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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Punch List: Part the Fourth - Painting

The last couple days have been kind of tough for hitting the punch list.  We're at the point where a few things need painting but the nights have been pretty cold and we've been dodging raindrops.  But we have made some progress.

Now, I don't know the official "construction" name of this, but I have installed a board at the bottom of the porch walls.  Here you see it unfinished:


I put these pressure treated boards along the bottom all the way around.The plan was to paint them a gray that matches the "flagstone" color of the siding.  Then I primed them the other day:


I really like the look of the white at the bottom, but then it rained.  Every speck of dirt that splashed up was visible from half a block away (ok, not really, but in my mind it was bad!).  So I think we'll go with the original plan for gray - but it'll wait for next spring.  The fact is, those boards are too thick and stick out from the edge of the corner pieces and it just looks sloppy.  Next spring I'll remove those boards and replace them with more appropriately sized lumber, prime and paint them gray.  So that's the end of that punch list item - 'til next year.

Then there was the next painting item on the punch list.  This one is total vanity though!  The back porch is going to be re-sided too, but to do that properly, the back stoop needs to be re-done (besides, it's really time for the back stoop to be remodeled anyway).  So that left the back porch walls looking like this:


This was okay, but it just didn't go with the look of the rest of the house now.  Even though it's going to be re-sided next spring, this would bug me all winter!  So...paint!


We're loving how much brighter 173 is looking these days!


Up next:  More painting?  Probably, there's only that and a couple other minor punch list items left.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Punch List: Part the Third - Hatch Door

After removing the shingles from the south end of the front porch, I figured I should cut an access panel into the wall so we could use the area under the porch for storage, you know, things like ladders, lumber and whatever else we have that we just don't know where else to stow it.  So I started out by drilling a hole in those beautiful boards.  In the picture below you can see a hole just to the right of the access panel.  When I was looking at the porch, I couldn't for the life of me figure out where the porch floor was in relation to the ground.  You'd think it would have been easy to figure out but believe me - nothing is easy with old houses. So that hole gave me a sense of where the bottom of the porch floor was and where the studs were.  From there it was just a matter of drilling another hole (still not exactly on the mark), drawing some lines and then cutting with the saber saw.  


After opening the whole, imagine my surprise when I found lattice behind there!  After talking to a neighbor whose grandfather had built most of the house in the neighborhood, we came to the conclusion that when 173 was built, it likely had an open porch like a few other houses on the block.  At the very least, the lower half of the porch was just lattice!  Me being me, I found this exciting and interesting...it leaves me with more thoughts about what 173 really looked like when she was first built!

Anyway, with the days getting shorter, and that whole job-thing taking up most of the day, I find myself just trying to tick off one little point of the punch list each evening before the darkness falls.  Tonight was the access panel, or what we've taken to calling the "escape hatch" (although I've been under the porch...it is not a place to escape to!).  Here's the hatch after the siding was up:


The raw materials:  leftover plywood, leftover vinyl lattice and leftover tar paper (picking up on a theme here?).   


After cutting the plywood size, I wrapped it in tar paper.  This served two purposes:  One - a bit of weather proofing.  I always hate the look of plywood when the weather starts wearing it out.  The other purpose was - I had something in mind.
  

Then I cut some lattice to size and used some small nails to face-nail the lattice in place (I ended up cinching the nails on the back side).  Here's how it turned out:


So the thought was that the tar paper behind the lattice would just make the whole thing look open, kind of like a grate.  One more item off the punch list!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Punch List: Part the Second - Front Steps

As I mentioned before, the main portion of the current project is complete and now it's just punch list items.  Today was the front steps.  Originally, in that little triangle below the steps we had old wood lattice we had painted brown along with the rest of the stoop maybe a dozen years ago.  By the time this project started, that lattice was pretty worn out, and to do the siding on the stoop, that old lattice had to come out.  This morning, this was the view:


I'm not exactly sure how I installed the lattice originally, but there weren't any spots for affixing the new stuff.  So I had to put in some wood blocks:


Once that was complete, I just took my palm sander and gave it a good sanding.  Then I used Kilz primer to get it all ready for painting.


Then it was just a matter of sizing, cutting an installing the new lattice. I found that my Sonic Tool (my new favorite tool by the way) was perfect for making quick work of cutting the lattice.  I opted for vinyl lattice and the vinyl lattice trim.


And just a shot from the other side...


So the punch list is well under way!  Not sure of the next step yet, but that trim has got to be painted before we get too much closer to winter.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Punch List: Part the First - Sidewalk

I mentioned yesterday that the main portion of our most recent project is complete and now all that remains is punch list items.  Seems that list is a mile long, but I finished one item this morning - the sidewalk on the side of the porch.  Here's what it looked like this morning:


Three and-a-half hours, $34 and five bags of concrete later, one of the punch list items is checked off:


This side of the porch really turned out well.  Before the project there was a pretty substantial gap between the bottom of the porch and the old sidewalk.  I planned that all out to close that gap and it actually turned out the way I saw it in my mind (imagine that!).  I used about fifteen feet of that sidewalk divider and some scrap wood; and pitched the sidewalk away from the house.  Next summer I'll have to do some more concrete work, but for now this side is done!

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Big Reveal! (Uh, okay...The Almost Done Big Reveal!)

