Stairwell Repairs

Easter’s been here and gone, and it was a wonderful holiday. We had Good Friday off so Andy took me to a very rare dinner. We only have time and money to go out a couple times a year. He spent a good bit of the weekend with Lucy’s hockey, then on Sunday we and the girls all went to church together, and spent the day with his extended family. We had started shopping for Easter basket goodies about a month ago and probably had more fun stuffing and hiding them, than the girls did finding them! One of the places we thought to hide a basket was in the ceiling joists, as part of his drywall has been ripped down due to a second-floor tub leak. We didn’t hide anything there but if I can get him to guest write a blog, you may hear more about his drywall work. It was a great holiday.

20150403_11112120150404_155123I removed the extra handrails. Then I finished scraping the wallpaper and had two small DIY projects: drywall patching and stucco repair. You can see from the photo on the left, how horrid the wall was behind the paper. I remembered a trick from my days of actually building rooms from scratch. Smooth on a light coat of spackle to fill nail holes and other imperfections. When it is dry but not cured, run a damp sponge over it to wipe off excess paste and to get rid of the spackle edges. When it’s cured just a swipe of the sandpaper will do this way. Less dust, less work. I used a double-sided scrubby sponge for this task.

20150403_133552When I was removing the wallpaper, some of the DYI spray ran down to the first-floor ceiling, creating water marks. When I tried to wipe them off, the stucco itself came off! You can see the photos in this post. 20150404_173523To patch quickly and easily, I just took the scraper I was using to spread spackle, loaded it up with the spackling paste, and dabbed it overhead onto the ceiling to blend in. Since the ceiling was white, there was no need to paint. Another way of doing this is mixing the spackle compound with water until milkshake consistency and dab with a large-holed sponge. Unfortunately I didn’t have that type of sponge and had to make do!

I also deglossed all the doorway and baseboard moulding this weekend. The products from our stores that made this weekend easier were the ever-famous rubber gloves for the deglosser, and glasses and a half-mask respirator for the drywall. Even tho the sanding was minimal, there is dust all over the area. And you know if it’s on the wood, it would be in my lungs if not for the respirator!

Next weekend is yet another busy one. I sit for my graduate exam and Grace has a PMEA music concert. But I hope to start painting the walls.

Life Hacks – Deglosser vs. Stripping

20150131_154204You’ve heard me say, on every room, that I degloss the trim before painting it. Why? You have a couple options for good adhesion of the new paint over the old: cleaning and sanding, stripping and cleaning, or scraping and cleaning. If the old paint is in reasonably good condition, a light sanding will do. If it’s pretty built up, you most likely will want to strip it. And if it’s beyond those things, you will need to scrape the flaking paint to provide a seam-free surface for your new paint. Either way, you have to clean it too. The deglosser will do the cleaning and the job of either the sanding, stripping, or scraping. Because it’s a harsh solution, you must wear gloves. But because it’s a harsh solution, it provides a lot of elbow grease of its own.

20150131_154223I’m not sure what on earth my dad was thinking when he painted this room. My guess is, he was getting tired of maintaining the home and just slapped some latex paint over the old stuff without doing any of the above. Bad idea. Because of this, the top coats were removing the bottom coats and the whole thing was chipping off. I didn’t want to remove all the old paint due to time and the reasonable condition of the rest of the trim. So I scraped a little with just a plastic scraper, to remove only the loose edges, then cleaned and smoothed it all down with my trusty deglosser. It penetrates and bonds the paint layers as well as provides a “toothier” surface for new paint.

Masking off Trim for Painting

20141224_112316With the holidays, I am falling a bit behind on the writing, as well as the remodel work.

I traveled to Boston over Christmas as part of a trip with Andy, Lucy, and Grace for a hockey tournament. We piled into one vehicle and stayed in a hotel room with two small beds. Every couple hours we stopped to stretch and grab quick sandwiches. The girls slept, fought, challenged us and each other with trivia and other rites of passage. Lucy drove part of the way in preparation for her driver’s test while I manned the music and Andy and Grace sat in the back making funny faces for selfies. We socialized, toured Harvard just for fun, spent time at a friend’s New England Coastal beach house, and cheered as Lucy’s team won the hockey tournament. Except for the sports, it’s the way I remember traveling as a kid. Andy will soon have Lucy in college and he’ll blink and it will be time to send Grace.

