Tuesday, May 31, 2011

First Night in the Tube!

I went up to the house on Sunday with another car-load of stuff.  We (meaning I) have to stop taking stuff up there now - it is to the point now where we are going to have to shuffle things from room to room in order to do the work we need to do now in any particular room.  Ugh.  My fault.

Anyway, so I slept in one of the downstairs bedrooms on Sunday night - no bed (just an air matress), no AC, no hot water, no wife, no nothing to make it a happy experience.  Just two things made it tolerable:

Since it was Memorial Day weekend all the stores were closed by 7PM so I had to go twice as far to find a gas station that sold beer before sunset.  It seemed a little ridiculous at the time to rush around stressed out looking for a beer so that I could properly enjoy the sunset from our deck.  But it was worth it.

This fine gentleman was an invaluable yard sale find ($5!) on Sunday on the road to the house.  It seems to be a fifty year old GE oscillating fan.  It blows pretty strong and made my night in that hot room doable.

Then on Monday morning, after a drive to Schenectady to pick up that big, old planer I posted a while ago, I stopped at a yard sale and made a new friend.  Hello stress relief!!

Tin Ceilings

We picked up a bunch of this old tin ceiling cheap on Craigslist a couple weeks ago.  Note that the pieces pictured here are the flat border pieces and the curved "cove" pieces. It's pretty great stuff.

Still trying to decide which room to install it in.  We were thinking it would go well in the kitchen, but the master bath is directly over the kitchen so it might be a mistake to install tin ceiling in a spot we might have to open up down the line to repair plumbing - but then how often do you really open up a ceiling to fix plumbing if the plumbing was done correctly the first time around?

In any event, we're going to need to do some stripping/scraping to get the rust and flaking paint off and then re-paint it.  It will be a lot of work.  I don't really know where we'll find the time to do this.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Old Rotten Cedar?!

The cedar we picked up yesterday was, without a doubt, rough looking on the outside.  Indeed, each and every long piece has a section approximately 10 inches long two feet from one end that is completely rotted through.  Since all the wood came from old water towers, my guess is that the rot line was right at the surface of the water where whatever foreign elements were in the water (bacteria, moss, scum, soap, whatever) tended to float.

But, to be honest, the surface of the full length of pretty much every board looks a little porous and dead.  I suppose that isn't altogether surprising for boards more than 20 years old.  It looks like this (top and bottom of a piece of a slice of board shown):

But lo and behold, look at the cross-section of the same piece of wood (click to enlarge):

What appear from the surface to be deep cracks in the wood end barely a millimeter below the surface.  And not only that, but this stuff smells like heaven inside.  The fresh cedar smell is positively addictive.  I'm sniffing this board so much, I'm becoming a cedar huffer.
Anyway, I suppose this comes as no surprise to some people, but I had never messed around with cedar before.

Oh, and for anyone who doesn't know already, the dark arc line curving from just left of top center to lower right is just a saw mark where the saw blade got hot and left a little burn mark on the wood.

So, all in all, I'm pretty happy about this score.  Thank you Craigslist!

Day in the Country!

Here are some pictures V took around the house yesterday.  You can see that the upper deck has been repaired. The lower deck (seen at the bottom of this pic) is still awaiting much love.

V discovered that there is some sort of beautiful flowering vine all over the deck. Crazy.  No idea what it is, but we like it.

The view is so nice.  We can't wait to be able to spend a whole day and have a meal and a drink and enjoy the view.

The walkway leading to the house has also been partially repaired.

Lumber Van - Part II

We got a 12 ft cargo van yesterday morning (same van they gave me 2 weeks ago) and V and I loaded up all the maple flooring I collected over the past two weeks from a nearby dumpster (looks to be about 300 sq ft).  We didn't get a pic of the wood in the back of the van, but this is the wood after we moved it into the house - it is stacked on the upper landing outside the main floor.  To give you a sense of scale, the stack is about six feet long end to end and is four rows deep.  So it's a lot of wood!

Then we drove over to Jersey City to pick up the reclaimed cedar water tower staves I found on Craigslist. These are mostly 2"x5"s and there are are about 44 10ft lengths - but those have some rot about two feet from the end, so they are probably going to end up yielding about 6-7 feet of usable decking after cutting and planing.  We also got about 50 4 foot lengths which will lose about a foot each in the clean-up process.

Note that way way back in the load, just behind the seats, you can see some tin ceiling tiles that I picked up cheap on Craigslist this week in the neighborhood.

Finally, we picked up a table I bought on ebay 2 months ago.  The seller was in Ohio, but the guy who sold me the cedar hooked me up with someone who was driving back from Ohio on Thursday so, for a reasonable price, he picked it up in Ohio and dropped it off in Jersey City.  Note that the table top isn't pictured here - it is cast iron and weighs a ton so we left it outside - we're going to put some sort of custom (i.e., made by us!) wood table-top on this anyway.

And that was how we spent our day yesterday - loading all this stuff in and then out.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

maple carload & flooring adhesive

So, I went back to that dumpster a couple more times and ended up with all THIS hard maple 4" T&G flooring:

Now all I need to do is figure out how to put it down with all this adhesive stuff on the bottom.

It feels kind or like dried rubber cement and when you rub it, it sort of comes off in little rubbery bits.
OH, and it smells pretty awful - but I figure that will go away when it dries completely.  Anyway, maybe all I need to do is put a rotary brush attachment on an angle grinder and hit it lightly to blow most of this stuff right off.  I'll give it a shot.
The smell, we'll just have to see about.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Reclaimed Water Tower Cedar - Decking?

