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bedroom « Well that was… an idea

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Finishing that floor project

Here’s the thing about paint on floorboards (and probably other old wood surfaces) – it’s damn hard to take it off. Paint stripper, sanding, all of it only gets you so far. So, after a while, I agreed with the writing on the floor and decided to let sleeping metaphors lie. But the floor did need to be finished in some way, shape, and form (let’s be honest – the shape would probably be a slight rectangle) – the options were all some combination of painting and staining, or not, and laying some sort of urethane over the top, assuming I didn’t paint the entire floor.

While I didn’t love the oddly distressed look of the partially removed paint, it did have a certain style all its own. I finally decided to leave it as was, and leave the bare, sanded boards in the middle; a nice seal would show off their return to life.

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Necessity is the mother of semi-permanence

Close readers of this blog (hi Ezra!) will note that my closet project had reached a midpoint, and said midpoint involved all my clothes in the living room. After standing in front of the now-bare closet for many a day, chewing on the end of a metaphorical pencil and gazing thoughtfully into the space, envisioning a huge range of possible shelving and hanging possibilities, colors, finishes, rewired light fixtures, and a use for that trap door, I determined that my clothes were still in the living room. The situation now growing untenable, I built some box shelves:

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The Great Bedroom Closet Project of Aught-Twelve

Wherein I start a project, discover a trap door, and eventually realize I need a better plan than ‘build some shelves’.

So in other words, Tuesday.

Years ago I cleared floor space with the brilliant discovery that an old dresser fit neatly in my bedroom closet. Between that, a tie rack discovered… somewhere, and existing hooks and nails, the closet had functioned fine, if somewhat unimpressively, for storing the bulk of my clothes.

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Where there is no floor

I recently checked my folder of ‘for the blog’ pictures and found three-year-old shots that were forgotten about in the midst of forgetting about posting. Ridiculous. Unacceptable. Unacceptably ridiculous, I say. This is the first of (hopefully) a series of ‘in progress’ posts, an effort to just write more and thereby reflect the amount of work actually getting done.

We’ll see if this works at all.

Let’s start this off with a side project on a much larger (and also still in progress) project. While pulling up carpet in an upstairs bedroom, I discovered that the 1920s addition on the back of the house wasn’t… quite… complete:

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Layers upon layers

An unexpected vacancy in one of my upstairs units prompted me to consider what more I could do with the space. The carpet was always more functional than anything else, so I decided to see what the floorboards underneath looked like and go from there.

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but here it just sent me down a rabbit hole of hard work, muffled curses, and occasional laughter at yet another roadblock. (Spoiler: it all ends well.) The previous owner’s recollection of what was under the carpet he’d laid was ‘the heaviest padding [he] could get’. Marvelous, I thought. Pull up the carpet and the padding, and the floorboards will be mine!

The carpet wasn’t tacked, just attached to tack strips on the edge. The padding underneath was… very, very thin, but perhaps, thought I, it was just pounded flat after years of use. And then I saw what was under the padding:

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Five-eighths inch thick particle board. When you absolutely, positively
have to frustrate every [person] working on the project… accept no substitutes.

I debated stopping the project and shopping for new carpet instead, but decided to expose at least a little bit of the old floor. If it the original boards looked to be in good condition, it was probably worth proceeding. If there was laminate, or deeply scarred boards, or ugly knotted pine or something else, then carpet it would be.

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Beneath the particle board seemed to be just a layer of tar paper, and then original, 100+-year-old nice, wide floorboards. The project would move forward…

… slowly. There were four full 4’x8′ sheets of particle board, several large sections, and a couple of smaller fills. Each was thoroughly nailed down:

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So to recap: pull up the carpet, roll and remove; stuff 120+ square feet of padding into trash bags; pull a lot of staples from the particle board; pull all the nails from the boards; then lift and remove all these heavy boards (cutting up some water-damaged ones for disposal).

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No, I don’t think I have too many tools, thankyouverymuch.

All the effort was, I think, well worth… the… effort. Aside from this one cracked board – the result of a window being left open during one or more storms years ago and water soaking into the particle board underneath a heavy cast-iron radiator – the old floorboards are in pretty good shape.

