Stair and Hallway Renovation; Preparation, Part One
Let me start by saying, there will be very little glamour in today’s post. There will be no pretty renderings and no big reveals. Today, it is all about the dirty work. Just when you think you’ve undertaken the messiest of jobs, along comes one that blows everything else out the water. Today, I’ll be talking about the stair and hallway renovation.
Much like the rest of the house (so far), the stair and hallway renovation started some time ago. It made sense to get the dirty work out of the way early on; one of those jobs being to strip the cast iron balustrade. Little did I know, what a job that would be…
As beautiful as they were, it was very clear that over a century of paint build-up had taken it’s toll on each baluster, meaning that some of the detail had been lost altogether. I knew that stripping these would be a big undertaking… just not quite as time consuming as it turned out to be.
The Hallway Renovation Plan of Action.
As someone who likes to be organised and efficient in their methods of working (ahem!), I decided that as there was so much work to undertake, it would probably be best to start every job at once.
Now, I know what some of you will be thinking…where’s Brian in all of this? Well, the hallway renovation actually began BB. Before-Brian. Had I started it AB (in the year of the Brian?) then his OCD would have kicked in, and there would have been some semblance of organisation. This wasn’t to be.
Unlucky for Brian, that we met very shortly after I started renovating…everything. At once.
So, the list of jobs to be done were as follows;
- Lift carpets
- Strip balustrade
- Remove cheap crappy parquet from vestibule
- Remove paint from the magic loft stairs/cupboard
- Renovate doors
- Strip walls
Not really too crazy a list… just basic prep work for redecorating…
PAH!!! Yeah right.
So, What Am I Moaning About?
Well, it turns out that in the 130-odd years that this house has been standing, nobody saw fit to strip a bloody wall! Seriously, there was layer upon layer of wallpaper, dating right back to what appears to be the first; a woodgrain style wallpaper, discoloured through time. Beneath that, the original stencilled walls.
On one hand, this was exciting. It was a fascinating insight into the decades of history this house has seen, throwing up many questions, such as; Who lived here? Who chose that wallpaper? What did the room look like after it was just decorated?
On the other hand, this was a just a massive pain in the arse to remove, as it seemed to have been welded to the walls.
Then there’s the balustrade.
I counted 5 layers of colour as I attempted to burn the paint off with a heat-gun, gold, being one of them. I counted the same 5 layers of colour as I attempted to bubble the paint off with Nitromors. Repeatedly. Nothing seemed to work. I had hoped that I would be able to just paint on the Nitromors, watch it bubble, then scrape it away with a wire brush. Nope, it didn’t even touch it.
So How Did I do it?
Remember the door makeover I posted a few months ago? (if you didn’t, then catch up with it here). Well, during the reno process, I tried out a product called ‘Peelaway 7’, a safe, low-odour alternative to conventional caustic paint strippers. It didn’t work. I thought I’d wasted my money, however, I was wrong.
I decided to try it out on 4 of the balusters, as the product was to be left on overnight to soak through the layers of paint. Remember, I’m impatient, so figured that if it worked then I’d be able to crack on with them whilst I had the others coated and waiting. That didn’t really pan-out as I had hoped either.
The product is supplied with a polythene sheet, which is applied over the paste, to stop it drying out. When I peeled the sheet from around the first baluster, I could see that it had begun to blister the paint. A wee scrape with a screwdriver, and I was down to base metal. YASSSSSSSSS!!!!
What was to ensue, will haunt me evermore.
Am I Being Overly Dramatic?
In a word, no. Scraping each baluster wouldn’t work, as the detail was too intricate to work into with a blade. Wire wool would have got into the detail, but was too easily clogged. A wire brush would remove most of the paint/sludge mixture, but would be a slow and painful process. A wire brush drill attachment would remove the paint/sludge mixture quicker, but would coat EVERYTHING around it within a three metre radius, with splatters of caustic goop. Caustic goop with bits of wire in it, I might add.
Obviously, the messiest option would be the one that worked.
Being so well prepared, I hadn’t lifted all of the carpet at this point. Goop coated, paint flake encrusted, wire bristle booby-trapped, carpet. Nice.
Each baluster took around 4 hours to get about 95% clean. There are 38 balusters. I went through 6 wire brush attachments, 5 disposable boiler suits and 1 burned out drill. Each one had to be finished by hand using an abrasive mesh and wire wool. The hand-finishing added another couple of hours onto each baluster.
Was it worth it? You’ll have to wait to find out.
Part Two of the hallway renovation, later this week…