This Old Erie House
By Linda Martin Community Blogger
Owners of old houses have so much in common that house talk comes easy between us. Please join in the conversation as we try to fix, restore and update our old Erie houses.  Read more about this blog.
Archive for the ‘painting’ category
Posted: September 7th, 2010

Paint cans, almost every kind of sander you can buy at the store, paint brushes, stacks of sand paper of different grades and sizes and shapes, Goof Off, paint rollers, spackle, mounds of plastic drop cloths, screw drivers, tape,  flashlights and numerous other items that clog the means of getting around in the kitchen have almost been cleared out. My cows are back up on the wall, my pot and pan hanger is too.  Little antique items have found their homes back on top of the microwave and refrigerator, the cat calendar and painted cat pictures are hung.  It’s starting to look like home again, except now it is yellow.  It’s a pleasing, pretty yellow and now I can finally see that all the work was worth it. I wasn’t seeing it before the stuff was put back where it  belonged. When I came down this morning I only saw a mess with yellow walls.

I’m taking a late lunch break.  There is more to do.  There is white powder on the kitchen carpet from sanding the ceiling spackle . I can’t wait to take that carpet up some day.  The wall light has to be remounted as well as the grate with the louvers put back on the wall to cover the hole to the chute.  But it’s almost done, I can see it now.  The only thing ruining the whole “picture” is the crooked doorbell chime.  It was mounted crooked decades ago by previous owners and it is in an odd location that catches your eye.   It is probably a 50s or 60s doorbell.  It is nice and loud and I like the sound of the chimes but it has to go.  It’s big and its placement is cock-eyed and kitty corner from the top of the kitchen door.  The wires won’t allow a new location so we’ll be scrapping it in the near future for a wireless model and finally get rid of the eyesore. Otherwise, I pretty much like my kitchen.

Of course it would look nice with brand new appliances and a tin ceiling but for now a little paint has gone a long way.

Posted in: painting
Posted: September 6th, 2010

I stripped the wallpaper off our plaster walls in the living room and dining room a few years ago and fixed the ceilings in both rooms.  What was left was a nice light surface but had some darker areas.  I primed them before painting just to be sure it covered the dark areas and because I was afraid I didn’t get all the glue off from the wallpaper.  I had no problems painting those rooms.

Fast forward to last week.

This kitchen is like the devil.  It’s evil.  It’s HOT! It is very small and has 4 doors with a bunch of decorative crowns on top, a full wall of hoosier-like cupboards with the crowns on them and 2 large windows with crowns. I decided against taping the woodwork because it would take days (exaggeration) going around all that molding. Old plaster ceilings don’t have perfectly straight edges and previous taping was a waste of time and it always bled under or stuck and took the finish off the woodwork. And even when it didn’t, the lines didn’t look straight. Now I know why the old houses have crown moldings, to hide the uneven seams between plaster ceilings and walls. Our kitchen doesn’t have them. Crowns on everything else in the kitchen, though. And I can’t even reach the ceiling where the counters are because the ladder doesn’t get my short arms close enough. Good thing for husbands with long arms.

We are on day, what is it now? Day 5 ? and we still aren’t done. Our tiny little kitchen doesn’t have room to walk with the refrigerator and stove  moved out so a ladder could fit near the wall.  We are so tired of scooting sideways to get by anything.  We can’t find anything.  We put plastic down on the floor and I trip on it, we drip paint and I step in it.  There is no room to work.  Elbow to elbow, “excuse me”, “excuse me!”  There is no air conditioning downstairs and the temperature near the ceiling has to be close to 90 or higher.  It’s easy to get cranky when it’s so hot and you can’t move.   I’ve been working on the dining room floor and the kitchen stairs during the day and when my husband comes home we work painting until we can’t do it anymore. The other rooms were a pleasure, this certainly is not.

Yellow must be a color that doesn’t cover other colors very well.  We paint and paint and the green still shows through.  The paint can says one-coat coverage.  LIAR!!  We bought extra to give it 2 coats just in case.  Two coats still doesn’t completely cover the green underneath.  I always thought the kitchen’s old green was a very light shade but against the light yellow it looks like a darker dull olive.

