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And the B Side Winner Is……..

YouTube, How to Restore a Wood Door!  I cannot be more thrilled, elated, excited, by how well the back side of the door turned out using only the method described in that video.  I get save the stripper for the two doors that were painted.

I started out by pouring some of the denatured alcohol in a plastic dish, so I wouldn’t have to keep holding the awkward can.  Using a fresh piece of steel wool the first pass on the door immediately went through the thick, glossy build-up.  This door had paint splatter on it and even with pressure scrubbing it was not coming off.  I ended up taking a metal scraper to carefully remove it.

Each time I dunked my steel wool in the dish and went back to the door the area I scrubbed got gummier and gummier, almost as if it was re-staining itself.  I quickly took some paper towels and started blotting up the excess.  That revealed some very smooth clean areas and some gummy areas.  I was perplexed, but determined not to pull out the stripper.

I decided to get a fresh piece of steel wool and go back to pouring fresh alcohol on it and sure enough that did the trick.  The entire door eventually, it took about 20-30 minutes, had a nice smooth surface and as the video states it looked cloudy/dry.

Using my same Restor-a-Finish rag from yesterday, I wiped the entire door and WOW that door came alive and honestly could pass for new.  I let it dry for about an hour and came back and applied the boiled linseed oil, with the same rag from yesterday.  I let that sit, thick, about 10-15 minutes and then wiped the excess off with a clean rag.20180108_010406


The change seems subtle in these two picks, but in person it is amazing.  Of course I turned the door back over and was so underwhelmed by the side that will be exposed that I decided to give it another coat of Restor-a-Finish and BAM!, that did the trick.  I think the coat of linseed oil opened up the pores, so that second coat of finish really had an impact helping to darken the lighter spots caused by the stripping.    Can you tell the difference between the two sides?  I can’t wait to bring another door to the basement.

I’m also planning a trip to Chicago to visit the Rebuilding Exchange.  Their website looks amazing.  They have 76 Flicker pages of salvaged material.  I saw several built-in dressers (already sold) that were more like what I hoped that piece of crap dresser I got from EBTH (beware of that site, I’m one and done) was going to be.  I’m selling it on Ebay in hopes of recouping some of my money.

Baby It’s Cold Inside

It is so cold in my house that the bottles of water I have for drinking are frozen solid.  I thought with the box gutters repaired, sealing the gaping holes to outside, the house would retain some sense of warmth.  WRONG!  I went to take some quick measurements for the master bathroom tile and within 30 minutes my finger tips were numb under double gloves.

It is also freezing in the garage of my current house.  I bought a propane heater that does nothing to heat the garage, so my basement has once again been transformed into a workshop and I’ve started reviving the doors.  I could have called this post “The Tell of Two Methods”.  Some of the doors have graffiti on them and weeks ago I was at Ace Hardware in Clifton and asked about removing graffiti from wood doors and I was advised I’d need to strip and sand.  I was at Woodcraft to get epoxy for my stain glass window frame and they recommended Star 10 Stripper, which I immediately went home and tried.


Almost instantly the graffiti wiped away, so I thought I have my game plan, strip, sand, stain, poly, re-hang.  BUT then my dad sent me a YouTube video (I told you YouTube is a DIYers best friend) that showed how to restore a salvage door.  They made an old door look new in a an hour with denatured alcohol, steel wool, and Restor-a-Finish.  I had to give it a try, so I started with the door I tested the stripper on.

Turns out the alcohol also removes graffiti, with some scrubbing effort and more time, but it does not remove the finish.  Unfortunately my stripper test area stood out, so I decided it would be best to strip this side of the door.  Since it is obvious the stain on this door is deeply embedded I am absolutely NOT sanding any of the doors.  After applying and quickly scrapping off the stripper, I went over the door again with the alcohol and steel wool.




20180106_144248The door looked amazing at that point, so I could not wait to rub on the Restor-a-Finish.  Ebony Brown is the darkest color they make.  It’s hard to tell from the picture to the right of the can, but the door did look less dry after a coat of the Restor-a-Finish.  My plan to poly was negated due to the instructions on the can stating to not apply polyurethane on top of the product.  Instead they recommended following with their wax product.


I didn’t buy the wax product, so instead I wiped the door with Boiled Linseed Oil.  Oh my goodness, like lotion on an ashy body that door brightened up and looks absolutely 20180106_182737beautiful.  You can see all the “weathered” imperfections that are the norm for a 94-year-old door.  I can definitely see where the stripper had more time to process in certain areas (they are lighter), so I probably won’t buy the Star 10 again.  If I do decide to do this hybrid practice of stripping, alcohol, and Restor-a-Finish on the other doors, than I will find and use a less potent/fumey stripper.

