Friday, February 15, 2019

Progress Report: Painted Stairs

 I had forgotten I hadn't shared these stair pictures yet. Sometimes life goes too fast for me! Lol! Anyway, Mandy came to help me get these done last week and I am so excited with how they turned out! I was kind of sad to paint the stairs until I realized I didn't have to paint them all one color. I love the look of stained wood treads and painted white kick plates, so that is what I tried to mimic. As you can see the treads were already half painted multiple colors with plenty of dings and dents.

 In these pictures the kick plates are only primed, but they have already been painted and look so fresh now! The paint is actually the same color that I used on the front porch which makes it nice. I wanted a warm brown that wouldn't clash with the newel post or banister. It always makes us hungry for dark chocolate! Lol!
We also got the outlets changed out in the kitchen, the bathtub caulked and a towel rack hung in the bathroom. A lot of little projects that take time, but each one gets up closer to the finish line!

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

An Old Fashioned Wood Floor Tutorial

With all the crazy weather last week nothing got done at the Brick House. Other than running by a couple of times to check on pipes, I stayed home and kept warm! So no progress to report. But I do have my tutorial on shellacking floors. I am sure there is multiple different ways to do each step, but this is the way I do it. I purchased my shellac from Their website is also chock full of useful information!

This was the first time I used Shellac Buttons and I must say it was easy to work with! I love the way the finish turned out and how hard it already is. Very different from the pre-mixed shellac. Read THIS to learn why button shellac is harder and better for floors.

I bought a five pound bag of buttons, which is a lot of shellac! To make it easier to mix I pre-weighed the buttons into 1/2 pound bags.

 Make the Shellac.
Measure your denatured alcohol. I bought a bunch of paint mixing buckets and lids. It made it so easy to measure the right amount of alcohol! Since I was mixing a 2-pound cut; I needed 1 quart per 1/2 pound of shellac. (A pound cut refers to how thick one makes the shellac. A 2 pound cut is a standard starting point. It is really personal preference and project preference. has a handy chart HERE.)

Crush the shellac buttons. My favorite tool of choice was a large adjustable wrench! A hammer works good too. I tried to at lest break the buttons into quarters. (It makes the shellac melt a little quicker to have the buttons crushed.)

Add shellac and mix well. This is where an extra paint stirrer comes in handy! Place your container out of the direct sunlight in a warmish place. Since it was cold out, I put my containers on the warm radiators.

Wait and Stir. If you happen to be nearby to your shellac containers you can stir every hour or two. If you happen to only be nearby once or twice a day, that works too! It takes a little longer to stir it up and a little longer for all the shellac to melt.

24 hours after. The one on the right has not been stirred, the one on the left has.

3 days after. Opps! Missed a day stirring. The shellac was a large gooey mass on the bottom. With a bit of stirring most of it broke up. You can see it is looking thicker!

While you are waiting for your shellac to melt, I hope you are prepping your floors! I scrubbed mine down with denatured alcohol and a green scrubby sponge. Depending on the condition of your floors, you just might want to wipe them down with denatured alcohol and a rag.

5 days after. Nice and thick and no more clumps on the bottom. Now we are ready to strain!

Tip: If you have a couple of buckets of shellac going at the same time you might want to label if the are Dirty=unstrained or Clean=strained.

 I wasn't sure if I needed to strain at first, but when I ordered the buttons I also received a couple of paint strainers. Once you strain a batch you will see why it is essential! I was sent fine paint strainers with 190 microns, when I ordered more on Amazon that is what I looked for.

 Strain shellac. Pour shellac into a paint strainer over a "clean" bucket.

 When the shellac got clogged up I used a paint stirrer to scrap the crud off the filter area. Sometimes I used two filters per bucket and sometimes for top coats I strained it twice.

Look at all the debris! You don't want that in your floors!

