Archive for November, 2011

Home Repair on a Budget: Day Twenty-Two

The day I was looking forward to for a long time turned into a disaster!

All the main painting work was done, the trim finished, everything moved out and floors swept and vacuumed. So, at 9:00 am I arrived at the rental place and picked up the floor sander, and a bunch of sandpaper.

By 12:00 noon I had everything ready and fired up the sander.

The unit is extremely heavy, but operates very smoothly.

But no sooner had I started than I realized I had a significant problem.

This area has been sanded four times in the picture, and you can see here, absolutely nothing is accomplished. The sander could not even touch this old stuff. This is not the cheap stuff you buy today that’s just pressed sawdust and glue with a thin layer of veneer on top. This is solid wood, one inch thick, with a heavy-duty finish on it.

So, I went out to the building to get my belt sander, and tried that.

The belt sander, using a medium 80-grit paper, was able to cut right through to the wood. So, that made it clear, I’ll need to do the floors with a drum sander, which is an entirely different kind of work. It’s a lot more labor intensive, but it’s something I have done before and it’s difficult to use,  so at least I know what I’m dealing with.

Thanksgiving is upon us, so that’s all the work until after the holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!



Home Repair on a Budget: Days Seventeen Through Twenty-One

Well, the biggest milestone has been passed. All the painting of the front and sides of the house has been done. That is, the living room, the living room extension, hallway, and the two bedrooms have been completed.  I can’t begin to tell how relieved I am.

There will be a good many touch-ups to do, and things to correct and redo later, but the main job is done.

A few pics…

This is the back bedroom, with the double window facing the backyard. This window is in the roughest shape of all. Will need to be completely redone at a later date.

This is the closet of the back bedroom. Only bad thing about this door was someone painted it with a roller brush at some point. Ugh!

This is the closet door of the front bedroom, with a part of the doorframe and edge of wall that protrudes forward a bit. The windows and doors of this room were in the nicest shape of anywhere in the house.

Tomorrow is the big day: floor sanding.  I dread that…

Old total:  $284.83

New total: $284.83  (no new purchases)

Home Repair on a Budget: Day 16

I’m scratching my head this evening, but I think one mystery about my house has possibly been solved. Several features about this house have always puzzled me, such as why the ceilings and doorways are lower than most houses, and why the walls don’t seem to mate up just right in places.

I have come to believe my house is actually one of the post-war kit houses that could be ordered from Sears and other places and were shipped by rail and assembled on site. The ceilings, for example, are about 7’6″ high, and the doorways are lower, about 6’6″ or so. And many places such as corners don’t seem to have been mated together properly, with a few gaps here and there.

Another thing: all the corners in the house have small 1×1″ trim boards attached where they join, but in some places 1×2″ boards were used. Very odd, since most houses use joint compound and drywall tape, or plaster, to form the corners.

This is one such corner. I hate that the camera really struggles to translate the color, but anyway, every place where there’s a joint you have this kind of mating: wood strips to close the gaps in the walls.

And then there’s this curious place in the hallway floor. This was discovered after the old carpet was ripped up. There’s this line where it looks like the floor was just cut. At first I thought it was done to install the old furnace, but then I noticed the line is on a direct plane with the center of the house, directly under the roof peak.

It was odd to me they would cut the floor like this, and even seasoned HVAC guys don’t generally do sloppy work like this. But it makes a lot more sense if this is actually a seam where two halves the house are joined together.

I will need to research these old houses some more and see if I can find what model it was, and where it was sold.

In other news, my bedroom door is done and both bedrooms have received the first coat of paint.  Her’s a quick view of the back bedroom.

Oddly, this back bedroom has a small chair rail. I’m leaving it, will just be a new challenge when it comes to painting it.

Lastly, this little scraper is worth it’s weight in gold: I think it was about $5.00 at Lowe’s. With several packs of scraping material or sandpaper, it cuts right through old paint fast. Definitely a good investment.