I’ll give tonight to let this side dry and tomorrow I’ll work on the other side trying only the alcohol and Restor-a-Finish process.  I suspect I will need to strip the shiny finish off, but now that I know I won’t have to deal with sanding and staining I’m thrilled.

This door was the original door at the base of steps leading to the attic space.  It is the exact size of the entry foyer closet door that was damaged beyond repair, so once I figure out how to change the swing you’re looking at the new entry foyer door.  This is the outer side of the door, so no hiding any mistakes or flaws.

One thing I’ve learned for sure is cleaning up the floor moulding and door/window trim is going to be a piece of cake.

Demo, the Remix

My original game plan was to demo everything down to the studs.  Someone suggested that I could drywall over the plaster on the ceilings in the process of the first demo, so I altered course and left the ceiling in the dining room, majority of living room, 1st floor hall and one of the bedrooms (future office).  On the inside walls I left the lathe from approximately 30″ and up.

Well turns out that was not a good move.  The HVAC company, who has started running ducts, needed access to more joist in the non-demoed ceilings and walls.  With the high 40s/low 50s temps of last week I completed all the demo.  Cameron and his brother-in-law brought the muscle.  Fresh from my dumpster lesson I tried Whitton Containers this time.  Still not a great experience, but at least I didn’t get over charged.  I was supposed to have a Wednesday morning delivery.  It showed about 2pm (the other company did the same thing), but they knocked $50 off the price (unlike the other company).  I think they all have a racquet to get over.  Whitton told me they only had a 15 yard available, but it allowed up to 12 tons.  Well I hoped that would be enough space, but I knew weight would not be an issue.  I took a different route to the house on Thursday and low and behold I stumbled across a lot jammed packed with Whitton dumpsters.  Many larger than the 15-yard that was my “only option”.  I went from a 40 yard with low weight allowance to a 15 yard with a high weight allowance.  Something is wrong with that picture.

My dad urged me to remove all lathe and just add it back to the vertical studs were needed for the walls with doors or windows.  I took his suggestion in most areas.  No video or action shots.  Just photos of the finished product.  The other advantage to removing everything is the access I gained to even more of the knob and tubs I need to clear out.  Amazing to see how that house was wired and even more amazing that it never burned down.

I’m so ready to start rebuilding.


She’s Got Even More Curb Appeal Now

My first major “sunk cost” expense was repairing the box gutters.  They where 100% rotten.  I could literally see the outside from inside in both the front and back through the area that should have been closed off by the gutters.  Ricky the racoon and his family (before the trees were cut) had free rein in my attic space (I had the paw prints, poop, and pee stains to prove it) because the gutters basically didn’t exist.  The foundation problems with the house can be directly blamed on the gutters, which for years has allowed water to punish the foundation due to missing or non-functioning downspout.

I got several quotes and decided to go with Fusion Roofing.  They provided three references that I drove by.  I actually got to speak to one of them as she was pulling in their driveway as I was looking at her house.  She was pleased with the work and cost, but warned to get the exact work to be done in writing as the crew will only do what was written.  I also found another on my own.  I checked their online reviews, Google in this case, and was able to locate a person who raved not only about Fusion, but specifically about Randy Rupp, the person that actually did his work.

I asked a bunch of questions and Coy Baker put everything we discussed in writing.  While the crew did everything that was in writing, I did not find they stuck only with that script.  I felt Randy and his crew went over and beyond and made appropriate adjustments based on what they found.  I also requested, and they honored, that they install a 2×8, 16′ piece of pressure treated lumber in the section that is directly over the front porch.  They even painted with the same primer they put on the gutters for me, so it wouldn’t stand out.  This will allow me to add the pergola I have planned with ease in the future.

Check out this video I made of the crew in action: Box Gutter Restoration

My house is really starting to transform.  I’m getting so used to looking at the asbestos tile siding that I’m actually considering keeping it and just paint the house.  I hate the thought of putting vinyl siding on her and I fear that if I remove the tiles and the original cedar shingles are missing in many areas or beyond repair I’ll be forced to go with vinyl.  Unfortunately my budget has no room for James Hardie Siding, a material I’d love to use.

Today I Do Floors

Temps in the high 40s and holiday shut down for most of my clients means this is a good week to work at my house.  Per my dads suggestion I have decided to remove more of the lathe and add the furring strips where needed directly to the vertical studs.  I decided to focus on the upstairs as I’d really like to get that area completed (as far as what I can do) and drywall ready.  Part of that is laying flooring in the new linen closet.  I’m daunted by that task, so for the last two days I decided to repair the floors in the master bedroom area.  That area is part of the quote I received from my floor guy.  There was a whole left from the 20171106_133211.jpgremoval of the radiator and in between two boards there was a huge gap from where one board had a good chunk missing.  I forgot to take before pictures, but this one allows you to see the gap (see bottom, towards left of pic).


