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A Day in the Bathroom

Nope-the title is not what you think, although it would have been appropriate due to my run in with the flu last week! Which brings me to say a great big thanks for thinking of me to all who sent me well wishes! You can’t imagine how great it was to receive all your emails and comments while I was feeling a bit under the weather. I feel much better, but am still feeling two residual effects. The first is the bouts of nausea I still get whenever my stomach starts to feel a bit empty, but I do have an infinite amount of crackers and biscuits at my side to help with this. The second is the fatigue that I am still feeling. I can’t quite make it through the day without tiring easier than usual. I am hopeful by the end of the week that both will be gone for good. Again, thank you all for the “get wells”, it is much appreciated.

So… the title? It is in fact synonymous for the day Dude and I spent working on the tear out of the master bathroom.  The old owners decided that large squares of cork on the wall must have been a la mode in their day and they dove right in. The entire bathroom, all walls, was covered with this stuff.

Fortunately for us, it came off easier than the stupid wall paper they put up, but unfortunately guess what was behind it?? If you guessed glue, you win the prize and apparently have been paying attention to my ramblings 🙂

Every wall was covered with this thick, yellow glue and how! The good thing about this room is Dude said that we would only have to scrape off one wall! Yippey. I’m down with that. Since two of the walls are outside walls we are going to just put up new dry wall to make the wall nice and straight and also insulate it, so no scraping necessary, and the other wall is an inside wall that he said we can just smooth coat. This made my day, cuz ya all know how I feel about glue.

While I got busy scraping my one wall, Dude put on his thinking cap. He was trying to decide if he wanted to keep the tub or not. It’s a great tub made of cast iron (which we found out is hard to come by here on a budget like ours), but it is old and showing signs of rust and wear. In the end, Dude made the decision to chuck it.

In order to do this he had to get his mallet because the old owners had encased the tub in red brick, some weird type of plaster, glue and cork. This was on two sides of the tub while the side near the outside wall was encased in a layer of brick and plaster. This apparently was because the wall was not straight and it was easier to do this than just make the wall straight. Huh??!

So away he went. Boy, these guys never bothered to throw away all their left over construction material cuz we found it all shoved underneath the tub! All the broken pieces of bricks, plaster and dirt were there. It was unreal! It took tons of bags and cardboard boxes to get rid of the stuff.

What they also did was put all the electrical, water and heating runs under the tub and also encased them in brick and plaster.

Then Dude found a big hole in the bottom of the floor, just under the tub that opens up into the garage. Neat! Boy, I feel some real fun coming on!

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get the tub out of the bathroom that night cuz it was getting so late. Since I got sick and the subsequent revelation of the leaky roof, it happens to still be there. For now we have put the bathroom work on hold and started to work on the roof. If the weather happens to turn bad were are in deep trouble…..

 

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Modify Your Tools As Needed

Dude and I are back on the job of scraping the glue off of the floors. Yes folks, we are still not finished with that nightmare. We’ve had to put it on the back burner up until now so we could accomplish some other things that needed to be done. We were also really sick of dealing with it and simply needed a break.

Now the time has come to get back to dealing with it. We started out a couple of days ago just using our little scrapers to get the job done. That wasn’t going to well because we still had too much to scrape off and it was just taking too long. At this rate, we were not going to finish until the New Year (no joke). So Dude set out to make some modifications to his tools.

I’ve got to hand it to the guy; he’s always looking for creative ways to make his life easier. He’ll keep trying over and over again until he gets it right. At this point we (I should say ‘he’) was getting desperate. We can constantly hear the clock ticking away and our days just flying by as this house doesn’t get finished. So now we have to concentrate and persevere and just get this done!

So today was the day of modifying the tools he has to find something that will work better and faster than the tiny scrapers we were using. While I continued to use the small scraper Dude went off and worked on some inventions. Each time he would make a new one, he would try it for a few minutes and then he would move on to a new invention to see if it would work better. Here are all the modifications he made in a day!

