Friday, December 25, 2015

The Floor Sanding Sagas - Part II

Note: Hi all! This post was intended to go up this past Monday (21st), but as things were a bit cray-cray with work, the wonderful floor stainers, busy holiday week, and living out of a suitcase for a few days, it's just now going up. Hence, read this as though it were Monday. Also, since in the real world it's not Monday, Merry Christmas y'all and see you in the new year with tons of pix showing our newly stained floors!! Wahoo!

(If you haven't read Part I of our floor sanding saga, catch up here)

A deadline is sometimes the best kick-in-the-butt you need to get something done. Right now we're kicking it into gear with getting our floor sanding done as we've scheduled to have the floors stained on Tuesday. As in, the 22nd. As in...tomorrow.


Let me back up a sec here though and explain why we decided to go with professional floor stainers versus doing it ourselves. It came down to 3 simple reasons:

1. They're professionals
2. We're not
3. We don't want to mess it up

If we were doing a bedroom (which is in our future) we would do it ourselves, but being that these 3 rooms (entryway, dining, living) are a huge area (our whole main floor minus the kitchen), not to mention it's the part of the house that will get a lot of use, we figured it was worth the investment rather than the risk.

So, as of now, 'twas the week before Christmas and all through the house...

...not a piece of furniture could be seen, no not even our couch (because it's now in the kitchen...)

...and plastic sheeting had been hung over all doorways with care...

...and getting stuck in them made you fear Shelob would soon be there...

...Aaaanyways...we've been sanding all this past weekend and have been making steady progress. However, the two remaining rooms needing sanding, the dining room and entryway, have been our toughest with uneven boards, a terrible oil-based finish that kept clogging our sandpaper, and nails.

Oh, and a past owner's horrible use of a rotary disc sander where they seemed to have held it in place for too long EVERYWHERE and made deep grooves in the wood - grrrr.

We went with a local tool rental company this time rather than Home Depot and were able to rent a drum sander and edger together for a phenomenal $65/day total! On top of that their sandpaper was 3x cheaper, so we saved quite a bit this weekend. After this, I'd recommend seeking out local rental companies with good service in your area if you take on a floor sanding project.

It's a good thing the sandpaper was cheaper, because THIS is how much sandpaper we went through for these floors, with 80% of it being from taking off the former finish.

The stubborn finish and uneven boards were so bad in the dining room that we even had to go down to a whopping 20-grit to get it off. This was how it looked after our first pass with the 36-grit before trying the 20:

Crazy and not ideal to have to go that rough, but it worked. Once the finish was off we could move through the other grits of 60 and 80.

To get some of the crazy nicks or lower floor boards Karl improvised and used the edger to smooth out these areas that the drum sander couldn't get, and I worked some smaller areas by hand.

For corners and underneath the radiators I've been using my Mouse sander with 50-grit and even hand sanding with 60-grit, both which have been pretty effective.

But oh boy, did we ever get some bruised and nicked knuckles while sanding underneath the radiators! ...and dust is everywhere.

All worth it of course.

We're so close to done!

Before I forget, here's a spoiler of the floor stain samples the company put down for us to choose from. We kind of knew what we wanted but actually surprised ourselves with the one we chose.

Once again, have a Merry Christmas and see y'all next week!

Pin It for Later!

Shared On: thatdiyparty

Thursday, December 17, 2015

This Is Why Wallpaper Is One of the Deadly Sins [& Video for Using Vinegar to Remove It]

[catch-up by going here for "before" photos, and here for the demo day in our future dining room]

If you are considering using wallpaper, for the love of all that is good, DON'T. 

Those pretty wallpapers that lure you in with cute songbirds and gold geometric designs are devils in disguise, tempting you to fall prey to their guile - don't fall for it!

Because this is what happens:

Either you or someone else will pay for your wallpaper sins.

And this room has four layers of sins wallpaper.

Cause apparently even the past owners saw the error of their ways, but rather than acknowledging and taking down their mistake, they covered it up with another.

...and another 

the first and oldest layer added by the original owners and my fave out of them all

...and another 

2nd layer of wallpaper

....and another. 

even the hot water pipes couldn't escape being wallpapered

Then added paint out of desperation.

