I have recently engaged in a spot of renovation (more about this later) which has seen me re-plastering sections of various walls and ceilings here in our house. Plastering, as in mixing up tubs of the stuff, skimming it over walls and ceilings and then sanding it back. To be clear, in France all houses are built with brick or stone and then sort of rendered over with plaster. If it cracks or is marked, it has to be filled in with wet plaster. Even our ceiling is suspended brick blocks that have been plastered over.
But it's not plaster as we know it, Jim.
It is soft useless powdery stuff which gives and marks at the slightest bump, hence the need for dreaded lining paper. But lining paper is for another blog. It's enough to say that plastering in France is so, so, SO much more than picking up a tub of Shelley's No More Cracks Plaster Filler from Bunnings on the way home.
So here it is, my top ten tips about plastering in France that you should know but no one ever tells you:
1. You have to select the plaster that gives you a bit of time to work with it before it dries. In France, much of the stuff is literally plaster of Paris. Unlike Galway Pipe Port which has nothing to do with Galway (trust me, I cringingly discovered this in a bottle shop in Galway during Irish travels) plaster of Paris really was invented in Paris. It turns rock hard within seconds of hitting the wall. Of course, it is not hard enough to sand until several hours later, but it is hard enough to debilitate any chance of rectifying your botched attempt at smoothing out the section you are working on. Naturally, the non-quick drying product you need only comes in 40 kg bags which you will have to schlep up from the car all by yourself as your partner is in Australia working. Bastard.
2. It doesn't matter how well you seal off rooms with tape and drop sheets, you will end up with dust everywhere in your house. I know, this is something you have already been told, but the point cannot be overstated. I used to think when people banged on about the dust from plaster, that these were the sort of people who vacuumed every day and noticed when there was a marginally increase in the daily dust quota. Not so. Even I noticed new mountains of the stuff on everything. Door frames. Stairs. In children's cupboards. Beds. My pillow felt gritty. It's horrible.
3. Once you get to the sanding back part, at the end of each day you will have so much plaster dust in your hair, eyelashes and eyebrows you will look like Tilda Swinton.
4. And you will have a nose full of plaster boogers.
5. No need for Pilate's, you will have fabulous legs from climbing up and down ladders and your arms will be rock hard from holding a mouse sander to the ceiling for eight hours a day.
6. Even if you share the slovenly housekeeping standards that I do, you will have to spend two hours at the end of each day mopping just so that your family can eat without contracting lead poisoning.
7. Your menu plan (ha!) will be reduced to an endless cycle of gnocci, sausages or packet cordon bleu. With the odd night out at the local cafe thrown in for good measure. Because at least if you go out someone else will bring the food and you won't have to wash up. And the wine is cheap. And sometimes you get to talk with other adults whilst you are there. And the sometimes you get to drink more wine under the guise of 'socialising'. And sometime you'll get in so late that you'll have to give yourself the next day off.
8. You will weep with tiredness by bedtime every night.
9. You will drink more wine. Just acknowledge it, be kind to yourself, and move on.
10. It sucks.
|Dust mask - it just screams French style, doesn't it?|