The Basement Remodel Megapost

A Full Seven Years Later

I've had this megapost in mind for at least a year or so, not that five or six years later is much better!  Nonetheless, here we are.  The basement remodel, which should not be confused with finishing a basement, was quite a large project and, as such, I made a series of posts to chronicle the progress.  In this megapost is the entire 22 post collection, the entire story in one place!  Here's hoping you enjoy!

Fixing the Basement Walls - Part I

GB Shaw January 12, 2014

And we're back at it! After the last post, we kinda took a break which ended up extending through the holidays, so I don't think a single thing has really been done since October! Be that as it may - it's time to get back at it! Before I do though, I really hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday season!

I don't pity any man who does hard work worth doing. I admire him. I pity the creature who does not work, at whichever end of the social scale he may regard himself as being. - Theodore Roosevelt

Okay, so here's the back story...A neighbor's grandfather built all the houses in the neighborhood, so I have a pretty good link to the history of ol' 173. Turns out that when 173 was built way back in 1927 or '28 (I always forget which) the builder used river water from the Hudson to mix the concrete. Now, in my limited knowledge of such things, I would never have thought something like that would matter. 

Turns out it does. Apparently, the bacteria in the water has, over the years, caused problems with the poured concrete foundations in the neighborhood. 173 is no exception. A couple years ago the foundation began to start flaking a little here and there. Nothing alarming, just a little bit. Over the last year or so, after learning of this issue from my neighbor, I noticed that it was happening a little more, and spreading a good bit.

It hasn't gotten terribly bad, but I figured I better get on it before 173 ends up needing a new foundation. how's that for worst case scenario? So this weekend I decided it was time to start. Before you look at the first picture (I already looked - you probably read the last page of a novel first too!), remember that the basement at 173 is a working basement. It is combination laundry room, workshop, storage and sometime gym.

See that area under the bikes? That's a good example of what's happening. Actually, that wall is probably in the best shape. I decided to start there so I could get a little practice and at least a basic idea of what to do before I get to the more complex stuff. Here's a little closer look:

To get started I had to move a bunch of stuff away from the wall...basement stuff you it's all crammed in the middle of the basement now because there's really nowhere else to put it all. Anyway, I used my trowel to knock off all the loose concrete. By-the-way, if you're ever going to do this - wear a mask! It's a terribly dusty job! After knocking all the loose stuff off, which was a lot, I took my wire brush to it all to get all the finer stuff off. This process is a little nerve racking because you need to get all the loose concrete off, and sometimes it seems as though you're gonna go all the way through the wall. The fact is, the deepest I had to go was about one centimeter. Just a bit of a panicker at times I guess! After wire brushing I vacuumed like crazy, then sponged it all down to remove as much dust as possible.

My cousin is a brick mason and does a lot of concrete work too, so I have a great resource for how to do this project right! One of the things he said to do was, after cleaning the wall, was to apply a bonding agent. I went with Quickcrete Concrete Bonding Adhesive. The instructions said to apply a 2 part water, 1 part adhesive mixture and let dry for two to three hours. I did that, and when it dried it wasn't at all tacky. So I called my cousin...he said apply it straight, I did - and it was nice and tacky when it was time for the cement to go on.

Then it was time to apply the cement. Again, I went with Quickcrete Quick-Setting cement. Here's a shot of the day one progress.

That's about as far as I got on day one because I ran out of cement. Next up - you guessed it - day two!

Fixing the Basement Walls - Part 2

GB Shaw January 13, 2014

Learning How to do This

So I feel like I got a good start on Saturday...figured out the steps to take, products to use and began perfecting working on my technique. One thing I did discover was that the cement mix didn't go as far as I thought it would. I went through a 20 pound pail for just that one stretch of one wall. Lowes doesn't carry the 50 pound bag, so I'm going to have to search that out.  On Sunday I picked up where I left off:

The next section looked like this:

After scraping, brushing, vacuuming, dusting, vacuuming and dusting again, applying bonding agent, and waiting, more cement finally went up.

And so, another shot of the progress:

Not bad for the first weekend of work. Now that I have at least a general idea of what to do, I'm hoping to pick up the pace a little. Sure like to get this one done before spring!

