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Day 57 – To build you must destroy

August 16, 2010



August 15, 2010 – Our little weekend project involved a lot of plaster and lath and some well placed hammers and drop cloths. To prepare the upstairs landing for the addition of the bedroom-to-be, waiting on the outside wall, we took everything down to the studs. Everything. The lath & plaster, of which I have stressed and labored over fixing every little chip or dent in, keeping the paint up, and the kiddie finger prints off, ended up in one of the ten yard debris bags we filled with debris. From when the first drop cloth went down to when we completed vacuuming up the wall bits strewn all over, it took somewhere close to five hours to complete.

Plaster and lath may be a lost art form, but the labor involved in nailing up every little bit of lath by hand, spaced ever so right, then slapping on the plaster, is something that must have taken forever. Speaking of lost art, in taking off the plaster wall we uncovered very old wall paper. It’s a floral pattern that at its top has a very nice floral border. It’s the same pattern on the first floor (when I’ve done patching down there) and oddly enough, the same pattern found on the outside of the house too. (Wallpaper on the outside? Odd, yes, but even in the 1800’s a house must look pretty…)

We hear time and time again about how an old house like ours just shouldn’t have stood so long the way it was built, with walls having no apparent support or beams nailed ever-so-precariously. But when they may have lacked in building code enforcement, the early craftsmen that built our house made up for in creativity and awesome pieces of solid, full dimensional lumber. It becomes really obvious when we do things like remove the plaster that there is a small



forest in the walls of our house in cuts of wood you just can’t buy anymore. The 3/4″ plywood sheets our builder is using for walls on our new addition would have been 1″ thick or bigger sections of solid hard wood. Very cool stuff that we just don’t see.

This is the ceiling in the stairs I'd frequently hit my head on

Speaking of things we don’t see, one of the “to do” items we have outside of this project is to take advantage of the large amount of space left unused in the attic upstairs. With the ceiling removed, we can see all the way across the upper portion of the house and we realize if we just took the ceiling in the kid’s rooms down, we would realize a bit more space (perhaps more perceived than actual, but hey, at least we’d get to insulate.) There is a small museum of wasp and bee nests from the past 100 years up there too, which is funny because after we sealed the hole in our ceiling with plastic, we noticed a number of wasps with mud trying to return to something…their nests?

Next steps? On with the work!

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