house – day 62 – bloody doors

Today, I’m going to finish the doors that Paul had partially prepped and re-hang them in the front bedroom. On the way to the house, I stopped at B&Q to get some coarse wire wool (the medium grade I used yesterday just didn’t remove enough paint), I also bought the screws I’d need to re-hang the doors.

The electricians were back and working on the power for the kitchen. I showed them the new lights for the hallways, etc and the lighting schema for downstairs. We discussed a couple of issues about the siting of light switches and the electrics in the bathroom. Simon and Andy were working on filling the old doorway. I hadn’t spotted that the house effectively rests on a plinth of red bricks that jut out from the house walls and that these red bricks are capped with angled bricks to make a tidy transition. Simon and Andy were cleverly scavenging sloping bricks from the new kitchen door location to place into the old gap – neat. The new shower room window was also installed and we’ve now got the lintel for the new kitchen doors, however, we still need to order these doors (and we haven’t yet decided for sure on whether or not to get the ones Chris has suggested).

As the sun was shining brightly and, for a change the weather was really warm, I decided to work in the large front bedroom to finish the doors. It’s a very light room in the sun, the doors are already upstairs, they were to be re-hung in the room next door and there’s plenty of space for me to move around, so it made sense to work there instead of the workshop. I didn’t think there’d be much mess. First task is to finish off filling the doors on both sides using two-part filler. However, the air was so warm the resin set solid very quickly. I could only mix a small amount of filler at a time. I had to throw away most of the first batch, the speed it turned was quite surprising. I had dozens of small nail holes to fill, so it took a lot longer than I anticipated to complete this simple task. Finally, all the holes and cracks were filled ready for sanding, so I popped out to get a sandwich and sit on the beach in the warm sun for a spell, whilst the resin cured fully.

When I got back and started sanding, it didn’t take long for me to realise this was not going to be a quick job. The problem is that the door had been only partially covered in hardboard on one side and the door was covered in a few layers of different types of paint underneath. Where paint had accumulated around the edges of the hardboard it had penetrated all the lower layers and formed a solid ridge. When you sanded the ridge down to get it smooth, all the paint chipped away from the wood, leaving a little crater in the remaining paint and some of these craters joined up to form a line. It didn’t matter what grade of paper was used, some paint always chipped. I tried filling these depressions, but when I re-sanded them, paint came a way in other places. There was only one thing to do, remove all the paint from around these pitted areas. I started removing the paint with the palm sander, as that had worked pretty well on other doors, but this door had some very hard paint – as hard and brittle as shellac. The sander had little effect on this paint, it was glassy-smooth and resisted scratching, even when I used 40 grit oxide paper. Getting bored with the slow progress, I decided it was time for brute force and I got the belt sander out. For a while I thought it was going to work. Paint was being removed pretty quickly (as you might expect with a heavy-duty belt sander), but after a short time, the paint removal tailed off and the belt made a suspicious clicking sound. On inspecting the belt, I saw one type of paint was melting onto the belt and forming hard ridges. These ridges couldn’t be prised off from the belt, even with a sanding belt cleaner. I tried sanding with a new belt, but pretty soon that was used up and quite quickly I found I’d used four belts and hardly removed any paint. I needed to find an alternative solution. So, I started removing paint from the cupboard door using the hot air gun. This was also a mistake. The bottom layer of paint if incredibly gooey and doesn’t really melt. it doesn’t even char, it just sits obstinately at the bottom of grooves, whilst you scorch the surrounding wood. After a hot four hours’ work, I had barely completed half a side. I gave up for the day, I’d give it another go tomorrow, especially as the weather forecast was for a much colder day tomorrow. The screws to re-hang the doors remained in their packets. I walked down to the shore, where people were sitting in the hot sun sipping drinks. I felt a powerful urge to join them, but I needed to get home.

I took a few snaps of the setting sun and drove down the A2 to the flat. At around 2:00am the following morning I was woken up by Fiona. I’d fallen asleep on the settee, with my MBP sliding off my knee whilst looking for high-strength paint strippers. A fitting end to a frustrating day.