Moving things around

Not a lot seems to have happened this month – that’s because I’ve been busy!   The office is now mostly cleared out and the snug is now an everything room.   I really like it and I’m surprised how much furniture I could get in there.   It never seemed that big.

The door and windows are completely stripped and just a little more prep needed before linseed paint.

snug-with-furniture

Most of the plumbing in the house has been removed, mostly so I could remove the rest of the false ceiling.    The 10 inch beam spanning the room would have been quite heavy so I propped it up on scaffold and cut it into manageable chunks.

reciprocating-saw

The ceiling supports around the edges were cross nailed into the lath and plaster supports.   They didn’t come out easily and there is more plastering to be done than it looks.

The walls are being a pain too.  They seem to have been re-plastered in the 1970s with cement and gypsum.  They have textured paint, then wallpaper, gloss paint, and finally lots of emulsion.   It is very time consuming to get back to the plaster so I’m thinking either a scabbler or just knock the whole lot off and try again.   It’ll probably be a bit of both.

ballroom-ceiling

First fix electrics on that side of the house is loosely planned in a month or so.  I’m having a rest and taking a week to tidy and organise the living spaces and then should probably get busy getting ready.

New roof on the car tent

The car tent roof was destroyed by the three weekends of winds in February.   The marquee was from Gala Tent and it had done brilliantly well having been erected as a temporary measure in 2014 – the willow has grown a bit since then.

Helen came over to help.   It was really hard work putting the new roof covering on and I’m still aching.   Normally you would lower the frame to ground level but the legs were siezed so we had to lift the heavy covering over the roof at full height using ropes and a scaffold tower.

car-tent2

Last orders at the bar please

It’s raining outside so I decided to demolish the bar.    It’s a shame as a lot of effort and craftsmanship went into that, but it’s in the middle of my dance floor and the parquet arives next week.

The bar had split the room into two corridors leaving an awkward space for the living room.    I missed the opportunity for a selfie in the photo. Too late now.  You’ll have to imagine.

bar

Removing the bar opened up and brightened the downstairs.   I found some history too.    On the right of the photo the brickwork at the end of the bar appears never to have been plastered, and the other walls have been replastered to the same level then just skimmed a little higher.  I think the room must have been wood panelled when it was built in 1920.

The dark blotch on the wall to the left indicates the location of the original entrance vestibule.  The wall also has outlines of the mouldings where they were painted around, so I have the shape of the original mouldings!   Also the colour of the original paint – a dark purple.   I had hoped to keep the current vestibule, but it is so tied in to the false ceiling I doubt it will survive the rest of the false ceiling removal.   I want to move the vestibule door to the other side too but plan to reuse the door as I think it is cool.

bar-removed

I very quickly missed the bar as it had been really useful for putting things on.   So I’ve built a new bar from solid oak bar using 52m2 of parquet flooring.   It took 3 hours just to stack the 1500 pieces so I imagine laying them might take even longer.   I was reluctant to use parquet after the 2 weeks it took to replace 6m2 in the snug, but it’s a ballroom now so it needs parquet.   I refuse to be outdone by The Palace of Versailles!

parquet-table

When it stops being rainy I’ll update the window painting post below.

Stripping the ballroom window

I painted this window myself in 2013.  6 years later the nasty horrible modern gloss paint has cracked and is peeling.   Modern gloss paint is not great for UV light so will crack and let water in.   It is also waterproof so the water can’t evaporate out again.   Modern gloss is not flexible so it first cracks at the joints where you least need water ingress.

Most of the rest of the house is finished in linseed paint and everything painted in 2015 is still perfect and well protected.  Linseed paint never needs stripping as it doesn’t crack.  It just fades (this gloss seems to have faded too) and needs toping up with another coat of linseed every 10 years or so without the need for any preparation.   Linseed oil paint is the plan for this window so I don’t need to restore it every 5 years, but for best results I need to strip the modern paint off the window..

failed-gloss-paint

It’s a big old window and I’ve been putting it off.    It’s now just about the only exterior woodwork in the house that hasn’t been stripped and repainted in Linseed paint.

