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.

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.

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.