Sunday, May 30, 2010

Parisian Palace: Sans cracks

In the home-improvement issue of Mankato Magazine a few months ago, I wrote an essay about my first-time homeownership experience. I talked about being single, without any handyman skills, and taking on the upgrades of a 130-year-old home in Old Town.

Mostly, I had success stories: putting in my own sod, landscaping, refinishing floors, renovating a bathroom, putting up a tile backsplash, etc. But the story in my essay that seemed to stick out the most for people was when I wrote about my master bedroom. I moved into a room with wood-paneled walls, no molding along the floor, and old carpeting with stuck-on tiles underneath, not to mention the golf clubs for curtain rods. Anyhow, all went well in the renovations, clear to the floor. But one thing did not go well. I plastered over the wood paneling, hoping to find an inexpensive way to refinish the walls without putting up drywall. However, I did not realize that any time you plaster over a wood product, the plaster will crack. The wood contracts and expands with the humidity and temperature, resulting in floor to ceiling cracks around my bedroom, making it appear like a circus tent, cut up into strips.

Anyway, I got e-mails and calls and even people I bumped into asking me how it turned out. Did I solve the crack mystery after trying so many times to patch it with caulk and joint compound, all to no avail?

Well, as a matter of fact, I think I did. I am in no way endorsing this method for people who want to do home improvement the right way. But in desperation for anything to work, I used double-stick Scotch tape along the length of each crack and plastered over it one more time, hoping the crack underneath would expand and retract as needed behind the tape and not on the surface. And you know what? That seems to be what's happening. For a few months now, I've had absolutely no cracks, and I've been so confident they won't come back, that I repainted the room. I think this is it, folks.

I've posted pictures of what I now deemed to be my FINALLY FINISHED bedroom. Only took 18 months to solve, but it's over. I call it my Parisian Palace, sans cracks.

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