Modern gloss paint is very slow to remove and the profiles are fiddly.   I reckon I’m in for 3 days stripping this window.  But the weather is really nice at the moment.   And it’s really good to chat to meighbours as they pass by my socially distancing scaffold.

Fortunately I don’t have to touch the sill as it appears to be made from cement.  It seems to be functioning OK and not causing other problems so I’m going to leave it alone – whatever wood that remains under the cement can dry to the inside.

stripping-window

I stripped the paint from inside too.   There was an amazing thickness of paint – maybe 2mm on the inside and 5mm in the corners, and all of it had been applied after 1979!   There is a detail photo here.    It wasn’t too bad a job and took a couple of days in total.

The weather forecast isn’t so good next week so I’ll make a start on the secondary glazing before finishing stripping the outside.

inside-stripped

It rained all week on and off.    I demolished the bar and then realised the front door could be lifted off it’s hinges and replaced whenever it rained so I decided to strip that too.    It is the original 1920(ish) front door.  The red bit in the middle is a panel that was replaced with plywood maybe around 1990 when the burgundy paint was applied.   The door started off white, went brown, then black, then green, burgundy, then a darker green.   I notice it hasn’t been yellow yet.

The door has survived remarkably well.  Even the very worn weatherboard at the bottom of the door is the original.   The door was re-mounted to hinge at the other side at some point, and the wear on the weatherboard suggests this was perhaps 1/3 of the way into it’s life, so maybe 1950s. A number of hinge arrangements were tried before they settled on the current one.

A few of the mouldings have been replaced and some of them don’t work very well so I’ll need to make some new mouldings that work better with the old ones before painting.   The stained glass has been lost.    Later I’ll do something completely original with that.

stripped-door

It’s a big window and taking a long time to strip.    I had a lovely day in the sunshine talking to neighbours as they walked past.    I haven’t finished stripping the window yet so I can have a lovely day tomorrow too.

Human contact has brightened my mood and I’m thinking about reinstating openers on the end bay windows so I can chat to neighbours who pass by when I’m doing the parquet floor.

stripping-top-window

Exposing the 1920s Ballroom Ceiling

I love mock tudor as much as the next person, but I think sometimes it can be taken a little too far.

mock-tudor

Above the ceiling in the foreground is a well preserved 1920s vaulted ceiling and I’ve been careful to avoid running any services in there just in case I wanted to expose it again.    Exposing the original 1920s ceiling (as well as finding a slightly different balance for the mock tudor) is my plan for the next couple of weeks.

I’ve realised it will be a super project to keep me sane during the lockdown.

laicey-legs

I’ve been unpicking the ceiling bit by bit.  It has been easy as the ceiling is nailed together and I have a crowbar and a big hammer.  With the boarding gone it is easy to see what is structural and in what order everything comes apart.

I had been a bit worried about the big beams which are made from 2 lengths of 6×2 pine nailed together so are quite heavy.    Chopping them in half then lowering them on rope worked really well and was safer than it looks in the photo!    Better to have no help as I wasn’t worrying about where anyone else was standing so could concentrate on me.

removing-beam

The main ceiling construction was nailed outwards at each end.    I found the most convenient method of removing the joists was cutting through one end with a reciprocating saw, then crowbar the joists from the central support.   Once those nails got to the end of their travel the joists started a slow and gentle fall to the gound with very little assistance and by the time they got to the ground they had extracted the nails at the other end by themselves.

Some bits will have to stay in place for now to support pipes and lighting.    Normally I have a tidy at the end of the day but removing the ceiling was exhausting so I’ll tidy tomorrow.

scaffold

It is very dark in there now.    I think the ceiling was once white but hasn’t been painted since 1920.   Pub tobacco smoke has caused it to darken.   A huge chandelier or two will hopefully brighten it up a bit.

I’ve had a sweep up and will get on with something else until I can get plumbers and electricians around to let me finish the ceiling.   I’m turning my attention to considering what sort of floor would be nice in a ballroom.   Of course the first photos that popped up were the Palace of Versailles and that was good inspiration.   I’m thinking more parquet.

Uncovering panelling around the big bay window

I’ve been putting off doing anything with the bay window in the main room, mostly because it is very big and will take ages.  The other reason is I’m trying to avoid taking another room out of action until some others are more finished.  The room was double height from the 1920s to the late 1970s when a false ceiling and mock tudor was applied inside.

