Thursday, March 31, 2011


I'm guessing the title of this post will get a bit of attention, at least until they see the picture LOL Yep, I'm still stuck in the bathroom stripping paint = ( Lucky Tom has moved on to demolishing the east kitchen and even starting to rebuild it and there I am with the sander buzzing away. I'm thinking this is truly the project from hell LOL And it all started out so innocently!

The bead board in the west bathroom truly is beautiful, at least what I've uncovered, and I know that it's worth saving. Just one piece to be used for repairs costs around $10 and is just soft pine, not the nice old heartwood we have. The job is kicking my fanny though. Since it's lead paint I chose to use a chemical stripper rather than the hazards of sanding. I got a big container of Lead Out by Re-Me-Diate and painted the stinky stuff on according to the directions. It worked pretty well and has the benefit of converting the lead to a non-toxic EPA safe form. Unfortunately it works by breaking the bond between paint layers and about three layers from bare wood it met old style oil paint and stopped working. Worse, it left a sticky, glue like layer that was impossible to scrape off and soon dried to the consistency of putty. I ordered another container, waited weeks for it to arrive and finally canceled. The company provided a refund with no trouble but at this point I think I'd rather have had the stripper LOL

Since the lead is now not a worry I decided to re-scrape the walls and then try sanding. The scraping took over a week which should have been my first clue. And it also ruined another knife which now makes three total for the project. The putty stuff builds up and is impossible to remove or wash off. The stuff doesn't even grind off! LOL This week I started sanding and was just positive things would go well. Hmm . . . back to that 'reality sucks' thing. Tom's Black & Decker sander didn't make a dent in the stuff and after one day poohed out with a bad switch. The new sander has more power, enough that I have trouble stopping it from dragging me around the room but it still doesn't remove the putty-like stuff. Seems more power isn't always good and what's happening now is the heat from the sander is just making things stickier. Today I spend a good five hours grinding away and managed to clean only a 2 by 3 foot section or so. Not a lot to show for how badly my wrists hurt LOL At this point less that one wall is done after a four day's work with the remaining surface way too rough and sticky to even consider painting and I'm fresh out of ideas. Tom's thinking maybe a flap wheel while I'm about ready to try one of those wire brush things. So far I'm still under budget compared to what it would have cost to just put up dry wall over the stuff but at the rate I'm burning sandpaper things are getting expensive fast. Ugh! So much for a good idea, huh? LOL Saturday new cauldron crew girl Mandy will be helping out and even bringing her own sander so silly me still has hope. In the meantime I'm taking a well deserved day off to recover. If anyone has suggestions for getting things moving along a bit better I'd love to hear them!

In the meantime our other projects have been going well. Tom's making good progress on the east kitchen and I conquered the hated slide show project so you can see pictures of our progress through the site instead of scrolling around the blog. Both Julie and Brandie made appearances this week; Julie primed the east bathroom and Brandie pitched in hand sanding the bit of progress I'd made with the walls. I also treated 'us girls' to goodies - Murano glass pendants that look like lovely spring flowers. We may be stiff, sore and grubby but at least we'll look cute! LOL Hopefully things will look better when I get back to the cauldron on Saturday but if not ya know where I'll be for the next few weeks LOL And btw, for those in the area, stop by and say 'hey' Saturday night up at Whiskey Venue. Big birthday party and both Blaming Alice and Diesel are playing!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Reality Bites!

Have you ever though you had a really good idea and then the actual situation, aka reality, sneaks up and bites you in the fanny? Welcome to our world! LOL I'm quickly finding out there's a big difference between what Tom and I want and think we're going to do at the cauldron and what actually happens. Case in point . . .

