Window Sill and Frame Restoration

20200622_201043My 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.

Plinths Installation

Original Plinth

My next few post are all about playing catch-up with projects that have happened or are ongoing at the house. Several weeks ago I made a post called “What Is A Plinth”. I had purchased two Ekena Millwork – Diane plinths from Amazon to practice on. I bought two because my first thought was to glue them back to back to create the thickness of the original plinth. That would mean I’d need a total of 16. Instead I pulled a MacGuyver (you know that’s my favorite term for when I come up with something most would not) and attached the plinth to a piece of 5/4 (which means it was a true 1″) x 8″ Azek pvc board to create the needed thickness. Here are the steps:

First I ripped the Azek board down to the same width as the plinth. I had to purchase a 9′ board and used less than half of that for the entire project. Next I cut the top off the Ekena plinth as it was more ornate than the original. The majority of the Ekena plinth is hollow, so removing where I did left a solid top.

The slightly shortened plinth I nailed to the full 9′ Azek board with my brad nailer, one nail on each side near the top. I wasn’t seeking to permanently attach at that point, but needed the two pieces to stay together for the next cut on the miter saw. The original plinths were stubby, about 5″ tall, so the majority of the Ekena plinth would be waste. I measured the original plinth to get its height and angle on the bottom and transferred those measurements into a scrap piece of 2×4. That piece was my test for each of the 8 locations and it fit the first location like a glove. I never measured again after that. If my test block didn’t fit in other locations, whether too tight or too loose, I adjusted my miter cuts on the real pieces accordingly, always intentionally overcutting. I marked the cut line on the back of the joined pieces and made the cut.

My longest brad nail is 2.5″, not long enough to go through both pieces and firmly attach to house, which is why I didn’t permanently attach them. I pulled them apart and attached the Azek piece to the house and then the Ekena plinth to the Azek board. They shouldn’t go anywhere and given they are made out of plastic they will never split, crack, or rot. I used a ladder to install the first plinth, far right of the bathroom side of house. The two inner plinths I could install from inside the house, but the two outer plinths I couldn’t because the windows next to them are picture glass, they don’t open. When I saw how bad of condition that window sill was I decided not to install any more until Lyle had addressed them.

As you can see from the picture above that window sill was severely dried and cracked; it was in the worst condition on entire house. Lyle and I had differing opinions on how this should be corrected and when, so I took over the restoration of all the window sills, which I’ll talk about in the next post. 7 of the 8 locations were straight forward replacements. The one that wasn’t was difficult because the original window weight protruded out and didn’t allow the plinth to sit flush to the house. I couldn’t push it back inside, so I used my grinder to carve out a channel on the back of the block. After that it fit like a glove.

The bedroom side windows I was able to hang all of them from inside my room. Since I needed to do work on the bathroom window sill, Lyle erected a scaffolding platform from me to work from. I was a nervous wreck the whole time, but the window sill was restored (see white stuff in pics below) and all eight plinths are installed and ready for primer and paint. Some may need caulk.

Exceeding My Expectations, So Far

Some contractors may find me difficult to work for. I know too much and can do too much for myself. I set a high bar of excellence for myself, so in turn I expect a contractor to do the work at an even higher level of perfection. After all I’m just an advanced DIYer/Sista Girl with Skills, a contractor should be a trained professional and able to do a project faster and better. Lyle Benjamin of Lyle’s Homes started the prep to paint my house on June 9th, approximately two weeks earlier than originally projected. I viewed that as a great thing, but it was a rocky start. On day one he came and left, leaving a worker who worked on the first floor windows when I thought we had agreed I’d handle them while he focused on the second level. My mind instantly flashed back to my drywall crew. Could I have possibly made another bad choice, did my project get subcontracted again? I shared my drywall nightmare story with Lyle and told him I know I’m difficult, but he’s got to make me feel comfortable with what he’s doing. He has.