The void above the ceiling can be seen here:   http://www.the-salutation.co.uk/blog/domed-lath-ceiling/  You can probably see where I’m going with this and with modern insulation and a scaffold tower for decorating it will look spectacular.

big-bay

But I don’t want to start on the main room before I’ve finished some of the other rooms.   I just want to secondary glaze the window as it was really cold in there last winter.

I’ve started off having a peek behind some of the mock Tudor and look what I’ve found – 1920s panelling!   This is going to be fun.

panelling

A bit of destruction later and it turns out the panelling extends above the window too. It has survived in remarkably good condition.   A couple of panels have been removed for access in the past, but it should be possible to make new panels and mouldings and restore the panelling.

You can see the scale of the window when there is someone in front of it on a scaffold tower.    The whole room is oversized.

laicey-scaffolding

A false ceiling was largely supported by a bit of wood bolted to the 17C timber frame.   The holes in the top of the panelling provided access for that and I can’t fit new panels until I remove the false ceiling.

The paint on the inside of the window was very thick and was getting in the way of my secondary glazing prototyping.   Removing the paint will take a couple of days, but the mouldings underneath are pretty.

paint-removal

See Further progress on the window.

Arts and Crafts Secondary Glazing

I’m retraining to do building conservation work, so if you fancy some Arts and Crafts secondary glazing my email is at the bottom of the page.    Or if you prefer making your own here is a somewhat dimensioned pdf of the profiles together with a cutting plan that didn’t account for the saw blade width.

I’ve been messing around with ideas for secondary glazing for the last couple of years.  The mainstream secondary glazing seems really ugly and very expensive.    My bay windows don’t have any openers so I’m planning to make a fixed wooden frame with a similar profile to the existing frame.    Here is my prototype.    It doesn’t quite fit together because of the curve in the bay, but it’s close enough for me.

secondary-glazing-proof-of-concept

Last year I bought a table saw and router table for the work, and enough wood for both bays.  Today I have made a start and have been creating sawdust.       As usual I’ll update this post as I go along.

If you ever buy a table saw make sure it has a cast base with some chance of staying flat.  I’ll be buying another one before doing the big bay window.

20200330_155535

The profiles worked out well.   My dimensions are a little inconsistant, but there should be some adjustment possible during fitting.  The edge mouldings went through a redesign as I realised it would be better to attach them to the window frame rather than the cill and ceiling.

Annoyingly I can’t figure out how I did some of the radiuses on the protype.  I remember putting a lot of thought into it at the time but have forgotten all that now.

glazing-profiles

Fitting the glazing frame was time consuming.    The window isn’t a very consistant shape so it took a little imagination to fit the glazing frame in a way that would accept rectangular glass.    The bay is curved and a 7 degree angle kept cropping up, and not always where I was expecting it.

glazing-fixed-part

Adjusting things to fit and then fixing the glazing frame took 2.5 days in total, more than it took to make the profiles in the first place.  After getting everything perfect I added 1mm gaps between the bits of wood to allow for some expansion.   I’ll fill those with linseed putty.

Then after all that obvious progress in just half a day.   I finished off the prep and painted the inside of the window.   In the photos it looks nice in natural finish, but in the flesh it looks a whole lot nicer in black.   It’ll go more matt once the linseed oil paint soaks into the wood and dries.

The glazing at each end is not original.  I think someone skipped some rare curved Crittall openers and replaced them with flat glass with some lead stuck on.  The middle three panels are curved.

painted-window

I maged to paint over the numbers on the secondary glazing frame pieces that told me where they fitted and was left with a jigsaw puzzle.

With the frame in place I started cutting the mouldings to size and now my brain hurts.  The parts are cut at either 45 degrees, 41 degrees or 49 degrees depending on the moulding width.  The 41 degree cuts also have a 7 degree compound angle to account for the curve of the window.   Gave up and had beer instead.

secondary-glazing-mouldings

I found cutting the profiles to shape was much easier when I used an off-cut and cut the ends to fit the angle of the uprights then marked the saw settings on the cut end.   Once I had the angles it was easy to cut mouldings to the right length and angle.   The angles were different for every piece, largely because I set the glazing to fit the window and the window isn’t quite straight.

