Wednesday, May 31, 2006

It was the worst of paint. It was the best of paint.

Well, it’s raining yet again. It wasn’t too bad, and it’s supposed to be over tomorrow, but still, it’s a little irritating. This weather is not exactly conducive to exterior painting. Because of the rain, I’ve decided to work on the interior of the porch so I put the columns on hold for now. I don’t want to strip the paint off them and then have the bare wood get wet.

The condition of the paint on the siding is the worst I’ve ever seen, and at the same time, it is the best I’ve ever seen. Take a look at these pictures. The black stuff is remnants of the tar paper that was under the asbestos siding.

It’s the worst I’ve ever seen for obvious reasons. The paint is literally falling off the house. It is bad on most areas of the house, but nothing like this. It takes all of about 30 seconds to reduce that to bare wood ready for priming. And that’s why it is also the best I’ve ever seen. Could you imagine how easy it would be to do the whole house if it all looked like that?

So the solution is clear. From now on everybody only paint your house once every 80 or 90 years and your paint will look just like this. It’ll be a snap to repaint. You can thank me later.

In other news, I got my invitation for my nieces graduation today. And even though I got the invitation 3 days after she graduated (the mail service is unbelievably bad here) I couldn’t be more proud. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College, and no doubt was at the top of her class. The woman is seriously smart. She’s even smarter than her Dad and that guy is Jeopardy Champion material. I don’t think she reads my blog but I wanted to say congratulations anyway.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A Friends Scraping

You know what “A Friends Scraping” is? That’s when after you eat dinner and you flop down on the couch and there’s a re-run of Friends on and instead of watching it you go outside and scrape paint on the front porch. That’s what I had tonight. I had A Friends Scraping. It was a very pleasant night tonight, and we are supposed to have rain by Thursday, so I figured I might as well take advantage of it. It turned out to be A Simpson’s Scraping as well.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Summertime Fun

It’s officially Summertime and that means it’s time for more sexual innuendos and suggestive metaphors relating to removing paint from wood. So in that vein, I’ll say that today I took all my clothes off and performed lewd and lascivious acts on the front porch and in front of all the neighbors. No, wait, that doesn’t quite convey the same idea, does it?

Of course, what I’m trying to say is that I stripped on the front porch….uh, stripped paint from wood. I removed paint from the wooden fluted columns that flank the front porch by means of a heat gun, scraper, and sander. There I said it.

The more work I do on the porch, the more work there seems to be left to do. That sort of sounds like a bad dream doesn’t it, but that’s the way it feels. The higher I got up on the columns today the closer I got to the higher points on the porch, and the more I could see that I have a lot more work to do up there. I’m also spending more time on the columns themselves than I thought I would need to. I think it could have 2 more weeks worth of work on this porch.

When the house was painted by the POs about 6 years ago the people who painted it did a really bad job. They just painted over scaling, flaking paint on the columns. It seems the logic behind it was, “If we put enough paint on it, no one will know”.

One of the benefits to taking all the paint off is I’ve found out the wood on the columns is in better shape that I could have hoped for. With the exception of the rot down at the last few inches of the one column that sank down in to the porch, the rest of the wood solid and hard.

Here’s a before and after picture. It’s really from two different columns because I didn’t take a before picture of the column I stripped today. Really, though, it doesn’t matter because they just pretty much range from bad to worse in terms of the condition of the paint. This "before" picture is about average.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Porch Progress

I got all the new hand rail and balusters up. This actually went pretty smooth, but it was time consuming. You really don’t want things to be crooked. Also, I didn’t want to have to make any more hand rail, so I measured 3 times and cut once or twice.

The news rails and balusters are very close to meeting code, but not quite. I’ve already begun to think of ways to bring them to code if it becomes an issue. I’m hoping it won’t become an issue.

The next step was going to be the stairs but I think I might go ahead and strip the rest of the columns, and the siding under the porch, and get the whole thing painted. The sooner it looks like it’s always been there the better.

All this and I still had time to go day 2 of the Kinetic Sculptor Race.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Red Glass: The Saga Continues

Last weekend I posted a few shots of my front stained glass window. It has a large piece of red glass with a bullet hole in it and I lamented my inability to get that type of glass in a piece large enough to replace it. Except for Kokomo Glass, the industry standard for stained glass is 24-inches wide and as long as you want. I need a piece roughly 36-inhces square. I’ve heard the red glass I have referred to as “Flash Glass”, and some may refer to it as “Water Glass”. Really, it’s just looks like old wavy glass, only it’s red instead of clear.

I can get red glass in the right size from Kokomo Glass but all they have is Cathedral Glass. Cathedral Glass is heavily textured. I’m not sure how to explain it other than that. Then Monica over at Bungalow Dreams kindly directed me to a place called C & R Loo in Richmond, CA. They advertise something called Antiqued Machine Glass on their site and it says it comes in sheet sizes 47" X 31.5" and 63" X 60”. They offered clear glass and then about a dozen different colors.

On Friday I called C & R Loo but I had my doubts after visiting their web site. On the menu they have 2 links for Spectrum. Spectrum Glass is a big maker of stained glass and one of the ones I contacted a few years back. Spectrum only makes 24-inch wide glass. I spoke with a gentleman with a very thick accent. At first it sounded promising. He assured me they had Antiqued Machine Glass in the size I needed. I started to get wary the second time I had to correct him on how many inches are in a yard. He most likely grew up with the metric system.

We then started talking about shipping. This is the other issue I ran in to a few years ago. Shipping a single piece of glass that size needs so much packing it has to go by freight. He couldn’t give me an estimate but he kept saying (use a thick Indian accent here), “Very, very expensive. Yes, very expensive”. Ok, so Richmond isn’t too far away, I can drive down to pick it up. That’s what I had to do with the Cathedral Glass I bought from Kokomo Glass.

The whole conversation was awkward at best because of the differences in our native tongues. I finally pestered him once more to assure me that he had a piece of Rose Antiqued Machine Glass, Item Number GNA-70 in stock that was 36 X 36 inches. He finally said, “Oh, you want the 70? No, we can’t get that in that size. I think that only comes in 29-inch widths” I said, “You mean 24-inch widths”. He said, “Yes, yes 24-inches, that’s it. Only the clear glass comes in the larger sheets.” I said thank you and hung up.

So, no-harm no-foul. I have the red Cathedral Glass that I can use but it’s just not the same as the red Flash Glass. I’m willing to bet the large sheets of clear Antiqued Machine Glass they have at C & R Loo is from one supplier and everything else is from Spectrum Glass and they just list it all on the same page. I hope to replace the broken glass this summer so time is running out on finding a large enough piece of the red flash glass. Anyone want to takes bets on this one?

Friday, May 26, 2006

A Bee Hive of Activity

I give you what may be the coolest Art Deco toilet I’ve ever seen. It’s the 1931 Standard Modernus.

It was in one of the rental bathrooms in the addition. The POs replaced it with a newer toilet when the tank broke, but luckily they were lazy and just tossed the bowl in the trash pile out back. The date on it is 1931, which is odd because all indications are that the addition was built in the mid 20s. Maybe there was an early toilet failure and this was an early replacement .

Here are the 2 tanks I have. The porcelain tank is 1922. The oak high-tank is of an unknown date. I originally bought the high-tank to go with the Modernus, but now that I’ve pulled it out of the attic I don’t think they really go together. I’m probably going to go with the low-mount porcelain tank.

