Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Tear This Old Kitchen Down

If I had my way. Yeah, if I had my way. If I had my way, I would tear this old kitchen down. Boo and I have been singing that little tune (a take on Samson and Delilah) since we bought this old farmhouse last August. Well, we took a huge leap forward. So, today's post covers it, starting with where it all began.

How We Found It
"One day while Sampson was walking along, looked down on the ground, saw an old jawbone". In many ways, the NewOldHouse kitchen was a skeleton when we purchased the house. The guy we bought the house from had started the demo when Boo worked out the purchase arrangement. The doors and drawers were gone, the stove and fridge were gone and some of the uppers had been smashed. Oh, and it was filthy. It was the most disgusting kitchen I had ever seen.

First Round
during first round
Before I picked up the sledgehammer, Boo removed the remaining garbage that could be seen and then rough-cleaned the floors, walls and ceiling. By rough-cleaned I mean with a floor mop she would wash until the water turned gray and then repeat until she was so sore she couldn't anymore. That got rid of most of it to the point where we could go in there and not feel like we were in a bacteria-laden petri dish. Regardless, we continued to wear rubber gloves and dust masks.

I started with the garbage disposal, simply disconnecting the sewer line, the electrical and then from the bottom of the sink. The disposal looked hardly used, so thinking we will probably re-use it, I stashed it in the garage. Next, Boo and I removed the dishwasher. I was surprised by how little in terms of fasteners are used to hold a dishwasher in place: 2 screws along the front, holding the leading edge to the underside of the counter. Once we started pulling it out, however, we encountered more garbage. We threw our respirators back on and completed the yank into the middle of the kitchen floor. The insulation around the dishwasher smelled like human urine and there was more rat evidence behind it. So yuck. The dishwasher went into the to-the-dump heap, and the garbage went into the weekly street bin.

oh my gross
Feeling fully grossed, I shifted to the upper cabinets. We lacked a power driver that could remove the 3" long mounting screws driven into the studs. So, my method was a little more smashy: crush the cabinets with a sledge until they fell off the wall in pieces. Then, I would chisel around the screws in the rear wall until the real panel fell off. I removed the screws by loosening them with a framing hammer and then hand turning them out. Unfortunately, this gave me tennis elbow in my left arm that 5 months later I am still recovering from and I still didn't get all the screws out of the walls. Still, the uppers came out, went to the landfill pile and then on to the landfill about a month ago.

Sledgehammer Triumphant Return
Once the old house was fully vacated and repairs completed, we were ready to refocus on the kitchen at NewOldHouse. Since both Boo and I are suffering from tennis elbow, we splurged on a DeWalt power driver for removing the screws, and I tried it out on the screws remaining from round 1. Then, we teamed up on removing the iron sink into the garage (will probably reuse with a new fixture) and then removing the counter tops. The counter tops were glue-board with a thin Formica veneer that were attached to the base cabinets with construction adhesive, so they removed once I convinced them to... with the long-handled sledgehammer. It surprised us both how much smell this glue-board stuff retains. Clearly, once the rats get in, there is no escaping the smell they create without considerable effort.

The power driver made the removal of the base cabinets much easier than the uppers were: remove the screws and then pry the cabinets apart with a wrecking bar - the base cabinets had construction adhesive between them. Boo and I removed them from the wall and then out to the landfill pile one at a time. Of course, just like we had a discovery under the dishwasher, we had guh-nasty discoveries under the cabinets along that wall (see picture on the right). Again, once the gross was discovered, respirators went on and the mess was cleaned up.

flooring coming up
With the cabinets gone, we swept the floor, washed up and grabbed a late-afternoon sandwich. Boo noticed that the linoleum that had been under the cabinets was curling up along the wall. So, with safety equipment back in-place, she started pulling up the linoleum flooring, but her arms (tennis elbow) stopped her after a few minutes. Curious about what lay beneath, we lifted some of the plywood underneath to reveal the original wood flooring. We had been concerned that perhaps there was old tiling (and possible asbestos), but were delighted with original, but damaged, wood floor. So, with a 1-meter wrecking bar, I set to lifting the plywood and linoleum together. As the wood split into pieces Boo collected the debris out to the landfill pile. In a couple of hours, the linoleum and plywood were gone. We swept up and called it "good enough" for the day. Many nails remain stuck into the old flooring, so we will be pulling nails before we can wet-mop the gross-dust on the floor. Between then and now, Boo intends to run our "for nasty things" vacuum on the floor to lift out as much of the dust as she can. For now, we have laid down old carpet on top of the floor so we don't track that dust into the main living space.

done for today
We were fortunate to have a dry relatively-warm weekend day to do this work. We had the windows open, the music playing and got more of the job completed than I think either of us expected. We are thrilled to see that the original floors are there. From this last picture, you can see that the flooring under the sink had probably become damaged as the flooring was replaced with what look like old cabinet doors and drawer faces. Since this will again reside under cabinets, it would not be necessary to finish that area with hardwood. I expect we will replace the hack-job with real water/rot resistant sub-flooring instead. Tuukka was our Safety Agent, making sure we stopped frequently for water and petting breaks. At the point of this picture, he was telling us the workday was over, and now it was time for his dinner. We agreed.

Thanks, as always, for following along. This was not technically difficult, and it wasn't really all that physically challenging until we got to the flooring. For that, I was sweating like it was summer and breathing hard. I cannot wait to get the nails out and see what this flooring looks like after a good mop. Knowing that we will be expanding the doorway into the main living space, we may find that the flooring needs some replacement, but we'll deal with that if/when it happens.

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