Joe Hall, owner DJK Painting Co., and his crew took over painting my house on August 6th. September 6 she was complete. They lost 7 days to rain, so in just 15 weekdays, two Saturdays, and one Sunday, the wrap up day, my house was transformed from an ugly duckling that had been cited by the City of Cincinnati for peeling paint on the windows (they didn’t care about the patch work look of the asbestos tile) to arguably the most beautiful house in Camp Washington. Elation seems like such a small word to describe how I feel right now. I’ve been waiting almost three years to see these colors (Sherwin Williams Sea Serpent and Incredible White) on my house. She’s beautiful. I can’t thank Joe, Vincent, and Elijah enough for bringing my vision to life.
My family has told me that my post are getting to “wordy/long”, so I’ll let the pictures from their final week speak for themselves.
I got a new back door light fixture because I’m going to put a screen door up and the original one, which matched the front door fixtures, hung too low. Here are some before and after shots.
Now she needs her accessories and this restoration will be a wrap!
Joe and Vincent were wrapping up the Stock Street side when a young man stopped Joe to inquire about working. Elijah had well groomed locs, his pants were belted at his waistline, he spoke articulately. The next week he was part of the crew painting my house. His first task on my house was touching up the Stock Street side. Great job. He and Vincent really seemed to hit it off, working well together.
In week one, rain was forecast everyday. They loss one day to rain. In week two the forecast was sunshine, low humidity, high 70s, no rain. Perfect summer painting weather. They lost two days to rain, but the bigger blow was an injury to Vincent that will prevent him from continuing to work on the project. Elijah now has big shoes to fill and from what I’ve seen so far he is up to the task. I’ve learned that Elijah is a graduate of Job Corp and he had joined a painter’s union. He’s like a sponge. He wants to learn and he is humble. He has great basic skills and a strong work ethic grounded in wanting to be a high achiever. The young man already has his LLC, a company name and logo as at 23 years of age his aspiration is to own his own paint company. I have no doubt he’ll meet his goal. We need more young people like Elijah to support, promote, and elevate.
The order of what was going to be painted has changed. Since my last post all sides of my house have been touched. The back of my house gets full sun early and it last well past quitting time, so the guys have been tackling the back and neighbor’s side together. If not for Vincent going down and the rain they would probably be finished with the entire house this week. The dormers really slow things down as Joe does not rely on my gutters to support his equipment. It’s a two-man job with one painting (Elijah) and the other bracing the ladders (Joe). They’ve started arriving earlier to capitalize on the shade as the asphalt shingles really put off heat, which I can testify to when I replaced the siding on the dormers.
The rear dormers are 100% complete. Only the Incredible White on the lower part of the rear needs to completed. The neighbor’s side is 98% complete. There is a small patch at the front gutter and dining room window that needs the Sea Serpent, but it will be easy to hit when they apply the Sea Serpent to the front. The front is 80% primed. I actually joined in on the painting by refreshing the basement/foundation color. Stock Street side looks even better now.
Rain came Thursday as forecast, so the day was cut short. Thanks to hurricane Laura it looks like Friday and Saturday are going to be a wash out too. As they were leaving Joe yelled if weather permits they may work Sunday. Barring more rain the house should be complete by mid next week. I’ve visualized these colors on my house since 2017 when I tried to win the HGTV Urban Oasis Giveaway House from that year. I had my color scheme before I had my house, but I found the perfect house to apply them to. My house’s outward potential is manifesting before my eyes; another vision coming true.
A few times I referenced “drywall deja vu” with my first painter. What made it easier for me to pull the plug was learning from the mistake I made by allowing Roland Hardwood to continue restoring my hardwood floors when I had clear signs that the end result would not be right. I was under the gun. I had a buyer for my house that wanted a three week close. Once I got Roland confirmed from their projected start and finish date I would have approximately a week before I would be moving in. Delivery of my kitchen cabinets and appliances were set assuming the floors would be complete. After sanding the kitchen floors it was obvious the original flooring needed to be replaced, it was too far gone. Roland had five days slated for my project and they were unwilling to extend their time to do what was needed to do to make the floors right. I’ve only lived in my house two years and yet my first floor pine floors look like I’ve lived here two decades.
Thanks to old pine flooring given to me by a Camp Board Member, Lacey, I finally decided to make the floors right, With the outside transforming so beautifully, I could no longer stand the sight of my kitchen floors. While I thought about tackling this myself, I knew this was not a skill set in my wheelhouse so I called Sosa Hardwood Flooring, a company referred to me by a son of a longtime friend. He said he’d stake his life on the quality of their work. That was a good enough reference for me.
