Back stoop, shade garden, and basement access

We have not had any rain for a few weeks but are expecting showers from Rainstorm Nate so I wanted to get the back stoop finished.

Here is the before:


There were 2 badly worn colors – a royal blue and a medium blue gray color.  One board was badly warped so it was replaced.  I found a stain product that will cover paint and hold up to weather far better than paint.  So after the standard scrapping, sanding, and cleaning process I tried out the stain.  Sure enough, it covers paint.  I had it tinted the same color as the foundation.  These steps take a real beating when we get heavy rain.  The water comes down from the upper roofs and from the screened porch roof then flies over the rain gutter like a fire hose and lands on the steps.  So this will be a real test for how good this product really is.

Also was able to plant a shade garden in front of the front porch.   Before it was a weedy grassy mess with tree roots running through it.  It never looked good and was right in front of the house.  So after digging through hard soil and fighting with the roots, the plants got planted.


The Liriopes in the back will spread to fill in the area in front of the railing.  Two of the front plants are called Leten Roses and bloom in winter – never had a plant do that before so am looking forward to the treat.

The electricians have been here on and off for the past few months and are finished with all planned work (that I can think of).  All floors are officially re-wired – from the attic to the cellar.   We had lights and electrical outlets installed in the cellar so I can do wood work there instead of outside (or on the front porch).  Until yesterday the only access to the cellar was from the outside which is ok unless you want to go down there in the evening.  So we re-opened the cellar access off the kitchen.  The floor was boarded up when the prior owners installed a heat pump and placed the cold air return in that staircase (essentially making it a closet).  We had the floor cut open along the side which is just big enough to get down the stairs.


The beadboard was covered with paper but will clean up nicely with a coat of paint (or 2).  The floor had linoleum over it so will need to clean that up and finish it the same as the hall floor.  So when I need a change of pace will work on cleaning up the cellar and installing peg board etc. for a workshop.  Currently all the tools are located in the exercise room off the master bedroom – it will be nice to have them arranged appropriately in a workshop.

So next week work will resume on removing wallpaper from the 2nd floor rooms (walls and ceilings).



Exterior Painting

A couple of weeks ago the exterior trim for the remaining 10 windows on the 1st floor was painted.  The trim for the attic windows still needs to be painted but that will wait until the electricians clear out of the attic (currently wiring the 2nd floor).  The weather has been very dry so have been able to get a good start on painting the foundation (which consists of masonary block, stone, and brick).

A couple of before shots:

And after:

Still need to install vinyl lattice under the front porch railing.  Next spring we’ll plant some drought tolerant shrubs on each side of the lonely boxwood.  We’re not quite sure what this back stoop was used for but the steps and railing will require major sanding before they can also be painted.



Back Porch Finished!

Earlier in the week I was able to get the second coat of paint on the outside lower frame before it started to rain.  On the rainy day the small entrance between the porch and the kitchen got cleaned and painted (white).  It was very dirty so just the cleaning made an improvement.  The floor is cement and still needs to be painted the same peppery red color as the porch floor.

Today Dan helped to install the lattice panels on the lower outside porch frame.   Here is a before picture.  Ignore the Dave’s Lawn Care sign – that was posted on our property without our permission.  We do our own lawn.


And here are some after pictures – see if you can find Dan:

There are 2 gates that make it easy to store things under the porch – like the lawn sweeper.  Dan re-sized one gate so it would close completely.

The next project is to finish painting some exterior window trim then paint the foundation


Back Porch

We finished installing the lattice on the interior of the porch (still need to install it on the outside porch ‘skirt’).  In addition to Jazzy proofing the screen, it provides for some nice privacy.



These pictures provide a nice before and after look.  The outside treads of the steps have sand mixed in the paint so they will not be slippery when wet.

The screen door that was on this porch was functional (albeit very dirty with torn screens) and boring (see above).  I had removed a charming one from one of the front porch doors as we don’t use the door and the screen door was in need of refurbishing.


This screen was in relatively decent shape but the back side of the spindles could not be painted without removing the screen.  So off came the screen and then the door underwent the standard scraping, sanding, and painting process.  Putting the new screen on was fairly easy.  Hanging the door was far more complicated.  Never would have guessed that screen doors can be so tempermental.  After several adjustments and some help from a friend the door now hangs straight (with the help of a turnbuckle – new to me) and closes completely (with the help of a door closer).  The space above the door is an odd shape so that had to be framed and screened as well.


We even installed a doggy door so Jazz can let herself in and out.  After a lot of research it became apparent we were not going to buy something that would work with this door.  So while at True Value (a favorite store) picking up some brads I asked one of the employees if he had any ideas.  After discussing a few options he suggested plexiglass.  So thats’ what we did.  It is located on the lower right side and is hung with a piano hinge.  It is difficult to tell the door is there so we taped off the left side and bribed Jazz in and out of the right side with some doggie treats.  She has it figured out.

Today the lower outside frame received the first coat of paint.  It will get a second coat before the lattice panels get cut and installed.