At the beginning (that would be when we were naive and not aching in every joint) we had great plans of cutting corners by using a lot of the original materials. "The walls are fine", we said. "This vanity will work great with a coat of paint." Uh huh, right. Reality set in and at the moment the place looks like Jericho after the walls came tumbling down LOL The first to go were the west bathroom walls which btw, I am still stripping. Long story short - the second batch of stripper never arrived so I'm reduced to hand scraping the years of gunk and dried first coat of stripper. At last estimate I figure it'll take another 3 days at least before I even think about sanding them. But hey, it keeps me out of trouble and I'm getting some nice definition in my upper arms LOL

With me hogging the bathroom (typical woman) Tom set to work in the east bath where we had also planned to keep the old wallboard. Well, he did, I wasn't so happy with it although I agreed it wasn't all that bad. Next thing I knew, down it came along with the vanity we had hoped to save. Just too much work needed to repair each and even after the work neither would look decent. Tom spent days putting up new drywall - the man is obsessive about muddling his joints LOL - while I juggled the decorating budget to make up for the extra expense. The juggling thing has actually been fun and led to my current project of painting tile. Being a bit of an overachiever it's not enough that I have to learn to cut and install tile but apparently now I think I also need to decorate with hand painted tiles on a shoestring budget. Seriously though, a Mexican color scheme just screams for those ornate painted tiles and they're like $5 each and up! And yeah, yeah, I know, it's just a rental but it's our rental and ya know already we're a bit different LOL

Between the scraping during the day and the tile painting at night Tom's been able to work in blissful peace without my chattering but it's maybe not such a good thing. It seems that as the evening goes along and weariness sets in one beer leads to another and a certain someone goes into destruct mode. First he peeked behind a wall in the east kitchen to repair a cupboard and didn't like what he saw. Then I opened my mouth and asked for the rest of the old bath wallboard to be removed from the connecting hall and before ya could blink the kitchen was naked down to it's lath! That was way cool! Not the mess, which Tom kindly cleaned up, or the work but all the discoveries. I'll admit to being a bit of a renovation geek and I enjoy peeling apart the old layers of wallpaper and poking around de-construction debris. Tearing off the old wallboard exposed a slew of different papers which were in fairly decent condition. We were even able to see a bit of the original paper although it's not likely we'll be able to save any. And Tom found the baseboard molding was still attached with the original square head nails! This is by far the oldest building I've worked on and those bits of history have been great to find. Later this summer it's going to be a fun puzzle to research the place and its beginnings and possibly even find some old photos. I think they'd be great to hang in the entrance way = )

During the few spring days we had recently, before the current round of ice and snow, I was even able to get a bit of work done outside. The sidewalk along the east side that had been buried under weeds and dirt is now clear and the back patio even got raked so we're not walking through muck and leaves. Rocking chairs for the front porch were purchased and assembled and are just waiting on Tom to install some anti-theft tethers and the return of spring and sunshine. I also braved my notoriously un-green thumb and planted Jiffy Pots with herb and flower seeds for the back yard. With luck, or perhaps replacements from the local nursery, we'll have a kitchen herb garden similar to what might have grown there originally as well as some old-time 4'o'clocks this summer. Heck, I'm thinking if I add a tomato and a few pepper plants we can even keep the tenants in fresh salsa - or us LOL

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Flood City USA

Have ya noticed a lag in the updates here? LOL That was some great weather we had locally the past few weeks. Tons of snow followed by one of our famous Findlay floods. Living on the river is one thing but we're starting the high water way too early in the year for comfort. Not like many of you haven't experienced the same thing for yourself even if you're not from our area. Just a nasty thing that leaves you nervously watching for raindrops for months after. The cauldron folk are blessed to be relatively free of water trouble though. Tom's basement situation improved with his addition of a back flow valve and the cauldron building gets water only in the basement. The picture above would be the view from the basement steps LOL I got swamped due to a sudden pump failure but no damage done and Brandie and Julie both stayed high and dry.

