Just a Baker Street Muse (cluegirl) wrote in middle_street,
Just a Baker Street Muse

A Tale of Shoe Room -- a farce in entirely too many acts.

So, in a nutshell;

Several years ago, flush with our success in redecorating our kitchen, I looked at aquila_dominus and said "Honey, why don't we do something about the cake batter plaster we hate so much, and the nasty, painted-over velvet-flock wallpaper in the shoe room? I mean, since we have to patch the hole in the ceiling where the upstairs toilet was leaking anyway. We could just freshen up the paint in there, get rid of the yellow pastel and it'd be the work of a month or so, right? What could possibly go wrong?"

Ladies and gentlemen, he managed to agree to this with a straight face.

That straight face did fall a little bit when we found the 1973 synthetic wood panelling UNDER the painted-over velvet-flocked wallpaper though. And it fell still more when we found the moldy, rotting plaster BEHIND the warped and molding 1973 synthetic wood panelling under the painted-over velvet-flocked wallpaper. And... well, things just kept on getting more and more ... interesting.

(Believe me, kids, that was the SHORT version of the story.)

So ANYway. Fast forward past two years of floods, falls, freakouts, faking it rather spectacularly well, broken bones, broken budgets, panicked trips next door to consult the City Engineer God Love And Keep Him Always, and a whole lot of learning how to do this stuff as we go along, we at Mandala House find ourselves facing what I like to fondly call... The FUN Part.

Since the floods of Jan '09 originated in the bathroom directly over the Shoe Room, it rather worsened the damage to the ceiling and walls there. We decided that we were going all the way to the studs in that room, all the way around. This was for several reasons, but the most prevalent amoung them was my mold and mildew allergy, and my utter and unreserved loathing for the damned cake batter plaster insets the previous tenants had put into the millwork in that room. But mostly, it was the mildew thing.

We started with rosin paper under a layer of masonite to protect the floors, and plastic sheeting hung cleanroom-style over the doorways to protect the rest of the house from the inevitable dust. Then we fetched in a steel garden rake and a couple of hammers, and commenced to destroy the ceiling.

What we found, was that similar to what they'd done in the living room when the ceiling plaster had needed repairs, the previous owners had NOT repaired the plaster, but instead just tacked up some new framing underneath it, and slapped sheetrock onto it. We had the two-ceiling problem again. (I know this next picture looks like a wall, but it's actually turned 90 degrees. That's a 9 foot ceiling under that raftering. Also, like that lone aluminum rafter in there? We thought that was fancy... and somewhat random.

Getting the plaster down was a tougher prospect, alas. Turns out it was the old fashioned horsehair plaster, and weighed ridiculous amounts (as we found when we nearly took out the window when a head-sized chunk fell loose at once.) In order not to break anything vital, such as oversized windows, custom flooring, or, oh, arms or legs, we decided to just nibble away at the plaster with hammers and claws, and to try and bring it down in manageable pieces. It was two weeks ago, and my arms have still not forgiven me the insult, alas.

Still, we did at last get down to the lath.

And the problem following upon THAT, was how, exactly, to get the lath out from between the rafters above it, into which it had been nailed, and the rafters below it, onto which the sheetrock had been nailed?

The lower rafters are too close to allow a pry bar, claw, or hammer into range, and the nails used to put the lath up (lo, these hundred years gone,) were long enough to hold up the bloody ton of horsehair plaster they intended to suspend therefrom. And after much tugging, grunting, and knuckle skinning, we were a bit like this;

And then we remembered: God loves us, for he has given us the wonder that is ... Sawzall.

(To be continued...)

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Love the kitty nose on your mask.
Yeah, we had to find some way to tell the two apart at a glance...