Monday, May 25, 2009

A Quick Update

We spent the weekend stripping paint off the trim on the house. We are actually pretty close to a point where we will be able to start fixing stuff and priming. Maybe another weekend worth of work paint removal. I would post pictures but the battery on the camera is dead and I am too tired to charge it and take pictures. Sad.

Our neighbors are having very different reactions to this project. The ones closest to the side we are doing are thrilled, which is good because the paint shaver is not a quiet tool. They really like the look of the house and are excited about seeing it brought back to it's glorious little bungalow state.

Our neighbor on the other side laughed at us when we told her what we are doing. Not a mean laugh, more of a laugh of disbelief. Both of our current project and our project output in general. She said we are making her feel lazy. I think we are getting a reputation....

Monday, May 18, 2009

Hello Bungalow!

So we got carried away yesterday.... and turned our house into a bungalow. Just to give you an idea (lucky we did the fence project or we would have no before pictures of this side of the house) this is what we began with:I know it's not the best picture, but you get the idea. We lucked out (so far). There is not one clapboard that needs to be replaced. There are maybe ten shingles that need to be replaced due to splitting from nails. We LOVE it. I don't think I can even express how much I love the siding. The shingles have a docked corner where they meet the sofit. If you zoom in on this picture, you can see it.

This is not to say everything is perfect. We need to redo the corner trim. The skirt is missing some trim. Poor girl.
Also, the beadboard is giving us trouble. There are roofing nails sticking into it, so the heat gun, scrapers, and the new paint shaver are pretty useless. It is protected, so a lot of the paint is in good condition and won't come off. We are considering Peel Away. Anyone used this? Is it worth it? Any other ideas? Other than the beadboard, the rest of the project seems doable.

The old cement asbestos shingles are double bagged sitting in our garage. We wore respirators the whole time, and maybe cracked 10% of them, so safety-wise, I think we're doing pretty well.

And I LOVE it.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Burning down the house....

Okay, so it just smoked a little. That's right, Kevin started the house on fire. Seriously, with the nice work on the fence and our finished bedroom, I was beginning to think we needed to change the name of the blog to reflect our mad skills. But I was brought back down to Earth today.

We were maybe ten minutes into the project when Kevin, who was on the ladder tackling the beadboard with the heat gun calmly asked, "Sarah, would you get a spray bottle?" I was busy into my own work, and told him just a second, until he asked again, this time with a little more urgency. That's when I looked up.

A comic (if you weren't us) routine followed, including a mad dash for the hose, running over to the burning corner, realizing the water wasn't on, and finally spraying from all angles and getting everything wet in the process. In case you are wondering, everything is okay (I can't even see where it's burned), and we live two blocks from the fire department, so even if we tried we would have a hard time doing too much damage. Needless to say, Kevin has been working with the heat gun on a much lower setting.
This is a shot of Kevin's progress for the day. The very corner, in the upper left of the picture is the infamous burned area. See? You can't even tell. The black area closer to the house in the photo is not from us. Wood rot??
Here's my progress form the day. The window is pretty close to being done, and will probably be done tomorrow, after I make a run to my sister's new house (they bought a Victorian) to give her rhubarb and onions. Finally, here is a close-up of the clapboard we stripped. It looks like it's in great shape, no?

Friday, May 15, 2009


This is a post meant to distract you from the lack of work on the bungled-house lately. Actually, we've been doing plenty on the yard, thanks to the Friends School plant sale bounty we recently brought in.
This is my expanded garden. It used to be about a foot wide and about 3/4 as long. It's been quadrupled. We are growing lots of edibles this year, including grapes, blueberries, watermelon, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, strawberries, lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, currants, rhubarb, carrots, beans, peas... yum.

Now, you might say, "Boy, Sarah and Kevin, your water bills are going to skyrocket with all of that stuff to water!"

Not with this!
It was my birthday present from Kevin. We got it at the Reuse-it Center. By the way, if anyone has any advice on how to get it to seal, let me know. We can get it to fill about half-way, but it still has see-through slits.

