Monday, February 22

.Patching holes in the bathroom walls (Part One: I'd rather be doing anything else...)

Earlier this week Tory pointed out something new. We'd developed some rough spots in the bathroom walls, by the shower, above the tile surround.

Exactly what I wanted to spend Saturday doing, I thought to myself. We'd had the bathroom painted not too long ago by professional painters (four or five years, I think), and I was surprised these problems had developed so quickly. But that's an old house for you.

So Saturday morning, after breakfast, I gathered up the tools I needed to complete the job, and got to work. For once it was nice to find that I had everything already, and wouldn't have to make three trips to the hardware store. There was even an old container of spackle in the toolroom, left behind by the previous owner.

We'd avoided taking showers the night before, to be sure the problem areas would be dry before I patched them. So the first step was to take everything out of the bathroom, and move it out of the way, up into the attic. I'm learning the joys of properly preparing and organizing your workspace, to make the job easier and quicker to complete. Then I laid out the supplies I'd gathered on the attic stairs, which are across the hall from the bathroom.

Corner sander, masking tape, caulk, baking soda, paint brush, and various other supplied for the job at hand

The attic stairs actually make a great workbench, when I am fixing things on the main floor. I lay out the tools and supplies I need on the stair treads, and they remain easily accessible but out of the way. Which is very convenient when I get interrupted in the middle of a project. When I come back, everything is right where I left it.

After removing all the clutter from the bathroom (and we have way too much clutter), I cleaned the walls and ceiling above the shower area. I scrubbed the top row of tiles with baking soda, and I used glass cleaner with ammonia to wipe down the walls.

Having done that, I attacked the rough spots. First I scrubbed them with a rough pad to remove any dust, loose paint, and debris.

Next, I used a razor to scrape off any peeling paint or loosely attached plaster.

Finally I sanded the bad spots to smooth out the edges.

And now it's spackle time.

I'd mixed up the old container of spackle with a painters stick, and had a package of plastic scrapers of three different widths. For the deep holes I loaded a big dab of spackle on the end of the stick and dabbed it into the hole. For the small holes, I used my finger, or a spot of spackle on the scraper.

Then I skimmed back over the wet spackle with one of the scrapers, to smooth out the patch. The idea was a lot of quick, light strokes to feather out the edges so you wouldn't be able to see the patch once the wall was painted.

After letting the spackle dry for forty five minutes, I went back over the spots I'd filled with a sanding block. This time I used a pencil to mark any places I wanted to apply a second coat.

I figured three, maybe four coats might be what it would take to get it smooth enough so the repair would be invisible. I have enough hastily patched spots on the walls already, I wanted these repairs to be invisible.

There's a trick to resurfacing well enough to produce smooth surface, and I have not yet mastered it. I think professionals who do this on a daily basis can probably skim out a nice flat surface pretty quickly without having to think much about it, but that's not me.

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