Sergio Sosa is so busy that it took three weeks to get on his calendar. When he came to give me a quote I showed him the wood and all my equipment, table and miter saw, router and router table. I said he was free to use all of it, which would save him from hauling his own. To prepare I had to move everything out of the guest room, office and kitchen that was movable, so stove, dish washer, and frig. I had to remove all the shoe moulding. I also hung plastic to block off dining room from kitchen and zipper doors leading to my master and living room to minimize the dust that would be created.
Sergio and his crew man, Martin, took two days to rip out the rotten floor and replace it with Lacey’s boards. Her boards were wider than mine, so he not only had to rip them down to the right width, but router in a new groove. They also had to shore up under the kitchen counters. As a suspected, which is why this fix should have been done before the counters were set, they landed just shy of a supporting floor joist. Cutting the flooring flush to the cabinet would mean they weren’t supported. Fortunately I had plenty of 2×4 scrapes for him to work with.
The grain of Lacey’s boards weren’t as tight as my original, but I knew instantly that once sanded I would finally have the kitchen floors I expected. Wednesday they did all the sanding and filling where needed. In the office it was discovered that one area replaced by Roland Flooring was done without hitting the joist. Sergio had to go in the basement and shore it up otherwise the entire board could snap if something heavy hit at that location. Roland had also encouraged me to stain the pine floors. The oak floors in the dining and living rooms had to be stained as the new oak that they installed would never match the original. I decided to stain both sides the same. Once the stain was applied to the pine I knew I had made the wrong decision. That was corrected by Sergio’s sanding.
Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings they applied the protective poly coating. Roland only applied two coats because they considered the stain the first coat. I got to enjoy a nice staycation at the brand new Lytle Park Hotel, a $35 million re-development of the former Anna Louise Inn, since I lost access to my master suite and 1st floor bathroom. What a gorgeous property. It is now my new favorite hotel in downtown Cincinnati.
I can’t get over how great my floors are now. This is what I had envisioned when I made the decision to let these pine floors be my flooring versus covering or replacing. All the shoe moulding has been returned and I’ve even installed the moulding on the kitchen back wall and pantry, which I had left off intentionally until I got this mistake corrected.
On multiple searches for the best oil to apply to bead board porches Penofin Penetrating Oil came up, so I went to their website to do further research. I watched their video on how to apply and it focused on deck application. Just to be sure it could be applied to ceilings I emailed their customer service. This is a great tip for DIYers; don’t be afraid to reach out directly to the company whose product you want to use. I have rarely had a negative exchange when doing so.
Kaylee Simii, Penofin Customer Service Manager, replied within a day with detailed instructions for utilizing their Ultra Premium Red Label product. She shared it offered 99% UV protection with mold, mildew and algae inhibitors and it is the same application process as seen in the videos. The preparation and application is a three step process and I must admit I wasn’t thrilled. I went to Amazon first for the product and no one carried small sizes, so I was looking at $150 in products. Their website offered a product locator section, so by typing in my zip code I discovered that Doppes Building Material, less than 5 miles from my house, carried the product. Fortunately they carried quart sizes in the step 2 and 3 products she recommended and they were only $16 each. The actual oil only comes in gallon cans, but I’ll still be well under $100 so I decided to move forward with their product.
The first item in her instructions was: pressure washing is not recommended. Well that ship sailed as I had to do that to get the Peel A-Way product off. Oh well, forge on. Item 2: Penofin Pro-Tech Step 2 Cleaner. Mix 1 cup of Penofin Pro-Tech Step 2 Cleaner to 1 gallon of water in a garden pump sprayer. Prior to applying the Penofin Pro-Tech Step 2 Cleaner solution, sufficiently wet down the surface area with a garden hose. Now you will mist the surface with the Penofin Pro-Tech Step 2 Cleaner. The solution needs to sit on the surface for 10-15 minutes without drying, so you may need to mist with the solution occasionally to prevent the solution from drying on the surface. After the solution has sat on the surface for 10-15 minutes you will lightly agitate the surface area with a push broom or soft bristle brush. Finally, you will rinse the surface area with a garden hose. This is their video on applying the product.
