January 2008

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3 January 2008 — More Living Room Ceiling Work

After a few more days of joint compound and sanding, here is what the living room ceiling looks like. I think it's just about ready for some primer.

4 January 2008 — Primer on the Living Room Ceiling


After getting the primer on the ceiling, I noticed a few minor problems that should be fixed before painting the final ceiling color, but it shouldn't take too much more effort, so I think we can get the final color up this weekend.

We also picked up a gallon of the wall paint so we can test out the color and see if it is really what we want. Maybe we can get a sample of that up this weekend too.

Since we had some paint out, I slapped a little bit on the wall alongside the basement stairs where we patched the hole. It's amazing how much better this looks with paint and without the jagged gash that was there before.

5 January 2008 — Arch and Paint

The plaster is off of the underside of the stairs in the kitchen and there is some sheetrock on the arch. Just like the other one in the doorway to the den, this will take a bit of joint compound to make it pretty. But this one is narrower, so maybe it will be easier.

Next, I painted part of one of the living room walls to test out the new color. It looks OK (better than in this picture, honest) so I think we will go with it.

I also packed some of the big gaps in the archway sheetrock with some setting joint compound.

Finally, we put a coat of paint on the ceiling and put up the new light fixture. Things are looking up.

6 January 2008 — Wallpaper Removal

Today we removed the rest of the wallpaper in the master bedroom. It's nice to have that stuff gone. We also discovered that there must have been a closet in the corner. It seems obvious now, but I didn't really think the closet was in this location. Apparently, one wall of the closet was right up against the window. The stool of the window is even trimmed off, but we had never noticed that before.

6 January 2008 — More Wallpaper Removal

This evening, we removed the wallpaper from the exterior wall in the hallway between the master bedroom and bath. I hesitate to remove the paper from the wall on the opposite side of the hallway as that wall was added and is sheetrock, not plaster.

7 January 2008 — Crazy Warm Weather

It was over 60F today, so I caulked some of the trim boards around the front entry. I meant to do that when we installed the trim around the front door, but then the weather turned cold. I really didn't expect to have much of a chance to do this job until maybe March!

12 January 2008 — Living Room Walls

I spent most of the day patching holes in the walls in the living room, including patching two old air vent holes in exterior walls. Since these walls are ceramic brick and not wood frame, it is a bit tricky to get some framing installed solidly enough to hang sheetrock on. But I finally managed to get something acceptable done. Here's a shot of the large hole at the bottom of the stairs before I covered it up for the first time.

Yes, I put the sheetrock on more than once because after doing it the first time, it occurred to me that I should probably put an electrical outlet in this space. The second time I put the sheetrock on, after installing the electrical box, I forgot to put the insulation back in. I finally got it right after three tries.

I also put an outlet in the wall adjacent to this by the front entry and patched that hole.

To remove the old metal duct and patch the other hole in the exterior wall required removing some of the sheet metal attached between the floor joists in the basement that formed a return air duct. Here's what that looked like. It may not be clear from the picture just how much dust and nastiness was in this duct, but I'm sure it wasn't good to have the air in the house circulating over this all the time. Yuck.

13 January 2008 — One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

I made more progress on the living room wall patches today, removing another old electrical box, covering two more holes, and putting the first coat of setting joint compound in all the large gaps.

Then with that small success, I decided to try to see what I could do about the ugly trim board running up the first flight of stairs to the landing (destroy it), and maybe also find out if it would be easy, or even possible, to get some insulation under the cold step in the doorway to the den (nope).

The reason I started messing with the trim board was that it had long ago pulled away from the wall. The PO had applied some small quarter-round trim to the top of it to try to hide that, but the joint between that and the original trim board was cracking and just plain ugly.

I thought maybe the big trim board could be pulled out without removing the stairs, but there is no way to do it because the stair treads (and possibly the risers too) are set into dados in the trim board. So to get the trim board off requires disassembling the stairs. Of course I didn't fully understand this until after I had already started prying on the board, pulling it farther from the wall (with some bits of plaster falling behind it so there was really no way for it to go back) and, most unfortunately, cracking it in the process.

Well, once it was cracked (but still before I fully understood the method of installation) I decided to try to get it out in pieces. Little did I know that even that would not be possible. So here is what we have now.

As you can see in these pictures, the first step (the show step, the one with the rounded end that sticks out into the living room) is not in very good shape (it's split and there are gaps between the back of the stair tread and the riser), and that was bugging me anyway. So I guess now that we'll be pulling the stairs apart to fix the trim board, we might as well replace it.

