Stairwell Assessment

20140719_132619The stairwell seems like a small area at first blush. I am in my final quarter of my MBA and the holidays are almost here, plus I will be having houseguests. Soon I will be heading outside to mow and assess the landscape20150314_151938. I figured this would be a fairly quick area to do. The stair chair and second hand rail had to be removed, and the handicap grab bar at the top of the steps will be removed, but not yet on that one. I will remove that after my family gathering at Easter so my mom has a bit of an easier time going upstairs.

This wall also was not sealed before the wallpaper was put on; it appears it was patched before that layer went on. I spent about 4 hours this weekend and only got a few square feet removed. I am using DIY gel remover, a paper tiger, and a scraper.

In this area I intend to patch and paint the walls, reglue a baluster in the banister, remove the stair runner, and hopefully have enough of the music room carpet remnant to put a piece in the upstairs hallway. The paint will be the creamy white from downstairs and then a mix of the gray upstairs and the green downstairs. The ceiling looks fairly good, and a gentle washing will probably brighten it up.

I am happy it appears I will not need to use any scaffolding or ladders, but the work will tax my shoulder muscles, to be sure!

20150314_151912I will be using the standard gear from Safety Girl, Construction Gear, and Discount Safety Gearpaint brushes, rollers, coveralls, respirator, and gloves.

Here are the before shots so you can see what I am working with.

Laying Carpeting: Part 2 of 2

Here we are, already mid November. I had hoped to finish this room before the end of October. I had to be careful with the carpet, as it required one seam and there is a pattern. I made sure I measured twice and had a sharp blade on my cutting knife.

20140719_13265120141102_111441If you plan to lay your own carpet, this is a really helpful link: http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/how-to-install-carpet/index.html  I was pleased to find out that my plan of laying the padding perpendicular to the orientation of the carpet was spot on. However, I had not thought to staple the pad’s seam, so I am glad that I read this tutorial first.

To cut and lay the actual rug, you measure the room at its longest point and add 3”. Take the carpet to a larger area (if possible) and notch the back at both sides at that length+3” point. With any luck, you will have help with this part. Roll the carpet back up with the backing facing out, and mark the point with the notches. Finish rolling, and take the carpet back inside. Roll it out flat and cut it to fit, again leaving about 3” extra next to the walls. If there are seams, make sure they are straight, put down a piece of seaming tape, heat the tape, and press the carpet seam into the tape. Place heavy objects on the seam as the glue dries. Seams should run parallel to the room’s main light source, with pile for both pieces headed in the same direction.

20141102_11150220140719_132626Now start with one end of the room and attach the carpet to the tack strip. Work one side.  Trim excess with a wall trimmer and then a stair tool to press cut edges under the baseboard trim. Stretch and attach to the strips at the opposite end of the room. Do the same for the two other sides. Sounds easy, looks easy, right? I rolled up my sleeves.

I immediately succeeded in wedging the carpeting in another room and being unable to move it, when I was trying to cut it. I called Andy and he came over the next day to help me with that. Then we took it to the sitting room (new room) and unrolled it. Since it had a repeating design (what was I thinking?!?) we had to make sure it was straight. That took some lifting and shifting. After we had it positioned, I stretched, tacked, and wedged, while Andy laid on the carpet (pressing out the wrinkles) and drank coffee (supervised). What a lucky girl I am! I am glad I had the knee pads, because without them I probably would not be able to walk today.

20141101_165134The seam was tricky, and you are to make sure the nap of the fabric is the same for each piece of carpet, which I didn’t do, because my remnant wasn’t big enough. But I did make sure the carpet was cut at the same part in the pattern both sides of the seam. I did a good job there. I think as soon as I have more money and time, I will replace that small extra piece of carpet with the same vinyl plank flooring I want to put in the bathroom upstairs, so that carpet and its seam will go.

Andy left to take Lucy to hockey while I finished up, while Grace   volunteered at the library. I am going to attach before and after photos of the entire room here so you can oooh and aaah! Next week I will start on what will be my living room. I will remove the carpet and wallpaper, polish the wood floor, strip the wood trim, and paint the upper walls. I will feature the half-mask respirator as well as poly gloves, and ToughChix gloves. I will again be using the paint brush and rollers from Construction Gear.

Laying Padding: Part one of carpeting

20141005_071952So here I am, taking longer on this room than I expected. Finally, I was ready for the carpet and padding! The carpet and padding have been laying in my dining room for a couple weeks.  I had laid carpet only once in my life, and that very poorly. 20141005_071630I had no stretcher or experience. I did, however, have the nail strips laid from my dad and an uncle as amazing as my dad. While I was waiting for delivery of the new rug, I cut the old carpet into the 18” lengths my garbage service requires, and used duct tape to hold the rolls. For this task I used SafetyGirl’s Tough Chix gloves. They were incredible. They weren’t thick or bulky but they protected my hands very well from the abrasive carpet backing. You can see them here, as well as the sticky knee pads. I also removed the old padding, then vacuumed the underlayment thoroughly. Just for good measure, I went over it with a damp rag. I bridged gaps in the plywood with masking tape and laid the padding out carefully. This came in a roll from BigBox and there was plenty for two rooms (re: plenty for me to make mistakes!).