Item 3 from her email stated: Penofin Pro-Tech Step 3 Brightener. Be sure to cover/protect metal surfaces. Mix 1 cup of Penofin Pro-Tech Step 3 Brightener to 1 gallon of water in a garden pump sprayer. Prior to applying the Penofin Pro-Tech Step 3 Brightener solution, sufficiently wet down the surface area with a garden hose. Now you will mist the surface with the Penofin Pro-Tech Step 3 Brightener. The solution needs to sit on the surface for 20-25 minutes without drying, so you may need to mist with the solution occasionally to prevent the solution from drying on the surface. After the solution has sat on the surface for 20-25 minutes you simply rinse off with a garden hose. This is their video on applying the product.
Amazing results and very easy to execute. I plan to build a deck off the back of my house and thanks to Covid-19 I won’t be able to justify the cost of composite wood for it (bummer), so it’s nice to know I’ve found a product that will make maintaining a wood deck feasible. Item 4 in her email said to allow wood surface to dry for 24-48 hours before application of the Penofin penetrating oil finish.
I waited 48 hours before applying the oil. The hardest decision for me was deciding which color to apply. The cleaning and brightening steps really lightened the wood. Fortunately Doppes offered sample tubes of the stains, so I got Cedar, Redwood, and Western Red Cedar samples and applied them to the house. I found a lumber mill in Indiana that sold to order specification Eastern Red Cedar, which I planned for my pergola. My thought was to find a stain that would hopefully match the cedar. Given I’ve never seen Eastern Red Cedar I was working from photos of the wood, which I new would change colors as it aged. I didn’t like any of those options, that I applied to an area that would be painted Incredible White, so I emailed the color chart to my father who thought Bark or Mission Brown would be the best options. I went back to Doppes and retrieved those samples and decided to go with Mission Brown. As luck would have it they did not have the Red Label or Blue Label (99% and 90% UV protection respectively) in that color in stock. They could order, but I wouldn’t have until next week. This was my weekend to finish this project, so I brought home samples of the colors they had, Sable, Sierra, Hickory, and Clear. Mission Brown was my color. The next closes business that sold the product was over an hour away in Georgetown, KY.
Someone else had ordered 4 gallons of Penofin Transparent Penetrating Oil Finish Stain & Sealer in Mission Brown, but had not picked it up. Doppes was willing to sell me a gallon of that, so I went home and looked up that product on Internet and decided to go for it. That area will never see sun, so I didn’t think the high UV value was relevant and I thought the added benefit of the sealer would be, but lets face it…..the color was right. Kaylee had sent steps for applying the Red Label, but I followed the instructions on the can instead. This product called for two thin coats, so I taped off under the moulding being stained and went to work. It applied darker on the bead board than in my sample patch, but it was still the right color. What the first coat revealed were areas where I still had paint in the grooves, so instead of resting in the hour between coats I pulled out my scraper and pick and removed more paint. It chipped out easily, thankfully, in most areas. I didn’t get it all, but enough.
The second coat went on like the breeze that started blowing as it looked as though a pop up shower was headed my way. It never did, but I enjoyed the drop in temp. I applied the product to my door step also, which allowed me finally install the metal strip that had come with the door. My door installer told me to wait until I painted to put it in. My porch is absolutely beautiful. The ceiling now ties in with my brown stained doors that will greet you as soon as you enter. It even ties well with my light fixtures, mailbox, and door hardware. One would think I was a born designer, lol. I did manage to get stain on my concrete. The gray areas don’t concern me as that will be painted, but I hope I can get it off the red areas or at least lighten it greatly.
This project is the lemonade that came from the lemons of selecting the wrong painter. I’m thrilled with the final results, so much so that I am no longer going to use Eastern Red Cedar for my pergola. I found a lumber mill, Wilhelm Lumber, only 30 minutes away that also cuts to order. I spoke to them and they are recommending Poplar or White Oak as they furnish it to some of the top landscape designers in the city specifically for pergola projects. Poplar will be far cheaper and it should stain similar to the ceiling providing more of a cohesive look.
After getting all the crown moulding on the front cleared of paint and ready for Joe and crew, I finally turned my focus on the porch ceiling bead board. Thanks to working on other projects for Mike Tanner, Joe is very familiar with painting my type of columns, so it is very important for me to get this project done before he starts working on the front of the house. His plan is to paint fully the Stock Street side, followed by my neighbor’s side. These areas call for his tallest ladders and will be the most difficult to paint. If I’m finished with my project he’ll paint the front next, saving the rear for last.
I had received the sample pints from Alan Bensen, National Account Sales Manager Dumond Chemicals, Inc., but I started with what I had left from the crown moulding. Alan sent me an email with reminder tips from our phone call. Somehow I forgot reminder one and paid the price for it.