So, why am I dealing with bathroom stuff right now when I’m in the middle of a porch reconstruction? Well, a couple of reasons. I pulled the toilet out of the attic with some other bathroom treasure over the last weekend because I want to do a mock-up of the downstairs bathroom. I was rearranging the piles of junk in the house and decided to try and get things where they may eventually end up. One thing lead to another and 2 hours later I had my bathroom sans plumbing.

The main reason for this is because next month I’ll be hosting another Splinter Group meeting. It’s just easier to have rooms look like what they might be someday. That way I don’t have to answer the same questions over and over again. Here are a few other bathroom shots. This room was originally the scullery, but will become the downstairs bathroom.

All of this stuff is from the 20s and 30s so I will be doing a 20s or 30s bathroom. Three walls and the ceiling are covered in bead board now and the “wet wall” were the sink, tub, and toilet are is a mix of plaster, bead board, and a big gaping hole. The plan at this point is to do the wet wall in subway tile, the floor in 1-inch square tile with a Greek Key boarder. The wall opposite the wet wall is an exterior wall dominated by two large windows. I haven’t decided whether to leave the windows are not. They face the back yard.

I’m doing a 1920s bathroom instead of a Victorian bathroom because the room was obviously not a bathroom originally so this will be The Later Addition Bathroom. Oh, who am I kidding. I’m doing a 1920s bathroom because I have all of this stuff and I don’t want to go out and spend a lot of money on Victorian era stuff. But if anybody asks, it’s the first thing I said.

I also hung the cabinet and positioned the sink, with some faucets added, in the butler’s pantry. That is the wall I built a few months back. The cabinet is from the rental kitchen in one of the upstairs apartments. It was in pretty rough shape when I took it down a few years back. I had to replace the whole back to it and do some major work on the front. Someone had used a claw hammer to remove what might have been towel rack or something. It was also just dripping in layers and layers of really bad paint jobs. This was the very first thing stripped paint off of with a heat gun

The big job today was building the newel posts for the front porch. It didn’t go well at all. I’m really getting down to the dregs of the wood piles. There is still a lot of wood left, but a lot of it is stuff that is not really suitable for this type of finish work. This is wood that I passed over for all the other jobs I did. It’s not the easiest to work with and it slows the whole process down. The only good thing about it is that I went through about 25 or 30 feet of 1X8 clear heart redwood and that would be close to $100 worth of wood down at the lumber yard. So I’ll make due.

It’s also getting to be the end of a very long week and I made some really stupid mistakes. First, below is a picture of the posts. I had planned on making 4 but I ended up making only the 2 for the porch landing. I’ll make the two for the bottom of the stairs later.

The posts have a top and a bottom regardless of whether the top is on there or not. Twice – not once, but twice – I nailed the top cap on to the bottom of the post. I did this to the same post twice in a row. The second time I broke the cap and most of the cove molding taking it off. I then made the cove molding too wide and the new cap looked stupid on it so I had to make the cap again.

If that weren’t bad enough the crappity, crap, crap, crap piece of crap Central Pneumatic Brad Nailer I bought a few months back was not working right at all. It would only shoot out a brad ever 4 or 5 pulls of the trigger. Most of the time just air would come and but it still made the little hole. So not only did I not get a nail, but I ended up with a bunch of holes to putty for no reason. It quickly found itself under the business end of a my sledge hammer. Man, that felt good.

Anybody want to buy a brad nailer? I’ll sell it to you cheap.

Eventially, though, the newel posts did get put together. Once they are puttied, caulked, and primed I think they’ll look ok. It’s a little frustrating, though, because I really think if I had nice straight wood and good tools I could make some really awesome newel posts. I know, it’s a cop-out to blame the tools, but really, I could do better work.
Download in the Play Store

Tomorrow I’m going to mount the posts and start to put on hand rail. It’s all very exciting. I want to go out later tonight and sand and prime the posts because I’m a little embarrassed by the amount of putty and caulk on them. I would be mortified if anyone stopped to talk and saw them looking like they do now.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Day 4 of the 2 Day Project

So, since the whole boom-lift idea fell down and went boom I’ve decided to plow ahead on the porch restoration. What started as a 2 day project to replace some rotted posts, beams, and decking has turned into a major overhaul of the porch. It’s a good thing, really, because it needed to be done.

I had this cool idea for skirting that didn’t pan out because I couldn’t find one of the main ingredients. I was going to make lattice out of redwood “bender board”. Most lattice you see is made of 2-inch strips of wood. The bender board is the same thickness as the lattice strips but it’s 4-inches wide. You make the lattice with the 4-inch strips and then cut an off-setting diamond in the diamonds already formed by the lattice. You end up with 8-point stars. I’m not sure if you can picture that, but it looks pretty cool. I couldn’t find the bender board and I’m too lazy to make it, so I canned the idea. I ended up just using traditional 2-inch redwood lattice. It looks fine.

I got all the rotted sub floor and fir deck boards replaced but I kind of screwed up on the decking. I won’t bore you with the details of this screw up. It is cosmetic and not structural, but it is noticeable. The question is, do I fix it. I haven’t decided yet. To fix it I would need to jack up the roof again, remove all the fir boards I put down and redo them. They are tongue and groove, and I nailed them in good, and the ends slide under the edge of the house a bit, so I would most likely ruin a few trying to get them out.

At this point I’m leaning towards not fixing them. The plan is to make the rest of the porch so dazzling that the eye will be drawn to other parts of the porch and the average visitor won’t notice that some of the boards on that side of the porch are askew. It’s all smoke and mirrors, people. I’m going put on new handrails, balusters, and newel posts. I’m making all of it but the balusters and I’m trying to channel a Victorian architect when coming up with designs. This means I will be going for form over function.

I also want to fix the rotted soffit and the bad rain gutter as well. I’m thinking about putting back the wooden gutters if I can find enough salvage pieces. I only need two sections, one from the front and one for the side. Once it’s all finished I’ll just go ahead and make this the next section of house I paint.

Yesterday I whipped up a mess of hand rails. I bought a few dozen balusters more than a year ago with this project in mind, so those are pretty much ready to go. I think a paid $3 or 4$ each for them. There should be enough to do the porch and stairs. For the newel posts the plan is to make them so they slip down over the butt-ugly pieces of pressure treated wood that is there now. Someone once said that pressure treated wood is the underwear of the construction industry and should never be seen. I happen to agree. It has always bugged me that the very first thing you see when you walk up to the house was those 4 pressure treated newel posts on the stairs.

Above is what the porch looked like this morning. I put new trim around the base of the 2 big columns and the pilaster. I had to do major reconstruction at the base of the outside corner column with wood and epoxy. The repairs are hidden behind the new trim. I was going to put off work on the stairs but I think I may just go ahead and rebuild them as well. Since I’m doing new newel posts I might as well. The stringers are shot.

Here is the hand rail I made yesterday and a couple of the salvage balusters. There's my Boss 1973 Ford F100 Custom Camper Special in the background. I actually think it's somehow burning gasoline just sitting there.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Rained Out, But Now It Doesn’t Matter

So it looks like for now the boom-lift idea is a bust. The weather is not cooperating, but that’s not even the half of it. It’s a little convoluted, and I’m only going to go over this once, so please pay attention.