My Uncle had my grandfather’s knee kicker and he lent it to me for when I did my carpet. I stopped out at his house Tuesday to get it, and his wife had her foot in a cast boot. He laughed and said he was going to get her another boot, put a bolt in her neck and a scar on her forehead and she’d be ready for Halloween! Such is the humor in our family.20141030_185019

Thursday night my friend JD wanted to catch up again over coffee, so I took an hour out to do that. He had old high school photos, which were a lot of fun. I wanted Andy to join us but he was waiting for his girls – Lucy was at cross country practice, while Grace was volunteering at the local library.

20141030_183558Before I left for coffee, I got most of the padding laid, which impressed me. I rolled it out horizontally, with three seams across the room, then tacked the edges of each. I used duct tape again to cover the tacks and connecting seams on the padding and called it good. Finally, something that didn’t fight me all the way! Maybe I can actually get the carpet laid myself. I guess we’ll find out together next week.

Industrial Cleaning: A Day at the Circus

During the week, I moved the hoosier from the laundry room to the kitchen. It feels very good to get things out of the house; I used four garbage bags during just a precursory cleaning and started a scrap metal box. We used two boxes for giving away. All week, the thought of how much gunk there is in this room, set me on edge. Even when my dad repainted the floor every ten years, he didn’t move the washer and dryer and give that area a good cleaning or paint under them. The blessing here, however, is that they got new appliances about 3 years ago and I am pretty sure all that was cleaned well when they units were swapped out.

20140913_101531This was going to be a short weekend at home, and while I typically start my weekend work Thursday night, by the time I got home, my new stove (another story for another day) was being delivered and when that was done, I went straight to bed. I spent Friday night feeling overwhelmed and didn’t do anything on the house. Andy came over at 7:30 Saturday morning with a big smile and coffee mug out. We walked around the kitchen a little and he gave me suggestions and vision. He really is good at thinking outside the box. He left to take Grace to Lucy’s track meet and I got to work. I took the remaining items off the shelves and wiped it all down lightly. Then I donned the disposable rubber gloves and a disposable coverall, mixed the TSP to industrial strength, and started scrubbing the ceiling and walls.

Because these walls need serious coverage, I decided to use the thicker ceiling paint on them. This will wipe out the can of paint. So far, the cost on this room is zero. I am using leftovers. Because of the cheap budget here, Andy took me to a local bi-annual warehouse sale to look for carpeting for the next room, the New Room. It was a big tent sale with free hot dogs and popcorn, and a local radio station with a wheel of prizes. While Andy went to look for his favorite saleswoman, I got food. “Want some popcorn?” I asked when he came back out. “nah.” “Hold mine, please, while I eat.” After my hot dog was gone and I reached for the bag of buttery goodness, there were but a few kernels left. Hmm. I also spun the prize wheel while Andy’s impatience very quietly peeked out from around the corner. The guy manning the booth said I won whatever I wanted from the table. After a weekend of festivities, there wasn’t much from which to choose. “Would the girls want clown noses?” “No.” “What’s on this CD?” “If I were you, I’d just take a T-shirt.” “Do you want to spin the wheel?” “No. I want to get home sometime today.” So I grabbed a T-shirt and the DJ gave me four clown noses anyway. I was going to write that they are still in my purse, but they are not. I have no clue where they went but someone is going to have a fun day when they find them!

We ended up looking at the remnants because if you find one that works, you get more bang for your buck. After rooms of cheap-looking and cheap-priced carpet, and gorgeous offerings in sizes that would not work, we happened upon the perfect shade of taupe in a subdued pattern, in a size that would work, and a price that was about 1/3 of retail. “I’d take it if I were you.” He stood guard on the roll while I finished looking and when I got back, he again insisted on finding his favorite saleswoman. She wrote me up while he flirted and stepped on my foot. I did something I don’t ever do – paid for delivery. But there was no way a 12’x20’ rug was going to fit in Andy’s sensible white minivan, much less my Miata.

20140913_131811When we got back, the girls were busy with their friends in the kitchen. I thanked Andy for the date (“hey – it was like a carnival, complete with a meal, right?”) and went back to finish my cleaning.20140913_131841

By the end of the weekend I had scrubbed, patched, and painted the easy half of the laundry room. You can see by the photo on the right, that the ceiling is done but the walls here are cleaned/organized but not painted. This room is going to take another week or two. When I dropped my paintbrush behind the dryer, I noticed that my parents did not, in fact, clean the flooring when they got new appliances.

So I will leave you with a big “to be continued.”

~BS