Light Townhouse Rehab - Project #6, Week #4

Week #4 of the project brings us to the end of the destruction and the beginning of the cleanup. First off, a little bit of destruction.

In the spots where the pets had their "accidents", the floor smelled from the urine. We had heard great things about a product called OdorXit from, so we ordered some up and gave it a try. So far, it seemed to work except on two sections of the floor that must have been the pet's favorite spots. In the picture below, you may be able to make out the discoloration in the corners of the frame.

We decided to remove and replace this small section of subfloor. To get an idea of what we were dealing with, a circular saw saw set to a 5/8" depth and a small access panel cut out.

The section that was to be replaced was only a partial width sheet of OSB - two feet wide. Once we knew the direction of the floor joists, we made a cutout the entire length of the panel. We also used the sawzall to cut the subfloor against the toe plate of the wall. This makea it easier to remove the entire section. While we only really needed to splice in a small section, we went across the room to make sure that this odor problem was fixed for good.

Once the larger portion of the section to be removed was up, we went back and pulled up the 3" wide strip we left behind. The reason for doing this is that the subfloor panels have a tongue and groove connection running their length. This helps interlock the panels and reduce the floor "bounce". If we tried to pull up the entire panel at once, we would have damaged the adjoining section of subfloor. Also, by leaving the small strip, we could use aggressively use the crowbar on the larger section to remove it. Since the subfloor is nailed with twist-shank nails as well as glued with construction adhesive, it takes some effort to get the panels free! Here's how it looked with the panel removed:

After sweeping up all the sawdust and scraps, the entire area was sprayed down with another coat of the OdorXit. We will be back in the property again next week, and we will let you know if the OdorXit did its job as advertised.

In the powder room on the first floor, we prepared to strip the wallpaper. Wallpaper removal is a wet job! There were a few areas on the drywall where the raw cardboard was showing, so they were sprayed with Kilz primer to keep the water from soaking in and damaging the wallboard.

A scoring tool is run over the paper to cut perforations in the surface. It's made to be idiot-proof - the cuts are deep enough to go through the paper, but not deep enough to scar the drywall behind it. After scoring the paper, it was wet down with a sprayer several times over the following hour. Our efforts paid off, with the top layer of the wallpaper separating from the paper backing. In the picture below, you should be able to see the dark lines made by the water soaking through the perforations.

Once the outer layer of wallpaper is off, it's easy to wet down the paper backing and lift it off with a smooth putty knife. Here's how it looked with all the backing off:

Note that this method only works with the more modern wallpapers that are self-adhesive. If your paper was put up more than 20 years ago, you may be dealing with a whole different ballgame. We ran into this in our Heavy Condo Rehab last year, and ended up hanging new drywall over the old!

Down in the basement, we removed everything from the utility room. This was a dark and dreary place, with the cinderblock walls and a single 100-Watt bulb. The laundry hookups are in this room, but I can't imagine showing this to a perspective resident. It's not an inviting place. Even with an additional work light in there, it was too dark - see the picture below.

We used about 4.5 gallons of UGL "Drylock" masonry waterproofer to lighten it up. There weren't any leaks to contend with, but we like the way that the waterproofer fills in the pores of the cinderblocks with its thick texture. The only downside is that the initial coat needs to applied with a brush and worked into the pores of the blocks. Even with a 4" wide brush, this took many hours of effort. Additional coats can be applied with a roller, but we are stopping at one coat - it looks pretty good already.

We also replaced the single light bulb with a pair of dual-tube flourescent fixtures. Each fixture has a pair of 40-Watt bulbs that really help lighten things up. Below is a picture of the same utility room - without any addtional worklights on. Big difference!

Up on the second floor, we started prepping for the paint. All the walls needed to be washed down with a TSP (Tri-Sodium Phosphate) solution to get the dirt off. Like in the powder room, any areas that were damaged with raw drywall showing were spray-painted with Kilz primer to prevent the water from soaking in.

Here is a picture of the damaged drywall in the "left" bedroom, bare spots primed and waiting for washing.

That brings to the end of Week #4. By next week, we should have the cleaning done and some primer rolled out. Come on back to see the progress!

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