Lyle’s Homes is the first major contractor I selected without having a referral. Believe it or not, he reached out to me via Match.com. I had a bout of temporary insanity and signed up in search of a significant other and in my profile I said if you want to learn about me find my blog venusdiyworld (Match does let you insert websites in your profile). Lyle found it and reached out to me offering his painting services by pointing me to his Thumbtack page. No romance was ever formed, but he got my attention when he used another “R” word, Restoration. With his second bid I truly felt he understood what I wanted to accomplish and it was at a price I could afford. In hindsight the problems in week one were avoidable if I had told him I was not ready for his earlier start date. All the projects I planned to tackle (replacing trim on first floor windows and rebuilding rear portico) would have been complete by end of month leaving a clear understanding on what he needed to focus on. I’m still mastering my General Contractor skills.

Lyle’s bid included this wording: Prep: Wash house to remove dirt , grease and loose and peeling paint. Remove paint to bare wood on all widow frames/casings using a heat gun and or chemical removal agents and sanding. Hard scrape and feather sand additional wood trim and fascia to remove loose and peeling paint. This described what I thought was needed before any new paint was applied to my house. He’s doing this to levels that are far exceeding what I thought was possible. As I stated in an earlier post the three windows on my neighbors side that he cleaned entirely are much smoother than my windows were, so much so that I went back and used a higher grit (80 and 120) to try and reach the smooth as a baby’s butt level that his windows are.

The work he has accomplished on the second floor dormers and side crown moulding has blown my mind. He actually removed the crown from the dormers and had another worker scrape it on the ground. Doing that revealed that bees or hornets were making a home through the gaps that had formed over the years. Before rehanging he will treat them would a wood hardener, which should stop them from decaying further and he said he will be able to close those gaps. He’s also willing to spray the opening with some insecticide I have in a pump sprayer.

With the first floor conflict Lyle did agree to adjust his price, but with the high level of detail he is performing, I’ve now agreed to purchase the Sherwin Williams Duration that will be the final coats. Paint was included in his bid and he projected needing 30 gallons of primer and paint combined. If Lyle paints as well as he preps my house is going to be absolutely GORGEOUS, a true showcase home for the community of Camp Washington. In addition to buying the paint I’m also still tackling some projects, so that he can stay focused on the 2nd floor and also because I can’t see him completing this project in three weeks as projected (rain is starting to be a factor now). There are more broken tiles, so even though he said he would do that I took that on since I had already done some with the rear portico.

The missing pieces

There were two pieces that didn’t get replaced when myself, my father, and my cousin Cameron were tackling this project two years ago. They are near the rear gutter on the Stock Street side of my house. We attempted, but the angle my father told me to cut was wrong. We didn’t have any angle finder tools and my father was using math calculations based on measurements he told me to find. It was my last piece of tile and I’m standing on ladder being yelled at about not giving him the right measurements. I left the piece, un-nailed, resting on the gutter until now. My skills have definitely improved.

I’m tackling the plinths and window sills next.

Rear Portico Makeover – Scraping The Headboard

The portico over the rear door was as caked up with paint as the window mouldings, maybe more. The inside top and sides were just slats of bead board. I decided to replace the old bead board with new. The ceiling was spongee and in really rough condition. I remembered when installing the light fixture thinking it really should be replaced, so now is the time. Removing the bead board was a piece of cake. A crow bar and hammer did the trick. Removing the ceiling and sides revealed a glimpse at what the house looked like when it was originally built. The original, unpainted, flawless condition cedar shingles siding were revealed. Seeing that really makes me wonder what condition the house was in before they added the asbestos shingles.

The Original Cedar Shingle Siding

I decided to build the ceiling first. I didn’t even need to cut those boards. They were 48″ long, so I had Hyde Park Lumber cut 8, 8′ boards in half for me. That saved wear and tear on my miter saw. Before installing them I used my carbide scrapper to remove the paint from any surface that would touch the new wood. I used the grinder a bit also, but unlike the windows and the door I was concerned with damaging the original corbels, so I used it sparingly.

Before tackling the sides I removed the remaining paint using my heat gun and a 5-in-1 scraper. It took me about three hours to get all the paint off.

I used my angle finder to determine the slope, 30 degrees, and with that I was off to the races. I set up a jig on my miter saw to cut the point (dental teeth) at the end of each board. Basically I cut the needed angle off a 2×4 and used that to set the angle of the saw each time I needed to make those cuts. I put a piece of tape on the back support plate, to mark where I needed to place the 2×4 and I used the miter saw clamp to hold it in place. With it secured I just had to butt my bead board against it, cut, flip the wood, and cut again. Originally there was a strip of crown moulding that went around the top edge of the sides and front. I found a very similar profile at Lowes, plastic, but for the life of me I could not figure out the right angle, so I settled for a flat piece of old pine scrap wood I had in my basement.