I went to the store today to get some kind of edger (and another gallon of paint)  because we were having such a time up against the woodwork. I was looking for miracles.  I saw one that looked like it really would work, I was sure of it.  I bought two so if it worked, we could both be cutting in at the same time. We tried one of the edgers to see how it worked before we opened the other one, that way we could return the unused one if it was junk.  It was junk.  My husband told me before he doesn’t like “gimmicks” and it certainly turned out to be just another gimmick and just made a mess and dripped paint on everything. So besides paint, I had egg on my face because I wasted $15 but I can return the other one. He did not rub it in and he could have.  I also bought a rather expensive cut-in brush as a back up.  I figured I could return it  if the edgers worked good, if they didn’t I would use the brush.  I ended up using the brush and it worked much better than anything else. I guess you can’t beat the old standards.

Soooo…what we should have done in hindsight is buy and apply tinted primer and then paint.  It would not have helped the temperature and sweating and it would not have helped doing miles of cutting in around the wood work but it probably would have made a more even color which we’ll get, eventually.  At least we got the one wall done (woohoo!!) and were able to put the appliances back against the wall tonight.  Now there will be room for two ladders.

I must have used a full  tank of hot water each night washing out all the trays and rollers and brushes.  It also take about 1/2 hour to clean everything.  No more. Tomorrow I’m lining the roller pan with one of my recycle bags.  When we are done, we’ll pour the extra back in the can and just throw the plastic away instead of washing the pan and having  paint going down the sink into the water supply.  I’m throwing the roller away, too.  I’ll scrape off the excess paint, let it dry and stick it in a plastic grocery bag.  They should be dried by garbage night. Good riddance. They aren’t that expensive.

It blows my mind that this one room is so hard.

Posted: January 12th, 2010

If I had even one shard of 1500 BC glass I’d decorate my whole house around it. In the short slideshow are some pieces that date back to that time and to the early A.D. I think a couple may have been reproductions but almost all were the real deal. I was more fascinated by the antique pieces that I didn’t take many photos of the ancient pieces which is a shame because there were many really wonderful pieces. The museum is located in Corning, NY about 191 miles from Erie, PA

Posted: October 10th, 2009

How I hate this time of year. Yes, the leaves are gorgeous but I hate putting everything away that we set out in the spring. In the spring it was fun taking everything down because there was a whole summer to look forward to.

Today I unpotted all the plants in the hanging baskets and washed them off. I grabbed the bird feeders to wash and put up for the winter. We’ll feed suet for the winter. The hoses and automatic watering system has to be taken apart and stored inside. The fountain, chairs, tables, BBQ and on and on has to be cleaned and put away. I have to move all my potted plants someplace that won’t freeze. That’s the one really big difference about living in a cold climate. In California, I left most everything out for the winter because you’d still get very nice days to BBQ and sit out on the deck and enjoy. I like potted plants and I could leave my potted rose bushes and some other plants out and they’d be fine.

I notice some of my neighbors seem to thrive this time of year…everything is put away on a certain date, like clockwork each season, and they seem happy while doing it. I just can’t get into it.

My husband brought down the storm windows to put up on our sleeping porch today. We saw the paint was peeling which gave me a sick feeling. We moved them to the basement where I’ll have to scrape them down and paint them quickly before winter. The winter snow and ice would ruin the wood if I left them as is. The weather-stripping on some doors and windows and fixing some caulking that is failing has to wait a week. I was able to find time to get one scraped, sanded and painted today. Five more to go. With all the rain we are getting I feel lucky to have a workplace in the basement to paint things like that.

The one advantage to the coming winter is we stay home a lot more. It’s the time of year I pick a couple major projects to work on. I’d also like to get a stain-glass window made for my son that I promised him a couple of years ago. Maybe it will happen this winter.

Posted: September 3rd, 2009

It’s been 7 years since I stripped the beadboard on the front porch of its 8+ decades of built-up paint.  I finished it with dewaxed garnet shellac because, when stripping the paint, I found that a thick coat of shellac was the first coat on the beadboard and it kept a good bond all those years.  Shellac isn’t suppose to be good for areas around water.  Our covered, but not enclosed, porch does get water from rain and snow when the wind blows but the beadboard is vertical so it doesn’t cause a problem. Though my porch does get piled-up snow on it sometimes in the winter,  it is facing north so it doesn’t get the abuse a southern exposure would.    I’ve read that dewaxed shellac holds up a bit better than the natural shellac as far as protecting against water. Neither is recommended for use around water or outdoor use but that is what was used on it all those decades ago so I decided to use it back 7 years ago when I refinished the beadboard.

