Skim Coat (almost) Like a Pro

Posted by Steve on Sat, 09/02/2006 - 1:33pm


Most people seem to like the flat, clean effect of drywall. Drywall is cheap, goes up easily and doesn't take much acquired skill to learn how to tape, mud and finish the joints. Even drywall repairs are relatively painless. So what's not to like?

Maybe I'm just weird (well, there's probably no contesting that regardless) but I like plaster. I like the way side lights create shadows and textures over the natural unevenness of a plaster wall, giving it density and bulk.


Compound Casings (or What To Do With Scrap Lumber)

Posted by Steve on Sat, 09/02/2006 - 2:09am


One question I used to get asked on the old blog was, "where did you buy your window and door casings?" As any old houseophile knows, in the olden days trimwork wasn't something you picked up at The Borg. Even in modest turn-of-the-century homes those mouldings were often designed by the home's architect. Constructing them was the job of a master carpenter. Elaborate trimwork is one of the major details of an old home as well as one of its greatest attractions today. People with old homes go to great lengths to carefully strip and rehabilitate old baseboards and casings.

The Plan

Posted by Steve on Fri, 09/01/2006 - 9:35pm


So I psyched myself up and put down the plastic for the next and final major renovation project here: the master bedroom and hallway.

The way I figured it, if I had a pile of lumber in the shop I'd want to do something with it. I didn't spare much expense in this project although I'm not completely irresponsible with my money. For instance, I'll be using red oak plywood in much of the window and doorway trim rather than solid oak. That alone will save me several hundred bucks. And while an engineered floor is actually more expensive to purchase than a 3/4" raw hardwood floor, it's cheaper to install and maintain while also providing a more durable finish against doggie nails, or so the sales literature says anyway.

"I've always wanted to renovate an old house!"

Posted by Steve on Thu, 08/31/2006 - 11:40am
The popularity of home improvement shows demonstrates that people are fascinated by the idea of taking something old and beat up and making it new again. But as anyone who has undertaken a large scale home renovation knows, the reality of doing it yourself lives on another planet from the romantic, everything-works-the-first-time impression that these shows portray.

For one, you won't have a professional contractor standing out of the shot, ready to yell "Stop! Stop!!" before you slice through a BX cable with your demolition saw. Nor will you have a bunch of off-camera laborers to unload the truck, clean up the mess, lift bags of cement, dig holes, chop up concrete, strip plaster, haul debris and all of those other tasks that seem to take care of themselves on TV. These shows do a great job of introducing viewers to the details of home renovation. But never forget that Bob Vila goes back to the Ramada Inn for a nice dinner and a hot shower at the end of the day. You might not have a functioning kitchen, or even water.

The Last Lap Crash

Posted by Steve on Thu, 08/31/2006 - 11:40am


Most people will experience a major home renovation only once in their lives. This is my third one and I think I've discovered a thus far unreported affliction which I call Home Stretch Complacency. Let's give it an acronym so it sounds official: HSC.

HSC doesn't appear to be a unique defect in my genetic makeup. I know several tyromaniacs like me who have suffered and are suffering from this dibilitating condition. The symptoms of HSC are, after spending years on a difficult and time-consuming renovation project, crashing on the last lap. That final room doesn't get done, the trim doesn't go up, the primer doesn't get painted. You sink into lethargy and just live with it.


Some people crash earlier; some only a few feet away from the finish line. One of the early warning signs of HSC seems to be Normphobia: a sudden avoidance of TV home improvement shows. Perhaps it's a mutation of the diY-chromosome but we won't know for certain until more research is done. Maybe we need a telethon.

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