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Why is it that a simple repair in an old house is NEVER simple???

Posted by moonkat99 (My Page) on
Mon, Oct 20, 08 at 19:00

So I found this beautiful 'bargain' door on craigslist, to replace my old & beat up, leaky front door. This turned in to tearing down a wall, ripping up the entry tile & replacing it, moving electrical, repairing the hardwood floor, & of course I need to re-paint the entire living room & entry & replace some of the baseboard & crown molding.

Since the olde baseboard & CM are truly fugly, I decide it's time to replace those as well. First step: remove the old baseboard.

Trying to carefully remove the old baseboard & not ruin the wallboard behind it, & it is NOT wanting to come off easily....

Old baseboard

Yeah, that worked....& I find out why it's not coming off easily....Not only is there no wallboard behind the baseboard, the baseboard is actually a 1x6 that the wallboard is sitting on top of. See the 100-yr old wallpaper covering the original wood walls?

Behind the baseboard :(

I was hoping to re-texture the hidden wallboard, & then install much shorter baseboard, but in order to do so, I now need to patch in a new piece of wallboard first. All the way around the living room. Either that or find some 6" baseboard & tack in something to even out the wall.

*Sigh* I should know by know that there's a hidden surprise behind everything I try to do in this house!!!!

Thanks for listening - just needed some understanding folk to rant to....

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Why is it that a simple repair in an old house is NEVER simpl

I just had to click on the link because the title was perfect! We always have the same problems. Nothing is ever simple!!

If it makes you feel better I had to remove wallpaper in the bathroom and I thought I had finished the job when I noticed I only removed the top layer of wallpaper. To get to the wall I had to remove paint-wallpaper-paint sandwiches at least three deep.

it was worth it though! That is what you have to remember!!

Someone must have put the new wallboard up last. This is what happened in our one bedroom. To replace the moldings to something more suitable we had to chip out areas of the wallboard that would fit the new wider moldings. For the bottom molding (original long gone) we ended up putting a spacer board up and then nailing some more suitable tall moldings on. Turned out really nice.


RE: Why is it that a simple repair in an old house is NEVER simpl

So what else is new? LOL

I used to reno century homes. It was often simpler to strip them to their frames, rewire and insulate then fiddle forever. I've since moved onto new construction.

My favourite story--fortunately not my house--was of an acquaintance. He started picking away at his downtown townhouse. By the time I saw it, you opened the front door and there was three stories of rotten framing while he was digging in a corner of the basement. Turns out the rear third of the home started out as a porch on three-foot timbers, which was enclosed then gained two more stories on top. The rest of the house had been framed with scrap lumber by non-carpenters. Bit by bit he rebuilt the entire home.

RE: Why is it that a simple repair in an old house is NEVER simpl

Maybe you should just go all the way and put in wainscoating up to a chair rail, lol. Good luck. Hope you don't uncover more problems!
We were going to repair the footings on our sagging back porch this spring, and one thing led to another including realizing that the front porch, tho not sagging (yet!)also needed a couple of new footings. And as long as the little back hoe was there why not use it to dig under the back porch to put blue board along the foundation for insulation? (Dh had been digging by hand around the rest of the house) As long as the work crew was there why not restore the railings and balusters in front downstairs to match the upper porch, plus new skirts front and back (front restored and complicated to make). And wouldn't it be nice and look more cohesive (plus be awesome to sit in 3 seasons) if the down porch in the back was screened in like the upper? Then we had to have new back steps of a suitable scale. And new granite (installed by dh) at the base of the steps. And wide boards on the corners of the house would look so much better and appropriate to the age than the silly little aluminum strips. Now we are out of money and trying to do all the painting by ourselves before winter (and before we put the screens in the frames so they won't get dirty or painty). This is the first time in over 20 yrs living there that we have paid other people to do work, except a bit of work in both bathrooms when the ceiling fell in yrs ago, and a shoring up of the back porch until we could afford what we just did. I know it will be worth it in the end though. It is so satisfying as you all know.

RE: Why is it that a simple repair in an old house is NEVER simpl

It gets better. (It usually does, doesn't it?) The 1x6 is actually a 1 x bigger-than-six, which sits below below the level of the hardwood floor.