Now a normal person who has never patched a wood floor would probably start in the linen closet, which for the most part will be seldom seen and behind a closed-door.  I’m not normal.  I decided to start with a repair that is in the middle of a room and in full sight at all times.  No worries, I have been armed with an abundance of Rehab Addict episodes where @NicoleCurtisRehabAddict repairs hardwood floors in far worse shape than mine and several viewings of YouTube video from This Old House “How to Patch Strip Flooring“.  If I must say so myself, I didn’t do too bad.

I am still daunted by the linen closet and I’m going to get a quote from my flooring guy for him to do it (that wasn’t part of his original quote as at the time there was no plan for a linen closet in that area and I had hoped the floor would have been continued behind the wall that was removed).  I weigh time and money in most things I do.  It took me about 6 hours to patch that small section of floor.  My favorite quote in describing my skill set when people ask me to do projects for them is “I’m not proficient, so I’m not efficient”.  It may be worth saving my time and paying the expert.  I’m glad I tried it and at least know that in a pinch I can again.  I can’t wait to get the water on so I can mop these floors to get an even better sense of what they will look like.  My friend Joan shared some pics of a business in OTR that took epoxy resin and filled imperfections in their flooring.  Even with the patch there are a few areas upstairs I will need to do that and definitely some areas in kitchen.

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You don’t know, what you don’t know. BUT once you know don’t repeat mistakes.

Weeks after Demo Days I received two additional invoices (actually receipts because they kept my credit card on file and charged it) from Budget Dumpster for overage on my dumpsters.  The first weighed in at over 9 tons, so they charged me an additional $257.50 for being over the 5 ton limit.  The second dumpster was over 12 tons, so they charged me an additional $359.50.  In essence by using this rip-off dumpster BROKER company I paid for three dumpsters.

Here is why I say rip-off.  On their website, when I typed in my zip code, it states that a 40 yard construction dumpster has a weight limit of 20000 lbs.  At the time I did not do the math to realize that equates to 10 tons.  When I spoke to the person I was told the dumpster had a 5 ton limit and this was placed on my receipt.  I made it clear to the person that I was doing demo at a house, removing plaster and lathe.  They did not make it clear to me that they were only a broker and never told me that the actual company delivering the dumpster was limited to 5 tons even though their website states 10 tons.  I had no idea the weight involved with demoing, so had no reason to question the 5 ton limit  Actually I did, but their suggestion was increasing from a 30 to 40 yard dumpster, the largest and most expensive.  I hoped one would be enough.  We completely filled two of them.

As for the company that actually delivered the dumpster, Best Hauling, I called them directly and told them the project and they immediately said they don’t handle that weight limit and referred me to another company.  What is interesting to me is they had no problem picking up the overweight dumpsters, so it makes me wonder if they are part of the bait and switch scheme of Budget Dumpster.  If 5 tons was truly their limit after they picked up the first dumpster they should/could have said it surpassed the weight limit and not provided a second.

I’ve filed a dispute with my credit card company after speaking with Budget Dumpster’s billing department, which refused to void the charges.  They claim they have audio recordings of my being told of the limit (I don’t dispute that) and that it was also on my receipt.

Based on my dad’s suggestion I have decided to remove the ceilings I left in place in three of the rooms, so more demo in my future.  What won’t be in my future is Budget Dumpster and I hope this posting saves anyone else that may come across this company as they broker country-wide. @budget.dumpster, @budgetdumpster, #budgetdumpterRIPOFF!!!

To Keep the Door or Leave the Stairway Exposed, that is the question????

20171119_143938Today, while my framing tutorial from my dad was still fresh on my mind, I set out to build the frame for the new door I purchased to increase the opening leading up to the master suite.  As I mentioned in the Doors, Doors, Doors post, I’ve hit my head several times coming down the stairs, so I was excited when I found this 30″ wide door at Building Valu that would give me additional head room.

However, after I removed the lathe and existing frame from above the current door opening I am having serious second thoughts about having a door at all.  By losing the door I gain about 20″ in additional height.  I will also gain about 3″ in additional width if I remove the existing frame sides.

