Thursday, 31 August 2017

Grouting and other bits and pieces

Well, I set myself a task to finish the grouting on the San Franciscan basement and got around to starting it about a week ago. I decided to use craft mosaic grout.
I liked that it was a nice grey colour like real mortar and that it's sanded, which I like the look of in real life... Oy!... What a mess it's created!

Grouting in progress with wiped portion below and newly added grout above the window.

I knew it was going to be difficult to remove from the stone so I tried to stick to the grout lines but that proved to be impossible. :)

As you can see, a lot of the grout remains on the stones. :(

Unfortunately, cleaning the stone proved to be as difficult as I expected, perhaps more so. A friend at the Greenleaf forums warned me that rubbing to hard on the Andi Mini Stone would knock off the texture and that proved to be correct. So I had to compromise and leave much more grout on the stone than I would have preferred to. I guess I will have to do some creative landscaping to cover up some of the really bad spots and then call it a rustic (very old) pointing job. :D  On the upside, they are definitely not pink anymore! I hope it looks a little better once I've sealed it. I'm still going to pick at it a bit before then though so that's a job that will have to wait.

Would I use this product for this application again. Unlikely, but I'm not sure what I would substitute it with so, I'll have to get back to you on that.

After cleaning - this section didn't turn out too badly.

After the grout dried, I finally got the coach lights to stick onto the uneven stone surface with a little help from my Greenleaf friends. It seems superglue is the only option for some jobs.

I would've made it a whole lot easier on myself if I'd just upended the building to attach them but I didn't think of that at the time. :)

But do they work?? Yes!

Of course I'm spending a lot of time at the moment asking myself what comes first the chicken or the egg. I have struggled on deciding what to attach first the basement ceiling/first floor or the basement floor I cut a couple of weeks ago. I finally decided to attach the roof and work upside down for a bit. I wanted to attach one or the other to give the current U shaped structure some stability. I am already cleaning up grout droppings every day, I don't need to help it along by having the walls flapping around every time I need to turn the building around for ease of working.

Of course I used the obligatory paint can weights and a level.. Very technical stuff. :D

I feel like I'm getting somewhere.

Not so fast.. Time to paint trims. :(

I taped them all down to bits of office paper and took them outside for a spray of undercoat. I just feel like that makes it easier to paint the finish colour on them without doing umpteen coats.

I noted that the door trim that comes with the San Franciscan is all flat but I had a combination of replacement doors with routed trim and flat trim. Hmmm.. what to do. Well flat seems easiest so that's that decision made.
I filled in the routed trim that is fixed on one side of the doors with spackle.... Not a fun job! So for the trim provided for the inside of the door, I just turned it over and painted the back side which is flat. The purchased basement windows didn't come with trim so I cut some popsicle sticks to size for those. Problem solved. :)

I got bored with all this construction-y type work so I decided to do something a bit more interesting in the middle of it.. I skipped up a level to work on the first floor staircase.

 I taped off an painted out the risers, side and back of the stairs Antique White. Then I taped off again and stained the treads with an Oak coloured stain pen.

Then I added some laser cut decorative corner trims that I got from Earth & Tree. I broke quite a few of these removing them from the tape I stuck them to for painting. So I would advise buying an extra pack if you are boofy like me. :)

I decided to wear down the treads by sanding them back a bit. This is an old house after all and I do want it to feel very lived in. These stairs have seen thousands of foot falls in their hundred or so years. :D

I've seen several people do this on various blogs and I always loved the look. I still have some work to do on them and as I can see from my photos.. some touch ups as well. :)

Next step on these will be railings and newels. I've started the prep.

The newels and spindles will be white and the banister will be stained the same oak colour of the treads. My next decision will be where to put the Newels??
During my research I've seen some on the first step and some on the floor. I can't really say which one I like better but I'm leaning towards on the step... But that leads to a whole range of issues on the second floor.. such as how to attach the stairwell railing to the newel??



