Saturday, 17 March 2012

Strut loose

What little spare time I've had these past two weeks has been spent working on small, but rather dusty and long jobs in the living room. Last Saturday, it was time to take out the steel struts that were supporting the ceiling for the past six months, waiting for the broken beam to be replaced. I finally secured the ends with bricks and mortar, so time to put it to the test.

Finally, an unrestricted view the length of the living room!

The newly exposed beams and clay plaster ceiling got prepared for replastering by cleaning off loose material and hacking out a channel alongside each beam, to allow space for securing mesh, if needed.

Newly exposed beams.
After the treatment exposing the edges of the beams.
Looking good! Loooong beams!

I spent hours and hours using a belt sander on the beam which I'd spent hours and hours stripping paint from, and I'm pleased with the results (though my shoulders were not), although there are still cracks filled with paint. But remember, this was coated in about 4 or 5 layers of paint, some oil-based, some emulsion. Some final finishing sanding and some oiling, and this will be a beautiful piece of wood. Well, it already is!

Up in the attic, I continued removing floor boards. We now know these were laid on August 1st, 1952, by Adolf Wagner and Julius Finn (who died only recently), thanks to signatures under the boards. Lots of old grains and a couple of mouse nests. The usual stuff.

Boards are in good condition, but I'm lifting them anyway.
Adolf and Julius, 1952.

We also had a meeting with our architect, and plans are afoot to resume work outside. We'll tender for the facade and external insulation work, and of course, the general builder has to come back and connect us to the sewer system, as well as dig a big hole to install a rain water cistern and prepare a patio area. BBQ season is coming!

Sunday, 4 March 2012

There must be a better way

On Saturday, I decided to tackle a job I'd been putting off for some time, that of removing layers of paint from one of the big beams supporting the living room ceiling. First, here's a quick look back to what the living room looked like in April 2011.

Things have changed a little. Walls removed, dry lining removed, wall plaster removed, ceiling plaster removed, cracked beam replaced, beams and stone sand blasted... you get the idea. But that beam, see in the photo above, was untouched throughout all of that.

I tried removing the paint with my Makita brush sander, but the nylon brushes, so effective on raw wood, just polished the paint. I tied with the sand blaster, but by the time the paint was removed, the wood had taken on a driftwood look, with soft fibres stripped away. Not so nice for the oak. On Saturday, I decided to give it a go with a braided wire brush attachment on an angle grinder.

Weapons of choice.
  Definitely tougher work than I imagined, and it took the guts of 5 hours to do the beam. Care had to be taken not to gouge into the wood, or leave the brush in one spot too long, as it could leave friction burn marks.
Removing layers of paint revealed plaster-filled cracks in the timber.
 In the end, the results were just ok. Paint remains in the small cracks in the wood, and although testing with the brush and belt sanders, this stuff is not going to come out.

Fissures still filled with paint.
The living room, March 2012. Click for full effect.
So, is there a better way? I have another one just like this to do in the bedroom. I have a heat gun, but I'm not confident in the effectiveness on a mix of paint types (certainly emulsion and oil-based). I'm considering solvent-based paint remover, but don't relish the gooey messiness of that either.

Still, it's looking better. The new beam we inserted a few weeks ago has now been bedded in with bricks and mortar, so the supporting struts can come away next week.