A few weeks back I went down to the rental place and asked about a hydraulic boom-lift that would allow me to easily paint the attic gables and other high points on the house. The guy was very knowledgeable about the equipment and we even walked out in to the yard to look at what was available. They had 2 of the smaller units that would suit my needs.

The first one was an older model that had a single arm that went up and swiveled around. Imagine if you had your elbow, hand, and wrist flat on the table. If you keep your elbow on the table and lift your hand and swivel your wrist that is pretty much what this thing would do. The other one, a newer model, was a “3 knuckle” lift. This is kind of like if you added the shoulder in to the operation. This is good for tight spots because it can go up and then move over low objects that are close to the base.

We talked about the pros and cons of both models. The simpler, single arm lift actually had better distance from the base at it’s highest point. I decided this would be best because I could park it on the street for the side of the house and still reach the gables. With the other one I might have to move on to the sidewalk or in the yard. The yard on that side of the house has a grade and that may cause complications.

I then asked about towing with my truck. I have a ’73 Ford F100 (aka The Beast). I guess it’s a half ton pick up, but I’m not really sure. I know it’s loud and guzzles gas, but beyond that I’m not sure of it’s capabilities. They assured me that these smaller lifts could be pulled with just about anything. The rental place is about 15 blocks from my house anyway.

A few weeks went by and I called to reserve the lift for this week. However, I changed my mind and decided the 3-knuckle lift would be better. The backyard is very tight and I would need to have the lift parked close to the house and still get over the porch. I called and reserved the newer 3-knuckle lift. Of course, the weather turned nasty and I had to call up twice to reschedule. The second time I called was yesterday. For some reason in that conversation the discussion of towing came up again. I told them what truck I had and they said I couldn’t tow the 3-knuckle lift with my truck. I needed to have a ¾ ton truck with a frame mount hitch. Mine is a bumper mount hitch.

It turns out only the single arm lift is small enough to tow with my truck. During the initial discussion we talked about the pros and cons of both and I must have misunderstood him when we talked about towing. I was under the impression that either of the lifts could be towed with my truck. Well, we were on the phone yesterday and I was rescheduling for Friday when the revelation came up that I couldn’t tow the 3-knuckle lift with my truck. I said fine, I’ll just use the single arm lift instead, pencil me in for Friday. He said, “We can’t do that because we sold the single arm lift.” “What!?!”, I cried, “What do you mean you sold it?” He went on to explain that the new 3-knuckle lift was replacing the single arm lift and they didn’t have a need for both, so they sold the older, single arm lift.

Just great. I couldn’t believe it. Had I done this a few weeks ago I could have used the single arm lift and towed it myself. Now the single arm lift is gone and I don’t have a truck that can tow the 3-knuckle lift. Maybe I could borrow a truck, but I would have to borrow it for 24 hours and I don’t really feel good about that. They could deliver the 3-knuckle lift but I wouldn’t be able to move it around, so that’s no good.

At this point I’m a little bummed about the whole thing. I’ve decided to just put the attic gables on the back burner for now. I have a lot of house to paint so it’s not like it’s a pressing issue. Also, I have proven I can paint the gables by hanging out the windows, so there is that. It’s all just a little irritating, you know what I mean?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Bank Error In Your Favor. Collect $1000.

Ok, so it wasn’t a bank error, but it was just as good. In a past life I was really in to computer programming. In my one spectacular year at college I took a one semester course on GW BASIC. Anyone remember that. GW BASIC is an almost useless programming language but I was hooked. I played around with it at home and quickly reached the limits of the language so I went out and bought Visual Basic 3.0. VB 3.0 was a step up from GW BASIC, but not by much.

At any rate, I wrote a spades card game program and uploaded it to CompuServe (The internet had not be opened to the world at this point) and in the little help file for the card game I said if you like it then send me a check for $3. I didn’t know anything about Shareware at the time, but that is apparently what is what I was doing. You give the program away, people share it with each other, and if they like it they send you money. The first month I got about 15 checks for $3 each!

I immediately set out rewriting the program, and as the years went by I wrote more, mostly little games and utilities. Slowly business picked up and after a while I was making around $500 a month with my little business called Windswept Software. I mean, I wasn’t going to quit my day job or anything, but hey, it’s $500 a month for having fun. I’ll be honest, a lot of what I do is crude by many standards, but the games are fun, and I enjoyed it, so what the hell. Occasionally I people would solicit me for licensing agreements to distribute the programs on a broader scale. Most of these never panned out. It got to the point that I wouldn’t even reply to these types of emails unless it appeared to be written by someone who knew what they were talking about.

I did have some success, though. The best one was for Coca Cola. They were sponsoring a Dominoes Tournament in Brooklyn and had hired a Texas marketing company to promote it. Somehow they found my dominoes program and wanted to give it away at the tournament. I modified the program so the tournament logo was on the program’s playing table and put the “Coca Cola” logo on the back of the dominoes. They wanted 2000 copies and I charged them $2.50 each plus labor for modifying the program. After the cost of labels and disks I made about $5,000 off that one.

The last one I did was for a company in Canada. They wanted one of my gambling programs for a DVD they were doing. The idea was that the DVD would have video to teach different casino games and then you could load programs from the DVD to practice. I don’t even remember the particulars of how much I would get but it was on a per unit basis and it wasn’t much per unit. They only way this would work is if they moved a lot of units. The checks came every three or six months – I forget - and they were pretty small. I don’t think I ever got one for more than $100. Then one month I got a statement that said the amount was too small to cover the cost of printing the check and the balance owed me would be added to the next period. After that I pretty much forgot all about it.

Then 4 or 5 years ago I moved when I bought this house. The whole programming thing sort of got sidelined as well. With so many on-line game sights like MSN The Zone sales steadily tapered off. I have just two programs that generate sales anymore, but they still bring in about $100 a month. One is the dominoes game and the other is a tool for people programming in Visual Basic 6. Yesterday, though I got an email from the Canadian company I had the license agreement with. Apparently they tried to send checks to my old address. I’m not sure why they weren’t forwarded to me. Maybe they recently tried to push the DVD again so sales picked up. I’m not sure. At any rate, the guy from the company said they have a check for me and he’s been trying to get my address. According to him, based on the last statement he saw, it is “clearly over a $1000”. Wooo Hooo!

To celebrate I went out and bought a new router. That means I can finally finish the kitchen island by installing the sink and putting a profile on the edges. So I’m now painting the house, doing major reconstruction of the porch, and I’m going to be cutting a hole in a $350 piece of marble. I’m going to be a busy little boy.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Seventy-Seven -TEEEE-Seven-In-eches

I have an odd quirk when doing something that makes me really nervous. It used to happen when I would go up on high ladders but I’ve kind of gotten used to that now. When I was up on the ladder working I would get a phrase in my head and repeat it over and over again. Eventually the words would morph a bit and start to sound different. Sometimes the accent would move to a different syllable, or other times the last syllable from one word and the first syllable from the next word would break off and form a new word, thus rendering three words that now made no sense. If I continued long enough the whole phrase would become unrecognizable as English. I haven’t done that in a long time but it happened today.

I decided I needed to fix the front porch before I painted it. I’m renting the boom-lift on Wednesday to paint the attic gables so I have a few days where I have nothing to do. Instead of doing nothing I decided to fix the porch. It is an inset “L” porch and the one corner away from the house had serious rot. The fir decking had rotted to the point where the post had pushed down in to it. Fortunately they used redwood planking as a sub-floor, but that wasn’t doing much better. That whole outside corner and the front had serious dry-rot and really needed to be rebuilt.

