Saturday, January 30, 2016

Scrape, Mud, Sand, Cry, Paint. Repeat.

So while Brian worked on the outside of our house, my job was the inside. Like most people, when first viewing our before photos, you may think there is very little work to do, but trust me when I say that the photos are extremely misleading.

I decided to begin with the bedrooms for a variety of reasons. First of all, I figured learning to scrape, mud, and sand walls would be a major learning process for me and if I were going to make mistakes I would rather have them in the bedrooms than in the front rooms. Also, the bedrooms appeared to need less work, and I really wanted to feel a sense of accomplishment sooner rather than later. Finally, we had most of our supplies set up in the front rooms, so the bedrooms were already empty and easier to cordon off then the front of the house. All in all, this was the right choice.

The first step in redoing the rooms was to decide whether we should start with the walls or the floor. The walls were lathe and plaster and had many, many, (so many *cry) cracks that would need to be fixed. The floors were absolutely covered in laminate glue and would need hours of sanding, staining, and sealing in order to be their best (if they would ever be their best, again). After reading different blogs and discussing options with the guys at Ace, we decided to start with walls.

Walls didn't seem like they were going to be that difficult. I knew they would be time consuming, since each layer of mud would need 24 hours to dry, but I thought I would have no trouble doing a step, or even two, a day (*oh, the innocence of the ignorant). Therefore my timeline was approximately 3 days a room, rapidly moving through the 5 steps for every crack: scrape, dust, tape, mud (repeatedly), sand. 

However, I quickly realized that those steps looked very different when I was performing them. And in reality, a room could take me a week, or even two. 

My steps were as follows:

Day 1: Scraping
  1. Scrape out all cracks in just one room.
  2. Feel that arm is going to fall off when you start ceiling. 
  3. Realize ceiling has more cracks then all four walls combine. 
  4. Sigh, repeatedly. (Not satisfying though, because no one hears your pain.)
  5. Turn on a This American Life podcast and challenge yourself to finish entire ceiling by the time the episode is done. 
  6. Repeat step 5 as many times as it takes to finish scraping ceiling.
  7. Convince B to come help once it is too dark for him to work outside.
  8. Celebrate the end of scraping (one room).
Day 2: Dusting/Taping
  1. Vacuum/dust all debris out of newly scraped cracks.
  2. Notice all debris is still in cracks. Try again.
  3. Realize there is still freaking debris in cracks - curse at worthless shopvac, what is the point of stupid shopvac if it doesn't suck up debris?!?! 
  4. Attempt dusting with damp cloth. (Youtube solution.)
  5. Discover still more debris.
  6. Determine that this is more of an optional step that you will now be opting out of. 
  7. Take lunch break.
  8. Begin placing joint-tape over cracks. 
  9. Celebrate total mastery of this step.
  10. Wish all steps were putting joint-tape over cracks.
Days 3-5: Mudding & Scrapping (1st, 2nd, and 3rd layers)
  1. Slather mud (joint-compound) thinly over cracks. Do NOT mess up tape. 
  2. When you do mess up tape, fight your tears, and apply again.
  3. Let dry and scrape.
  4. Slather mud over crack a second time. Spread it a little further out, but also keep it thinner so there is no hump.
  5. Curse when small hump appears.
  6. Curse again when you realize you have dried mud in your hair.
  7. Let mud dry while you repeatedly wash hair.
  8. Try to scrape down hump. Fail.
  9. Repeat application of mud one more time, but even thinner. This may seem impossible (because it is), but this is what Youtube experts say to do. 
  10. Pull trowel away from wall and admire. 
  11. Experience admiration quickly turn to shock as you realize a small piece of invisible dirt was on your trowel and has now messed up all previous layers.
  12. Get B to look at layers and tell you if it is as bad as you think it is.
  13. Deal with tarnished layers. Embrace imperfection.

Day 6: Sanding
  1. Lightly sand all layers.
  2. Lightly sand, damn it! 
  3. When you accidentally sand down to tape, realize you must mud again (all 3 layers!).
  4. Go to kitchen, pour glass of wine, wander outside to watch B work, take deep breath, and return to room.
  5. Re-mud.
Day 10: Done (Realize you are never done.)
  1. Feel success that all cracks are now scrapped, mudded, and sanded. Room is ready to be painted.
  2. Notice new crack. 
  3. Cry. Let it out. 
  4. Debate ignoring crack. 
  5. Realize you'll never be able to forget stupid crack, if you don't fix it. Repeat all steps. 
  6. Notice another damn crack. 
  7. Tell B you're quitting and going to the bar.
  8. Once at bar, watch a drunk, rather short, like we're talking 4 ft. woman, play recklessly with B's longboard until the bartender is forced to take it away from her.
  9. Return home and ignore any new cracks that have suddenly appeared.
Day 12: Start again on the next bedroom room.

Eventually, after what seemed like an epic period of time, I managed to finish mudding the three bedrooms and it was time to paint. Painting was a breeze compared to the previous 5 steps. Although my arm was exhausted most days and my hair was completely white, I became quickly addicted to the paint sprayer and its smooth application. I also felt insanely hardcore, since I was wearing a respiratory mask, work gloves, and wielding a power tool. Hell yeah!

Finishing the painting was definitely a huge rush. Suddenly the rooms looked so fresh and new. All the cracks were hidden, even the imperfections, and I was gifted the feeling of accomplishment I had been craving since day 3. 

The final step of the bedrooms was to refinish the floors. We were nervous about beginning this step. Until we began sanding, we could convince ourselves that gorgeous floors existed under the layers of laminate glue, paint, and carpet nails, but once we actually began sanding, we would have to face reality. It was a nerve-racking time. 

After a short discussion, it was decided that B would do the actual sanding and I would be responsible for corners, hard to sand locations, and all other steps, beside using the orbital sander. We were really worried about the sander kicking up dust and ruining my perfect paint job, so I covered all the walls in the first room. (We quickly gave this up though, as there was little need.)

The first and second pass of the sander presented minimal change, but by the third pass gorgeous floors began to peak out and by the fourth or fifth passes we were ecstatic. The floors were better (and lighter) than we had ever imagined!

By the time B finished sanding the bedrooms, we could not contain our excitement. We were head over heels in love with our new floors. The final decision we now faced was choosing a stain. We went to the hardware store and bought a variety of tester cans. B wanted to go light - like ash colored or even white. I wanted to go a deeper pine or even a red. And, of course, we bought a dark stain too, just in case that would look best. 

We applied all of the stains to a piece of test pine and were disappointed across the board. None of the stains were a color we wanted. I argued for a clear coat. I loved all the different colors already in the floor, and I thought a clear coat might just bring them out in the way I imagined. B thought the floors were too yellow and feared that polyurethane would just make him like them less.

In the end though, he agreed to let me clear coat one room, since none of the stains were any better than my idea. The results of the polyurethane speak for themselves:

We loved them.

As I finished up each room, I granted myself a day of celebration. All throughout the painting, everyone had doubted my white walls. Some people thought I would never paint all the walls white, others thought I would do it and hate it, and still others simply thought it would look weird or bad. But in the end, I loved them. 

However, I am still me, and I still craved something different and unique, and so I decided to paint each of the doors to the bedrooms their own bright color. To make it easy,  I used the original wall color as inspiration. Therefore, the front bedroom, formerly magenta, received a pink door, the middle bedroom, formerly sea-foam, received a green door, and the back bedroom, formerly cream, received a turquoise door (because I hate cream and love turquoise).

The bedrooms were now complete and they were awesome. 

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