April 5, 2021

Going backwards?

No, not really, but sometimes you have to make things (look) worse before you can make them better. And that’s the story with the walls, floor and ceiling around my new patio door that I installed last autumn but which I’m only just getting around to making good. Because of just how the house is and how old it is I always knew that it wasn’t going to be easy and I have to confess that I’d been putting off getting started.

But today was the day and I began by trimming the decorative floor tiles that I’ll eventually be laying and placing them in a bucket of water to prepare them to accept the mortar adhesive. If you don’t soak them beforehand they won’t stick properly and they’ll eventually become loose with disastrous results. I then moved on to pulling the ceiling in the door alcove down that I fitted myself just a few years ago and after that it was time to start on the walls.

If I do a job I always have to do it properly and that applies even though I’ll be moving out and leaving things behind me in the near future – maybe more so because of the latter as I’d hate for the new buyers to think that I’d done a bodge-job and left them with the consequences (as has been done to me on more than one occasion).

I always knew that the walls either side of the new patio door would need special attention because its door handles are very close to the door outer edges and you need to have space to get your fingers in when you slide the doors open. To make matters worse, both walls were rendered and plastered to suit the old windows the frames of which stood some way off the walls, which must now be trimmed back to suit the new door frame.

This won’t be too bad on the left-hand side because with a bit of cutting back towards the inside, the wall can be re-rendered and re-plastered to make a nice finished job, but the same couldn’t be said for the right-hand wall that had been built up much thicker and would need to be cut right back in order to make even a half-decent job. So knowing that, that’s the side I started with.

I was hacking the old render and plaster off using a club hammer and bolster which was a time and effort consuming job but slowly I got down to the original stonework, and then I found out why the thickness had been built up so much on that side. As the images below show, it was done to cover a door hinge from when my house was originally in use as a barn.



As the second image above just shows, the hinge extends out from the wall beyond the edge of the door frame, so that leaves only two options. Either it will have to be left in place and made a decorative ‘feature’ of by painting it for example, or it will have to be removed. I don’t much fancy the first option, so it’ll have to come out. I suppose you can’t blame them for ‘disguising’ it as if they didn’t have a cutting torch available, at the time removing it would have been almost impossible. That’s not the case now as we have angle grinders and diamond cutting discs, so that’s the next job on my list before getting stuck into the making-good proper.

The last two shots below show what I mean by ‘having to make things worse before making them better’.



The scene looks as though the ‘demolition man’ who put in my new bathroom windows had been back again, but actually things aren’t half as bad as they look. I’ve kept the corner on the left-hand side and although I’ve lost a bit on the right, it won’t be too hard to get it back again by nailing a length of wood onto the wall and plastering up to it.

I’m just so pleased to have got this stage over as once again the job created a huge amount of dust that floated right through the whole of the downstairs and up onto the landing and took ages to clear up. Hopefully, although I’ll have to take careful steps to protect the new patio door, cutting off the old door hinge won’t make such a mess, or at least I hope so.

Incidentally, I found when I hacked off the old render and plaster that at some time the plaster top coat had been applied over old plaster that was already painted white. When and why I guess I’ll never know – just one of the mysteries you encounter when you buy an old house like mine with an unknown history.