I’m very pleased with the finished secondary glazing.  It blends in and looks like it could be a part of the original window, and will likely disappear completely once it’s black.   I think the glass will stand out much more than the frame being faceted rather than curved, but I’ll wait until I’ve finished the big window in the next room before ordering the glass.  This job has taken 7 days so far, and it’ll be interesting to see how much quicker I get on the big bay.

finished-secondary-glazing

Parquet Floor Level Sanding

Who would have thought the parquet in the last post would ever look like this? – and it’s not even finished yet!   Callum Finlay spent a day using an edge sander to get all the new blocks to the same height as the rest of the floor.  The photo shows the subsequent rough sanding using a belt sander.

floor-sanding

I’m amazed at how little material was removed and that the new bits match.  The levelling will allow me to fit the skirting, then once I’ve finished decorating Callum will come back to do the fine sanding and finishing and make it look all posh.

For the rest of the year I’ll be… er… oops.  Next year things should be more settled and I want to get back on the case with the restoration and make more things more beautiful.

Parquet Floor Restoration

The snug has a parquet floor in pitch pine about 30mm thick which is very rare these days.    I guess it was laid when the new facade was built around 1920 and since covered with carpet.   It is lovely but wasn’t laid all that well. The bitumen adhesive makes a good damp course under the blocks but they mortared it into the walls instead of leaving a gap and some damp came through, notably where they built a car park 12 inches above the inside ground level.

It will end up being be a good 2 or 3 weeks of work and a bunch of money to fix the floor, but it is charming and one of the few original features remaining inside from the 1920s so I want to have a crack at it!

rotten-parquet

The car park was fixed with a trench, and I have cut a gap below the plaster to allow an air gap between the parquet and the walls which will be covered by skirting.

Much of my parquet was rotten but I managed to find some close to the right size on eBay that I could cut down on a chop saw.   My rate for cleaning bitumen off was about 2 square meters per day, sometimes with a Bacho 665 paint scraper and other times with a heat gun depending on the type of bitumen.

peugeot-parquet

This project has been going since June in bits and pieces.   Now all of the parquet has all been cleaned but remains of bitumen on the floor still need to be flattened with the paint scraper.   There are modern glues that can stick to bitumen but modern glues will be difficult to remove in the future so I’m still taking advice.

Apart from all that I’m almost ready to lay a floor!

snug-floor-lifted

The low points in the floor were filled with Ardex 45 rapid, and I’m using Black Jack roofing adhesive to fix the parquet, buttering the blocks for good adhesion.   Both were recommended by the floor sander.  The roofing adhesive is nice to work with but takes weeks to set (heating the room helps).

The trick to laying parquet is to work to a string line.  If the blocks all line up then the gaps will be OK on the next row.  The wall edges take a long time as the blocks need to be cut to fit.

bitumin

It takes a surprising amount of time to lay parquet – two weeks to be exact.  I got fed up with it.   It didn’t help that I ran out of blocks and had to cut the face off some thin worn blocks then glue ply to the rear to bring them back to the right thickness.   I’ll try to get the room more finished before sanding and finishing.

parquet-laid

Pretty Picture

I wanted to post a photo of the front of the house as I haven’t done that in a while and all the scrolling is a pain when I want to show it to someone.   The house is starting to look tidy in places.

front-new-bay

Not a lot of progress to report.   I’ve finished the windows – they took a long time!   I’ve mortared in the new windows for air tightness and painted another coat on some of the windows so they are finished now on the outside.

Also booked a skip and had a good tidy, removed some ivy, put a bed and a radiator back into the bedroom I decorated.  All bitty things but worth doing while the weather was still good.

. bathroom-sash

I’ve finished outside for the rest of the year and hopefully will get the snug and kitchen closer to finished over the winter.

Snug Window Repairs

Slow updates – I’ve been in Sweden again.   I painted the front windows when I moved in 5 years ago, but it turns out modern oil based gloss paint is not UV resistant and the paint cracked after only a couple of years.  Problem is when you have cracked paint you need to remove it (and everything underneath) before repainting.

