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September 24th, 2010

It’s a boy!


Many of you don’t know this but we recently had a baby boy named Tyler. His impending arrival necessitated the restoration of the first major room, my office. I mean the nursery. This was a huge undertaking involving window restoration, wall/ceiling repair, and furniture restoration, too.
We began with removing the windows. Our friends, Gail and Les, were (as usual) hugely helpful in this project. After Les and I got the sashes out, Gail started trying to remove the glazing and glass.

It seemed like the paint was in o.k. condition on the sashes so I was hoping to remove the glazing without heat and just replace broken glass then re-glaze. If that worked I’d be able to skip the stripping of the paint from the sashes which is quite time-consuming. Unfortunately after one sash and a few new broken panes I realized we had to use heat and take everything down to bare wood. I pulled out the good ‘ol steamer box and started cooking.

It turned out to really be the best thing to do. I spoke with a restorer in New England who was full of great ideas. After stripping, tightening and sanding the frames she had me saturate the sashes with a cocktail of Linseed oil, turpentine and ????.

This served to recondition the wood and stop the glazing from curing too fast. Her best recommendation was switching glazing compounds. The off the shelf glaze from DAP that most homeowners have access to is very difficult to work with. It’s extremely wet and sticky except when it’s too dry to apply and it takes forever to cure. Our first round of windows were on the bench for nearly 3 weeks waiting to be painted and they still were painted too soon. Jade, my new window guru, recommended something called Sarco Type M glazing. It was a night and day difference and probably saved hours on the process. The putty skinned over in a matter of days and was ready for paint. I’m never going back.

While the windows were setting up it was time to start on the walls and ceiling. There were several cracks in various locations and a spot where a wood stove apparently vented into the chimney. I chose to use a product called Big Wally’s Plaster Magic. The inventor of this product, Rory Brennan, had actually come to our house once to provide an estimate on plaster repair. He told me about his process and said I could do the repairs myself with ease. Of course, he’d be happy to do it for me too. The process is first locating the cracks that actually need repair. The theory is if a crack has developed because the plaster has separated from the lath, then no matter what surface repair you do (tape, mesh, etc.) the crack will re-appear. Rory’s product re-attaches the plaster to the lath eliminating any movement which prevents the crack from re-appearing. Once a crack has been determined to have movement, holes are drilled in several places on either side of the crack. You have to be careful not to drill through the lath though, just up to it. Any debris is vacuumed out of the crack and holes and a conditioner is injected into the holes. This binds any small loose bits of wood, plaster and dust and gives the adhesive something to grab. After 15-20 minutes the adhesive is injected into the holes and the plaster is screwed down with wood screws and plastic washers.


These screws are removed in 1-2 days and the holes and crack may be filled with a simple vinyl putty. After that it’s normal joint compound procedures…use increasingly wider putty knives and sand between.

As if window, wall, and ceiling restoration wasn’t enough, we restored and painted Denise’s childhood furniture to use in the room at the same time. On one particular day we had lots of help from friends, family, nieces, nephews…doors were being stripped and sanded, furniture was being washed, and since this was in the early days of this work windows were being stripped.


We got a tremendous amount of work done and we can never thank everyone enough for their help…so we offer food and drink!

Prime, caulk, paint and voila! A restored room.

The floors still remain to be done, but they’ve been patched where baseboard heat pipes previously ran through. When budget allows we’ll have all of the floors sanded and restored at once.

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One Response to “It’s a boy!”

  1. joan cale Says:

    Congratulations!!!! Lucky boy, to have such a beautiful room.

    Your travails with the windows — glazing and removing of paint — are so familiar. Our first house was an old Dutch Colonial and all the windows need to be re-glazed (my job).
    Painstaking job, especially with regular old standard glazing compound (1950′s). In addition, it is probably a good thing you needed to strip the paint on the windows. They probably had lead paint which would grind off into dust with each raising and lowering. Tyler is much better off free of that dust.

    Hope all goes well for you — baby and house remodeling!