Remodeling an old house: protecting existing fixtures while you work
Save yourself some heartache and hassle by taking steps to protect historic fixtures before you start your old-house remodeling project. Remodeling an older home is usually a major undertaking. You need to work around all of the nonstandard parts and delicate features of your home, you need to try to find acceptable replacements for the fixtures that are not repairable, and you also need to try to protect the fixtures that you plan to keep. This last item is often overlooked until it is too late and something has been broken or damaged. Save yourself some heartache and hassle by taking steps to protect those fixtures before you start your remodeling project.
Fixtures That Can Be Removed
For some fixtures, protecting them can be as simple as removing them from the scene and placing them somewhere safe for the duration of your project. Small fixtures like light switches, light fixtures, and plumbing fixtures most easily lend themselves to removal, but larger items can be removed and protected, as well. Radiators, sinks, bathtubs, and even windows can be removed and safely stored out of harm’s way.
When removing fixtures, labeling is absolutely mandatory. Draw a map of each room in your house, noting the exact location of each item you remove. Devise a labeling system that will work for your purposes and stick with it. During a recent project, we simply labeled each item with numbers (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.) and noted where each numbered item belonged on our room maps. Taking a few extra minutes to label will save you time later when it’s time to reinstall your fixtures.
It’s also important to keep all of the parts together and labeled. You want to label each part not only to keep them together, but to remember where each part belongs. For example, if I were removing a window, I would label the window and each part (each hinge, each screw, each latch) with the number that coordinates with the window’s location on my room map. I’d also label each part so I knew where it belonged on the window. Particularly with old houses, the hinge that fits one window perfectly may not fit as perfectly on another window. Again, save yourself time later by labeling now.
Last, you need to find a safe place to store your fixtures. Wrap the items to protect them, if necessary. If they are small enough, place them inside a sturdy, well-labeled box. If there is enough space in one of the parts of your house that will not be affected by the remodel, store your fixtures there. Otherwise, it will be necessary to store them off-site. Be sure to choose a location that is safe from water or other damage.
Items That Cannot Be Removed
Perhaps the fixtures you want to protect cannot be removed, or at least cannot be removed without a lot of time and expense. Maybe you have an antique boiler that you would like to preserve while you finish you basement, for example. The type of protection your particular fixture will need will vary with the type of damage it may incur.
Generally, wrapping the item with a layer of plain newsprint then a few layers of bubble wrap, then another layer of newsprint or even a drop cloth will be enough to protect the fixture. If the fixture is in an awkward place and subject to being bumped into with equipment, consider erecting a temporary blockade of the area. Protecting historic fixtures is an important part of remodeling in any old house. Taking the time to protect your fixtures on the front end will ensure that your remodeling project is satisfactory, and will save you time and money in the end.
Written by Sarah Reid – © 2002 Pagewise