Porch Screens

Today our good friends Bobby and Karen came over to help install the screens.  We had a good time and made excellent progress.

Sometimes we had to over-load the ladder (at least according to the warnings on the ladder) and sometimes we needed to prop up the ladder but we managed to reach all the hard to get to places.  All the screening has been installed and most of the lattice strips have been installed (all the strips running across the upper edge and most of the remaining vertical strips are installed).

The screen is fine and is some type of fabric (perhaps nylon?) vs. metal.  The see-thru factor is great but we had some concerns as to how well it would hold up to Jazz chasing down flies.  After all the work that went into putting up the screen and making it look nice we did not want to risk having her put holes in it so Bobby suggested we install lattice panels on the inside to protect it.


We installed one panel and like how it looks so will install lattice on the remaining sides later in the week.

So we are screened in minus the door (which is a small project unto itself).  And the framing around the outside base of the porch still needs to be painted before the lattice panels get installed there.  Thank you Bobby and Karen for all the help!


Porch Floor

The rest of the porch received its 3rd coat of white paint on the frame this morning.   It’s a good thing the frame is done because I’m tired of painting spindles/framing.  I was anxious to see how the peppery red paint would look on the floor so the first coat was applied today.  It’s not exactly the color I was hoping for but it’s close enough.  Tomorrow the second coat will go on and then on Monday we’ll install the screens.


Back Porch Progress

The filthy screens and blue rug have been removed and the wood framing has been pressure washed.  That alone was an improvement.  Our friend Bobby brought over his sawzall and removed the extra window/decorative frames built into the framing (see 2nd picture – not sure why they were there).  The gable was too tall to reach with just the 10′ ladder so Dan held the extension ladder while I painted it (2 coats).  I had forgotten there was only one coat of yellow paint on the inside porch wall so a second coat of paint was applied while our friend Karen (Bobby’s wife) painted a second coat on the frame.


It takes 3 coats of white paint to cover the blue.  The framing on the right has 3 coats; the other 2 walls have 2 coats and the stair frame only has 1 coat.  The remaining coats should be done by Friday and then it will be time to paint the floor the peppery red.  Karen and Bobby have offered to help install the screen so sometime next week we’ll have a screen installation day.


Hall Baseboards, Powder Room Window and Front Porch

The hall baseboards required a lot more cuts than expected but the hall is now done:


And the the powder room window now has trim and is painted white:

The front porch has 8 pillars, 112 spindles, and 2 posts.  The pillars and spindles on the south east sides were the most weathered damage and required the most work.  But they are now all painted as are the 2 sections of the floor.

It is now time to tackle the back porch (12×15).  The ceiling was repaired and covered with vinyl last summer and the chandeliers were replaced then as well.  The screens need to be replaced (notice some large holes and tears) and all the framing needs to be painted.  All the lattice will be replaced with vinyl or pvc.  The 2×4 framing will be painted white and the floor will be painted a rusty red to match a color in the cushions (and the brick foundation).  And of course the well worn stained blue carpet will go.


Hall Floor – Part B

The hall floor is now sanded, nailed, stained and has polyurethane applied.  I spent a whole day sanding to remove as much of the darker imperfections as possible.  I also applied wood conditioner to the floor before staining it.  I’m not sure which did the trick but this time when I stained the floor I no longer got the ugly blotches.  There is a mixture of white and red oak wood so the stain did not take evenly but is acceptable – especially after the rug runner is put in place (need to wait 7 days before covering the floor).

Above is the before with the tripping hazards (kitchen on the left, powder room on the right).  And here is the after:


There is a slight ramp-up into both of the rooms.  The stain and polyurethane both took a long time to dry given the rainy, humid weather we have been having.

Today we re-hung the bathroom door after cutting some of the bottom off so it would clear the threshold.  It still would not close easily but after trimming the lower side edge with a plane it closes nicely.

The baseboards and toe-kicks in the hall will get installed next.




Hall Floor – Part A

There is a short hall between the dining room and kitchen that also leads to the powder room and master bedroom.  The floor had the same 1×1 blue and white tile on it that was in the kitchen.  After removing it and the linoleum I found the hardwood floor.  It has some mixed wood in it but it is all wood so we’ll make it work.  The challenge is the hall floor is level with the dining room and bedroom entrances but there is about a 1.5″ step up into the powder room and kitchen.  Part of that is due to the tile in the kitchen and bathroom and part of it is because the floor slopes down at both of those entrances.

The picture on the left is of the kitchen entrance and the one on the right is the powder room entrance.  The entrance to the powder room actually slopes downward to the left as well as toward the room.  After consulting with a couple of my favorite people (Ruth and Kevin) we came up with the solutions.  Below is the revised floor to the powder room.  The boards are not nailed down yet – that will happen after the boards and the rest of the floor get sanded.


It took several tries to get the right combination / order of boards so they are now numbered.  The tape will go on the back before they get sanded.   Once they are all sanded and stained they should blend together nicely.  The kitchen entrance should be easier as there will be far fewer boards – will tackle that another day.