Wednesday, July 15, 2015

On Being Fickle

It is extremely rare for me to strip the paper I hang due to a change of mind on the part of the customer. This was a strange case.
The first job we did for Walnut Ridge townhouses was two show homes, where we papered a feature wall in the master bedroom and a main floor powder room. here

Then I get a call from the builder saying that one of the show homes was sold but the buyer did not like the wallpaper so the builder hired someone to strip it. Then, the customer, seeing the plain walls, wanted the paper back on the wall, at least in the power room.

We went back last week and re-installed the paper. It was easy because our old markings and plumb lines were still visible. The temperature in the vacant suite was intolerable but with plenty of spray bottles and cool water, we kept the adhesive workable and did the job in record time. While we were there, another new home owner came to see what we were doing and that little visit resulted in another job.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Home Construction Project

The new back steps project began with a challenge. How do you haul 12' material home in a truck with a 6' box. My Brother-in-law came to the rescue with his load extender which fit snugly onto the hitch on the back of my truck. I was grateful for only one steep uphill grade all the way home.

Setting up tools and saw horses in the back yard. The lawn may be toast, literally, but at least there was shade.

Old steps down and the first stringer up.

Andrew screwing down the second last tread.

He doesn't know I took this photo. Hehe.

Complete except for painting the rail, some of which we had to replace with new wood.

New treads all cut, primed and painted.

We used treated lumber for the stringers. They will last beyond my lifetime.
Let the winter rains come now because I have one less thing to worry about.
But now for that roof that is twenty years old next year. The cost of the stair project was under $200 in materials. The roof .... well, my first estimate came in and it is $12000.00

Friday, July 10, 2015

White Coat Syndrome

I was at the Allergy Doctor's the other day and soon the allergies became a secondary issue. As is routine, my blood pressure was taken and the nurse was alarmed, but not as much as I was when she told me what the reading was. I was somewhat prepared for this as it happens whenever I go to the doctor. Think about it. Why does one go to the doctor if not for the reason of discussing health issues that may or may not be serious at my age. It is natural for even that small amount of anxiety to raise one's blood pressure.
My family doctor does not even test my blood pressure any more because he knows this. Besides he also knows that I test it regularly at home with my state of the art blood pressure monitor.
This was not good enough for the allergy doctor (Doctor of Internal Medicine) so he prescribed a 24 hour monitor to be worn by me right during the hot days of June. Every twenty minutes it squeezed me. At night it was every hour on the hour.
I was more than glad to say good-bye to it the next day, and more than glad to hear that my blood pressure is more or less normal. The nurse was a little reluctant to eat the crow that I tried to serve up.
As for the allergies, well, that will be posted another day.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

My Back Steps

I live in a house that was built in 1976. These back steps that lead up to my deck were well built and are still fairly sturdy but the time has come to replace them. The bottom of the stringers are rotted and we have propped up the bottom tread a few times. My biggest headache regarding these steps is the maintenance. I know what to do and how to do it, but the paint job on these steps, no matter how meticulous the prep and expensive the paint, does not last more than two years because of the deteriorating condition of the wood. This year with the very hot and dry temperatures, the wood had shrunk and dried to the point where it is checked and cracked beyond repair.
This whole stair case, left alone going forward, may collapse in maybe two to three years.

Only two years ago, there was an impeccable paint job on these treads.

The stringer split at a knot and once water gets under the tread and into the stringer, it is a matter of time for rot to set in.

The top hanger plate has dry rot and one can poke a pencil almost straight through it. Walking up and down, the stairs are 
 beginning to shake a bit

But, mostly, they are ugly. It is time for a home repair project. Andrew my son, where are you? I need your help.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Grass, Again

The sellers of Grass Cloth highly recommend that the purchasers of this product do not attempt to hang it themselves. And rightly so. It was a vicious learning curve for me, many years ago, but today with my experience and own personal technique, I quite enjoy it and the only problem I ever run into is the obvious discrepancies in the product from one roll to the next.
You can even see the difference between panels in the above photo. They are off two rolls of same pattern and batch number. This variation cannot be seen when stretching the paper on the table or floor as the wrinkles and unevenness prevent seeing it accurately. Once it is on the wall, two adjacent panels are stretched and smoothed onto the wall and the variation is very obvious.
In this one that we did on Saturday, I pointed it out to the customer and she was perfectly fine with it. There was a large screen TV going on the wall and the transition was going to be right behind the TV.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Thank the Dogs

Estimating over the phone is a risky business, especially when I have consented to drive almost 100 km. one way to do a job. He described the room, together with accurate dimensions and told me how much wallpaper he had. Based on that information, I calculated that there would be enough and that I could finish the job in about 6 hours and it was a 'go'.
Things are not always quite the way a customer describes them on the phone. He and his very pregnant girlfriend (fiancé) had decided a week prior that they would do the job themselves and had hung two pieces starting from behind the door. After having great difficulty, they called me.
I have always disliked fixing other's mistakes. I make enough of my own that I am obliged to fix. In this case, they had a major problem with seams not lying down and not being quite together from top to bottom. Pre-pasted paper can be that way, and most often is. Good news was that the mistakes were behind the door but the bad news is that I do not work from left to right. It is in my DNA to work from right to left. Here I had no choice because there was a pattern that now had to continue from where it was started.
Add to that was the suspicion that there was not going to be enough. I asked him why there was so little paper left on the roll when he had only hung two strips. Apparently the dogs stepped on the paper as it was lying on the carpeted floor and their paws 'n claws had ripped a substantial amount of paper. He had thrown that damaged paper in the garbage. We promptly measured the wall area and determined how much paper was actually on all the remaining rolls. The original amount would have been perfect but now we were going to be short.
There are always options and one of them was that we could fudge the pattern in four inconspicuous areas and thereby not lose paper when matching the pattern. If we did that, there would be just enough. At this point, the customer informed me that they were only renting and that mismatching was fine with them. I do not like putting my name to something like that and told them so. But the alternative was to drive back at a later date, and customer laying out more money that could go for something else for the new baby room, so they insisted I mismatch.
After giving it careful thought, I did just that. When the room was completed, I called the lady in and challenged her to find one of four mismatches. Her initial confidence of being able to do that quickly turned to disbelief as she could not find a single one.