Weekend Projects

7:00 AM

With a project list as big as ours, weekends are prime opportunities to make some headway.
That's not to say that it's always easy. Or feasible.

One of the 5 kids frequently throws a wrench into our best-laid plans. One of the 5 kids wants to be held or needs attending or feeding or changing pretty much constantly (Wilder).

Or other things throw you off....such as a drill battery that hasn't been charged.

Weekends are also interesting because both Kyle and I head into them with independent to-do lists in our heads.  I wonder if other couples do the same. 

 Around Saturday morning, as we're doctoring our coffee, we discuss what our individual vision is for the 2 days ahead.  Of our discussions, we hope to have some overlap. There may not be. Or it may be that we both want something to happen and the timing just isn't right. We usually want to work out, but our new gym childcare doesn't really provide much on the weekends, so we either get outside or just hold off until the weekdays.

This weekend, I was dying to get started on our plaster. For so many reasons. I know it's going to be a job that stretches over a very long time, so I would love to just begin. Plus, did I tell you about the contractor who quoted me $1,600 just to address one closet? Sheesh. No thanks. I'll take that $1,600 and spread it out as far as it will go in supplies to tackle it myself! I guarantee it will go further than one piddly closet.

On our house project list, one item was to drain and flush the hot water heater. Ever done that?
It's a new one to us. But apparently, when your hot water heater is ancient, but still works, it's a good idea to drain it to get rid of sediment and stuff and flush it out. Worth a shot! Especially as our water heater is huge (75 gallons, I think) and I really don't want to replace it right now.

So, that was on Kyle's list this weekend. After a few Google searches, he found some instructions that fit our water heater and checked that one off the list in about 30 minutes. Awesome!

We also wanted to tear off the glass doors on our shower, but as fun and easy as that sounded - perfect for a weekend - we hadn't actually purchased a shower curtain bar. So, rather than tackle the job half-way, I found a rod online and ordered it, so that when it comes in, we'll be good to go. I felt victorious just ordering the piece!

Saturday mid-morning, after I woke up late because Wilder would NOT go to sleep Friday night, Kyle and I compared notes and he said, Go for it on the plaster. 

It's one thing to watch Youtube videos and read blogs and books and even purchase materials and tools for the job, and quite another to pick up a drill and get started. But that's what I did. Or tried to do.  After moving the furniture away from one wall of the master bedroom, setting up my supply station, spreading out a tarp,  getting dressed in my "worker-man overalls"and putting on my gloves, I bravely stepped up to the wall to begin drilling holes and immediately discovered that our drill battery was dead. 

What a bummer! Time out to charge the battery....which meant I took my turn holding Wilder while Kyle ran to Wal-Mart to return some stuff.  At least we've figured out how to maximize our time, right? Positivity!

After the drill was charged, I began. As you know, there are cracks galore in the house, and as a result, we haven't painted anything or hung any art. Until that happens, this house will not truly feel like our home, so I started in the master bedroom. It needs to be my place. As soon as possible.

What's the plan, you may be wondering. 
The plan is multi-phased. 
Phase 1: address the cracks by re-attaching the plaster to the lath
The process is something I've researched all over the web and here it is - 
using Big Wally's Plaster Magic:

1) using a 3/16" mortar bit, drill holes into the lath about an inch or two away from the crack moving up the crack about every other lath or so and out a bit. Despite your best efforts, you may miss the lath and go through the mortar, so mark those holes so you don't squirt in conditioner or adhesive. 

2) suction the dust out of the holes using a shop-vac

3) squirt conditioner into each of the holes (other than those marked as into the mortar) to flush away any gunk behind the holes and get the lath moist and ready to absorb the next step (wipe up any drips with a towel)

4) after about 10-15 minutes, using a caulk gun, squirt adhesive into the holes (wiping up drips)

5) about every 12" drill a mortar clamp into the wall so the adhesive squishes in a bit

6) let the adhesive cure for about 24-48 hours, then remove the screws and mortar clamps

7) fill the holes and crack with joint compound

Phase 2: skim coat.

According to my research, prior to skim coating the wall (which creates a nice, smooth surface), you have to prep the wall with some type of bonding agent. But Scott Sidler of the Craftsman blog, says there is a hybrid Modern Plaster which combines Veneer Plaster and non-setting joint compound and allows you to cover the wall with multiple coats without the pre-step of applying the bonding agent.

I plan to follow his approach.

So this is what you do for cracks.  It literally re-adheres the plaster to the lath which is why it cracks in the first place. If there are legitimate holes in the wall where the lath is visible (check), then you clear out the area and expose as much lath as necessary until you hit solid plaster/lath, and squirt conditioner all over the lath. Then, you mix up a batch of Big Wally's Patching Plaster (Rory Brennan's special blend developed to most closely replicate original plaster material) and rebuild the wall. Scratch coat, second coat (brown coats), then top coat. Then, prime and paint. 

So, obviously, I've done none of this up until now. 
Fortunately I have closet spaces which need plenty of work, including crack repair and a re-application of the top coat of plaster, so I intend to begin practicing my plaster skills in the closets. 

Then, I'll move on to the rooms. Like I said, I realize this is a SLOW process. But I'm really excited about it! So, as of this weekend, I tackled the biggest cracks on one of my bedroom walls and am waiting for the 24-48 hour period to pass before removing the wall clamps and applying joint compound to the holes. Baby steps, folks. Baby steps. 

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