Tag Archives: salvaging

Paint removal from door hardware

Our house came with beautiful door hardware when we bought it back in 2009. Almost all of it was solid copper.

But we had no clue, because it all was covered with multiple layers of paint. So much so that some of the finer ornamentations were no longer visible. That turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because the scavengers that extracted the copper pipes before we bought the building didn’t know either. They walked right by the real treasures that were hiding in plain sight.

Needless to say, once we discovered what we had, we were eager to restore and reuse the hardware, just like we did with the original wood trim and doors. But what method to use?

While walking through the building with another building nerd (can’t remember who it was), he suggested the crock pot method:

Take an old crock pot that you won’t use any longer for cooking. Place your hardware in the pot and cover it with water.

Then let it simmer for several hours, until the paint is nice and tender and flakes right off!

I know! Not only does it sound simple, it actually is simple. And easy! We had to do some fine cleaning with small wire brushes and some polishing, but the crock pot did all the heavy lifting. I can’t emphasize enough what a time saver this method was. And no nasty chemicals involved!

Used crock pots are often available for a very low price at thrift stores. Buyer beware – be sure to search for the model number online to see if the one you’re considering has been recalled.

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Insulated roof pavers

This is another salvaging success story.

My goal was to add another layer of insulation onto the roof that would help to keep our roof deck dry. And lo and behold, I found insulated roof pavers (or panels) on the reuse market.

These two by four foot, tongue and groove panels are two inches thick: 1 5/8 inches of XPS insulation, covered with a 3/8 inch latex modified concrete. They give me an additional R-value (insulation value) of eight, and only add 4.5 lb per square foot to the weight, which kept me well within the load capacity range of our roof.

I love that the panels combine the function of insulation and roof ballast in one product. Plus they provide a comfortable walking surface, and protect the roofing system from the elements, such as extreme temperature fluctuations, hail, UV radiation, etc. But they must be installed over a drainage layer. If not, they may sit in water for extended periods and may turn into a very heavy sponge. That would not only negate their insulation value, but also add a lot of weight.

After we hoisted the insulated roof pavers onto the roof, I set up a couple of mason lines and squared them. Those were my guides for laying down the panels, and in the process, minimize any cutting.

The areas that receive the forthcoming solar PV modules did not receive the insulated pavers. Fitting them around the solar posts seemed too complicated. Instead these areas will receive regular XPS insulation covered with regular roof ballast.

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Roof drainage layer

Although we had the solar posts installed, we were not moving ahead with the solar array right away. There were a few other items that we needed to address first, namely the drainage layer and the insulated roof pavers, which will be the subject of the next posts.

I have designed and engineered enough green roofs to understand that materials on top of a roofing system should be separated by an appropriate drainage layer. In our case, we opted for a 1/4 inch dimple mat, with a geotextile on top. It is the very same material we used for the vent strip installation.

The 1/4 inch mat gave us enough flow rate to effectively drain precipitation off the roof and prevent the forthcoming insulated pavers from sitting in water. The geotextile that is attached to the top of the dimples helps to keep debris out of the 1/4 gap to maintain the needed flow rate.

The material selection came naturally: While scouting our regional reuse stores, I came across several rolls of the dimple mat, which must have been surplus from another project. I was short a couple of rolls, but was able to purchase those new to have enough square footage for our roof.

The mat came in rolls measuring 4 feet by 50 feet and should be installed perpendicular to the roof slope, starting at the bottom of the roof, similar to the base sheet and torch down membrane. For logistical reasons, we started laying down the mat at the top, but made sure that all the overlaps were pointing downstream.

We very carefully swept the roof first to make sure there was no debris under the drainage mat. While rolling it out, we cut small openings into the mat to fit it over the solar posts. We also made sure to weigh it down with pavers to prevent it from blowing off.

Along the parapet, we extended the drainage mat over the cant strips, similar to the base sheet and torch down installation. We can always cut the drainage mat back later, if needed, but we can’t add to it.

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Old growth milling for library shelves

About the same time as the idea of a library emerged, I learned about the value of old growth lumber and how it is sought after by furniture makers. Old growth lumber was harvested from pre-settlement forests and has beautiful dense grain. It was also milled to different dimensions. For instance, old growth two by four studs do actually measure two by four inches.

Because our house was built in 1902, all the original framing was old growth. Some of that old growth had to be replaced during our deep-energy retrofit. I did, however, made sure to hold on to all the old growth material we removed because it was the perfect source material for our library.

I did not plan to build the library shelves out of two by four studs! That would look a little bit to clunky for our taste. Instead my plan was to mill the old growth into the right sized pieces which we could glue into boards and use for shelving.

But there was a science to the milling. With the help of friends, I learned a lot about wood grain and different wood cuts. For instance, a rift and/or quarter sawn cut would give us the most beautiful grain structure and deliver dimensionally stable lumber.

Prior to running the old growth across the table saw we looked at the end grain of each stud to determine how best to cut it to get a rift or quarter sawn cut.

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Longing for a library

Some dreams start early on. My dream was about books.

I grew up with books. My parents had a whole wall of shelves filled with books in each of the the two houses we grew up in. To this day my parents still have a book collection that fills a whole wall in their living room.

I always owned a lot of books, and with Cathy’s and my combined collections we can call ourselves the proud owners of a small library. For me, books make a home complete.

Back in 2009 when we bought our building, I walked into the 1st floor front parlor, looked at that large blank wall and had a vision: a wall of books. We fairly quickly began to refer to the front parlor as the library.

I looked at and measured that wall countless times as I developed the concept of built-in shelves that would liberate our book collection from their hidden existence in cardboard boxes and render them once again freely accessible.

Having the concept of built-in shelves at hand during our deep energy retrofit was very helpful and informed the remodeling process.

The shelves would sit along an exterior wall, which was also slated to accommodate a baseboard radiator. Because I did not want the radiator to end up behind the shelves, I framed out the bottom of the wall so that we could mount it in the same vertical plane as the front of the built-in shelves.

During one of my excursions to The Rebuilding Exchange, I scored an antique front panel of an old hutch with beautiful and functional doors that have the old drawn or rolled glass. I easily integrated this piece into the concept and it made for a beautiful addition to the planned shelves.

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