This wall has, unsurprisingly, been my project this whole week.

There have been benefits however:

  • uncovering each layer of paper has been a look into each era of this house - very cool!
  • I've been catching up on podcasts
  • there's been lots of 'wax on, wax off' and 'paint the fence' moves going on here, so soon I'll be ready to fight the school bully

Remarkably, the method I've been using for taking down the paper has been a simple solution: half and half of hot water and vinegar in a spray bottle and a plastic scraper.

Yup, that's it. It works amazingly well.

I even got a bit brave and made a video:

Stripping Wallpaper with Water & Vinegar from Draven on Vimeo.

Quick snapshot of progress over the last few days:

20,378 hours later, this is what it looks like now:

...and this is what my plastic scraper looks like now:

It used to have a straight edge.

A light at the end of the tunnel for sure with the walls. I'm also slowly working the glue off as you can see on the bottom-right side of the most current progress pic using a cotton tshirt rag and, you guessed it, hot water and vinegar.

Tack up another win for this water & vinegar combo for not only cleaning, but now... stripping wallpaper and glue.

Soon we'll be turning our attention to the plaster. We have horsehair plaster and lath, and it's in pretty awesome shape. Only areas along corners and edges such as around the window need patching, as well as the places where nails were from the shelving. The plaster is completely raw and was never painted, so we'll have to use some Kilz primer on it before painting. If anyone has experience with patching horsehair plaster or Kilz primers, I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

Shared On: bragworthythursday, creativityunleashed, thatdiyparty, totallyterrifictuesday, makeitprettymonday, inspirationmonday

Monday, December 14, 2015

Exterminate! [Built-Ins Go Bye-Bye]

Yes fellow Doctor Who geeks, we went completely Dalek on our built-ins. (go here for "before" pix)

Cue the carnage:

Karl unbolting the pipe from the 100+ year-old floors

me, taking off the hinged radiator covers


the radiator is frreeeeeee!

Trust me when I say this: it looks SO. MUCH. BETTER.

The room feels much more open already. It's like the room can breathe again. 

I'm able to start picturing where I can place furniture and framed photos in this room now, and it's exciting.

However, before we can move on to decorating we have four layers of wallpaper to strip off the walls. 

Yes. Four.

It's on the ceiling too.

With the top layer of paper also painted over
by what we can only assume to be yours truly, 1990's owner.

Having only one mallet to share between us, I started stripping the wallpaper while Karl kicked in shelves. Some of the paper was dry and peeled away with my plastic scraper, other pieces were much more stuck and will need an 'intervention' to make them cut that bad habit.

Here's a list of what needs to be done in this room:

Dining Room:

  • take out shelving and radiator enclosure
  • take out wood border around ceiling
  • strip all 4 layers of wallpaper
  • get glue off plaster
  • repair plaster 
  • sand and refinish floors
  • strip paint off baseboards
  • patch baseboards
  • take wires out of baseboards
  • re-stain corner baseboards to match rest of room
  • paint walls
  • install crown moulding


This week I'm putting a tried & true wallpaper stripping method to the test. Wish me luck!

Shared On: makeitprettymonday, thatdiyparty, showandshare, wowuswednesdays, hitmewithyourbestshot

Friday, December 11, 2015

Building A Case Against Our Built-Ins

In the ongoing project of refinishing our floors, there are certain things that we had to decide whether or not they needed to go. One major decision of something to keep or not were these built-ins.

Now one may look at them and go, "oh, but those look ok", "ooo, window seat!" or "shelves are always useful...why get rid of them?".

But no.

Let's take a closer look.

For starters, like much of the house they were dated.

Not in an early 1900's way, but in a 1960's or, if you're lucky, 90's way.

Which makes sense, as the 2nd owners bought the place in the 60's, and the third owners in the 90's. We're the fourth. Amazing how few owners.

See the scalloped shell design around the radiator covers? The scalloped top at the ceiling? Courtesy of 1960's owner. We found this to be definitely true as we examined them and saw the age of the wood and the wallpaper design behind it.

I especially...appreciate...their efforts to work the bench around the baseboards:

Then came the 90's owner. And oh how the 90's owner loved white paint, and lots of it. We have found in many places of the home, not just these shelves, that this owner's use of thick, drippy paint is a great example of "overkill".