Most of the past two weeks has been spent shoveling and walking. First digging out and helping Tom shovel from the last snow then walking between our three places and the downtown area staring at the rising water. When the water receded the sun made a short appearance and we took advantage of the brief nice weather to haul out all the junk and construction debris that had piled up. Around a ton according to Tom! My part was loading up the truck which was a pretty interesting task considering quite a few of the pieces were bigger than I am LOL I learned also that it takes a pretty hefty person to break wallboard into pieces and that person wouldn't be me. I have the bruises to prove it too! I swear we need to install cameras around the place for comic relief. Here I am, trying to break this sheet of wallboard that's like 10 foot by 4 foot and I've got it bent almost in half but the dang thing is fighting and bucking like a mule. I get the bright idea to climb on top of the thing and finally get it to snap in half and yep, I go crashing to the floor! I'm still limping a bit but the worst part is no one saw it to laugh over . . . or get pictures! I can't imagine my expression when I landed LOL

This week has also been a bit difficult. With Tom on a wall removing rampage we discovered the west bathroom still had the original bead board walls = ) Of course I wanted to save them and really, it's a good idea. It's all old wood and people would pay a fortune to be able to put it in their fancy homes. Tom wisely left me to the project and wandered off to tackle gutting the east bath while I researched lead paint removal. Scary stuff, huh? Luckily I found a great chemical stripper that is non-toxic and renders the lead into something safe. Here in a week or so I'll give ya a full report on the forum board for future reference. Those who have stripped paint chemically before will likely already be chuckling. Yeah, I'm dumb enough to attempt it on an entire room. Including the ceiling. Yeah, I'm regretting it but not really. It'll be worth it. And yeah again, Tom is kind of chuckling too and shaking his head. It goes something like this . . .

Saturday I mix up this huge bucket of goo, watery gray color and about the consistency of snot. It brushes on the walls pretty well but on Saturday it was also raining so while I'm smearing this stuff around it's also raining in the bathroom and dripping into three different buckets. Half way through the first wall the smell starts to become noticeable. This is one of those nice non-hazardous materials so the fumes aren't harmful and at the beginning only smell like rotten eggs. By wall two my throat was raw and even Tom was coughing in the other room LOL Still, I'm confident as the old paint is already beginning to bubble. I follow the directions and check the progress after five hours and then start removing it at 24 hours. Yeah. Right. You know that rubber stuff they use to glue gift cards and such onto paper with? The stuff you have to rub and pull forever to get off? Well, on Sunday I had four walls and a ceiling coated with stuff even stickier than that. No lie! I'm wearing rubber gloves and my hands are stuck to the paint scraper so tightly that the gloves tear when I try to release the scraper! LOL Nothing other than huge effort is moving that paint. I got about a third of one wall done before I was too tired to lift another arm and went home defeated to do some more research.

As it turns out we have a problem aka the situation isn't my fault = ) Some of you may remember when there was a compatibility issue between the oil based paints used years ago and latex paint when it first came out. The stripper I used works by breaking the bond between paint layers and since that compatibility issue caused no bond to form the stripper stopped working. It thought its job was done LOL The solution was to scrape off what I could and then apply a second coat. Luckily Tom's sister Julie had a few days off work and bad timing for offering to volunteer. She and I spent the past two days stripping in the bathroom together . . . hehehe Actually, we worked our fannies off but finally the first peeling is done, more or less. I also learned I should have blocked off the furnace duct as its constantly blowing heat on the ceiling caused the stripper to dry hard as a rock. Round two will come over the weekend when I try the second coat. I've got a picture of the stripping process so once the project is done you'll likely see it in a slide show LOL

The rest of this week will hopefully be a bit easier. Tom checked out the roof today and depending on the weather he may start repairs as early as next week. This Saturday, besides a benefit at the Whiskey Venue, we'll be taking a break from the renovations to check out floor and wall tile at the Home Depot in Bowling Green. That's seriously major excitement for me and I can't wait to get started putting things back together a bit. And it serves as a day off and a chance to unwind a bit together. Tom can actually see me clean and not reeking of sulfur for a change = ) Things are moving along well and getting more exciting although the arrival of spring begins a new dress code for the cauldron - umbrellas definitely needed LOL Beyond the three buckets in the only working bathroom there's a steady drip directly over the commode seat. The leak in the west kitchen is growing by leaps and bounds and tomorrow I'm looking for a kiddy wading pool to even try to cover the space. We've started the habit again of always checking the ceiling before entering a room given the state of things there and also water dripping into the downstairs break area. We're not a hard hat zone yet but if ya visit you'll need to be on your toes =)