Sunday, 25 November 2012

Forgotten rooms

For the past while, between plastering, insulating and messing about, a couple of rooms have been more or less forgotten. Or perhaps avoided.In particular, the kitchen ceiling was a task I was not looking forward to, and the small room, which used to adjoin it. While my frind Siggi and I had done a good two days work on cleaning the beams in this small room and the bedroom, they still weren't quite in a state I wanted, so last week, I set myself a challenge to prep all ceiling beams on the first floor in three days, taking the Thursday and Friday off to do it. Needless to say, I didn't quite make it, as the big beams in the livingroom need another going over, but I'm pleased with the results. In particular, the kitchen, which alone too one-and-a-half days.

In the small, northeast room, the beams were clean enough, but I wanted to see what happened if I took an angle grinder with a sanding disc to one, to remove the bleached-looking, splintery layer. Quite well, I thought (see photo below), but it was such an effort, extremely dirty, and did take away some of the rustic "charm" of the uneven beams, so in the end, I decided it wasn't worth it. Instead, the beams got a couple of cleans varying between a 40-grit sanding wheel for getting rid of the splinters, and an 80 and 320-grit nylon brush, to polish them up a little, and get the remaining plaster out of the grooves. Here's an update in photos.

Back in January 2011
The ceiling now.

One of the beams (right in photo above) after deep cleaning.

What I look like after deep  cleaning with an angle grinder.
Oak dust is particularly bad for the lungs. Till now, I'd usually been using a FPP2 filter mask with a vent and protection glasses, but the recommendation is FPP3, which it what I eventually used with the full face mask. Felt a lot better breathing, and no more bits of clay and oak in my eyes, which is common when working on the ceiling!

The bedroom got one more going over, although I did go deep cleaning the main cross-beam. As it had been painted, it really needed it to get as much of the point out of the cracks as possible. Here's a nice sequence for an update, having stitched photos together using the free Hugin panorama software (because I don't have a fancy camera). Click on the images below for embignation!

January 2011

Around September 2011.
November 2012
Some plastering, and it's almost ready to use. Well, almost...

And to the kitchen. Having started life as two rooms that we mashed together, and then gutted, removing all the cladding, dry lining and false ceiling, we were left with a decent sized room with soot-blackened beams. Looking back over old photos, it's just as well I forgot how much work we did just in ripping stuff out. The kitchen in particular was a filthy job.

January 2011. Still two rooms
Around September, 2011. Everything ripped out.
We'd also had to get in a new post to hold up the middle of the beam. This we got from a neighbour's wood pile, where it had clearly sat for a while, but was in great condition, other than being a bit geen, and soft at the corners. That got the treatment last week too.

January 2012, new post after initial sand-blasting of the ceiling
The post today, almost gleaming.
 The main beam got a deep clean last week, as it was quite pitted from the nut-shell blasting, which did not quite remove the carbonised-looking sooty layer. The result, was a lighter-coloured bean, which I like, as the ceiling here is low, and a dark beam would have made it oppressively so. The cross-beams just got a clean with nylon brushes, and they came out pretty well, although still quite rough, which I can live with.

All cleaned up, November 2012.
Still a lot to do here...
The hall also got done before I could take no more, laving the two main beams in the living room, but I'll tackle them later.

For the next week, I'm setting myself a new challenge: get the undercoat skim plaster onto the bedroom and back room walls done by next weekend, so they are ready to receive the wall heating system (once I finish insulating the south side of the house, but more of that anon).

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Groundhog Day

Before I get to what's new, here's a nicer shot of the outside of the house, after the sun came out on Wednesday.

As Thursday was a national holiday here, I took Friday off too with the intention of getting back into the kind of work readers would hope I'd be finished with, not to mention me. Our friend Siggi popped down from Bonn to help, and I'm sure he was sorry also, as he basically spent 2 days looking at a ceiling, with a brush sander in hand.

Our bedroom has been neglected for the past few months,. The beams didn't even get the sand-blasting treatment, as originally I thought I'd plaster over the whole lot, but the more wood the better, or so I'm told.

First, a look back, starting with late 2010, just after we'd bought the place.

Step on to September, 2011, and the plasterboard/dry lining has been removed, as well as the chimney, leaving a new hole into the kitchen. Note the clay plaster on the ceilings, and the white-painted main beam.

By May this year, the old plaster had been removed from the ceiling and walls, and the initial paint removal done (horrible, horrible work)...

...which looked quite nice, leaving only finer cleaning of the wood to be done. Below is the old door frame into the room.

And as of yesterday, much cleaner, showing details in the grain of the oak that I really like.

Not to mention the door lintle is holding up the main support beam running across the room.

Siggi got the blackened dirt off the ceiling beams, and we both worked on cleaning up the main beam, which also showed some interesting hidden textures.

This beam feels like the hardest substance on earth, and takes a lot of time to clean or sand off. Too much force or speed, and it clogs sanding discs, resulting in friction burns that need to be sanded down with care. Basically, it's a pain in the ass, and this is the second one on this level to be prepped.

Fairly pleased with this, but some additional polishing is needed before we can start plastering the ceiling.

Meanwhile, it's been raining for 2 days almost non-stop, and there's some seepage into cellar 2, despite the new gutters and drainage behind the house.