In removing the old side bead board I managed to break the asbestos tile on each side. No big deal to replace, but when I put my ladder up to get measurements I noticed two large holes in the tiles above the door. The wood of the house was completely exposed, so I decided to replace them also. I couldn’t get the damaged pieces out without sacrificing the two narrow strips at the top. Thankfully those could be cut from one piece of the replacement tile. It was extremely hot that day and the shingles where hot. I tried my best to minimize how much I touched them. My cuts for the side pieces where spot on! I actually reused the damaged shingle from the top to replace the broken pieces on the right side of door. I only needed two narrow pieces and I hated wasting a full sheet of the new. I was hoping I’d only need one case to repair any needed areas around the house. Yes I did wear a respirator mask while cutting them.

At this point I told Lyle, the painter, to just consider me to be part of his staff. He’ll still need to sand the corbels, but I saved him at least a day of work by tackling that project. I actually had fun. This degree of woodwork is in my wheelhouse. Speaking of woodwork projects it is back to the drawing board on my headboard project.

I got the trim pieces stained, coated, and attached. My cousin Zachary came over to help me carry the three pieces upstairs. I wanted to apply one more coat of Danish oil to the front panel before getting him to help me carry it upstairs, but I put the three pieces together and placed them where they’d reside in the room. I thought I took a picture of the top and sides assembled in my bedroom, but I didn’t and I’ve already gotten Zachman (my nickname for Zachary) to help me carry it back downstairs. It’s too big/bulky for the location. All I really wanted was the top shelf. Scotti from the WoodShop expanded that idea to include the side shelves, which seemed like a great use of the dead space being created by the top shelf. However, in addition to looking bulky when I had my mattress elevated at the top to allow me to sit up in bed, I can’t reach the top or side shelves. Elevated I’m about a foot away from the headboard; something I had not anticipated.

Fortunately I have two more pieces of the oak boards. In my minds eye my new design will be 100% better as it will eliminate the Aspen wood side boxes altogether. What I haven’t grappled with is how to deconstruct the top box. The bottom shelve is just screwed in place, but the top is glued and screwed and the screws have already been concealed with dowel rods, see post All I Needed Was The Right Jig. Actually let me rephrase that. I know exactly how to deconstruct the top box, the question is do I have the guts to do it. I got a lot of practice with straight edge cutting with a circular saw during my shed project. I need that same mastery of skills to manifest again. Stay tuned. I’d really love to have the headboard completed in conjunction with the house painting completion.

Preparing for the Icing on the Cake

Per the suggestion of the son of my father’s good friend, who owns a painting company, I decided to remove the trim from the 14 lower level windows and replace with new. There are at least 4 layers of paint on the trim of my house and it is peeling heavily in some areas and what isn’t peeling has alligatored. Because I wanted the windows scrapped to the wood he was not interested in my project stating it would be labor intensive and he didn’t have the crew to take on that large of a project. I loved the suggestion and quickly calculated the cost of the moulding and the cost to pay Tom Milfeld, my go to man for just about anything (he hung my cabinets, crown moulding, and repaired my foundation just to name a few projects). These pictures show my efforts to scrap the paint from the two front living room windows. Clearly replacing was a great idea.

At this point the painter I was leaning towards had submitted a second proposal, double the first, but it included a description of the work that was in line with the prep work I felt was needed before any new primer or paint was applied. He was estimating 6 hours per window (prep and paint). Based on my painting experience with the back door, I mentally decided 5 of those hours would be prep. His hourly fee and Tom’s are similar. Based on working with Tom on so many other projects I estimated Tom’s time to hang the new trim at one hour per window, a four hour swing in time. I have 14 lower windows, only 10 upstairs, so with my sweat equity in removing the trim and remaining paint from the wood and Tom’s fee for just hanging the trim the reduction in the painter’s time more than offset the cost of the new trim, which is made out of PVC that will never rot. I got it from Hyde Park Lumber, Azek, and it’s the same product I installed around my shower windows, but in a profile that was close to the window trim. This was a no brainer decision at this point.