Apply Peel Away 1 like you are icing a birthday cake, and you like icing! 😊
Don’t let it sit too long or else it may dry out (24 hours max). It may even work overnight (apply at 5-6pm at night), remove before noon the next day….it’s trial and error.
When removing, use water, nylon scrub brush, and/or scotch- bright pad to remove. Don’t be afraid to use the garden hose! Water and elbow grease working together does the trick.
When this product dries out on your surface it does not scrub off. I had to use my pressure washer and unfortunately in spots I furred up the soft pine boards. On the phone he had told me, based on the pictures I sent that the product wouldn’t need to sit for more than a couple of hours. It was drying so fast that for the third section I only let it sit for an hour. Applying it liberally is truly the key. The paint that was in the groves, especially around the edges was my primary concern. The re-treatment with the Peel A-Way did nothing around the edges; about 60% came out of the grooves thanks to the pressure washer. The very thing I was trying to avoid, using my heat gun with a metal pick, is exactly what I ended up doing. The white along the edges I think was caulk and not paint because it was really gummy once hit with the heat gun. I burned the wood in some places. That didn’t concern me much as once I discovered I had furred up the wood in some areas I knew I’d need to sand the surface. The burns weren’t deep, so most would go away with the sanding. I started with 80 grit, followed by 120. I may go a step further before applying the oil.
I did the ceiling in three sections over the course of two days. My arms were so tired, as all the work was above my head with extended arms. I still love Peel A-Way and would highly recommend it, but given how much manual removal I ended up doing I could have eliminated the need to use the pressure washer and sanding if I had just started with my heat gun and pick.
Amazing what the right product and elbow grease can accomplish. After doing some Internet searching I have decided to use Penofin Ultra Premium Red Label Pentrating Oil. I’ll let the Peel A-Way neutralizing agent set for a day before starting the Penofin prep processes. If all goes well I should be finished with my outdoor projects by the end of the weekend.
Lyle brought in a carpenter, Jay, to reinstall the crown he removed from the dormers. That poor man started at 8 am and toiled in the heat of my roof for 8 hours and was only able to get two and a half of the four dormers restored. He actually tore a hole in the seat of his pants, most likely due to the extreme heat and sliding on the asphalt shingles, while doing the work. Why did it take that long to install 10 pieces of moulding? He had to carry all 16 pieces to the roof and measure each location to find out which piece went where. He had a jigsaw puzzle on his hands. This all could have been avoided if Lyle had just taken the time to keep the pieces of each dormer together.
He planned to finish the following day, but I commandeered him to help me with replacing the crown moulding on the rear of the house. I had done all the prep work, taking down old, clearling debris that was in the crevice, and removing top row of siding the day before as I had Tom all lined up to help.
Unfortunately Tom wasn’t feeling well and his radar called for rain all day, so he wanted to wait for another day. When the skies cleared, around noon, I called Jay to see if he could help as I really didn’t want to put it off another day. Like with Tom, I was able to learn some things by working with Jay. The 16′ length boards prevented him from being able to work by himself. We started with the right side and the first task was sticking a 5″ wide strip of R20 insulation in the open crevice. When I took the moulding down I could feel the air conditioning from inside the house. We worked four hours and we were on course to finish the entire project that day until Jay, unfortunately cut the last board short by about 2″. I had to go to Hyde Park Lumber the next morning and buy another 8′ board. Jay left, but I kept working to install the top row of siding tiles. The next day was my Big Chop day, so I didn’t work at all. Jay returned in the morning as promised and finished the project, which included finishing the last 8′ of siding and caulking. Unfortunately that took him 6 hours and the heat of the day had been reached, so he did not return to the roof to finish installing the dormer crown.
Jay is working with another painter that is known for restoring the grand houses in Northside, so he didn’t return for a few days to finish the dormers. I think he thought and I know I thought he’d make quick work of it since he only had the four pieces on the right front and the two front pieces of the rear large dormer. Think again. I don’t know what elaborate ladder system Lyle had rigged to get the pieces down, but it wasn’t in place for Jay to put the pieces back up. The left side was accessible with an extension ladder, but the rear portico didn’t allow ladder access to the right. He could reach the lower portions of each piece from the roof, but could not reach the peaks at the top. I wish a third person was around to take pictures. I ended up using my workout bench and a stick while leaning out the top portion of the window to push up on the piece of crown while Jay laid on the very top and used his battery powered nail gun to attach the board. He got everything back in place and even caulked, but as with the scaffolding collapse I feel Lyle dodged another preventable bullet. I’m growing increasingly weary of this situation.
