Sheets of Masonite enclosed the ceiling of the approximately 25 foot tall stairwell. Without removing the panels we wouldn't know the condition of the ceiling. If it was it was truly awful it would have to be repaired. There was only one way to know...
This photo is of the first half of the false ceiling removed showing the condition of the chevrons and ceiling wood. Well now, at least, we knew the extent of the problem.
These walls had been blasted with a thick coat of pinkish colored stucco (1960's?) which did not age well. The white paint trim with the small red line was added by a cousin many, many years ago.
The dark wood on the right is evidence that rodents nested in this void probably in the 1940's. During WWII farmers in the area moved feed grains for their animals closer to the house to detour pilfering by the German military.
The ceiling was a highway into the attic and then only a short distance to the grain loft. The grain in the loft was removed when the rats were discovered. The Masonite cover didn't allow any air circulation and the wood had also been damaged from decades of summer humidity.
The pinewood cripple studs were only finished on one side and leaving the other sides very rough, the plan had been to cover them, forever. However the wood was cleverly placed so that the false ceiling was flat. The 200+ nails driven into the chevrons were difficult to remove, most of the chevrons are very old solid oak. Clearly recycled from another building.
This is one of 3 rodent nests. This hole goes up into the open attic space. We carried out bags of dirt and debris straight to the garbage every day. (Needless to say goggles and masks were the uniform of the day). Lots of sanding and water/bleach baths on the wood, it took several days but the wood finally dried and although it looked a bit dingy it was still about 500% improvement. Next came a through spray of pesticide to deter wood destroying pests.
This electrical conduit for the upstairs was added to the exterior of this wall. Here is a view of the wall/ceiling where there was no plaster or paint before the Masonite panels were placed. At the left side of the blue conduit is another rodent entry area. That rat had eaten through the wire insulation and was electrocuted. The skeleton was stuck in the void and came down with the Masonite. Remains were quickly double bagged and even more quickly disposed into the garbage. Nasty work, but once the false ceiling was down there was nothing else to do but to carry on!
Here you can see again there was no finish work above the white trim area
This is near the end of tearing out all the Masonite and beginning to repair the plaster around the top of the white trim area. The ladder was narrow even at the bottom level and made the process a bit dangerous not to mention uncomfortable. We used a lightweight scaffold that was too unsteady on the steps not to mention too short to reach the ceiling.
This photo from the entry area. On the right edge is the rough stucco texture we were eager to cover with plaster and fresh paint.
Debris on the steps in this photo and the one below from just one days work.
Finally the ceiling is taken back to the original wood. Through cleaning, sanding and several days for the wood to dry before the first coat of paint.
Barry begins plastering the walls in sections he can reach from the ladder or the lightweight scaffold. This is very slow going work and after a few long days makes a decision.
The new scaffold arrives! After much research a rental company is located and a heavy duty scaffold is found.
It went together like a jigsaw puzzle but it was tall enough, sturdy and steady. The many steps, very tall space made moving the scaffold tricky to position on the steps and still be efficient.
Jeremie was instrumental in the process, not only in locating the rental company but in jumping in with both feet and learning how to plaster walls 20+ feet in the air!
Each time the scaffold needed to be moved a complete dismantling was necessary.
Here is our life saver - Jeremie in person! He had never done any home repair/renovation work but was a quick study. Not only that but his technique and skills improved daily. We couldn't have done without him this year.
I attempted a Faux finish on the door surround, looks good from about 20 feet?
Not sure if we are ready to put any paintings or photos on the walls yet, enjoying the change.
And if you have thanks for reading