When 90's owner came in, they built shelving on either side of the window on top of the 60's radiator covers. Not a bad idea, but oh-so-badly executed.

Besides the cheap quality of the wood for the shelves (many pieces of which still had the stickers on them from the big box store they came from), the person made them with the main purpose of fitting their flat screen tv.

From what we found, anything in the way of their goal to get their TV mounted was bulldozed...such as by the drilling and bolting into the 100+ year old hardwood floor a cast iron pipe for the tv mount.

It seems like time was also of the essence to get that TV up ASAP, as they painted (in excess) over the wallpaper on the wall and let it drip down onto the 100+ year-old baseboards.

It's been pretty easy to find where in the house 90's owner has struck.

Despite 90's owners determination to ruin original pieces and the amount of work it's going to take to mend them, we're going forward with tearing the shelves and covers down and refinishing the floors under them. This wall was not originally a built-in, and we have no need of one either (saves us having to rebuild one from scratch too). So continuing in our efforts to bring this house back to it's roots, get ready to say bye-bye to the shelves!

p.s. - Anyone else have a good story of what they've found past owners have done in their home?

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A Worthy Throne [Replacing A Toilet Seat]

Today we're talking about toilet seats. I know this is what you've all been waiting for.

But priorities, man. We use the toilet more than once a day my good people. Have you seen the toilet seat we had?

the "cushy tooshie" seat

Yeah, it's that good 'ol retro cushioned vinyl that you can never honestly say is clean no matter how much you scrub. 

And it was baby blue.


The toilet is relatively new and water-efficient, so we were at least good on that front and able to save a little dough. Therefore a new toilet seat was in order.

I went to Lowes and stood before what I've dubbed "the great wall of toilet seats". Egads, who would have thought there's so many options?! 

At the very least I knew not to go too cheap with this. Our last toilet seat was a flimsy lightweight cheapo that had come with the toilet and was always sliding off its hinges. Very alarming to sit down and have the whole seat slide away with you.

After standing in front of that odd wall for longer than I care to admit trying to decide on a simple toilet seat, we wound up with a semi-heavy-duty soft-close seat made by Church.

The seat was very easy to install - Karl graciously was the one to do the job and it took no more than 15 minutes from start to finish.

Yay for a quick and easy project! We needed that.

Oh, and it's a win with the brand-name being "Church". In the short time we've had it, I've been finding it fun to randomly announce to Karl that I'm going to Church. It always earns me a sad shake of his head.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Whitewashed Bricks - Because We Don't Have Enough Projects Already

Have you ever gotten to a point where you've just had enough with how bad something looks in your house that you one day decide "screw research or planning", brandish your paint brush and tools and tackle it?

That's what just happened when I declared war on our faux brick chimney.

It's actually where the real chimney is in our kitchen, but a past owner plastered over it, and then either the same owner or another decided to affix faux bricks over it held in place by what would pass as tar.

At best, it looks dated. No, scratch that - at its best, it's ugly.

Our preference would have been to take it back down to the original bricks, but with some inspecting during our first week in the home we found there was no way the bricks were coming down without taking all the plaster beneath with them. And that would be a mess. And we prefer having at least the kitchen being a non-construction zone oasis in the midst of the the rest of the house's current chaos.

Ditching any ideas of demo, in our favor the bricks do look very real. We actually thought they were when we first saw the house.

Therefore I decided the next best idea would be to treat these faux bricks like I would real ones and that sometime I'd attempt a white-washed effect with them.

So one day last week as dinner cooked I found myself staring down that wall of red and black and decided its days of ugly were done as of that night.

Over the course of a few evenings I've been making slow but steady progress of using my trusty milk paint to be rid of the black tar "mortar". The person who used that tar did a bad job (like a lot of things we're finding in the house) so it hasn't been easy getting the paint into all the grooves and hollows, but it's starting to look a little less bad each day. Still ugly, but less.

It's gonna take a few more nights of painting, and once I'm through with the mortar I'll be adding in some whites and grays and other details to the bricks. I'm mostly experimenting as I go, so we'll see how this turns out!

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