Friday, June 26, 2009

3rd time's a charm...mostly

After calming down considerably from yesterday's Peony Tragedy 2009 (thanks for the thoughtful words, Karen Anne), I attempted to remove the last of the gunk from the bottom newel post today. There are still some lingering places that are more black than brown so I'm not sure how to deal with that but for now I need to be done as Thom has been feeling pretty sick from the fumes of the mineral spirits I've had to use to clean up the Peel Away 6. I wonder if there is a way to even out the color with a stain although I suppose this would just make the existing dark spots even darker...?

Nothing else going on this weekend except for maybe a bit more research on bathroom reno. I'm counting the days to getting the floors done!

I also think that my now successful use of Peel Away has prompted me to use it on our front porch floor and steps - there must be at least 10 layers of paint out there and you can tell it. That might be a July or August weekend project.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Are you f*cking kidding me?!?

As I reported last year, someone came and stole my peonies before I could even take a picture of them. They finally bloomed yesterday and I thought I'd go enjoy them (now that the rain stopped for 5 minutes) only to find that someone has AGAIN stolen several of them (see above stem with missing flower). Mother f&cking, son of b%tch, a$$hole losers. I seriously feel like sitting outside with a bat and just waiting for them to come by again. I should at least feel happy that I got a picture of them this year - who knows, they may all be gone by tomorrow. I will quote myself from a year ago and repeat, "Mean people suck."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Okay, I admit it: I was wrong

After being angry and frustrated last night regarding the issues with my Peel Away debacle, I spent some time on the Internet seeing that I seemed to be the only person in the universe with this problem. This led me to believe that the rest of the universe was probably right and I was most likely wrong. I reapplied the goo triple thick this time and used some plastic wrap. It all came off like a dream today when I got home. So, yes, user error. There are a few spots that I need to yet redo (including the bottom newel post that I did yesterday improperly) but I am happy with progress thus far. I was unhappy to see that I got some on the spindles but I know I'll need to repaint these anyway once the floors are done. All in all, then, Peel Away - hooray!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Stinking Peel Away

As happy as I was to use the Peel Away yesterday, now I am hating it. While I was able to finish one newel post this morning, I came home from work to finish the rest, only to find that the Peel Away paper had not only dried on but also separated as I tried to pull it off. So, not only is my railing not stripped but it also has paper stuck to it. I'm ticked. I searched the Internet and seem to be the only person who has experienced this problem. I guess I will recoat it again tomorrow (I need more paper and HD is closed now, dammit) and see if it will do the job this time, including taking off the paper.


Stripping Sucks

It will be interesting to see how many hits I get with that title - but, sorry, I'm talking about stripping woodwork. I have spent the past 4.5 hours stripping one - yes, count it, one - newel post. Sheesh. I haven't even started the railing yet, which is going to be an even bigger pain in the ass because at least the newel post has some flat surfaces. It looks like everywhere I didn't really glob on the Peel Away it just has stuck to it. I wonder if I should actually reapply more to the railing, now knowing this. (Un)fortunately, I need to stop for the day so I can eat something, take a shower, and get to work. There was another sign that I needed to stop for the day, however:

Yes, either all the scrubbing or the mineral spirits seems to have eaten through my gloves. I had a blister from last weekend's carpet removal and it even ate through the band-aid. I'm not sure how much was on my skin before I noticed. Yick.
Anyway, it already looks a lot better than before with the black nasty shellac it had on it. I was surprised, however, to see that the wood is not lighter. I wonder if the Peel Away actually only ate through the shellac rather than the stain. Not sure, but I'm actually pretty happy with the color so I'll probably just end up putting some poly on it. There are some spots that are going to need a bit of a do-over but that will have to wait until I can finish the railing. Woe is me.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Today's blog post brought to you by Peel Away

I realized that to strip the banister and newel posts I would have to remove the carpet, which I did yesterday. So, taking some expert advice from Sarah at Bangor Bungalow, I gave up on the Murphy's and paint thinner and switched over to the real stuff. I decided to splurge and got Peel Away 6, which you see at work now. I don't know yet how it will work but I am already pleased by the lack of caustic odor and drippiness. I will give it 24 hours and we'll see how it turns out. Keep those fingers crossed.

In other renovation news, I am giving up on the dreams of the 1920's-style bathroom. It seems silly to tear out all of our tile on our walls and in our shower, which is in really good shape, and to waste the tile we bought last year. On top of the plumbing issues I shared the other day, I think it's best to just go with a vanity, get our tile done by Miracle Method along with the tub, and maybe just add an accent strip of glass tiles to punch it up a bit. I bought some samples today from (the place from where I bought the accent tiles for the kitchen) so we'll see what we can put together; it just makes more sense/cents this way.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Away, damn carpet!