I'm hiring Men With Tools to take care of this one!

Old Molding

worthy Thank You for that story! :D I feel SOOOO much better lol!

Kathy I flirted with the thought of wainscoting (other rooms in the house do have it already - original) but this room is only 9.5 feet wide. Every inch counts!

RE: Why is it that a simple repair in an old house is NEVER simpl

Mine isn't quite that bad, but, DH thought he would strip the layer of wallpaper in the dining room and repaint. Well, come to find out it was 3 layers of wallpaper and then he had to replace the bottom half of the drywall almost all the way around the room. Someone had taken a hammer and knocked holes in the walls about 3 feet from the floor. Sounds like a kid, doesn't it?

RE: Why is it that a simple repair in an old house is NEVER simpl

I've been party to more than a few old home renovations. I would much rather walk into such an animal where the stuff was in obvious neglect, than one where somebody, or usually more than one somebody had cobbled it up.

You gotta remember when you tackle hidden jimmy-rigging that those somebodies were not restoring an old, historical house. They were just trying to make an older and tired house fit their needs. The value of the home had degraded, as it was too old to be modern, and too young to be special.

What you have shown is NOTHING compared to what I have seen over the years. Some of it would make your hair stand on end. Such as:

The septic system comprised of two buried 55 gallon drums.
A house with two hidden rooms. Covered over with cheap wooden paneling, and one could see the windows outside, but not inside. LOL. The basement with a spring running in it, and collecting. A hutch full of mummified rabbits in a bedroom, left behind by home owners when they were foreclosed. Another house where previous tenants had a half grown child who was a pyromaniac. Not only did we have to remove old paint and wallpaper, but the scars of closets set afire. Ceilings with old leaks 'repaired' with suspended cardboard panels and finished off with shoplights dangling through screw-driver holes in the panels. Attics where hundreds of bats had lived for a century. Windows, non-functional so they just nailed them in place.

RE: Why is it that a simple repair in an old house is NEVER simpl

Laughing at the stories of the past makes the present traumas easily bearable :D

I left to run errands today, & came back to find the old baseboard gone, new wallboard in place, electrical boxes that were poking through the old baseboard have been removed, door has been adjusted & leveled, taping & texturing are happening as I type, sometimes it's such a good thing to let someone else do it....

Let's hear it for Men With Tools! lol :D

RE: Why is it that a simple repair in an old house is NEVER simpl

Ok, who are Men With Tools and where can I find them???

RE: Why is it that a simple repair in an old house is NEVER simpl

Yeah, thats a good name. We have husband for a day here, lol. The hidden rooms is kind of creepy. I wonder why?

RE: Why is it that a simple repair in an old house is NEVER simpl

LOL Men With Tools is my name for my GC & his guys.

It would be a good name though - I'd interview them :D

RE: Why is it that a simple repair in an old house is NEVER simpl

I love the title of it so true. We have spent alot of time redoing other peoples fixs in this house. The entire back half of this house was added onto my simply butting the new construction up agains the old without tying the two halfs together . So what looked like a ripple in the roof was actually where the two halfs met without joining. Even putting new carpet in was complicated by the fact that someone had torn up the old so tile or what ever and the new padding they put over it stuck to what was left of the old removed flooring so when we when to pull up the know old padding it was glued to the floor with something that looked alot like tar. So we had to remove 56 yard of padding that had to be scrapped up and no peice came up bigger than a dime. What should have taken a few hours turned into a backbreaking all weekend project.

RE: Why is it that a simple repair in an old house is NEVER simpl

If the house originally had plaster wall there is wood at the baseboard, and also often around every window.

These are plaster grounds, used to provide a reference for the plaster surface.
Putting up a from scratch plaster wall takes a bunch of steps to ensure that you end up with a nice flat plane at the exact desired location.

They may also have been used to provide a large nailing area for the baseboard so that the installer did not have to search for studs.

A lot of older moldings were cut from full thickness unplanned lumber.

The new stuff is often cut from already surfaced material (3/4 inch net thickness) making the molding thinner.

A good lumber yard will have access to thicker stock to plane down if needed.

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