 

Milwaukee with a sawzaw blade and a scraper drill bit held together by a vise

Crowbar with a tungstein held together with a vise

Milwaukee with a sawzaw blade and a Cut-Fix metal grinder blade held together with a vise

Milwaukee with a sawzaw blade and the tungstein held together with a vise

The best one has been the good, old-fashion crowbar with a drill bit scraper that is held together by a couple of vises which double as handles. It seems to be working out okay. The master bedroom, the down stairs hallway and Tinki’s room are all done. The upstairs hallway and the library are on their way of being glue free, as well. I never thought I would love the look of plain concrete in the house, but believe me, after looking at that nasty glue for months, I practically want to kiss the newly uncovered concrete!

Dude should be finished with all the scraping on Saturday (tomorrow and Friday we have to be at the office so we’ll lose two days of work). He said that he’ll go over the floors with a sander and get the last little bit all nice and smooth and then we should be good to go. He also said that we’ve pretty much lost at least a month’s worth of working time to this stupid glue.

Maybe once it’s done, he’ll slow down on the cuss words! Nothing makes a man angrier than scraping glue off the floor. He told me that he felt by doing this that our talents were being wasted. Well I have to tell you that I don’t really have any talents so what I don’t have can’t be wasted, but I agree with what he says when it comes to him. His talent when it comes to all things construction is pretty much above anyone else I know (and I’m not saying this just cuz he’s my Dude). It really is true. He can do just about everything known to the construction world and make it look simply brilliant.

I really think that’s what he is waiting for, his bright moment after the darkness of the glue and mud!

P.S.- WARNING: I do not condone any off this and please don’t try this at home!

The House Made of Glue

LeRoy Merlin is beginning to be our second home. I swear I have been there so many times in the last three weeks, that I know where just about everything is in the store. By the time this project is over, I could work there!

On this day we again found ourselves in the tool department. After both the Metabo and “Clee Scraper” failed us, we were on the hunt for something else. For some odd reason we just couldn’t let this go. To be defeated by something as insignificant as glue, would put the Vikings to shame and I wasn’t about to go there.

Dude decided he was going to find something more along the lines of a disc grinder. Maybe the round blade and circular motion at high speed would take that gunk off. As usual, when you get that man in the tool aisle, you’re headed for a long duration of looking at the same 3 to 5 tools over and over again while he tries to decide which one to buy. Unfortunately, all I can do is stand there and take it cuz I have no idea what any of this stuff is and which one will work the best.

So I just stand around checking out all the hot guys who are in the tool section. Just kidding. I wanted to be sure you were paying attention.

After about 3 hours (with this, I’m not kidding) Dude had his eye on a Hitachi brand disc grinder. I was like, “Cool. Buy it, Dude. Let’s go”. Guess what?? This thing comes in like 3 different sizes at the store so now I have to wait to see what size he wants to get! Ahhh!  Now he had to decide between a 4, a 7 and a 9 inch.

I think we’re gonna be here a bit longer.

I was getting an education in an area where I didn’t really want one. It’s kind of like sitting in Math class at school. Yup, that about sums it up for me.

So now Dude goes back and forth between the grinder wheel sizes cuz he needs the right size in order to choose the grinder and the right grit for the floor. He can choose between 40 grit and 80 grit. Now, I want to know why 80 grit is less harsh than 40. Why would they do math backwards? It should be, the higher the grit the more harsh it is. More confusion, but at least if some cute guy comes by I can bust out with, “Hey, I’m buying this Hitachi 9 inch disc grinder and I think I’d like to go with 40 grit grinder wheel. What do you think?”

Cute guy would be like, “Wow! A chick that knows her tools!” Hey folks, I got to get some fun out this.

While I’m having my fantasies about being a no-it-all, Dude finally decides on the Hitachi he wants. Cool for me, it comes is a nice purple color. As least I come away happy. Purple is my favorite color in the whole wide world. I’m claiming this tool for my own.

Off to the house we go to try out the “most beautiful tool” we own.

Once at the house, Dude gets all suited up and goes off to try out the grinder. I stayed downstairs working on clean up cuz this thing made the most awful noise imaginable and gave off a smell like something nasty was burning. I couldn’t take. Wimp, I tell you.

About 15 minutes later, Dude comes downstairs unsuited and say, “It didn’t work”. Well that’s a big surprise! When we first bought it, I tried to keep my enthusiasm at a minimum (except for the color). I was going to be the pessimist this time, that way if it didn’t work I wouldn’t be too disappointed. I think by now, Dude was feeling the same. Apparently, this thing got so hot that it would melt the glue but not take it off. The wheel would just skim over the top of the stickiness. Also, it chipped off part of the wheel! There were little pieces of it scattered throughout the room. That sure is helpful.