Five hours, a hobbled back, and a million staples later - no more carpet on the stairs! Woot, woot! Yes, I somehow managed to convince Thom of the necessity to remove the hideous carpet on the stairs and we can now officially say that this Bangor Foursquare has been de-1970s-ized! Hooray for the 21st century! Tomorrow I will work on stripping the banister and newel posts.

What convinced him, you ask? I think it was the promise of a vacation to Disneyworld. You see, to get the floors done we're going to need to vacate the toxic promises (as will Mancha) - so why not use it as an excuse to take a vay-kay? Yes, after 35 years of avoiding all things Disney, I have now succumbed to the Mouse. Sigh. But - yippee! - upon returning, I shall have beautiful new floors upstairs! July 9-11 is the date!

I'm sure I will then have to reckon with Thom again about some kind of runner. However, after spending all this time pulling tack strips and staples out of our once beautiful floors I am not all that willing to see more holes. In fact, I think I consider carpeting hardwood very much akin to wallpapering. Indeed, one of the 10 Commandments of Our Old House:

1) Thou shalt not wallpaper over beautiful plaster walls.
2) Thou shalt not cover hardwood with carpet.
3) Thou shalt not punch holes in walls to accommodate wiring.
4) Thou shalt not hammer something with 50 nails when 3 will suffice.
5) Thou shalt not hire lazy contractors.
6) Thou shalt not build garages without proper foundations.
7) Thou shalt not create half bathrooms in coat closets.
8) Thou shalt not paint woodwork, then paint it brown to look like wood again.
9) Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's hot tub.
10) Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy wife, who is doing all this stinking work.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I may have made a huge tiny mistake

I spent about two hours today going from hardware store to box store as well as trolling the Internet to find an answer to my problem: dirty newel posts and hand railings. The floor refinishing people suggested we tackle these before we get the floors and stairs done (for obvious reasons) and recommended using a combination of a deglosser and paint thinner to basically clean them so they could then be refinished. After looking at the extremely noxious ingredients in these things I decided to try something recommended by This Old House instead.

Only using one noxious chemical, I mixed equal parts of Murphy's Oil Soap and paint thinner. You can see the results above. Maybe this is what I wanted - I'm not sure. I know that removing almost 90 years of grime is not easy but I also didn't want to have to strip the wood -- maybe I've already done that. Eek.

Plotting and scheming

The details are starting to come together, folks. I got an estimate from a place called Miracle Method in NH to resurface our bathtub for about $500. For a second, I reconsidered this - I thought, hey, we can buy a new tub for less than that. But I realize these tubs would be probably fiberglass (ours is cast iron) and it would be a major bitch to get the old one out, etc. Miracle Method can even resurface tile but I'm not sure we want to stick with the old tile. I actually found this picture and fell in love with this style of bathroom - I'm not sure we can do it but I want it! We had bought all of this tile last year at a HD closing for way cheap but now I'm not sure I want it anymore because I want this awesome hex tile, which, of course, is much more expensive.

The major concern is that when I look at the plumbing under the current sink it's a total mess, as you can see. I'm not sure what it will take it to get it into a shape necessary to be able to use a pedestal sink. I already knew we'd need to install shut-off valves, which is no big deal, but I'm wondering about rerouting, etc. to get in shape for a pedestal. Thoughts?

In other news, Don Dickel came to give us an estimate on the upstairs floors and the stairway. The rooms were very reasonable but I choked a bit at refinishing the 13 stairs: $600! I shortly considered doing this myself but just don't feel up to it. Besides, they do a great job.

I'm going to probably pull out carpet from the stairs and maybe play a bit with cleaning up the newel post and railing today. Wish me luck.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Half out - half still in

Before (with hideousness)

Half of the ugliness is now gone. After two hours and about a million staples and nail strips pulled out, it's looking a lot better. Once we get it refinished it will look heavenly. I did find a couple surprises (as per usual):

First, they seem to have put in about a one-inch subfloor in the bathroom over which they laid the ugly vinyl. This is interesting also because there seems to have also been hardwood under there. I guess we'll see the shape of it when we rip it up later. I think I'm more concerned about what this means for dealing with the toilet - I suppose there is already an extension flange there, but we'll see.