Before we left, I had a teeny bit of time to patch the stripped walls, sand and wipe them down, and mask off the wainscoting from the chair rail. I used our disposable mask respirators when I patched the walls. When you take them off after doing even the smallest amount of spackling, you know it was worth it from the mask’s outline left on your face. Like the other rooms, there will be some items that stay the same here. As I often do while I work, I think of my dad. I grew up in an extended family who believed that if you can’t pay cash for something, you don’t need it. Souvenirs from trips are not cheaply made, overpriced touristy things, but a newspaper or seashell.

20141224_123201When we were born, we were living in my grandparents’ duplex while my dad bought this house for a few hundred dollars. I mentioned before, I don’t believe it had running water, so no bathroom. No kitchen? I think there was a cold storage where the kitchen stands now. Both of my parents went to four-year colleges and got degrees in accounting. My mom quit her job in the city to be a stay-at-home. After a few years, my father chose to change his path from accountant to construction foreman. It paid less per hour, but gave him as much overtime as he could physically take. The day they were married he started planning for our college. I know it’s not feasible to pay cash for everything today. Because of turns of events in Andy’s life, he won’t be able to pay for his girls’ college in full and in cash. Not many people can. My dad did. I am not bragging about money because we had none. We never went out to eat and a pair of socks had to wait until August when we could get school clothes. My mom worked part time to get us fabric to make us prom gowns. My dad worked until exhaustion daily. He drove a red Ford pick-up truck (“Baby”) decades beyond its normal shiny life expectancy because to buy a new one would mean us getting derailed from college. I think that thing was 30 years old when he finally replaced it. We never knew why. We just saw the old, beat-up truck in the driveway he re-shaled with a shovel every year, instead of the new cars on paved drives so many of our classmates had.

20141224_123141Winters my dad was laid off from road work; because he had a reputation as a silent and hard worker, he was often invited to do day jobs for friends in the construction industry. He got a few extra dollars to put into the college funds, but the real boon of doing this was that he was invited to take anything from demolition projects. You have seen the parquet floor and the fireplace mantle beam from what were Pittsburgh-area landmarks. The thing I am saving from this room are the leaded glass doors with cut glass doorknobs that he built into one wall.

2014-12-30 14.25.57This weekend, before Boston, I removed the crystal knobs, taped the woodwork and painted it. I used our paintbrushes and gloves after carefully pressing on the old metal with the tape. I haven’t looked at what decorative glassware is behind the doors. I may put books there if my sister wants the glassware. I don’t think I am going to open the doors yet, but when I do, no matter what I put on the shelves, I am going to put my souvenir of Boston with Andy and the girls in there, too – a perfect sea shell from the day we all braved the December waters on the New England Coast.

Wallpaper Short

20141206_181614I’m starting to strip the wallpaper in the “twin” room to the living room – the library. And since everything I do in this room is similar to the last, I won’t bore you with the details. I will, however, give  a nod to the disposable gloves that make stripping the wall paper so much cleaner.

This weekend, after heading to the city for window shopping with Andy and Gracie, I stripped wallpaper when I could, and got most of the room done. The reality of Christmas came down hard this morning, with a huge list of things left to accomplish and so very few days! I hope everyone is having a joyous season!

Stripping wood and wallpaper

20140719_132759 N20141109_195138ovember was the month to start my dining room. I am a little late on the draw. This should be an easy room and after I am done with this, I will probably take a break to clean and decorate for the holidays. Probably. We’ll see. Friday I removed the carpet and padding from the hardwood parquet floors and oiled the wood wainscoting.

This weekend Andy had another hockey event and I was alone most of the time, so I had plenty of time to get stuff done on Saturday. This wallpaper stripped very well over most of the room. I used some liquid stripper, my paper tiger on the tough spots, and a scraper. From our stores, I used the disposable smock to keep the glue off of me when the paper came down and the disposable face mask for the dust and paper crumbs.

There is a ledge between the kitchen and dining room, that my dad repainted and repainted, using latex paint and not sanding or priming – so it was coming off in sheets. I got paint stripper and stripped the worst of the paint buildup all around. When I did this, I used the half mask respirator, for the fumes, and the thicker poly disposable gloves. I will oil and polish this and leave the wood bare.

Andy brought Gracie by for the first time, during a quick break in his weekend. She helped me choose colors for the trim and wall, which I bought the next day, and played some Christmas carols for us while we sat on the sofa in the room I had just finished.

20141108_15063320141108_104724Sunday I removed the cracking putty my dad used to add a pane of glass to the single panes in this room, then carefully pulled the glass out, to clean between the two. I will paint these window frames also. I removed the shutters. They are quaint and have been part of the house for as long as we owned it, but they are only decorative and keep the already-sparse light out of the room. These windows are high, small, and face a patch of woods between me and the closest neighbor, so I feel comfortable with them being bare.

