Friday, November 27, 2009

Plaster, finally.


Not my house, clearly.

Long ago I mentioned my plaster problem. My walls are plaster, but not the good kind. The have little plaster zits (placne?) thanks to the plaster guy way back when pulling up on the trowell thingy and leaving little peaks and valleys all over the walls. It's like really expensive popcorn ceiling.

I've finally hired a plaster guy to come fix the walls. He's totally crazy. Like, maybe certifiable. He's Irish. He kept telling me, in his charming accent, that the job will cost $2500, but, "It will probabaly come in at half that." Okaaaaay. Well, then, let's pick a number? Can we do that? His total insanity finally proved victorious and I did what I never do. I was like, "Ok, fine. Show up on Monday," without settling on a final price. So, who knows what this will cost, but I am pretty sure it will be worth every penny, because I recently framed a bunch of maps and prints and I am dying to get them up on the walls, but taking that step to finally have things framed just made it worse. They look great but they make the walls look even worse.

Every project in my house is like dominos. I start thinking I want new floors, but then I realize I should fix the ceilings first before all that shit comes crashing down on newly stained wood, for example. And then I am like, well, before the floors, we should probably paint. Everything is like pulling a thread on a sweater.

I think this is why I am like, Whatever Crazy Irish Dude, just come fix the walls. Because I have to start somewhere.

Do you have a project you're eager to start, but it's held up by some other contingent task? I am eager to hear about this. I feel like I have made the slowest progress on my house and it's kind of turning me into a crazy person. And crazy likes company, so spill the beans.

(Oh, and after next week's plaster adventure, we ARE finally getting the popcorn off the ceiling upstairs, and then we are pulling up the carpet to see if we can re-finish, or if we need to do something drastic, like paint the floors white. Either way, we are finally making progress on that front. No word yet, though, in getting the toilet out of the tub. I thought that would be next, but that's going to be a spring project now. My birthday gift to my better half. Those contractors scared me off with their $40k bid.)

32 comments:

Iheartfashion said...

All plasterers are insane. It's a fact.
As for projects, it's always like unravelling a sweater, especially in old houses which are the only kind I've ever had. You hire an electrician to rewire a fixture and the next thing you know they're telling you that your house has Victorian-era knob and tube wiring that all has to come out, and then the walls have to be redone, which messes up the floors, etc etc. We ripped up ugly wall to wall carpet in one house to find that the previous owners had nailed the carpet directly onto the beautiful old wood floor beneath. There were so many nails there was no way to refinish it, so we painted it red. It looked great in the end.

Anonymous said...

Darling Decorno, there's this one post with a picture of your house with a caption about shrubbery and ripping it out. I believe the post was about washing windows.

My apartment is the first floor of a house that is nearly identical to yours, and from 3,000 miles away, I assure you that I have the same problem with placne. Also, I have the black and "white" version of your upstairs bathroom.


It makes me wish I wasn't 22 and in no way able to buy my place. Because man, I would love to give my apartment some real love. Real, honest to goodness, bathroom renovation, no more placne, no more nasty old kitchen that smells wonky no matter what LOVE.

-elaine and sarah's token lesbian

Anonymous said...

$40k for a bathroom? Preposterous. Everything really does cost more in Seattle.

Shelley said...

That is a very loaded question for a dweller in a old home! I must begin by telling you that the home I live in is very beautiful, built in 1921 a colonial style home with tons of light and beautiful columns in a historic part of town. It IS my DREAM home. However, the previous owner had a fascination with the 80's, and not the 80's that's back in, the brassy, southwestern pink mixed with emerald green and mauve roes wallpapers, trashy wallpaper everywhere! (I despise both depictions of the 80's by the way, and can't wait to start ripping that stuff down!) However, I, too, am perplexed with plaster walls, and a major plumbing project that will require a complete tear out of all three bathrooms in the house as well as a ripping out of the walls and ceiling that are already marred with tacky wallpaper. So, the question is, do I actually go through all the work of ripping down wallpaper, fixing walls, painting and adding details, just to have to rip it all down? Or, do I wait for the 40-50K plumbing and bathroom project to do it for me? As it is right now...that plumbing project is 3 to 4 years away, but it pains me to think, all that work would be destroyed anyway!

THE BRICK HOUSE said...

oh yeah, that's the story of our renovation.

can't paint till we do a roof with new flashing, can't do front window treatments till we build out the porch, can't do landscaping till we do the driveway, can't build a gate till driveway, can't let the dog roam freely till we build a gate is done and on and on and on.

SO awful. Plus we can't really afford to the BIG projects...and the small ones keep adding up.

We've got more time than money.

David said...

The house we just bought was owned by a 90 year-old woman who'd lived here since 1954. She raised 4 children in the house, was not an especially good housekeeper, and apparently never once saw the need to repair anything. Electrical service is 60 amp with a fuse box, some switches are taped in place, which we assume means not to flip them. When the master bath sink and toilet stopped working, they moved her to one of the front bedrooms. That was the fix.