The tricky part was, I had to jack to porch roof off the porch an inch or so to take the weight off that corner. Of course, I have to put the jack on the porch deck. It’s kind of like if you had a jack on the kitchen table to hold the roof up, and then you had to replace the legs of the table while the jack is still on the table holding up the roof.

I had to start by going under the porch and build new supports that were set back from the outside edge of the porch. Then I jacked the roof up. Like I said, I only had to lift it an inch or so but it was very nerve wracking because the whole thing is now being supported by the new supports I built and the jack. The first board I needed to cut was 77-inches long. It took a few hours to get enough wood under the porch so that I could let the jack down.

Maybe I’m a bit of a pessimist at times, but the worst case scenario kept going through my head. I kept envisioning the jack, with it’s long board on top holding the roof up, jack-knifing away as I watch the whole porch slowly peel away from the house and end up in a pile in the front yard. I was very nervous. For about an hour I kept repeating “77-inches” over and over again. That first board I cut was 77-inches long. It went through many variations but settled on “Seventy-Seven -TEEEE-Seven-In-eches”. It’s a wonder I didn’t all the boards 77-inches long.

As it turned out the porch did not peel away from the house. I have all the primary supports under the porch replaced that needed to be replaced. I got new sub-floor and decking on the spot just under the post, and the roof was jacked back down on top of everything. Whew! Tomorrow I need to replace more decking and sub-floor on about 25% of the porch. Everything I’m using to rebuild it with came from the 2-story addition. They built the first floor kitchen of the addition on top of an old porch so there was a bunch of fir decking under the floor that was in great condition.

The stairs are kind of in rough shape but they are safe. I think I’ll leave that for another project. The only other thing to do is new skirting around the porch. I have a very cool idea for the skirting that I stole from someplace. It’s pretty simple but may not explain well in writing. If all goes well I may start it Thursday.

Grass growning on the porch is never good

About the half-way point. Still a mix of old and new wood

Close-up. You can see the black, bottle jack on the left with the board on top of it holding the roof up. The post is still floating in air at this point. Seventy-Seven -TEEEE-Seven-In-eches

Sunday, May 21, 2006


Damn, the bullet hole’s still there. I think if there is one thing I could change about what was done to this house it would be to remove that hole. No one makes that red glass anymore. The one place that still makes 36-inch wide stained glass, The Kokomo Glass Co., only makes it in Cathedral Glass, not the red Flash Glass you see there. Cathedral Glass has a texture to it. All other glass makers only make 24-inch wide stained glass.

Saturday, May 20, 2006


The picture is a little out of focus but the colors are pretty accurate. And yea, that is a bullet hole in the big red circle. I have new glass for it. It’s on the list.

Friday, May 19, 2006


I’ve made some very minor, yet long overdue changes to the blog. I’ve added an email address for any lunatic rantings that may pop in to your head, but what may not be suitable for the general Blogging audience. You can now fire off musings to petchhouse at windsweptsoftware dot com. The email address has a permanent home on the right-hand sidebar.

I’ve also change the links list. I added a bunch of blogs when I first started this blog about a year ago with out really knowing who was who. I’ve never really changed it and some of my favorites have never been on the list. Also, there were a few on there that seem to have fallen off the edge of the blogging planet, so I removed those. There are still others that I want to add but either could find the URL or ran out of time (the stairs are calling me)

And, of course, HouseMade now has their fancy-shmancy, brand-spanking new, very own URL. Ooo la la, aren’t we so trendy over at HouseMade. We have are own URL for our house. (Just kidding, ladies. You know I love you) Naturally I needed to update their link.

That’s about it. Work continues on the stairs. I’ve started on the upper flight and hope to have it finished by Sunday at the latest. I have a hydraulic boom-lift reserved for Tuesday so I can paint the attic gables and other parts of the house that are too high for the ladder. However, it started raining again and the forecast says it will rain through to Tuesday. I’ve changed it to Wednesday and I will keep my fingers crossed.

PS And to anyone who sent an email to ohforum at windsweptsoftware dot com, I never got it. I forgot all about that email address. Frankly, I'm amazed you found it.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

It’s All Very Interesting

I have an on-going debate with a few friends about what was the original floor coverings in my house. They blindly say, in an almost knee-jerk reaction, that the house would have had wall-to-wall carpet on both the first and second floor. I disagree. It just so happens that I have reason, logic, and a mountain of evidence on my side.

While it is possible that there was wall-to-wall carpet, because that was a popular style, it was not en vouge for many designers and critics in the1890s. Charles Eastlake and others thought the epitome of style in floor coverings would have been polished hardwood floors and oriental carpets. A lot of people couldn’t afford hardwood floors and oriental carpets so they opted for the less expensive wall-to-wall carpeting. This was a very popular and very common floor covering in the decades following the Civil War.

Of course, without electricity that meant no electric vacuums. Without electric vacuum cleaners it must have been a constant chore to keep the carpets clean. Here is a quote from an 1898 catalog of The Wood-Mosaic Company

How To Treat Soft Pine Floors

If very bad use it for kindling wood. Most soft pine floors are very bad. If in fair condition cover it with thin parquetry or wood carpet. Or, if it must be scrubbed or mopped like a barroom or butcher’s stall, cover it with linoleum or oil cloth. In this case don’t cover with parquetry. Don’t cast pearls before swine. Or it may be painted. Paint adheres well to pine. Don’t cover it with dusty, dirty, disease disseminating carpet”

As I said, this is from The Wood-Mosaic Company, so it is biased. I’m sure they made the wood carpet and thin parquetry, along with other wood flooring products, they are suggesting people put down over their soft wood floors. Wood carpeting and thin parquetry where inexpensive ways to make a house look like it had high-end hardwood floors with hand laid parquetry inlays. Normal wood floors will be 7/8-inch thick, tongue and groove boards, and will blind-nailed through the tongue during installation. Wood carpeting was 3/8-inch think and glued to a backing material like linoleum is. It was rolled out and face nailed in place.

I won’t go in to all the evidence I’ve uncovered to date that I think proves my house did not originally have tacked down wall-to-wall carpeting in it, but new evidence found on the stairs only seems to have cemented my claim even more. To recap the stair coverings: there was green carpet and padding. Then a lovely layer of glued on foam crap. Followed by the cemented on rubber non-stick tread covers – with utility knife slash marks. Finally there was brown paint, and in some areas there was shellac under the brown paint. “Some areas” being the operative phrase here.

The stair treads are each 45-inches wide. Only the outside 8 to 10-inches of wood had shellac on it. The inside 25 to 30-inches was bare wood until it was painted brown. I’m willing to bet the brown paint was put down in the 20s when the linoleum was put on the 2 landings. Also, take in to consideration that early carpeting was produced on narrow looms that produced 27-inch wide carpets. These would then be stitched together to produce wall-to-wall carpeting. I think it’s obvious then that there was a 27-inch wide carpet runner going up the stairs and that they were not fully carpeted as my friends have insisted all along. Since only the outsides of the treads would be visible that was the only area that was shellacked. There’s more to the story, though.