The second surprise is the vehemence with which Thom staunchly is holding onto the carpet on the stairs. As you can imagine, it looks pretty silly with the hallway in hardwood and the stairs still enveloped in ugly yellowness. He was unconvinced by this argument, however (as well as several other seemingly unconvincing diatribes). He is dead-set against a runner, it appears (which was my compromise, since I don't want anything except hardwood) so we'll see what else can be fanagled. Any other ideas from all of you marriage-saving readers?

Anyway, I'm going to call Don Dickel, who did our floors downstairs, tomorrow and see if we can line up getting the upstairs bedrooms and the hallway/stairs done at the end of the month.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Bathroom planning

So, have I mentioned what the plans are for Bathroom Remodel 2009? This is what we're planning to do downstairs (world's tiniest half bath) and upstairs with the full bath:

Pull out vinyl and replace with tile floor
Remove old and inefficient toilet and replace with new
Keep sink but replace faucet

Total estimated budget: $250

Upstairs Bathroom

Replace inefficient toilet with new
Remove vinyl and replace with tile
Resurface existing bathtub
Replace vanity, sink, and faucet
Remove and replace medicine cabinet
Replace lighting
Retile bathtub surround
Install new baseboards
Replace linen closet doors

Total estimated budget: $2000

So, now the choices begin - we were close to buying a closeout of a bathroom vanity, marble top, and sink at HD today but it wasn't exactly what we wanted, even if it would have saved us $100. Right now it's trying to agree on things like lights - something 1920's-like, maybe art decoish. Of course, everything I like is ridiculously expensive. But, I will make a call to the tub refinishing dude on Monday and see what the protocol is - does he come before or after we pull down existing tile, etc.? I'm excited to get started!

To ugly yellow carpet or to not ugly yellow carpet

Well, really, there is no question...well, at least not in my mind. It's just plain ugly - it's one of the last few remnants of the 1970sesque house we inherited and I want it gone, gone, gone. It's dirty, it's nasty, it's got to be at least 30 years old. So, what's the problem, you ask? So, why don't you just rip it out, you wonder? Well, the one immoveable barrier in this ugly carpet problem is the common denominator of my husband - who, yes, likes it. Well, I'm not sure he really likes the actual carpet - I think he likes having carpet on the stairs in the upstairs hallway. I, on the other hand, think it's hideous. I keep wondering if I should just rip it out and deal with the consequences. My idea is to just get the hallway floor refinished and the stairs too to match our beautiful floors downstairs. Thom, however, feels the carpet on the stairs is important to quiet the noise coming down them. I feel this is a flawed argument as we do not actually know if the stairs would be noisy. Really, the only thing going for this hateful floor covering is that the cat's vomit matches the color so it cleans up pretty well.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Final Kitchen Budget Breakdown

Before 1
Before 2

Before 3

After 1

After 2

After 3

Yes, friends, almost a year later I can finally say that the kitchen is done, done, and done. This monumental (and year-long) triumph can only be celebrated with a recap of the damage it did to our wallet. Actually, when it's all said and done, I'm extremely pleased with how it turned out and the way we fanagled some deals to make it happen.

Drywall for ceiling $60
Wiring from Home Depot $30
Lighting from Lowe's $220
New faucet from Home Depot $80
Countertops from Ikea $237
Paint (for cabinets, walls) from Sherwin-Williams $60
Drawer pulls from Lowe's $60
Cork floor from Home Depot $727
Thresholds from Gray and Sons $40
Tile from Lowe's and $100

Total: $1614

Appliances (purchased separately from Sears):
Vent hood $200
Dishwasher $600
Refrigerator $800
Range $1200

Total with appliances: $4334

They're in!

Hooray! I finally have finished the kitchen! After several weeks of putting it off I finally put in the thresholds! It's funny, the hardest part of putting them in is making sure our cat doesn't walk on the fresh polyurethane. Once they are all dry I will touch up the paint on the bottom of the door frames.

Also, here is a photo or two of our front flower beds as I did some considerable heavy lifting today putting in mulch after planting some annuals last weekend. It's looking pretty spiffy. And, for those of you who recall Peony Tragedy 2008, I am excited to report that I should have at least 8 peonies this year - so even if someone steals a couple I should still get to enjoy a few more. All the rest of the perennials are coming in nicely.

So, that does it for the kitchen - at least as far as I'm concerned. Thom's still jazzed about the idea of putting in some molding on the ceiling but I'm really not feeling it. I'll post again with the final budget breakdown, just FYI. I'm so ready for Bathroom Extravaganza 2009 (coming soon)!