Monday, October 27, 2014

Still crawling or just standing?

The beginning of a new university semester, along with the usual leftover exams from last semester (according to Austrian law you have four chances to sit a lecture exam, one at the end of the semester, one at the beginning of the following semester, one in the middle and one at the end, half a year after the first. It's your choice which one you pick, although the longer you wait the less you remember of the lecture and if you happen to fail one sitting, you can always re-sit the exam - provided you didn't fail the fourth sitting). That was quite stressful and kept me from working at the house.

Last weekend was dedicated to the renovation again but not much was done. First I tried the chemical paint stripper on the bedroom door. My verdict: never again! The manufacturer/distributor didn't bother to provide a proper MSDS sheet so I was left to guesswork, but my dad, who studied chemistry, said the stripper is probably ethyl acetate based. Not very toxic, but incredibly smelly and it can make you slightly dizzy.
Worst of all it didn't work. Not too well at least. The first side of the door was covered with stripper and then cleaned up with a scraper one hour later. The very top coat bubbled up nicely and prevented the solvent from reaching all the others! It was possible to remove the top coats of white modern oil paint with some (considerable) effort but the original grey linseed oil paint just laughed at me. Fair enough, at least it's smooth enough to paint over.

The second side was even worse. This time I covered the stripper with a polythene sheet and let it sit for almost four hours, hoping the paint would soften more. Ha! This side had three layers instead of two, the top coat(s) of white oil paint, an unknown yellowish layer and the grey linseed oil paint. The white separated, as before, the yellow gummed up and turned incredibly sticky and the grey didn't budge, not even in spots where the other layers had chipped off and I applied the stripper directly to the linseed oil paint. It took hours with a scraper, steel wool and paint thinner to get most of that crap off. That leaves sanding, some filling and painting.

I also fixed the attic door. Apparently some time after installation the door expanded and popped off the casing with the strike plate. I completely removed that, removed some plaster so I could move it slightly outwards and then nailed it back into place at a slightly different angle, moving the bottom away from the door by a few millimetres while keeping the mitred joint at the top more or less tight. While doing that I discovered that the door had an incredibly thick layer of paint and wood filler in spots (I swear, some of it was several millimetres thick!) that prevented it from closing properly. So I grabbed the heatgun and removed some of that. Turns out the door was originally shellaced and cleans up rather nicely! I ended up stripping half of it in just a few hours. I'd love to take it back to exposed wood but we'll see how that goes. There are three doors in that section of the hall, one was simply painted over the original shellac (perfect for stripping), one had the shellac mostly removed but enough left for easy paint removal and the third, unfortunately, has always been painted. Maybe I'll just repaint that a dark brown to match the other two doors as closely as possible.

No pictures unfortunately, as I was in quite a hurry.