Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The buffet project

After what seems a fairly long hiatus, we have started a pretty significant project of stripping and repairing our built-in buffet outside our bedroom and bathroom. Once you start living in a home that has ongoing work, after cleaning up from a project and making rooms look liveable the cleanness acts as a permanent psychological barrier to beginning any future project which might descend the house back into chaos. Well, this time around, after we covered the furniture, moved bookshelves and removed books, and did a lot of prep for repainting our living room, I thought, now's the time for the buffet!

The buffet suffered from perpetual filthiness. It's been a bit of an embarrassment that it's lasted this long before serious effort. (actual living space was always more important for us). Repeated times before I thoroughly scrubbed the buffet to have it remain looking filthy. It really needed a new coat of paint-which required a fair amount of prep work. In some places, the paint had chipped down to the wood revealing a coating of about 1/8 inch.

The second problem was the interior of the buffet. The back was the original plaster wall which was in disrepair. It looked really bad. Then, there were the shelves. They suffered from the perpetual and neverending filth problem, but they also seemed split and cracked. They also were tiny and hard to get to.Buffet plaster

Buffet shelf plaster

The third problem is some broken exterior molding. When our mason installed the exterior vent for our bathroom fan, some brick fell down and broke 2 pieces of curved molding. We will need to replace these pieces.
Now, onto the work!

I used a heat gun to remove the paint. It was really thick so took a long time. (quite fun with a window open when it's snowing and 15-not the optimal time for work!). It was a slow process. Since most of the buffet has vertical surfaces in a finished area of the house, I preferred to use the heat gun. Stripper is just much more of a challenge on vertical surfaces. Plus, there's the risk of stripper migrating to the finished floor. The down side with the heat gun is the fumes. I had to wear a respirator plus keep the window open.
Here's the buffet in progress, after one long day of stripping:

Buffet stripping in progress

I also removed all the doors and drawers to be worked on separately. (note do not ever paint hinges!!!)
Now, after completing the paint stripping, and waiting for sanding:

Buffet stripping after day 2

I also was able to knock out most of the shelving.

Next on the agenda? (1) finish the stripping with the heat gun (2) remove damaged molding (3) remove remaining shelf and chisel out bottom splintered shelf (4) work on plaster back of buffet . (I'm thinking for this, we'll just cover the plaster with painted hardibacker. If there's clearly crumbling plaster though, I'd like to take out the broken pieces).

We will use citrus stripper on the drawers and the doors. For the crumbling shelves, I think we might just change them out with new shelves. The original plywood is in bad shape.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Flooding and a Multi-pronged Hunt

When last I left you, we were returning from vacation to water in the basement. Not to disappoint, this past weekend, the flooding got worse. Basically, an inch of water throughout much of the basement. We were running out the door, when our tenants sent the casual e-mail, and we had to investigate. The fact that we have tons of belongings in our basement did not help matters. But, eventually, after 3 hours, with the help of a broom, 2 wet vacs, fans, etc. we were able to get most of the water out. (we used the broom to push water to the sump pump) We still need to move all our belongings and thoroughly dry them/toss etc. That will be a longer process. (and I don't know how exciting to write about).

We were already immersed in one hunt, but besides for the water source-we are back on the contractor roulette wheel.

Now, our first hunt of the weekend concerned paint. As I've written before, we painted our dining room, then, were planning on painting the living room the same color. We had a big flooring project, and took out radiators to be painted. Prior to reinstalling the radiators, I got another gallon of paint to do touchups. Which, actually didn't match. This weekend, we tried to go back with the original quart container and have Home Depot just use the same formula on the quart can. Well, they couldn't do that because (1) a gallon formula would be different and (2) the base apparently changed-which is the issue. (I don't know why a gallon formula wouldn't just be 4 times whatever the quart kind was). So now, we need to try color matching. Fingers crossed on this. (I'm trying to figure out who would be best with this).

Added to the hunt is a preliminary search for a waterproofer. We'd also like to get a structural engineeer out because we might as well have one assess the waterproofing issue, and while
(s)he's at it some other things around here such as what kind of load our roof can take if we added a green roof, which is on our wish list. Contractors just make me really nervous as they provide possibly a huge price tag, and risk. Yes, getting things done is magnificent. I love having someone else come in and give them a few days-massive progress. But, we've had contractors that we really thought would do great fail miserably and there's nothing more frustrating. There's the added thing that I like when contractors come in and do improvements, not just maintenance sort of things.

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