This summer I noticed areas that were starting to lighten near the bottom.  Well, 7 years was a respectable time for a finish to last outside, even the painted columns and top railings didn’t last that long without another coat.  About a week ago I went over the beadboard again in some lower spots with the dewaxed garnet shellac.  Yesterday I sat out on a footstool and took Waterlox and applied it over the shellac.   Waterlox is much better at protecting against water than shellac is.  It is used on kitchen counters and in bathrooms.  It is so easy to work with.  I applied it to the beadboard just as if I was rubbing a liquid wax on it.  It doesn’t dry nearly as quickly as shellac but that is a good thing, too.  It has time to level out.  Another reason I wanted to use Waterlox is I can apply repeated coats over the next several years and not have to sand in between.  It will melt into itself (much like shellac melts into itself) when applied over another coat of Waterlox.  I hate polyurethane because you have to scratch it up with sandpaper for the next layer to bond to it. Too much work.  On things I have had to use urethane (spar) on, I find I have to repair the finish just as often as I do with the shellac and Waterlox.

So why not use something that will give the look of fine furniture.  There is a beautiful depth to the wood when you use shellac or Waterlox.  I don’t care for the look of polyurethanes. They look plastic to me (and peel like it, too, when they fail.)  I can just wipe on Waterlox every so often (so easy to do) and keep the finish nice. Waterlox looks just as pretty as shellac to get that depth-look (I think,) though it has only a slight amber color to it.  You can add special dyes to it to color it. Waterlox is much easier to work with than shellac in my opinion.

In this photo below you will see the beadboard which is now 92 years old.  It is coated with 3 coats of dewaxed garnet shellac that was applied after I stripped it 7 years ago and the touch-up done last week and then one coat of Waterlox done yesterday. I may add additional coats before winter if the weather holds.  I have many other projects to do before winter.


Waterlox and shellac will not last long on wood that gets sunlight, though.  The UV rays break down the wood fibers through the finish and there goes the bond.  They do make Waterlox for outdoor purposes with a UV block in it.  It’s made for marine applications.  But in my case I’m using the same stuff that I’m going to use on my indoor wood floors when I finally get to refinishing them because the porch gets very little sunlight.

The cons of Waterlox would be the smell until it cures.  I had to mail order mine because I couldn’t find any locally.  Also, once the container is opened and oxygen gets to it, it will start to gel.  I have gone back to apply a second application of Waterlox on something a couple of weeks later only to find it had gelled up and was no longer any good.  It is maddening because it is expensive. They make a product of some kind of gas you squirt into the container to keep the oxygen out but I’ve read it still goes bad on you. I try to do several projects at once to use it up before it gels.

Always make sure with whatever finish you chose, that you dont’ let sun hit it until it is fully cured and that you let each coat cure fully dry before you add another because any solvent unevaporated in  a coat below will blister the finish especially when it warms up when hit by sunshine.

Posted: August 15th, 2009

Here is a photo of the damage the winter and the snow shovel did to my front stairs.



See more photos by clicking “read the rest of this entry”

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: July 2nd, 2009

Please see the previous posts to see more before photos.

After much sweat and work, the porch floor was getting sanded clean of more than 8 decades of paint.


Starting to sand. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: June 12th, 2009

I read some blogs about how they stained their decks and it sure sounds like a lot of work. Probably the reason we put it off so long. We are going to have to power wash it with special deck cleaner first. That will require some borrowing Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: June 3rd, 2009

See part 1 by clicking HERE.

I painted my mural using stencils and some free-handed painting. The patio bricks were free-handed as well as the lattice and the tree. The flowers and ends of the tree branches with flowers, the birds were all stencils. The cat is our little Russian Blue. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in: painting, stairs, walls
Posted: June 1st, 2009

The gray, cracked and in some places crumbling wall in our kitchen stairwell was an eyesore. I didn’t do anything about it for a few years because, really, no one saw it but us. I even thought when we first moved in that we could wall up the back stairwell so we would have more room for appliances in our kitchen. The stairs in the kitchen meet the front stairs on a landing half way up to the second story. I didn’t think I would even use the kitchen stairs. Read the rest of this entry »