Posts Tagged Exterior

Winter’s End?

Nearly a 1 year hiatus. Yes, and although I’ve often considered updating, I’ve been learning how to manage my full time job, living with family, and keeping friends on the weekends. With quite a few projects in between also. What have I accomplished over the past two years, since I got really lazy journaling about home improvement projects? Let me think:

  • Primed the entire house exterior
  • Painted the entire house exterior
  • Painted front & side entry doors
  • Install all new window trim and moldings through entire house
  • Stained or painted new window trim (the bathroom, laundry, and kitchen have painted woodwork)
  • Ordered raised panel vinyl shutters (not my favorite material, but inexpensive and zero maintenance won this time)
  • Primed & painted vinyl shutters (4 pairs)
  • Hung shutters on front & side windows
  • Blown cellulose insulation into attic (insulation value at R-60, baby!)
  • Painted main living room (boring white was getting old)
  • Hang living room curtains on new sturdy drapery rods
  • New laminate countertops & tile backsplash in the sister’s kitchen

Most of these steps I didn’t document, but I can highlight the finished outside of the house!

Below is the completely untouched “before” picture. Other than maybe a few plants and the park bench, this is how the house looked before I started working at all. Complete with rotting windows, vintage door, and fading bland paint job.


Here is my rendered “after,” with the intention of all new windows, doors, shutters and a new and noticeable paint scheme.


And here is the “after!” All the work I mentioned is complete, it’s only taken a little more than 2 years!

ImageOops, apparently this was before the shutters went up. But you can see how nicely landscaped it looked last summer, with fresh mulch, plenty of rain, and such a beautiful shaded green lawn. It has definitely spruced up the entire corner. What was before an almost unnoticeable little house is now a home that just looks loved and well maintained. And a little bit of personality thrown in there too.

ImageI really liked how the landscaping with its large radios curved edges has really softened the strong horizontal and box-like lines of the house.


And here is the house (with shutters) earlier this winter, about mid January.The shutters are actually a color called Urbane Bronze (Sherwin Williams), but it is a strange color. Some days they look brown, some days they look black, and in the photo above they look blue gray. Since we didn’t replace the dark gray roof, I thought a gray/brown shutter color would help tie in the dark roof and brown paint scheme. And I think it accomplished that.

Although you cannot tell in the above photo, thanks to all that snow. NW Ohio has gotten in excess of 52 inches of snow this season, more total snowfall since the Blizzard of 1978! But the fancy Nest thermostat and medium efficiency furnace kept up just fine. Although I can’t compare until the winter is officially over (yes, I do keep utility bills each year so I can document the homes energy usage and compare it after I complete energy upgrades), I would dare to say the energy usage this winter is probably lower still than any winter before this thanks to the energy efficient and air-tight windows and doors. And you can also see how, thanks to the attic insulation, we have very little heat loss through the roof, as the heat from the house doesn’t escape from the ceiling to melt snow off the roof.

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Something to Reveal

Wow; WordPress had to send me an e-mail reminding me to renew my blog subscription and domain name. That “reveals” to me how long it has been since I last updated this blog. No, I’m not proud of the 6 month hiatus. But I am proud of what I’ve been doing in this time.

This past summer and fall, the house painting project got 90% complete; but a job and the cold weather set in before I could finish. I still have the north gable and trim, as well as the east fascia boards that are primed but not yet painted. I want to use the first few warm Spring weekends to finish painting those areas. Priming and painting the front door a spicy Fireweed red should be another short weekend project. The house currently does not have shutters, but I have envisioned adding a contrasting color by introducing shutters since day 3 (days 1 and 2 were spent bringing the bathroom and kitchen up to speed in this former beat-up rental home).

I have already revealed that I enjoy hunting for old furniture at yard sales and auctions, but I’ve been really good. There have been a few items that have tempted me, but I already have several sets of chairs and a big chest of drawers waiting for a new life, not to mention 3 dining chairs to refinish and reupholster to complete my dining room set.

And the windows. That was probably one of the lengthier projects I have ever undertaken… and technically, not yet finished because I am still without woodwork. Only now I am without woodwork with new windows that are air-tight, water-tight, and so much nicer looking on the outside and soon on the inside. I’m re-using as much of the old woodwork as possible, using mis-matched pieces on the windows where the trim will be painted, and sanding down to bare wood for the windows that will have stained trim. But trimming out each window is a lengthy job; creating a new window sill (So exciting to be getting window sills! The old windows were trimmed without this much-needed ledge); lining the inside of the window opening with 1/2″ thick lumber; and finding the best pieces of used molding to complete the inside trim. To this point (4 windows of 12 total), I have been able to use entirely all salvaged board and trim.

So if you read the title, you might be wondering what I have to reveal. Well, the first hint is that I am going to have to change this blog’s tagline. I am no longer unemployed. It just so happens that I was selected as the Interim Program Manager for my hometown’s Main Street organization! You can read all about it from either our town newspaper, or our town’s online newspaper. From the first week, I have been excited for the challenges and rewards each day brings! I have so many ideas for Van Wert, specifically the downtown, and with my long-time passion for historic preservation, I know I can make a positive impact on this community through Main Street.

