Saturday, June 30, 2012

Almost Done With Guest Room

It feels like we're getting close on our guest bedroom paint stripping project, so we've been pretty good about working on it. The rainy, cool weather has helped as well, because, really, who wants to hang out with a heat gun when it's already too hot?

Unfortunately, with paint stripping, the heat gun stripping takes off about 95% of the paint but seems to take only about half of the total time. Removing the last 5% seems to take just about as long. (This is an educated guess on my part—I haven't carefully measured our hours and effort and calculated the real percentages.)

I spent several more hours today working on the guest room detail work. I also got sidetracked scraping some of the thick skin off the plaster walls. It's pretty easy to remove once you get it started. I probably don't need to scrape the walls, but I am a little worried the plaster contractor will just plaster over this layer and I'd rather have it removed first.

I'm just about ready to declare the guest bedroom woodwork done enough for sanding. There are quite a few areas where I've been trying to dig paint out of crevices, but there's just too much gap between the pieces of wood and my digging is causing damage. I think it's better in those cases to just touch up any paint showing through the stain. We've already got matching paint so it should be a breeze.

Jeff also made more progress stripping paint with the heat gun in the hallway. (As tempting as it is, we're not going to turn the corner on the stairs and do the lower portion.) The goal this summer is to finish the upstairs landing so we can have the floors refinished up there in both the master and guest bedrooms and the hallway connecting them. The stairs are a project for 2013.

I also managed to get Jeff's help to rehang all three doors in the master bedroom. My plan is to stain them while they're hung so I can stain both sides at the same time.  I'm hoping now that they're hung I'll just wake up some morning soon feeling like finishing that bedroom. (A girl can hope, right?)

Friday, June 29, 2012

Compost Crock

Instead of whining about our awful projects today, I thought, for a change of pace, I would mention a purchase we've been very happy with.

We strive—not always successfully—to keep the kitchen counters as clean and clear as possible. One dilemma we had to solve was how to deal with food scraps waiting to go out to the compost bin.

I found this nice crock at Gardener's Supply Company in spring and decided to give it a try. Shipping was fairly expensive, almost $10 on the $30 purchase, but we've been quite happy with the crock overall. And it looks a whole lot more attractive than the plastic tub we had on the counter last winter.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Slow Progress

The last few days we've been slowly chipping away at our two projects: 1) emptying out the garage and 2) stripping paint upstairs.

The garage is an absolute pigsty and we're so looking forward to having a nice, dry, rodent-free garage again. Even though we took everything out last summer and cleaned it up, it has a bunch of rodents living in it so it again has squirrel and rat poop everywhere. It is SO GROSS! There are really no pictures worth posting.

I have listed a few things on craigslist for free and at liquidation prices and they're moving out fairly well. The stuff we're keeping is going off to storage on Thursday.

We've also slowly worked at paint stripping upstairs. I have learned to appreciate the wonderful job our paint stripping team did last year. This job stinks. But, we are making good progress. All but one small piece of baseboard has had the first pass with the heat gun. (We need to rehang the master bedroom doors in order to uncover that last piece of baseboard.)

We're going to replace the painted picture rail because it would be very difficult to strip in place and it is installed a bit too high to be useful. We're going to install the replacement at the level of the door mouldings, like it is in the bedrooms.

The last two doors are going in to Timby's for stripping. I started to strip the sleeping porch door in the guest bedroom and I discovered it is stained underneath the paint. And I'm just too tired to to strip the bathroom door to stain-ready on both sides. They'll both go in for stripping once the garage is finished.

Based on a recommendation from Leslie over at NE Portland Bungalow, we've hired a plasterer to come in and repair the messed up plaster walls in the guest bedroom. It will probably be August before we can get the room ready for him, because we need our awesome electrician to come in and move an outlet for us, but we'll report back once we have him in.

The guest bedroom is mostly to the dental tool and sanding stage but we need to figure out some dust protection for the doorway. I don't want to cover the downstairs rooms with sanding dust.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Family Album

In better news, our house appeared in the Family Album section of the June issue of American Bungalow magazine! I hadn't realized it would be in there; a friend mentioned to us she'd seen the house in the magazine.

(Our contractor initially submitted the house photos, so yes, we did give permission. But we never heard back about if/when it would actually be published.)

I think it's a somewhat funny crop of the photo of the house and not terribly attractive, but it is still our house!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Garage Rant

I should have known better. When you get a quote that is out of line with other quotes, you're not going to get the promised deal no matter how many references you call...

Despite us having a signed contract, our contractor, Tim Austin, has come back to us and told us he is going to have to increase the contract price. Apparently he didn't realize how much the permits were going to cost (or how difficult they would be to get), and he never bothered to price the roofing before the quote and used his "standard" roofing price which is about a quarter of what our actual roofing costs. I told him up front it was expensive roofing.

And, when he realized the cost of the garage was going to need to be increased, did he let us know? No!! He just went ahead and pulled the permit!! I'm very upset about this

So now if we decide we can't afford the new higher price, and need to delay the building, the permit will just expire and we'll have to pay again to reopen it. We put down a deposit on this project of half the total and he'll surely deduct the revised permit cost before refunding the remainder even though we wouldn't have pulled the permit had we known how much the revised total for the project was going to be. 

