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

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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.