Fixing the Basement Walls - Part 3

GB Shaw January 16, 2014

It's Thursday night and I haven't done anything in the basement since Sunday afternoon. Not that that's particularly surprising, but I really wanted to keep rolling on the walls. Ah but you know - that whole work thing sometimes gets in the way!

I have a before pic! I know I have a few here and there, but I still haven't gotten great at it. But this time there is, and I almost wish there wasn't. I wonder if anyone else's shop ends up like this. I clear the bench, get into another project, and in no time at all - the bench is a mess again. So here's a before pic...messy bench and all.

Tonight no cement was applied, but the hardest part of the project is done - for this wall anyway. But before I could knock down all the loose concrete, I had to move stuff around. Funny note - when I went to move the work bench, I forgot that it was actually anchored to the wall! After heaving and yanking, tugging and pulling - it finally dawned on me! Four screws later - the bench was a heck of a lot easier to move!

Aaaand now the shop looks even worse! But - it's least that's what I keep telling myself. The only problem is...there's a wall back there behind the bench and tool boxes. But that'll be the next wall. For now, after moving the bench, this is what I had:

Thaaat's right. Look at that mess!

When I started knocking down all that concrete, a few of those creepy millipedes came flying out. I'm not particularly squeamish, but those things just creep the hell out of me! Anyway, about two hours after getting home the rest of the south wall is all ready for cement.

Again, it's always a little scary to see so much concrete come down, but there it is, it has to get worse before it can get better.

Here's hoping for a productive Friday night!

Fixing the Basement Walls - Getting Bogged Down

GB Shaw January 20, 2014

The initial progress in this project was fairly rapid, but being done "in no time" really was a pipe dream that I really never did buy into. It is going pretty well, but the last couple days have really been tediously slow. I ran into a pretty big hole that I almost missed, and that has taken several applications to build up, but it's almost there:

One final coat should do the trick! Now that I look at it, it kind of looks like a map of Russia. Well, maybe a little. Anyway, so today was more mudding, a little on the west wall and some of the east wall, and of course "the cave" as I'm beginning to think of that giant hole.  I really want to move on, but until the south wall is completely done, there just isn't anywhere to move anything else.  

One thing that did help a little was that last night was trash night, so we hauled some stuff out.  And as luck would have it, the pickers came by and took a bunch of the stuff as we were hauling!  Ever since moving into 173 there has been a big old unused radiator in the basement. So I told the pickers they could have it if they carried it out. After all these years of dreading carrying that thing, and never knowing really how to dispose of it, it's finally gone! Well, the mudding today didn't take long so I did some painting too:

As you can see, there are some spots that still aren't dry, so I painted around them for now. I know I repeat myself, but that Drylok is some seriously thick paint! Oh, and as you can see in the picture above...I went and got a 5 gallon bucket of the stuff. One gallon doesn't go very far. So that's it for this weekend. We'll see what the work week brings!

Fixing the Basement Walls - Slow, Minor Progress

GB Shaw January 21, 2014

Tonight just did a little painting. I'm really starting to like the look. Of course the worst is yet to come - the laundry room. But for now, I'll just enjoy the progress!

Here's another shot:

And while I'm at it...a BIG lesson learned - it takes a LOT of cement to fix these walls, and LOTS of Drylok paint! Buy BIG!

Fixing the Basement Walls - Finishing the West Wall and Starting the North

GB Shaw January 29, 2014

After a few days off from the basement, it's time to get back at it. When last we met, I had just turned the corner onto the west wall, and finished off painting the south wall so I could move all the stuff around to make room for the next wall. So this is a shot of the west wall. I think it's an interesting shot because it really shows the kind of change that's happening.

And here's a shot looking the other way, also an interesting picture (at least to me!)

The concrete went up pretty quickly on the west wall, maybe I'm getting the hang of it.

And that left the first part of the north wall. That's all cleaned up and just waiting for the cement. If you look closely at the bottom of this picture you can just make out the pile of loose concrete that was removed.