We've had the outside painted (check out my green!), wood rot repaired, and windows reglazed in an effort to defend the house from winter. Inside, wallpaper comes down with either liner paper or skim coat or both. Floors are old unfinished (but heavily soiled) hardwood. All plumbing fixtures, working or not, are from 1952. We can use the purple or blue toilets, the pink one is the one that the stack is shot on. We need everything, and havent a fucking clue where to start.

snobertson said...

Spray bottle of water and a scraper for the ceiling and it's done. Almost instant rewards for really satisfying work, promise.

And just got back from NYC, Salt was awesome, I'll update more later.

Anonymous said...

Wow, really? Be careful what you wish for. For starters, I'm writing this on my toilet, which to sit on I have to roll up my pants cuffs first because some mysterious leak has soaked the rug that is BOLTED to the floor around the toilet, only I don't want to pressure my landlord about the leak right now because I first want him to bolster the back room ceiling which is sagging precariously and threatens to collapse, which would mean raining down whatever refuse the rats I hear running around up there have piled up over the past couple of years. The punch line is that I refer to this as my soulmate apartment, and I will challenge anyone to a duel who questions my love for it.

So, yeah. Crazy. Amor fou.

Anonymous said...

Every project on an old house can create new (exciting!) projects. Painting a little guest room can lead one to notice the bow in the ceiling, which can lead to having rip out the old heating coils in said ceiling to reach timbers that have separated from wall which can lead to bouts of crying and hyperventilating. You can do it right from the beginning and fix the problem, or you can head down to your local Rite Aid to look for the $5.99 bottle of Merlot. Guess which option I'm choosing?

shelly said...

If crazy Irish guy doesn't work out I know a really good plaster guy in the Seattle area, he's fast, fussy...and nice.
Not doing Black Friday here, doing "Bash Friday"...can't stand those stupid plaster cracks any more...smashing it off the walls and taking off the lath...all the way to the studs.

Theresa Cheek said...

yes, you can remove the popcorn ceiling with a spray bottle of water and a scraper....be sure to wear a mask and goggles as the early stuff had asbestos in it. I do this for a living, painting, mudding, doing murals, patching holes.....and yes, most good plaster guys ARE crazy!

the quarter rat said...

$2.5k sounds pretty good for new skim-coat, at least by NOLA standards (then again, we all have 12'-14') ceilings.

One word of caution: plasterers are all squirrelly. It probably won't cost that much more than his estimate, but it will take twice as long as he says, not counting disappearances. After plumbers, my best building-trade stories involve plasterers.

susan said...

I don't even own my small bungalow, but everytime I get a wild hair to replace/ repurpose move around a piece of furniture, it's a trickle down effect. Example- got new art for my birthday; boyfriend asks- when/ where are you going to hang it? Answer? First I have to finish refinishing the bar thats going to go on the wall where the bookcase is, and then I have to move the bookcase to the hallway and then call the electrician to move the light fixture, and then move the trunk in the hallway to the study, but first I have to finish redoing the study and get rid of the guest bed and get that midcentury platform sofa from my dad's office 100 miles away. THEN i can redo all the art in the living room and hang my two new pieces of art.

Something like that? Every home has it's contraints!!! BTW I am channeling you as I prepare for a month long journey to France, India and Amsterdam and keep reminding myself of your brilliant packing post - and to follow similar aesthetic/ minimalist principles! I may need professional Decorno packing help!

Amanda Calhoun said...

I bought a house with plaster walls... every room has knockdown (previous owners answer to re-plastering) augh. I just paint it and deal with it.
Have to also re-side this mess and build a garage and put up a fence but really I want to go to Europe.

Kelly@TearingUpHouses said...

I hear you. About the plaster AND the cascading project effect...

Kelly

Anonymous said...

One thing I always relished about "Grey Gardens"--in a way, the two ladies were right. All that matters is sitting out on the deck, watching the ocean, smelling the hot sand, and feeling the sun on your shoulders. Let the house fall down around you. I can see the wisdom in that philosophy.

LB said...

What is the picture on the wall? I like it but I can't tell what it is.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I love plaster walls and have learned to respect the crazy folk who can fix them. I lived in a pre-war NYC apartment for 12 years and almost every beautiful, solid wall had to be redone. it's worth it. Now, I am in a house with the endless cascading projects. I am learning to just say feckit and do what I can do... On the other hand, I desperately need a new shower liner in the master bath. But to take it out means new tiling, a needed new shower door, new tile in the remainder of the bath...Sigh.

MoreSkinnyDays said...

In 2005 we remodeled a 1979 lightless brown wood monstrosity into a white Spanish re-revival with wood windows, furred walls, solid walnut floors, and coved ceilings ... exterior and upstairs only. So while the hardscape, landscape, exterior, and second floor is spectacular, the first floor still has a 1979 kitchen, half bath, and bar--not to mention hideously filthy berber carpet, brown square ceramic tile kitchen floor, and cheap oak cabinetry.