Up under the end of each tread is the scotia molding. It is nailed to the tread and hides the gap that may appear where the tread sits on the riser. I had to pry off each piece of molding so I could fully strip the paint off the riser, and to get the paint off the molding. In each case the tread and riser where a very tight fit. The tread rested firmly on top of the risers and the riser actually helped support the tread.

Four things were odd about the last tread and riser at the bottom of the stairs. First, the tread was cracked. I actually had to remove the last 4 inches that had cracked off, clean it up a little, and then glue and nail it back on. Second, there was no scotia molding. Third, unlike the other risers that were only shellacked on the outside visible edges, the entire riser was shellacked. This is the riser that comes in contact with the foyer floors. Finally, there was a half inch gap between the riser and the tread. The other treads all sat firmly on the riser. In fact, I think this is the reason the tread broke is because of this gap.

So we have many questions about that final riser. Why was there a gap? Why no molding? Why all the shellac? I’m sure everyone realizes now that the runner did not go all the way to the foyer floor. It curled up under the last tread and was shoved in to the gap between the last tread and riser. There were probably a few small shims to keep the runner in place and support the tread. This would indicate that maybe there was not carpeting in the foyer. Once the runner was removed in the 1920s, the end of the tread lost some of it’s support and the crack was inevitable. Because I don’t have a runner right now, I’ve added shims to fill the gap so it won’t crack again.

More solid evidence to beat my friends over the head with. I can’t wait to have them over.

That is the bottom tread with the broken piece I took off for repairs. I was able to feel around under the stairs and sadly I found no hidden treasure.

Here’s what they look like now. As soon as the glue sets – tomorrow sometime – I’ll sand and oil the final step. You can see the discoloration in the center where the wood was painted without the protective layer of shellac under it. Because of the fresh oil and the flash of the camera, it actually shows up better in this picture than in real life. Even so, it will be covered under the runner. The rest of the stairs no look like hell because of all of the sawdust.

I wonder if I can still get a 27-inch runner.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

House Warming Party Tonight

Some friends of mine recently bought a little cottage, so there's a house warming party tonight. Here’s a picture of it from the turn of the century.

It is currently still rental units but they plan to restore it. Were going to be taking a tour tonight and then have a little get together at their home.

I was able to walk through it with them when the place was in escrow. Click on the link below to see current pics of it.

The Hunter Mansion

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Stair-ing In Disbelief

As I mentioned a few days ago I finally took the last of the green carpet up. This last part was on the front stairs. Originally it seemed that the over-all condition of the stairs was not too bad. While someone had hacked away at a few of the treads to try and get some adhesive off, the rest didn’t look too bad. I originally said it was only on one side of two of the stair treads but as I looked closer, more of the treads showed some signs of damage, only not as severe as the two I had originally mentioned.

None of this should really come as any surprise. We’ve all encountered Stupid Previous Owner Tricks before (That should be a segment on Ask This Old House!), but what really has made this seem even worse is how easily this stuff comes off with a heat gun. I am not exaggerating in the least when I say it is almost effortless to get this yellow stuff off the wood with a heat gun.

Most of the yellow stuff that the mouth-breathing drooler tried to chisel off is not really adhesive. It is the foam backer of that really inexpensive carpet that comes with the padding as the backer. When it was installed they put down a thin coat of adhesive and then glued the carpet to the stairs. When the carpet was pulled up the foam backer was left behind in thick clumps on the stairs. The adhesive was laid on top of brown paint and the paint was put down on shellac, for the most part (more on that in another post). You hit the foam with a heat gun for one or two seconds and it pops right off. It does smoke a bit, and the house still has the subtle aroma of burning tires, but it is just about the easiest thing I have ever scrapped off this house to date.

The other thing I had to get off the treads were these rubber non-slip tread covers that had been put on each tread. They were only about a foot wide and went not quite all the way back to the riser on each step. At first they seemed to come off pretty easy, but as I pulled at them they either wanted to pull the top surface of the wood off, or leave a lot of adhesive and some of the rubber behind. They used some type of contact cement on them and it wasn’t going any where soon. Because these are rubber the heat gun was no good here. But the damage didn’t stop there.

The brain-dead hick (possibly related to the mouth-breather) who put on the rubber, non-slip tread covers cut them to fit after he applied them. It looked like he would do a quickie cut out job, glue them in place, and then take a utility knife and clean up the edges. So now around the edge of where each of these was stuck on I have cut marks from a utility knife.

I had already spent a lot of time on this lower flight of stairs with the heat gun getting off the shellac, paint, and foam stuff, but now I realized this was not going to be enough. I stood there staring at the stairs and decided I needed to get midlevel on these bad-boys. The time for mixing metaphors was over. I had to get out the big guns in wood restoration. It was time for the random orbital-sander with 60 grit paper. I was no longer going to be concerned with saving patina, it was time to grind off the top layer of wood and start anew.

When it comes to refinishing wood, the random orbital sander should sit in a little glass-front box with a small hammer hanging from it and a sign the reads, “In case of emergency, break glass.” You can do some serious damage very quickly to wood with one of these, but that’s what I needed to do. This was an emergency.

This was more like floor refinishing now. I had to sand down a good sixteenth of an inch or more over the entire surface of each tread. The bull-nosed fronts were so damaged in places that I had to reshape the front of each tread with the sander. I started with 60 grit, and then I went to 80, and finally finished off with 100 grit. The risers will need much less work than the treads but I may have to remove the little Scotia molding (sp?) that hides the gap where the tread meets the riser.

These are not going to be perfect, and really, I didn't need to do all this because a lot of what you see will be under the runner. Still, it just doesn't seem right to leave it that way. It could be months before I put down a runner and I couldn't stand to look at it the way it was for that long. It just seems like the right thing to do.

Goop and cuts from the rubber non-slip before and after

A bull-nosed end before and after

A minor gouge from the chisel

Sort of what I started with

The current state

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Hi-Low Drop Cloth

The previous owners owned my house for less than 2 years before I bought it and they pretty much did nothing to it. In a very big way this was a good thing because what they did do was not that great. They evicted all the tenants and moved in. They didn’t do a thing about converting the house from apartrments, but they did fill most of the rooms in the house with antiques, except for the dining room. In the dining room they put in two La-Z-Boys, 2 ashtrays, and a big screen TV. Judging from the amount of nicotine on the walls in the dining room, this is the place they spent every waking moment.

Some of the other things they did were to paint everything in high-gloss green or peach paint, and cover the entire house with green, hi-low shag carpet. I saw it is as green, hi-low drop cloth. I had to strip a lot of wallpaper, remove some plywood “wall covering”, and a few rooms had sheetrock over the plaster, and it all had to go. After I would remove the offending materials from a room I would roll up the carpet and take it to the dump. In hind sight, I probably should have tried to sell the almost new carpet, but I wasn’t thinking at the time.

Anyway, the one area that still had carpet was the front stair well. I left it there for two reasons. First, it would help protect the stairs while I was hauling junk out of the attic and dismantling the now famous 2 story addition. I pulled a lot of the top floor of the addition into an upstairs bedroom and then carried it out the front door. Second, the ceiling is so high in the stairwell it was hard to get up there to strip the wallpaper. It is a little over 17-feet from the lower landing up to the ceiling. Well, today I stripped and ripped.

