Feb 5 2012

Nursery Updates

Well, we have had a lot of progress on the nursery lately. Mainly because of this guy:


Marc William, born January 3

He came three weeks early, and the nursery was decidedly not finished yet. But Kelly got a bunch done in the two weeks he was home, and now my parents are in town and my father has been helping with the room as well. Here’s what we have done so far:

  • Finished scraping the window trim
  • Primed and painted the window trim
  • Caulked and sealed the window panes (72 in the room in all!)
  • Painted the room the bright cheery yellow color (it needed few coats)
  • Ripped up the carpet
  • Sanded the (in great condition!) floors
  • Stained and polyed the floors to a wonderful color and shine
  • …And Kelly is currently working on priming and painting the baseboards (including fixing some damaged baseboards) and installing the quarter round

Scraping the window trim

Lovely joinery in the old windows

Window trim got primed and painted

We tested three different shades of yellow before going for the lightest one.

Kelly had lots of help with the windows. Here, my parents are helping scrape paint off the glass panes.

Ripping up the carpet

We found the floors in such good shape!

The sanding finished

Staining his way out the door

The floors stained. We went with a lighter "pecan" shade.

Two coats of stain, two coats of poly later...

Shiny shiny floors...

Feb 21 2011

Poly and primer

Who wants to see some gorgeous wood on our refinished stairs?

You can see at the very top of the last photo that after the last coat of poly was dry, Kelly started covering the stairs over with paper, so that when we paint the risers, we won’t have to deal with cleaning up drips of paint. It started to hurt his back and knees, so he only got about halfway up the stairs.

But that was enough for me to start priming the risers and the trim.

This whole process of finishing the stairs is going to take a while, as it includes spackling, sanding, caulking, priming, painting, cutting quarter-round and installing it, painting some more…

But you can already tell the difference it is going to make:

Feb 18 2011

Time for some stain!

While my parents were here in town, they wanted to help with the stair project. My dad helped to pull up some carpet during the first phase and then he waited for a few weeks while Kelly worked on the sanding part, which as I mentioned, took a lot longer than we had anticipated.

The plan was that my dad would come over in the morning after we had all gone to work and stain his way down the stairs and let it dry before we got back home from work. We had bought a water-based stain so that it would dry more quickly, and it really did! I was home from work one of the days he applied the stain, and it was dry by the early afternoon. And since I was home, I was able to get some pictures of my dad in action, working on the stairs.

One of the things we had been worried about was that the raw wood had some areas that were darker and some that were lighter, after sanding away the lacquer stripe. And even after the first coat of stain went down, you could still see some lighter areas:

But we shouldn’t have worried – after the 2nd coat of stain, the color was perfectly even and dark and gorgeous!

(yes, there are more posts coming! Next up: adding the poly…)

Feb 15 2011

Sanding the stairs

Sanding the stairs took a lot longer than Kelly had been expecting, because of that stripe of varnish running down the center of the stairs, that had been under a runner at some point in the past.

It's like some kind of skunk staircase

Kelly started in on the sanding a few weeks back, but quickly discovered that the varnish was gumming up the sandpaper pads for the circular sander he had rented. The smaller palm sander that he owns worked better, but using the smaller sander was taking forever.

After a number of hours and many more sandpaper pads, Kelly took the advice of one of his coworkers and used a lacquer thinner to help strip off some of the thick lacquer so that the sanding could go quicker. And it did!

So here are a few pictures of the gorgeous raw wood.

And get this! The treads going around the corner are one solid piece of wood!

Up next: staining the wood…

Feb 14 2011

What was underneath the carpet

We began the process of ripping up the carpet on the stairs a few weeks ago, when my parents were in town. I was so glad to see that nasty carpet go.

And we were very happy to find good wood underneath all that carpet! We also uncovered evidence that the stairs had previously looked like what we want to do with them: stained treads, white painted risers.

However, there had also been a runner on the stairs, which meant that there was a thick stripe of lacquer on the treads, which made the sanding process a lot longer than we had wanted.

The top of the staircase, which just makes me want to continue ripping up carpet in the upstairs hallway...

More about the sanding process in the next post!

Jan 10 2010

The floors – the end result

I need to let Kelly tell the story of finishing up the floors, but I didn’t want to let any more time go by without showing off the end result. Here they are, in a picture taken 3 days after Christmas, and the day after the floors were finished.

The newly refinished floors

In other news, we have a move-in date! January 23rd! We’re in the midst of packing right now, and have gotten a good bid on a cleaning company to come in and scrub the place from top to bottom some time next week. Hooray for new (old) clean houses!

Dec 18 2009

Meet my new little friend…

I picked this little lovely guy up last night. He was so cute and he needed a home, so I brought him back to the new place and he just purred and purred…

OK, I’m being silly from working all week. I went to Home Depot and used my very perfect birthday present from my awesome in-laws to get a new shop vac.

Let me get you in on something here. I have –always– wanted a shop vac. They are just so super cool. “Amazing vortex of helpfulness” is what they should be called. No home makeover is complete without one. And they have more accessories than a Mastercard Platinum Barbie. Anyway…

I am so glad to have something to suck up all this sanding dust I have created. It is everywhere! Must get it all up before the staining can begin this weekend. This little baby will make it happen. Thanks Chuck and Barb!!!


Dec 12 2009

Sanding Update

I’ve been over to the house a few times this week to keep sanding and sweeping. Doing an hour or two of work on my knees after working in the hangar all day is rough! I do believe that doing a little work after real work will be much easier once we are living there, though. Getting dinner, running to the house for a bit and then coming back home to help with Jack’s homework has been exhausting. As a result, we are a bit behind in the floor refinishing. No worries, though. It will get done soon enough.