It was love at first site for me and my house. I paid no attention to how the dormer windows looked from the outside. I didn’t find it odd that the break between the two window sashes fell just inches beneath the solid structure that filled the top of the window. During demo the rear large dormer window fell out and it revealed that the solid piece at the top was just a sheet of tin someone had cut in the shape of the curved opening and painted. It was done to conceal the square window behind it. Clearly the original dormer windows were curved per the moulding on the outside. But why was the moulding on the inside, which was clearly old wood, squared?
One explanation I was given by a window company is that the house probably had a fire in the upstairs (true, probably multiple in its life) that did not impact the outside structure; only the inside. To repair they built walls in front of the damage, which included altering the inside framing from curved windows to square. The house had square aluminum windows throughout when I bought. When it was time to replace the windows I was told if I wanted curved windows the cost of the four dormer windows alone would be more the the remaining 20 windows in the house. I would need to re-frame the inside to accommodate the curve also, which meant losing all the original trim and buying new. This was so early in the project that I conceded and went forward with square vinyl windows throughout knowing that I’d need to come up with something to hide the horrible look on the outside.
My first thought was to find a better version of the tin that was installed previously. The depth of that piece covered almost half of the window, which meant I was loosing almost half of the light that came through. I hoped I could find something narrower, so I just started typing random descriptors into Google and I stumbled across window pediments. These were meant to be installed above the window, but maybe I could transfer the application.
Further searching led me to the site of Architectural Depot (AD) and a subsequent conversation with one of their sales people. Before I go further I must state that I am a one and done customer of this company. They are just a reseller of other people’s product, which they mark up heavily.
I explained to the sales person the situation and he had me send him pictures. He understood what I was looking for, I’d need to get a custom piece. He also had a better suggestion, creating a frame around the entire window. He had me give him several measurements and after a couple of days sent me this drawing. I understood the concept he was going for and thought this could work although it seemed to narrow which I shared with him. I retook the measurements several times before going through with the order. Each time 3″ was adequate. I started this process with them in 2018. Since the loan from Fifth Third Bank and Guardian did not come through, this wasn’t a priority. To have these pieces milled out of a plastic material was going to be about $500.
When Center Bank came through and I knew painting would finally commence I ordered the pieces, right when Covid hit. Their two week ship turned into six weeks. The worst customer service follow through I’ve ever seen. They kept blaming Covid, but would never give me a delivery date. I had to call/email four times before I got a response. This is when I discovered they weren’t the manufacturer of the piece. A company called Ekena Millwork (same company whose plinths I bought from Amazon) would be producing them, so I called them. I got next to nowhere since I didn’t have any production numbers, but they did confirm orders placed on my date, if provided to them should have already shipped. I called AD back with this information and miraculously my order arrived within the week. My fears manifested, the frame was too narrow. The entire time I worked with the sales person providing him all the measurements he needed to create the arch I worked from an open window. My thickness measurement only accounted for the outer window frame, not the frame around the glass.
I called AD upon the discovery and they took no responsibility for the mistake, citing I provided the measurements. $500 wasted. The frames were cut from PVC foam, nothing special. I instantly thought of The Manufactory’s CNC router. I thought if I could find the material perhaps the guys at the shop could help me replicate them in the correct width. They came to my rescue, including telling me where I could buy a sheet of the PVC foam, Piedmont Plastic, which cost about $200. I had to rent a van to haul it, so another $50. The correct width was 4.25″. With that measurement and the original pieces they were able to program their machine to cut new pieces. From one sheet I was able to get the four arches, but only 7 legs. To create the 8th, I used PVC cement to glue two of the originals together and then ripped it down to the right width. I wasn’t present when they cut the pieces for me, so no pics.
At this point my working relationship with Lyle, painter, is strained. When he started the project (June 9, we’re way past his 3 week time frame) he said he would help me install them. At this point I don’t want him to do anything extra. I decided to figure it out myself and I knew the first step would be getting them primed as PVC does not take paint well based on past experience. I went to the Internet and found several sites and all recommended using an acrylic urethane primer, I used Sherwin Williams’ Extreme Bond Primer. Before applying the primer I sanded each piece with 220 grit, which was also recommended on the sites. To ensure they were clean and free of dust wiped them with isopropyl alcohol.
The AD pieces acted as the perfect install templates, so I was able to practice the angle needed on those legs that would rest against the angled window sill. I decided to use my Kreg jig to make pocket holes around the parameter of the piece. I used 2.5 inch outdoor Kreg screws to attach the frame to the house, but used 1.5″ to attach the legs to the arches after applying PVC cement. The seam between the legs and arch is negligible.