Shellac those floors! Now you are finally ready to shellac! It dries very quickly so work in small areas at a time. I would usually start in the back corner of a room and work to the opposite end in a 6-8 floor board wide swath. Then I would crawl back to the beginning and do another swath. The living and dining room I treated like two rooms and stopped in the middle. If you look very very close there is a line in the shellac (With the second coat I stopped about 6 longer so the line wouldn't be in the same place for both coats.), but I knew this when I started and it doesn't bother me.
I used just about every type of brush on these floors and really couldn't tell much difference in the finish. The one type I didn't try was a lamb's wool applicator. I have used this in the past and did not get the knack. Too many drips and lines. Foam sponge brushes work fine, but it goes on thin. A chip brush works good and I used it for the majority of the floors. I felt like I could get it on quite thick for the first coat, which I liked. Then I invested in an expensive natural hair brush which I used for the top coat downstairs. It put the shellac on a little tiny bit thinner than the chip brush which was fine for a top coat.

 For all the floors in the house I put two 2-pound coats down. If I had more time and more shellac I might have put three coats down and thinned the top one more. There are visible brush strokes in some areas if you look close. But I think it just adds to the beauty! And a super smooth finish was not my main goal, I just wanted to bring these old floors back to life and make them the look the best they could!

Friday, February 1, 2019

Old Radiators, New PEX

Since most of us have spent the week hunkered down trying to stay warm, let's talk about furnaces! Hot water furnaces to be exact.
I have always thought my little house would be perfect if it only had hot water heat, but alas it has forced air. I did think briefly about changing it when we first moved in, but there were so many things that still needed work or finishing. But this spring in the middle of an allergy attack I texted my brother and said I need hydronic heat!!
Yes, after living in the little cottage for five years I finally figured out I am allergic to whatever the furnace blows out! I don't know if it is just old dirt, cat hair, dog dander or what, but it turns me into a basket case. I am no stranger to allergies as at the age of four we discovered I was allergic to food dye. Hives are a weekly occurrence, sniffy nose, itchy eyes, scratchy throat are common. But I have never never felt so horrible as when the furnace/air conditioner blows. I could hardly drag myself out of bed I was so tired, I constantly felt like I had the flu and couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep or think. (I had a lot more symptoms, but you get the idea.) 
This summer we tried an experiment and did not turn on the AC; instead we invested in two window units. In two months I had all my energy back and was ready to tackle the Brick House head on!

 This fall when it started getting chilly we were in of a bit of quandary. Wisconsin gets cold! And we knew a ton of space heaters wasn't going to work, though it got us through the fall months. So my brother and I hatched a plan!
This past Spring I found a houseful of radiators on Craig's List. They were from a smallish bungalow like mine and most of radiators would work for my house. I did end up purchasing two more for the downstairs bedrooms as there wasn't quite enough small ones.
So we had radiators, but not a boiler. But every house has a hot water heater, right? And a hot water heater does the same thing a boiler does, heat water. Would a hot water heater be able to heat a cast iron radiator enough to heat a house? We decided to find out!

My brother also happened to have a heat transfer plate, circulator and expansion tank. The only thing I needed to buy was an additional circulator pump, PEX fittings and some copper pipe to plumb everything in. We were able to poke the PEX piping up through heat/cold air vents so everything is temporary right now. (I am still planning on putting in a real boiler this year!)
The way a hydronic system works is a boiler/hot water heater heats the water, a circulator pump pumps it through the pipes and the radiators. As the hot water goes through the radiators it heats the cast iron and since cast iron radiates heat so well the air around the radiators also get warm. The water continues around it's circuit and returns to the boiler/hot water heater to be heated again. 
My temporary system works the same, except the water from the hot water heater goes though a transfer plate which transfers the heat to water in the radiator system. In this way the water in the radiators and the water in the hot water heater stay separate and we are not washing with water that has been through a radiator. (It picks up a lot of iron and turns black! Yuck!)

Wow these old radiators really work! In a couple of minutes we could feel the warmth radiating out of them and in an hour you just wanted to snuggle up next to it! Of course it is not as even as it would be with a whole system, but it is keeping us comfortable. The bedrooms (where there is no radiators) are about 2-3 degrees cooler. We started slow and connected one radiator first. It worked great during the day, but wasn't able to keep the house a steady temp over night. The hot water heater seemed to be doing fine and not running excessively, so we connected another radiator to the system. Now the living-dining room stays a very steady temperature even during the night.
And how did our temporary system do in the artic blast? Not too bad! It couldn't quite keep up during the extreme overnight lows and would dropped down about three degrees, but it would get back up to normal temperature during the day. I think that wasn't bad for a temporary system!

 Radiators are also a mittens best friend! I don't know what it is about the radiant heat, but mittens dry in minutes and look better then ever!

So, have you ever lived in a house with hot water heat? Did you like it? Would you like to have hot water heat again? Please share, I would love to hear all about your experience! I am all about radiators and hot water heat right now!

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Progress Report Week 29: Floors, Stairs, Blides and Curtians

Not a whole lot of progress last week. There has been a lot of snow to shovel and a visit from family! This morning the sun came out for a bit so I scurried around and took a couple of photos.

 We have curtains in the living room and dining room! Such a small change, but it really makes it feel like a livable house instead of a construction zone. The curtains are from Ikea. At seventeen dollars a pair I figured I couldn't go wrong. The curtains are ordered from Amazon. I had to search a bit to find an hundred inch long rods that weren't jumbo. These came with curtain rings and are a nice sized five-eighths around. 

 As you can see, lots of snow! The front windows give you a good view to keep an eye on the neighborhood!

 In the back bedroom, I put privacy paper on the door window instead of a blind. 

The poor stairs have seen a lot of use. And a lot of different carpets! I have been prepping them for paint. Can't wait to see how they turn out!

 I was really nervous the entryway floors weren't going to turn out very good. But they made it! This is between the first and second coats. And I just put the second coat on this morning!

 They need to dry a little, but aren't they oh so shiny! I have been working on a post with my method of shellacking/refinishing floors. Hopefully that will be up on the blog next week.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Brick House Update: Floors (still!)

My how time flies! These first few weeks of the new year have been packed full. These pictures were taken almost two weeks ago now! We had a couple of moments of sun and the first coat of shellac was dry on the living/dining room floors! A very exciting moment!

It doesn't sound like a lot at first, but when 1200 sq. ft. of wood floors need to be scrubbed, scrapped, shellacked, sanded lightly and shellacked again it ends up being a lot of work! It felt like a really long process and I am so excited that the second coat went on a few days ago!

They are certainly not perfect. There are still scratches, dents, discolored spots and stains, but they are a far cry from where they started! I am really happy with how they turned out.

The front entry is the last floor left. It is quite worn (and dirty!) Since this picture I have finished scrubbing it with denatured alcohol and have also given it a scrub with soap and water. It is looking better. We will see how well it turns out. I am hoping to get at lest one coat on before the end of the week.

 The sun was coming in so pretty I couldn't resist a few more pictures! This is the upstairs hallway. You can see there is a bit of water staining and discoloration here too. But for being 100 years old they are looking good!

The middle bedroom floors.

And we have blinds! It has made such a difference to have window coverings! Last Saturday I also got curtains up in the living room and dining room. Makes it so much more homey!
In other news, the laundry room sink is almost plumbed in, we have replaced all the outlets to white ones, planed the top of sticky closet doors and prepped the stairs for paint!

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas!

Merry Christmas Friends!
I hope your day is filled with family, friends and peace!

I have a few more Christmasy pictures to squeeze in before the new year!  Here is my tinsel Shiny Brite wreath from last year re-invented. I couldn't figure out a good way to store it with all the ornaments attached so I took them all off at the end of the year. But I figured I would want to do something different this year anyway. The little red metal bell was this year's inspiration. At some point I had picked the bell up at an estate sale and it floated around the house most of the year. Now it is it's time to shine!

Another estate sale find (the same sale I got the aprons from in my last post!), was this set of mini Shiny Brites. I was so excited to find them as I knew they would be perfect for my metal tree!

I love looking all the different designs.....

I think this one might be my favorite! 

I am not sure if I will be back until after the first week of January. I have the week between Christmas and New Year off and am hoping to get the Brick House done!