Friday, September 18, 2009

The Renovation Continues

Now that the exterior entry steps and foyer have been renovated, attention is focused on the interior stairs. The stairs leading to my basement workshoop and laundry room were squeaky and really ugly due to layers of paint and who-knows-what that had accumulated with previous owners. There were gaps between the treads and risers that allowed dirt to fall through into the room below. All these steps were removed and replaced. Unfortunately my camera was down in the basement and I was trapped on the upper floor unable to retrieve it during the construction process so the only photo I was able to take was after it was all done (aoove right). Next order of business...the main run of stairs leading to the upper bedrooms.

The main stairway was the focus of my attention last year when I set about to stripping them of no less than four layers of paint. My intention was to expose the original wood grain and varnish them. What I discovered was that those multiple layers of paint were not only hiding dangerous cracks but the house had settled so much that the treads no longer fit properly into the risers, allowing them to shift. Essentially all that old paint was holding the stairs together. When I stripped it off, the real deterioration began. One tread had actually cracked completely from end to end and was being held in place by a couple of mending strips and a few screws in an attempt to prevent someone falling right through the stairs. Most of the treads and risers in this run of steps had to be replaced. As with most renovation projects it was noisy and messy but it was finally completed.

It took four days to complete the entire series of stairs, interior and exterior, in my home. I wonder how long its going to take me to clean up and put everything back in place.

Ballo ergo sum,
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fixer Upper

Every year we try to renovate something in the house. It might be a large project like last year's new fence and new garden shed, or it could be something as simple as rescreening the windows. This year we're tackling a number of projects, all of which have to do with the major thoroughfares within our home: the stairways. The brick entry stairs that lead to my front door were old and showing their age. The many cracks and openings in the mortar had allowed ants and termites to enter our house over the years, not to mention it was a shabby entry to our home. Those steps were removed and replaced yesterday with new brick steps and limestone treads.

Today the tiny foyer between the front door and the living room was given a new floor. The floor that was there when we bought the house 19 years ago was old, dark and cracking around the edges. As long as the brickwork on the front steps was being done, we decided to have the foyer tiled at the same time. We already had the materials and only needed the labor. Having a mason already onsite greatly simplified that. When he removed the old top layer he found that the underneath layer was of ceramic tile. It had been given a coat of black tar-like adhesive and tiled over with regular floor tiles. Those floor tiles were removed and new marble tiles were placed right over the old ceramic ones. These tiles have the irregularities of the mother marble in them (in other words they are not polished), giving them a rustic, aged character.

The next order of business is the main stairway to the upper story of our home. These stairs have settled, cracked and have threatened to give way under our feet for far too long and repair is mandatory. The smaller stairway that leads to the basement has also seen better days and is scheduled for repair.

The original renovation contract stipulated that all the work (brickwork, tile work and carpentry) was to have been completed over two calendar days but the materials vendor for the wood to be used on the stairs was unable to deliver in time. Bottom line: my two day schedule is now a four day schedule that includes this Saturday and Sunday. This complicates matters somewhat because the entire family will be home all day as opposed to being out at school or work, so there will be a lot more in the way of inconvenience happening this weekend. No matter. In a few days it will be over and things will settle back to normal, whatever that is in this household.

Here are a few pictures of the work done on the front steps and the interior foyer. With the number of repairs needed in this old house I feel these repairs are like placing a bandage on a bullet wound but I'll take my blessings wherever and whenever they come.

Ballo ergo sum,
- Gitana, the Creative Diva