Since starting my blog I have had over 2,000 hits and I have 27 followers, so I’m going to ask for opinions.  Should I have a door to close off the master suite or should I leave it open.  Sorry, I never took a picture to show the opening with the door.  The best picture to see the opening with the lathe is the Open Concept post (look on the left side of pic).  Without the door those steps, once refinished, would be worth showing off and the natural light from the window at the top of the stairs would cascade down.  Plus I gain wall space.  I’d probably never have the door closed.  One thought to have it is to filter out noise from house guest.  At my age any house guest I’d have wouldn’t make excessive noise.  Privacy isn’t an issue because you can’t see into the master suite from the bottom of the steps.  Sooooo, unless I can be given some serious arguments for keeping it, I think the answer is………leave the stairway exposed.


I’ve Been Framed

From Saturday, November 25 – Thursday, November 30 my dad and I set out to get all the framing done at my house.  People ask me all the time how did I learn to do the DIY stuff I do?  Well most of it I learned from watching my dad.  Working with my dad is usually not a fun experience.  He lacks patience, does not always give concise and clear direction/instructions, and a question is almost always viewed as “questioning”, which is a cardinal sin.  However, years ago I heard God gave us two eyes, two ears, and one mouth for a reason.  Although it is difficult to always keep my mouth shut I watch and listen to what he does and from that I’ve developed some pretty great DIY skills.  As with my deck project from several years ago, my Dad’s skills and knowledge saved me $1000’s in contractor fees and for that I’m grateful.  I will still need to finish the back wall of the linen closet (floor must be laid first) and I laid the sub floor in the first floor bath the day after he left, but credit for my ability to do so clearly lies with him.


My old house gave my dad fits.  Current wall studs are spaced inconsistently, floor joist aren’t level or sag, but he was bound and determined that his walls and floors would be plum and straight and by golly they are.  Thankfully everyday we were joined by at least one member of my demolition crew (Cameron, John, Jermaine, Greg and/or newcomer Anthony).  Hopefully they learned a few things during their time with him.  Unfortunately I don’t have any pics showing Cameron, Jermaine, and Anthony sistering the floor joist in the basement, but thank you Jonathon Scott and @PropertyBrothers.  Originally we were going to remove all the compromised joist (which were true 2 bys) and replace them with double, modern, 2x10s, but Drew had similar problems at his Honeymoon house and Jonathan sistered his. My dad said that was a much easier fix.  The original joists were seriously bowed, but the sistered beams are perfectly leveled to each other thanks to his diligence.20171201_120047

While they were struggling to jack the joist in place (we channeled our inner @ChipGaines using a car jack) I worked upstairs in my master suite removing the pine floor from the “wet area” of the bathroom and laying sub floor.  I’ll be able to use that pine flooring to patch other areas in the house (also like Chip Gaines from the shotgun house), including completing the flooring in the new linen closet.


The most fun for me was getting to use my new framing nailer and Jobmax tool.  I don’t know if it was because I tensed up preparing for the kick back after pulling the trigger, but I am more sore in the shoulders from working on framing than I was doing the demo swinging a crowbar.  Here are more pics of the latest milestone.


Open Concept Achieved

My dad (and my General Contractor) is in town for Thanksgiving, so I have two weeks to get things over my skill set done at the house before he leaves for his annual trip to Asia.  The goal is to get all the framing done, replace the bad floor joist in the basement, reinstall the floor in the 1st floor bath, so the tub can be returned and install the LVL beam, so the load barring wall separating the kitchen and dining room could be removed.

With the help of Cameron (my Demo King cousin) we were able to get the load barring wall removed.  We had a bit of a rough start.  My dad miss measured the first LVL beam and cut it 2′ too short.  That mistake cost me $100 as I had to buy a new one, but fortunately I discovered a great lumber yard located within 3 miles of the house, Forge Lumber.  They stocked the right size and since the distance was short (original LVL and all my lumber needs was delivered by McCabe Lumber located near Kings Island), I pulled a Macguyver and somehow got the beam in my PT Cruiser in a safe enough fashion that allowed me to drive it back to the house.  That saved me another $100 bucks by avoiding renting a truck or paying another delivery fee and even more valuable, time, since a delivery would mean waiting another day.  I wish I had more pictures (can’t believe I didn’t take a picture of my PT with a 16′ x 14″ beam sticking out the back), but this was a three person job, so all I can present is the finished product.

Up on the housetop, click, click, click,

A tree was growing out of one of the chimney stacks.  One of the clay stacks was broken and laying on the roof.  From the ground I could see that tuck pointing was needed, so I decided to have a roof/chimney company come out and take a look, Shepard Roofing and Home Improvement.  I decided to trust that the urgency for repair he shared was legit, so I moved forward with allowing him (and his nephew) do the work.  It took 3 days, but the final product looks amazing.  Definitely a noticeable difference.  He also said that from what he could see the flute looks sounds all the way down, so there is a chance I could have a functional fireplace.  That would be awesome, so before next winter I’ll have a chimney sweep company come out the give an official opinion.