Pennsylvania Limestone Farmhouse Renovations to an 1863 farmhouse built of limestone

September 2, 2013


Filed under: Stone house restoration,Upstairs — Duane Diefenbach @ 9:00 pm

The past 6 weeks have been all about plastering sanding, more plastering, and more sanding the upstairs.  Labor Day weekend was all about finally painting – and it took a day-and-a-half. When you have 8 windows, 3 closets and 5 doorways there are lots of corners and trim to paint around. This aspect of the project has been a challenge to stay motivated because it’s the tiny details that need to be addressed to when finishing with plaster – even the slightest hollow or bump stands out when painted.  And it’s when you go to paint that you find all the spots you should have sanded or filled..

Looking back through the photos I realized how much has been done. After my last posting I stripped all the paint off the trim and in early August our niece, Kate, who lives in Virginia came to visit, along with a friend of Molly’s from Colorado.  Everyone helped prep the old plaster so that it could be skimcoated (make sure the joint compound adheres) and primed all the trim upstairs. And everyone had fun as you can tell from the photos!


The step was to start skimcoating the ceiling and walls. I did this by first using joint compound that comes in bags and you add water (called hot mud). This stuff cures via a chemical reaction and is harder than joint compound that comes in buckets already mixed (and cures by drying). I used this to fill big holes and gaps – and then benefit is that once it cures another coat can be applied even if it isn’t quite dry.  Here is an example of how I used this stuff – below are some photos of the chimney in the room that used to be Ethan’s bedroom.  Some of the bricks were exposed as you can see in the photo below. I first patched the holes with the hot mud and did the finishing with pre-mixed compound because it is much easier to sand (2nd photo).  The third photo shows the finished wall.




Here are two photos of the skimcoating process. The photo on the left shows my very first attempt at skimcoating – I just did a small area in the corner to get a feel for mixing the hot mud and applying to the wall.  Since I bought the 90-minute setting joint compound I had plenty of time to use up each batch (most of the time – a few half-buckets ended up getting dumped in the woods because it set up before I could finish!). The photo on the right is when the walls are just about done – the whiter joint compound is the easy-sand pre-mixed stuff.



And here are a series of photos showing the results of hours and hours of work. This window was where you used to walk up the stairs from the old part of the house into the 1950s addition (on the second floor).  The stone was rebuilt and I framed in the window sashes and framed the interior trim.  Then I built up layers of hot mud to create the finished window well.


Below the plastering is almost ready for the final finish of pre-mixed compound.


And below is the finished window that just needs the trim painted.


In the next post I will have more photos of the upstairs painted and the floors sanded with a coat of sanding sealer.

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