Update on Monday: So we worked out a compromise with Tim. He's a really nice guy but obviously a little inexperienced. We're going to go ahead and let him build the garage. He guaranteed in writing there would be no additional cost increases. We're going to pay him more for the permit and he's going to come down on many of his labor items, basically equivalent to "eating" the expense for the roofing. Because his "profit" on this job was pretty small in the first place, we're going to go ahead and hire him for more of the work we were going to do ourselves, i.e. painting, etc. It's not a perfect compromise, but at least we'll get our garage.

I really don't want to sue him; I just want the project finished.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Finding Motivation

I have found one of the problems with paint stripping is it's a lot like cleaning—you can only see what still needs to be done. Since it's hard to see from day to day what progress you've made, it can get pretty discouraging. That's why I try to take lots of pictures so I can see the progress. It helps me stay motivated.

I just keep plugging away at cleaning the woodwork but I'm now at the dental tool stage and it is slow. This part frankly sucks, but I just keep reminding myself that this project will be so worth it in the end.

Today is my birthday, so Jeff and I are taking the afternoon off. We're off to go play the rest of the day.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Finished Living Room Curtain

I continued to plug away at the third living room curtain while I was in front of the TV this week. Yesterday afternoon I finished it. Woo hoo!

This curtain, unfortunately, doesn't really get seen because it's behind the bird cage. But I know it's done and I can finally cross another project off my To Do list.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Guest Bedroom Wall Repair

The walls in our guest bedroom need to be repaired and I don't know how to do it. There was this large poorly-patched abandoned wood stove plug on one of the walls and I couldn't resist pulling it out. It looked really bad. And since we removed the chimney, there is no possible chance we'll be needing this opening in the future. But now there's this big hole.

The wood lathe below the plaster is charred and black and I don't know if I should try and remove it too. And I'm trying to figure out how to fill that hole. Should I use a piece of drywall?

The walls also have a weird rubber-like coating; I don't know if it's just so many coats of paint that it feels thick, but it is somewhat flexible. It doesn't adhere very well to the plaster below it and there are also a lot of painted over cracks. If we're smart, we'll fix these walls in this room while we're restoring the woodwork. But, I don't know how to fix them.

I don't know if I should try to scrape off all of this weird rubbery layer and then resurface all of the walls, or if I should just try to fix just the obvious problem areas. I'm currently having the mental debate about doing it right and doing it cheap.

And what do I use to resurface the walls? I get conflicting info about using joint compound—some sources say it won't adhere well over the long term. I really don't want to learn how to do plaster. I'm barely motivated to work on this paint stripping.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Long Day of Paint Stripping

It was cool and breezy today, so the weather was perfect for paint stripping. I believe I spent more than six hours and then this afternoon Jeff joined me and spent three more. We got quite a lot done.

I got a lot of the paint off the linen cabinet, though there's still lots of detail work left. I stripped the drawers a couple weeks ago. I'm not planning to strip the inside. 

We found our first bit of damaged wood. The face frame on the linen closet  on the lower door has been broken. I'm not sure how we'll fix this and it's really hard to strip the paint out of the large cracks.

Jeff stripped a lot of the headers in the hallway.

I made a lot of good progress stripping paint in the guest bedroom. I finished doing a first pass with the chemicals on nearly all the woodwork below shoulder level. I need to get that closet cleared out so I can finish the door jamb.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

How We Strip Paint

Jeff and I learned to strip paint by both watching a crew strip paint in our downstairs and by stripping paint ourselves. We don't claim to be experts, but we have learned some techniques that might help others to strip paint in their homes.

First, we tried the silent paint remover, but we didn't have the hands-free stand and found it to be bulky and awkward to work with. It was too large and heavy to hold while you were scraping paint, but it was too hot to set down on most surfaces. So using the SPR ended up being a two person job; one to hold the stripper, one to scrape paint. We also were more apt to burn the wood because we couldn't see the wood while we were holding the stripper over it. I've seen many websites rave about this tool, so perhaps if we had bought the hands-free stand, we would have liked it better.

The professionals we hired to strip paint in our downstairs used inexpensive heat guns. We bought a $60 Ryobi variable temp gun from Home Depot. Once we bought the smaller hand-held heat gun, things really improved on the paint stripping front. And we've since found a heat gun to be the best tool at removing the bulk of the paint. 

We also have a variety of scrapers designed for many different contours. (I don't actually recall where we bought them as it was quite a while back. Sorry.) My favorite is a teardrop shape as it does an excellent job at scraping down through the paint to the wood. While it cleans a smaller amount of wood with each stroke and takes many more strokes to clean an area, it does such a good job of cutting through the paint to the wood, I think it's worth the trade-off for energy expended.

To prep this baseboard, we removed the shoe moulding. We're planning to refinish the floors, so we'll be replacing that piece. We also masked down paper on the floor, even though we're refinishing it. It's a messy business and it's easier to clean up with the paper in place.

