, possibly something other than oak. I'm not sure whether a lighter or darker color wood would look better. Hmm.

11 February 2007 — Stripping Trim

I didn't get much work done on the house today, but I did manage to pull the nails out of the salvaged trim boards and strip a small piece as a test. It looks like it will clean up easily with a heat gun and a little sanding. These are just pine or fir boards, so we'll be painting them again. I'm only stripping them because the paint was layered on a little thick and uneven, and there were bits of carpet stuck to the paint. I guess that the carpet guys didn't wait for the paint to dry, or the painters didn't bother to mask to carefully. Either way, getting a good paint job would be hard without doing some cleanup.

14 February 2007 — Yep, Definitely Winter

Back on January 15, the high was 55F, and up until that day, we had only had four days with highs below freezing and the chance of having much winter at all seemed somewhat in doubt. Since then, we have only had four days with highs above freezing (33F, 34F, 33F, and 37F), and now we have a foot or so of snow on the ground, so yep, it's definitely winter.

19 February 2007 — Still Winter, so I'm Stripping

After hacking a path to the back door (sorry, no after picture, so you'll have to believe me when I say that I actually did make it possible to open the door), I spent some quality time with my trusty heat gun.

As reported earlier it cleans up pretty easily just using the heat gun and a scraper, but it still took around four hours to do this much of it:

Hmm, is it worth it? Maybe. Anyway, this is already enough for the den and I still have a few more pieces to recover from the living room. Next I'll have to do a little sanding, then prime and paint. But before I can install these, we need to refinish the floors in the den and second bedroom. Oh wait, before we do that, we need to remove the trim and repair and paint the walls and ceiling in the second bedroom, but before we can finish that project we need to do a little electrical work in the second bedroom (which will put holes in the walls and ceiling). It's always something.

24 February 2007 — No More Moulding

I removed the moulding from the second bedroom today. The baseboards will be stripped and reinstalled. We'll be replacing the top rail with something, but we're not sure what yet.

I confirmed that there is a wire snaking around the studs, so this will have to be fixed.

But I found that on the exterior wall, where I thought there was a wire running just under some joint compound and behind the baseboard, the wires were actually running in the wall. It turns out that there is a substantial gap between the tile wall of the house and the exterior brick veneer. I don't know yet whether that's true everywhere in the house, but here there is a gap of about two inches.

25 February 2007 — More Stripping

I spent some more quality time with the heat gun today and stripped the baseboard moulding that I removed from the second bedroom. Sorry, no pictures. But really, it just looked a lot like this.

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