July 19, 2020

House Post Sunday: The Never-Before-Seen Back Hallway Staircase

Since we were having drywall work done in the laundry room, I tacked on another piece of drywall work to the project: the back hallway.

The laundry room wall, formerly exterior, is to the left if you're standing where I am in this photo.

This is a space I hate so much, I've never once photographed it until now. It's in the poorly built 1938 addition, which was built as an expansion of the servants' space and gave the servants a second bedroom (or maybe a sitting room), a sewing room, and their own entrance. It also joined the main house to the detached kitchen, now the laundry room.

Despite my utter disdain for this space, the time had come to reckon with it, since the ceiling was threatening to cave in over it. That may sound terrifying to those of you in drywall houses, but plaster has a lifespan of about 40-50 years, after which it can start to pull away from the lath behind it, so it's expected and normal.

The addition
There's a privacy fence here now, but this 4 year old picture shows the addition clearly, which is the sided section.

This staircase is INSANELY steep. The treads are so small I have to turn even my size 5.5 feet sideways on them. And it's 0% up to code, but it's grandfathered in, which is good, because the laws of physics are against us on reconfiguring it.

So. Much. Beige. Even the wall behind it used to be This Surface is Probably Dirty Beige until we primed it...years ago...and never painted it...

So over the years, we have given the back hallway no love. Haven't primed. Haven't painted. Haven't redone the floors (the only room in the entire house we haven't done the floors in!) And the floor still has a hole in it from when the previous owner had her washer and dryer back here, under the electrical panel, with the dryer venting into a cloth bag in the cellar!

Even the electrical panel was This Surface is Probably Dirty beige (yes, this has been replaced).

The cracks ended up being so bad, instead of just going over the plaster with drywall like we'd done in every other upstairs ceiling five years ago, my GC decided to reinforce it with plywood as well. And then once that was done and mudded, his crew left their ladder and walkboard setup so I could prime and paint the ceiling, which I did last weekend.

I realize that may look terrifying, but I was only a maximum of maybe 10 feet off the ground on this one.

This is in stark and terrifying contrast to when I did this same thing using my GC's walkboards to take the wallpaper down, prime and paint over the front staircase five years ago. I was 25 feet up for that one, and it's the only time in my life I've ever been genuinely scared of a home improvement project. But I did it.

This is the end of day two after the ladder had been lowered several times, but imagine this same setup up near the ceiling in this space! It was so scary.

So I primed the ceiling, and that went fast, so I decided, what the heck, why not prime the walls too. Not like they needed it or anything.

Knowing the former owner, this is likely Great Dane damage. It's too high off the floor to be her 32 cats. There are places in my house where I would skimcoat this clearly not in great condition wall before painting it, but the shitty back utility staircase is not one of those places #pickyourbattles

And then I primed the banister too (after cleaning it with TSP first!), and eventually, the whole staircase was primed. GOODBYE more of This Surface Is Probably Dirty Beige.

Bye beige

Then this weekend, since I do need to give the walkboard back someday (bless my GC), I painted the walls.

Sherwin Williams Sky High tinted to 75%. With the lights off, it reads blue, and with the lights on, it reads white.

There's still so much left to do in this little area, including: replace the workbench that's off to the right of the photo above, put in some more permanent tool storage, get rid of the carpet, refinish and/or paint the stairs depending on what's under that nasty carpet, install Flor wall to wall, prime the rest of the workbench room, paint the rest of the workbench room, the staircase, the doors, and a whole lot of trim.

That's old houses though, you are always aware there's something more to do, but you know it'll all get done in due time!

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