With a little extra time I also went ahead and sanded the stairs. By the way...when sanding - ALWAYS wear a mask. Somehow I didn't notice that I didn't have mine on, and after about 20 minutes of sanding with 80 grit sandpaper, I found myself violently retching. The good news is...I was able to avoid the...well, you know. When I was sanding I came across this little spot (where the arrow is pointing to. PANIC!!! I cleaned it all out and removed all the bad wood, and it turns out there's no critters in there. Hopefully that was a looong time ago!

Then some paint went up on the west wall (compare with the first picture in this post).

And another shot looking the other way:

So, we're making progress but there's still a LOT to do!

Fixing the Basement Walls - Wrapping Up the Main Portion

GB Shaw February 02, 2014

The basement at 173 is divided into three rooms. There's the laundry room, the workshop and then the main portion is where all the storage, large tools and the boiler are located. This main portion is half of the basement, and today (for all intents and purposes) it's finished. Only one coat of paint has gone up on the north wall, so there's that still, but as I said - done! When I left off the other day, I had finished the west wall:

Looks a little splotchy, but the paint was still wet.  Here's a little collage of the northwest corner and the north wall. It shows the wall scraped, cemented and then painted.

Next up, finishing off the workshop, which as you can see in this photo, isn't too bad:

This is all very exciting, while at the same time a little scary. After the workshop comes the laundry room. Now THAT'S gonna be a project!

Don't Ya Just Hate It When...

GB Shaw February 05, 2014

Before I get into this, I wanted to take a moment to document one other thing I did on the west wall of the basement. When we bought 173 these many years ago, I noticed that there was a hairline crack in the foundation just under the main beam. I've always kept an eye on it; the crack really looked quite superficial and it never got any bigger. But I figured, while I was doing all this work down there anyway...I'd put in a floor jack.

It probably isn't doing much, but I put it in nice and snug, so maybe! Besides, for $50 it gives me a little peace of mind - even if it turns out to be nothing more than smoke and mirrors!  Now onto the meat of this post (not to be confused with the one pictured above!). Over the past few weeks I've been (relatively) flying through fixing and painting the basement walls. I mean, just the other day I finished the main portion of the basement, then I had half a wall left in the workshop, then onto the laundry room! I was flying! Then it happened. I started removing the loose concrete from that wall in the workshop and I came across a problem. First, a little back story.

When we got 173, the basement floor consisted of a very thin layer of concrete, that over the years had broken up enough that most of the floor was just dirt. Several years ago now, we put in a new basement floor. Two weeks of sun up to sun down labor and we had a great new floor. But when we got to the wall that separated the laundry room and the workshop, we left the wall in place and concreted (can we make that a verb?) around it. the wall was a bit rough, but it was solid as can be and I really liked my little shop.  So the other day, while cleaning up the loose concrete from the east wall of the workshop, I found that the sole plate was rotted, maybe worse - it may have been bug chow.

Photo from here.

So the wall has to come down. To give a little context, in this picture of the phone stand I made, in the background you can see the wall. It's the one with the shelves and pegboard with stuff hanging all over it.

I took all the stuff off the shelves and removed the peg board and here's my wall...

Now, I'm not an idiot (if you ask me - and no one else), but I started removing the wall - the hard way, from the stud side. I know, I know...but there was a reason. As I said, this is the shared wall with the laundry room, and the laundry room side of the wall was sheet rock in pretty good condition, so I wanted to save it. I also knew that there was some space between the sheet rock and the wood wall on the shop side, so I figured I could surgically remove the wall and save the laundry room side.

Yep. Best laid plans of mice and men. First of all, Mr. Mosher (the original owner) meant business when he built walls, as I found out when we remodeled the third floor. He used HUGE nails, 10 penny maybe? I don't really know that stuff very well - my dad does, but I don't. Anyway, these things might as well have been railroad spikes! It took forever to remove just two of these 10" wide boards, but when they came out, I found something cool!

