Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Garden Work

This post is a few months late, but I'm trying to do some catch up on blog posts (plus, I can use writing them as an excuse to procrastinate working on the walls in the bedroom).

Chris' mom and dad were here in May and first they plucked all of the dandelions and generally cleaned up the front yard while I watched from the porch while sipping a bloody mary. Then we transplanted some plants and shrubs from the backyard to the front because the dogs will apparently eat anything that they can tell we paid for. I think the results are really beautiful:

It's especially incredible considering this is what the front gardens looked like when we moved in: P1000050.JPG

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Surprises Along the Way

And the surprises in a 100 year old house are never good ones.

The wallpaper scraping in the bedroom is finished and for the most part the plaster is in decent shape.  I had high hopes of painting today, but those were dashed of course.  Here are some photos of the horrors I described in the last post:

This is where the plaster cracked and the PO's decided to put spackle or joint compound or something over the crack, over the wallpaper and then put a new layer of wallpaper over the whole mess.  This method was used for every minor crack in the room and as you can imagine it is hard to scrape off.  The thing is that there isn't a single crack in this room that is wide enough or offset enough to require this, a new layer of paper would've covered everything perfectly.

The most annoying thing by far is the decision to patch any plaster problems in this house with drywall and then papering over the drywall without priming it so you can't strip the paper off.  I just feel like mixing up some plaster and slapping it up there is way easier than dragging a whole giant sheet of drywall home and cutting off a small piece that sort of vaguely matches the shape of the problem area and then gobbing joint compound and mesh tape in the gaps and then having it not look that great so you end up putting wallpaper over the whole bumpy nightmare.  This is the worst one, they didn't even scrape the wallpaper away so they were taping and spackling the drywall patch to the plaster.  They just patched it to the wallpaper and hoped that the wallpaper bond was good.  Unfortunately, I'm just going to perpetuate the mess because I know that if I take that patch out I'm going to find at least another week's worth of work and I know that makes me a bad restorer, but there is a point where it's like pulling at a thread on a sweater and before I know it the house is laying in ruins around me.  I did scrape the paper off and I'll put a layer of finish plaster over the whole thing so hopefully it won't be noticeable and long after I'm gone someone will discover what I did and complain about it to everyone.
There is another annoying thing that I didn't take a photo of because it's just not that exciting, but someone pounded drywall anchors into the plaster that we are having a hard time digging out.  They may have to just stay there and then I'll push a piece a piece of furniture in front of them.

So here's what the walls look like now, there's a little paste left that needs to be wiped off, and then some finish plaster and then paint.  Hopefully soon we won't feel like we're sleeping in a prison and we will have a restful sanctuary like all of those home decoration shows tell me I should have.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Scraping Continues

I have finally scrounged the motivation to continue the wallpaper scraping in our bedroom and since it's a holiday weekend I'm dragging Chris down with me.  Since the last scraping extravaganza, we acquired a Paper Pirana (similar to Paper Tiger, but instead hunts in schools?) and also assembled the garden sprayer correctly, so instead of stripping with mostly tears as a solvent, the wallpaper stripper was delivered consistently and evenly to the paper.  I naively thought that this would make the stripping go much easier PLUS with the added benefit of an extra person this room would be finished in no time!

I don't know why I never learn.

There's too much paper on these walls for them to be easy regardless of methods or tools.  The stripping continued using this method:  1.  Dry scrape the vinyl paper and paint and (could it be?) skimcoating material until you can't stop muttering expletives.  2.  Score the remaining paint paper and joint compound and hopefully top layer of paper paper with the PP until the deltoid muscles on both arms ache.  3.  Soak scored paper with bad for the environment, cancer causing wallpaper stripping solution.  4.  Drink beer and sing along to various singer-songwriters from the 70's.  5.  Scrape.  6. Repeat steps 2 through 5 until the plaster is clean.   7.  Clean up the giant mess.

Sounds great, eh?  Generally we got about 1.5 layers of wallpaper off with each scraping.  I've been telling anyone who will listen how there's no good reason to strip wallpaper as long as it has a sound bond with the wall surface.  Well, I found a good reason.  Stripping one layer from a room this size probably wouldn't even take a whole day, stripping 4 or 5 may take the rest of my life.  OK, not really.  We worked hard yesterday and it's probably 2/3rds finished, but the joy of wallpaper stripping is that you never really know how it's going to go.  In the same room you could spend an hour working on a 2 sf section and then zip through a whole wall.  I'm remaining positive about the work we have to do today, it's going to be the easy kind... I'm sure of it.