  1. I used those same stones for my house and I noticed if you coat them with the ceramcoat first the stones are somewhat sealed on the top surface and it makes the grout easier to clean off without scrubbing the texture off the stone. But I totally agree, the grout is a complete mess.

    Love your staircase and its worn treads. Can't wait to see what you post next.

    1. Haha.. yes Sheila it is indeed a disaster.. the first of many in my mini future I'm sure. Thanks for stopping by. :)

    2. Eesh, rereading... I didn't mean to say your stones looked terrible, which on rereading is how it sounds. Dealing with grout is a mess. I have to do it on some kitchen tiles for mine and I did it with those same stones and I hate it every time.

      My suggestion, before you do anything drastic, let it sit for a while and see if it grows on you at all. And if you can't stand it, I'd go with Jodi's suggestion of paint and then aging with washes.

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    4. No worries Sheila, you would be right if that's what you meant and honestly if rather my fellow but more experienced miniature friends gave it to me straight than let me merrily go along doing something awful! LOL I am going to sit on it for a while and see if I can live with it. having the paint option as a last resort will free me up to try a couple of other things first too, without fear of messing it up even more. i went over to you blog and saw your stonework... soooo much better than mine! you clearly have the knack for grouting. what do you use?

    5. For my grout I actually used the bag of mix recommended when I bought the stone. It's called Mortar Mix. I found it on HBS Miniatures.

      It works kind of like regular grout. Coat your stones with ceramcoat first, then use the mortar mix and wipe it off afterwards just like regular grout. I had to really wipe a lot because it does get all over the stone and its a huge mess. But It was worth the trouble.

      I'm not looking forward to the same thing on my porch, posts and chimney top but it'll have to be done if I want to match.

  2. Oh Sam! I wish I'd known you were going to use the mosaic tile grout - I'd have pleaded with you not to. I used it once, on my Shabby Chic Soap Shop (Sugarplum Cottage) and nearly ruined the stones, which in my case, were egg carton with several coats of matte sealer on them. Trying to remove the grout just peeled off the layers of "rock" as though I'd never sealed them in the first place. I was so disheartened that the project sat on the shelf collecting dust for months before I could start to repair and work on it again.

    I have a couple ideas for you to ponder.
    A} Fill all of the grout lines with "moss". As fine a grade of the model railroad turf as you can find or have shipped to AU. I think it would look marvelous! You'll need a syringe to apply the glue, and a willingness to get things messy for a bit.
    B} Apply several layers of gray and brown washes to lessen the color distinction between the grout and the stone. Brae and Elizabeth are brilliant at washes, and both are so wonderful and willing to give advice on just what to do. That may be just the thing.
    C} A combination of A and B
    D} Leave it as is and just age the remaining exterior finishes of the house. It really doesn't look horrible, and in the right setting could really be a happy accident.
    E} Paint them a solid complimentary color to the exterior trim. A lot of older homes near the ocean do this with marine paint as it helps seal the old masonry and reduces moisture issues in basements.

    The stairs look wonderful! And it must feel like such a huge accomplishment to have so much of the trim work done - such a daunting task. Work on some of those awesome kits you have when a task starts to go a little sideways - it helps!

    To attach the stairwell rail to the newel post, most folks just glue. You could use sewing pins, cut down, as dowels for extra strength. It just depends on how much surface are you have to work with on the banister. You could always glue a block of wood into the recess to give you more surface. I will be facing the same challenge whenever I get to that part of the New Orleans build.

    Good luck, my friend! You can do this! Just give yourself time to consider and test out some of the options! It's going to be even more lovely than it is now with those wonderful sconces!!

    1. Jodi, I wish I'd known you had used this grout before! That will teach me not to ask questions of my more experienced Greenleafer friends before going off half cocked and screwing up something as important as the basement stone.. Thank you so much for all your suggestions, it has made me feel as if all is not lost after all.. I really like your paint idea because in addition to not minding that finish, I really can't even look at the grout right now as it's depressing me.. covering the whole mess with paint might be just the ticket.. I'm going to sit on it for a while and mull it over.

  3. It looks wonderful so far. Keep your chin up.