Sunday, July 11, 2010

Practical Psychology

Doing the practical thing is not always good for the psyche. I suppose the inverse of that is true as well, but I'm not concerned with that at the moment. After weeks of work I desperately need a psychological victory. Something that looks done even if it isn't.

The practical thing would have been to finish the woodwork before I painted the walls, but that is weeks away. It is only the baseboards that are up against these walls, and either way, whether I painted now or later, I would have masked the first few feet of wall up from the baseboard.

Yesterday I skim-coated the lower part of the 3 walls in the stairwell. I did the upper walls a week or so ago when I had the scaffolding up. As I predicted then, making the transition from where I left off a few weeks back, to where I started today, was not as easy as if I had done one wall top to bottom.

The other issue was that I was also making the transition from the old plaster to the new plaster. I had to replace all of the plaster on the lower half of the walls before I skim-coat everything. The finish plaster used for skim-coating has about 15 to 20 minute working time on the old plaster, but only a 2 or 3 minute working time on the new plaster. I don't care how much water I spray on the new plaster, as soon as the finish plaster hits it it begins to set up. Working on parts of both types of plaster at once adds another level of difficulty for someone with my level of skill.

Given all of that, the results are good. Not great, but good. I need to work on my corners and edges and I should take more breaks in between walls, as well. For me, skim-coating plaster is the most physically demanding job I do on the house. Especially the new plaster. Twenty minutes in and sweat is just pouring off of me, but I can't stop. It is not like painting or wood work where I can stop at anytime and come back to it. The end results is that the first wall looks better than the last wall.

So next weekend I will skim-coat the foyer. It is a larger space, but really has a lot less plaster than the stairwell. There are 4 doors, including two sets of double doors, so I should have no problem getting it all done next weekend. I'm going to try and get to the mill this week to see about having a few pieces of the stairs reproduced. Some parts are damaged and others are missing. You never know how long that will take, so it is best to start now. If all goes well, in two weeks I will start working on woodwork.


Not quite after, but as it sits

This shot probably best reflects the true color


Anonymous said...

i like the way the molding echoes the color and line of the stair. nice.

Karen Anne said...

That looks unbelievably amazing.

"The finish plaster used for skim-coating has about 15 to 20 minute working time on the old plaster, but only a 2 or 3 minute working time on the new plaster." Why is that?

Greg said...

The old plaster is 100% cured and is not absorbing any moisture. The new plaster is still absorbing moisture at a high rate. If I waited a few weeks or months (?) it might not be an issue, but so soon after the brown coat goes on it is. As soon as the finish plaster hits the new plaster the moisture gets sucked out of it and it becomes the consistency of firm clay.

NV said...

Very, very nice! And, it had to be some consolation to look up and see that big, beautiful, now-in-place ceiling medallion! I know it would go a long way toward consoling me. :-)

Greg said...

Yes, the medallion really does make the space. It was fortuitous that it came up on CL when it did.

Katie said...

I've been reading your blog for a while and the work you've done is amazing. My boyfriend and I bought a house together, last September, and we just moved in at the end of May. It's an old house, 86 years. We gutted it completely and it's amazing to see how a house can tell a story based on what's behind the walls. It was a lot of work, and at times, very discouraging. Throughout the nine months of work that we did here, there was one obstacle after another getting in our way. Luckily, we never had to pay for labor or hire anyone because my boyfriend is an electrician, and everyone in his family specializes in something. As for me, I learned how to do everything. Anyway, through all of the obstacles, your blog kept me motivated and very entertained. Still, we not done yet! We have to put up our stone veneers on the front of the house and reside the rest, while we're in the process of framing out our new addition. It seems like the work never really ends!

Greg said...

Yep, it never ends.

T.R. said...

Excellent work, but I can't say I'm not disappointed with your choice to paint a window frame and sash that wasn't painted previously. :/

Greg said...

Actually, it was painted. That was brown paint. The casing may have been paint over shellac, but the replacement sash were paint on bare wood.