2nd Floor Hall Bathroom Niche & Dry Wall

We ordered a pre-fabricated shower niche to hold soap and shampoos etc.  Then came the job of installing it.  First a hole needed to be cut in the wall.


It was difficult to locate studs because everything was covered in thick wood bead board but we guessed where the most logical location would be.  So Dan drilled a hole large enough for me to get the jig saw started and then the cutting began.  And the stud was where we guessed it would be.  And this stud is truly 2×4 vs. the current version of 2×4.  And it was just off-center from where the niche was to be located – not conveniently to one side.  The cutting of the bead board was fairly easy; the stud was not.  After a lot of elbow grease and scrapping of hand the 2×4 was notched sufficiently to insert the niche.


Still need to permanently attach it with stainless steel screws.  The lines on the kerdi board show the location of the stud.  All the cutting had to be done from the right side as there was not enough room on the left to insert the jig saw.  Tile will cover the niche – hopefully later this week.

This is the first room where we have done all the dry-walling ourselves (with the exception of help in hanging the ceiling boards).    And after cutting the 1st hole for an electrical receptacle a bit too large I got the remaining holes cut correctly.

I discovered a new type of dry-wall corner bead which made the ceiling and corner seams much easier to do well (was really dreading them).

Then after multiple coats of mud and sanding, the ceiling and walls were painted.

The color is a medium-light blue-gray.  We mixed a gallon of baby-blue paint that was given to us with some left-over paint from the ‘throne room’.  So the paint was ‘free’.  And the dry wall was left over so we did not need to purchase those materials.

The trim boards around the doors need to be sanded, patched and painted before they get re-installed and the closet (which is fairly large) still needs to be renovated.  If all goes as planned that work will get started tomorrow and the tile will arrive so it can be picked up.





2nd Floor Hall Bathroom

We decided we should do the hall bathroom next given it would utilize some of the spare drywall that is being stored in the exercise room and taking up space (12×4 ft boards).  A vanity was ordered before Christmas and arrived a few days early but with a broken quartz top.  The supplier was good about expediting a replacement which arrived in tact.  So demolition began after our mid-January Christmas celebration was over and guests no longer needed the bathroom.  This ceiling was covered with white 9×9 tiles and I thought the walls had painted plastic tiles on them but discovered they were really some sort of thick linoleum with a tile pattern.   Notice the wood frame around the window – not ideal for a shower.

After removing the ‘linoleum’ there was some pretty beat-up drywall that needed to come off only to reveal wallpaper and bead-board.

I think that is the ugliest wallpaper I have ever seen.  It is now gone.  When the electricians re-wired the 2nd floor they moved the closet light switch to inside the closet (not sure why they thought that was a good idea).  So while the wall was open Dan re-positioned the switch back to its original location.

Instead of using cement board behind the tile I decided to use Kerdi board which was highly recommended by the tile store.  It’s a lot easier to use but more expensive.  I still need to apply the tape to the seams and install edging around the window jamb.

Our friend Bobby came over today to lend some extra hands to hang the ceiling drywall and while he was here he installed the new tub faucet (minus the handles which will go on after the tile is done).  We then were able to install the last Kerdi board on the faucet wall.

The old shower head was temporarily reinstalled.

I ordered tile last week only to find out this week that the floor tile is back-ordered until at least the end of February.  So I went back to the tile store and selected new tile.  The tile store was very apologetic so waived the extra cost (about $70) for the more expensive tile – that’s my kind of store!  So the next few weeks will be spent dry-walling and tiling.





2nd Bedroom Closet

The closet for the 2nd bedroom is now done.  It is actually a small walk-in closet which is very unusual for a house built in 1897.  Like all the other rooms on the 2nd floor the ceiling and walls were wall-papered except for the one cedar wall.  The plaster walls were rough and in one area the plaster needed to be replaced with drywall board.  I think I have mastered patching plaster.

