Newie Needs Direction

Jane RaffertyOctober 29, 2009

We bought a fixer-upper, put up a fence, rescued some dogs and then my husband got sick - really sick - and so I'm on my own with a house that's basically a disaster. All rooms need paint, the living room has some cracks and chips to repair in the drywall first, woodwork is a nice honey-brown but filthy/stained/paint-spotted and probably junk wood put into this 1958 ranch house. It still had the original orange shag carpet when we bought it!

Carpet is up and I have bare wood floors that were supposed to be hardwood but were ruined long ago. Sigh. Still deciding what to put down with the dogs here. I also need a new roof which I hope to do in the spring and piece away at the rest of it -- but I have NO idea where to start or how to do any of the repairs.

Is there a website, or a book anyone can recommend for a complete novice trying to do a lot of this herself, with some professional help, of course.

I'm feeling really overwhelmed by it all. :(

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I'm curious about two things, first the woodwork, I suggest that you take a piece off , where it won't be noticed and have a look at the back of it to see just what it is. I don't know where you are or what type of woodwork the builders were using there in the 50's but you might be surprised. Secondly, the floors, you said they were supposed to be hardwood, what are they and why are they ruined? Shortly after I retired , we bought a 1918 house with hardwood on the main level. The floors on the 2nd level were carpeted . We ripped off the carpet and the underlay, and the second layer of underlay, and the asphalt tile and the construction paper and found painted 4inch groove and tongue . Unsure of where to go with this next, we scraped a small section of the 8 or more layers of paint and found spruce, lowly cheap spruce!. Soooo, we scraped and scraped and sanded with a large vibrating sander ( NOT a Belt ) and finished with 5 coats of urethane . The finished product would take your breath away ! As for where to start, thats up to you, other than to say fix what has to be fixed first, the roof, does it leak ? If so , that's #1. I'm sure you'll get plenty of advice here as to what to do and how to do it from what I've seen since I joined less than a week ago. Good luck!

    Bookmark   October 29, 2009 at 8:14PM
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From my experience, hard wood floors are not the best to have with dogs ... mine have gotten scratched pretty badly form their nails ... and yes I know, I should trim their nails more often.

I agree that if the roof is leaking, then that is the 1st repair needed.

If not, then tackle one room at a time. Find a room that will be easy to do first, that you could actually relax in while working on the rest. Don't try to do something in too many rooms at the same time, that will drive you nuts.

Very sorry to hear about your husband.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2009 at 2:30PM
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Jane Rafferty

Thanks for the replies. :)

The floors were wet, probably dog urine and left to sit and warp and one area in what used to be the dining area is splintered a bit. I work with a guy who does hardwood floors on the side (used to do it full time) and said if it is stained those won't come out and it has a lot of dark stains on it. I've thought about sanding it and finishing it stains and all, but dogs slide really badly on slick floors and they are more of a priority than looks.

I don't know if the roof is leaking - I'm afraid to go up and look. :( We were told we needed a new roof 4 years ago. Nothing is leaking in, so it's probably holding its own, but barely and I have no gutters anymore.

I've been told that refinishing woodwork is very hard work and I'm slightly disabled. From what I gather, it needs to be pried loose and taken where it can be worked on and then put back up. This is pretty intimidating, but maybe not as bad as me trying to sit on the floor and work on it and then try to get back up.

It seems as if I'm spinning because I can't do one thing until I do something else first - none of which I know how to do. If anyone knows of a book on how to do this stuff and where to start I'd love to know about it.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2009 at 7:40PM
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1st where is your hubby? Is he in the house? Might want to either fix Living room or master bedroom 1st. He needs attractive place to be & if he is going to need hospital bed that usually goes in LR. So choose 1 & check each wall & work from ceiling on down. Have a good 6 ft ladder, be sure you open it up all the way, put furniture in center of room if you can't move it too much & repair walls. Is it plaster or sheetrock/drywall. If it's drywall then you just fill holes in with either Spackle & putty knife & when dry sand smooth with sanding block or bathroom caulk smoothing so won't show when painted, you do that with damp finger. If crack isn't too wide, less than 1/4 in. you can caulk it in also. I live in Ca. lots of quakes out here. Caulk(Dap Quik caulk)I think it's called fills in cracks & they don't reopen as it "gives" with quakes. Spackle splits back open, I don't like doing things twice. Smooth that with damp finger when crack is filled so it is even with rest of wall.Have a quite wet rag & push your finger in it & go couple of inches & when it doesn't look smooth dampen your finger again. Do ceilings require anything be done? May have to leave them if it's more than just painting.I forgot, You should wash down walls before repairing, with TSP(gotten at hardware store or Home Depot) you can't paint greasy or smokey walls & get a nice job. Have 2 buckets 1 with TSP in it mix as says on container other with clean water & wipe with the TSP then go over same area with clean water so you don't have to get up & down the ladder. Helps to have something to set both buckets on. Plastic covered table etc. When the walls are clean,including mopboards & patched you could try removing some mopboard biggest problem is sometimes "glued" to wall with yrs of paint. If you do get it off mark it on the back, LR east wall or someway you will know where it goes. It is much simpler to sand it or scrape paint off it or even take it outside on a nice day & strip it back to original wood color.Could be just scuffed up & with paint spots removed just needs some stain & varnish. Some people clean it with paint thinner but do that outside as flamable, just get little on rag & wipe it down, if it come clean & next day looks good may not need stain & varnish but I am pretty sure it will.Would be nice to get the floor done in that room while mopboards are off but you only have so much energy. I have good luck using a very dull paring knife to get paint off mopboards & I restain without removing them. I have carpet & I just hold a stiff political ad(always can find something to do with that stuff) or stiff ad from magazine,etc & just go along the board with a rag with stain on it(not soaked, just in small area) varnish I do same stiff ad with a good 1 1/2 in bristle brush ,moving the ad along as you go to keep any stain or varnish off the floor.Others need to tell you if best to do floors 1st or after you have painted I would think 1st,if sanded & if your guy can do just 1 room at a time Close off as much of rest of house with some plastic sheeting, can get large roll at Home Depot 4 mil I think so won't tear like the cheap stuff & can reuse it all through the redo.So at least start washing & repairing the walls & see how you do. With sick DH you already have hands full. Have any kids that could come for weekend & lend you a hand??You could get place patched & washed down won't look so intimidating or they could help you get 1 room done. 1st room is worst then you get the hang of it. Hope it goes well for you! Might want to make up couple of casseroles & freeze for quick meals while working on all this.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2009 at 1:35AM
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Obviously if the roof is leaking, that needs to be your first priority. Water can cause a lot of damage.

Beyond that, painting is pretty easy for a DIYer. Prep is the key to a good paint job. Get yourself a small bucket of drywall mud and fix the dings and cracks. Make sure the walls are clean and then paint.

There are good gel stains and topcoats that make finishing trim in place relatively easy. Start with a good cleaning of the wood work with some TSP and see what you have. Then a light sanding. a little stain to cover the imperfections and even out the color, followed by a topcoat.

Until your sure the dogs are fully potty trained, I'd wait on the floors.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2009 at 6:16AM
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Try This Old House,

Try your library for remodeling books. Ours has many, though most are dated. Browse the bookstores - sit there and read before you buy.

Taunton Press has the best books; Rennovation, 3rd edition might help you.

Go slowly, be patient and enjoy yourself.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 6:32PM
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