An old advertisement! Here's a better look:

Some of it was a little faded but I'll translate best I can:
  • In white at the top: Doesn't the old fashioned water heater seem out of place?
  • Superimposed in orange: Here's the point
  • In blue: You save money when you buy Niagara Hudson coke on the budget plan.
  • White at the bottom: pretty much illegible.
Just a neat little piece of Americana. I thought about extricating it and keeping it or selling it on eBay or something, but really - it would have sat in the basement for years to come and the next owners of 173 would have found it, said, "Cool, look at this old ad," then tossed it. So I figured...might as well forge ahead. Then came the big surprise!

The ad wasn't in the wall, the ad was the laundry room wall! It wasn't sheet rock - it was beaver board! I learned about beaver board back when we did the third floor, the walls of the original two rooms up there were made of the same stuff. The upside is - it's a whole lot less messy to remove than sheetrock! The downside is this:

That's right...that's the freezer in the laundry room you're looking at. See that window way in the background? That would be the far side of the workshop. So the die is cast, I've crossed the Rubicon, we're all in, there's no turning back now...173 is getting an entirely new laundry room! In the end, it's probably best, but don't ya just hate it when....

Man - O - Man! It Doesn't Pay to Rush!

GB Shaw February 09, 2014

Turn off the electricity. Turn it off, check it, double check it, then proceed with caution! If you're in a hurry - check it a third time! Or else you'll be doing the Uncle Fester!

Yep, got home from visiting my folks and thought I'd quickly take down the wall between the laundry room and the workshop. Then I realized I hadn't removed the light switch and the fuse box. It's kinda cool, I have the workshop on it's own little fuse box, nothing simpler than pulling down the lever to cut the power. On top of that, the fuse box is about four feet away from the junction box and the switch! How convenient!  

And when the day arrives I'll become the sky and I'll become the sea and the sea will come to kiss me for I am going home. Nothing can stop me now. - Trent Reznor

So I removed the switch box, then took the cover off the junction box -Ah! Two simple screws and I'm on my way! I started to remove the top screw and POW!   I blew a hole in my screwdriver!  That's not the first time I've done this, heck, it probably isn't even the 12th time I've done this. But it sure does freak me out when I cause these minor explosions!

I'm always amazed the damage electricity can do!

And here's my screwdriver:

And this was just a nice little picture as a constant reminder!

After that, I fixed the wires I blew up, and thought I'd just quit for the day. If my heart stops racing by tomorrow, maybe I'll give wall removal another shot. I just hope, as I have every time I've done this, I just hope this is the last time I cause a short!

Basement Wall Demo

GB Shaw February 11, 2014

Taking Down the Wall In the Workshop 

After my little electrical mishap the other day, the last couple evenings have finally seen the destruction of the laundry room/workshop wall. There really wasn't a great angle to get it all in, but here's a shot of the little wall behind the furnace (I even added an arrow in case you couldn't pick it out):

The little wall gone, time to move on to the main wall. Again, an arrow to help out:

The urge to destroy is also a creative urge. - Picasso

And here it is all torn down.

I have no idea what the beaver boards said in this case. But let me tell you something...this wall was built to last! It was three layers...under the beaver board was this thin balsa wood-like layer, all nailed to 1x8s! And when I say nailed, I mean about a thousand three inch railroad spikes!

See that electric panel hanging down from the main beam? That provides the service to the kitchen upstairs, and half the laundry room. Half. Anyway, it was nailed to the wall, so - no wall, no support. The weight of the cable itself nearly tore it down. So I had to cob up a temporary support for it - and after my mishap the other day - I wasn't too thrilled to be doing that!

Then tonight was all about clearing out all the rubbish. Now the side yard looks like a trash dump. But it's starting to come together:

Here's a shot looking into the laundry room. We put the tile down several years proceeding will have to be careful.

So the next step will be laying some concrete...we'll see what time I get out of work tomorrow.

Fixing the Workshop Floor

GB Shaw February 12, 2014

So, this was the cause of it all. It sounds like I'm complaining, but I guess I'm really not...after all, 173 will have a fresh new laundry room when it's all over. The other side of that is...I just wasn't mentally prepared for it! Anyway, these are the boards that got eaten by some kind of bug rotted out and needed removal before continuing with fixing the basement walls:

Here's a closer look...those boards crumbled in my hand:

Cleaning out the sawdust dirt:

All cleaned out:

I'd forgotten how much concrete we laid when 173 got a new basement floor. And every bit of it was made one bag at a time, and carried down from outside in 5 gallon buckets.

