Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Why No Scaffolding

I haven’t been this sore since the great Wallpaper Stripping Marathons of 2002. It seems that stripping paint off siding uses the same muscle groups as stripping wallpaper. These are the little used stripping muscles that normally are dormant and must atrophy when not used regularly. For me it is in the shoulders and forearms. Despite the pain my compulsive nature takes over and I’m stripping purely on adrenaline at this point. I think I might be ready to prime on Friday.

A comment on yesterday’s post by Shauna suggested that I should get scaffolding instead of ladders. If the truth be told I have a slight fear of heights. Actually I think it is more a fear of edges. The thought of being on a roof doesn’t bother me but if I think about walking to the edge of even a flat roof that is higher than one story I begin to get sweaty palms. Even with a railing it kind of makes me nervous.

Two years ago when I removed the addition I was forced to get 2 sections of the masonry type scaffolding to help repair the shingles. Some call it sidewalk scaffolding. Each section is 6-feet high instead of 5-feet high. I also got the casters with it which added almost another foot. I had this all set up on the foundation and sub-floor of the addition after all the walls were down. That put me another 3-feet off the ground. So all together the top deck was about 16-feet off the ground. I’m 6’4” so that means my head was about 24-feet off the ground. I had trouble standing up. I just get this feeling of vertigo where things start to spin just a bit. I’m OK if I have at least one hand on something but the minute I let go with both hands I start to feel a little strange. It didn’t help matters that the scaffolding tended to rock a little when I was swinging the hammer nailing up shingles.

It may sound odd but I feel more secure on a ladder. That’s not to say I feel completely at home on the top of my 32-foot ladder, but I feel better on that than I do on scaffolding. I spent about 6 months on the ladder a few years back when I removed the asbestos siding, pulled all the nails, and then rebuilt window sills and fixed ginger bread. It was tough at first but I got kind of used to it.

The scaffolding is easier in that you can work on a larger section at a time. The draw back is that it takes longer to move to the next section. I would need 3 sections of scaffolding to be able reach the top. It takes time to break all that down and move to the next section. There is also the issue of the ground on north side of the house being very uneven. It has a steep slope towards the sidewalk that starts only a few feet from the house.

Then, of course, there is always the issue of cost. A friend is painting his house right now (actually he is having a handy-man do a lot of the grunt work). He figured that rental costs for 4 sections of scaffolding would be $800 for 4 months. I think that’s what it was. He ended up buying 4 sections for $1,100. That is not too bad, really, when you consider the cost of hiring pros to do a top-notch paint job. Based on what others have paid recently I estimate my house would cost between 15 and 20 thousand dollars for a good paint job.

Still, It’s a lot of money. I’m looking at spending 6 months painting my house because I’m going to be doing other work along the way. I need to do some major work on the front porch foundation, and the front stained glass window is going to be very delicate and time consuming to work on. Also, I still have to go to work and earn money at a real job. That scaffolding would be sitting there unused a lot of the time.

I think I’ll just stick with the ladders for now. When I do the front section with the stained glass window I’ll probably rent scaffolding. That is work that would be better to do standing on the scaffolding instead of hanging off a ladder.


Urban Queen Anne said...

Strange, I was just writting up a post about my amature scaffolding research on my house. I looked at all kinds and prices, but I came back to these long pole pump jack systems. They are pricey but I think their resale value is high, which is good for recovering costs of high priced items...

Kristin said...

I'm with you on the fear of edges! I agree I would feel more secure on a ladder with something to hang on to. Even just three feet off the ground, I feel very nervous on scaffolding.