Read this if you’re struggling to make demo weekend progress. We’re right there with you. Join the struggle bus.
As you may remember, our last major room renovation — the positively divine dining room — left Brandon and me just a bit…
We’ve been renovating this house for about 3 years at this point and lemme tell you — burnout is a real thing. Add to that some other family health issues earlier this year, and we were officially on a renovation hiatus.
That, my dear friend, is no more! This weekend, we embarked on the first stage of any good project, demolition. A demo weekend, if you will.
I recently announced the next room we would be renovating and invited all you lovelies to join us upstairs…
…to transform this former bedroom into a new bedroom and en suite bathroom.
Let’s get to it!
How We Remove Nails (without damaging the precious wood underneath)
This house was originally built with beautiful hardwood floors that some crazed maniac (probably the same maniac who thought it was a good idea to have carpet in the bathroom up here. I MEAN WHAT THE HECK, PEOPLE) covered with plywood.
And, we quickly learned, there is no way to pry up the plywood without damaging those precious, precious wood floors underneath. Did I say “no way?”
I should have said, “Only a labor-intensive, time-intensive, back-breaking way.”
But the house wanted me to save the floors, so save them I shall.
Here’s the best way we have found to remove the nails and save the wood floors below:
- Set up your drill with a bit that is larger than the head of the nail you are pulling.
- Drill two shallow holes on either side of the head of the nail
- Get your Beastly Nail Puller (we’re on our second. That’s how many nails we had to pull. This gal gets the job done.)
- Line up the Beastly Nail Puller with your pre-drilled holes to get a grip on the head of the nail.
- Use the weighted hammer slide on the nail puller to ram it further into the wood.
- Tweak the nail out, using the Beastly Nail Puller’s foot as leverage.
- Repeat this 75 million more times (I’m not even joking).
Old House Is as Old House Does
Welp, just when things were moving along…
We discovered that all our drilling and banging ad nauseum upstairs was creating a century of old house debris PART-AY GALORE downstairs in the kitchen.
Apparently we were making it rain in the kitchen (but it was just a shower of filthy dirt… Delicious.)
Fortunately, we are solutions people.
So we took a quick break from our floor demo to do the only thing we could think of to save ourselves eating house dust with every bite and…taped plastic sheeting to the kitchen ceiling.
Do I have complete confidence that this will work? No. But we’ll be living with it for several months while we finish the renovation upstairs.
How to Get Some Demo Weekend Momentum Going
As I said, it’s been a minute since we were seriously renovating.
By that I mean, about 3 months of minutes.
And while we’re excited to get started, there are some parts of every job that just, well, suck. Ripping up the floors is one of those.
Sooooo…. We’re going to do what everyone should do when they want to get up some momentum. We’re going to do something else!
Instead of plugging away endlessly on the floors, we moved on to another important part of demo — removing the drywall.
Brandon and I always joke that we gain square footage everytime we renovate a room. Over the years, our house has picked up many layers of wall coverings: on top of the original plaster, we also have about a half inch of furring strips and three quarters of an inch of drywall.
So when we take it all the way down to the studs, we’re actually getting back a LOT of room. Hey, that’s cool!
Pro tip: Please wear a respirator while you remove drywall and plaster! There’s a lot of fine dust that is bad news for your lungs.
Double pro tip: Don’t tell your wife that her head needs a bigger respirator than yours does. NOT CUTE.
Old House Archaeology
As we successfully removed all the drywall, we found what appeared to be a built-in bookcase that we suspect was added around the 20s or 30s.
We found the remnants of 30s-ish wallpaper that was at the same level as the Ghost of Built-ins Past.
It also appears that there was once a stove in this room, based on the stovepipe vent we found above the built-in.
Then things took a turn for the unfun.
“It’s double raining, right where I need to stand.”
I’m gonna level with you: we’re not having a good time during this demo weekend.
Since we are on the second floor and have access to a very large floor-level window in this room, the plan had been to walk out on the roof of the porch and dump our garbage in a pile to pick up and haul away.
But. It’s raining.
And there’s also a leaky gutter pumping even more rainwater right in the area where we’ll be walking most, making this metal roof one misstep shy of a widow-maker.
As Brandon said, “It’s double raining, right where I need to stand.”
So I guess we’ll just pick away at it inside and see how far we get.
Wait! Some good news? Huzzah!
Typically during demo weekend, we have to remove all the plaster that is hidden behind drywall because it’s in such terrible shape.
But occasionally, we get a little bit of good news!
Though she may be covered in wallpaper (who wallpapers a ceiling?), the plaster on the ceiling actually looks really good!
We’ll take it! That means one less item to demo and satisfying wallpaper peeling.
When all else fails on demo weekend, try the same thing over again.
On day two of our demo weekend it’s raining. Again.
Which means it will be virtually impossible for us to keep moving forward without at least one of us taking a slip and slide dive off the metal porch room.
Not a good time.
The forecast says there will be more rain next weekend and we’re not willing to wait two weeks for this room to be finished with demolition.
So there’s nothing else to do but return to our many-times-tried-and-failed strategy of demoing and cleaning during the week.
It’s not ideal, and we’ve never really succeeded at it before…
But it’s what we’re gonna have to do.
Hope to have better news to report next week!