The front windows have very fiddly profiles and it took about 3 days to remove the modern paint with a heat gun.   Linseed paint is UV resistant and tends to dust rather than crack and just needs another splash of paint rather than stripping off, so I’ll be repainting in linseed so I can avoid doing any stripping ever again!

snug-window-stripped

When I first moved in I thought the windows were beyond repair, but looking at them now I see window frames in really good condition.

I guess the difference after 5 years is just confidence and knowing what can be done to repair them.  There is just one sill that needs to be replaced and a couple of mullions that will need some new wood letting in.   I’ve got a bunch of photos of the rotten sill and they are all in focus but appear out of focus.  The camera has seen much worse and I’m not sure why it is objecting now.

rotten-sill

Maybe the camera was right.  The sill was quite rotten and I ended up removing it right back to the inner face of the window.  The rot in the mullions has been cut out at an angle to allow water to drain when the finish cracks.

That committed me to the scary bit – it would be my first time replacing a window sill, and this one is in a curved bay which complicates things.   I practiced on modern wood before attempting the repair.

sill-removed

The new sill was made from the sill of the original sash removed from the back bedroom – 100 year old wood is much more durable than the stuff available today and also much harder to cut.

The curve was cut with a bandsaw and the taper added with a planer.   Repairs to the profiled mullions were cut with the bandsaw.  A new box of chisels was involved too.   I’m quite pleased with myself – some tidying still needed but it looks the part.

new-sill

The gaps and cracks were filled with linseed putty and the first coat of linseed oil paint is looking fabulous.   I went for black to match the rest of the woodwork on the facade and to balance the top-heavy look of the half timber upper floor.  I prefer it to the before photo of the facade here, but it doesn’t seem quite right yet.

window-painted

I still need to fill around the window with lime mortar, then paint another coat or two.   Also the lead roof still needs to be fitted.  I’ve been stripping the inside of the window on and off as the profiles look prettier without 1mm of paint, but that will be a fill in job as I’m determined to work outside while the weather allows.

New Windows!

John came over to fit the 3 upstairs windows this week (he made them at the same time as the kitchen window but I hadn’t got around to preparing the openings until recently).  The windows were made from Douglas fir painted with linseed paint and have double glazing and sealing strips.  They operate very smoothly.

new-kitchen-bathroom-windows

I still need to do something with the arch on the downstairs window which has sagged a bit.   Here is a before picture:

old-kitchen-window

The rear of the house has some nice features.   I’m tempted to remove the flat roof infill with the patio doors to the left to expose the walls and let a bit more light inside.

Electrics Second Fix

Second fix electrics started today and is already more than half complete.   I’m excited to have lots of lights and switches and sockets in the kitchen now.   I forgot to buy bulbs!

After the lights went in I started fiddling around with kitchen layout again and moved the fridge for at least the third time.  I no longer need to incorporate an enormous American fridge freezer, so I have space for a table at the end if I can find somewhere else to put a normal fridge (represented by a cardboard box for now).   Mostly the lights are still in the right place.

kitchen-layout

The new consumer unit is fitted, and will eventually be inside a nice cupboard with a shelf above.   The old one will have to remain until the rest of the house is rewired and the hole in the ceiling above it will  make decoration tricky.   Fortunately I have a floor to finish before I need to worry too much about that.

fusebox

We haven’t had much history for a while!  I changed my mind about a couple of light locations and pulled the bedroom floorboards up again.    This is the floor above the very bendy ancient ceiling in the snug with inch thick straw plaster.    The floorboards are up to 9 inches wide, and the beams near the chimney are 7 inches square.

The huge beams have been re-purposed from somewhere and I guess they were installed when the chimney was built.  The wiring is passing through handy mortise holes so the beams are on their side now, but previously they must once have been the middle beam in a 2 storey wall.   My first best guess was the chimney was added somewhere around the year 1700 based on the thin wide bricks and English bond brickwork, but the joists further into the room are neatly sawn 1.5 inches by 6 inches which would have needed more technology than they had in 1700 so I need to do more research!

floor-beams

Some time later – the magic of electricity!   There is a light switch near every door, but I’m so used to having no lights I still stumble through the rooms in darkness.