For reasons I won’t go into now, I’m kind of in a holding pattern with the exterior paint. I probably won’t start another section for a week and a half. I’m also pretty much done hauling large things up or down the front stairs. The last of those items were the 6 or 7 doors I hung in the kitchen and butler’s pantry over the last few months. So I have the time to take care of the wallpaper and the last of this carpet, so what the hell. Besides, the carpet on the stairs was seriously dirty. My vacuum cleaner died on my about 2 years ago and since this was the last of the carpet I never got it fixed or bought a new one. And another “besides”, I hate the carpet so much the thought of wasting even a minute of my time carry for it seemed ludicrous. Trust me, it was well past time for it to go.

The several layers of painted wallpaper came off pretty easy but getting up there was no easy task. I have a 16-foot articulated ladder (4, 4-foot sections that can be reconfigured) so that really helped. Still, there were a few awkward places that were almost impossible to reach. Once I get to the point of painting or wallpapering I’m probably going to have to build some temporary scaffolding in the stairs.

The original wallpaper that was presumably put up in 1895 is very nice. Like all the other wallpaper from 1895 that I’ve found in my house it looks nothing like the wallpaper you see in the Bradbury & Bradbury collection. The stuff in my house had much simpler designs and much less color that the B&B stuff. Here are some shots. The first picture is the pattern and the second shot is of the back side. You can see that the pattern is simply repeated in rows across the paper. Nothing too fancy but very elegant. At least I think so. The label on the paper says, “Howell & Brothers 1033 J”.

Someone, either another houseblogger or maybe someone over at The Old House Web, said that all the original papers done by Bradbury & Bradbury came out of their parents house, or something like that. That got me to thinking that while the B&B papers may be historically accurate Victorian wallpapers, they may or may not be the most common papers available at the time. I mean, if they all came out of one house it’s not really a good random sample of what was available. It is more a good sample of one persons taste in wallpaper. Of course, it’s also possible that the flashy, colorful patterns of the B&B papers were the norm and the Petch family just had less common tastes. All I know is, of the 4 or 5 1895 wallpapers I’ve found in my house none of them look anything like what I’ve seen come out of B&B.

The stairs themselves were, as you would imagine, not in the greatest of shape under the carpet. The two landings have linoleum on them in a stone pattern. It looks like someone at some point put down that inexpensive carpet that has the pad incorporated into the carpet back. They glued it down with a yellow adhesive and it covers most of the linoleum. I’m not sure how old the linoleum is but I would guess it’s from the 1920s. Later some non-slip tread covers were glued down before the carpet. I pulled those off and you can get a good look at the linoleum where they were. There is a sort of cartouche of a mid-evil looking horse incorporated in to the "stonework" linoleum. Here’s a shot of it. If anyone has any ideas of age, I’d be interested to hear.

I’m not sure what’s under the linoleum yet. For the most part the stairs treads are not in horrible shape. There is a lot of the yellow adhesive, but that seems to come off easily with a heat gun. They are also painted brown, but it is one thin coat and that too seems to come off with a heat gun pretty easily. The worst part is on two of the treads on the upper flight. Some idiot – and I do mean "idiot" in the strongest sense of the word – tried to use a chisel to get off the yellow adhesive. I’m willing to bet this was done when the green hi-low was put down just 5 or 6 years ago. There was probably a build-up of the adhesive and they didn’t want lumps so they chiseled away at the wood. They only did this to one side of two treads. Did I mention this person was an idiot. If I didn’t want to say it again – HE WAS AN IDIOT!!!

It’s not the end of the world. Worst case scenario I can replace the treads. The plan is to eventually have a runner down the stairs so only the outside 6-inches or so will show. A lot of it can be sanded away. Still, you just have to wonder what is going through someone’s mind when that take a chisel to big, beautiful, bull-nosed redwood stair treads. It boggles the mind. Fortunately it seems he was about as lazy as he was stupid because he stopped after what looks like 10 minutes of very destructive work.

So this will be the project for the next week or so. I’m first going to spend some quality time with my good, close personal friend The Heat Gun. I’ll try and get all the yellow adhesive and brown paint off. After that I’ll peek under the linoleum. There is quarter-round trim and a few tacks keeping it in place. Maybe there’s even more adhesive under there. It should be fun

Friday, May 12, 2006

Covering Up The Past

When I first looked at the house with the realtor 4 years ago this month the place was a dump. I mean really a dump. There was literally a big pile of garbage in the backyard and a half dozen old stoves, washers, and dryers piled up in the side yard. There were several broken windows and others had plywood nailed up on them. From the outside there were few indications that the house was at one time a grand old home.

Even though the inside was in bad shape it was easy to see the elegance that was once there. The grand staircase, the great mantles, and all the high Victorian millwork that was mostly covered in paint. From the outside though, you would never have guessed this was once a great home. There were a few indications for the trained eye to see. The 3 stained glass windows were not something that would have been put on your basic, run of the mill home, especially the big front window. Then of course the over all shape and size of the home screamed Queen Anne but you couldn’t tell anymore after they Eisenhowered the house.

The last indication could be seen on the side attic gable. If you leaned back against the fence and craned your neck back you could see that a small section of one of the asbestos shingles had broken away to reveal a few fish scale shingles. You could see one whole shingle and a few partials. The owner was walking around the exterior with myself and the realtor and when I pointed them out he said, “Hey look, it’s those curly Q shingles. I wonder what they’re doing under there?”. I kind of shrugged my shoulders and didn’t say anything. Inside I was thinking, “Holy crap! This guy has no idea what’s under the asbestos siding. Just keep your mouth shut or maybe he’ll use it as an excuse to try and raise my offer during negotiations.”

It never came up again. After the close of escrow all I could think about was what could be under the rest of that asbestos siding. I knew enough about Queen Annes and local architecture to know that if the fish scales where on the attic gables there was most likely some other type of shingle on the second story. It could be staggered squares, notched squares, diamonds, octagons, tear drops, or it could even assortment of different styles. It was eating away at me to get that hideous asbestos siding off. First, though, I had to get the apartments rented. I don’t think my mortgage company would have the same enthusiasm as me and understand if I was late on my payment because I had taken off the asbestos siding instead of renting the apartments.

The rest is history. I spent 3 or 4 months fixing up the two apartments over the garage and as soon as those where rented I started ripping off the asbestos siding. I took 5,300 pounds of asbestos siding off the house. It was a spectacle as a revealed this spectacular house to the neighborhood. Crowds gathered out front. People honk at me driving by as I was on the ladder taking them down. Most people were stunned by what was underneath. There were a few weeks when I was working on the front facade where it was hard to get work done because so many people wanted to stop and talk or ask questions.

The previous owners had painted the asbestos siding green and the trim to match. When they did that those few fish scale shingles where the asbestos shingle had broken off were painted green. The original wood shingles were brown so the house has been this weird brown color with green trim. I’m not sure if anybody notices that those few fish scale shingles are green while everything else is brown, but to me they’ve stuck out like a sore thumb for more than 3 years now. You can see them in the picture below just to the left of the window. Those are the “Curly Q” shingles that started it all.

And now I’m finally painting. I’m amazed I didn’t do it sooner but other pressing issues took center stage. The electrical and plumbing in the house was shot and that needed to be taken care of. But I’m finally painting and it really feels good. Today I painted over those few fish scale shingles that peeked out from behind the asbestos siding. I’ve covered over one more indication of this great house’s torrid past. It’s like a long term rehabilitation. It’s a long process and there are those little things that may seem like an insignificant thing to many, but in reality they are a milestone to those that go through the whole process start to finish. Now I just have to paint the rest of the house.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Petch House Green

I played Mad Scientist today and mixed up a new color for the house. As you may or may not remember I had purchased 5 gallons of Livable Green from Sherwin Williams only to discover that I couldn’t live with it in any capacity other than highlights for the gingerbread. Five gallons is enough to highlight every stick of gingerbread in the county.

