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Here’s your first tip: Surfactant Leaching is not your friend!

About a week after my interior walls were painted, I showed up at the house to find these brown streaks dripping down every wall! Turns out that a few days after the walls had been painted, we had some crazy-ass weather. The house was closed up pretty tightly, although the basement was very damp (and I had holes in my floor so my apartment was exposed to the basement pretty directly). Overnight, the temperature fell down into the low 40’s, and the house cooled considerably. Suddenly, during the day on Saturday, warm moist air flooded in from the south. Here’s the weather graph recorded on Winter Hill in Somerville:

That’s a 25 degree (F) rise in temperature from the overnight low, and a rise of 12 degrees in just over one hour! With a cold, damp house, and a sudden rise in temperature and dew point, you have a recipe for condensation.

And, apparently, latex paint can take up to a month to fully “cure.” Until that time, when moisture collects on the surface of the paint, the surfactants in the paint (agents that aid in mixing) can be drawn to the surface. These surfactants and other water-soluble components of the paint collect in droplets, which then either drip down the wall (as in the photo above) or collect on the underside of horizontal surfaces, like this doorway header in my place:

We were able to wash some of this off, but the residue remains on many of the walls.

Of course, now that we’re down to “punch list” time, it turns out that more than 50% of the walls need to be repainted anyway! (Yes, the painters have done a pretty slipshod job of it.)

This all happened back in mid-October, but it’s only now that I’ve been able to bring myself to blog about it.

And, no – even though it’s November 24th, and our project began on July 29th, and we were quoted a six week project time frame – we’re still not finished.


Pretty decent looking ceiling fan, that 52″ Orbit model from the Monte Carlo Fan Company. I searched long and hard for a well-made ceiling fan that includes a dimmable uplight feature (I really enjoy indirect lighting). This one fits the bill, and I ordered 2 of them (one for each bedroom), and then a few weeks later ordered a third for the living room.

Of the first two, one arrived with a broken glass canopy for the uplight portion of the lamp. Sigh.

So I called Sears (from whom I purchased the fans), who said they could have me ship the entire fan back to them, and they would ship out a replacement. Kind of a big deal for 1 piece of glass.

So I called the Monte Carlo Fan Company. A very nice lady there assured me they could simply ship me out a new glass canopy at no charge. And so they did.

It arrived a week later – broken.

So I called the fan company, and they said they were very sorry, but they’d put special instructions for the warehouse to put the next one in “special packaging,” and that they would ship it out the next day.

In the interim, the third fan arrived from sears – with a broken uplight.

So I called the Monte Carlo Fan Company, and told them my situation, and they said they’d send another replacement glass canopy, also in “special packaging.”

This afternoon, the second replacement glass canopy (the first to be sent in “special packaging”) arrived – broken. It was not in any kind of “special packaging” (unless a simple cardboard box can be considered “special”).

I can only imagine that the next glass canopy to arrive will also be broken.

So, the tally so far: 3 fans shipped to me, 2 arrived with broken glass. 2 replacement glass canopies shipped to me, both arrived broken. That’s an 80% breakage rate.

I’m considering driving to their warehouse in New Jersey to pick up the motherf*cking glass canopies myself.

This picture may not seem like much, but it’s super exciting to us. Why? Because the power has been cut for months now, and today we finally got LIGHTS!!!!

So what else is new in the house? Let me take you on a tour of some of the exciting recent developments in unit #2.

Our “lazy sunday” colored bedroom… with “secret” panel!

Bamboo floor in the giant closet…

The hallway woodwork is looking nice.

I’m particularly proud of this window. One of my most inspired ideas, it lets the skylight illuminate the hallway.

Our cute Toto eco toilet, along with the shelf for towels and our even cuter mini-radiator.

Check out our pebbly floor tiles! Can’t wait to walk on these with bare feets.

Shower is all grouted.

I think our wacky Ikea sink is pretty neato too.

Picture molding in the dining room. No holes in these walls!

Our peachy pantry…

… and the peachy kitchen it matches.

Freshly polyurethaned floors are so luscious.

The studio. Phil let me get a little wild with this one ceiling fan. Funky, huh?

I feel like I’ve been taking a crash course in home renovations. There’s always more to learn. This week, Renaldo and his assistants are hard at work on doing the finish electrical work. And so, I learned yesterday that the 2008 National Electrical Code, which Massachusetts has adopted as law, requires that new residential outlets be “tamper resistant.”


Being the nerd that I am, I of course had to read Leviton’s marketing materials about what these plugs are and how they work. Basically, they’re mandated by the 2008 NEC because they reduce the risk of electrocution to children. There’s some kind of internal blocking of the receptacle that’s only released by the insertion of two prongs simultaneously – meaning that a kid can’t jam a pin or coat hanger in and get electrocuted. That’s a good thing, but Leviton’s guilt-inducing marketing materials (PDF) don’t make it any easier to swallow:

Q.Will the new TR receptacles cost more than standard residential receptacles?

A. There will be an increase in cost per product, but it is negligible compared to the value of protecting children and reducing injuries due to electrical shock.

More adventures in home renovations!

The team from World Marble and Granite showed up just shy of 7:00 pm (for their 4:00 pm scheduled installation) – *sigh*. They got right to work moving huge slabs of rock into my house:

Bringing in the sink countertop

Bringing in the sink countertop

Installing the bar top

Installing the bar top

They had a cool hand-held tool that drills a hole for the faucet – I hope it’s the right size!

Drilling the faucet hole

Drilling the faucet hole

The “finished” granite bar top and countertop around the sink… pretty shiny!

The sink countertop and bar top

The sink countertop and bar top

I realized I never got around to posting our paint colors, so here they are.

We decided to do warm colors downstairs and cool colors upstairs. Fabio, our contractor, said our colors remind him of Brazil.

They started sanding upstairs!

I just couldn’t resist a close-up photo of the Silver Line floor sanding machine!

Silver Line

Another happy, happy sight: our second Dumpster load of debris being carted away:
second Dumpster

Well… on second thought, not unreservedly happy; it’s a shame to see so much crap headed for a landfill. We probably should have tried harder to see that this stuff was going to get reused as much as possible… *sigh*

Beyond rearranging the kitchen from its previous layout, the biggest change there will be new granite counter tops. Yes, it’s hackneyed, trite, commonplace – in a word, cliché – but darn it, they’re so shiny! How can I resist?

It’s so shiny you can see the reflection of me & John the Granite Guy. I also asked him to pose next to the slab so you get a sense of scale:
John + Granite

I visited him at his shop in Franklin, MA and got to see the giant water-cooled blade that slices through granite more easily than I can cut through the aged Gouda:
Granite Cutting

Can’t wait to see what it looks like when it’s in my kitchen!