I bought a bunch of random clearance LED bulbs really cheap from Screwfix and have been experimenting.  The light to the right is 2700K and the orange lights in the alcoves are 1800K.    I shall experiment some more once the room is decorated.

light-bulbs

Preparing for New Sash Windows

Finally a building regs change of use job unless I get distracted.   They want me to replace a pretend sash window in a bedroom for fire egress.  There are another couple of other late 20th century windows that would need secondary glazing and it’s only twice the price to just replace them to get all the windows to match.

There is some prep work before the new windows can be fitted – I’m missing both the stone sill and the brick arch in the bathroom window, and want to replace a cracked stone sill which is falling towards the house in a bedroom.

The bathroom window may have been installed in 1996 (judging by the newspaper stuck into the gaps) but the wood sill was quite rotten.  It came out very easily – fortunately the cement wasn’t stuck to the bricks!  The new windows will look like the replacement kitchen window.

bathroom-window-removed

The new stone sill is now fitted in the bathroom window opening and I’ve trial fitted the new brick arch for the first time.  It nearly fits, though the mortar gaps are still a little small.  The Georgians never added an arch to this window so I’m copying the Edwardian arches further along the wall.   The middle of the arches are all 1 1/2 inches higher than the edges whatever the width which simplifies things as every opening is a different width.

trial-fit-arch

There is another heatwave at the moment which is very bad for lime mortar but great for linseed oil paint.  I’ll get on with gloss work inside and finish the arch next week when the weather cools.

Linseed paint is a real pain – it is lovely to apply but takes well over a day to dry to the touch, then never really drys because it is oil not paint.  But it’s fantastic stuff!  It’s why you can still find original Geoirgian windows around.   A 200 year life would be pushing it for modern paints which crack after 3 years and then trap the moisture needed to rot the wood.

painted windows

I’ve exposed an original stone window sill in the bedroom and have added a photo only because I couldn’t find a photo on the internet while researching my missing sills.   The wall is maybe late Georgian or early Victorian, but (edit) I’m going to bet the sill is from 1920 and was re-purposed from the bricked up window in the other bathroom.  I ordered a new sill to replace it, but the crack wasn’t that bad so I’ll save the sill for when I reinstate the window in the original location.

The sill is flat and 9 inches wide, same as the wall thickness, but set with a 2 inch overhang and also extends 2 or 3 inches either side of the outside opening.   That leaves a bit extending inwards to support the sash window.   I’m not sure mine ever had a fall to shed water, but the new ones are going in with roughly 1 in 25 fall.

stone-sill

The arch is finished and I’m quite pleased that it looks like it has always been there.   Must have been as it turns out to be nearly impossible to retrofit an arch directly under the roof.

Access was limited by the roof and guttering and no access from above made the last brick especially challenging requiring a gravity defying brick pointing finger (I use cut down table knives) to apply a very small amount of mortar at a time, then on edge to compress it down to the base of the arch.   Much mortar ended up on the ground.

window-arch

I messed up on the window height for the bedroom window.  The sill had a fall back towards the house, and resetting it to fall away from the house reduced the space available for the window and  now I’m 10mm short.

The lintel was squint and looked a bit loose so I’ve taken the opportunity to re-bed the lintel a little higher which gives most of the space I need.  The sill might end up being a tiny bit low but I have some room to work with now and can at least get a little mortar underneath it.

bedroom-window-hole

Of course as soon as I make a huge hole in the bedroom wall we have heavy rain and thunderstorms!  The trick to sill fitting is to set out the sill on spacers and then push the mortar 3 inches underneath from each side and compress with the pointing finger.

The old window went quickly back in the opening after it started raining, and the new fall to the sill turns out to make it thunderstorm proof.  Even with all the gaps no water got in at all despite the heavy rain bouncing off the glass.  The two bricks above the sill are a job for tomorrow – the thunderstorm was quite unexpected as I hadn’t looked at the weather.   Waterproofing seems to be more about falls than sealing everything up.   I’m tempted to seal the new windows in with lime mortar which should allow the wood to dry after thunderstorms faster than burnt linseed sand.  Not using silicone as that would rot the wood even when it isn’t raining.

new-sill-bedroom

With the scaffold tower down it looks so cool to have an arch and a sill in the bathroom opening – they transform the window.   The new window is loosely in place behind the arch former, but only the top sash is resting in there at the moment.   I’ll post some before and after pictures after the new windows are fitted.

