Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Lovin' the hood.

Last night at the park near our house, there was a movie playing outside. We live in a very kid-friendly neighborhood, so I thought it would be a cartoon, and I just wasn't in the mood. On our way back from HD, though, we decided to take a look. The SANDLOT!!!!!! So we dropped off our goods, grabbed a blanket and the dog (he was super intrigued by The Beast on the big screen) and caught the last half. How perfect is that?!

And, my peonies are blooming! I think that is one of the best things about buying in the winter. Every week brings new garden surprises. I have been waiting to see what color these are for months. I'm not usually a pink fan, but they are gorgeous and I am totally smitten.

Windows: Step-by-Step

Okay, so I am actually writing this not for anyone's entertainment, but for my own sanity. Ever since our $100 a-week house budget went into effect, buying things for projects has become a test of our strategic abilities. For instance, when do we NEED the glass for the windows? When do we NEED to buy the primer or the paint or the sash cords? We spent a good hour in HD playing this game last night. It might get old soon. Who knows.

Quick side note: Last night we made an accidental discovery I feel is worthy of sharing with all of my cheap... er, I mean frugal, house restoring pals. We walked to HD to get some window stuff. One of the things we were going to get was a gallon of primer. After walking around the store with it for a while, we put it back. Too heavy. Purchase averted! Except that we kind of do need it soon to proceed with the window project. Hmmm.

Back to the original purpose of this post. I am going to write a quick step-by-step of our window project to organize my thoughts. Note to people tackling this project. This is not always the most logical order, so you know, rearrange as necessary. And of course, if you want real advice, read Working Windows by Terry Meany.


1. Remove bottom sash.
a) break paint seal all around with razor blade and putty knife. Remove caulk (who caulks a window shut?!) I found grabbing at a chunk of it with a needle-nose pliers is a pretty quick way to get it out in one piece.
b) remove stops gently with a five-in-one painter's tool. I usually put a cloth or piece of
leather under it to protect the wood.
c) gently wiggle the sash back and forth until it comes out.
2. Remove old glazing on outside of sash.
3. Become impatient, try to remove glass too early, break glass.
4. Spend more time removing glazing. (This is actually really important. The whole track needs to be very clean before trying to get the glass out. We've found that heat reflective tape and our trusty borrowed heat gun make things much easier.)
5. Begin stripping paint off with heat gun in garage/basement. Be careful of lead paint! (See your state guidelines for proper removal). Our heat gun has variable heat control. We use it at a relatively low heat, not hot enough to vaporize the lead. We clean up with water and mop afterwards.
6. While spouse is taking FOREVER to strip the windows, get bored and remove all the bottom sashes.
7. Realize it was stupid to have three windows in progress at once. Hit yourself on the head while saying. "Stupid, stupid" repeatedly.
8. Spend at least a week asking your wife, "Should we paint the inside? Should we varnish it? What color should we paint it?" (add your own variations for variety.)
9. Treat wood. We're using boiled linseed oil, but I've read other wood conditioners are also recommended and maybe even better.
10. Remove top sash. Again, same idea as the bottom sash, but instead of the stop, you remove the parting bead. And break it. Is there no way to remove it without breaking it? We found it easiest to take off the storm and work from both the outside and the inside.
11. Gaze adoringly at the hole in your house that used to be a window.
12. Buy screens at salvage place. Begin stripping those to add more to the to-do list.
13. Walk to store to buy primer, realize it's too heavy to carry home, buy screen material instead.
14. Sand and prime screens because you have the week off and you're bored. (Okay, so I haven't done that yet because it's rainy and icky and I have to wear my respirator and I don't like to wear my respirator. It bruises me nose.

