There's nothing like walking through your house and seeing the walls ripped open to test your mettle.
This weekend we needed to get the bulk of the demo/deconstruction out of the way because my dad is generously coming into town for 2 weeks to do work on the house (which we could not possibly be more grateful for!) We want to get all the demo/mess out of the way on the front end, so he can spend his time and energy doing things like moving water/gas lines, installing a tankless hot water heater, and begin to put this place back together.
Our task list for the weekend included the following:
- Finish demoing all tile in the bathroom (including floors)
- Remove door trim/jambs from linen closet and bathroom
- Demo wallboard between bathroom/bedroom
- Demo wallboard of linen closet
- Remove whirlpool tub
- Remove vanity
- Remove kitchen uppers
- Remove kitchen backsplash
On Saturday I removed all doors/drawers of the kitchen cabinets, so Sunday started off by trying to deconstruct the uppers. I hoped to locate the fasteners which held the cabinets to the walls so I could take them down in large sections, but as I got into it I realized that these solid wood cabinets were built in place (a far cry from the Ikea cabinetry we're installing) using 4" long nails. Even the front trim frame had 4 inch nails holding it on! These things weren't going ANYWHERE - seriously, they belong in a fallout shelter. There were no wall fasteners anywhere to be found, because as it turns out, these were constructed such that the backboard was nailed in the wall, then the side walls were nailed in, concealing the back-board nails. The 3/4 plywood shelves were notched into the side walls AND nailed, so the only way to get those out was to break them. The fascia board was 1 large piece of wood that ran the length of the wall and sealed the deal on these puppies.
After surrendering to the fact that there was no way to efficiently deconstruct them by myself, I knew we needed to resort to brute strength. Luckily we were flush with that on Sunday as we had already enlisted 2 friends to help us for the day (#willworkforbeer). After the guys sent me out to buy a sledgehammer (muscle + regular hammer wasn't enough) they started smashing the cabinets right on the wall. We (I) really wanted to avoid this method but it was truly the best and most efficient way to get the job done.
See below the boys removing the fascia and exposing the dead space behind it...I'm not going to tell you what other dead things we found back there. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger?
After the uppers came down, we moved onto the bed/bath drywall demo. Oh, the drywall. Let me preface this by saying that we thought this house was plaster & lath, so I was mentally preparing myself for a dusty mess. We've been surprised again and again that we've yet to find ANY plaster & lath, and rather everything has been wallboard. However, most of it isn't modern drywall, it's extra thick, super dense concrete/plaster wallboard laid on a metal chicken wire mesh. What the what? Anyway it's SUPER HARD to remove. Our drywall saw was a joke when put to the task of cutting this stuff. I digress.
On Saturday I had also finished removing the tiles from the shower wall, and with the tiles came most of the mortar behind it, exposing the majority of the screw heads fastening the tile backer board to the studs - such that I was able to unscrew and remove the board in large sections. I was pleased as punch and hoped the rest of the wall demo might follow suit.
However, on Sunday, when we got in there, we realized the rest of the walls were this super heavy duty stuff....most of which was nailed (not screwed) in, and it would be WAY harder to dismantle. Much to my chagrin we had to break out the big guns and tear into the walls with the sledgehammer...even our electric reciprocating saw didn't stand a chance. Don't worry, we were supremely careful about it, covering the AC return, locating studs, wires, pipes, and anything else that might be hiding behind the walls. But there's no dancing around it...this was a SUPER MESSY process.
The boys were so patient with me (thanks guys!) as I did my best to hide my panic at the suddenly out-of-control state our house felt like it was in. For a few hours this place was a war zone. We did our best to spray the rubble frequently with water to keep the dust down and stopped often to bag and remove the debris. By the end of the day, we had the bulk of the walls AND mess out of there. Completely bagged up, broom swept, and ready for our next day of work.
Since we were working to get ALL THE MESS of demo out of the way, we decided to go ahead and expose the brick fireplace in the kitchen this weekend, which has been part of our plan from the beginning. The boys insisted I take the ceremonial first swing at it, and we were all surprised to see that there was actually framing in front of the fireplace. In all the (copious!) research I'd done about exposing brick, the plaster/drywall was butted up right against the brick. I envisioned hours of scraping/cleaning old plaster off the brick...not that we'd find wood framing surrounding it. I'm thankful that this allows us to gain about 6 more inches in the already narrow entryway, plus about 6 inches to the right of the fireplace as well. But now we have the added task of figuring out a way to trim the fireplace around the ceiling and floor in such a way that conceals that space without looking awkward. We also have to figure out how to finish the inside of that wall to the left of the fireplace...which will become the back wall of our laundry closet. On the plus side, that space gives us enough clearance to run a laundry vent, so there's that...
(Update: we have a solution! More to come...)