I first tried to use it as a base coat under the Clary Sage but I wasn’t happy with the results. The second coat should cover all imperfections in the first coat. When I looked closely at the Livable Green/Clary Sage combo it was apparent that both coats were of two similar but very different colors. It’s not something you would notice from the sidewalk, but it would bug me. There was no way I was going to paint the whole house like that. So what to do with all the Livable Green. At around $35 a gallon that is close to $140 worth of paint.

After seeking the counsel of friends, family, neighbors, and strangers on the street I decided to try and change it to a different green and use it on the gables. The big problem all along with the Livable Green was that it was just too light. When up against the other greens it looked more like primer than green paint. It just didn’t fit the color scheme.

So I went back to SW and bought an empty 1 gallon paint can and a paint mixing attachment for the drill. I first poured off 1 gallon of pure, unadulterated Livable Green that I will use on the remaining gingerbread on the house. One gallon is enough to do the whole house 5 times. I then set out changing the color.

If you’ve ever seen the machine that adds pigments to paint at the store you know that it takes very little pigment to color paint. I knew that this would be a different experience because that is pure pigment they are adding. It is very concentrated. Still, I needed to be careful. I got a piece of cardboard and laid out several “swatches” of Livable Green. I would use these so I could do numerous side-by-side comparisons to the new color as it progressed.

I used the Basil (first floor siding color) as the pigment. I started by adding maybe a quarter of a cup and mixing well. No change. I added a half cup and mixed. No change. I added a cup or more and mixed. I started to see a subtle change but it still wasn’t enough. I probably added my basil “pigment” 2 or 3 more times more until I came up with a color I was satisfied with. I wanted something darker than the Livable Green, but not as dark as Clary Sage. Here’s what I ended up with.

From top to bottom that is Livable Green, Petch House Green, Basil, and Clary Sage.

I have about 3 gallons of new The Petch House Green and it will be solely for the fish scale shingles on the gables. I primed the first gable today and it took about a pint to cover the shingles. Three gallons will be more than enough to put several coats on all three gables and have left over for touch-ups should I need it. The real test will come tomorrow when I actually put the paint on the shingles.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I Washed Brushes!!

Wooo-Hooo! Washing brushes is a sure indication that I’ve finished painting this section. I am fired up to do the rest of the house, but it will most definitely be in smaller chunks. This one section took me 3 weeks to do. The rest of the house has been broken down in to 8 sections with each one taking me from 1 to 3 weeks, depending on the size and complexity.

There will be a few detour projects along the way, but the road has been mapped. The goal is to have the whole house painted by October. I should make a map of the house with the different sections marked off. Everyone can print it out and get a little bobble-head Petch on a suction cup and track the progress at home. Wouldn’t that be fun?

Yesterday I said, “Screw it” and I went ahead and did the frieze and soffit with the ladder. It was a white-knuckle adventure, let me tell you. I had to extend the 32-foot ladder allllll the way up to reach those lofty heights. The ladder gets very bendy when it’s extended like that. The whole thing flexes noticeably with every move. To complicate matters, to avoid moving the ladder so much, I was painting 3 colors at a time. The frieze background, soffit, and fascia are all Basil. The frieze scroll work is Clary Sage. And the crown molding is Fired Brick.

I was able to reach about a 6-foot section at a time without moving the ladder, and it took a minimum of 3 trips up and down the ladder for each section. One trip for each color. Also, because all the paint was wet I had to carefully cut in each color with out disturbing the color I had just laid down. Very time consuming. It took me about 4-hours to do that part of the house.

I had thought about getting a boom lift or scissor lift for this but there are problems (aren’t there always). Because of the trees, power lines, and other obstacles I can’t get a boom lift to this area without renting a monster boom lift. The really huge ones are hundreds and hundreds of dollars a day and I would have to put it in my neighbors yard. Not going to happen. An all terrain scissor lift would work here but I can’t use it on the north side of the house because of a nasty slope in the yard. I could maybe shim it with wood, but I just wouldn’t feel comfortable being 25-feet up in the air like that.

The solution was to do this area with the ladder and do the rest of the frieze and soffit with the boom lift. I’m going to reserve it for May 23rd (I think). There is a small one I can get for $160 for a 24 hour rental, and I can tow it home myself. I’ll just spend one day going all around the house doing the frieze and soffit. At the same time I will also strip the fish scale shingles on the attic gables and maybe get them primed if there is time.

As a test I’m trying to paint on of the gables by hanging out the little window. I stripped one down to bare wood today, and tomorrow I will make a few minor repairs and then primer. I can reach pretty much everything from the window. The front gable is bigger, though, so it will be more of a challenge. I may spend some time on it over the next week or so to see how much I can get without the boom lift. Also tomorrow, I mix paint.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Formulaic Painting

I’ve been troubled over what to do with the gables. The main thing I want to avoid is painting them twice. They are just too damn high. I’ve already painted the second story siding and the first story trim twice because of color changes. Both of these changes were due to the Livable Green being too light. Do I make a third try with the Livable Green on the attic gables? If it doesn’t look right this time I doubt I will want to climb up there and repaint them. No, this is a one time shot. I’m not doing the gables over.

I would like to thank my two dear, sweet friends Anonymous and Anonymous for suggestions for the gables. However, I think I may have come up with a solution that will solve 2 problems. The first problem is, of course, what to do with 4 gallons of Livable Green. If I restrict it to the sunbursts and bay window brackets I can maybe see going through a gallon at most. Not good enough. The second problem is –as has been mentioned several times now – what color do I paint the gables.

I could go with the Clary Sage. Clary Sage has a proven track record of being a suitable color. That doesn’t solve the Livable Green problem though. Also, am I wasting an opportunity here if I go with the Clary Sage on the attic gables. The attic gables have different style of siding from the first and second floors, and they are a different aspect of the house. Should they not be set-off with a color of their own? Then today it came to me. It was another problem tackled by my subconscious.

I can blend the Livable Green with the Clary Sage to darken it just a hair. I can start out with small batches and test it before I commit to the gables. Once I have the formula down I can make as much or as little as I need. This will achieve many goals. First, it will use up the Livable Green. Second, the gables will be a different color. Third, and most importantly, I can get the color right before I climb up there and paint. Once again the subconscious mind has shown me the light.

Monday, May 08, 2006

A Little Q & A

And in this case, very little. I have but one question: What to do with the attic gables? What color do I paint them?

There’s the Q, are there any As out there?

And no Deb, I’m not painting them black ;-)

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Old Switch-A-Roo

I don’t always know what I like or want. And sometimes when I don’t like something, it’s not always immediately apparent to me that I don’t like it. I mean, if I really like something or I really don’t like something, then I know it right off. It’s those gray areas that are hard, when I sort of like something but not really. Those are the hard ones to figure out.

There is a tipping point where I can sometimes tolerate something, and sometimes I can’t. The closer to the middle, the less sure I can say which way I will go. It’s at these times that I have to distance myself from what ever it is that I’m not sure about, and not really think about it. This thing that I’m not sure about moves to the subconscious and the decision is made in another part of the brain that I’m not aware of. This is what happened with the trim color. I liked it, but something wasn’t quite right. My brain knew it, but it wasn’t immediately apparent to me.