I was able to hang the frames from inside the house and only had to use my new found roof scaling skill to caulk around frame and to repair a piece of the wood trim I broke off by clamping too hard. Looking straight on, the mission of hiding the square window in the curve framed worked. I have no idea how this PVC material is going to hold up, but only time will tell. At least I’ll know how to make new ones if they do need replacing.
With all the scraping Lyle has done on the 2nd floor dormers over the past 5 weeks, which exceeded my expectations, I decided I wanted the paint from the front porch removed also. When Lyle first walked the property I said that didn’t need to be scraped as I assumed the bead board would be difficult and time consuming to clear properly. After all that is why I rebuilt the rear portico. Lyle said Peel A-Way would be the product to use, but it was expensive (approximately $40/ 1.25 gallon from the Oakley Paint Store; $55 at Sherwin Williams). I told him I’d buy it if he applied it, so I did and he did. I watched the product video several times before he applied it and thought if it works that well maybe I can leave the wood natural.
The product stayed on approximately 24 hours before Lyle removed it.
Honestly I wasn’t impressed at that stage. My thoughts of leaving the natural wood were dashed, but at least I felt the new paint would look cleaner. At that point I was contemplating painting it white or Lullaby Blue in keeping with southern porches. I had bought 3 pails and Lyle had used 1.5 of them, so he suggested applying another coat which he did. It was early evening, around 5pm when he applied. By the next morning when I let out my dogs I discovered that the paper had already fallen. I sent Lyle a text and he said he couldn’t come for another hour. I remember him warning it was important to not let the product dry out, so I removed the final piece that had not fallen and all the product that was still adhered to the boards.
I could still see paint and product in the grooves, so I used the edge of my carbide scrapper to remove it. Where it was still moist it came off easy. Lyle did arrive and I asked to use his paint eater tool I saw him use on the windows. He said he’d do it, I let him, and when he finished I knew I wanted to keep the wood natural. Peel A-Way removed so much that it was worth the extra sweat equity I’d need to perform to get it clean enough to leave unpainted. At that point I told Lyle I would take over this portion of the project. I will take the time and effort to remove all the traces of paint, but so worth it. I need for him to focus on the house he started on June 9.
I didn’t want to buy anymore Peel A-Way as I thought it would be overkill for what paint was left, so I went up to the Clifton Ace Hardware store to see what product they’d recommend. I showed the pics above and the owner was so impressed that she went to Dumond’s website and is going to look into carrying it at her store. Another worker recommended that I use Citristrip. I knew that wasn’t a good option as I used that product when I stripped the doors (sure wish I knew about Peel A-Way then). It would work, but be messy. What I really liked about the Peel A-Way was the ease of clean up. The sheets went in the trash and any paint that did fall to the ground swept up easily. He then recommended Goof Off, which I bought. When I got home I decided to contact Dumond Chemicals, manufacturer of Peel A-Way, made in the USA, directly to see if they had a spray on product that would work. Their website list the names, phone, and emails to people in their corporate office so I emailed my pictures to Customer Support; Dave Martin, Dumond Senior Chemist; Matt Bartolotta, Product Technical Manager; and cc’d the President, Richard Grear.
Customer Suport replied stating to apply more Peel A-Way, but Matt responded back stating that Alan Bensen, National Account Manager, wanted to speak with me directly and he asked for my number. In my initial email I did mention my blog, so Alan actually had reached out to me through that and asked that I call him between 3 and 5 Friday, which I did. What a great conversation. He’s another old house restorer himself and had done a similar project on his own home. He confirmed what Customer Support had responded, but stressed that I only needed to apply it to the areas in question. From the pictures he didn’t think I’d need that much, so he offered to send me their free samples. He shared I’d only need to let it set a couple of hours and I didn’t even need to use the paper sheets that came with the product. I let him know I had bought extra, so had plenty I could use. He then said to use a nylon brush and water to remove the product. He also recommended that I get the Scotch Brite pads for scrubbing. This is what I call great customer service. It ranks right up there with the owner of Thermasol, Mitch Altman, calling personally to assist with my shower.
I’m excited to share the final results, so stay tuned.
I have removed the original post regarding the work performed by Fusion Roofing on my box gutters as I can no longer stand by my original assessment of their work. My latest discovery of their improper, short-cut, intentional conceal, workmanship has now reared its head a third time and this latest discovery will probably set me back at least $500 and possibly delay the painting of my house.
The restoration of my box gutters was the first major expense of my restoration. They didn’t exist in most areas. Ricky raccoon and his family had free reign access to my house for shelter. All the quotes came in over $10,000. I paid Fusion over $15,000.