The wheelbarrow is under the back porch, and in this weather there was no way in the world I was going down there to pull it out for one bag of concrete. This $5.95 solution was the perfect choice!

And there she hour later the floor is fixed.

Here's the "artistic" shot:

Now, back to cementing the walls, re-routing plumbing, building the new laundry room, etc etc etc etc etc etc etc...

Snow, Slow and Trapped

GB Shaw February 16, 2014

Shut-In Time!

I don't mind winter, as a matter-of-fact I rather enjoy winter. I could do with a few less sub-zero temp days, but I do enjoy it...the crisp air, that cozy feeling in the house, the snow... Okay. 

I love snow for the same reason I love Christmas: It brings people together while time stands still. Cozy couples lazily meandered the streets and children trudged sleds and chased snowballs. No one seemed to be in a rush to experience anything other than the glory of the day, with each other, whenever and however it happened. - Rachel Cohn, Dash & Lily's Book of Dares

The snow. I do love the snow, but in the last two days we've had a total of 20". That doesn't bother me too much, except that we had a family situation this week and there was no way to make the trip. Thankfully, dad's improving so the stress factor sure has been reduced!

I did take the involuntary shut-in time to get some more work done in the basement. Thing is, I just couldn't get motivated to get started on the walls again. So I puttered around, started looking for ways to make more space so I wasn't crawling over everything all the time. One of the things that helped was this work bench. I have a home made one in the workshop, but the main part of the basement really needed one too.

This one came from Home Depot. It was $69 and was essentially pre-assembled. So that'll help with getting this place back in some kind of decent shape. I know it's a bit early, there's a long way to go in the basement, but I wanted to show at least a little before and after. This was the basement a few weeks ago:

I know it still looks messy, but most of the next picture messiness is the cement mixing station I have set up. Outside of that, I think you can see how things are coming along!

Hopefully tomorrow I can get motivated enough to spend at least a little time on the walls. And just a thought - glad you're on the mend Dad! You'll be back at it in a wink!

Gettin' at the Workshop (and a little foray into the Laundry Room)

GB Shaw February 17, 2014

Always a Surprise Waiting

As I mentioned the other day, I was having a hard time getting motivated to get back to the walls. A lot of stress this weekend left me rather disinterested, but at the same time I wanted to be busy and at least plug along. Here's a shot of the east wall in the laundry room, the same wall that's shared with the workshop.

As I got to the far end near the door to the cold cellar, I ran into a little snag:

It seems that this old board had seen better I cut off the lower section and figured I'd splice a piece in. Also, the concrete behind that board crumbled quite a bit, so the cold cellar will get some attention too.

Here's a shot of the east wall looking into the workshop. The concrete bonding agent has already been applied.

A couple hours later the cement went up...

Then this afternoon, the first coat of Drylok:

And just for fun, here's a before and after (although it's more of a progress shot):

At least it was a little progress! Getting closer to the laundry room (excitement mixed with nerves).

Diving into the Laundry Room

GB Shaw February 23, 2014

This Was a Mess

On to the laundry room. I've had mixed feelings about this for, well to be honest - since the day we bought 173. It's complicated, cement, electrical, plumbing, carpentry etc etc... This room's going to take just about every (near) skill I have. I have no delusions...this is a basement laundry, it'll never have that ultra-finished look to it, but we're looking forward to it looking better than this:

See that lone, hanging light bulb? Besides the window, that's the only light in the room. And here's a shot the other way:

Not much better huh? So this weekend I dove in. Part of the problem was deciding what order to do things in. Well, nothing could get done until the appliances were out of the way. For that, and for the first time ever, 173 has a hand truck, I suppose that was going to happen eventually, I'm just not getting any younger. Moving the washer and dryer revealed a shocking mess!

Look at this will ya??!!

Enough of that...the loose concrete had to come off, and I removed some of the old plumbing.