Turns out that decking wood is incredibly expensive.  2"x6" cedar decking costs $2.06 per linear foot (i.e., $4.12 per square foot).  And that hurts!
I've seen old water tower staves for sale at BIG NYC for $2 per linear foot in the 5" width and $3 per linear foot in 6" width and up in price from there.  They appear to be lovely on the inside after just a little planing.  But the price is still prohibitive.  So, anyway, I found a guy across the river on Craigslist and he will sell me 6'-10' lengths of yellow cedar from water towers in widths ranging from 5" to 9" for under $1.50 per linear foot.
He has both red and yellow cedar and it is all over 20 years old so it seems likely it is older growth than what we get now and may be tighter and a better quality.
Here is a pic of a nice planed piece of the red and a chip of the yellow.

I am probably going to take all his 9 and 10 foot lengths, which add up to about 265 square feet.  And that should be enough to re-do the lower deck so that we can roll the hot tub down and hook it up.

Oh, how I long for the hot tub to be bubbling.

design idea - center stringer staircase

How about this as a simple center stringer staircase idea?
I like that it takes advantage of the wall it runs against for additional support while still looking like a normal center stringer.  And the railing is nice too.

I wonder if we could do the stringer with a curved steel beam.  I wonder.
BTW, I found this pic on Apt. Therapy here.

repairing fire damaged silo

The house is a silo constructed of 8 -inch wide, 2-inch thick, tongue and grooved staves which essentially form the structure of the house (i.e., there are no other framing elements holding up the walls of the house). So, one of the big concerns about repairing the fire damage to the exterior portions of the house was that removing staves to replace them could compromise the structural integrity of the house.  therefore, our guy opted to scrape off fire damage and then re-inforce the damaged elements as much as possible.  Here are some pix of how he repaired the most burnt section of the exterior - you can see where a couple pieces of the staves have been replaced with short sections of new wood - this is where the fire damage breached the hull.

Then a whole mess of screws held this thing tight in place.
Anyway, this was over the winter and all of this is now hidden beneath cedar siding, but it is fun to look back at how they fixed what a number of people said couldn't be done.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

design idea - subway tile in the kitchen

Good golly.  This is just the thing we've been talking about: subway tile in the kitchen: either as a backsplash or to do the walls completely.  And now here today is a feature on Apt Therapy about that very thing. Exciting.  Take a look at the pix.

And here's another post with pix of subway tiled kitchens from The Fat Hydrangea

Now, the thing that none of the pix in either of these posts shows is white subway tiled kitchen walls with a contrasting dark grout.  There is nothing nastier than dirty grout and there seems to be no way at all to clean the stuff once it is determined to be filthy, so why not start with a darker color and avoid the issue altogether? Hygiene smygiene!! We're going to clean the walls the same regardless of color, so we might as well not advertise that they are permanently stained with a light colored grout.
Here we go (click the pix to enlarge):

This first one which is nearly perfect is from kitchenbacksplashes.blogspot.com:
And another from curbly.com - though not as dark a grout: 
Another good one from an Apt Therapy post:

And this one is from HERE but it isn't really traditional subway tile:
Oh, hey, here are some good pix from Pink Wallpaper:

The real problem though is this: How do we install wide tiles on a curved wall? The tiles don't curve so the ends of the tiles will be right up against the wall while the middle part of each tile will stick out from the wall as an arc between the two end-points.  Then, since you have to stagger the rows, the center of each tile will protrude a little over the seam between the two tiles above and below it.  I suppose that with a large enough radius curve and 8" wide tiles it might not be so pronounced.  Anyway, maybe we just test it out with a few tiles before we buy cases of them.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

design idea - hardwood walls in master bath

I was walking home from the subway last evening and I passed a dumpster full of this nearly new 4" x 3/4" hard maple t&g flooring (prefinished and micro-bevel) that somone had just savagely uninstalled.

Judging by the amount of dried adhesive on the bottom of the boards and the total absence of nails, it had been installed on a concrete floor before someone bored of it.  Anyway, I thought about it for the next 4 blocks and when I got home I changed into my dumpster diving garb, grabbed my gloves, and gave up a great parking space to drive back to the dumpster. 

I loaded probably 150 square feet of boards averaging 2' to 4' long into my car and zipped home to find the space I had vacated still waiting for me.

Anyway, I don't really know what I'm going to do with the stuff.  It isn't enough to do any of our floors and it would be impossible to get the adhesive off the bottom to ensure a tight and creak-less fit to plywood subflooring.  I am thinking it might make nice wall panelling in the master bathroom though, mounted vertically along the curved wall.

So here are some pix of flooring used for walls.  Mostly I hate the look - but there are a few that look great and those are the ones that inspire.

Here is the only one that actually comes close to what I am thinking - although I would only come up to about wainscoting height:

2 - I hate this look.

3 - The ceiling truss-work and iron elements are cool, but too much warm warm wood.

6 - Horizontal is so much less interesting - it just looks like a sauna.

8 - NO!

9 - No.

10 - Ugh.

12 - Horrible waste of pretty wood.  Looks like a bad bad motel.

13 - This horizontal wood over the bed is pretty cool.
And then there are ceilings made of wood paneling.  I really like this next one.
14 - This would be an okay look for the master bedroom ceiling - but with more whitewash on and then sanding of the boards.
15 - Same, but with a full view of the clerestory windows.  Ahh, clerestory windows.  I just like saying it.
16 - Cool, but looks like it would get horribly dusty and cobwebby and then be impossible to clean.
17 -

Monday, May 9, 2011

design idea - reclaimed milk painted wainscoting

How about some vertical reclaimed wainscoting for the kitchen walls? This stuff (pictured below) is listed on CL for $8 a square foot (ouch!).  But I really like the way the milk paint cracked over the years. Those colors are so like frescos.  So, this batch is out of the question, but now I know to keep my eyes open for this stuff when anything in the neighborhood is being gutted.