Tuesday, June 12, 2007

That Sinking Feeling

On Saturday I leapt out of bed at the crack of 10:30 am and ran up to begin painting the walls, only to discover that while I was asleep Mrs Stevie had gotten creative with the remaining paper.

The vinyl wallpaper used upstairs is of the "strippable" type, meaning that in the normal course of events you can usually just grab hold and pull it off the wall without recourse to a steamer1 or liquid solvents2.

Unfortunately, the construction of Bog includes the use of forty year-old tech like "backing paper", which used to be used to prime the wall board instead of painting it. The backing paper's singular quality is that it grips the outer paper like a pipe-wrench on steroids. Since I had already decided to leave this backing paper on3, I had actually spackled part of the new wall to the papered surface, something I would not have done if we were going to try removing it.

Mrs Stevie dealt with the situation in a no-nonsense fashion by simply ignoring it. It was breathtakingly simple. A good job too, since when I saw the damage that would need re-spackling I could have severely damaged the young and impressionable Stevieling with the vile swear words I gasped out while clutching my chest and grinding my teeth in rage at another day's labour created were I in good voice.

After a frank exchange of views, Mrs Stevie decamped to Starbux for a calming Espresso Plaque Buster while I buckled down for yet another extended bout of f***ing spackling, something I was celebrating not having to do only eight hours before.

I interspersed the spackling with painting the greenboard walls, and here I found some calm as I uncovered a lode of painting tools I had forgotten I owned. A wonderful little roller, standard width but only about a quarter the usual diameter, which makes getting into corners so much easier. An edging roller with an ingenious but useless shield that flips down at the touch of a switch to guard mouldings, skirting boards and so on allowing a fine edge to be painted with a roller. If only it worked.4. Maybe I was just using it wrong the last time. Today I would have another opportunity to refine my technique with it and tell once and for all if it was just another piece of crap or a genuinely useful tool. A beautiful slant-cut Purdy brush, great for cutting-in. A box of paint pads, forgotten in a box that was damaged during the flood. The special roller paint tray for the paint pads. A veritable cornucopia of tooly delight.

I spread a drop cloth on the floor, which was a bit of a challenge since the floor was 5x4 feet and the drop cloth, a spun olefin affair, was about the size of a standard, three masted galleon mains'l. It ruffed up in places, and formed folds that would later be the cause of much swearing. Then I lined the floor adjacent to the walls with two inches of masking tape and it was game on!

I alternated between painting the walls and poking the spackle to check if it was dry yet. It wasn't, mostly. When I ran out of unspackled wall to paint, I went downstairs and sat in front of a fan drinking iced tea, which was where Mrs Stevie found me of course, prompting an immediate second front to be opened. I was firm. I was resolute. I went outside to clean the pool filter.

Eventually it was all done and night fell. I tiredly began picking up all the tools for cleaning when from under my left foot came the horrible sound of something being smashed to plastic flinders. I madly searched through the folds of the drop cloth and eventually uncovered the edging roller, or what was left of it. The Edging Shield Of Uselessness was now smashed to pieces, leaving me with a small roller with a puzzling little swinging rod. I howled out some potent words of power to drive off the anti-handyman evil spirits that were obviously beginning to infest New Bog and decamped for a shower and bed, pausing only to tell Mrs Stevie that if she would wallpaper the corner for the sink first, I would be able to fit the vanity while she was at church.

I should explain. I'll tackle most jobs, but I won't even try doing wallpaper. It had been our agreement since work on New Bog commenced that Mrs Stevie would wallpaper it. She seemed enthusiastic at the time.

I woke on Sunday to find that Mrs Stevie had done the required papering, and done a damnfine jobofit too. I straightway set about installing the vanity. The first job was a trip to Blowes to get parts and silicone sealant, required for securing the plug/wastepipe fitting and to anchor the sink to the vanity itself. Next up was cleaning the vinyl floor, already dirty even though the bathroom wasn't actually abathroom yet. Then I took off the door5 and wrestled the vanity into place. Then I screwed it to the wall, managing to miss every single stud I was aiming for.

I put the taps on the sink with the sink dismounted. It is much easier to do this with the sink off, so much so that I'm thinking now if I can't arrange to make the sink easily removable should the need to work on the taps arise. That was when I realised I had neglected to purchase the riser coupling hoses, so it was off to Home Despot where I discovered a set of hoses with an interesting property: They would shut off the water if the hoses burst. Muttering a curse on the inventor for not getting these things to market two years ago and thus preventing Domestic Flood Yolanda, I returned home and attached them to the taps.

At this point I decided a test was in order. It would simply not do for me to discover that the "safety" pipes shut off the water in normal use or leaked or whtever else they could come up with after the sink was installed so I dropped the sink onto the vanity and connected the water, allowing Mrs Stevie the honour of turning on the water (catching it in a little spackle bucket) to check it all out. Wonder of wonders, it all worked properly with no leaks6.

The instructions called for the (plastic) wastepipe flange (the chrome ring the plug goes into) to be sealed with silicon before it was all screwed up tight, so that's what I did, only to discover that the wastepipe was about a half inch too short. Many and loud were the imprecations unleashed at that time against the evil anti-handyman demons, and great was the risk that the new wallpaper would singe as a result. I dashed off to Home Despot and bought an extension pipe. Which turned out to be the wrong size for the wastepipe, so I dashed off to Home Despot and bought one that would fit. Unfortunately, this was a "weld" type fitting rather than a screw-ring and plastic ring seal type used all over the piping elsewhere. I would use more silicone. Then it transpired that the wastepipe was at too sharp an angle for the U-bend to mate properly with the wastepipe7. I deployed Mr Heat Gun on "low" and worked the pipe into shape, then ran a sink of water and let it drain. Perfect!

And we went out for dinner after that because we were all sick to the back teeth of the smell of paint, wallpaper paste and vinegar8.

When I returned I decided to run another test of the sink "just in case". My instincts were good, because while we were at dinner, the insidious anti-handyman spirits had sprung a leak in the watepipe seal. With a merry curse or six I removed the pipe and flange, only to find the silicone had not even begun to cure. It was supposed to be touch dry by now. Odd. I cleaned up the sink wastepipe hole and seperated the wastepipe from the extension, cleaning off the silicone here too. Then I used the PVC glueing kit, last seen during construction of the Christmas Arch, to weld the bloody things together, reapplied the silicone and reset the wastepipe.

I'll wait 24 hours and see if it cures properly, then figure out where to go from there.

Pictures of this fiasco in progress will be here when I get round to putting them up, as usual

  1. Which we have
  2. Which we also have
  3. Removing it can severely damage the underlying wallboard
  4. Even the box-lid illustration shows the problem with the design, it just minimises it. Paint builds up on the shield until it overflows on the adjacent (supposedly shielded) areas anyway
  5. The vanity won't go through the doorway with the door on its hinges
  6. In retrosepct, this should have been a clear warning that something was waiting in the wings to banjax the job in the eleventh hour
  7. I had deliberately done this, and tested it to ensure that it didn't cause the U-bend water trap to suck dry, because I wanted the water velocity to be enough to keep the pipe cleaner than the bloody downstairs sink was last January when Mrs Stevie burst the U-Bend on Super Bowl Sunday
  8. Acetic acid used to keep the silicone liquid in the tube and it is is given off as vapour as the silicon cures

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