I decided to move forward with Lyle Home’s Painting and initially he said he couldn’t start until the end of the month, which was great as that didn’t put pressure on me to get all 14 windows prepped. He then contacted me and said he could start on June 12th. At that point I let him know that I had made the decision to handle the prep of the lower windows myself. He actually came to the house and I showed him what I planned to do. I knew I couldn’t get all windows done by the 12th, so it was decided he’d start his work on the second level. I felt pretty confident I could be complete by the time he finished that level. Well the 12th was moved up to 9th. Tom was scheduled to start work the next day and my plan was to try and stay two windows ahead of him. Lyle brought ladders and scaffolding and a worker. When I came outside to start working Lyle had left and his worker was working on the side living room window (1st floor). I sent Lyle a text asking why and he said his taller ladder was at another project. I let the worker continue working. The trim came off relatively easy. They used 6d, 3″ nails to put it up, but as you can see removing the trim removed a lot of the paint that was on the remaining wood.

With the trim removed it left a flat surface. For the loose stuff I hand scrapped with my carbide bit scrapper, but once that was gone I used my grinder with a 40 grit flap disc, which I eventually changed to a 60 grit. In the beginning I had some control issues. Once the disc ate through the paint it sanded the wood and in spots it went too far, which is why I changed grit. Now, conversely the worker Lyle left used a heat gun and putty knife. At the end of that first day my four windows looked like this:

The painter’s four windows looked like this:

The next day I finished removing the paint from my fourth window and then returned with the palm sander on all four windows to try and smooth out the areas where I had ate into the wood. The painter continued removing paint and trim from the other lower level windows. He had removed the paint and trim from all the remaining windows, leaving them in the condition above, except for the three windows on my neighbor’s side of my house. He used a paint eater pad to remove the paint the heat gun and scrapper did not remove and then a palm sander at 60 and 120 grit. I’ll admit his windows were much smoother than mine, I only went to 80 grit with the palm sander and clearly a heat gun isn’t going to eat into the wood the way the grinder did. He also pressure washed the front of the house, which at this point I had to interject and have a frank conversation with Lyle. The 2nd floor was not getting the focused attention I thought we had agreed upon, I thought pressure washing was way premature, and I’m now loosing the savings which was paying for the new material Tom was installing. Day three marked the last day that worker came to the site (to date) and I used my method to finish the windows he started. Tom worked a total of 12 hours, I probably put in about 20 hours over the course of 4 days, but the lower level windows now have all new trim.

With the windows done, I turned my attention on the back porch portico.

New Columns and Landscape Prep

The headboard project got bumped again as this weekend was spent outdoors. My new columns arrived, so I decided to cut out my flower beds as the plan for the front landscape had been finalized.

I hired Mike Tanner Construction to install the columns. Mike installed my master shower floor. They were scheduled to arrive Saturday morning, but Friday night curiosity got the best of me so I removed the corner columns on each side. I knew the one on the right would give up easy as if you leaned on it, it would move. The left side gave up almost as easy. The decision to go down to four was made as soon as I was told six was not needed to support the structure. That was done for the aesthetic pleasure of the original owners. I always thought six was overkill. Up until I removed the two corner columns the plan was to leave the two in the front. Removing the corners gave me insight as to how it would look with them staggered. I decided the new columns would be installed in this manner.

Mike and his crew (Ray and Bobby), arrived promptly at 9am Saturday with four of the six. Two are on back order, but not needed immediately as they will be used to support the pergola that I’ll build to the left of the door. I won’t install the pergola until after the house is painted. They started by removing the front left. That came out fairly easy also. That left only three columns holding the entire structure. They then tried to remove the front right, but could not, even with a reciprocating saw. The weight of the structure was firmly barring down, so it was decided they should shore up the structure. I ran to Schuloff Tool Rental and rented two adjustable shoring poles. I kinda feel I may have caused the problem by removing the two, but if I hadn’t I would not have considered staggering them. Anyway, I returned with the poles, but the heat was already becoming unbearable. They only got two installed on the left before calling it a day.

I was able to return one of the shoring poles and while doing so rented a sod cutter, so that I could start laying out the design of my flower beds. That tool looks like something straight from Amish country and it worked me for five hours, but the flowerbed footprint is done and very close the the drawing I had laid out. Most of the sod I cut up I placed in an bare spot between my two cluster of trees. This is not the right time to lay sod, but it was free, the spot needed, so hopefully if I keep it watered it will survive.