Finally, to distract you further from our lack of starting on the siding project, pictures of officially finished fence.
Look at that beautiful gate!
And what a beautiful section! The top rail is the newest addition.Last but not least: Dog Enjoying Fence.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Planning for a Job

Before the first hole is drilled, paint is scraped or post is set, a lot of behind the scenes action goes on over here at the bungled house. A lot of fast-paced, exciting action. Like this:Okay, so that picture was taken three years ago (about a week after we got Arlo). However, the job he is modeling, that of researcher, is of utmost importance.

For instance: the paint job on the exterior has not yet officially begun, but research has been conducted for months. Kevin and I spend a lot of time on this step. We look at tools, how-to guides, and products. I would say, in the last month or so, I have read no less than six "how to paint your house" articles. Everyone has an opinion about techniques, paint and primer. When their is disagreement, we try to find some actual research to back up claims. See, mom and dad, those liberal arts college degrees are paying off in ways you never thought possible.

So, I now present to you our research findings in,

How to Paint your House Bungled-Style*

*Subject to change once we get into this project and realize all our research was for naught.

1. We are going down to bare wood. First, neither of us like the look of a house where just the loose paint has been taken off. Second, we have massive, massive paint failure on the entire house.
See that? Yuck. We have the alligatoring too. And the blistering.

2. Okay, so that first one wasn't really a step in the painting process, more of a decision we have made. That decision, however, leads us to method: how we are going to scrape the house. The methods most people use are: dry scraping, dry sanding, the Paint Shaver (or similar product) heat (in the form of blowtorch, heat gun or Silent Paint Remover), chemical strippers or pressure washers. We are still debating this one. We bought a Silent Paint Remover, and while I think it will do wonders on the interior trim, I have my doubts about the exterior. The Paint Shaver is really appealing, but I have heard stories of gouges and it is expensive (though we could probably resell it for close to its original value). I'll keep you posted. If anyone has any questions about why we are not considering any of the other options, leave a comment and I will let you know more.

3. Wash the house. Some say to use TSP (tri-sodium phosphate), others say bleach, and others say mild detergent. I am leaning toward a lean mixture of bleach and detergent. The TSP can be harmful to landscaping, and though I know the bleach water isn't great either, it will do the job of fighting mildew well even when diluted significantly. We are planning to borrow my parent's pressure washer to do this, and use it on a very gentle setting.

4. Repair any damage to the wood. This is a good time to announce that we are in fact ripping out the asbestos siding. We are going to be gentle and use all the proper precautions. However, this means that we will have nail holes. A lot of nail holes. There may also be some split wood if a nail was driven too close to an edge. We are crossing our fingers on this one. We also have to repair any rotted wood, which seems to be focused so far on the front side of the house. I will let you know which products we use for this later. Any suggestions?

5. Sand. We are using 80 grit to give the paint something to grip onto. We will be using my Makita random orbital, though rumor has it Kevin broke it.

6. Prime. Here is a HUGE point of contention among pros. Oil or Latex Primer? I wish I could link to the article in Fine Homebuilding that goes into great deal about primer, but we have a subsrcription, so it's not free. Anyway, the main point is, a good 100% acrilyc primer will flex with the wood and last longer. There is a chance of water-borne stains showing through, but they are easy to find and those can be sealed with oil based primer without compromising the felxibility of the latex. If you are a research nerd like us, it's worth it to have a subscription to the online archives of FH. Another interesting fact from the article is that you should go with the "sister" primer of the paint you choose. So, Behr paint = Behr primer, Valspar paint = Valspar primer, etc.

We are still not sure how we are appliying the primer/paint. If we rent a sprayer, we'll have it for months, and that can't be cheap. So that is up for debate.

7. Paint. Honestly, right now I am leaning toward Duramax by Valspar. If you had asked me yesterday, I would have said Duration by Sherwinn Williams, but (notice a theme) according to my research, Duramax is about the same quality-wise if not a little better, and much cheaper. Again, all this could change. An added benefit of not using Sherwinn Williams is that there was an incident involving Kevin's dad, Sherwinn Williams and the Twins in the World Series that is still very raw, in that we were told never to use Sherwinn Williams paint.

So, there you have it. I am sure this will all change, and I think I forgot the step about caulking, so I will be adding on to this as we go. I just needed to wrap my head around the scale of this project. Which leads me to the next post: our plan.