The rail-less dirty carpet stairs leading to gorgeous are the biggest eyesore, but continuing the wrought iron railing from upstairs requires completion of the steps and risers. Completion of the steps and risers doesn't make sense without continuing the same paver tiles to the floor downstairs.

The floors cannot be replaced until the kitchen is remodeled, because remodeling the kitchen will thrash the new tile floors. In theory we could start by remodeling the half bath and bar, but nobody will do a half bath and bar remodel only without the kitchen remo payday.

I cannot fathom putting in a light fixture above the dining room table until the remodel is complete, let alone reframe and hang art. The dining room table is only a four-top, which we cannot replace until the remodel is complete. Poor lighting at this point is mostly a blessing, as is inadequate seating. So for the time being we're making excuses for not entertaining more than a couple and I am perfecting a vin d'orange and vegetarian chili to serve by the firepit ... outside. Which is cool, I live in LA ...

DesignAddict said...

Oh, my dear, I too suffer. I would love to re-do my sun porch, but have yet to decide if I am going to absorb some part of it for my family room...so both sit, waiting. Also, beware of what my grandmother called, the "Curse-out" problem: once one thing is fixed, everything around it looks just that more tired and worn. I have fallen victim to that as well: just ask my dining room after my kitchen was done. Sad, sad, sad.

PS For Penelope: I have come out of hiding...you can call me "cozy living room."

Anonymous said...

I have some of that yucky plaster too. I'm curious...how, exactly, is he going to fix it?

And how did you find this dude? Under "plaster repair"??

Decorno said...

I got a recommendation from someone at work.

hello gorgeous said...

My plaster guy is 50-ish and lives with his mom so he's kind of creepy. But he likes me and he does everything for $400. He is so inexpensive. His dad and grandfather were plasterers. Although the last job he did wasn't as good as usual and resulted in my wallpaper guy walking off the job because he was insulted that I had my own plaster guy to repair the giant holes left in the walls by the idiot electrician.

Sigh.

Elissa said...

yeah, that sounds familiar. We want to insulate our attic, but the wiring in our house is old and I don't feel comfortable burying it in something soft and fluffy and flammable, so then we have to hire an electrician, that we can't really afford right now, so in the meantime I have a hole with wires hanging out of my bedroom ceiling. Lovely.

Anonymous said...

I had all of the walls in my house repaired a few years ago. Then I forged ahead with the rest of the renovations which included a master bedroom addition. Now there are cracks in almost every wall as a result of all of the other work. Get crazy man to teach you how to repair a crack in the plaster. I hang large artworks over the really bad spots.

Sara@hip-e said...

My house is the same damn way. It is seriously annoying. My kitchen is the latest thing I am trying to tackle. BUT I have to redo the plumbing first which is gonna cost a shit load of money. Ugh. If it's not one thing it is another. Why can't I be rich and just gut and redo the whole frickin thing?!

Lolo said...

Every single project in our home is like that, a thread that leads to a maxxive ball of fucked up. It's a big reason why I spend more time on my garden than my house.

www.betterhomenogarden.com said...

You and my husband should get together. We have the same plaster problem and it drives him crazy and the paint looks sh*tty. I'm like, whatever. We're moving in two years.

mri said...

So far I've had the bathroom door with a hole in it that was repaired with contact paper. The valance rod that was glued onto the ceiling with snot and zip tied to the other curtain rod. The caulk veil over the entire bathroom wall (tiled or not). The mold farm masquerading as a bathroom vanity and the stacked washer/dryer closet full of the previous owner's hair and lint (no lint trap cup on dryer vent). The lint trap inside the dryer looked like a compost receptacle for more hair and lint. The previous owner also left a desk chair in the unit with wheels that were so clogged with her hair I could swear she was a wookie. Last weekend I was on my hands and knees scrubbing what looked like tar spots off the nice laminate floor. I just trashed a light fixture because she had gotten so much paint in it that you couldn't remove the glass cover or the bulb. There are still more joys to come but I am finished painting for now and, thankfully, it looks really nice. I've only owned it since summer but due to a combination of work, family illness, and work I'm still not moved in!

Anonymous said...

arghhh...so true on pulling the thread of a sweater. my projects have come to a halt for this very reason...plus a very upside down mortgage! is it insane to put money into a very small yet loved home when one may never, ever sell it for the mortgage price? and once i do decide to have the cast iron tub refinished, the laundry list has barely a dent. luckily, i do have fabulous plaster. for now.
good luck with that.

Lady Blue said...

OMG... Dominos... that's a great way to put it. I feel like that sometimes about my life. Fortunately I'm 21.. and just overeager.

I love this blog! I get ideas for my future home.

rain girl said...

I think I will just send you an email.

Ya, the list of my issues is THAT long.

Ya, am a crazy fan.