Hairy Flowers

Continuing on from yesterday’s post, in which you are dying to know what I’ve been up to and what crap I have growing in my yard, I present 2) Renos: Round 2 –

Whew. So it makes sense that the last post was ENORMOUS. A lot of work went in to that room in a relatively short period of time.  I started renovating The Captain’s room about eight years ago. Which is to say, I tore down all the wallpaper one summer in a fit of pique.

Well. I tore down the FIRST LAYER of wallpaper. His room featured a yellow diamond pattern wallpaper that was slightly older (I’d guess 60s) than the stuff that was in The Nipper’s room. It wasn’t horrible, actually, and The Captain kind of liked it. But then The Hole happened – what started out as a tiny hole in the wallpaper became a gaping maw of fallen plaster and Mr. Pickyfingers assploring inside his wall. So. The wallpaper had to go.

I spent a couple of days stripping the two layers of wallpaper in there (a similar experience to The Nipper’s room), but the plaster repair was on a far grander scale. In The Nipper’s room, I was able to fill the hole in the plaster (about 2″ across and 2′ long) with plaster of paris and patching compound. HOWEVER, in The Captain’s room I actually cut a piece of gyprock and screwed it to the lathe, because I would have had to mix a LOT of plaster to patch that hole.

So that took about a week, what with the cutting and the fitting and the mudding and the sanding and the patching and the sanding and the patching and the sanding. I actually quite like mudding, and don’t detest sanding. But I do hate washing walls.

The Captain chose dark blue and dark red for his walls – roughly Spiderman’s colours. So I finished most of his room in the week or so that my Dad took The Captain and The Nipper to my hometown over the summer. Sadly, Something Went Wrong and some of the paint actually peeled off the wall in huge strips (I think it had been too humid the day I painted the final coat), but I was able to patch most of that up. Then I got to rip out the carpet. Have I mentioned how much I hate carpet?

The Captain’s floor is made of wide, fir floorboards that were unfinished. Unsanded. But I still thought that was better than carpet. Of course, the bi-weekly sliver and splinter removal detail began, and His Nibs was Quite Put Out that me and my hippie ways were causing GRIEVOUS FOOT INJURIES. I’m being a bit facetious, but some of those splinters really were significant and painful. I had planned to sand and finish the floor for years. But the time. Where do you find the time to do this stuff?

I mean, I’m good at doing MOST of a job. I’m not the best at finishing ALL of a job.

So this summer, we asked The Captain to start sanding his floor. I gave him the random orbital sander (which only makes me a little grumpy, considering when I was The Captain’s age, I would have had to work my way up to being allowed to use power tools. I’d have been sanding half that floor with a spongy sanding block and a shitty attitude) and had him go at it. He did about a quarter of his floor before he pooped out, and that was okay.

Something they DO tell you in the parenting books is that you really do have to choose which hills you’re prepared to die upon. Forcing my recalcitrant teenager to finish sanding his floor when he throws a hissy fit worthy of the princessiest of princesses over having to pick up his own underpants off the floor is not that hill. So he did some of the work. And then His Nibs pointed out that really, we should only be doing One Project At A Time. This has come to be known as the OPAAT rule of renovations.

The Captain's floor after having been sanded.
The Captain’s floor after having been sanded.

After we finished The Nipper’s bedroom, I began taking crap out of The Captain’s room so I could do the floor. I could only take about half of the furniture out at a time because a) we don’t have a lot of room to manoeuvre at the best of times; and b) the bed The Captain is using now is having some structural challenges and oughtn’t be moved very much. So. I did the first 2/3 of the room one day and the last 1/3 the next day.

When I do this again – namely in my and His Nibs’ bedroom, I will rent a drum sander. I thought about it for this project, but then I figured for a smallish room, with unfinished wood, I should be able to manage it with the palm sander. And I could. And did. A drum sander would have been unwieldy in this room, and I’m fairly certain would have mucked up the corners. I mean, I’d have had to have come in with a palm sander ANYWAY to do the edges, and it’s not like I had to cut through glue or paint or stain. Still, it took me the better part of the morning to sand the floor. And that was after The Captain had already done part of it.