The same bricks were used in the photos below and above.   I think the north wall is so clean because it was limewashed from new.

bathroom-window-opening

A photo of the new bathroom window here.

Plastering the Snug

I’m sweating away in the heatwave doing plaster repair in the snug.   There is not much to see in the photo – a lot of the snug was back to brickwork behind the late 20th century wood paneling and the leak from the bay window and the electricians took a bit more off.   I’ve patched that all back to level, but the Georgian plaster on the other walls is in poor condition having been messed with and will likely need a skim.

The ceiling is remarkable.   It has an inch of plaster with straw reinforcement.   It is probably the oldest and most bendy bit of plaster left exposed in the building so I’ll not mess with it apart from filling in some of the larger gaps and then lots of lining paper.

snug-plaster-started

I ran out of lime plaster and took a break to paint the upstairs bedroom.  After the new plaster arrived I skimmed 2 walls and have a nice flat and smooth finish.  I used Ecomortar R50 ultra fine plaster – it is lime based with some additives to help it stick to different backgrounds and something to make it set in a couple of hours to avoid shrinkage cracking, but it still seems reasonably breathable.  Turns out to be a lot quicker to skim than to patch.

snug-walls

Working around the room the fireplace is next.   The original plaster was quite thick so the scratch coat will take a few days to dry before I can skim over the whole fireplace.  Next is figuring out how to plasterboard the stud wall with the electrics in the way.

fireplace-scratch-coat

This is a bit more like it.   I didn’t quite get the curved edge for the front of the fireplace while plastering (I have a cunning plan for a bit of apparent craftsmanship in the snug).  The latest idea is using a guide propped up by bits of wood together with a concrete edging trowel with some spacers glued to the edge.

To the left of the fireplace the wires in the cable entry for the new consumer unit are propped up while glue for the slate insert dries.  I’ll wrap some intumescent pipe wrap around the wires.   I don’t want any electrical fires getting into the void behind the plasterboard as it is ventilated to the roof space to keep the external timber frame dry, but the inside stud walls are all filled with the horribly combustible insulation they insist on these days.  The stud wall is there for the same reason as the upstairs stud wall – I want to be able to replace the common bricks used outside to replace the bottom of the timber frame with some nicer ones.

fireplace-plastered

Finally looking in the same direction as the first photo and almost ready for decorating (apart from to the right of the window where the old electrics will have to remain until the other side of the house has been rewired).  I’ll paint directly on the plaster behind the new electrics – it is mean to wallpaper behind consumer units!

snug-plastering-finished

New Snug Bay Window Roof

The problem with the Snug roof was it used to fall towards the house.   Water would puddle until it was deep enough to overflow to the front.   I think the roof was built with no fall, then started falling towards the house as the timber framed facade settled with the weight of all the brick infill  This photo was taken April 2015.

puddle-on-bay

Setting up to make the roof fall away from the house turned out to be unreasonably complicated.  If I made the rear of the roof straight it would end up 40mm too high at each end so I set up from the front of the curved bay.   Wedges cut to fit on top of the existing joists are set to about a 1 in 50 fall which means the roof has ended up higher in the middle than at the ends. Fortunately It looks OK from across the road.

The way to do this is to clamp a new bit of wood to the side of the existing joist, set the new wood to the correct height and angle, then draw a pencil line from the existing joist for cutting.   I’ve gone for a small ventilation gap under the front of the roof and added 100mm of insulation with an air space above before the roof went on.

snug-roof-wedges

The roof is made from redwood tongue in grove planks (which were cupped making them a real hassle to work with).   John suggested using a circular saw to cut the curve and it worked a treat.

I’ve gone for an inch more overhang than before to make sure the roof drips past the stone sill below.

roof-planked

Hopefully it won’t rain too much before I get the leadworkers in.

