Thursday, May 26, 2016

Victorian Farmhouse - Days 10 & 11

This post covers days 10 and 11, which was April 16th and 17th.

A few major projects were started on these days, and some exciting things are starting to happen around the house. These include ripping-up the office floor (in order to re-lay it) and skim coating the raw plaster walls.

Upon our arrival, something that caught my eye were a whole bunch of randomly dispersed crocus across the front lawn. They were so pretty that I had to snap a few photos.

I've only ever seen purple crocuses so I didn't know they came in yellow. Apparently there are also white ones.

Since I was already across the lawn, and I knew that the roof would be replaced, I took some photos of the house from a distance. Angie really REALLY hates having the propane tanks visible, so they are going to be relocated to the other side of the house, and closer to the road (apparently they can be placed pretty much anywhere, even 100 feet from the house).

Note all the trees crowded near the barn (these are now cut down). None of the healthy trees in "good" spots were cut, but there were many trees growing right up against the buildings (house, attached barn, and barn).

This is around the other side of the house, facing towards the separate barn (not visible). All the stuff on the right are piles of branches from the removed trees.

This was a large (and nice) tree that came down recently in a storm, so the rest of it was cut down.

Looking back towards the road. Angie's father in the foreground, and the tree cutters in the back at their truck.

Some of the trees around the detached barn.

The barn door. I may make this into a watercolour.

On the inside, the decisions were made to replace all the non-matching mouldings in the old part of the house, so since we were also going to rip-up the floor, we decided to take off the casings from the archway into the living room. I found some really beautiful antique wallpaper under them. This is VERY old hand-printed (wood block printed) wallpaper. This would have been done with multiple patterns for each different colour, and printed by hand. The metallic paint was gold on the lower paper, and copper on the top border paper. I took quite a few photos of the wallpaper.

Here you can see that there is a second paper with a different print at the top. This might have been a large 2 foot high ceiling border paper, or just a contrasting band roughly at the height of the casings. Only part of it is left, so it's impossible to sell.

You can kind of make out the copper vs gold effect here (not much of the gold is visible).

Some of the floor boards around this vent in the living room were very damaged (insect-eaten and partially rotted). This whole area will need to be patched.

The original floor in this room is ONE AND A QUARTER INCH thick solid hardwood (I believe it's maple). This is a full half inch thicker than the "good" hardwood floors on the market today. This floor could literally be sanded down and refinished about a dozen times and still be good. It's just slightly thinner than "2x4" material if that helps you visualize it better.

So now this floor. This floor is more of a rough barn wood floor, HOWEVER, it's still gorgeous antique wood, and we wanted to see if we could save it. As discussed earlier, some of the gaps were crazy (like half an inch), so the plan was to pull it up carefully and then reinstall it. The wall luckily passes over a pair of boards with an acceptable 1/8" or less gap. Everything beyond this would need to come up.

Last "before" shots...

All the boards were carefully numbered so we could lay it all back exactly the same (in case of any buckles, floor thickness variations, and to maintain the patterns for vents and openings).

Pulling up these boards was a lot harder than expected. We tried getting into the spots with the largest gaps, but in the end, we had to be a little bit more rough than I'd have liked in order to pry out the first board. Once we had one out, it was SLIGHTLY easier after that.

The edge of the foundation and beams were in slightly rough shape.

The few photos I took of the process represent HOURS of work. Even though the floor is only nailed across 5 beams, those damned square nails (which I love, BTW) grip VERY tightly. In addition to this, we also had a very hard time due to huge 4" framing nails that had been driven down through the top of the boards along the right hand beam and randomly in a few other places.

During a break... Trees around the barn are finally gone.

I discovered this problem spot, and a likely area where mice are getting into the house. This is a whole section of the outer beam (about a 7" square beam) that has rotted due to a leak in the base of the window frame of the front window. Years of water has rotted the wood.

Some areas were a complete nightmare, like this spot with THREE large square nails.

The north-facing wall. Note that the outer beam has drifted down slightly and away from the other beams. It's all perfectly solid, but it's a shame the foundation hadn't been maintained better. This could have been avoided.

Finally all done.

This will need to be patched and filled-in.

With the floor gone (read: set aside) we can now see the problem spots (like that one rock on the upper right, which was causing a HUGE bump), and we can start installing the additional floor joists.

Another thing to do will be to square-up this transition.

Braces installed. These were just across two of the spans. One across the third span would have been nice, but there were too many heating ducts in the way.

All the short cross beams had to be shaped to contour the beams. Cardboard templates were cut out very quickly with scissors to get the patterns. The one in the upper left also had to be notched for duct work.

This is the sample of the new (nearly identical) mouldings to replace the missing ones. The excess width will be trimmed, so the outer edge won't be 100% match. Luckily this trim is an existing one in the company's collection of knives, so it will only cost around 2$/foot plus a small setup fee. If not, it would have been several hundred dollars extra for a custom set of knives to be made.

More trees around the barn gone. You can see the chicken coop in this shot.

Next day. We were SO SORE from tearing out the floor that we decided to do a few easy jobs. I decided to start the skim coat on the walls. This might seem like it will be time consuming, messy, difficult, and not worth it (just rip everything out and install drywall), but it was surprisingly quick and easy. We had tackled all the deep holes and gouges (all the patch areas visible in prior photos), and this just went on with a big 12" trowel. I did the entire room (with a bit of help) in about 2 hours?

It does take a certain amount of practice to get the hang of it, but once you do it's quick, easy, and quite relaxing.

Since it's a pretty thin coat, it starts to dry pretty fast.

The room already looks so much more amazing with this simple change.

Another quick job I did was to install the new door jamb in the office/front hall.

The last shot shows a dry area after a very quick sanding to knock off the bumps and high spots. It looks SO GOOD! Pierre and Angie were very impressed with the results. So much easier (and cheaper) than ripping everything down and installing new drywall.

It's very late, so I haven't proof-read this, so hopefully there aren't too many mistakes.