The Livable Green Trim Color is too light for the trim. It seems it’s too light for just about anything but highlights. I repainted all the trim today using the Clary Sage. So now I have the same exact two colors on both floors except they are reversed. On the first floor one is body and the trim is the other, and it’s just the opposite on the second floor. It seems I’m having trouble living with the Livable Green. So now the question is, what to do with 4 gallons of Livable Green.

I’m considering trying it on the attic gables. This may work. Next I’m going to paint the skirting and the thought was to do a darker green on the skirting than on the first floor body. So if I did the attic gables with the Livable Green there would be a steady progression of darker shades of green as you move up the house. All of the sunbursts would stay the Livable Green to tie it altogether. It could work.

Dark, dark skirting
Dark first floor body
Lighter second floor body
Very light attic gables

Here’s where I stand now. Again, I'm not sure how well the contrast shows up, but to me it makes a world of difference.



Saturday, May 06, 2006

Trim Paint: Second Look

Painting trim is painstaking work. You only put on a few tablespoons of paint put it seems to take forever. I now have one coat on everything but the skirting. Tomorrow I hope to get a second coat on the trim I painted today. After that I have the skirting, door, and screen door. There is also the frieze and soffit way, way, way up at the top of the house, but I’ll discuss that another day.

I decided to keep the red on the sashes. After I got the rest of the casing and jambs painted I decided it didn’t look too bad. Also, the second story window sashes are in such bad shape I can’t see any point in putting more paint on them. These windows are by far the worst in the house. They have been beat by a southern sun for 111 years. The window sills on those two second story windows are the only ones that are not original to the house. When I bought the place they had already been replaced with two chunks of pressure treated wood (Ugly!). I replaced them again with redwood when I restored all the window sills 2 years ago with the crown molding.

Here’s a couple of close-ups. Most of the trim only has one coat of paint on it so it should look a little better tomorrow after a second coat. I painted the water table and the crown molding just under the flare with SW Fired Brick in satin latex. There is still a lot of work to be done. The goal is to be finished by Wednesday. That will be 3 weeks exactly for this section.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Trim Color: First Look

I finished putting 2 coats on the siding of the bay window bump-out and started in on the trim. I had talked about using the Livable Green as a trim color because I now had 4 gallons laying around due to the color change of the second story. The problem with that is that I think it is too light for the second story. I want the windows to really stand out.

Then yesterday before I even started doing trim my neighbor asked me, “So are you going to do light green trim on the bottom and dark green trim on the top?”. Ding! The light bulb went on over my head. I turned to him and said, “Hey, that’s exactly was I was thinking about doing”. It’s a good idea even if it isn’t mine. I’m sure it would have come to me even if he didn’t say it so there’s no point in me telling anybody outside of Blogdom that it wasn’t my intention all along. That is, of course, unless it comes out looking bad, then I can blame it on the idiot neighbor.

Here are some shots. The contrast between the Livable Green and the Clary Sage still doesn’t show up as well in the photos as it does in real life. At least not to me. I must admit there was a lot of trepidation about this color scheme but the more it progresses the more I like it.

The original plan was to leave the sashes red but now I’m not sure I like it. I’m thinking about doing the sashes with the Clary Sage to give it a little contrast over the Livable Green window casing. I will keep the red on the crown molding between the first and second story, the water table, and crown molding just below the soffit. I’m also thinking about a very dark green for the skirting. That will make 5 colors which is enough. I thought briefly about doing something else with the window sashes but I’m hesitant to introduce any more color. You know how Google has their corperate slogan, “Don’t Be Evil”. Well, my slogan for the house is, “Don’t Be Offensive”. It is easy to get carried away with color when you have so may different surfaces to paint.

To sum up the trim color scheme, here is a close-up of the corner. You pretty much get all the elements in this one shot. You will notice I’m missing one of those big corner brackets. This is the corner where the addition was and it was removed when they attached the addition to the house. I had to re-shingle that whole corner there, and most of what you see in the picture to the left of the corner was redone as well after the addition came down. I had to cut and nail almost 800 octagon shingles.

So the plan is this: The window casing on the first story is Livable Green (in the picture it has one coat on it). The window sash and the corner bracket will be Clary Sage. The sunburst on the corner bracket will have a dark green background (already painted) and the burst itself will be the livable green. All of the other sunburst, both upstairs and down stairs will be the same Livable Green with a dark green background. The second story window casing and sashes will be dark green. The dark green I’m referring to will be the same green on the first floor siding. And finally, I want to paint the repeating floral carvings around the top of the house Livable Green as well.

The big problem with this plan is that because I hadn’t intended on painting the sashes I didn’t do any prep on them. A lot of the sashes need help, especially the second story ones, so I will probably just paint them as is and then repaint them when I over-hall the windows and some time in the distant future.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Presto Changeo

I went ahead and bought new paint and repainted the second story. It’s not a big change, but to me it makes all the difference in the world. The new colors is called Clary Sage and it is 2 shades darker than the original Livable Green.

Anyway, I’m not sure how well this shows up in the pictures, but here are the shots from yesterday with the Livable Green, and today with the Clary Sage.

Livable Green

Clary Sage

Livable Green

Clary Sage

I now have 2 coats on both the first and second floor so tomorrow I can move on to the bay window bump out. After that I can start to do trim. Originally I was going to do the trim in an even darker green but now I’m thinking I may use the Livable Green as the trim color. It would be better to do all the shingles in two coats of the same color. That is, two coats of the Clary Sage. I had thought about trying to use up all the Livable Green by using it as a first coat under the Clary Sage but I would get better results with two coats of the same color. I think by Friday I may be ready for trim so I will try out the Livable Green and see how it looks.

When I was at the paint store today something really strange happened. You know how when you’re choosing a color there are hundreds, if not thousands to chose from. I was at Sherwin Williams standing in front of the Great Wall Of Paint Chips today trying to come up with a darker color. I didn’t want to have to go through this again so I really gave it some thought and mulled over several different colors. As you know, I ended up with the Clary Sage.

I took the pant chip up to the counter and ordered a gallon of Exterior, Satin latex Super Paint in Clary Sage. The guy went to the back and started to make it and I heard a sort of confusing conversation between him and a woman. The woman was the other sales clerk on duty. Here is what I heard.

Man: How did you know he wanted Clary Sage

Woman: What are you talking about

Man: Isn’t that my Clary Sage

Woman: No this is my Clary Sage

The woman then comes out with 2 gallons of paint, one of which is Clary Sage, and neither of which are mine. She tells me that her and her husband are painting their house with Clary Sage. She asks me if I’m using it for the body or trim and I tell her the story of how I started with Livable Green and I switched to Clary Sage. She gets this kind of stunned look on her face and shows me the other gallon of paint she has. It’s Livable Green. She is painting her house Clary Sage and Livable Green. We both just kind of stood there going, “Wow, that is really strange.” In another mildly strange twist, I asked where she lived and it turns how her house is right next to where I used to work a few years ago. I know what house she lives in. It was all very odd.

Finally, my cat Mortimer has taken to doing impressions of things. He sees something and then tries to copy it. Here is Mort’s impression of a brick. Can you guess which one is Mort.

Be The Brick Mort