A couple months ago, we came home to find our normally cool basement transformed into a Turkish bath . The hot water heater had sprung a leak. Normal people would clean up the mess, replace the appliance and move on. Then there’s us.
Our house was originally built in the 19th century and over the years, it’s had a number of additions and renovations. Like back in the 70s when the basement was remodeled as a three-room apartment. At least that’s what they started to do. No idea why they quit. Maybe it was the carpet.
And speaking of carpet, that’s probably when we fell down the rabbit hole. We looked at that sopping orange and brown mess and knew there was no reason to save it. Even if we hoovered up the water, the carpet would stay wet and grow things.
Once we had the carpet up, along with the remains of the foam backing, we expected to find bare concrete. Something that would be presentable with a little prep work and a coat of paint. Instead we found a layer of adhesive. Hot water won’t soften it. Nor will a hairdryer or propane torch. It’s unimpressed by a scraper in both the figurative and literal senses. The only option left is grinding. Or we can just tile over it.
Having removed the ugly carpet, we figured why not remove the ugly drop ceiling. Above it we found actual 2x10s that span the full width of the house. We also found this interesting construction detail from 150 years ago.
The spanning joists run left to right on the long sides of the chimney. Short pieces are tenoned between them to make a nailing surface on the short sides (there’s another one on the other side of the chimney). The square is the end of the tenon and the dark blotch below it is a cut nail to hold the joint together.
Okay, we’re on a roll – let’s take out an ugly wooden door frame.
Not what I expected. When the door jamb came loose, so did the nailing plugs. And so did chunks of mortar and plaster. It looks like there are several coats of paint (including that lovely pink we’ve found elsewhere), a plaster skim coat, and a layer of mortar or cement all of which pops off in big chunks. And underneath it all is stone.
We haven’t decided whether this latest development is a good thing or not but I’m pretty sure we’ve got a new remodeling project and it’s gonna take more than a coat of paint.