After that setback, I was not too happy, but we did manage to get the sheetrock up in the second bedroom closet. So maybe it was really two small steps forward and one big step back.

Finally, I also got a little more joint compound up in the front entry way before calling it a day.

19 January 2008 — Living Room Walls and Basement Cleanup

I spent some time earlier in the week and today working on the living room and entry walls. We are getting closer to being able to prime and paint at least some of them.

I also took some time to clean up the basement. There was just too much junk accumulating, and it was starting to be hard to just navigate down there. Ugh. Must resolve to keep things neater as we go.

20 January 2008 — Living Room Walls and Arch

The living room walls by the stairs and front entry are all sanded and just about ready to prime, as are the walls in the entry way and entry closet.

I also tacked up the flexible corner bead on the arch between the living room and kitchen and put up the first layer of setting joint compound.

Finally, I spent some more time cutting up scrap lumber in the basement and stacking it for firewood. Sorry, no before pictures, you'll just have to take my word for it when I say it was a real mess.

And that's not all of it. I have another 4.5 cubic foot moving box full of cut up scraps. We may use some of the wood in the rack for projects, but whatever we don't use we will probably burn. Is that greenhouse gas unfriendly? Oops, my bad.

21 January 2008 — Living Room Walls Primed

I put a primer coat on the living room walls by the stairs and front entry, and also in the entry way and entry closet. I thought about waiting to prime until I had all the walls in the living room sanded and filled, but then I decided I needed a break from that and I also wanted to see some more dramatic progress. I know that the rest of the walls in the room still need to be sanded and patched before we can be finished in here, but putting paint on the walls feels a lot better than doing more of that. So I got the roller and brush out and painted.

While taking a break from the living room walls, I happened to look outside, saw that the back yard was mostly free of snow and ice, and remembered to get a picture. So here it is, nicely displaying an upcoming Spring project. The pretty green grass around the outside of the yard is what I planted last year (a mixture of bluegrass and perennial rye). The brownish grass in the center is the old grass that I didn't replace (fescue? I don't know, but definitely an ugly mess). The funny thing is that when the other parts of the yard succumbed to bugs and drought, this portion was the best looking part of the yard. Not so now. I don't think it is dead (yet; I'll take care of that in a few months) but I really hate the way that it is so different from the rest of the yard. And in addition to just looking bad, the ground under it is also really uneven and hard (even in the summer). Given all the other things we have to do around here, maybe I shouldn't take time away from more pressing projects to tear out live grass, but I just really want to see that ugly stuff replaced by something nicer that matches the rest of the yard.

22 January 2008 — Living Room Walls Painted


I think these colors are going to work OK. It is certainly a big change from the wallpaper we inherited from the PO.

Now all we have to do is sand and patch the other 2/3 of the room so we can finish painting.

27 January 2008 — More Living Room Wall Patching and Painting

I did some more work on the living room walls Friday, Saturday, and today, along with putting the second coat of paint on the entry walls. After lots of sanding, spreading joint compound, and more sanding, we finally have color on all the walls in the living room.

We also spent some time cleaning the dust and globs of joint compound off of the floor. I'm glad we did, as it looks so much better.

28 January 2008 — Cutting In

Here is the living room again, today, after a little more work.

What's different, you ask? And no, it's not that I moved the fireplace screen back in front of the fireplace. Nope, it's that now have a nice crisp line between the walls and ceiling all the way around the room (and in the entry way). I'll put one more coat of paint on the walls and ceiling in the next few days and we'll be done with paint in here for a while.

29 January 2008 — Second Coat of Paint on Living Room Ceiling

I put a second coat of paint on the living room ceiling today. After it dried, some spots showed up that are not very even. I'm not sure what I'm going to do about that. Am I not using enough paint? Too much? Just not getting the coverage even enough? Ugh.

30 January 2008 — Second Coat of Paint on Living Room Walls

We put a second coat of paint on the living room walls. Once it was dry, I put the outlet and switch covers back on, and reinstalled the entry way light fixture.

31 January 2008 — Return Air Vent Covers and Outlets

I installed the return air vent covers and wired the last two outlets in the living room. There's not much left to do until we start installing trim, which is something I think we can wait on for a while, probably not until we refinish the floors, and that is unlikely to happen until we get some more work done of other rooms in the house.

Here are two more shots of the room, and one of the line I painted between the ceiling and wall colors in the stairway. I guess things are starting to look better, though there is still a lot of work to do.

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