So guess what?? That disc grinder went right back into its box and we set it next to the Metabo. Oh well, I know we’ll find use for these guys some place else during this project.

Meanwhile, I had been downstairs testing out the glue in the master bedroom and you wanna know what I found? It was different than the glue upstairs, at least for the most part. I was able to use cold water and leave it set on the glue and then go across it with a rag and it was bringing nearly all of it up! Thank goodness for those guys running out of the harsh stuff.

So Dude and I decided that this day we would be taking up the glue in the master bedroom. We sported our masks and went to work. By the way, Dude has the really cool looking mask that works stupendously and I have a crappy, cheap one so I have to tape the sides and top so no air and particles come through.

By the way, the piece of tape between my eyebrows was not altogether necessary, I just thought I would get some waxing in to. Who knew that electrical tape could be so multifunctional.

Dude totally looks like a storm trooper knock-off. He was killing me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the end of the day, we had managed to get up all the glue off of the master bedroom floor! Score one for us. The only trouble we had was the foot and a half of glue that was next to the outside wall. For some reason, that glue was like the stuff upstairs and it had to be scraped by hand. Dude stuck to it, though and we had it all cleaned up. It looks like we are at least going to be able to tile this room. Yippey!

Bye the way, when I got home, I received a message from my cousin’s husband (who happens to read my blog occasionally-gotta love family support). Apparently he has noticed our glue issue and recommended a tool that he used on his floor that had glued down carpet. Unfortunately, you can only get the tool in the states and they don’t ship to France. Unlucky us. But my cousin’s husband said he would ship us a couple. They are on their way. Lucky us! I hope it works as good for us as it did for him. You all know you’re gonna hear about it, right?

 

Success Is Hard To Come By

The day after no success on the glued floors, Dude and I headed over to LeRoy-Merlin. He wanted to look for some kind of magic tool to help us out. When we got there we made a beeline for the tool section (secretly I think he was super excited because we all know how much guys like the tool section of hardware stores). I swear we were there for 3 hours because he couldn’t decide what drill and bit would work the best. He was trying them all out and then going back and forth between, like, 5 of them making sure that when he picked that “just perfect one” it really was “the one”.

As with everything else in France, the items are labeled differently and the companies that are the suppliers are even different in many cases, so we never know what a decent brand is and what not to buy. Certain brands that they sell in the states, and we are familiar with, cost and arm and a leg here so we have to rule those ones out instantaneously.

That is what brought us down to the 5 we were thinking about. I tell you I was feeling like I was watching the grass grow. I got so bored that I felt like putting one of those dang drills to the temple and just going for it. I kept after him to hurry up, but he was really indecisive about what to get. He didn’t want a piece of junk that was gonna break right away, but he also didn’t want to spend a flat fortune.

In the end, he went with good ol’ Metabo. This brand was one he was familiar with and he said it had a good reputation. On the side of the box it actually has the tag line of Work. Don’t play. Hilarious, I tell you. Then he went over and grabbed the bit (that looked like a scraper) and made sure that the drill was SDS+ and had some special chuck. Yaah…., um….., ok. Whatever that means in Dude language.

We also set out to buy a shopvac cuz with all the dust and grime we were stirring up with this project we were gonna need one. Dang those things are expensive here.

Off we went to the house really excited (we really were, no lie) cuz this tool was awesome and it was gonna work great. We were optimistic on this one.

When we got to the house, we suited up and Dude got to work on the floors with the drill. He fired that thing up and it was loud! Someone from the other side of town probably thought we were doing road construction that’s how loud it was.

You know what?? I didn’t really work THAT great. It didn’t do any more damage to that dang glue than our good ol’ fashion elbow grease did!  In the video below, it seems to look like we are getting some where with it, but in reality if you look at the floor around him, he still has a lot do and it just isn’t fast enough. He was actually get more done when just chiseling by hand. We need something that was just gonna melt this stuff away!