You can see the attached scraping material on it, it’s some kind of very rough mesh. You can even use them to scrape small items without the handle tool.

Had to buy more paint this evening. So, new totals are in order…

Old total:  $216.50

New Total: $284.83

Home Repair on a Budget: Days Eleven-Fifteen

I combined several days of entries into this one this time, simply because the work was repetitive: no need to repeat “I painted trim today” for four days straight. On the plus side, I have good news.

All the paint and trim in the living room and hallway has been done. Four straight days of marathon sessions resulted in completion of one LONG project. The living room, as I believe I mentioned before, has eight doorways, three windows and crown moldings and baseboards. So the vast majority of the work was trim work.  I didn’t take pics: the room is still full of the detritus of a major paint job. Tomorrow I will clean a lot of that up.

I did start on the bedrooms tonight. The first thing was to paint the front bedroom door and remove the hardware from the closet doors and second bedroom door.

One thing I had forgotten about: this old house has two old-fashioned box locks, the kind that uses a skeleton key, on the closet doors.

I doubt these locks have ever been used, they’ve been painted over many times.

I got the paint off the screws and removed them, then the lock slides right out.

Once the lock is out, it’s time to get the paint off and free the deadbolt. There was so much paint that seeped into the lock and dried it was stuck solid. Had to take it apart (VERY CAREFULLY) so I didn’t get the cams or springs loose. Here’s the inside, with the deabolt removed for cleaning.

The deadbolt fits directly beneath the brass striker, and it’s also solid brass. After I cleaned the mechanism I oiled it with a touch of transmission fluid and wiped it clean, then put cover on.

Then it was time to clean the paint off the outer face of the lock.  Once I’m finished with the doors I can get a buffer and polish the lock face, which is solid brass.

Lastly, the house has these neat crystal doorknobs, definitely an item you can’t find anymore. This was installed on one of the hall closets this evening as I got the hardware re-installed in the living room and hallway.  Gotta love this old stuff!

Previous Total:     $216.50

New Total:             $216.50  (Still no new purchases, but will have to spring for more paint, soon!)

Home Repair on a Budget: Day Ten

Today marked a milestone of sorts: all the trim, windows, doors and door frames have finally received the final coats of primer in preparation for painting. The baseboards have long been done, but the door frames and windows, and the doors themselves were taking some time. This is all focused on the living room and hallway for now, which is the main living space.

The living room and hallway have eight doors total and three windows.  Front door, coat closet, kitchen door, bedroom doors (2), bathroom door, hall closet one and hall closet two.  And two windows on the front of the house and one smaller one on the side.  That is a LOT of trim  work. Nothing to do but keep plugging along on it.

One issue, as stated earlier in this blog, was my earlier over-extending myself and subsequent exhaustion. I’m learning to slowly pace myself, keeping in mind Wyatt Earp’s famous quote on gunfighting: “Take your time, but quick.”

Here is where I am today.

This is the front door and the hall closet, masked, primed and ready for paint tomorrow.

I forgot the pictures of the windows, but it’s nothing new, and same old stuff.  I am actually not sure if I will even paint the windows themselves; I may replace them entirely in the near future, depending on funds.  We’ll see. If not, I will tackle that a bit later.

This is the hallway, with the twin closet doors and the bathroom door. The primer is still wet in the picture; when it dries it is flat and non-reflective.

The two bedroom doors are opposite these doors.

This is one VERY tight space to work in. Back in the day, there were minimal (if any) code requirements regulating the size of hallways and widths. To give you an idea of the size, that bathroom doorway measures exactly 24 inches wide, so the hallway isn’t much wider than that. Bending over runs the risk of brushing against a newly painted surface, which I did today!

Lastly, this is a bit of a mystery to me. This is the front bedroom doorway. Notice the door jambs.  They only go about two-thirds of the way down, and are neatly cut off.  This is true for both doorways.

