Around here, dealing with stashes of materials for various projects is a real problem. For example, I have siding from the Shack stacked on the floor of my workshop, parts of the trim for our stairs piled in a corner, and baseboard and casing molding from our living room leaned into a corner in the garage.
A few weeks ago, I saw THIS post over at Follow Your Heart Woodworking. Julie built a genius lumber rack for her workshop. I planned to use this idea to get my own materials off the floor and organized on narrow shelves on the wall of our basement hallway. All I had to do was locate the wall's framing, screw a piece of slat-board to the wall (like I did in the garage in THIS post from 2009), slip in a few shelf brackets (which I have on hand), sort my materials onto the new shelves, then stand back and admire the results. You have probably already guessed that this is NOT what happened.
The basement wall in question has two layers of drywall on it, which are attached to furring strips applied over a coating of gypsum plaster, which was applied over the original lime-washed brick ... I know this because of other basement walls that we have worked on. Drywall Layer #2, the outer-most layer, was only secured with glue and a few screws. I figured that I should remove it to have better access and a more secure attachment to the furring strips that were behind Drywall Layer #1. As I was pulling off chunks of Layer #2, I realized that Layer #1 was poorly secured, too. Dang it!!
This is as close as I can get to a Before photo. The green that you see is the lower-most layer of drywall. The upper-most layer is somewhere under that pile of stuff on the floor.
Turns out that there was very little left of the furring strips that were intended to secure Layer #1 to the wall, and the gypsum plaster at the bottom of the wall behind all of this had completely separated from the underlying brick.
Bottom portion of one of the furring strips.
Two more furring strips, totally decayed. The black that you see is creosote, which was supposed to help the wood resist moisture.
Gypsum plaster is good for a lot of things, but applying it in damp environments is a total no-no. Lime plaster would have been a better choice. (This old house of ours is made entirely of soft brick, which is known to soak up water like a sponge. This causes a condition called "rising damp". Any water around or underneath the house is absorbed, transferred up the walls by capillary action, then dissipates as vapor.) The former owners of our house who finished the basement early in the 20th century and used the gypsum plaster on the walls were probably not aware that they should be concerned with this. (For the record, we have never had any standing water in this basement, neither did the family that owned the place before us. I don't know about the experience of any other owners.)
See how the gypsum plaster has totally separated from the brick.
The gypsum plaster slumped and cracked, and fell away.
As the water vapor exits the bricks, it carries minerals from the plaster and mortar with it, leaving behind crystals called efflorescence.
How about some really scary electrical stuff? (Not to worry, we recognized this a long time ago and disconnected it.)
Look at the rust on that electrical box!
The next photo shows drywall layers and furring strips are down ... next step was removing the loose gypsum plaster, with a hammer and 5-in-1 tool ... then the big job of cleaning up my mess (which I did not photograph).
About three hours after the project started, I was left with this ... a mostly-bare brick wall, and no shelves.
We like the look of the original brick, and leaving it exposed to allow for unrestricted flow of vapor is healthier for the house. The other side of the basement hallway and most of our game room is already like this. Eventually, we plan to remove the rest of the drywall and plaster, to expose the brick throughout the entire basement and return it to more of its original appearance.
Game room wall.
Game room wall.
After all of this effort, I scrapped the idea of making this into a materials storage wall. The plan was going to be a temporary solution anyway, so now I will brainstorm and come up with another idea to organize my materials and supplies.
What's the Take Away lesson in this story? Covering up a problem (with multiple cover-ups, in this case) won't make it go away.
Postscript ... When I went upstairs after I finished all the banging and hammering, this was the scene in the family room.
It's good to know that Ruby and Winnie weren't bothered by all the noise.