Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Great Esc(r)ape: DONE!

Okay,'s not actually done-done. But it's one eighth done and, hey, that's better than one sixteenth done or one thirty-second done, right? Indeed, yes.

So, here it is - the completed porch:

We've been close to done for a while now but it's this and then that delaying things. Anyway, there it is.

The plan is to enjoy weekends from this point on until about April when it warms up a bit and then we'll attempt the second floor of the front, and then one side at a time. We feel good about it. Yay, us!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Today's Lessons Learned

I don't have any photos today. I worked for seven hours today and feel I have little to show for it. What I did do looks exactly like past photos so you can look at those and imagine I did the same thing again today. This project is definitely hitting the tedium point right about now. However, I did finish scraping the lattice (ugh, finally). Taken together, I learned these lessons today:

1) The four-way stop on the corner by our house seems to be only a suggestion to most drivers.
2) Pandora plays the same damn commercial over and over again so you feel required to buy a subscription only if to maintain your sanity.
3) Painting lattice is only a little less loathsome than scraping it.
4) I'm tired.

That's all I got.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Great Esc(r)ape: "It's comin' along!"

"It's comin' along!" These are the words guiding today's post as we've heard them at least a hundred times this weekend as we continued to scrape and paint. There's not much to say, really, same-old, same-old (i.e., scrape, paint, repeat). So, we'll just nix the yakkity-yak and show you the goods:

As Tim says, "It's gettin' there."

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Knock, knock...

Our 8-year-old is a big fan of knock-knock jokes. So, in Ohara's honor, I present this to you:

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Lattice who?
Lattice please be done scraping now.


We are nearing the final stretch of scraping on the front porch, now moving to the outside. One piece to be tackled - and perhaps the most formidable - is the lattice, as you see below.
I was able to get a lot of the fronts of the lattice strips and even the tops but getting behind, as you can see, is not quite as easy. 

Taking this break to whine, perhaps it's worthwhile to mention at this time the various scraping accoutrements that have come to our aid in this pain-staking process. 

As pictured above, you can see the very helpful gloves (those heat guns are hot!), a couple of the scrapers that came along with the Speed Heater, and various and sundry other scrapers and implements that have come in handy along the way. Nevertheless, none of these are quite right to get those lattice strips that rest behind the front ones. Grr.

We are making painting progress, however. Tim has begun scraping and painting under the eaves and it's really looking nice. One piece we have left, though, is the wood surround by the front door. I was hoping we would be able to strip it completely so it went along with the front door (open slightly ajar in photo) but it's not looking promising. We'll probably end up painting it but deciding on the pattern feels daunting. We'll also have to figure out what to do with the screen door. Tim and I put that in a few years ago when the house was white. Now that it will be not so much white, it's going to be a bit of an eyesore. Decisions, decisions...

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Painting Progress!

Well, here you go: one whole piece of the house with painting complete! Of course, this is barely 1/16th of the house actually completed but I am quite pleased with the results. You can see our three-color paint scheme here. We're contemplating adding a stripe of green to the molding around the window, however, to add some contrast - not quite sure yet.

Taking tomorrow off to continue scraping - hoping to have all of the railings and columns done tomorrow and keep working on the lattice area outside. Then, paint, paint, paint! Yippee!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Great Esc(r)ape - Turning the corner

Took a half day yesterday and all day today to paint and continue scraping. It was pretty exciting to put the second coat of paint on the porch clapboards. I am really loving the color - it's interesting how the shade changes depending on the light. I was also able to put the first coat of trim paint on the porch windows and top board. It was a little too chilly, however, to put on the second coat so you'll need to wait to see the finished product. I was a bit hesitant to paint around the door mostly because I'm still not sure about the pattern and what color should go where. I decided to go with the flow for the window so hopefully it will stay somewhat similar as things progress.

As I took breaks from painting, I kept scraping. Finishing up the porch floor and working on the endless spindles on the railings. Like other projects in this nearly 100-year-old house, this one turned up an unpleasant surprise: a rotten spindle under countless layers of paint.

I'm actually amazed that the paint kept it all together as long as it did. In fact, it looks like a number of the spindles were replaced at some point as well as the lower railing (seen to the left of the scraped spindle below).

So, the millwork place in nearby Brewer will be getting a visit from us to create a new spindle.

I was happy to finally finish scraping all of the inside spindles today. Of course, the majority were scraped by Tim when he took off work last week. Tomorrow perhaps will find us finishing the outside as well. Tim wanted me to tell you that I then went outside to vacuum the lawn - many paint shavings on the grass with the Shopvac. He found this funny.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Day 3,275 of the Great Esc(r)ape: We're Painting!