The spot under the window was alarming! I kept tapping and more concrete just kept falling out. I was beginning to worry I was going to see snow! But it did eventually stop, check it out:

Anyway, moving it is all cleaned up. You can actually start to see the nice tile we laid back in '99.

Then up went the cement:

After the cement went up, the next step was to finish the wall, in a sense. See that arrow? That points at a 4" gap from the top of the wall to the joists above.

I think the gap was left because all manner of electrical wires run through there. It looked like hell.

Besides that, I have a plan for the ceiling, so I had to figure a way to fill or cover that gap. I decided to cover it.

Hey! There's the new hand truck, my new best buddy! So, that's how the weekend ended...pretty satisfied with the progress up to this point!

More Laundry Room Progress!

GB Shaw March 03, 2014

The Plumbing Goes In

When last we met, I had finally dove into the laundry room, and it was looking like this:

The painting is finally done... I moved onto the plumbing. I figured the plumbing was going to remain exposed, so I thought I'd give the quick connect fittings a shot. Man! those things are expensive, but they worked like a charm! I added some wood blocks for support (and yes, they'll be painted), and strapped the hell out of the pipes.

If you consider the contribution of plumbing to human life, the other sciences fade into insignificance. - James P. Gorman

And here's a wider shot...

The funny thing is, even though those quick connect fittings work great, it still took me an entire day to put it all together. I had it all figured out one way, got half way through assembling it, and decided on another layout I thought would work better. I wanted to be able to shut off the laundry water supply and the sink water supply separately, so it took forever. In the end, I think it was well worth it. Of course the whole drain system for the sink had to be done too, but that was all PVC - much easier to work with! So after two week without a washer and dryer, we can finally do some laundry (and just in time - the underwear drawer was running on empty!)!

Just a couple things to note - we got the big sink! I don't know why that was so important to me, but I wanted the big one! And when I was shopping for the faucet I wanted one with the long neck and a sprayer. I just happened (just happened - HA!) to be at Lowes and I found this one on clearance for $40. I think the normal price was around $60 or $70, so I was a little tickled - my mother would be proud! In the picture above there's a pail under the P-trap, that's just for a little while 'til we're sure it won't leak.

So there it is...the laundry room is well on it's way, just need to build another wall, fix the concrete next to the cold cellar door, and install a ceiling! And the work continues...

And the Wall Goes Up!

GB Shaw March 06, 2014

Geeze, it's been almost a month since I took down the wall between the workshop and the laundry room, and I've finally reached the point where the new wall could go up. Here's a shot where I was laying out the sole plates. Because of all the pipes (and other stuff) in the ceiling, I had to build the wall one stick at a time. I laid out the sole plates and used a good ol' plumb bob to figure out where the top plate would go.

I used Tapcon bolts and my hammer drill to fix the sole plates to the concrete floor, then just cut cut cut. So here it is...I don't know why the picture makes it look like the studs are out of alignment, but believe me - this is the only plumb and square wall at 173!

And from the laundry room side...

Then it was time to put up the sheet rock. I decided to go with 1/2" Hardiebacker cement board. Even though the basement at 173 is dry and there's not been any mold...I figured what the hey! Besides, it came in 3'x5' sheets which meant I could get it home in my car, that was probably the real reason! So here's a fun little thing...part of the wall runs behind the hot water heater with about 2" of space behind and on the side. There was no way in hell I was going to get my hand, let alone my drill in that little space...

Well, as it turns out, a bunch of years ago I found this really long Phillips head screwdriver on the ground in a parking lot. I've had it in the workshop ever since and had never had a need to use it - until now. To get screws in that cement board behind the water heater, I taped the screws to the screwdriver, and they went right in!

It took about two hours, but here it is - the new laundry room wall!

Another shot...

Still a long way to go to wrap up this project, but it's coming along and I think, somewhere out there I think I see a little flicker of light at the other end of the tunnel!

The Laundry Room Celing - (Hopefully) Never Again!

GB Shaw March 23, 2014

I'm not in a great mood, so there won't be a lot of jibber jabber tonight, but I did want to post some update pictures. Most of the laundry room is done, meaning that the basement project is nearing the end! After this weekend, I'm really down to just punch-list items. So without further you can see from the pic below, some of the pipes in the laundry room hung pretty low. For the most part the new ceiling would cover them, but because of their positioning, some couldn't be and would be a major pain to work around.