The Captain's floor after having been sanded - east wall
The Captain’s floor after having been sanded – east wall

I was quite pleased at the condition of the floor. To my knowledge, there had only ever been two coverings on this floor – the cruddy carpet I pulled out a few years ago, and some kind of area rug or possibly lino that  had been painted around, but only along the west wall. If you look closely at the border, you can see where there used to be 1/4″ round molding attached, where the wood has not weathered.

Also, all the effing sawdust. I had a fan going in the window, and I have an attachment that ports what would be the bag for the palm sander directly into the shop vac. But still. All of the sawdust.

The Captain's floor after having been sanded and washed.
The Captain’s floor after having been sanded and washed.

Yet again, I was amazed at how much dirt and crud came up after I’d vacuumed up all the sawdust. I understand why the use of a tack cloth is so important in this step because when I was finished with the room, that tack cloth was so full of splinters I could have tied it to a stick and used it to decapitate a Stark.

The biggest challenge here was trying to level out the small amount of cupping that some of these floorboards had started to do. There wasn’t much of that business going on, but there was a little, and if I’m going to be honest, a little palm sander really isn’t up to the job. I think I gave myself carpal tunnel syndrome.

2/3 of The Captain's floor is washed and sanded.
2/3 of The Captain’s floor is washed and sanded.

I’m really pleased at the grain of the wood. Fir is a humble wood, I think. I mean, it’s not ostentatious like teak, and it’s certainly not as ubiquitous as pine. The primary downside is that it’s soft and is really prone to splitting and splintering. I had to be especially careful when sanding, and although you can’t tell, I went across the grain in several spots [GASP].

To be completely honest, I sanded this twice. I went over it first with about a 60 grit, and that’s what I used to take off the worst edges and splinters. By the time I finished up with a 100 grain, you couldn’t see any of the sanding marks at all, regardless of which direction I went in.

I am SO GLAD I chose to wear a dust mask for this project.
I am SO GLAD I chose to wear a dust mask for this project.

My guess is that part of the saving grace here was that this floor has never been finished before. It would have been a whole lot different if I was sanding over previously sealed or varnished or painted floors. That’s when you’d see the sanding marks. But in this room, I kind of got away with murder. Century-old wood in excellent condition, completely raw. I didn’t even mind dealing with the two major trouble spots. Well. Three. But I didn’t find the third until the second day.

I kind of forgot to wear a mask when I was sanding the patching compound in The Nipper’s room, and I’m sure I gained, like, five pounds in lungbutter just from that. This sawdust is so fine and so light that it would probably have just killed me on the spot. I’d have got Miner’s Lung or Sander’s Cough or something.

I also had Really Gross Eye Boogs the next morning. And was one enormous itch the first night. This stuff isn’t nearly as bad as barley dust, but it’s close.

The difference is evident between the rough floorboards and the varnished ones.
The difference is evident between the rough floorboards and the varnished ones.
A second coat of varnish and a lot of mid-afternoon sunlight in The Captain's room.
A second coat of varnish and a lot of mid-afternoon sunlight in The Captain’s room.
The floorboard right beside the bed was my cutting-off point; you can see the difference in the 3rd (and final) coat of varnish and the raw wood.
The floorboard right beside the bed was my cutting-off point; you can see the difference in the 3rd (and final) coat of varnish and the raw wood.
Mungbrian the Cat steps in sawdust and walks on varnished floor.
Mungbrian the Cat steps in sawdust and walks on varnished floor.
It looks SO GOOD.
It looks SO GOOD.
Third coat, final area.
Third coat, final area.
Hopefully, zero splinters from now on.
Hopefully, zero splinters from now on.

Look! Up in the sky! I mean out in the ocean! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a …fish…y…octopus…squiddy…thing? It’s SUPERCTHULHU! Faster than …well, okay, he’s not really all that fast. He’s more patient. But he’s stronger than steel! Able to consume tall buildings in a single gulp!

You may remember him from such experiences as ia! ia! Cthulhu fthagon! ia!!


i make squee noises when you tell me stuff.

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