Look at that! That's paint on that there wall! I'm so excited I can hardly stand it. Seriously. I think you'd feel equally excited if you had been scraping paint for what seems an eternity. While we're not quite done with all of the scraping of the front downstairs of the house, we're ready enough to start painting. We got one coat on all of the front clapboards this afternoon and it feels very satisfying. I am also loving the color (thank goodness, right?). It's hard to tell from the photo but it's a grayish-green. We bought the crazy expensive Emerald paint from Sherwin-Williams that is also self-priming. According to random stranger passing by, we should still prime anyway but I'm going to trust that the crazy expensive paint is crazy expensive for a reason. It's funny - we get a lot of people driving by, walking by, passing by, all giving us lots of unsolicited advice. It's almost a community project at this point.

Anyway, it looks like it might rain tomorrow so probably no painting or scraping but I'm excited to see some progress that isn't just scrape-worthy.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Day 27 of the Great Esc(r)ape

Blogger tells me this is my 301st post since beginning this blog in 2007. Wow! That's a lot of house projects -- or at least a lot of talking about doing house projects. The latest, of course, being scraping the exterior of the house. Unlike my past house projects, however, this one doesn't seem to be the most interesting to blog about, mostly because very little progress is made in any period of time and the progress that is made looks a lot like the progress made the day before that, and the day before that, and - well, you get it.

Just to demonstrate how much paint has actually been scraped, I took a picture of our full box of paint peelings.
This box is actually the second box we have filled, believe it or not. I also wanted to show the latest area of scraping focus - the porch floor. As you see in the picture below, there is a heckuva lotta paint on this puppy. I don't think I've bothered to ever count layers but there are at least 3-4 layers of gray, a layer of sage green, a layer of dark green, and a cream color.
While the Speed Heater is marvelous at getting most of it off, you can see above a section that has been scraped where there is still paint adhered. I'm guessing that without sanding it's probably the best we're going to get. And, as I've said before, I'm loathe to sand any of it due to the inevitable lead paint that's in there. Anyway, it will end up being better than if we had just painted over the top of it again so we're going to be happy with what we have. I put in my hour for the day so I'm going to call it. We'll end up having a Scrape-a-thon this weekend with Labor Day - maybe even some paint and painting accoutrements will make an appearance? Here's to hoping.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Day 21 of the Great Esc(r)ape

The front of the first floor of the house is officially done. Now, don't go getting all excited - I literally mean the front. Not the floor of the porch, not the railings or stairs - just the front. Ugh. I have worked my fingers to the bone the last two days just to finish the front. I was really hoping for some gratification this weekend by painting at least part of it. The scraping is taking waaaaay longer than I thought (you'd think I would know this by now: that any project you assume will take you X days will actually take you 10X days). I was hoping to have the whole porch scraped by now and be able to paint so I am going to take what I can get. The plan tomorrow is to sand down what's out there and then start painting...yes, what is it that they say about the best laid plans?

One bright thing in my endless slog of a day was finding out that the few 2x4s below (originally put in place to hold the previously existing screened-in porch) not only were finally able to be removed, but revealed the original casing. I was quite sure that the porch contractors had done a hack job on it but - lo and behold - they actually built around the beautiful architectural detail. Huzzah!

So, here's a shot of the front as it stands today. I'm exhausted. It's time to call pizza guy.

Post script: I'm realizing how tired I must be when I post these updates as the parentheses around our little play on words seem to move around the word "Escrape" in the title. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Day 17 of the Great Es(c)rape: Nice surprise!

Look at the nice surprise we found hidden under some paint on the door casing and sidelights! It looks like this was varnished at some point to match the door (which was never painted) and then painted over. While the casing around it looks to have always been painted, we're hoping we can keep this unpainted. It's only a coat or two of paint so it's coming off like buttah.

Really nothing else to report. Still scraping, of course. And the scrape goes on...

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Great (E)scrape 2013: Day 15

It's been a while since my last update and that's really because there isn't much to report. We've been scraping. And scraping. And scraping. And...well, you get the idea. It's a slog, that's for sure. I feel like for 15 days we should have more to show for our labors but, really, it's very slow-going. Our hope is that once we finish the porch we'll be able to see more progress in a quicker fashion. It's really because the front porch has so many little details that it is slowing us down - they are beautiful details, mind you, but they make for slow work. For example, you'll see below the railings and balusters. We caved today and went to our friendly, neighborhood Home Depot for a heat gun. I had resisted the idea of a heat gun originally but, honestly, it was a wise investment. For the low price of $49 we were able to make some real headway on these puppies. Well, maybe "headway" is overly optimistic. Those few you see in the photo below took about 30 minutes to do. And, then, I went and made things worse by counting how many total there are: 100. Oi.

Nevertheless, we're moving along. Today was a duo work day with Tim doing some of the high points, me doing some of the lower points, and Ohara keeping Floyd busy. And, we should all appreciate how important it is to keep a kid and puppy busy while in the midst of a house project, right?