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The floor – and quite likely the floors in the other upstairs rooms – were partly painted, a common decorating approach a century ago. A large area rug covered the center of the room and the floorboards were only painted around the rug. In this case, the room was redecorated at least once – a slightly different sized rug was used and a new color painted over most of the existing ‘frame’. You can still see the earlier brown color inside the orange that was used later.

The boards in the center were never finished in any way and have just grayed with time – they look to have interesting grain, and with their age they’ll be nice and hard regardless of the type of wood used. This’ll wind up looking good.

Eventually.

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Ceiling fan purchased…

Operation to commence tomorrow.

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Cracked glass

One of the new windows upstairs developed a massive crack, seemingly overnight. Since it’s still under warranty, the window company sent someone (the same person who installed the windows, actually) to replace the pane. When he’d disassembled the vinyl cladding to insert the new piece of glass, he found his initial suspicions as to the failure confirmed – an inch-and-a-half long chunk of glass was nicked out, probably during factory construction. This created stress points that the cold weather exacerbated and caused the pane-length crack.

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Will someone please invent a smoke alarm…

…that doesn’t take five minutes to figure out it has a fresh battery in it? Or beep after you’ve disconnected the power AND removed the battery (that was an almost amusing ‘whaaaaa?’ moment)?

I just put fresh batteries into the smoke detectors upstairs (after determining that I’d have to run new wire all throughout the attic if I want them connected to each other, and deciding that the things are so damn loud that, should anything ever catch on fire, one going off will be plenty so why bother right now?). With the power off (from that attic checking) I put one in. After a moment, it beeped. No idea why. I pulled it out to deal with something else. After ten seconds, the damn thing beeped again with no power source; capacitor must have held some charge. Anyway, I go around and put new batteries in all of them. I flip on the breaker. There is some beeping here and there. I open a battery compartment to check to make sure it’s in. It is. There is still beeping. I press all the ‘press here to silence’ buttons. Still beeping. I go downstairs to see if the manufacturer has a user manual online (they don’t – I don’t understand why companies don’t archive PDF manuals of discontinued products…) While sitting on the couch. I notice less and less beeping. Then there is silence.

I swear, as soon as I go back upstairs they’ll start again. They’re just waiting for me…

No, seriously, why do smoke detectors take several minutes to figure out whether you’ve corrected the problem or not? The same thing happened in an apartment I used to live in. I realize these things are pretty simple machines, but still…

This has been the first, I believe, and only, I hope, post that is much more ‘blog’ and less ‘house’.

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Catch up

Still digging out at work, meaning not much has been happening at the house. I hope to be back to actually part time soon. I also hope to order that shed in the next two days which will really be the last big thing that needs to happen before winter hits. Even the scraping and painting and such are either isolated sections or, should it come to it, they can wait.

Things done today:
– more porch scraping since the weather was nice; found that the squirrels are getting ready for winter and thus need to get kicked out now.
– hung blinds in the kitchen window so it looks less bare
– turned this:

into this:

Also discovered that this light fixture and both outlets in the room are on the same breaker – the ceiling units and the outlets in other rooms are often separate due, I suspect, to when the lines went in. This is a little bit of a concern because I thought at least one other load is also on that circuit, meaning tenants might not find it so easy to watch TV, have the light on, and run the popcorn maker or whatever else they’re doing at once. Will need to double check the panel labels and add this to the list of rewiring jobs for next summer.

Finally, the latest entry in the series ‘People Who Passed Out Asleep on my Couch’. Doug took a red-eye drive in from Minnesota (11.5 hours) and fell asleep mid-sentence whilst laying on the couch.

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Four rooms

Three, actually, but some with 4 walls. Okay, all with four walls, but the point is – the painting in the bedrooms is done. Hey look, it doesn’t look like a tenement anymore!

Only a couple of small projects left upstairs, but I’ve been bogged with actual work (Alumni Council Weekend this weekend is sucking my office’s lifeforce) and a minor cold for the last couple of days. Mofre updates next week, fingers crossed

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