Starting from the left on the side of the patio will be three Buck Thorn shrubs. These will grow and become a natural privacy fence. In the center of the circle will be a Forest Pansy Redbud. It’s red leaves should stand out since all the other trees around it have green leaves. 3-4 coral bell plants will be placed in front of it. At the corner of the porch and at each side of the front door will be Green Mountain Boxwoods. I’ll have fun keeping its shape over the years. Two Bobo Hydrangeas will be placed directly in front of the porch. On right side of door I’ll have three Green Velvet Boxwoods, one under each dining room window and the third in the gap next to the Green Mountain. In between the dining room window I’ll place a Limelight Hydrangea Tree. It’s blooms are similar to the Bobo. As with the Redbud, I’ll place 3-4 coral bell plants in front of it. Wha-La, my first landscape design. I’ll have color without annuals, which was the primary goal.

Sunday morning Ray and Bobby returned and made quick work of the remaining two columns. They were up in about two hours. Some people will view the old columns as trash. My minds eye sees a new upcycle project. I sprayed the insides with insecticide to get rid of the ants that had taken up residence in a couple of them Before the next rain I will move them to my basement until I can start that project. With the columns up I decided to finally buy plants for a 22″ flower pot that I bought weeks ago. Cassandra Jones, a colleague and friend who makes AWESOME pies and pasta dishes (#sugartinpies) helped me pick the plants. She studies plants to find those low on the pollen spectrum. I got two purple wave pansies, two ornamental peppers, three variegated ivys, and for the center a beautiful Tahiti Wind Hibiscus. The beautiful yellow bloom is a perfect compliment to my yellow door.

Take Two, but Worth It For the Sweat Equity Cost Savings

The time, energy, and money on a quart of Sherwin Williams’ All Surface Latex Enamel Primer for the work I did last weekend was a complete waste. Just days after applying a coat of that product to my metal areas rust stains were bleeding through. I knew Rust-oleum had the product I needed, but I called my local SW store in hopes I could get an equal product, but have it tinted to my final house color. I got a young kid that clearly did not know their product line well and he steered me towards the latex enamel and sadly it turned out I couldn’t get an exact tint anyway. I did speak with the manager who said I should have gone with the oil based enamel instead and he was willing to give me that can at no cost, but after reading a Bob Vila article I decided to get the Rust-oleum Clean Metal Primer from Lowes. Hopefully that manager will apply credit on a future purchase.

The manager told me I could apply his oil based product on top of this, but I decided to remove it prior to applying the Rust-oleum product. My Don’t Take a Knife to a Gun Fight analogy came to light again. I decided to invest in a Dewalt corded grinder. I had the ENTIRE house cleaned and painted in about five hours. I put my stopwatch on when I did my neighbor’s side of my house and I had the entire side cleaned in 10 minutes, 39 seconds.

I bought another 4.5 each grinder, but now wish I had gotten the 7″. Cleaning the paint from the flat areas of my windows with the grinder works great, but once the flap disc begins to wear down the blade guard interferes with keeping the grinder flat. The aggressive grit will get into the wood once it eats through the paint and preventing/minimizing that is hard if I hold the grinder at an angle. I’ve never worked the grinder without the guard, but i’ll try that before investing in a 7″ model that would give me more depth to stay flat even with a worn disc.

My painter has quoted me based on the time he thinks to scrap and paint my house. I won’t touch the upper windows (I don’t have the proper equipment to work with heights), but all the prep I can do on the lower level is less they’ll need to do, so that saves me money. I wouldn’t have half of the features I have in my house if not for my willingness and ability to put in sweat equity.

Don’t Take a Knife to a Gun Fight

Well this most certainly will be a Memorial Day weekend we all will remember. No BBQs for me even though I have my prized grill with me again. I just didn’t feel like firing it up for a solo meal. Instead I decided to tackle the metal flashing that goes around my house. About a month ago I tested scrapping an area to the left of my back door. I used my paint scraper with a carbon graphite blade and a heat gun for about an hour to get that area cleaned. I thought I’d tackle a small area each evening, but then the sheshed project got all my attention. Good thing as my favorite Jack of all trades, Tom Milfeld, stopped by to see the project and he told me to use my sander with 60 grit paper to eat through the paint.