By the way, how he sounds with his mask. That’s what I kind of get to hear all the time. Sort of like what the kids on Charlie Brown hear when their teacher talks. 🙂

He kept plugging away at it for a while though, and the drill bit didn’t want to stay in the drill. Then he decided that he was gonna tape the bit onto the drill. Still wasn’t working. Then he taped a crowbar onto the bit which was taped onto the drill. He was hoping to put more pressure on the bit so it could get up underneath the glue and lift it off much easier and faster. This was also a no go. It was too hard on his hands and too slow for the liking.

After about 30 minutes, he just gave up. He figured what little he had accomplished with the drill and bit, he could have probably done the same darn thing by hand.

That dumb drill went right back into the box and into the closet.

NEXT!!!!!

I went to the second story stairs to do some more chiseling. I really didn’t want to use any harsh chemicals, but we we getting to that point.

Sometime later Dude came down stairs and said to me. “Will you go over to Point P and pick up some Acetone, maybe that will work.” I replied, “No can do. Point P is closed now.”

Frustration on his part had now ensued. We both were sick of these floors so I tried to look up where the nearest hardware store was to the house so I could go get some harsh chemicals.

As luck would have it, I found a Mr. Bricolage that would still be open for some time. I packed it in and headed out. The cool thing about driving all by myself is that I can totally blast my radio as loud as I want and nobody is gonna tell me I can’t. So guess what?? That is just what I did. The whole 30 minutes of country road driving that it took me to get to the store. Ahh, freedom…..

Once at the store, I found the Acetone right away (lucky for me it’s the same name in English). I called Dude and said I was successful and you know what he told me? He said, “Fine some paint thinner, too”. Dang it. I don’t know what that is in French.

So, I started reading all the harsh chemical labels and opening up the bottles to sniff the stuff. Man I was high, by the time I left that store. I’m sure I lost some brain cells that evening. The funny thing is that you can actually open the bottles. There was no safety on them! You can’t do that in the states! Nice perk of being here if your into that, though.

Through all the drug sniffing I finally found what I thought to be paint thinner. I grabbed a small bottle of that and a HUGE jug of Acetone and headed for the counter. You should have seen the look the girl gave me. It was like, “Hum, what you buying just these two items for?” I just smiled and shook my head “yes” like I was up to something (plus I must have had a goofy look on my face since I was still high from sniffing the chemicals) and I walked out the door with my treasure. Bonjournee J

When leaving I spotted the best place in the whole world to go to the bathroom, McDonald’s. Yes sir-eee bob. I pulled into the parking lot and in McDos I went. Clue to all, if you are on the road in France and need a bathroom, McDos is the place. They’re open 7 days a week, you don’t got to pay to do your business and the bathrooms are cleaned every 30 minutes (at least that’s what the sign says in there). I tend to believe it cuz they have been pretty tidy when I’ve used them.

Upon leaving, I spotted some teenagers walking out with some delicious chocolate sundaes. Ok, I’m down with that. Those fumes were still lingering and they were telling me that French fries, a coke and a chocolate sundae were calling my name. I seriously never eat that bad. I tend to avoid crappy foods as much as possible, but today I was blaming the chemicals. I bought the farm, folks. Dude and I were going “fast food” tonight. It was McDo for dinner. Boy was he gonna be surprise and you know what? I didn’t even feel guilty when I left with my sack of crap. If I was gonna be a construction worker (I was already dressed for the part –all sloppy with dirt and construction grime on me) then I was gonna eat like one today.

Back to the house I headed. So there I was in the car with McDo in the front see, my chemicals in thetrunk and I was flying down the country road blasting my music. Ahhh, what more could a construction girl want.

I should have known that my bliss was destined not to last. All of a sudden I said to myself, “What the heck is that smell? It smells a little bit like……CHEMICALS!!!!” I suddenly started to panic cuz I was afraid I was gonna blow myself up. Seriously. I envisioned body parts and fries all over this beautiful country road.

I quickly found a place to pull over to the side and opened up the trunk. Wow! Fumes galore! The bottles had fallen over and some of the chemicals had dribbled out. I grabbed both bottles and put them outside on the ground then I called Dude to let him know what happened. Do you know what that man said to me? He said, “What?!! You spilled chemicals all over the car?!! It will wreck the paint! Take them out of the car!” Nice. Thanks for caring about ME, Dude. All he was concerned about was Benoit. I could just feel the love emitting heat waves from the phone. By the way, I didn’t spill them ALL OVER the car, just the back part. Sheesh!

