Sunday, 22 September 2013

The Last Blast

Almost two years ago, I had my first experience using a sand-blaster. We used it a lot for cleaning off oak beams in the upper levels of the house, to great effect, and a cursory clean of the walls in the cellar. Since then, the blaster went on its merry way, but we needed to call on its services again this weekend, to do a proper job on the cellar walls. Initially, we'd thought to simply clean the walls enough so that new plaster would hold, but then decided it would be better for the walls if they were left as natural as possible so any dampness coming from the foundation would find it easier to escape. My wife had spent a couple of weeks knocking the remaining plaster off the walls, but they needed a deep clean before we could repoint.

My old friend.
It's dirty, sweaty work, but enjoyable in its own way, as you see results quick. Well, once the dust has settled, which takes some time when blasting clay and plaster off walls in an enclosed space. But, it needed to be done before the heating equipment gets installed in cellar 4, and that, we hope, will be done in time for winter.

First, a look back to the type of thing we got back in late 2010.

Cellar 1
Cellar 4
Then how they looked a week ago.

"Cellar 2" is in two parts, the entry hall, and behind that as mall vaulted cellar. The left wall of the entry hall, as seen below, has been plastered over, with a damp-proof membrane under the plaster. This was disastrous for the wood beam resting on the wall, hence a good idea to leave it free. After removing the plaster and some of the old mortar (more like clay), it looked better, but pretty manky dirty. We thought it had potential, though.
Cellar 2/Entry hall
Cellar 2/Entry. The sandstone had already been blasted earlier.

In cellar 4, the easternmost former stall, we'd already began with the waterworks installation, so everything had to be wrapped up and protected prior to blasting.  There's quite a difference, even at the stage shown below, compared to what it was like when we first got it as seen above!

Cellar 4
Cellar 4
And the post-blasting shots. I think Cellar 1 is unrecognisable compared to what it was like in 2010. But it's still the messiest of all the cellars, and the floor will eventually have to be replaced, but that's on the very long finger.
Cellar 1 now.
The entry hall is important, and it's a pity the stones aren't nicer, but I think it should come out well in the end.

Cellar 2/Entry hall
Cellar 2/Entry hall
Cellar 4 is going to be fun to repoint...

Cellar 4
Cellar 4
 Difficult as it is to see through the dust, it wasn't helped by the visor on my mask getting frosted. Glad I have a backup, but I won't be blasting again!

All that was left to do was the cleanup. The used sand went to the neighbour's chickens...

Monday, 9 September 2013

Post-holiday update

It might seem like little was done during August, but before we disappeared to Ireland for a short holiday, it was all action with small bits and pieces. I'd continued to install the floor underconstruction, with pretty much all the first floor done now, apart from half of the living room, as a beam needs to be replaced before I can continue there. The floor beams at the  back half of the living room slope up towards the back of the house, so to make it even, we'll have a small, c. 5cm step midway in the room.

The first floor bathroom finally got what looks like a proper wall, after erecting some OSB sheeting on the stud partition.

 And as we couldn't wait for the sheep, I cut the grass out back for the first time in... well, a long time! Want to keep it short before the pears and nuts start dropping. The cherry plums have already been harvested. Over 70kg again this year!

Over the past week, since returning from holiday, I had to prep the remaining uninsulated walls, the half-timber ones that I first plastered so long ago. Being the first time I'd ever plastered, they needed some evening out! Not that it had been easy to plaster very uneven half-timbered walls, but I've learnt a lot since then.

They needed to be pretty even to allow me to stick on the new insulation panels that arrived just before we went away. Holzfaserdämmplatten, or wood fibre insulation boards, are highly breathable as well as environmentally friendly. The idea here is to use as breathable material as possible on the timber framed wall, to ensure moisture doesn't condense behind an impermeable membrane, so it can wick in and out. They're not cheap, when compared with styrofoam, and they're not as easy to work with. Styrofoam is like play, cutting with hot wires, spraying on some foam and sticking them together. With the fibre boards, it's a plaster-like goo that gets mixed, applied with a serrated float, and then pushed onto the wall. A bit messier, more preparation, and hell on my tennis elbow.

Nevertheless, after a half day last Saturday, I had the guts of the bedroom and the hall done.

And in other news, my wife invested many hours rescuing the flower bed in front of the house. Six months ago, it was full of grass, weeds, concrete, plaster and broken roof tiles. Looking like a proper country garden now :)