I still need to finish deglossing all of the paint and finishing the last of the stripping, then I will be ready to patch, prime and paint!

You can see the room before, and then some of the work I did this weekend.

So far, the cost of this room is about $80 for paint and chemicals.

Home Remodel – detour along the road

20140928_133230I need to add a couple side projects on this home project. Remember in the bathroom, I was unhappy with the old sink base hardware, but the new hardware came with screws that didn’t fit? This weekend I got the new hardware anyway and found my dad’s bolt cutters in the garage. Result? Screws that fit! I am adding $25 in cost to this room. I can sit back and call it done, thanks to many of the great construction and safety products at SafetyGirl, Discount Safety Gear, and Construction Gear.

20140927_185952Additionally, in preparing to start work on the New Room (I’m not sure if I will change the room’s name, or not), I had to get rid of all the furniture I didn’t want. Andy claimed one of the bookcases, and while the gross carpet was still down, I deglossed it and slapped 3 coats of black paint on it for him. 20140927_074223He came and got it yesterday and I hope it was dry enough that it didn’t ruin the upholstery in his van. I used the disposable coveralls and gloves that I’ve been using, for this, too. I am finding disposable gloves are indispensable for pretty much everything in the house.

Laundry Room Scrubdown

20140919_193338

20140928_092308This weekend was a continuation of the last in the laundry room, so I won’t bore you with details. My goal was to scrub the whole thing down and paint it, and the reassemble it in a more organized version.  I did the floor the same way I did the bathroom. I cleaned it with TSP, then I took 50 gallons of rainwater from my dad’s rainwater collectors, dumped it on the floor and squeegeed it off. Then I used TSP in hot water again and deglossed. Then I primed, painted, and sealed. When I painted, I wore gloves and a whole-body-with-hood disposable coverall, which made for a really sweet cleanup of me. Here are the before and after shots.

Sunday my mom came out and reupholstered four occasional chairs while I deglossed the laundry room. I am including a photo because they look so nice and I am glad she did this for me.

20140921_163659I talked to Lucy about the possibility of us painting a mural on the wall, including Grace if she wishes. If that happens, I will follow up with the design. Next week I am going to take a break on the home repair and give the whole house a cleaning. Then I will start looking at the New Room. It has always been an afterthought kind of room, in my life, though my parents used it quiet a bit after we left home. I am going to turn it into a crafty, musicy, artsy type of den. Some comfortable chairs, the piano, a table for beadwork or scrapbooking. The view out the window is wonderful for morning coffee. Thanks to Andy and the circus (see that blog here), I have the carpet on order and waiting for my call. For that room I will be stripping wall paper, painting both the plain walls and the paneling with chair rail, recarpeting, and maybe working on one light (ugh). I will be featuring the leather work gloves (for the carpeting), knee pads (carpeting) and the typical painting gear from SafetyGirl, Construction Gear, and Discount Safety Gear.

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

Speed Cleaning the Laundry Room

20140906_18322220140906_183425The laundry room is at the back of the house but because the driveway dumps out to this entry, this is where every single visitor arrives. It is a quaint room with bright light but currently, too much chipped paint on the floors and walls. Over the years, the storage capacity for cleaning supplies and gardening tools have far exceeded a safe limit. Shelves were added as needed and white paint was added every few years. Spider webs prevail. There are more boxes of rose fertilizer than I could use in a lifetime, even if I grew roses. The birds outside would probably appreciate it if I could get their plastic tub of food out somewhere that I could actually feed them. Right now a hoosier cabinet waits in one corner for someone to put it back where it belongs in the kitchen. It was moved the day the EMTs had to get the stretcher into the house to pick up Daddy’s body.

This room will be light and bright and cheery. I will sand down the paint that is on too thick on woodwork (hmm. Should I strip the woodwork?), repaint the ceiling and walls (they definitely need it), and prime/paint/seal the cement floor. First is a good cleaning, and a good cleaning out. It is here that I started.

Much of the shelving is overhead, so I will be wearing the hard hat. I will definitely be wearing the disposable coveralls and poly gloves, with the amount of gunk and goo in this room. I will be wearing the respirator, too, as there are some chemicals.

