Sunday, January 11, 2009

Fun With A Lot of Hot Air*

Did I tell you? I didn't have electricity or heat so I was working in daylight and somewhat tolerable weather. Here's what the wall looked like when I started on Friday, Jan. 9th with the putty knife. See the shadow on the wall from the window? Honest, no light.

After scraping five hours, and BTW, thanks for the ladder Rob and Tina, here's what I was able to finish in 14 hrs.

The BEST thing that happened Friday was that Duke Energy came and turned on the electricity and gas. The furnace doesn't work (of course) but I had light and POWER.

Saturday I brought my heat gun. What a tool! Everyone recommends renting a steamer to remove paper. The heat gun did the same thing and for what? $25. It took me 14 hours scraping to clean this wall; I did the adjacent wall exactly like this in only five hours with the heat gun.

Please note times are approximate; I don't do anything for five hours straight unless it promises to pay a lot of money or a very happy ending. I stopped for food and whatnot; I'm not twenty.

* - Dedicated to the Honorable Peter B. Scuderi whose laugh and wry sense of indignation are permanently stuck in my head. He was also fun with a lot of hot air.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Day 1 - Who Knew Stripping Could Be So Fulfilling?

Well, I've done small stuff since closing three weeks ago because holiday travel and work kept me too busy. Jan. 3rd, 2009 was my first full day of work.

Thought I'd start with the bedroom walls. They have about three coats of paint on top of at least three layers of paper on top of painted plaster. Read a lot online about removing wallpaper and restoring wood trim last night. So, I started the day with a brand new scorer, a paper scraper (stick with a wide razor blade at the end), gel paper remover, and putty knives for wood scraping. When I scored the paper, I knew I was in trouble; the scorer didn't leave a mark. The paint was tough as plaster. I soaked an area with gel remover and started working in the yard to let the remover do its work. An hour later, I couldn't get the paper scraper to cut through the paint let alone the paper. The seam was bumpy so I got the blade through the upper layer and this gave me some leverage. After 30 minutes I had cleared a circular area about 2 ft. diameter and was bummed by the lack of progress.

This was the tool and the size of the area it cleared. Don't waste your time or money. It is too bulky to lay at the right angle for stripping. As you can see, in spite of having a razor blade, it left a layer, too.

So, I did the smart thing and walked away and took a break. I don't often do the smart thing; usually keep going until I'm thoroughly frustrated and can't think straight. Must have been a good night. Anyway, I decided there had to be an easier way so I got all my sharp flat tools together. Trial and error and Voila! I borrowed the perfect method from the wood refinishing blogs. The putty knife worked like magic.

The magic putty knife. I tried a lot of others with wider blades but this one could not be beat.

Here's the area I was able to clear over eight hours (two days) after using just the putty knife and a lot of elbow grease. You can see I was able to get down to the final paint layer (gray) in a lot of spots. This covered about two-thirds of a wall.

Friday, January 2, 2009

My First Demolition and Renovation

I just bought a duplex from HUD. I've never owned a house before, I've always wondered about having one, and I could finally afford to buy. What I wanted I couldn't afford so this building, big and solid, was the best deal I could get for the money. BTW, if you plan on buying from the agency, poke me. I've learned a lot about the HUD bidding formula over the four solid months it took to finalize this deal. There's an agency with problems!

This house is a duplex. The two bathrooms have squishy floors from leaky plumbing and a basement full of mold that could have come from the moldy bathroom sub-floor or moisture incursion or both and then some. The kitchens are empty with the except of the ceiling light fixtures and some 1980's cabinets that are also moldy from the leaks. There's also mold climbing the first floor wall in one corner and I can't tell if it's coming up or going down. And the furnace to the first floor doesn't work. Oh, yeah, workers saw a racoon leaving the basement. But, it could be worse.

The woodwork - and there is a lot - in the public areas has never been painted. The pocket doors work (somewhat). There's enough of the original floor to refinish. The windows won't need to be replaced immediately. It still has all it's original stained glass. Once I get it finished, I'll be looking for some nuns in long habits to complete the look.

I paid cash - most everything I have in this world. Drained my IRA and, considering I just turned 60, I'm a little nervous. So this is me putting my feet to the fire. I've big plans, no credit and wondering where I'm going to get the time, strength, & money. What do you think?