Archive for the ‘Living room’ Category

Serious Charring

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

I learned about arson under the common law again last winter when I studied for the Arkansas bar exam. Arson required “the malicious and willful burning of the house of another.” (Lots of picky bar exam questions can come from that.) Burning meant an actual ignition of the structure. In other words, charring* was required, not mere scorching. I don’t yet know the source of the fire, but we have serious charring in our house.

Don took out the ceiling in the back room in Apartment 2 on Monday and Tuesday. POs had removed all the plaster from the lath in the ceiling and put in ceiling tiles in about 1997. (How can I date it so precisely? The ceiling tiles were date-stamped.) The fire we had heard about (sometime in the 1950s) reached back there so the addition pre-dates the fire. We can see ceiling joists sistered to the scorched ones. And not a lick of insulation. (The joists you can’t see clearly are the scorched ones. Look at the wall between the back room and the living room. Very scorched.)

Back room ceiling during demolition 1997 Ceiling Tiles Back room charring

He’s also removed the ceiling tiles in the living room, most of the subfloor tongue-and-groove planks** that were used as furring strips for the ceiling tiles, and a lot of the plaster and lath. (Demolition is complicated by having the salvaged flooring and tub in the living room.) The ceiling plaster looked pretty bad in the living room, too, but the fire doesn’t seem to have made its way into the living room. The wall between the back room and the living room is to the right in this picture.

Living room ceiling

He stripped a bit of trim around a window and baseboard in the living room, and stair railing, newel post, and stair treads in the foyer. Looks like pine everywhere, doesn’t it? Shucks. We were hoping for a little oak.

Stair tread Silent paint remover Newel postRailing

Our neighbor’s dumpster left early Monday morning and we are struggling with whether to get one before Christmas. If we do, it will be an invitation to the world to fill it up with Christmas debris. If we don’t, we will be handling our house debris at least twice — doubling our work. Wonder if we could fill one before Christmas, and order a second one in January after the Christmas rush?

Debris Back room debris

[Pause to call Don]

That’s what we will do. Dumpster comes Thursday. If we get close to Christmas Eve, and it still isn’t full, then we’ll think about hiring out some demolition help.

*The word char dates to 1679, and is a back formation of the word charcoal (1340), which (rougly) means turning to coal. Charring rhymes with barring, jarring, marring, scarring, sparring, starring, and tarring so …

  • The uncovered joists showed charring,
  • which was jarring
  • to me. Sistered joists marring
  • my honeymoon vision, scarring
  • forever with their charcoal tarring.

Not bad for 60 seconds. Can you use the other words: barring, sparring, and starring?

**The POs who converted the house into a five-flat owned a flooring company. I assume these were seconds. They are brittle and impossible to denail.

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Demolition: Living Room (Apt 1)

Saturday, December 8th, 2007

We got back from our “celebration we’ve finally bought a house after three years” lunch with our Realtor about 3 p.m. Started in Apartment 1 (of five), which is also where our Dallas salvage is. While that made complete demolition impossible, the tub did make a nicer nail-pulling station than the floor once Don had a sheet of plywood paneling pulled off.

Salvage in living room

Late last week, we were showing our next door neighbor the marble salvage, and he asked whether we had plans to keep the glossy red paneling with the attractive piece of trim to cover the seam between the 8 foot piece and the filler at the top of the room.

Living Room North Seam between panels

Um, no. I joked that that was why we bought the place, which makes me wonder: What feature does this house have that I love and don’t want to change? It’s not the floors. Or the tubs. Not the house color. Not the appliances. Not the dead trees. Maybe the creamy yellow tile in the main kitchen with a little racer strip? (But we are talking about reconfiguring the kitchen and moving walls, so it would have to be saved and reinstalled.)

yellow and black kitchen tile

So Don pulled paneling and ceiling tiles from the north side of the room. We also have a mercury-filled thermostat I need to figure out who will take off our hands.

Living Room West (Before)Living Room Northwest (Before)

I pulled nails, stacked waste, swept up,* and documented.

This is the condition of a small sample of plaster we uncovered. It looks a bit like the state of Arkansas would have looked if Missouri hadn’t snagged the bootheel and the Texans hadn’t gotten their share, too.**

Living Room Wall Covering and PlasterArkansas

The room was apparently covered in this material (below) sometime before the paneling went up. It is fiendishly hard to photograph, but is thickish and the striations are built into the paper. It doesn’t feel like the modern Anaglypta we’ve installed, but who knows what Anaglypta would feel like 80 years later.

Living Room Wall Covering (Under Paneling)

This is what was underneath the paneling around the chimney. Adhesive and no sign of interesting tilework or brick.

Living Room Chimney (After)

This is what we’re putting in our neighbor’s dumpster. (He’s doing his kitchen, and offered us the use of his dumpster.)

Dumpster Ready

And this is what we did for the half of the room that isn’t filled with salvage. The chimney is uncovered, ceiling panels are down, the paneling is gone, and the closet is about 80% removed. Not bad for day one.

Living Room Northeast (After Demo) Living Room West (After Demo) Living Room Northwest (After Day 1 Demo) Living Room North (After Demo)

*I do like a contractor who leaves the worksite broom clean at day’s end.

**Arkansas is a bit odd in shape. As the Encyclopedia of Arkansas explains: “Generally, Arkansas is bordered on the north by Missouri; on the east by Tennessee and Mississippi; on the south by Louisiana; and on the west by Texas and Oklahoma, but that is not entirely correct. Arkansas is also bordered on the east by Missouri and the south by Texas, but parts of the state are also north of Missouri, east of Mississippi, north of Oklahoma and west of Texas.”

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