shellac+stain+shellac = perfect
The garnet shellac wasn't brown or dark enough. It actually looked very similar to the orange/amber shellac I had tried out in the summer. It added beautiful depth and color to the wood, but it wasn't what I was looking for. So then I bought all kinds of little sample packages of Varathane stain. Sample packs like that are God's gift to DIYers. After much sampling, I've finally decided on "golden mahogany". The absoloutely terrible photo below shows all of my attempts at finding the right color combination. Remind me not to take pictures before the sun comes up and/or I've had some coffee. The top of the right-hand board is the garnet shellac, with the amber shellac beneath it. I imagined garnet as a deep reddish hue, but it's very orang-y. More red-orange than red-brown.
Because our woodwork is pine, it's kind of difficult to stain without it turning out blotchy. Based on some recommendations, I decided to seal the wood first using a 1 lb cut of clear, dewaxed shellac (Zinnser SealCoat, thinned). The stain goes over that, then I coat it all with a coat of garnet shellac to bring out the red tones. And then a few coats of clear shellac over that for protection. Is that complicated enough? The resulting color just about perfectly matches the existing woodwork upstairs, which is what I am aiming for. I'll take a picture when the room has brightened up so that the flash doesn't wash it out.
Stairway of the Damned: Part IV
Something I am excited about it the shellac. I bought a package of garnet shellac from Rockler, and I mixed up a batch a few days ago. I think it's kind of a misnomer that they're called shellac flakes, though. Mine looked more like glass chips and took 2 days to dissolve completely. I'm testing it out right now on a spare board, and I'll post some pics when I've got a few coats on.
Another bit of excitement is the woodwork came back from The Strip Shoppe less than a week after I dropped it off. 85 board feet in 6 days. That guy is my hero. When we picked it up, he had cleaned off the backs as well as the fronts, and packaged them up neatly in 3 bundles. They don't even need to be sanded. I think the $280 was money very well spent, and I'll be sending more business his way soon.
Letter from the POs
We received your letter dated October 23, 2007. It was good to hear that you are
taking care of the house. B and I were laughing that you had already undertaken
much of the work that was next on our “to-do” list prior to me being offered
another job. I will try to answer your questions as best I can.
When we moved in, the house was livable but needed some modernization. Before
we even moved anything in, we ripped out the shag carpeting in the two bedrooms
facing the street and did some touch up painting. While we lived there, we also
did several remodeling projects. First, in what was our office (the bigger of
the two bedrooms facing the street) we stripped off the wall paper and paint
(several layers of both including some really ugly lime green and pink layers),
refinished the floor and woodwork (woodwork also had several layers of paint),
had the room skim coated, hung crown molding around the top, etc. In the small
bedroom up stairs, we refinished the floor, striped wallpaper and paneling from
the walls, painted all the woodwork (had to cut several new pieces), built the
“toy box”, enlarged the entrance to the attic, added a ceiling fan and rewired.
In the dining room, we painted (it was dark brown paneling and chocolate brown
painted woodwork) and installed laminate flooring. The plan was originally to
refinish the floors there too but several of the boards were missing/boarded
over from when they moved the heating around.
More mechanical repairs included re-wiring portions of the house (mostly to
install ground to the main floor), installing drain valves for the
mudroom/laundry room portion (the water line froze my first year there so after
that I just shut it off and drained the water line when it was going to be below
0 F for several days). I also caulked all the windows (which leaked badly when
we moved in), had insulation blown into the walls of the house and additional
insulation put in the attic. In the basement utility room, there was
effervescence on the walls so I acid etched the walls and painted it with Dry
Lock even though we had never had water in the basement. We put stucco on the
base of the mudroom which was just Styrofoam and then repainted all the brick at
the base of the house. I also replaced the window in the mudroom and rebuilt the
frames of the windows in the basement on the driveway
Outside, we did landscaping. I brought in 10 yards of dirt and several pickup
loads of mulch to use as fill around the site of the house away from the
driveway. Then we planted that area with wildflowers and herbs. I hope you are
enjoying the asparagus that we put in there. Although the Fs left lots of
perennials, we also planted many bulbs, ferns and trees around the yard. We also
cut down a large white pine that was on property line with us and JD. It was
hard for me to do but it lost a lot of branches in an ice storm and we were
worried that it would come down during another storm one of the houses in the
area. JD and I were not sure who owned it so we split the cost on taking it
It doesn’t sound like you found it but there is another “secret” doorway to
the attic in the bathroom, above the stairs and behind the cabinet. You would
need to pull the cabinets out, but I found it while in the attic re-wiring
upstairs and blowing in insulation. If you ever refinish the upstairs bathroom
you will come across it.
The right of way to the north of you still has an easement. The power company
comes through every couple of years and clears it to keep vegetation out of the
power lines. If they haven’t done it in the 2 years you have been there, they
will be back soon.
The best people to learn about the history of the house would be the Fs. They
lived there for 30+ years. I do not have an address for them anymore but they
are very close friends of the M’s that live across the street and we used to
sometimes see them going into the Methodist Church on the corner. Mr. F was very
friendly and helpful when I asked him for a tour of the house before I moved in.
The house does not have a traditional septic and he showed me where the sumps
were located. He also explained that there used to be a mobile home for his
mother-in-law in the side yard north of the driveway. You will still find the
gas and power lines in the utility room going towards to driveway that were used
to heat and power the mobile home. After living there for that long, he knew all
the secrets. In fact, they only moved because it was getting hard for them to go
up and down stairs. The Ms would also be a good source since they have lived in
their house for 40+ years.
I hope you have gotten to know the neighbors. JD is a really nice guy and he
helped us out a lot. The Ms were also fantastic and they watched our daughter
for us periodically and Mr. M was a great help to me as a first time home owner
on how to repair different things.
I will look for some photos from when we moved in but it may be several weeks
before I get them scanned and sent. I hope that this information helped. If you
have other questions, please feel free to call us.
I have much warmer feelings towards the POs now. I've always appreciated the work they started, but I never realized just how much they did. What I think is so great is that they were interested in unremuddling the house, not just slapping up something pretty as a temporary fix. What they did, they did right. I can't always agree with their color choices (!!), but I'm happy that they got the ball rolling for us.