I can't take it anymore!  We've been working on this most recent project forever now.  Actually it's only been a few weeks, but between ordering material, waiting for it to arrive, the great delivery debacle, weather and jobs...it just seems like this project has been endless!  Well, it's finally done!  Okay, not really done done, but for the most part - done!  There are still some punch list things to do, but the main portion is complete.  So first, let's take a little trip down memory lane!  At the beginning of the summer the front of the house looked like this:


When we remodeled the inside of the front porch, it really revealed how shabby the outside was beginning to look.  So I got the idea to paint the railings on the front stoop...


Then the front door, and it started to look pretty good...


But then one day I decided the house would look so much better with shutters!  What I didn't mention in that post was that black shutters weren't the original choice...not at all.  I wanted brown shutter to match the brown theme we had going but, as luck would have it, Home Depot and Lowes had both discontinued brown shutters.  The other thing I neglected to mention was that I also actually tried green shutters!  That's right...and here was my line of thinking:  no brown, but I wanna get this done today.  Hmm, the house used to be white and green, and hey!  green and brown go together!  I'll do green shutters!  If you look back at this post, you'll notice that there's no picture of the green shutters.  The truth is, I put one up, went down to the sidewalk and just about gagged - it looked horrible!  I couldn't even take a picture.  Aaaaanyway...here's how it ended up looking...


Immediately I knew this just wasn't going to work.  The black shutters, brown porch, yellow door...it was like someone spilled a bag of M&Ms!  Something had to be done.  We considered scraping and painting, but thought that would just be covering the mess instead of fixing it.  For some reason I kept getting anxious about the thought of new cedar shingles.  I don't know exactly my worry, but they were ruled out.  We considered some other applications, then settled on vinyl siding.  I know, I know, but as my neighbor put it, I'm preparing for old age!  While we waited for the siding to arrive, we got started on the prep work:


1.  Just a close-up of the condition the shingles were in.  Look closely and you'll see the original color, a very lovely green that probably would have looked nice with those green shutters.

2.  Shingle removal.  This part was kind of fun.  It's amazing the excellent shape the underlayment wood was in, and neat to see the old paper under the shingles.  Check out this post to see another fun find!

3.  All clad with 1/2" plywood.  I know it's probably a bit of overkill but the bottom edges that would be exposed to rain and snow were wrapped with 30W tar paper.

4.  Then 30W tar paper was put over everything!  

Of course that wasn't the end of the prep.  After removing all the shingles, etc, we realized the stoop was in fairly rough shape.  The structure was sound, but the OSB boards were pretty well worn.  Believe it or not, getting the stoop in shape was the longest, hardest part of the project, probably because the "apparent" progress was so slow in coming.

Eventually the siding arrived!  Our criteria for vinyl siding was simple.  A quality product and a good color, but primarily we wanted the siding that looked like shingles.  That part was very important to us.  We wanted to keep the original feel of 173, and several houses in our neighborhood had gone to the straight siding look. It looks okay on their homes, but just not what we were looking for.  Of course I took a gazillion progress pictures, but let's just have at it once and for all.  You ready?  No more tricks, drum roll please!


I so wish I had a better camera!  Depending on your monitor the siding has a hint of blue, but it's a gray called Flagstone.  I'm comparing the color with some paint for things with the pucnh list and it's almost an exact match with Valspar's "Elephant Gray."


The siding is Certainteed Vinyl Shake and Shingle  7" Straight Edge Rough-Split Shakes.  We decided to trim out in white for contrast...here's a closer shot:


The reason we chose this particular siding was the shakes actually have some relief to them, which causes shadows and even up fairly close in person, they look like real shakes!  One of the neighbors driving by stopped and asked if they were pre-painted shingles!  So here's my favorite shot so far.  I think it captures the feel of the front porch, inside and out!


If you look at the pictures closely enough you'll see the punch list items...that'll be another post.  Like I said, I just couldn't wait any longer!  Immer arbeit!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Retro Project: The Front Stoop

As I've mentioned before, in the early days of our having 173, there were no digital cameras, the internet was in its infancy, the premier search engine was Buena Vista (or something like that) and we had dial-up AOL.  Seems like a different world ago!  We weren't at all diligent about taking "before" pictures so this post has some old prints that I just took pictures of with my cell phone.  Hopefully they're clear enough to get the general idea though.  Onto business...a Retrospective look at an old project here at 173.

Waaaay back when, when we first bought ol' 173, there was no front stoop and the steps had really tall risers and very narrow treads.  you can't really see them that well, but this picture gives you at least a little idea...


That picture is, I believe, from the early '70s.  This next picture is sometime in the '90s.  If you notice, in the above picture, you can see the hint of a pipe railing.    At this point someone before us had added the wood railings.  When we first moved in the steps and railings were still that silver/gray.  After painting the shingles brown (see below) we also painted the steps a kind of light beige... 


But I never liked those steps.  As I said, very steep with narrow treads and by that time they were getting a bit rickety.  Besides that, I always wanted a stoop out front. Around '99 or 2000, and bunch of pressure treated lumber later...

This shot was just a few days ago...
another tease of what comes next!
We had a stoop.  I sided it with shingles over OSB and painted it brown so we'd have that integrated (kinda) look (that'll be explained in an upcoming post).   


Can't wait for the reveal of the current project here at 173!

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