Friday, September 24, 2010

Varnishing almost done... but not quite

I'm a negligent blogger. It's been two weeks now with no updates, as I'm sure you're aware. I'm going to take a line from Rachel's* book though, and say that I did it (or in this case didn't do it) because I love you guys too much. I love you guys too much to subject you to two weeks worth of pictures showing more empty wood in various stages of varnishing, and more posts saying "we're still varnishing". Ok so I'll stop being melodramatic, but really it would have been boring reading.
We had some excellent help these past two weekends. Two Sundays ago Jill and Chris came to help us varnish. They stayed all day and between the two of them put one coat on the master bedroom, one coat on the bathroom, and half of a coat on the mudroom. You guys are awesome!

Then the following Sunday Marcelle and Chris paid us a visit and they helped me for the first day of outdoor labour that I've had in about two months. Marcelle and I cleaned up the yard, moving lumber and other various construction materials to the back of the house, while Chris caulked our sills, and himself in the process. I'm fairly sure his hands are both water resistant and air tight. I would have liked to have gotten some pictures that day, but I had to make a frantic and last minute trip to home hardware (really that's the only kind of trip I make to home hardware), and then I forgot. You guys, too, are awesome!
Despite all that excellent help however, I still have one more coat of varnish to get on the mudroom. Everything else is done though. Yay! So here is the current varnishing tally:
Bathroom - 4 coats
Master bedroom - 2 coats
Kitchen - 2 coats
Mudroom - 2 coats
Living room - 2 coats
Upstairs - 2 coats
Cathedral ceilings - 2 coats
That works out to about 16 gallons of varnish so far. And I'd also like to note that my head/hair will likely be water resistant by the time I'm done, because I'm varnishing the ceilings too and I can't help getting it on my head. I'm really hoping that water resistant hair is a fad that will catch on.
* It's a Glee reference, sorry, I can't help it, but I love that show.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The painting cave

This week we have been varnishing. Erick has been using the sprayer with the air compressor to do the peak and high parts, and I've been doing the living room with a brush. Once the sprayer gets going, the air fills with varnish mist and it's like a big old bat cave in there. We wear vapour masks the whole time. Also we don't have power hooked up to our place yet, so we're running the big fat extension cord from the barn. Where we're running an air compressor, two high power spot lights, and fans to push the varnish mist outside, we're drawing a lot of current. At best, when the air compressor turns on, the lights go off, and then come on again once the air compressor stops. Unfortunately though, it often happens that when the air compressor goes on, we trip the breaker, which shuts off all the lights, and they don't turn back on again. Then I stumble through the thick dark varnish mist, tripping over power cords and fans, to go up to the barn and reset the breaker.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Celebrating the end of sanding

Since we're finally done sanding I thought I'd post some pictures that I took after everything was sanded and cleaned. Above are the gables that you can see from pretty much everywhere in the front of the first floor, and everywhere on the second.
This is one of the main supporting 6 x 10 posts coming up through the second floor. It's holding up another 6 x 10 with a joint over the post.
Here is our storage area (looking east), but right now I think it's too pretty to close off and fill with junk.
Storage area looking west into my studio.
The east wall of the second floor (with garbage bags over the windows)

The happy smile that says "We're done sanding"

Yup that's right, we're done sanding. Can you believe it? I almost can't although I've put all the orbitals and stacks of unused sanding disks away. (And by 'away' I mean I stuffed them under some sill seal in the back of the truck).

Even the ceilings on the first floor are sanded. I did those all by myself, and let me tell you ceiling sanding is pure torture. Especially when the ceilings in question have been doused with Raid earth blends (as a result of the week long battle with the carpenter ants that invaded our stack of floor decking before it got turned into actual floor), and you can't wear safety glasses because they steam up when you wear a dust mask. Our bottle of eye wash is quite a bit lighter than it was last week. Then there were the dead ant bodies still stuck to the ceiling, and the stains they made in the wood when they got squished. Gross, huh?

But this weekend we did indeed finish sanding, and also completed all the prep work needed before we could start varnishing. Erick sprayed all the walls and every nook and cranny with the air compressor hose, and I swept and vacuumed, vacuumed and swept. My mom came to help too so that was great. After everything was all sprayed, swept, and vacuumed, we then did it all again, and then dusted everywhere with microfibre dusters before vacuuming a final time.
After that Erick put clear plastic garbage bags over all the windows to protect them from the varnish, and we started varnishing. Which, as a passtime, is a huge improvement over sanding.

Thursday, September 02, 2010


Today marks the 20th consecutive day of sanding the Beast. I now have a very large appreciation for both the enormity and the number of surfaces of our house. Not counting the additional surface area presented by the various sides of the beams, we've got approximately 4000 square feet of areas that need to be sanded and varnished. All this sanding has taken (so far) 120 person hours, and will require about 20 gallons of varnish. For the past weeks Erick and I have been arriving home grumpy, dusty, and hungry around 9:30 or 10:00pm each night.

I think our friends and family must have finally gotten tired of seeing us this way, so this week they really stepped up, and staged a sanding intervention. For three days now while Erick and I have been at our day jobs, they've been sanding at our house. Thank-you Leon, Curtis, and Evan. You guys are the best!!!! My lungs thank you from the bottom of my heart, and so do my thumbs*. By the way, all this sanding has inspired me to make a note about hemlock. Our beams (and the second floor) are made entirely of hemlock. Now I don't care what your daddy, your textbook, your professor, or the internet told you about hemlock, but it is a HARD wood. Anyone who disagrees with me is welcome to come try removing some black marks from our beams using nothing but an orbital sander and 120 grit sandpaper**.

* Anyone who doesn't understand why my thumbs are grateful hasn't spent two weeks (and more) with their thumbs clamped around an orbital sander.

** Seriously, you really are welcome (really).