Thomas and Zilpah Ludlam House (ca. 1790)

Thomas and Zilpah Ludlam House (ca. 1790)
Thomas + Zilpah Ludlam House, ca. 1790

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Some days I think it will never be done....

I'm embarassed to see that I haven't posted anything since January, but once the insulation guys and sheetrockers left in mid-February we really kicked it into high gear.  Scott's first task was to frame the doors and windows, then lay the baseboards.  Once the baseboards were in place in the two upstairs rooms, I started painting.  I quickly realized that if I ever wanted to get the addition finished this year, I had to paint full time so I decided to take a few weeks off from work.  I wound up taking 5 weeks off (and I'm still not done!!)

The boxed bay window gives us a great view of the garden.  I just don't know when I'll have time to get things planted out there!  At least the hummingbird feeders are up.

The same view as above, showing the wood wainscott in place.  Stacked in the hallway are more boards to be used on the walls in the hallway and laundry room.

Painted walls and wainscott, finally!!  I still have the back door to prime and paint (seen here on its strap hinges), and this view shows the varnished floor in the laundry room.

This kitchen view shows the cabinets (upper and lower) that Scott made over a year ago!  The floor is varnished, but I still have to paint the front door.  Progress at last.

While I was painting upstairs, Scott and his son Scotty started putting up the board walls on the first floor and in the stairway.  In some places it was easy to do; in others it required some finesse not only to get the boards to fit tightly (Scott put a tongue and groove on them) but to lay them level.  I spent hours and hours priming the boards before they put them up, figuring it would be so much easier to do on sawhorses than on the wall.  I'm so glad I did it that way.  The pine boards had plenty of knots so I used a shellac-based primer, hitting the knots twice on the saw horses, and then again on the walls before I painted them.  I wonder how long it will take the knots to bleed through the paint?

I think I spent $100 alone in masking tape and discovered that some brands work better than others depending on the situation.  The kind made for sensitive (read freshly-painted) surfaces is great and comes off easily, but it is thin and twisty and requires some practice to get it on just the right way.  In other cases, I found the heavier tape easier to put in place.  Sometimes it didn't work as well as I hoped, but I think I probably needed to run my finger along the bottom edge to seal it better. 

Our hopes to have antique flooring for the kitchen and first floor were dashed when we realized that the antique flooring Scott bought a while ago was too soft and when finished (we did a sample board) turned way too dark.  So, we went with the same new hard pine we were using upstairs.  Scott bought several hundred antique cut nails and nailed the floor boards down  like they used to do in the 1700s and 1800s.  I stained the boards (Minwax Special Walnut), then antiqued them a bit with some oil-based glaze mixed with Rustoleum flat black.  I rubbed the glaze into the cracks, blemishes, and around the nails to add some character.  That took more than a few hours, but it really helped their appearance.  I wish now we'd let all of the contractors trample over the floors during the first part of the construction as that certainly would have given them more dents, dings, and scratches.

We went with a water-born varnish made by Benjamin Moore and I'm anxious to see how durable it is.  The varnish was a dream to work with; we rolled it on and brushed it smooth with a natural bristle brush.  No mask needed, although we did have the windows cracked for ventilation.  We re-coated after 4 hours (first sanding, then vacuuming, then wiping with a damp cloth) and let it sit until the next day when we laid the final coat.  The varnish takes 7 days to cure, so as of tomorrow we can walk on it.  I inter-mixed satin finish with semi-gloss, 50-50.

Scott made a heart pine countertop from two joists he had re-sawn; the joists were out of an old school in Lancaster County, PA.  I need to put one more coat of Tung oil on it and I'm really pleased with how it looks. 

Bottom line, the painting is almost done and the varnishing is completely done.  I still have some doors to strip and/or paint, and more than a few touch-ups to do all over the place.

So, we're getting close.  Now we're waiting for the plumber and HVAC guys to come back and finish up their jobs.  The electrician has another 2 days or so hanging the fixtures and it is so rewarding to see it all come together. 

I've ordered the washer and dryer and cannot wait for them to be delivered.   I wonder if my day at the laundromat next week will be my last?