Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Fun with painters - survived day 1!

Today the painters arrived bright and early at 8AM: Thanks heaven my mom managed to keep them busy in the kitchen and a few other rooms till 10 when I had to get up anyway. Big kudos to her for that!

All windows have the outer casements out for painting and the frames received their first coat of paint inside and out. Where the old and new paint meet it looks terrible - the crisp fresh white paint makes the yellowed, chipped and lord knows what else old white paint look even mor terrible! Unfortunately the inners are a complete strip and repaint job and that's a tough (and dusty) decision in a room filled with electronics, vinyl records, 3.5" floppy disks, cassette tapes,...
My bedroom window frame has a few considerable holes which they didn't bother to patch, I hope they do that tomorrow. If not... one more thing on the list of complaints.

We told them to paint the inside of the WC window blue to match the frame (and repaint that too since it's already part of the quote) since I painted the frame like 7 years ago, we even supplied the paint... which they promptly left when they took off with the casements in two. The frame isn't painted either.

When I came home from university I found my oriantal rug grey instead of red, blue and pink - dust and dirty shoes. Near the window it had been covered with paper which was covered with paint chips. Oh, and they TAPED plastic to my curtains! No real idea what that was supposed to do anyway, it neither reaches down to the floor nor up to the ceiling. Pretty pointless! They didn't cover my desk either (as I had specifically requested to protect my vintage reel tape recorder and computer).

To sum it up, it would bee too much to say I'm pissed off, but I'm definitely annoyed. They left the kitchen floor covered with paint chips too btw!

One thing I most definitely know now: Don't EVER believe anyone telling you that single glazed windows are just as good as single glazed windows with storms and storms are only wasted money! These aren't fancy thermopane windows, just two panes of ordinary glass with roughly 6" of dead air space in between, but there's a huge difference! It's getting COLD in here with only single glazed windows!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Prep and paint fun

As I mentioned in my last post we're having the window painted in 4 apartments and the stairway. The apartments have "Kastenfenster" which means two casements built into one extra-thick frame, like with permanent storms. The stairway was always meant to be unheated and thus only received single-glazed casements. Of course the very day they were taken out for painting we had the first day of snow. And they couldn't even tarp the opening because the frames had been painted inside and out. So Wednesday morning we had snow on the interior stairs. Thankfully they're terrazzo so no damage done. It was awfully slippery though.
Nice view, isn't it? (the night after I took the picture it started to snow).
Then the painters tried to rig up a tarp held in place inside of the frame held in place with pieces of trim, but that didn't last too long, the wind ripped it to shreds the following night. Ah well... now they're done.

Tomorrow they're scheduled to start on our apartment, which means the chaos is really going to invade our living space. The last weekends have been spent with frantic furniture moving (for example my brother had set up his drum set in front of the window) and general tidying up - for two reasons: a) we don't want the painters to think we're complete messies (and need to give them space for setting up ladders) and b) we don't want too much dust on our stuff, so we tried to store away as much as we could - anything that doesn't get dusty in the first place won't have to be cleaned afterwards.

Another pressing job is cleaning up the hardware. When those windows were last painted ca. 1990 those incredibly incompetent morons were too f*ing lazy to mask the brass handles, so they just painted them white!
Unfortunately no one complained back then (I was 5 or 6, had I been older and more experienced I think I'd have make them lick off the paint!), so now we're stuck doing it ourselves. Removing the handles and cooking them sounds like a good idea... until you realise that they can't be removed. The brass handles have steel spindles like door knobs. Only there is no second knob with a set screw... the spindles were simply hammered flat on the outside to stay in place forever! (I once saw a window being completely trashed on a replacement job that's how I know... and yes, vinyl replacements are just as poupalr here as they are in the US).

My first attempt was scraping using something that won't scratch the brass. My eyes fell on an old geometry triangle with nice sharp plastic edges. It worked, at least to some extent. Where the paint was too thick; I still needed a metal scraper. Once the paint is removed, you're faced with very uneven and partially removed patina, so the brass needs to be polished (it was supposed to be polished every few weeks anyway, beautiful patina wasn't something for early 20th century housewives).
Our front windows (we have four of them) are tripartition casements with opening transoms. That makes 6 inner windows and 6 outers. With two handles each. That makes 12 handles per set, 24 per window. I don't need to do the inners (they won't be painted anytime soon) but it's still 36 handles (one window is sheltered enough it doesn't need to be painted, besides there's a large-ish balcony in front of it so we can paint it ourselves). I got my bedroom completely done last weekend and the "salon" stripped (but not polished) yesterday.
I tried the heat gun too, but mostly it just gummed up the paint instead of loosening it, so I went back to cold and dry scraping. I might try some 000 steel wool for cleanup today (my parent's bedroom window still has to be done).

You might ask yourself why I strip the hardware before the windows are repainted if I alreay suspect it might get painted over again... well a) stripping the hardware tends to damage the paint around the handles too. b) I absolutely don't want the painters to have ANY excuse for painting the hadware again! ("But it was painted, we thought it was supposed to be like that!") - they already DID slap on another coat on one window in our neighbor's apartment. So no, I absolutely don't trust them.

Now for some fun: about half an hour of hard work took this

to this
to this:

Much better, isn't it? (I'm talking about the handle, not Blogger formatting which keeps driving me up the wall...)