So I figured I would soffet around them. Here's the basic framing:

Then it was just a matter of some 1x6's:

After that, it was ceiling time. Of course I started with the grid...

Lemme tell you something, it's a fairly small room and it wasn't real hard to do, but if I never put in another drop ceiling it'll be too soon! Then came the tiles...

Next is a wider shot. Things are going pretty fast now, so some of the flaws you see in this shot will be finished off soon.

On to the punch list!

If My Mother Wasn't Reading this I'd Probably Use Some Off-Color Language!

GB Shaw March 30, 2014

I don't know about you, but when I'm nearing the end of a big project a couple things happen...I get antsy to finish it, I start thinking about what's next, and counter-intuitively - I slow down. It's not exactly that I lose interest, I think it's just that the devil is in the details, and by the time I get to the punch list - it's a %$&^*@# million little devils, most of them painting (which I hate). So this is one of the only shots of I have of this angle on the laundry room, but it gives a sense of how the corner with the chimney was looking:

I realize some people would think it best that the paint be sanded off the brick, that it would give the room a nice rustic look, but let's be honest...the laundry room at 173 is anything but rustic, unless of course you mean rustic in the "rough hewn" sense! So we painted it with the Drylok. One little devil done - and geeze, what a difference!

Then there was this little devil. See the circuit box just hanging there? Believe-it-or-not I've been dreading getting that affixed to the new wall. Don't ask me why, I have no idea!

Quite silly really! It was neither hard, complicated, expensive (I used scrap 2x4's and piece of an old shelf) nor time consuming (what? Maybe half an hour?). Anyway, now it's done, except for the painting (ugh!).

So here's a shot of just some of the devils on the punch list:

  • Posts and (some) pipes need to be scraped and painted.
  • There are just two small portions of ceiling to go in, one of which seems complicated.

That's just a couple things on the list.

The upside is a couple more things are done, a: the new cement board wall has been painted, and b: as I just said, the chimney is painted! Just for fun I pointed out just a few of the tools required for this project. We're getting there!

Workshop Done! Punch List Ongoing

GB Shaw May 17, 2014

Well it's been a few weeks since I've posted anything, but that doesn't necessarily mean nothing's been done. You know how it takes priority over writing! So in the last post, I was talking about moving onto the punch list items in the basement, and in particular in the laundry room. Turns out the punch list was longer and more involved than I thought! One of those things was the workshop walls. Originally, years ago, I put up a few pieces of peg board...

Not a great shot, but that's one of the few "before" pics I had (one of these days I'll get better about that). The peg board did well, worked fine, then I did this...

That was all part of the basement remodel, you can read more about that here. Well, this time I decided there'd be more peg board...LOTS more! Here's the outside of the workshop...kinda came out almost exactly as it was before:

But the real difference is inside the shop!

I made two entire walls of the shop peg board! But there's a couple other things to notice...see that shelf unit? That was a rickety old thing that was in the laundry room for years. If you touched it just wrong, the whole thing nearly fell apart. What did I do? Screws all over it, and even screwed it to the wall! The other thing is the shelf that runs over the top. I fitted the shelves so they fit between the wasted inches here! And here's a shot of the finished product (I'll have to take some shots of the workbench wall after that gets cleaned up):

So outside of the workshop just needing a good cleaning, one box on the punch list checked off!

Kinda Sorta In A Way Part of the Punch List

GB Shaw May 18, 2014

Reimagining What Was Already Reimagined

It's not exactly on the punch list, but it kinda I did it! A little by way of back-story...a bunch of years ago I found this 1950's metal cabinet for $10 at a yard sale. I planned on putting it in the bathroom, but it looked horrible, so I started to prime it...and that was coming out terrible so I ended up using it in the workshop for years. This is how it looked...

So I got started on it, and here it is all primed up:

I decided to give the inside some color, so I used the paint from the front porch...

And some white from the front porch, and here it is in its new habitat...