I’m at a loss to explain this, but I have one possible idea. If anyone knows otherwise, shoot me a comment.

My guess is it was not closed completely to allow for better air/heat circulation. Back in the day, this house was heated with a wood or coal or oil stove, with a flue opening in the living room. And later, an oil furnace was installed in the living room floor, with a single large vent blowing the hot air upwards.  So there was no heat flowing to the rooms. Having a slight opening in the doorway would allow for some heat to come in, I guess.  In theory anyway. In the winter, you’ll freeze your hiney off if you leave the doors closed.  Of course, now the house has a fully central heat pump system, so it’s no longer an issue.

Tomorrow’s job: painting all that trim with the final coats of latex trim paint.

Previous Total:    $216.50

Today’s Total:       $216.50    (Again, no new purchases.)

Home Repair on a Budget: Day Nine

Today I can breathe a bit easier: my front door has been reinstalled and the house is once again secure.  Although, I’m a little upset the work involved in reinstalling the door resulted in a whole lotta paint chipping  off.

Of course, I can only blame myself. I was in a bit of a rush, as I’m leaving town for the rest of the week to visit my grandmother so I really needed to get the house secured before I left, but the black spray paint just didn’t have enough time to thoroughly dry. Surface dry, yes, but not all the way through.

Here’s where we are…

Once I got the big surface lock installed, I noticed the paint chipped from screwdriver. It managed to flake a large, noticeable portion off a couple of places. Well, quick solution for now…

I got the rest of the screws installed (3) and then grabbed a small, cheap paintbrush. I sprayed a generous glob of black paint onto the cardboard I was using, and then dipped the paintbrush in that and then applied it to the chipped area.

Then it was time to go over all the surfaces on the lock and get them all covered.

I think it turned out fairly well, but this story isn’t quite over.

So, I got the hardware in place, the locks reinstalled, and the doorknobs secured. Then the last step: the hinges. Three very heavy, large hinges.  One of the screws broke when I removed it; these are old flathead screws with a single groove on top. I’d much prefer a Philips head screw, but there’s nothing wrong with these. Plus, they were already used and holes were reamed out for them, so back in they went.

And then it was time to move the door off the sawhorses and back to the door frame. And that’s when the trouble REALLY started. Obviously I took no pictures of this ordeal, the darn thing weighs close to a hundred pounds.  Yes I can lift a hundred pounds, quite easily, in fact. But lifting a hundred pound object and aligning it precisely to a specific point at a precise angle, and you can see the difficulty.  After more than twenty minutes of balancing and pushing and pulling and getting things to fit just so, I finally got one hinge lined up, the middle one. I’d have much preferred to get the top one first, but that came later.  More pushing and pulling and coaxing, and finally I got the bottom and lastly, the top. There is definitely some play in the hinges mounted on the doorframe, so I will have to go back and work on that. Really, the entire doorframe needs replacing. That will be a project for a later time.

Now the door is in place, deadbolt lines up, and the house is secure, but the biggest issue here is that the process of pushing and pulling really did a number on the hinges just freshly painted.

I will have to wait until I’m back to repaint, carefully masking the area to avoid overspray.

If you look closely at this photo, the bottom hinge shows a lot of white/green paint on the bottom.

Also, there is no catch on the large black lock, which also got scraped in the final door installation; I need to redo that area to better secure it. The catch is painted and ready to install, but I need to paint the doorframe first and repair the area where the catch is installed with a new block of wood behind it.

And here’s the view from straight on.

I have no idea why the cell phone cam chooses to distort colors like this, and it also shows some kind of ghost image.

Kinda freaky, when you consider last night was Halloween!

Cool, I gots a haunted house!  🙂

Next up, I will be finishing the trim work, painting the door frames, interior doors and windows.

Stay tuned!

Previous total:  $216.50

Current total: $216.50, no new purchases.

%d bloggers like this: