Archive for the ‘Salvage’ Category

Unvented Gas Heaters for Petch House

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

Greg from Petch House asked after my bathroom gas heater — you know, the one that set my house on fire.  Or at least the bathroom door.  So I searched his website to find out why.  This is why.  As it turns out, we have at least four of them.  (I hear we have a fifth in the basement Apartment 5, but I don’t know what it looks like.)  Also, we have some bigger open flame gas heaters that don’t look quite so ceramic.

My memories of unvented gas heaters are ridiculous.  We had one in our bathroom (1963 ranch) when I was growing up. Somehow, I was sure that it was connected to the tub to keep the water warm.  Picture little flames licking at the bottom of the tub.  Yep, that’s what I envisioned.  Made me a bit nervous in winter.  Don’t really want one in our house.

So, Greg:  These photos are for you.   Let me know which one(s) you want and we’ll get it to you after they’re disconnected.  (I think the two non-white ones are a close match in color, and they are more tan than pink.)

Heater 1 Heater 2  Heater 4 Heater 4

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Habitat’s Fayetteville (AR) ReStore – Closet Maid deals!

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

I stopped in the Fayetteville Habitat ReStore on Saturday. They have a very nice assortment of shopworn boxes and boxes of Closet Maid, at what appear to be great prices. We have too much Elfa in storage and not enough closets to take advantage, but I thought I’d share this news with northwest Arkansas.

The Habitat store is a bit tricky to find and impossible to find in the internet. You can go behind the Thai restaurant on 71B or turn east onto 16th Street off 71B. In either case, you head for the Salvation Army thrift store and look to the north. You will see what appears to be a Hostess/Wonderbread thrift store in a long, low-lying yellow building. The northerly half of that building is the (unlabeled) Habitat store.


It is open only Fridays and Saturdays, and has a variety of used or shopworn materials at reduced prices along with some more unusual offerings. There are lots of NIB lights, some fasteners, snow shovels, etc. Very used appliances. Newer windows and doors.  Ceiling fans. Lumber. Furniture. The Little One bought a Mary icon thingy (see below) there for fifty cents in December.


Worth visiting on occasion.  We will be visiting there with ten or twelve ceiling fans and five kitchens worth of appliances sometime in the near future.

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Adventures in Salvaging, Part 5: Dallas Craig’s List

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

We missed out on salvaged quartersawn oak floors on Don’s pre-Thanksgiving Chicago salvage run (at $3 or $4/square foot) or plainsawn oak for $2.50 plus $300 for delivery. Fear not, we wound up with 1800 square feet of clear grade salvage oak for $1.60/square foot from Dallas instead.  We bought the flooring Saturday after Thanksgiving when we were visiting family there. Some largish amount is quartersawn, although his picture (left, below) is of plainsawn. (I think I will be picking out quartersawn for the living room.) Denailed and bundled. (Sanded once.) We don’t need* it all, but I bet we can find homes for it.

dallasflooring.jpg oak flooring pb240083.JPG

In fact, our gardening neighbor has already said he could use some of it during his kitchen remodel, and our painter has a place for some of it, too. We did have to ask the current owners if we could store it at the house that we don’t yet own since the salvage came in Monday — we would have (owned the house, that is), but for the delay in closing.

Plus, the Dallas guy delivered it to Fayetteville for the price of gas (and without sales tax). Woo-hoo! Like the floor guy in Chicago, this guy usually only salvages if he has a client waiting to buy. (Mini trend: The big market in salvage floors is for maple, these days.) I think he is watching for oak trim for us now.

We’re also getting a short pedestal tub and 130 feet of marble baseboard with plinth blocks. Why? Because we can.

pb240084.JPG pb240085.JPGpb240087.JPG

I think the marble is rojo alicante, and Don thinks it may be a good match for an Eastlake marble fireplace surround we salvaged from a Chicago north suburb — it was intended for our Kensington house, but we didn’t get that far. The tub is intended for one of our downstairs bathrooms, and the marble probably is, too. Unless it goes in the foyer with the marble surround. Or maybe the fireplace goes in the bathroom.

I think a good floor might perhaps look like this, but we’d have to deal with slipperiness, whether in the foyer or the bathroom:

Rojo Alicante and Breccia Oniciata Floor

*Heck, we don’t probably need any of it, since the house we think hope we are buying already has floors of some sort. However, wouldn’t quartersawn be gorgeous? And warm, and unusual, and likely we will need to patch floors anyway, so why not pull up 1000+ square feet of flooring from some of our house and move it to other parts of our house? (Besides the labor and all that mess, I mean.) Clearly, renovation amnesia** has set in and we are in that weird phase where we make up things to do.*** How are we going to get this house done in time for a house walk 5.5 years from now? (That’s our unofficial goal: to get in the school fundraiser/housewalk when the Little One is in her last year in the school, namely, fifth grade.)

** Renovation amnesia must be like labor amnesia, where you forget how hard the work was because you’re looking forward to the outcome when you’re getting ready to do it all over again. (Not sure, having not actually ever reached labor, and still having a fairly clear recollection of how hard a c-section was.)

*** I spent a while over the last week trying to persuade Don that we should take out the perfectly good staircase, and replace it with a beautiful one from Indiana. I wonder if he’d go for it if our Kensington house ever becomes available for salvage.

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Freecycling, anyone?

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

I’ve gotten the hang of buying things from Chicago’s Craig’s List and even Dallas.*  Our stove at the old house was a Craig’s List buy, and the dishwasher was a local EBay buy.  (Mostly, I entice my husband with pictures, and he does the negotiations), but there are two other options in NW Arkansas that I haven’t tried: Freecycling and KURM’s dial-a-trade.

I haven’t done Freecycling myself (yet), but this comment from Jennifer at Tiny Old House made me think about it. And Google it. We do have a Freecycle group here in NW Arkansas. (Come to think of it, a fellow I used to work with told me about Freecycle last fall.) And, they’re mentioned in this Fayetteville Free Weekly article about dumpster diving as a resource. I have a feeling I’ll be watching the list for a while to see what I think.  Last week, I saw several old fridges find homes.  Might be a way to deal with the many fridges that are coming with our house.

And then there’s KURM’s dial-a-trade. Until recently, I thought that the radio show’s host’s was named Kerm (as in Kermit the Frog), and that he had an awfully long shift since the show is on mornings and evenings.  However, K-U-R-M are the call letters, and it is essentially classified ads on the radio. I could listen to them for hours. Very relaxing. (Except when the host gets irritated with someone trying to sell more than one firearm or any firewood at all. Why one firearm, but no firewood? I don’t know.  Probably has something to do with the Second Amendment.) KURM even broadcasts livestock auctions, umm, live.  And one of their former announcers has been in the news lately for leading an unusual double life.  (In another small world coincidence, this same former announcer was a pastor at the Hessville Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana – not too far at all from Don’s first house.)

*We haven’t bought anything from the Fayetteville Craig’s List, but the listing activity is gradually picking up so I’m hopeful there will be something for us soon.

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Adventures in Salvaging, Part 3: Craig’s List

Monday, November 19th, 2007

So the Little One is out of school this week, we don’t own a house (yet — maybe next week), and we need to do something, anything.  What to do, what to do? 

I started checking out Craig’s List, got bored with Fayetteville, and moved on to Chicago (and Dallas and, well, anywhere in between).  In Chicago, I found:  (1) a mess of salvaged divided glass cabinet doors  (11 doors plus for $120), (2) two Rejuvenation craftsman sconces for $120 (list $174 each), and (3) salvaged quartersawn oak hardwood flooring for $4/square foot.

An advantage of having a SAHD is that he can go to Chicago if the fancy takes him.  An advantage of the fancy taking him this week is that the Little One is out of school and can go see Grandma and cousins with him.  So, a few emails and phone calls later (plus 12 hours on the road to get there), we now possess a mess of doors and two sconces, and the promise of plainsawn oak flooring, delivered, in December, and the Little One has had a good time at Grandma’s.  Now to get them home again.  (Salvage and family, both.)

Quartersawn is sold out.   The flooring guy salvages floors for a living and has to come to Arkansas in December anyway, which would save us a trip with a trailer.  $3/square foot for plainsawn, I think, plus whatever we negotiate for delivery.  (When we pulled the quartersawn ourselves, I think we paid a dollar a square — that was hard work, and not exactly convenient to Arkansas.)  We’re thinking we’ll pull the downstairs floors out of our house, and use them upstairs, and install oak in the living room (or perhaps throughout downstairs) to cover up/resize the huge floor grate.  Anyone else in Arkansas want some salvaged hardwood flooring?  We could probably work out a deal for volume.  (And the turn-of-the-century stuff is pretty easy to work with — it’s much longer than what you get now, and the flow is so much nicer.)

I can’t wait to see the salvage — Don says the cabinet doors were rescued via dumpster diving from a condo conversion, and the un-installed (NIB!) Rejuvenation sconces came from a beautiful Victorian, whose owners are going to Thailand to do something for the Department of Justice (I think).  He says the finish is nicer on the sconces than in the picture (below).  I don’t seem to have saved the Craig’s List photo of the doors, so we will have to make a separate post later.  (The doors are destined for either our pantry or kitchen, depending.)


And the Little One was so exhausted last night that she missed me and wanted to come home.  (I miss her, too.)  She played with her cousins from 7:30 a.m. until 8:30 p.m., when they had to go home.

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Adventures in Salvaging, Part 2 (Concrete pavers)

Friday, September 7th, 2007

While I might have implied that the hardwood flooring was our first salvage experience, it was really our first salvage experience we had to pay for.  When we started the addition on the Kensington house, we had a large, round patio and garden edgings made of concrete brick pavers in the backyard.  Rather than throw them in the dumpster, we pulled them and stacked them to save for later.

I believe I was eight months pregnant.  It was August.  It was hot.  I was not subtle about my pregnancy.  I had already gained 45 pounds.  I scooted around on my butt, stacking pavers for Don to carry off to the side yard, where they remained until we moved to Ashland. (They were eventually joined by salvaged antique clay pavers from Hinsdale and salvaged bluestone from the North Shore.)

When the developer offered to buy our house (a story for another time), we agreed to remove the concrete pavers (and the clay pavers and the construction heap).  (The bluestone and some of the clay pavers were already in place as a fantastic patio. A post for a day when I can find those pictures.)  We (Don, his dad, and his brother, not so much me) took the concrete pavers to Don’s folks in the south suburbs that winter. The next summer, Don made a patio for them, and used about half.  (His dad helped, too.)  The patio has plenty of room for a table, four chairs, and probably a chaise longue.  There were a lot of pavers.  The picture shows about half the patio.

 Concrete paver patio

I’m not sure what happened to the rest.  I think his brother took some of them, but I don’t think he’s used them.  Some of them are still neatly stacked in his mother’s carport.  Anybody want some slightly used concrete pavers in the south ‘burbs of Chicago? 

And, just because I needed to know and so I assume you might be interested, I share with you a musical link for what Heaven’s streets are paved with.  The lyrics author (Fanny J.Crosby) also wrote Blessed Assurance along with over four hundred other hymns, and was blind from six weeks of age.  I think gold pavers would be even heavier than the clay pavers that we have repeatedly moved.  But, maybe they would be thinner?

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What to do about the radiator pipe?

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

Our entire first floor had 11 foot ceilings, except for the add-on family room area in the rear, and the kitchen / butler’s pantry / powder room in the main part of the house. I knew why the family room ceiling was lower, but the 8 foot ceiling in the kitchen area made no sense. One day I couldn’t stand it any longer. I climbed the ladder with a hammer and a flashlight. Let’s just say there was no reason the ceiling needed to be so low. This action hastened the kitchen remodel, as well.

Kitchen Before (West Radiator Pipe Wall)Kitchen (before)

A short time later I pulled the ceiling down. The original plaster ceiling was in bad shape. It was not clear if it had been covered for that reason, or if decades out of sight had caused the deterioration. The other problem, which we had anticipated, was a distinct difference between the walls below the 8 foot line and those above. The walls had been re-plastered after the ceiling was dropped, so there was a ridge where the newer plaster met the original. We solved this with beadboard and a piece of horizontal trim covering the joint at the 8 foot line. Lisa found some beautiful antique beadboard on Ebay at $5.00 per square foot, which is about the price of new oak beadboard at the big box stores. It was unpainted heart pine, about 100 years old, from a cottage in Georgia (or so we were told… you never really know). It just needed a good cleaning with furniture refinisher and a couple of coats of shellac. We covered the ceiling itself with tin, but that’s another story.

A small section of wall was curved. One winter day (before the ceiling exploration) Lisa leaned up against it and found it to be quite warm – a radiator pipe! Apparently the wall was curved around the pipe after the ceiling was dropped, because there was nothing but a bare pipe sticking out above the 8 foot line. What to do?

We found a piece of antique tin on Ebay just the right size to cover up the pipe. I had several pieces of oak trim left over from the Kensington Avenue remodel. A few cuts with the miter saw, a little spray paint, some stain and shellac, and presto! A decorative feature! I think I spent about 50 dollars on materials, which includes the tin piece. As all renovators know, the homeowner’s labor is free.

Radiator Pipe In ProgressKitchen radiator pipe, beadboard, and decorative tin


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Adventures in Salvaging, Part 1

Saturday, July 21st, 2007

Today is about our very first professional salvaging experience (besides amateur events like salvaging materials from our own remodel).

Over the last four years, we have developed a reputation for having some skills in salvaging materials. Our best score was never-painted oak window and door trim, baseboard, and a beveled glass door that fit our front door space almost perfectly, although I still regret that we couldn’t pull an all-nighter and gotten more trim and Don regrets that we didn’t take the second door. (The house was torn down at 8:30 a.m. the day after we were invited to salvage it.) But, that’s a story for another day — a day when I can find the pictures I took of the house (a Dutch Colonial) before/while it went down.

The first successful salvaging I remember was 400 sq ft of quartersawn oak flooring (and a sink or two). We’d been working our nerve up to do salvage for a while. I’d stalk the Murco web site for good salvage, and I think we’d been to one or two auctions, but hadn’t bid. I guess it was in late summer 2003 — I would have been out of commission in summer 2002, and I was back into it by fall, but it was too hot to be fall 2002.

One Saturday, we drove up to Highland Park, hoping we’d score some bluestone. As it turned out, the bluestone was mortared in place and it bid up too high anyways, so we passed. However, as long as we were in the ritzy suburbs, we thought we’d go through Kenilworth.** While we were there, I saw a house salvage sign. We followed the signs, and found a Queen Anne mansion waiting for us. I went in — we had the baby and didn’t want to take her in so Don stayed with her — and discovered the mother lode of quartersawn oak flooring. We had narrow quartersawn in our Kensington house, and needed more for our addition to flow seamlessly. I asked the price ($1/square foot, cash) and went out to tell Don. (I’d gotten a quote for having it milled new at $9/square foot so we were living on subfloors until we had the money.) He agreed it was a great match.

The challenge, though, would be in removing it. The house was coming down on Monday, we’d never pulled flooring before, and here it was Saturday afternoon already. So, we did what any sensible couple would do. We stopped at HD, found a helpful employee who introduced us to bullnose pliers*, and told us we’d just need prybars to get the flooring out, and then went to visit Don’s folks. His mom agreed to watch the baby on Sunday, and his dad offered to cut church and go with us to pull floor. (He was a trustee of the church — cutting church was not in his nature.) We spent the night, borrowed Don’s brother-in-law’s truck, and drove north Sunday morning, with me hoping all the way that the flooring hadn’t been sold.

Of course, it hadn’t. It was the hottest weekend of the year. The house had no electricity, and had never had air conditioning. (In fact, even if it had had power, central a/c had never been installed. In hindsight, the house was in only moderately worse shape than our orphan Italianate. But the Italianate was a couple of years in our future.) Being near Lake Michigan didn’t help one tiny bit. It was not cooler by the lake that day. The flooring had been under carpet for years, so there was rotting carpet (and rusty tacks) to remove before we could get to the good stuff.

It turns out I am totally lacking in floor pulling skills/muscle, but I can pull nails and organize flooring pretty well. The three of us spent the day pulling flooring or pulling nails. It was early evening, and we still hadn’t pulled all the flooring we’d bought, when Don’s brother showed up. He was fresher, and we got the full four hundred square feet plus we’d bought out of the house and onto the truck.

While the rest of us were collapsed in a heap under a shade tree, Don’s brother was making friends with Frank the salvage guy. (Frank had lent us his specialized floor-pulling tools — prybars that had been bent into an L-shape — so I think he was already fond of us.) He bought the washer and dryer (for a rental apartment), and discussed the fate of the two very early 20th century pedestal sinks in the house. Now, on Saturday, Frank was asking more than a grand each, so I’d put them out of my mind. By Sunday evening, he had no buyers and they were going to be crushed by bulldozers in the morning, so he sold them for all the cash we had left ($100 each). Don’s brother bought one and we bought the other. We haven’t found the right house for ours yet, but my dad saved it from the local contractor recently, who (with good intentions) offered to pitch the sink into the dumpster with the other construction junk. Gack.

I later checked what the Queen Anne had sold for. $1.3 million as a tear-down. The new construction that took its place went for at least triple that or, in local lingo, “upper brackets.”

After we got home, we spent the next week or so pulling nails whenever we had the chance. I sorted the wood by length. I wish I would have further sorted it by whether both ends, the left end, or the right end was missing the tongue or the groove as that would have helped installation go faster, but I was years from installation as it turned out. (Tongue in groove flooring comes with tongue on one long end, groove on the other long end, and a tongue on a short end and a groove on a short end, which makes for an ever tighter installation. However, during installation, one of the ends is cut off when you reach a wall. And, during removal, one of the ends may be damaged and require removal.)

We wound up moving from our Eastlake/Stick house before we installed the flooring in the addition. Instead, we put it into our kitchen and had professionals install it in the front hall in the orphan Italianate. If you click through, you can see that it refinished beautifully. (Dusty, too. Will try to take an undusty picture of it before/if we sell the house.)


I suppose the post on installing it is for another day, but, in brief, we relied heavily on the Taunton Press books and video on wood floors. (The book and video were a Father’s Day present one year.) We had very little waste from our installation. Probably less than 5% (two grocery sacks) for the kitchen, but I took my time to find just the right pieces and we had very long lengths to choose from (up to fourteen feet). I don’t know how it was for the professional installation since I wasn’t there. I would expect more waste, but more haste, too. We didn’t end up doing the refinishing ourselves, due to the rush to get out of the house.

* Well, I’m sure that’s what they were called, but I couldn’t find a good link to illustrate and ours are still at the orphan house. They’re pliers with a rounded bit (like a claw hammer) so you can use some leverage to pull the nail on through the wood and out the back.

** Kenilworth is the ritziest of the ritzy suburbs of Chicago, a small planned community (2500 people, planned in 1889). The median price for houses there has been above a million for years and its median household income is $200,000. (For you non-tech people, that means that more than half the households gross $200k each year.)

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