Old Meets New

While Yestermorrow’s renovation class completely overhauled three walls downstairs, the rest of us finished some walls of our own up above. I spent the first part of the week piecing together barnboards for a bedroom wall that honors the house’s roots. Balancing the old with the new, Mark took charge of taping, mudding, and priming the drywall that clads the rest of the upstairs.

The barnboard wall first. It wasn’t even part of the plan until we were hanging drywall (say, two weeks ago) and realized the bedroom’s east gable end had two different planes. The original wall, under the end rafter, sits a good two inches back from the addition wall that completes the dormer. Bob could have directed us to shim out the lower studs by two inches, but instead he got creative. He decided to highlight the end rafter by contrasting the finish surfaces above and below. The job of completion fell to me, mostly.

First I hauled out lengths of curving salvaged barnboard and gave them the once-over with a chisel and brush, getting off as much gunk as possible. Then came the fun part: fitting these lengths together to cover the triangle. I ripped the longest piece with a table saw for a straight edge to place against the rafter itself. Then I matched the convex side of that piece with the concave side of another (sometimes using a jigsaw to improve the puzzle fit), cut both ends to the size of the triangle, and put it up with finish nails.

Hand-forged nails we saved from demo. They haven't been made this way for 150 years.

Hand-forged nails we saved from demo. They haven’t been made this way for 150 years.

I’m very pleased with the result. The barnboards leave a few gaps, but that’s OK because Mark painted the plywood behind with a copper color that blends right in. Remember the hand-forged nails we found during demolition? I nailed a bunch of them into the barnboard’s existing nail holes, sanding the nail heads first for a silver sheen. Finally, to further fake authenticity, I brushed the boards with polyurethane. The coating not only protects the barnboard but also makes them shiny so the woodgrain stands out.

Mark helped me a lot with that wall, but his main concern was the dragged-out-by-necessity chore of converting raw drywall into perfectly flat walls. A good finish requires multiple coats of joint compound, aka mud, building up the cracks and recesses little by little and giving the mud 24 hours to dry between applications. Actually, Mark usually waited more than 24 hours… weather was chilly and wet this week and the mud dries faster when it’s hot and dry.

He kept his frustration at bay, though, and by Thursday he moved on to rubbing the walls smooth. Then he applying primer tinted with our eventual paint color. The sleek new steel-blue really makes these walls pop, and the old triangle of barnboard provides a pleasing counterpoint.

Old meets new.

Old meets new.

One thought on “Old Meets New

  1. Pingback: Two Hundred Fifty | PERCH ENGINEERING PLC

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