Okay see, here's where I have to stop. What do we do next? Prime first and then install the glass? Do we prime the track where the glazing goes? Or leave it bare wood? Anyway, T.B.C.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Windows the Second

Yesterday, we took out our first top sash. It was a little harder than the bottom because the parting beads (the long skinny board that keeps the top sash in place) are really hard to get out. I broke them both, but they are pretty easy to replace from what we've heard. The living room window, the one we're working on, is the only one I have seen so far with any rot issue. It's not too bad, both sashes have very minimal damage. It really just got the parting bead. We're planning on painting the sashes white, inside and out. The rest of the interior woodwork, though painted now, will eventually be stripped to natural wood. We went with paint because of durability issues and because the windows, though painstakingly stripped by Kevin, didn't look that great once he was through because of the rot and just general water exposure. Kevin is going to post about this once I talk him into it. The exterior trim will be painted white next summer when we paint the house, so that's why we went white all around. I think it will look really sharp.

In other window news, we got our first pane of glass out without breaking it! Kevin used the heat gun and put heat reflective tape on the glass to get the glazing putty out. I have a week off (with a little work to do from home) so I plan to strip the paint on the window frame, strip the screens, and paint them "Rainstorm" blue.

The house did not come with screens, which shouldn't have surprised us, since the windows were caulked shut. We found some replacements at Bauer Bros. Salvage last weekend. This place, located a dangerously close three or four miles from our house, is huge. There is an entire floor of windows. That picture is all storms and screens! Do you even see the end of it? We eventually found exactly what we needed for a great price. By the way, when I said we had giant windows, I wasn't kidding. We only found two that would work. They are literally as tall as me (5'1"). Which made it a lot easier for me than for Kevin to look at a window and see right away if it would work or not. It became a game, Kevin getting his hopes dashed every time I would stand next to one. That tall white one on the right might be one of ours. See how big it is compared to the others?

In other non-window related news, we found out the two giant concrete slabs in our backyard do not cover up anything scary. Our neighbor's parents used to own his house, so he has lived there his entire life. He was also good friends with our PO's son. He is a great asset to our curiosity. I mentioned something about the bricks we used to make a border around the vegetable garden, and he said the bricks and concrete slabs were from some street work they did a long time ago. The bricks were the original street, and the concrete was sidewalk. When the city began tearing up the road, all the residents grabbed what they could. All of the houses on the block have some of these bricks in their landscaping. It's kind of a cool connection to the neighborhood. And also good to know there is not a body buried in our backyard.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Warning: I am about to complain.

I am sick of our money going into this house. We're pretty frugal with our finances, which is why two mid-twenty somethings could afford to buy a house in the city. When we aren't going through major job transitions, we usually have money in the bank to spare. Ever since the house came into the picture, however, our bank account can't seem to grow. Part of it may be the huge electrical project we took on without realizing the magnitude of it. Part of it may be we just got done paying monthly installments of my grad school. Actually, those two things just might be the culprits, now that I think about it. Of course then there's the Beast in the Basement...No, not that beast, though he's not cheap. And no, we do not keep him in the basement; he followed me down and then looked at me like I was crazy for taking pictures of the Real Beast in the Basement:

Anyway, this beast caused quite a jump in our utilities. Then, last but not least there's Ronald, the deceased PO of our house. He is the cause of things like this and this and these. He is also the resident scapegoat. Storm window stuck? Ronald. Refrigerator making weird noises? Ronald. Now, to be fair, he is the cause of many problems in the house: the basement staircase being held up by one lonely 2x4, installing cement asbestos siding over the original clapboard, and the fugly Kitchen and Bathroom remodels. All of which, I might add will eventually cost a lot of time and money for us. Some days, (did you guess yet that today is one of them?) I really miss our clean, modest little duplex. I miss the shiny hardwood floors, the convenience of calling our landlord when something didn't work, being able to clean the whole house in two hours, and the ability to sit around on weekends under a blanket on the couch together and not have projects hanging over our heads. Of course, our landlord didn't really fix things very well and our bedroom had a significant mold problem. But still, we had money. A nice little nest egg. Which has now become a house with crappy floors, no windows and holes everywhere (from the electrical project). All day today, I kept wondering when we were ever going to have money again. How long will it be before our bank account starts growing? Seriously, how do people do it? Does everyone else just have massive credit card debt?

I just want new clothes.

Oh, Cursed House

I was only trying to turn off the water.... However, in case you were wondering, Vice Grips make excellent replacement knobs.