Sunday, July 10, 2011

Missing: one "Vacation".

Things I learned yesterday:
•projects in this house come apart more often than things at the Hadron collider.
•Time Bandits was MUCH funnier when I was young.
•I want to read the Sandman series again.

This house is cursed. The bathroom project turned mean and a "quick" side project turned into a major pain in the ass.

Friday, July 8, 2011

28 or 9 til two


The early morning was full of pain and anger. I didn't sleep well for whatever reason and I had to get up early to try and get ready for company. The "final" coat of poly had dried well overnight. I had dishes to do, a pathway to clear (for the mattress and box springs that were on their way) laundry and some more construction prep work in the upstairs bathroom.

Things I learned today:
•these old houses were built and designed before most people had box springs; therefore box springs will not go upstairs unless you "alter" them.
•you can turn my water main shutoff all you want, but it will no longer actually shut off the water.
•my hands still hurt from Wednesday and I still don't have fingerprints.

Wainscoting is pretty easy. We worked until we ran out of trim; Lowes can't seem to kept it in stock! We also put in a new handle and lock on a door. It rocks, but drilling holes in doors sucks.

Upstairs project: day 6 or 385

Lot of downtime today. I wanted to get another poly coat on by mid afternoon.
Had to take RAV in for recall check (took forever) and go to Lowe's again. Stopped by Chuck's to look at furniture, bought some, then left. My living room will look much nicer soon!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Upstairs projects: day 5 or 384

The Catzmat Unit suffered its first forced entry this morning. Grig, AKA Orangecat, awoke me with hunger-induced scuffling outside my bedroom.

I have decided to abandon the coffee and tea trials. This project needs to get moving!

I sanded for nine hours today. The one small "break" I took was to shop-vac the bathroom. While I was removing some rubble from the wall, I realized I could now see Quai on the front porch. I finally found out what was on the other side of that termite damage Jeff ripped out a few years ago!

I've found that if your hands hurt from excessive vibration damage, the pain will stop just as soon as your hands go numb from vibration damage. I made it to the last three stairs before I ran out of rough sandpaper, so I FINALLY started to poly. I put one coat on and settled down to watch the extended version of The Two Towers.

Hallway project: Day 4 or 383

The coffee and tea idea needed much more time for research than I have. I've tried multiple mixtures, layers and even added some blue food coloring to try to match the "greyness" of the darker wood. Nothing has worked to my total satisfaction.

I went to see Transformers 3 today with Heather. Much like part 2, if you want to see giant robots beat the crap out of each other, this is your movie. If you're looking for a cohesive story and good acting, go see the new X-Men.

The felines have Unionized. Last night I slept feverishly to meowed chants of "Let us upstairs, the bedrooms are missing our feline hairs!" Orangecat is outright refusing to follow OSHA regulations. Atelis is not speaking to the press as of yet and miss Quai is simply watching...waiting.

The lack of accomplishment soon started to have its own distinct smell, so I moved on to the bathroom while waiting for stairs to dry. The linoleum-like sheet paneling peeled off the wall with welcomed ease. The baseboards were nearly as easy, the only problem was the one that LOOKED like it ended in the corner by the closet, but actually ran BEHIND the closet. I decided to inspect the heater wires in the closet floor before I used the reciprocating saw. I found a 1960's orange, yellow and white toilet seat cover and a few pieces of blue fabric lying on the bundle of heater wiring! Must have fallen off a shelf sometime in the past 40 years. I'm very glad it didn't burn the house down while I owned it.

Behind the fake tiles lies the standard cement board. It has a few cracks and breaks (some from the old baseboard removal), but nothing that should hinder the installation of new wainscoting.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Hallway project: day 3 or 382, depending, part 1

Things I learned this weekend:
•my stairs are oak, unlike my floors.
•the ancient stair runner left a faint stain (adhesive?)
•said stain is very noticeable.
•don't blog on your smartphone whilst cooking and drinking red wine while also waiting for stain to dry.

I'm on vacation, so of course I'm working on My Old House. The cast-iron tub has been in the hall for just over a year now. It's time to try to finish the bathroom project, no matter how much the cats enjoy playing in the tub.

My mom and stepdad are coming up this weekend to help with stuff, so I wanted to try to get the stairs sanded and coated with polyurethane before they got here. I had also hoped to at least get the upstairs bath wainscoting partially up before their arrival. Neither of these wishes has come to pass as of yet.

I should probably tell you I am, in general, against staining wood, especially oak. Purchasing stain to make one wood look like another seems backwards somehow, at least for flooring. I AM in favor of staining to try to cover up cosmetic flaws caused by some crazy 60's adhesive

I started sanding the stairs "early" Saturday, early meaning "after I slept in late, ate breakfast, watched some Venture Bros. Season 4, then went to the post office, then ate lunch. The first thing I did was install the Catszmat Unit (TM). Last year sawdust invaded every room upstairs, even though I had closed all the doors and had a (crappy) fan blowing stuff out the window AND had a shop-vac on the whole time. The Catzszmat Unit is cleverly designed to keep cats OUT and sawdust IN. Stupid cats.

I had impulse bought a new DeWalt disc sander on Friday hoping it would do a better job than the Black and Decker hand sander I used last year. Meh. It certainly is easier on the hands, but it is about equal in usefulness. It WAS helpful to be able to load both sanders and not have to stop as often. The borrowed industrial fan in the window was also a GIANT help.

I soon noticed that the darker, unvarnished runner section of the stairs was not sanding off as I had hoped. I then scrubbed the stairs late Saturday with a 50/50 baking soda/peroxide (in about 1.5/2 gallons of water?). This brought up a TON of filth, but the center wood was still noticeably darker than the sides.

It was then I remembered a friend telling me she sometimes mopped her wood floors with tea. She also has a multi-cat house and rather than sand and varnish pet damage every year, she stained the floor scratches with tannins.
Sunday I did some Google research and found several articles on staining fabric and wood with tea and/or coffee.

I sanded again, then varnished a few spots to test the color before I went to Lowe's and a pic-a-nic, hoping the Catszmat Unit would again hold fast in my absence. It did.
Monday I saw what lie ahead. The discoloration was definitely still showing through the poly. I brewed around 12 cups of some fancy coffee from Slight Indulgence that Heather Thurbon left in my freezer over a year ago. Heather, we all thank you for your contribution$ to $cience!
I am not a coffee drinker, but I'm guessing that if you completely fill the filter it's strong coffee. I grabbed an old brush and quickly coated the sides of the stairs with coffee stain. Then I waited for an hour. I highly recommended the game "Robo Defense" as a way to pass the time. Upon inspection, the stairs HAD darkened in color, just not enough. The second trial included mixing actual coffee grounds into the stain, boiling it, then applying. The third trial had two Lipton tea bags thrown into the mix. This version was a much better match. Several of the stairs looked pretty good after I "buff" sanded some of the spots where the stain had pooled.
Needless to say, waiting at least an hour between each trial lead to more Robo Defense and ice cream than actual progress today. I plan to poly the best-looking stair tonight before bed. Tomorrow I shall try what my carpenter friend Willie suggested: poly, then a thin coat of stain, then more poly. He said it may help obscure some of the gradient changes.