No violence, gentlemen — no violence, I beg of you! Consider the furniture! - Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone

One thing (kinda) off the punch list!

Laundry Room Cabinet (The other one) Done

GB Shaw June 14, 2014

Saving a Decades Old Cabinet

Literally, for decades this old cabinet was in the laundry room. It's a great little cabinet, lots of drawers and a top to hold baskets, laundry, etc. The only problem was that it was in pretty rough shape...

Not only was the paint peeling badly, but some of the wood was coming apart:

So with lots of wood glue, some thin slices of 2x4, clamps and screws...

LOTS of sanding, priming and painting, and "new" knobs (left over from some long-forgotten piece of cabinet or something) she ended up looking like this:

And here it is in its "new" habitat!

So here's a before and after shot, kinda tickled with the way it turned out!

It's a shame I can't get the color to really show, it's the same color that was used on the front porch, and really adds a little pop to the laundry room. Anyway, here's a final view from another angle:

With that, that's the end of the great basement re-do of the winter. Had no idea it would take all winter AND spring! So the next post will be a recap of the project...time to get working outside!

The Basement Stairway Remodel

GB Shaw June 14, 2015

Avoided Waaay Too Long

Some things are planned. We plan a meal, a vacation, careers, retirement and the list goes on. Thankfully, not everything is planned out, sometimes we deviate from the path (remember the movie The Adjustment Bureau?). Often, the unplanned things turn out to be fun, or blessings, or helpful and healthful. Okay, nothing like waxing philosophical over...the basement stairway! Fact is - I didn't plan on this project just now, but it was needed, and quite frankly it turned out well! Here's the story...

Let's see, we have inhabited 173 for some 18 years now, and we've done quite a bit of work. Really, the only room that hasn't been touched yet is the kitchen - don't get me started. But the basement stairway isn't exactly a room now is it? As a low-on-the-priority-list item, this project has been neglected - nay - avoided, since long before me! I've had this blog for some years now. You'd think I would have the whole - take a "Before pic" down, but somehow I often miss that step. After scouring the photo archives (both printed and digital) these are the best I could come up with for before:

Not a great shot, guess that's for a reason! It was dark, dirty, ragged (notice the peeling paint?) and just downright embarrassing!

Never mind the arrow, that pic was from a different post, told ya I had a hard time finding befores! So why now? Well, a couple recent posts told how this past winter the side door had been replaced. A few weeks ago I painted said door, then, as always happens when you own an old house, one thing lead to another. I started out by caulking the hell out of the inside of the door-frame, then noticed this,

Yup, that little area of busted plaster lead to this whole thing. Now, you'd think that the old '40s or '50s green (a color I love by-the-way) and the horrible condition it was in would have been enough - but no, that little 4" by 4" spot did it! I removed that bit of plaster and it kept going, 'til it became this!

Then one morning I was at Lowe's when I found a package of wainscoting 50% off because it was missing a piece. Well, five packages later:

I even milled my own chair rail (very simplistically):

Then I pulled off the lower portion of the door casing. They had been cut in two for some reason when the new door was installed. Here's what I found:

Hollow! And yes! That's daylight! So I fitted in some pressure-treated 2x4s, then the spot where the casing meets the foundation revealed that some of the concrete was crumbling.

Luckily, I had some concrete left over from the basement redo, and patched that up.

After all the prepping was done it was time to paint! Now, I've never really enjoyed painting. As a matter-of-fact I kinda hate painting. But sometimes ya just gotta do what's gotta be done. They say that if you flattened out West Virginia it would be the biggest state in the union (you know - mountains!). Well, have you ever considered the amount of surface area underneath a staircase? This area of the house (it's the side door area by-the-way) in under the main staircase, so it's really quite complicated, two ladders, twisted acrobatics and hours of painting! After all was said and done....

Oh yeah, then there was the steps...painted and those little pieces of rubber-backed carpet were stapled in place:

Then she was done! Two weeks and lotsa hours later! This picture is a little disorienting, it's looking down the steps, and notice the little shelves I made atop the foundation:

Turned out alright yeah?

The before and after again:

So, after 7 years, there's the basement Megapost.  Thanks for stopping by!
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