M. Giant's
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Friday, September 04, 2009  

Around My Ears

This may shock you, but there doesn't appear to be a neat way to demolish a ceiling.

As much as I hated to mess up the bathroom, I hated to mess up myself even more. This was a matter of self-preservation, not just vanity. I've told you about what happens to my lungs when I get sheetrock dust in them so that had to be avoided. I also discovered a bunch of old damp fiberglass insulation up in the ceiling from when it used to border on the attic instead of the upstairs, and that stuff didn't seem to respect the boundary represented by my glasses when it was falling down into my face. And I was overdue for a haircut, and I didn't want to have to spend 45 minutes in the shower getting shrapnel out. So how to protect my mouth, nose, eyes, and hair? Allow me to model my protective equipment for you:

Tear this bathroom apart until you've found those plans!

The added benefit was that it hid my identity while I was committing crimes of violence against the bathroom.

I did have good intentions when I went in there to keep the mess under control. I took out all the stuff that lives on the bathroom counter and the toilet tank, as though I was going to clean the room instead of do the opposite to it. I brought in a whole roll of black Hefty bags so everything that came down could go right in.

Funny thing, though, it didn't seem to want to do that. You know how when you're bagging leaves in the fall, the hardest part is getting them in the sack? There just aren't enough hands to hold the bag open and shovel it full at the same time. Now imagine trying to bag up all the leaves before they hit the ground. It's tricky, especially when you're dealing with a stiff autumn breeze. Now imagine tripling that stiff autumn breeze because you're trying to do it in the damage path of a giant blower fan.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that some of the leaves are heavy and hard and have nails sticking out of them.

Obviously I turned the blower fan off shortly into my first demolition session. Which lasted about a half hour, followed by about thirty-five minutes of cleaning up the mess I'd made so far. After not only bagging up the debris but also giving all the surfaces the kind of cleaning they only get when Trash has just threatened to kick me out for my slovenliness, I looked around in satisfaction and turned the blower fan back on. You'd be amazed at how much ceiling crap can fall into the output chute on one of those things. Although it probably wouldn't have looked like as much if it hadn't suddenly been flying around the room in a constant fifty mph wind.

I got another section of the ceiling down the next night, in about twenty minutes. Then I spent thirty minutes cleaning. Clearly I was doing it wrong.

It's just a messy thing to do. You think you can pull the ceiling down one neat chunk at a time, with a little trickle of dust here and there, until you actually start doing it and debris goes everywhere. Then you realize you might as well just swing the hammer as hard as you can. Same mess, but you're done faster.

So the next time, I resolved to not clean up until the entire thing was down. It took me two hours to get the rest of the ceiling down, and the cleaning after that session only ran 45 minutes. Admittedly, Trash wasn't pleased when she got home (an hour ahead of schedule, I hasten to add) and couldn't push the bathroom door open because the whole room was ankle-deep in debris, but I assured her I knew what I was doing.

"You shouldn't have let it get this bad," she admonished.

"I find your lack of faith disturbing," I replied.

It all turned out fine. I got the mess cleaned up. The drying equipment was rendered more effective, thanks to the fact that the subfloor was exposed. And the next day when we had to have the plumber come out to clear the bathtub drain, the blockage turned out to be one of M. Edium's toys rather than a hunk of plaster.

Now all I have to do is nail up a new ceiling, tape it, mud it, prime it, and paint it. That'll be the easy part.


posted by M. Giant 12:00 AM 1 comments


Yeah, demo'ing a bathroom is punishment that should be reserved from someone who mugs old ladies.

On the off chance that you still have more to do: You need a Bunny Suit. Available at Home Depot, it's an all-over-cover up, and bonus, it's disposable. Yes, you'll swelter, but you get the joy of pitching it in the trash with great energy and a few curses at the end of the task.

Also, put the lined garbage in the tub. It will still suck in terms of mess, but it will suck ever-so-slightly less.

You have my sympathy, by the way. We remodeled a bathroom in our house built in 1912, and had to strip down to the studs. My husband and I did manage to remain married, but we did end up buying a different house about a year later.

Yup, finding out what was in our walls was that traumatizing. We could never look at our house quite the same way again.

Good luck. Also, by the aforementioned bunny suits? These nifty face masks, also highly recommended.

By Blogger Land of shimp, at September 6, 2009 at 8:23 AM  

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