There were many cracks around the window and baseboards which have now been patched and caulked.  Not sure if it’s because it’s warmer or not but the room seems to be less drafty now.  I’m pretty sure the caulking helped.  There was a bare light bulb that has been replaced by an inexpensive but presentable light fixture.

The plan is to start work on Dan’s new office next week.



2nd Floor Bedroom #s 1 & 2 Essentially Done

Bedroom #1 is done with the exception of the closet.  After further analysis it appears the best way to finish the underside of the stairs in the closet is to drywall them.  That will be fussy work and will take awhile so have put it off for now.  It turns out the bedroom walls only needed 1 coat of paint which was a welcome surprise.

The armoire (or chifferobe) was acquired during our recent mini-vacation.  I hope to find another like it for the 3rd small bedroom (that does not have a closet).

The 2nd bedroom (a.k.a. the throne room given the raised shower/toilet room) was easier than the 1st bedroom in that the wall paper came off a lot easier (except for one wall).  The plaster was more rough in most places and apparently was painted blue – including the ceiling.


The shower and toilet are located behind the door to the right of the small vanity.

There was only one place where I needed to patch in drywall board.  There were many places where cracks and rough spots needed to be patched with drywall mud.  Given how rough the ceiling and walls were I decided to skim-coat everything with drywall mud to smooth them out.  It took about 2 days to skim-coat and 1 day to sand.  The arms were very tired at the end of the 3rd day.

This closet also needs to be done but should be a lot easier than the one in the 1st bedroom.  All the bedroom floors are hardwood (not sure yet about the floors in the kitchenette). I plan to re-finish them later this spring when I can do several rooms at a time.  So we now have 2 guest rooms ready for use.



2nd Floor – Bedroom #1

So the drywall sander arrived.  It is easy to use and certainly makes the job go faster.  It collects some dust but a lot of it still gets everywhere.  I now wear a scarf to keep it out of my hair.  The room has plastic over the hall door so most of the dust is staying in the room.  It probably took 6 – 8 hours (over 2 days) to sand the ceiling and the walls.  The sander weighs about 8 pounds so the arms still got a good work out.  The ceiling and walls have all been patched.  Most of the crumbly plaster was along the edges of the wood work.  The walls have been skim coated with dry wall mud to smooth out the plaster and the ceiling now has one coat of paint – it will need a second coat.

The closet was a project unto itself.  The prior owners had wallpapered over the underside of the stairs (which go up to the attic).

The left wall is plaster; the right wall is some type of raw lumber.  The electricians are coming back Wednesday as the light and the switch are not installed correctly.  Drywall has been installed on the underside of the stairs and on the right wall.  It has been tacked up on the left wall but can be unscrewed to re-install the switch (which is currently attached to the door frame vs. in the wall).

I had to get creative with all body parts to hold the drywall on the underside of the stairs in place while I screwed it.  Where there’s a will there’s a way.

So now the walls need a very light sanding – should go quickly.  Then they and the wood work will need to be cleaned.  Then all the trim needs to be caulked and painted then the walls can be painted.  I’m expecting they will need 2 coats of paint.


Cellar door and Bedroom #1 on 2nd Floor

Our friend Bobby offered to help fabricate the cellar door and include a door opener that holds open the heavy door.

So now the access to the cellar is finished (except for the painting).

Work has now begun on the 2nd floor.  The first room to get tackled is the larger (15×15) of the 3 bedrooms.  Here are some pictures before work began:

I think there were 4 or 5 layers of wallpaper on the walls and 3 or 4 layers on the ceiling.  Plaster was beneath all the wallpaper.  Here are some pics after the wallpaper was removed:

Most of the plaster is in decent shape – with a couple of notable exceptions.  As you can see, a stove pipe opening was simply covered over with wall paper.  I could feed a draft so stuffed it with insulation.  The plaster around it was very crumbly and had to be removed.    Here is the stovepipe after the plaster was removed and after drywall and one coat of mud was applied:

I think the tube behind the stovepipe opening is clay and is about 6″ deep.  About a year ago I learned a trick from one of our handymen for how to install drywall patches without having to screw them in place.  Two more coats of mud will smooth out the patch.  I’m going to put a skim coat of mud over all the surfaces to smooth them out.  To minimize the dust and strain on the body I ordered a powered drywall sander with vacuum.  We’ll see how well it contains the dust.


