Saturday, May 22, 2010

Shaka, when the walls fell

The last of the plywood is out of the house! The Petch House is now a Plywood Free Zone.

This last batch of plywood was actually labeled as “Interior Grade Plywood”. I think it would be called “A” grade or cabinet grade in today’s lexicon. Still, the idea that plywood would be considered an acceptable interior finish product for anything other than cabinets strikes me as odd. Sounds like a 50s kind of thing. I suppose in a Mid Century Modern home I could see plywood used on walls, but not in a 1895 Victorian.

They certainly were not afraid to use a lot of nails. There was a nail every 3 to 4 inches along the perimeter and then ever 6 to 12 inches in the center. This stuff did not come down with out a fight. It turned out that most of the damage to the plaster behind the plywood was due to a leaky window and not from 80 years of renters banging couches and dressers up and down the stairs. Don’t get me wrong, the couches and dressers took their toll, but water was the real culprit.

You can see the mess I found. That is 3 layers of wallpaper dating back to 1895. I suspect the top layer is 30s or 40s and then after that the plywood went up.

The plaster under the window was little more than a sheet of plaster leaning up against the wall. It is amazing that it didn’t just fall off as soon as I removed the plywood. I think the wallpaper had something to do with keeping up. Can wallpaper be considered structural?

This was a new pattern of wallpaper I had never seen in the house. This is on the second landing, as you go up. It looks like there was a phone mounted on the wall – perhaps a small payphone for the tenants. I know that in 1902 there was a phone in the foyer at the base of the stairs. That is when the house was stilled owed by the Petch Family. It looks like 40s or 50s wallpaper and the papering job is really poorly done. They tried to paper around the phone and the pattern does not match on the right side.

This is the end of day one and as big a mess as I made today, it will be nothing compared to what I need to do tomorrow. Tomorrow I will grind the remainder of the plaster out of the grooves so the new plaster will have a place to go. I use a Rotozip with a plaster bit and a closely held shop vac. I don’t care how strong the shop vac is this just makes a huge mess.

After I get done with the grinding part of the job the rest is down hill. If I’m lucky, and I don’t think I will be, I will finish the grinding tomorrow. If I don’t finish tomorrow I will try to tackle it mid-week so I can begin to plaster next weekend. I think I am 2 weeks away from scaffolding in the stairwell.

Oh joy!


St. Blogwen said...

Oh gosh, that is progress. I stand in awe of your demolition prowess, and the mad plastering skillz that'll soon bring that stairhall back to life.

I had a rectangular spot like that in my first floor hall, on the stringer board, I suppose you could call it, on the outside of my stairs. And holes in the woodwork where the wires would have gone through. It was a good place for a phone, actually.

Kate H.

Karen Anne said...

What a lot of progress!

Also, it makes me feel better about the current in progress state of my house :-)

There are nails like that sticking out into the interior on all the walls in my garage, holding the exterior shingles on. Slowly I am getting pegboard cut and covering up that death trap.

My previous house had clapboard on the garage, and no scary giant nails sticking through, so I wonder why they were used that way in this garage. On the other hand, the builder of this house was flamingly incompetent.

I'm nostalgic for our phone in it's little phone cubby when I was growing up. One phone for the whole house.

priscilla said...

Love the dogwood wallpaper. Really.
Good luck.