Left side of rear door, hand scrapped

Saturday I got started and I selected my belt sander to work with. I bought 50 grit belts and started on the right side of the door. It worked awesome, in the beginning. I got about 10 feet done before I needed to change the belt. I only bought one pack, which comes with two belts. The rain brought an end to the project, so I went to my computer with the intent of ordering more belts for in-store pickup, but an idea popped in mind to look at grinder accessory. The belt sander worked great on the vertical side, but not so great of the top near the house and I thought my grinder could get closer. I found exactly what I was looking for, a flap disk. At this point I have about 3 hours into this project and about 1/4 of the house complete.

Sunday, with more rain in the forecast, I turned my focus on my yard. Last year I seeded the right side and what I call nappy grass took over. It died out over the winter and my first lawn treatment of the seaosn should insure it doesn’t come back, but I had a lot of bare patches. There is a family flipping a house across the street from me and the husband is a landscaper. He stopped by and gave me some great ideas. I want to plant one tree and I’ve been considering a River Birch (grew up with that at my old house), a Star Magnolia (ode to Fixer Upper), or a Canadian Clump Cherry (also planted at my old house). He suggested an Eastern Redbud and recommended Bzak Nursery, so I decided to go out there for bags of top soil, seed for the lawn, and to see in person all the plants he recommended. They had everything, but the Redbud. Rhonda, who works with DIYers tweaked his suggestions a bit, so I can’t wait to turn my attention fully on the flower beds. I got the top soil and seed down and half the yard cut just as the rains started to fall.

I really didn’t want to deal with a big box store, so Monday morning I called the Ace Hardware in Clifton to see if they had my sander belt size, they did so I bought 32 and 40 grit. I wanted to get more paper in case the flap disc didn’t work of if they didn’t carry it. They did, so I bought two 36 grit GatorBlades. On a scale of 1 to 10, hand scrapping was a one, belt sander a five, grinder with the flap disc TEN!

The only drawback was I’d blow through a battery about ever 6′. I have three batteries, a rapid and regular charger. I was burning through batteries faster than they could charge, so I stopped to finish cutting the grass and to throw down a couple more bags of top soil I also bought at Ace and more seed. I got from the blue section of the back, all of Stock Ave side, and the left side of the front sanded. Skies turned black and wind picked up, so I thought rain was coming again. I stopped and ate lunch while watching another episode of a new Netflix series I’ve gotten hooked on, Blood & Water. I also read the can of Sherwin William’s All Surface Latex Enamel Primer I bought to apply to the metal once all the paint and rust was removed. It stated that bare steel must be primed the same day. I noticed that some areas I had scrapped the day before had rusted again with the rain, so I re-sanded that area and decided to apply the primer to all the areas I had already scraped.

What a difference it makes. I wanted the primer to be tinted to Sea Serpent, but that couldn’t happen because the base is white. This color is 50% of that.

Before calling it a day and weekend I decided to try the GatorBlade on my prized stain glass window frame. Regardless as to who I select to paint the house, I’m handling the stripping of that window. The disc is getting pretty worn, so I thought it would do less damage on wood and I was right. I’ll probably put the new one on to complete the metal flashing stripping, but I’ll use the worn one to finish the window.

Uncertain Gray, the Perfect Color in Our Uncertain Times

Happy Easter Everyone. Today feels so surreal. Merriam-Webster defines surreal as marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream also : UNBELIEVABLE. I wish these times we are living in were just a dream, but the reality is we are all enduring an event that is disrupting and devastating lives with no signs of discrimination. I do hope all of you that honor me by reading my posts, are doing well, staying positive, and staying safe by embracing social distancing. As a single person, I can tell you its hard, so I guess I’ll give thanks to the City of Cincinnati citation for giving me a project to help occupy my time and give me a reason to get outside.

I’m so glad I tinted the primer to Lullaby, my first and the polls choice, of color for my foundation. I love blue, but Lullaby was too blue or the wrong shade of blue; powder, baby blue. It most certainly didn’t look that blue in the coordinating colors page for Sea Serpent, my eventual house color and the dark patch you see in the pics. With storms in the forecast for Sunday evening and a cold front following for several days after, Saturday was my day to apply the final coat, tinted in Uncertain Gray.  On my house it actually looks more like what I thought Lullaby would be.

