Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Dado is Reborn

I was able to get the woodwork in the dining room mostly shellacked over the weekend. It is a very time consuming process, mainly due to the volume of woodwork in the room. I spent at least 12 hours over the past few days putting on 2 coats. Shellac is pretty much idiot proof and I’m very happy with the results, for the most part. The dark wood on the upper cabinets is a little too shiny. I’m going to try and knock it down with some steel wool and see if that helps. Maybe it will look better once the blinds and drapes are on.

I started working on this room 5 and a half years ago, if you can believe that. This would have been when I owned the house for about 3 years. I had stripped the room of wallpaper and was trying to figure out what to do with the woodwork. It was painted green, which was bad enough, but that wasn’t even the worst part. The worst part was that it looked like it had been painted by a 4 year old after his 2 year old sister had attempted to paint it. There were runs and drips on top of runs and drips.

Simply painting again was not going to suffice. Even if I ended up painting in the end, I had to do something about the copious amounts of paint that were on the woodwork. Sanding was the first thing to come to mind, but there were two problems here. First, it was way too much sanding. Sanding is really only for taking off a small fraction of an inch of surface. Second, the previous owners had painted just a few years before with a high gloss, latex paint. That type of paint doesn’t so much sand as it does roll up at the edges.

I decided to try a heat gun. I didn’t own one, so I went down to the hardware store and bought the least expensive one I could find. I had no idea how well it would work, so I didn’t want to spend a lot of money if it wasn’t going to work. As it turned out, it worked great and that first heat gun burned up in about 6 months. I then went and bought a much better heat gun and I still have that one after hundreds of hours of use.



The stripping went through 5 steps. Here it is in March of 2004. The windows are to the right. I started in that corner, just to the right of the fireplace. The door to the room is on the other side of the fireplace, so this is the most inconspicuous place in the room. If I screwed it up, it would be the last place in the room any one sees. Fortunately there was shellac under the paint, so for the most part the paint just peeled off in sheets. It was really pretty amazing.

The next step was chemical stripper. This removed small bits of paint in the corners and most of the shellac. The shellac had caramelized from the heat gun and had become sort of baked on.



After that I used denatured alcohol and steel wool to get the rest of the shellac off.







And then lots of sanding. I was getting really nervous at this point. The wood looked bleached and dried out. You can see two pictures up where I used a little boiled linseed oil and turpentine on a small place to see if it would come back to life. It did. The last step was micro faux graining. There are always tiny little specks of paint that can’t come out. Usually this is in the corners or at joints, but also in places where the wood has been damaged from a chair or coal bucket hitting the wall too hard.



This is the wall opposite the windows. I'm actually ripping up the floor in this photo. The carpet as been removed, and then from the front of the picture moving back you can see the plastic, fake wood tiles on top of particle board. Under that is tar paper, which was stapled down to the original redwood floor. The fake wood tiles were put down in the 70s.

The wood work was first painted in the 1950s. The original color was white and then there was just about every color in the rainbow until we get to the hideous shade of green you see in the photos. I call it Puke Green. Ask for it by name and Sherwin Williams. Go a head, I dare you.

Also, in this photo, you can see where I discovered the long lost dumb waiter style door that leads to the kitchen. It had been boarded shut and wallpapered over back in the twenties. Also, to the left you can see the remnants of the Murphy bed that had been installed back in the 20s. All of that has been restored.

And now the dado has been resurrected. Here it is today, five and a half years later. That is the same section of wall from the first photos in the post. It didn’t really take 5 and a half years. The initial paint stripping took about 3 months, and then nothing happened for a very long time. Well, a lot happened in the house, but just nothing in this room.











And now it is finally done!

21 comments:

Sadie Says said...

Wow, it's just breathtaking. And seeing the before and in progress photos make it so much more meaningful. What a ton of work! But so worth it. Well done and lots of pats on the back!

1916home said...

Amazing! Well worth the read and all the great photos! Its these sorts of posts that truly inspire the rest of us working and restoring our homes. :) TNX!

Carson Park Ranger said...

Great job! We'll have to see it in person.

Lise said...

That's gorgeous. I'm impressed by the work you put into it.

Jayne said...

Wow. Just, wow.

Todd - Home Construction Improvement said...

That turned out really great. Most people wouldn't have the patience to strip even one panel! Glad to see you stuck with it.

Bones said...

Having lived in some old houses over the years, houses that've seen their share of paint and flooring abuse, it is SO great to see that room rescued and restored to glory. Great job, dude!

Omar said...

MMM dado.. drool.

Diane said...

Absolutely gorgeous Greg -- I am impressed. Thank you so much for sharing!

Greg said...

Thanks everyone. It was a lot of work. If I had to start that project today, after all of the work I've done on the house, I'm not sure I would have the stamina for it. It was definitely worth it, though.

HPH said...

It looks fantastic. As usual, you have done an outstanding job. Thanks for the gratuitous beautiful wood shots.

John said...

Wow. Very, very nice.

purejuice said...

this is almost making me cry. thanks for doing it and thanks for letting us see it through.

Christopher Busta-Peck said...

Wow. That's incredible. And well worth the insane amount of labor you threw at it. Having priced but small bits of wood like that, I can say that to recreate something like that would be cost-prohibitive today. Nice work.

Pandora said...

Gasp - gorgeous! Wow, that is sooo beautiful. That room is looking so stunning!

St. Blogwen said...

Prolonged applause!

(Thanks for mentioning that shellac is idiot-proof. I'm scared I'll screw up with mixing the color and have been putting off doing mine since August.)

Kate H.
http://www.sowsearhouse.blogspot.com

JtC's House said...

Did you use a brush or sponge to apply your shellac? I am about to shellac a door and window trim. I previously applied shellac on another window trim with a terry cloth-type sponge, and then brushed over with spar varnish, but this time I'll be leaving the final step out so I'm hoping to learn from you so mine will turn out as well as yours:)

Greg said...

I use the small, disposable foam brushes. They are black foam with a short wooden handle. They run between fifty cents and a dollar a piece, depending on the size.

For me, the trick to shellac is don't fool with it. Use long strokes and only brush over it quickly 2 or 3 times, max and then leave it alone. Sand with '0000' steel wool in between coats.

Tarr said...

I am struck dumb with awe. Wonderful work.
Now I want to find and smack silly the person who was able to paint that lovely wood puke green. What were they thinking?

Greg said...

That green was horrid, wasn't it? Unfortunately, they didn't stop with the dining room. They bought that green paint in 5 gallon buckets and slathered it over everything!

The real damage was done long ago, though. There is strong evidence the woodwork was first painted white back in the 50s when the house was majorly Eisenhowered.

slateberry said...

I just googled micro faux graining (hoping to learn more about how to do it) and you were the first hit. And the other hits were about large-scale projects. What do you use for color/paint? a sliver of an artists paint brush and...?

My daughter was looking at these pictures and she pointed at the burl and said, hey, we have some of that in our dining room! Yeah right, like, we have two piddly burl veneer panels on a piece of furniture. Veneer. You have SOLID burl panels all over your room. It's another league. But I didn't want to burst her bubble, so I just said, yeah, isn't it great! and I actually do love my dr furniture, but nothing holds a candle to your dado.