20140719_132847 20140831_181323As I mentioned earlier, hockey season has started. Last weekend, Andy took Lucy and Gracie and I to get Lucy new gear. When we got back, she and Kay were trying it on and she grabbed my phone to take a selfie. With Andy’s permission, the photo is here. That’s Lucy, Grace, and Kay from left to right. Aren’t they beautiful girls? Anyway, this weekend he took them to Toronto for a showcase, which means recruiters will get to “shop” prospective scholarship-bound players. In today’s economy, a scholarship is necessary if both girls are to attend college.

Since he was gone, my mom and I spent a good portion of the weekend visiting with each other and going through the laundry room: a box to give away, a box to keep, and a box to throw away. Rather, some of the compostable garbage bags on our Construction Gear site. The bags were thick but brittle so I wouldn’t put anything sharp in them. Barring that, they were easy to open and tie, and were very durable. Plus I felt good knowing they are eco-friendly! This is my mom putting on the gloves.20140906_115803

After cleaning off the shelves, I disassembled the perimeter homemade shelving to open up the room. Next week I will be using the TSP cleanser at industrial strength to start scrubbing the room down, and replacing some of the removed wooden shelves with more delicate glass ones.

Painting a Vinyl Floor

20140822_235959This is another segment in my farmhouse refresh series. I am still in the bathroom, forever in the bathroom. Over the last week I debated painting the floor, or laying a river stone floor. I decided I would paint the floor and see how it held up. Even knowing the vinyl is a step away from dead and I have a contingency plan, it made me nervous. Everything I read said painting it can turn out great, or a disaster. I read four or five different sets of directions on doing this, as if you don’t paint it properly, you regret the project. I was painstakingly careful with each step. I understand the finish won’t last forever but until I can afford reflooring, I wanted it to look nice.

I got a late start to the weekend, as Friday evening was a celebration for Andy’s parents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary! I am so in awe of being able to put up with one person, day in and day out, for that long. Kudos to them. They are a beautiful couple, and the meal was a lovely family dinner at one of the nicer restaurants in their town. I had the lasagna – divine! Gracie went with us but Lucy had to work. I wore a boho dress Andy brought back from a cruise earlier in the year. You know, one of those long things with handcrafted lace at the neckline that makes you feel like a princess and is extremely comfortable all at  the same time? A table full of relatives, some who had traveled from out of state, everyone sharing and laughing. The word I’d use to describe the meal is exuberant.

We weren’t back late and Andy was asleep as soon as his butt hit the leather sofa, so I left and got an early start Saturday. I had already glued down the popped up tiles, and filled in chipped corners, with a marine sealant/epoxy.

20140823_065639If you decide to paint vinyl floors, I will pass on what I read were the important bits: sand it to scuff it and scrape any odd globs off of it, clean thoroughly (I used Trisodium Phosphate at household strength), let every step dry before starting the next, and make sure your sealant is clear. Take the time to tape your edges off carefully, and spend the extra money to get the better masking tape. Be sure every product is made for high traffic, and porch/patio or exterior use to ensure durability. That’s IF you decide to paint your vinyl tile floor.

I followed the directions on dry time but it still flaked off when walking on it after the allotted time. I touched it up and allowed it to cure for a few days before sealing. I used a high-traffic high-gloss clear polyurethane, three coats, with about 72 hours between coats, and then a full week before I put the floor into service. Maneuvering from the hallway to the tub, standing on sink and toilet was interesting but kept me off the floor – and limber! Until I added the sealer, I was not sure on the floor. The sealer, though expensive, really made the difference.

Cost for this project was $30 for high-traffic porch and patio paint, $10 for the cleaner and deglosser, and $40 for the clear gloss sealant (the primer was costed in a prior post).

20140823_132805The disposable gloves were an absolute necessity for the floor project. The TSP cleanser is not to be used on skin, so I wore the gloves when I was scrubbing. I used them also to wash and rinse the floor and hung them to dry, so they were ready to go with the deglosser and painting steps. And again I used the disposable coveralls. I think I may need to get a new package. A side note on those – in the heat of the summer, they were very warm. They are breathable, but it was definitely an extra layer of insulation. Because of the gloves and overalls, I was able to go right from working, to the store, just by removing those.

I toyed with the idea of using the respirator when I sanded the floor, but as I didn’t use a power sander, it seemed like overkill. I gently scuffed and then scrubbed. There wasn’t much dust. I did, however, need it on the fumes from the polyurethane.

Next week I must tackle the lighting, which I have been putting off. I don’t like to do that alone, at least without anyone in the house to call 911 if I zap myself. I’ve wired an addition before, but it’s been decades.

~BS