So, there I was hanging out for a bit on the side of the road, a lone woman with the trunk open, chemicals on the ground and eating fries. I was sure hoping no one would come by and offer me help because I wasn’t sure how I was gonna explain myself.

After about 10 or 15 minutes, the smell from the car dissipated and I was able to head home. When I made it back, Dude comes out all flustered about the car and checkin’ it out and everything. He never once as me if I was fine and if I still had some brain cells left. Yup, he’s got my back alright.

I showed him the gourmet meal I bought and we went up stairs to eat before tackling the floor again.

After McDo, we once again suited up (this time I put my mask on) and went up stairs, opened all the windows for good ventilation and proceeded with pouring the chemicals on the floor. We tried the Acetone on one side of the room and the paint thinner on the other. Then we waited a minute to see which one would work the best. The hard part was waiting since we didn’t know what to expect or how long to wait.

Then we started scraping away hoping that the glue would just melt right off and we would be home free. Nothing happened. The chemicals did absolutely NOTHING to the glue. This was impossible! How was it that Acetone and paint thinner would have no effect at all! This stuff is harsh, man! We were completely stumped at this point. We had no ideas left in us. What in the world was this glue made of?

Now we had to put our thinking caps on again. We were really tired of this by now and just wanted to move on. This glue situation was taking up all our time and we had so many other projects on our plate.

I guess it was back to LeRoy Merlin in the morning. It was time to search out another tool to help us.

I just wanted this to be over…..and I can still smell those chemicals.

Day Two of Punishment

The second day of the remodel turned out to be harder than the first one. We started by assessing the house and deciding what to tackle first, the glue on the floor or the glue and paper on the wall.

In the end, we decided it was gonna be to get the glue up off of the floor. Dude said it would be best to just start scraping it, so he set out to do just that. He sported his knee pads, his goggles and his breather and got to work using a crowbar. Check out my man at work.

After a couple of hours of this, it was just not happening. The glue was too stubborn to be scraped up. We had done some research the night before (just in case) and found that pouring boiling water over the glue would help break it up and we would then be able to scrape it off easier. Well, in any case, the person said it has worked for them, might as well give it a go, ourselves.

Luckily for us, the owners left their old stove (which we hadn’t tossed out the window yet) so I set to boiling some water.  We got some towels, I put on my own mask (which is not nearly as cool as Dude’s), and I found another scraper so I could “try” and be of some assistance.

I brought up the boiling water and Dude started pouring. We let it soak in so that it would possibly break apart the glue particles and we could just run the scraper over it and viola, easy as pie. Right?? That was a big, fat, WRONG! It didn’t work in the least bit. The water just ran right over the top and then dried up, cuz it’s so dang hot here. Even with a little wetness on the glue it wasn’t any easier to get up.

We then decided that this was maybe glue that liked cold water instead. I went back downstairs and filled a bucket with cold water and we tried that. No go, as well. Apparently this glue doesn’t like any type of water. We now had to think of something else. Dude decided that we would go by LeRoy-Merlin the next day and try to find something there that would help us out. In any case, we were out of commission with the floors today so we moved onto the kitchen and the removal of the glue and paper on the walls. With this, Dude is a bit of an expert because he actually has done this before. I had him do a little Tool Time video to tell you guys all about it. Look what a natural he is. Tim Allen’s got nothing on you babe 🙂

Guess what?? We got right to it and it actually worked. I knew I had that man around for a reason 🙂 The outside wall that Dude started on was the hardest. I don’t know if it is because it is an exterior wall and with the sun beating on it all day the glue adhered to his better or not, but it took a great deal of time to get that one done. The inner walls seemed to go much quicker and I got to the point of being able to peel large strips of the paper of after wetting it and then Dude came by with the scraper and finished it off. We were able to finish ¾ of the kitchen that day, which was more than I thought we would.

Dude said he thought that we would have finished the whole kitchen so he was a little disappointed. I told him that he would have been in a better mood if he thought like me!

So we packed it in for the night and made plans to head to LeRoy’s in the morning. Next day’s objective: to finish the kitchen walls and get that dang glue off the floor.

If you want to see more photos of Day 2 remodel, they appear on Flickr in the set named “Moving and Renovation of the New House”. To get there just click on the “More Photos” option under Recent Pictures.

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