Monday, August 14, 2006

home improvement

One of the downsides to owning a house is the constant procession of home repair and maintenance projects.
Two years ago we replaced the roof, an expensive but necessary repair, owing to the house's great age and the many spots in the attic roof that sunlight streamed through. Projects since then have been less weighty but still rather important, such as the bathroom floor my older brother helped me with extensively on a visit from New York.
We started that one on a Saturday morning and kept at it until about 10 p.m., before getting up and tackling it some more from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. We ripped up the cracked ceramic tile floor, pulled up the tongue-and-groove subfloor, and then removed the boards a previous homeowner had used to try to level the floor. In the last 160 years or so, the second floor has settled a fair amount, so we had variations in the floor from a half inch to more than an inch-and-a-half.
During our work time, we killed a colony of ants, nailed 1-by-4's into place, added shims here and there to make the floor a little more level, added a plywood subfloor, supported the toilet and installed a new wax ring, and finally laid some linoleum, our theory being that linoleum is more flexible and less likely to break than ceramic tile.
None of the walls is square with another, but at least the bathroom doesn't look as bad as it used to.
Since then Natasha and I have sealed the attic off from squirrels and are now engaged in a project to paint the facia and soffit in the front of the house. Our house also is being overrun by tiny water ants, which has been driving us crazy. I'm hoping I can find some beneficial nematodes at a garden store to think their ranks outside, which should help. Plus, we want to restucco the foundation on the outside.
Come September, finances allowing, I'd like to rip off the paper and repaint the downstairs bathroom. Upstairs too.
And then some day, we'll need to do something about the ugly wallpaper in the stairwell ...

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