An inch of snow

5 04 2007

Mark and his snow machine 

Ever start a project, and then a half hour into it realize what you’ve gotten yourself into?

That was me in August, when I first tried to pull wallpaper off our dining room walls.  I saw the work ahead of me and ignored the project for the next six months.  Now I’m finally at the stage where I can paint.  When I think about all the hours I’ve put into this project it depresses me.  Probably 12 hours for pulling down the wallpaper, another 2 hours for washing off the glue and residual wallpaper backing, 7 hours for patching the uneven spots with spackling, and now 3 or so hours of sanding.  Sanding, that part of the project after which you can make snowmen with the kids – in the living room.

Ever start a project and then wish you’d never been born?

If you’re looking at patching a large portion of wall, or if you’re hanging drywall in your whole house, here are some pointers for when you’re sanding:

  • Don’t use much spackling at all.  It’s amazing how you think you’re only using a little and then it turns into lots and lots of dust.
  • When sanding, wear a hat.  When the water from the shower hit my hair, it hardened up like concrete.  For a brief moment I thought I was going to have to shave my head.
  • Wax all of your body hair off, including eyebrows and eyelashes.  Any exposed hair will become a magnet for the dust.
  • Purchase a hazmat containment unit for your room to keep the dust from getting out.  Now before I can paint I have to wash off the bread and the coffee maker and everything else in the kitchen, as well as everything in the living room.
  • If you use an electric sander, purchase an attachment that sucks the dust into your shop vac.  Do they make these?  That would have been a good thing to use.
  • If you don’t want it covered in dust, take it out of the room.  You don’t want to see my vacuum cleaner.

I had a fan sitting in the window blowing out, trying to keep the dust from the rest of the house.  Here’s what my window screen looks like now:

See, I was trying to blow the dust out the window…. 

If you know of methods or techniques that would’ve made my life easier on this project, please keep them to yourself.  Unless, of course, you just like being mean to me.

Wallpaper is evil

25 03 2007

I’m making slow progress on the dining room.  After about 12 hours of steaming the wallpaper is finally off, and on Saturday a very good friend with a lot of tools came by to help me put up the crown moulding.  I asked for his help because he has the tools, and he’s also quite a perfectionist.  It took longer than expected because I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been, but I gotta admit it looks great.


This is why wallpaper is evil.  Tearing off the wallpaper did expose a crack in the wall behind it.  I think I can patch that.


I’ve now got the cold Karen had last weekend, so I suppose I’ll be bedridden tomorrow.  I’m such a pansy when I’m sick.  So I’m taking this opportunity to sponge off the last of the wallpaper glue so I can patch some holes, and finally get to painting.  That’s the fun part.  I’m also very good at it.  For those of you who don’t know about my last painting project, here’s a picture:


Yes, a full gallon of primer fell on the floor, upside down.  Karen had just said “You shouldn’t put the paint can on the rung of that stepladder.”  What does she know?

What’s next, more poached flounder?

5 03 2007

Okay, so maybe I’m not as fast a learner as I should be.  What’s rule #1 of home renovation?  It should be “Don’t tear off wallpaper unless you are fully prepared to re-hang drywall.”  Case in point:  When we bought our current house, the living room walls looked like this:


Fine, we’ll just paint and it will all be fine, right?  Wrong.  Underneath, the walls looked like this:


Oh, I’m sorry, you can’t see what’s really there?  Look closer:


Two rooms worth of new drywall and $1700 later we had a lovely living room that didn’t make our eyes hurt.  Lesson learned?  Perhaps not.  Here we are, two and a half years later, and I decided to tackle our dining room, shown here the day we moved in:


Now this makes my eyes hurt every day.  Who would purpose to make a room this dark?  We’ve got well over 200 watts of light bulbs in this room and we still can’t see our dinner.  I decide we’re going to paint this room to brighten it up a bit.  Okay, a lot.  Except there’s one problem.  There’s some sort of industrial adhesive holding the wallpaper to the wall.  It’s like the house is clinging to it, relying on the wallpaper for structural integrity.  And then I get this dose of bad news.  Wall #1 is finally free of wallpaper, so I start on wall #2.  Except this wall is not sheetrock.  I don’t even know what material it is, it feels like cardboard.  It’s some sort of wallboard made from a paper based material.  Boy does this thing soak up the steam.  I’m doing my best, people, but this house has it in for me.  And I know for a fact that two of these walls are plaster, so that’s going to be even more fun.  One room, three different wall materials, that’s going to look great, isn’t it?  If there’s butt-ugly wallpaper on the walls, there’s probably a reason nobody took it down.