I had been pestering one of the contractors in the neighborhood to let me help in one of his houses in exchange for advising and helping me with the Hatton House. I figured that I may not really know what I’m doing in remodeling, but I am good at following directions, and if someone could tell me what to do, I’d be able to do it pretty easily. So I could just do some unskilled job somewhere else in exchange for some skilled advice here. After several pestering him several time, he said “Well, I have to tear down a kitchen ceiling, you want to do that?”
I realize this was a trick question. Apparently no one WANTS to tear down a ceiling. But for me, this was the best news ever! I can’t possibly screw up destroying something! No leveling, measuring, detailing….just tear it down! Can do! I wish I had a photo of how I showed up: open toed shoes, safety glasses (but not goggles), no gloves, short sleeves, no breathing mask, I was an accident waiting to happen. I got my hair covered and a white mask and went to town.
Let’s be clear: “plaster” in old homes is a lot closer to concrete than the plaster I’ve used in craft projects. It comes down in huge, unpredictable chunks, and you had better not be in the way when they fall. It took me a while to figure it out, but soon (after going home for work gloves) I was prying down strips of lath, grabbing it with one hand while the other hand tapped a hammer against it to knock out all the concrete-like chunks down that strip. Sometimes, whole chunks of ceiling would crash down, sometimes it was just dust. Sometimes there would be black dust in the ceiling, sometimes 1930s newspapers that were shredded with age. One particularly unfortunate strip pulled down heaps of sawdust.
The whole ceiling came down in an afternoon. As you can see, it was one of the dirtiest jobs I’ve ever done, but the satisfaction was pretty intense. I’m really glad that demolition work isn’t my full time job, but every once in a while, it’s nice to tear something apart! If you want to see what I looked like after this job, you’ll find a photo here.