Since this was one of the first projects to take place at my house, very early into my General Contracting role, I had no complaints with their work. You don’t know, what you don’t know and I wasn’t onsite all the time to see everything that was done. The house looked good after they were finished.
The first instance of their inferior work was discovered by a Dan Shepard who was doing some roof work for me in March 2018. He discovered that Fusion had failed to nail down the three rows of shingles they laid while restoring the gutters. The owner, Kevin Helman, found that hard to believe when I called him to report it, but he did come out, investigated, and confirmed Dan’s findings. Dan’s crew member had done some of the repair, but Kevin did finish it. Strike one.
The second instance was discovered November 2019 and I talked about it in the post A Blessing in Disguise. On fluke I discovered a huge gap in the crown moulding. They did a poorly executed mitered corner cut and instead of re-cutting it they filled the huge gap with caulk, which fell out over time. Again they came out and made the repair. Randy, the crew leader was very apologetic for the poor workmanship, which he said must have happened when he wasn’t onsite. I took that in stride and was grateful for the helping hand they gave with the vent caps, which help me get over the final plumbing inspection. Nevertheless, this was Strike Two.
The final strike I discovered last night while trying to replace more of the asbestos tile at the roof line. When I went to scrape the paint away from the tile being replaced about 8″ of the bottom of the crown moulding broke off. The piece was literally held with paint and caulk. The underside of the broken piece was charred wood, that section was part of the fire. With that piece off I noticed a lot of play in the piece, so I began to polk around it with my tool and it went straight through the board. It was rotten. At that point I knew it would need to be replaced so I began looking for the screws to remove it. In the approximate 5′ length, Fusion had only used two screws that actually attached to something and they were both located with 8″ of each other at the end of the board. One 8″ from end the the other at the end to screw the miters together. A third was actually screwed into the original blown-in installation, so basically attached to nothing. Caulk and paint was holding the piece in place.
Lyle Homes is still scraping paint from the second floor dormers (started June 9), but if his crew person that worked on first floor windows had started with the first floor crown, this would have been discovered weeks ago. Since I discovered it my first call was to Tom Milfeld, my go to guy. I wasn’t going to bother calling Fusion and just fix it. I got up this morning and took the piece to Hyde Park lumber who said they didn’t have that profile. I knew Fusion had replaced crown in November, so I called them to find out where they got it from and they said Hyde Park. I have two sections of crown on the house and the repair they did was on upper section. The lower crown is 5 5/8″ wide; the closes they have is 5 1/4″. I will have no choice but to replace the entire rear of my house as a custom milled 5′ section would be triple the cost of the in-stock 48′ I’ll need.
Kevin asked that I send him pictures of the section in question. He said his work did not include the crown attached to the house, which this is. I pointed out that it is also attached to the soffit that they did replace and even if it wasn’t part of their bid (I feel it was) they still deliberately covered over decayed wood vs. giving me an option to allow them to repair it. My original bid from them was $10,875 and it said “Replace any damaged wood as needed at an additional charge per foot, price chart listed above”. One of their references warned me to get everything in writing as they will only do what is listed, so before they started work I had another conversation with Coy Baker, which led to me agreeing to pay another $4,833 for this scope of services: Remove all wood from box gutters, including, fall, fascia, crown, cap, and soffit boards, from entire house; Replace all wood on box gutters including rater tails, fall boards, fascia boards, crown molding, and plywood soffit boards; Properly pitch new gutters to ensure proper flow (I asked for this as someone warned me this could be an issue if not done properly); and All exposed wood will be caulked at the joints and all exposed wood will be primed. This extra money was specifically to address “wood as needed at an additional charge per foot” as Coy said given the condition it was all going to need to be replaced anyway and this additional amount would cover it.
Kevin felt I was being argumentative and hung up on me as I interrupted him while he was onsite at another job. I didn’t force him to answer his phone. Kevin is the owner of the company, but he didn’t do the work. I wanted to speak with Randy, since twice before Randy confirmed the work was done improperly and he fixed it. Based on the hang up I have no confidence anything will be done, so I’ve moved forward with ordering 48′ of new primed crown moulding and I’ve lined up Tom to help me get it installed. Since the new crown will be almost a 1/2″ shorter than the original I know all the asbestos tiles along the top edge of the house will need to be replaced. It was installed after the house was built and butts up against the crown. There will now be an approx 1/2″ gap. That has to be ordered from Home Depot and will take at least a week. Putting it up first, so the crown can sit on top of it is the proper fix. The only positive is, like with all the 1st floor windows, this will be one more area Lyle won’t have to deal with. The crown is already primed, so when Tom and I are done he can just paint.