One note about the photos. I took these by myself, so I had to put down one of my tools in order to take the photos. When I strip paint with the heat gun, I have the scraper in one hand and heat gun in the other. I'm usually moving the heat gun over the surface, softening the paint, and then using the scraper in the other hand at the same time. These photos only show one of the tools working at a time because I had to set one of them down to pick up a camera. 

I start by softening the paint over an area. I try to keep the gun moving around, as I don't want to burn the wood and end up with a black spot.

Once you've softened the paint a bit, use the scraper to take off as much of it as you can.

I like to keep going over the area and get off as much of the paint/primer as I can because the heat gun is far less expensive than the chemicals.

I have a different scraper I like to use for the top of the baseboard which is a better width to do the job in one stroke.

Jeff filmed a short video of me stripping paint and I've included it below.

I can usually get the bulk of the paint removed with the heat gun and scrapers. At this point, I sweep up and put the lead paint debris in a separate garbage can where it will be properly disposed of.

Once I've removed much of the paint with the heat gun, I apply a coat of one of those awful toxic paint strippers. I like KleanStrip from Home Depot, but I've also tried Jasco; they both work but I've found Jasco to be more "runny" and more expensive. (One of the blogs I follow did a stripping comparison between KleanStrip and Jasco and found the Jasco to be more effective. I'll add a link to that post as soon as I remember which blog it is.) So, my current plan is to use KleanStrip for woodwork above my head, like door jambs and picture moulding, and use Jasco for low woodwork, like baseboards.

BTW, we've tried the eco-friendly strippers. They didn't work for us, at least not very well. We've used SoyGel, Peel-Away, and some others I don't even remember what they are called. They take forever (24 hours or more between coats!) and often don't do a good job. Who wants to spend years stripping paint? Not me. So we switched to the toxic stuff because it works--and fast.

Anyway, you let the stripper work for about 15 minutes. I often have a hard time waiting that long so I try and apply the chemical and then go work in another area while I wait.

I've tried a number of tools to get the stripper off. After trying many things, I've found the most effective "tool" is a steel kitchen scrubby. We bought a bunch from a restaurant supply, but we also bought some from Dollar Store. We usually have several of them in use at once. While you're using them, they do "fill up" with the gunk, but once it dries, it falls right out of the scrubby and you can sweep the stuff up for proper disposal and continue to use the scrubby.

Quick tip: Don't scrub paint stripper with the scrubby above your head if you can avoid it. If you do, you may find little bits of paint stripper raining down on your face and they burn! I try and use a ladder tall enough that I'm at least level with the woodwork I'm working on.

As you can see, the chemical in conjunction with the scrubby takes off most of the remaining paint.
I usually reapply small amounts of the chemical stripper in the spots that didn't strip and come back for a second pass.

And here we go. This small section is just about ready for sanding. I usually don't sand the wood on the same day as I apply the stripper because I like to give it time to dry out.

Of course, these wide flat areas are a breeze compared to crown mouldings and picture rails. Those are torture to strip. I suggest investing in a lot of dental tools. We were lucky that our local army surplus store stocked dental tools so we went and loaded up. My favorite one is the square curved one on top, but they all have their uses.

To strip these difficult areas, we find we often cannot get much if any paint off with the heat gun because we don't want to risk burning the wood. So, in these areas we just start with the chemical stripper. We apply a generous amount of stripper and let it set for 15 minutes. You have to work at the different profiles with different tools. It usually takes quite a few passes with the chemical stripper and dental tools. With patience and determination, you can get there.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Last Week's Projects

While in California last week, I brought the last curtain from the living room and got to work finishing the embroidery. I mostly worked on it during the long ride. I finished just over half of the curtain.

Jeff, on the other hand, was quite the busy bee. He planted the rest of the vegetable plants and he got to work on the guest bedroom paint stripping project. He cleared out the rest of the furniture/stuff and finished masking the floors. He also stripped, with the heat gun, all of the picture rail and the woodwork that was above my reach. Yeah!

Fresh Apricots!

While in California I binged on fruit. We stopped by farm stands on the way from the SF Bay Area to Pioneer (where my Mom lives). My Mom made cherry jam. I made peach-strawberry jam. I'm looking forward to enjoying the three jars of jam I brought home.

Then, on our way home to Portland yesterday, we stopped and bought a flat of apricots from one of the farms along I-5. These apricots are delicious!

Today Jeff made apricot coffee cake and I started making apricot pie fillings (to freeze).

I was also planning to make a couple of batches of apricot jam, but I discovered our canning tools are still in storage. So, we need to make it to storage in the next day or two before this fruit goes bad.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Bit More Stenciling

I figured I would try and get one more quick project out of the way before I take off for California tomorrow. These curtains have been lying around on the dining room table for about three weeks and I wanted to clear them before I go.

Last time I posted about this project I lamented a mistake; I had stenciled rust on the border where I had intended to stencil green. After it dried, I went over the rust bit with green, but it just ended up looking black. (You can see it in the upper row on this photo.) Oh well, it looks like I'll have an embroidery project this summer now.

Today I finished the last two side borders on both dining room curtains.

The bottom edge stencil is going to take quite a bit of planning and layout, so I didn't have time for them today. I'm hoping I'll get to them later in the month.