What does this mean? Well, firstly I am employed. And it’s more than just a temporary job. It’s an experience job, and so far I love it! The people, the multitude of tasks each day, the office, and the entire downtown district. I am still getting to know the business owners and learning about their businesses, in hopes that I can be as beneficial as possible to them. Fortunate for me, the guy I replaced was very willing to come in periodically and walk me through different responsibilities and answer the multitude of questions I need answered. No, its not as a designer; but I truly enjoy working where I can make a positive impact in people’s lives, and I get to spend my evenings and weekends doing design and construction, my other passion.

So what are my other goals for this Spring and ultimately this year? I’d like to find a nice screened storm door for the front so that I can enjoy the Spring and Summer breeze.

I have been thinking about how nice it would be to have a small gabled awning over the back door, not only to help protect the door from the elements, but to keep myself dry when I stand bumbling for the house key in the rain. And I think it would help give the side door a friendlier look. Something similar to this:

Or this one.

Similar to how ours would look, as I could easily move the light from the its current position beside the door to above. Also, our utility room window is just about the same distance the left of the door.



Seeing Portabello

Yes, for the past two weekends we have been seeing and smelling portabello. And getting it all over our hands, faces, and even in our hair. No, I’m not talking mushrooms.

I’m talking paint. As in, Sherwin-Williams Portabello 6102. Don’t let this small color swatch fool you, it looks so much richer in real life, almost like the underneath side of that mushroom above. It really is a very saturated and beautiful golden-reddish-brown color. Catch up to speed on our big house painting adventure planning and how we debated paint colors at this post over here, or see the abbreviated version of the color scheme and a rendering of the finished house by clicking on this post.

Onto the good stuff. We were fully geared up and prepared to paint the house with 2 brushes in each hand. And that is exactly how we primed the entire exterior with Zinsser Peel Stop clear binding sealer. It was like painting with milk; very thin and watery, and dried to a very slight sheen over the surface of the shingles. We wondered if it was even doing any good until we had to clean a few dried drips off of a window frame. Oh my goodness was it nearly impossible to clean off once dry! So if it stuck that well to new shiny vinyl window frames, I figure it must have been a good product!

But after priming, I was not at all interested in repeating that brushing torture once again with the paint. So I began asking around and doing some research on airless paint sprayers. It turns out they are pretty affordable to rent and seemingly easy to learn to use. In fact, this YouTube video is the clip that made me say out loud, “that’s it, we’re renting a sprayer!”

The man in the video is painting the same style and size shingles as my house (pretty much the same ‘before’ color, too) and boy does it go super quick! So just like the video, we masked off all the windows and doors with masking tape and painter’s plastic. We propped up cardboard under the last row of shingles to cover the foundation, and I held a piece of cardboard attached to a handle as a long blade against the soffit above the top row of shingles. And then it was time to spray.

I first used water to familiarize myself with the airless sprayer. I ‘painted’ water onto a large piece of cardboard so I could see how thin and even of a spray the machine produced. By spraying in about 3 – 4 foot lengths and overlapping each path by half, I got the hang of it really quick. So I primed the sprayer with paint and gave myself one more test run on the cardboard. Time to hit the house. I don’t know why I was so hesitant, the paint sprayed out so thin and evenly, filling all of the grooves in the cedar shingles effortlessly. By overlapping each length of spray, I was left with a smooth finish and a solid cover of paint. No need for two coats!

Check out the white primer polka dots, no? You have no idea how glad I was to paint over them and rid the house of its primer pox epidemic. And now for a close up comparison of the ‘before’ and ‘after’ colors for you to eat up (yes, that was a pun on the paint color name).

The only caution I would give, and I was fairly warned by the managers at the Sherwin-Williams store, is to be prepared to back-roll (or in my case, back brush) the paint after spraying a large section. Anywhere that I overlapped more than a half stripe or even sprayed a second coat would begin to run and form drips. These areas just need a once-over with a paint brush, hence the term back brushing, to even out the spray.

I actually painted the house in 2 Saturdays, partly because I started later in the day (masking off windows takes for-ev-er) and partly because I ran out of paint on the first Saturday too late in the day to run out and get more. But after it was all painted (even before it was completely finished), I was ecstatic with how it looked! I am in love with the deep rich color, and so pleased with how well the paint covered. We painted with Sherwin-Williams Duration Exterior Acrylic Latex , known for its superior color coverage and long lasting paint performance.

So how far have we come? Here is the original before photo, house circa summer 2009; aka, boring beige (although it has a slight pink tinge in that particular photo).

Here is the house before we painted. Yes, it is looking a little poka-dotted or zebra striped or something in between as a result of different color shingles around the windows, tinted primer under the picture window, and tons of primed areas around the single windows. As people would walk through the neighborhood in the evenings, you could see them point and look, and looooook. Probably wondering what in the world we were doing. At least the sky is beautiful in this photo.

And here is the house after a super rich paint job of Portabello. I was going to say what percentage of an improvement the new paint is, but the actual number is off my scale. Probably something like a mbajeelion (silent m) times better looking. (Click here to see how closely this real photograph compares to a rendered image I created at the beginning of this painting project).

Improvement? I think so. I am still in the process of painting the fascia boards and soffits bright white, and then will be painting the gables. All by hand, brush and roller. I decided that with the amount of overspray produced by the airless sprayer, it would be nearly impossible to spray the gables and have a clean crisp painted edge when done without using 20 miles of painter’s tape. Which isn’t cheap, by the way. So up and down a ladder with a paintbrush in hand I will go. And hopefully I will finish before the snow flies.

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