Thursday, December 18, 2008

Pre-christmas construction!

Gosh, but it's gotten quiet around here lately! I've been swamped getting ready for the house full of people we'll be getting over Christmas. Dusting, vacuuming and meal planning is all well and good, but it's not inspirational (well, maybe thinking about menus is...). Plus, the news hasn't been motivating me to spring over to the keyboard to participate in the discussion -- I can't get worked up one way or another about the idea of a Senator Caroline Kennedy (I'd like to see the job go to someone who's done some dues-paying, but I think she'll probably do a good job -- and if she doesn't, New Yorkers can vote for someone else in two years). And I'm not stirred to action over the news that Rick Warren will pray -- or something -- at the inauguration (yeah, the guy can be a douche, but Obama's right -- if we're all going to try to get along, we're going to have to try to get along).

But I do have some pictures of the fun we had last week, fixing a sinking, cracking wall in our circa 1914 house...

Here's the problem. The wall was sinking, and the corners cracking.

Down lower on the living room side of the wall, the problem was especially pronounced.

The dining room side of the wall was also pretty messed up.

So, we've got these guys, and they're basically magicians. They do all kinds of astounding things for us around the house (like installing the new dishwasher I bought on an impulse last week). This is just the latest adventure. It was a long process that involved many, many steps. The first one was to jack up the wall, not only to stop the sinking, but also to return it, as much as possible, to its former position. This was a multi-day procedure, since you can't hurry a wall. You twist the jacks just a little bit each day, so as to avoid getting the walls all angry. (Do not poke the bear.)

Once that was settled (which probably took 4 or 5 days), the damage had to be repaired. This was the most alarming step in the process, because it involved breaking off all the plaster that was sticking out and not lined up properly. It actually made the walls kinda look like we had lived through the Blitz in London.

Then the guys stopped up the cracks with some gauzy tape to give it a stable backing for the plaster, and added a metal corner support to give the wall joint definition. And again, this was a multi-day process, because the walls needed to be plastered, dried, sanded, washed and plastered again -- I think three different times. But as you can see, the results were amazing.

Once the plastering was done and dried, I did the painting. I took some chunks of the plaster we had broken off to have the paint matched and they managed to recreate the color perfectly -- but unfortunately, not the finish. We started out with a satin texture, but it was too shiny. We dropped it down to an eggshell finish, but that was still too shiny. Then we dropped it down to a flat finish, and that wasn't shiny enough -- no matter which finish we used, it contrasted with the old paint. Gah. And I don't have time to mess with it anymore, so come January, I suppose I'll be repainting both rooms in their entirety. Wheee! Fun winter project! ;-D

The best part of the job was a day or two later, when the guys came back to see how it had turned out (and to trade some couches, but that's a whole other story) and ended up staying for dinner. We all sat up late, drinking way too much wine and having a fabulous time in rooms with absolutely gorgeous walls and flawless corners.


bobw said...

sweet. well done.

Buck said...

If those walls could talk they would probably be singing Hosannah right now! They do look great.