Snug Bay Lintel Repair

I had been putting off the snug bay window.   The roof falls towards the house and has leaked for a long time.   A temporary roof covering went on over a year ago after we knocked off some failed plaster and found wet structural wood behind.

snug-bay-roof

The reason I had put off the job was concern about rot in the lintel visible from below.   Thankfully it was nowhere near as bad as I feared.   The bearing surface had rotten causing the lintel to fall by about 10mm,  but the rot was localised and the rest of the beam was still in surprisingly good condition.

beam-end-rot

All the beam needed was a new end.   A steel plate will now act as a bearer for the lintel.   Next job is to fix the hole that has appeared in the bay roof.    I’m planning a new bay roof that falls away from the house.

steel-plate

Snug Fireplace

The bedroom is finished apart from paint and I’ve started on the snug.   I’m planning to fit a wood burner and have removed the late 20th century fireplace to get back to the builders opening.

The brickwork is not presentable and will need to be plastered.  My idea is to leave a brick arch exposed to add some interest.   In the photo the arch former is in position for a trial fit of the arch.  The OSB board above the baby acros is there to provide a surface to line up the face of the arch which will be 10mm proud of the brickwork.

arch-template

The arch uses the same bricks as in the main room.  The colour differences between the bricks should be reduced when they are sealed. Failing that I will have a multi-coloured arch.

It’s a bit mean to future historians to build the arch in 100 year old bricks so I’ve made good use of red bricks left over from the new build next door to fill gaps where fireplace mounting wood was removed, and also a couple of loose bricks above the arch that I have saved to match replacement bricks for the exterior wall.

arch-complete

I think the sides of the fireplace opening will need to be plastered as the corners of the bricks have been knocked off.  Possibly I will be able to only plaster the corners and make a nice curve.   I’ll likely leave the back of the opening in sooty brick.

Plaster Conservation (with Lining Paper)

The Bedroom is one of the older rooms in the house.   The blue colour is distemper on top of haired lime plaster on wattle and daub. The pink (a gypsum skim over lime) was applied by the people* who filled in the door opening to the right, raised the ceiling, then chopped a new door opening through the wall plate!

*I’ve been calling them Edwardians but it seems that Gypsum became popular only after WW1 when skilled plasterers were killed and a new generation took over.   The remodel was complete before 1926 and started after William Thomas became landlord in 1910.  I’m going to change my estimate to 1920.

I’ve exposed the beams (I think the wall plates were originally exposed or hidden by the ceiling.  The tie beam was originally above the ceiling).

bedroom-plaster

The original plaster was protected by wallpaper and is still in reasonable condition after several hundred years.  Originally lining paper was applied before paint, and it is is lovely to be able to take off layers and layers of paint and get back to nice smooth plaster using only a wallpaper stripper.

So I’m being nice to future restorers and covering the original plaster back up with lining paper before paint (using a cold water paste so the paper can come off again in the future).   It is my first time wallpapering and lining paper seems forgiving.   On the far wall the outline of the timber frame is quite visible through the paper.

lining-paper

It looks a lot better with the lining paper finished.   I went for maybe 0.5mm or 1mm gap between the sheets, then painted the joints, then used filler to hide the gap.    The paint allows the filler to be sanded a little and the joints in the paper aren’t noticeable after paint.

lining-finished

A bit of paint later and the room is closer to being finished.   Ceiling needs another coat and I might yet continue the wall paint past the beams towards the ceiling.

bedroom-paint

I did end up painting up to the ceiling above the beams.   Looks more balanced, but there is something very nice about bare wood against white walls.

I’m back – with a beam

After getting home it took a while to build up the enthusiasm to start again.  I burned out a bit in Finland and lost a couple of months getting myself back together.

I’m starting on a bedroom.  There were some beams sticking out of the wall left over from the 17th century structure which had been plastered over and then painted gloss black.  I thought they would look nicer exposed, but one of them had been really roughed up to take the plaster.

beam1

The wood was really tough!  I ended up spending a day with a very sharp hand axe to take the surface off.  With some sanding (after the photo was taken) to reduce the axe marks it isn’t looking too bad.   It isn’t the prettiest beam in the world but doesn’t look quite so objectionable.

beam2

More soon.   I’ve been plastering!