I had a bit of a panic when I realized the hole filler stuff I put down was meant to be put on before the final sanding instead of after. I managed to wipe off most of the extra goop. It came off (mostly) with some water and elbow grease.wetfloor You can get a little foretaste of what the stain will look like where the floor is wet from washing it. Today I took a palm sander to some of it and it came off better, so I think I will go back over it all before the staining begins.

This process is taking much longer than I had hoped. Mostly because of the monster edge sander. I am going to have to blend the edges into the main floor a bit with the palm sander, but it will be totally worth doing. I want this floor to last at least five or six years, if not longer. And I want it to be exquisite. These are the first rooms anyone will see and the main entertaining space of the house, so it will be a serious focal point. Sounds kind of silly, but consider that Ellen and I want to open our home to friends and create space for real living in real community. If a really beautiful floor helps people feel at home in our home, then the extra effort is worth the trouble.

Dec 6 2009

Sand the Floor!

We got started on the actual prep work for the floor refinishing on Saturday. After a little more sleeping in than originally planned, that is. After a waffle and coffee fast breakfast, I nipped off to the best place on Earth…

AKA, the most dangerous place on Earth.

AKA, the most dangerous place on Earth.

After walking out with about $50 more stuff than I planned to buy I went to the local Sunbelt Rentals store to pick up the drum sander and the circular sander. As far as I can tell, they are the only place in town that rents these. If you ever need one, be sure to rent over a Sunday. They didn’t bill me for the day, since they are closed. Nice!

Back home to grab Ellen and Jack and off we went to the new place. A little more prep and I broke out the sander. I did the floors in my house back in Denver, but forgot how heavy the sanders are. Woof! Lift with the legs, people…

Fortunately the power didn’t trip when I fired up the beast and away we went. The old stain came up quickly and before too long the living room was looking pretty good. Ellen went out for street tacos and sodas which made for a nice lunch and then about an hour later our open house guests arrived. We gave four back to back tours of the house to some really great friends, one of whom is within walking distance. (I wish I had gotten video of my dad dancing with Denali, the six month old Great Pyrenees…)

With the break over it was time to get back to sanding, but with the fading light I made another Home Depot run (Two in one day! I’m in heaven!) to snag a halogen work light. Had to get a work light to see what the heck I was doing.

So much nicer than the teeny weeny amount of light put out by the regular room lighting.

Last thing I did Saturday night was edge sand the dining room with the circular sander. This thing is like a pack of ninjas ready to unleash their masterful skills upon the haughty and unsuspecting villain that is that little edge of floor that the drum sander can’t reach. It rips up the floor in nothing flat. A little panicked by the extra 1/64th of an inch it stripped off (a very large distance in floor stripping, mind you) I went back and drum sanded the entire floor today. I think it looks OK, but I will still try to do a little blending work with my hand held sander tomorrow night. Which leads me to this question…

How perfect is perfect enough? If I obsess over every detail of this renovation to the level that I know I am capable of, it may never get done. Also, I will never be happy with any of the work and thus will not enjoy the dream home renovation I’ve always wanted to do. Let the little details slip and we’ll have a big house with ‘meh’ style and thus will not enjoy the dream home renovation I’ve always wanted to do. I suppose some Zen-like state of balance needs to be achieved here. Good thing this is a group project. My lovely bride/co-contractor can help me keep from teetering off of that point the way she did today.

I was ready to pull an all day-er, but she convinced me that dinner at my mom and dad’s house would be a much better way to spend Sunday evening. MMMmmmmm, chili and cornbread on a foggy and cold night. Just right. The rest of the sanding can wait until tomorrow.

Dec 4 2009

Getting the floors started

Tomorrow we have grand plans to start the process of refinishing the downstairs hardwood floors. In preparation for this, Kelly has taken off all the quarter round in the living and dining room, and this evening the whole family went over to clear out the rooms. This evening, we

  • tossed out the beat up quarter round (we will replace them with some more substantial trim)
  • removed the heater grates and any other little metal bits from the floors, took off the interior shutter-like louvered doors from between the living and dining rooms (we will freecycle them)
Trim and grates taken off for floor sanding

Trim and grates removed from the dining room

  • removed the pile of light blue wooden venetian blinds from the dining room (freecycle)
  • removed the very not-to-our-taste modern black pressboard wooden shelves from the living room wall and fireplace wall (those will get craigslisted)
  • and cleared out the pile of books the previous owners left on the built ins in the living room (we will donate them to the Bookcrossing zone in the library where I work)

Two discoveries from this evening, one good and one bad.

First the good: in taking off louvered doors, we discovered that the trim around the doorway between the living and the dining room only has a couple of coats of paint. I’m planning on stripping it tomorrow as a test for the rest of the (painted) woodwork downstairs, which we’d like to eventually strip all of.

Kelly takes off the doors

Kelly removing the doors

Now the bad: we pulled up the carpet in the downstairs stair landing and discovered that what we thought was carpet over linoleum over wooden floors is actually carpet over linoleum around the edges and big chunks of plywood and broken boards. We are still pretty sure that the stairs and the rest of the floors upstairs have floors in good shape, and the landing is only 4′x8′ so it won’t be too cost prohibitive to install hardwood there, but still, it was a bit of a blow. We had to stick the carpet back down and leave off for now.

Mysterious hole in the dining room floor

Random hole in the middle of the dining room floor, that had a strange circular grate on it. What was it for?