Of course I fear when I start removing the remainder of the crown that I’m going to uncover even more of Fusion’s poor workmanship. Now that I know what to look for I can see other areas around the house that they filled with caulk to hide a poor cut or seam. I’m almost tempted to dig the caulk out of these areas and fill them with the WoodEpox, since I know that works so well. Every soffit seam is separating now.
Even if I let the seams go, the two ends of the gutters on the rear where I will need to replace the crown is troubling and I fear the soffits themselves will need to be replaced. I truly don’t understand the need to splice in such a small section, which is what they did on the right side of house. They caulked to hide, but as with all the other sections of the house that caulk is failing and splice is exposed. The soffit is just cheap plywood. They could have cut another piece and learned from the mistake. On the left side, they didn’t splice, but filled a huge gap with caulk. It hasn’t failed like the piece did in the front which led to the November repair, but it may give way when I remove the crown. I’ll run it by Tom, but I think the best answer is to just run that crown to the end of the gutter instead of stopping where it is now. That won’t match the front of the house, but hell the crown isn’t going to match either. Fingers crossed Lyle won’t find rot on the front when he starts that prep.
My prized stained glass window, exterior frame, was in rough shape. While removing the paint I discovered two areas where large chunks of the frame had been filled with something that looked like plaster and it was not done well. They were already loose, so I decided to remove them and search for a better product to use. I was already familiar with wood epoxy, I used it to restore the inside frame, but I wasn’t sure if the product I used could be used outdoor. I turned to Google and stumbled across several YouTube videos that talked about Abatron’s LiquidWood and WoodEpox. I decided this was the product I wanted to use and with luck the Clifton Ace Hardware store carried the kit. After watching Abatron’s video several times, I decided this was the product to use to also restore the window sills.
Since I wanted to finish installing the new plinths, I started with those sills first. As per the video I prepped the wood making sure all paint was removed and I used my vacuum cleaner to remove all dust and in the case of the bathroom window, suck out all the paint chips that had fallen in the huge cracks. I mixed equal parts of the LiquidWood parts A and B and applied it to the wood with a cheap bristle paint brush. The video suggest drilling 1/8″ holes in the wood to allow the product to seep deeper. I did this on the bedroom window sill since it was not as cracked as the bathroom window. That window sill felt brittle/frail to the touch. As you can see from the pics below the sill darkened after applying the LiquidWood.
The video states you should apply the WoodEpox while the LiquidWood is still tacky, so after about 30 minutes I began mixing equal parts of WoodEpox A and B. The video suggests you can add LiquidWood to the WoodEpox to thin it out, if desired. I did not do this on my first use, but did for the remainder of the project as I felt the frosting like consistency was easier to apply with my putty knife.
I let it dry a couple of days (I had things to do), but before installing the plinths I sanded them until smooth. First with 60 grit, then 120. They felt and looked stronger. This was definitely the right decision and right product, so I turned to the stained glass window next. It turned out awesome.
The original kit I bought contained 12 oz LiquidWood and 12 oz WoodEpox. I got the plinth sills and the stain glass done with that kit. I ended up purchasing two additional, pint sizes (pint each of A and B, total four pints) of LiquidWood and one pint size of the WoodEpox to complete all the window sills and some minor repair on the rear portico. The process did not change, but I would suggest not working in extreme heat or direct sunlight. I repaired the dormer window sills from inside the house and was holding the cup of WoodEpox outside in direct sun. The product sets faster in heat, so I ended up wasting most of that batch as it hardened before I could spread it. With that lesson I also started mixing smaller batches as it only got hotter as this project went on.
On a few of the windows the filler used to fill the notches that probably once held shutters were missing. The Abatron product is expensive and I didn’t want to buy any more WoodEpox, so to fill those areas I used a product called ScupltWood that I’ve had for months. I can’t even remember why I bought it, but it is also a two part epoxy putty like WoodEpox. I did apply LiquidWood to the area first in some instances, not all. The outcome was the same in both cases; that product worked great too.
The windows and doors are now ready for paint. I’m ready to see paint. We are now heading into week five since Lyle’s Homes started (June 9) and he’s still scraping paint from the second floor. I can only hope that once he does start with paint that it goes twice as fast as prep because at this rate a Labor Day Drive By Open House is questionable. He’s still exceeding my expectations, but clearly his three week projection was misguided and it all can’t be blamed on the weather.