It took me roughly 8 hours and almost two gallons of Sherwin-Williams Emerald exterior, in flat, paint.  The Ridge Ave Sherwin-Williams store is now my store of choice and Greg, their manager, helped me decipher through the different exterior products SW offers.  Emerald is towards the top of their line, actually used to restore the famed LA Hollywood sign.  I guess since I have confidence in my DIY skills, I don’t mind buying a higher end paint, which was on sale 30% off (BTW I’ve never paid full price for any of Sherwin-Williams paints; always catching a 30% or 40% off sale).  I expect my paint job to have the same long-lasting endurance as what a professional paint job would have.  I applied this and the primer with a 3/4″ nap, 9″ roller and a 3″ angled synthetic paint brush.  I’m ready to move some dirt!

Next up on the citation addressing list is the metal flashing that is on all four sides of house.  I will get it scraped, put a rust inhibitor where needed and primed with metal primer.  Lots of sweat equity, but should be less than $20 in cost of materials.

Drip Seal

Not the Plan, But Necessary

I long time family friend has a concrete business, which I know means he has access to the equipment I need to move dirt from my yard to the area around my porch to raise the soil level.  He came out Sunday to access the situation and has agreed to help me.  Last year I started digging to to connect my downspouts on the left side of my house to the original drain in the rear of house.  The left front drain is on the porch and with the relocation of my downspouts my plan, last year, was to trench along the side of my house and connect the front to the rear drain.  I knew I couldn’t do that by hand, so I stopped to find someone that knew how to operate a trencher.  I got no showed three times, it turned cold, project stopped.  Here’s the blessing in my City citation.  It was confirmed, in writing, that I could daylight, allow the gutter water to run into the yard.  I had been told differently previously.  That meant no trenching for the front downspout.  I only needed to re-connect the rear like I had done with the opposite side.

My dirt moving help can come as early as next week, so finishing that connection became priority, otherwise he’d refill a partially dug hole and I’d have even more dirt to move later.  Last year I removed an approximate one foot section of pipe.  I covered the exposed opening with a large rock to prevent things from falling into the hole.  I’ve noticed with some of our recent heavy rains my basement was leaking again, something that hasn’t happened since fixing the gutters.  Well it’s because mud seeped in under my rock and that pipe had become completely blocked, so water was just pooling in that area.  I was going to remove another section anyway, but now it was absolutely necessary.

Once I got that approximate two foot section out I laid on my stomach and used my hand to dig out as much mud from the pipe as I could.  I got down to my elbow and mentally prepared myself for another plumbing bill.  If I couldn’t get it cleared I’d have to call in 20200405_191444Zins Plumbing.  My basement drains were filled with debris when I bought the house and I used my shop vac to clean them out, so I thought I’d give that a try.  No pics of this as I was a hot, muddy, mess by now.  I had a 8′ section of metal conduit and I used that to stir up the mud created when I filled the hole with water.  I sucked up rocks, glass, wood chunks, mud for two hours.  The extensions on my shop vac gave me approximately 4′ reach.  I had reached my capacity when finally water started flowing through instead of backing up.  Plumbing expense SAVED!  My reward for that day’s hard labor……..an Epson Bath Soak.  I soaked through sunset listening to jazz.

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The next day I ran to Home Depot to pick up the appropriate PVC plumbing fittings.  I needed a flexible coupling, two 45 degree fittings and 3″ PVC pipe.  I could see roots at the bottom of the hole, so I added some root kill before I connected the pipes.  I used the short section of clay pipe as my vice to hold the PVC pipe while I cut it with my reciprocating saw.  I had the connection made in about an hour.

When I finished that project I finished the primer coat on the foundation and windows.  The window primer I had tinted Uncertain Gray, so now I am 100% certain that is the right color.   I wish I had gone that route with the foundation primer as I’d have a stronger visual of my final house.  That will have to wait a few days as rain is in the forecast.

My reward for that day’s labor was a 45 minute steam shower where I did a deep conditioner of my hair with the scent of eucalyptus in the air.  I can’t wait for the outside of my house to reach the level of the inside.

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