Back stoop, shade garden, and basement access

We have not had any rain for a few weeks but are expecting showers from Rainstorm Nate so I wanted to get the back stoop finished.

Here is the before:


There were 2 badly worn colors – a royal blue and a medium blue gray color.  One board was badly warped so it was replaced.  I found a stain product that will cover paint and hold up to weather far better than paint.  So after the standard scrapping, sanding, and cleaning process I tried out the stain.  Sure enough, it covers paint.  I had it tinted the same color as the foundation.  These steps take a real beating when we get heavy rain.  The water comes down from the upper roofs and from the screened porch roof then flies over the rain gutter like a fire hose and lands on the steps.  So this will be a real test for how good this product really is.

Also was able to plant a shade garden in front of the front porch.   Before it was a weedy grassy mess with tree roots running through it.  It never looked good and was right in front of the house.  So after digging through hard soil and fighting with the roots, the plants got planted.


The Liriopes in the back will spread to fill in the area in front of the railing.  Two of the front plants are called Leten Roses and bloom in winter – never had a plant do that before so am looking forward to the treat.

The electricians have been here on and off for the past few months and are finished with all planned work (that I can think of).  All floors are officially re-wired – from the attic to the cellar.   We had lights and electrical outlets installed in the cellar so I can do wood work there instead of outside (or on the front porch).  Until yesterday the only access to the cellar was from the outside which is ok unless you want to go down there in the evening.  So we re-opened the cellar access off the kitchen.  The floor was boarded up when the prior owners installed a heat pump and placed the cold air return in that staircase (essentially making it a closet).  We had the floor cut open along the side which is just big enough to get down the stairs.


The beadboard was covered with paper but will clean up nicely with a coat of paint (or 2).  The floor had linoleum over it so will need to clean that up and finish it the same as the hall floor.  So when I need a change of pace will work on cleaning up the cellar and installing peg board etc. for a workshop.  Currently all the tools are located in the exercise room off the master bedroom – it will be nice to have them arranged appropriately in a workshop.

So next week work will resume on removing wallpaper from the 2nd floor rooms (walls and ceilings).


Exterior Painting

A couple of weeks ago the exterior trim for the remaining 10 windows on the 1st floor was painted.  The trim for the attic windows still needs to be painted but that will wait until the electricians clear out of the attic (currently wiring the 2nd floor).  The weather has been very dry so have been able to get a good start on painting the foundation (which consists of masonary block, stone, and brick).

A couple of before shots:

And after:

Still need to install vinyl lattice under the front porch railing.  Next spring we’ll plant some drought tolerant shrubs on each side of the lonely boxwood.  We’re not quite sure what this back stoop was used for but the steps and railing will require major sanding before they can also be painted.



Back Porch Finished!

Earlier in the week I was able to get the second coat of paint on the outside lower frame before it started to rain.  On the rainy day the small entrance between the porch and the kitchen got cleaned and painted (white).  It was very dirty so just the cleaning made an improvement.  The floor is cement and still needs to be painted the same peppery red color as the porch floor.

Today Dan helped to install the lattice panels on the lower outside porch frame.   Here is a before picture.  Ignore the Dave’s Lawn Care sign – that was posted on our property without our permission.  We do our own lawn.


And here are some after pictures – see if you can find Dan:

There are 2 gates that make it easy to store things under the porch – like the lawn sweeper.  Dan re-sized one gate so it would close completely.

The next project is to finish painting some exterior window trim then paint the foundation