Don’t Try This at Home

Digital ImageDigital ImageDigital ImageThis week I’m working in an old home in the Heights, which is being redone to be mostly historically correct (it’s in a Historic District, which has certain requirements, plus the owners want it to look authentic).

The master bath has a reproduction claw-foot tub with sculpted back, and it sits several inches away from the wall.  The walls are more than 12′ high.  All this makes it very difficult to get my ladder close enough to the walls to be able to do detailed work.

Here’s a little improvising… I noticed that the bottom of the tub was about the same height as my tool box, and that the tool box was about the same width as the legs of the ladder.  So I put one set of ladder legs in the tub and set the other on top of the tool box.  The tool box is sturdy enough to support the weight of both the ladder and me on it.

In the second photo, I’m trying to reach the top of the wall over the vanity.  The ladder is tall enough, but the vanity extends 20″ or so from the wall, and that’s too far to lean over safely, especially 10′ up in the air.  So you can see a 5-gallon bucket, stacked with a sturdy box.  I was able to put a foot on the box and balance myself well enough to reach where I needed to reach.

Both of these improvisations worked, but they  were far from OSHA-approved!

The next day, I brought my 8′ extension ladder, which is narrow enough to sit inside the tub.  The third photo shows a much safer way to get at that high wall!

In addition, I will bring another 5-gallon bucket, which will be more stable and sturdy than the cardboard box, and will support my weight better, plus be less rickety.

That takes care of the high reaches.  But it’s still quite a gymnastics match for me to squeeze behind the tub and be able to turn and maneuver and do what I need to do detailed work.

All of this jerry-rigging (Julie-rigging 🙂 ), repositioning, squeezing, etc. is adding quite a bit of time to the job, not to mention stress and worry and liability.  In addition, it’s really hard to do wallpaper with an extension ladder, because, since the ladder has to lean on the wall, it’s kinda hard to put wallpaper on that same wall!  It takes a lot of jimmying and jacking and moving around, to get just one strip up.

NEXT time, I’ll tell the homeowners that a tub like this must be removed before I will work in the room.  In this case, with the bathroom being totally remodeled, better planning would have had the wallpaper installed before the tub went in.

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