Sunday, September 24, 2006

Make Mine a Double

Painting the house on a ladder hasn’t really been that bad, at least not until now. The problem now that I’ve gotten to the north side of the house is the rungs on the ladder. On all of the other parts of the house I’ve been working on relatively level ground. On the north side of the house there is about 3 feet of level ground and then it begins to slope towards the sidewalk. What this means is, I have to put the ladder down the slope and extend it further to reach the uppermost reaches of the house.

On an aluminum extension ladder the individual rungs are only a few inches in diameter. They are flat on the top, but it still only gives you an area of a few inches to stand on. Most of the time though, the ladder is not fully extended so the two halves of the ladder overlap each other. When this happens the rungs from the two halves of the ladder match up and you have a comfortable space to stand on. The total width of the two rungs together is about six inches. I could sand on that all day long and not get sore feet.

On all of the other sections of the house I painted it was only when I got up to the very top that I was forced to stand only on a single rung of the ladder. It was a little uncomfortable, but I never spent too much time up there, so it was no big deal. Now though, on the north side, I have to extend the ladder up so far because of the slope that I’m forced to spend a lot more time standing on only one rung of the ladder. It is not comfortable at all. I have to climb up 4 single rungs to paint the very top, and then work my way down. The first couple of days doing prep and primer it wasn’t too bad, but it’s starting to take its toll. By the time I get to the 5th rung down where they are doubled up again I am in real pain.

Had the whole house been this way I would have had to come up with another way of doing this. I would either have had to break down and get scaffolding, or get a 40-foot ladder. My current ladder is 32-feet. As it is, I only have one more section to do on the ladder. After that I can stand on the wrap-around back porch to work on the second story.

I measure the width of a section by the number of aerosmiths on it. I call them “aerosmiths” even though I’m not sure if it’s the proper name. The aerosmiths are the stylized floral carvings on the frieze.


The corner section where I removed the tree was 13 aerosmiths long with no windows. The current section, Section 4, is 19 aerosmiths long with only one window. The next section, Section 5, is only 14 aerosmiths long, and it has 2 windows. What that boils down to is fewer singles to prep and paint. That means a lot less time on the ladder. I’m just going to have to muddle through it. I have to go back up and put a second coat on the Section 4 shingles tomorrow, and paint the aerosmiths. After that it will be a few weeks until I start the Section 5 shingles because Section 5 is topped with the last attic gable that still needs painting. I’ll work on that, and prep first floor part of Section 5 before I work on the Section 5 shingles. It’ll give my feet some time to rest.


purejuice said...

wind gusts, unsure footing and sore feet do not sound like a good combination. be careful!!! your sherpas are worried!

Tex MacRae said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Greg said...

Oh man, I'm getting one of those any way. What a great invention.

Tex MacRae said...

Well, I wish I could tell you how it works, but it's been raining here, so I'm still hanging off the roof scraping the yankee gutters. It looks really sturdy and easy to use, though.

ron said...

Having spent way too much time on a ladder I hope your taking appropriate precautions. That's where most construction site accidents happen. Tie it off at the top and brace it at the bottom. And if anything about the setup gives you second thoughts, then think twice. That's my 10 second lecture for today.

Greg said...

The auction ends in 42 minutes so I'll know if I have one soon.

Ron, Do you really do all that when you work on a ladder? It would take me years to finish painting this house if I secured the ladder like that every time I moved it.

Today I moved the ladder 4 times horizontally across the house. With each move I raised it to the top and then lowered it in 3 increments. That is 12 times I would have to undo and then resecure the ladder at the top and the bottom. Not to mention coming up with places to tie it off. Do you sink a bunch of hooks in the siding?

I have a stabilizer I use, and I just use a lot of common sense and move slowly. I always have one foot and one hand in contact with the ladder when climbing up or down. When I'm painting I put one arm into the hole created by two rungs. Even if both if both of my feet slipped I wouldn't fall off. I may dislocate a shoulder, but I wouldn’t fall. I would have to do something really crazy and stupid to fall off this ladder while I am stationary. The risk seems to mostly be in climbing up and down the ladder.

Greg said...

Got it! $21.00 with shipping. They list for $42.00 on the Ace Hardware website. I love Ebay.

Tex MacRae said...

Now you just need to run a bucket of hot water with Epsom salts in it and soak your feet til it gets there.

He's a fast shipper. I got mine a couple of days after the auction.

Anonymous said...

Use a "ladder mate" or ladder wedge on those uneven spaces. ladders should always be straight up and down. Don't settle for a dislocated shoulder, settle for a finished exterior and working parts.

Greg said...

Thanks for the tip Anonymous, but I think you misunderstood the problem. I have never, nor will I ever, work on an uneven ladder. The ladder is always dead-on level.

Rather than using wedges or shims to bring the low side up and make the ladder level, I dig small holes to bring the high side down. This works much better and is much safer. After months of painting on the ladder, I've got it down to an art-form.

Angus said...

Aren't your Aerosmiths just (very) stylized Acanthus leaves? Though I must say that I like the name Aerosmiths a lot better!

(Not to mention the mass of new traffic you'll get here after using Aerosmith 30 times in one post. :)Though they might be confused as to where they landed.

And what a great measurement. How many square Aerosmiths is your house in total?

Greg said...

They may just be Acanthus leaves. The debate on the term is on-going. This type of frieze decoration is on several houses around here but they are never the same. Some are more geometric than others.

I'm going to have to do a full count.