So, two weeks in. We're hoping to maybe begin painting someday soon and then move on the second story of the front of the house. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Great Esc(r)ape 2013: Day 5

Total burns: 3
Total blisters: 2

We've put in a solid few hours each day after work scraping the front porch area with the help of our new friend, the Speedheater. I am still very much enamored of our Speedheater but its novelty as a cool new toy has worn off. It's just a lot of flippin' work. I keep reminding myself and Tim that it will all be worth it in the end: we will have a beautiful house with paint that will last many years. Yes, that's what I keep telling myself. We'll see how long this strategy works.

You can see some of the fruit of our labor below. We've definitely learned a few things so far.

1) Having one person hold the Speedheater and the other person scrape goes a heckuva lot faster.

2) You need something into which to put all the scraped paint. There's a ton of paint on this old house (we're loving referring to it right now as This Old Crack House) and it gets heavy fast.

3) Gloves are needed. You can easily burn yourself on the metal parts of the heater. I learned this the hard way (sad face).

4) The power switch is in an inconvenient place on the handle and easily turned off.

5) Make sure you have a heavy-duty extension cord. It draws a lot of power and gets hot quickly.

Other than that, it's pretty great. 
The other part of my motivation strategy is to do the front porch area first simply to be able to have something finite and complete to see relatively soon. I really would like to be able to paint by Sunday (today is Thursday), at least the clapboards. The railings are going to take a lot more time than I had hoped and we're going to need some other tools to help us with the scraping of the more intricately carved woodwork. We'll definitely update when we start.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Friggin' Amazing: The Story of How the Speedheater Changed My Life

Do you see that? Do you? That, my friends, is bare wood after countless layers of paint (many with lead, I am certain) were removed. Do you know how long that took? About 2 minutes. No kidding. Do you know how much muscle was required to remove it? Barely any. Seriously. We got our Speedheater late last week but had made prior arrangements to go camping and just tried it out this afternoon upon our return. 

If you read earlier posts, you'll know that I found out about an American-made version from a This Old House post and then learned it was not as sturdy or as well-made as this Swedish, original version. I ordered it for about $400 plus shipping and had it two days later. It comes with the Speedheater itself as well as two scrapers and some holding brackets.

I think I was most impressed when Tim used it below on the porch floor. This thing melted off layers upon layers of paint effortlessly. I gotta tell you, I spent many, many hours a few summers ago trying to do unsuccessfully by hand what this thing did in seconds. It is so amazing. Even better (oh, yes, it gets better), it makes no noxious fumes, no lead dust, and only requires some gloves. Easy peasy lemon squeazy. I honestly can't wait to paint the house. Yeah, that's right - I just said that I can't wait to paint the house.
Soooooo cool. While that little piece of the porch floor above took longer than the clapboards - mostly due to the many, many layers of paint - when I asked Tim how long it took to do the whole strip above the stairs, he remarked, "Less than a beer's worth." In real-time, I think that means about 20 minutes. Seriously cool, folks. So, here we go. I'm off to get the paint tomorrow and we'll just start one side at a time. I think the biggest obstacles are finding staging to reach the highest parts of the house and figuring out which parts will be which color. Seriously. So cool. Seriously.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Beginning the House Painting Slog

Here is Tim, beginning what will surely be months and months of scraping and painting the house. Yes, after much deliberation (MUCH), much hemming-and-hawing, and discussing strategy, around 3pm yesterday Tim decided we should just start. We ran to Home Depot and purchased what is aptly called the PaintEater. What you're seeing in the photo above is about 20 minutes of work. After that point, Tim switched to the strategy of smoothing down the bumpy paint and smoothing what was there.  He pretty much got all the way down the side of the house after about 2 hours. Still, phew. It's going to be a slog.

While he was happy with his work, shortly after he started feeling sick. After removing his lead paint-safe mask, I saw paint dust all around his nose. I think we're going to need to switch strategies, switch tools, and switch face masks. I'll probably end up buying the SpeedHeater infrared paint remover - one recommended by This Old House. It's a lot more expensive than the thing we bought at Home Depot but won't create dust.

In more fun news, we're closer to picking out a color combination. We know that this house was originally a three-color house per a 1933 assessor's photo we have. At some point, however, the house was switched over to all white, except for the window muntins. We're planning to revert back to that 3-color scheme, focusing on a greenish-gray for the overall color, a cream for the trim, and a darker greenish-gray or tan for the accents. There are some nice Sherwin-Williams brochures on historic color combinations and we like Chatroom/Muslin/Beach House or Rare Gray/Casa Blanca/Pewter Green.

As we get deeper into this interminable project, I'll certainly update.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Researching historic paint colors

Having a lot of fun looking into historically accurate paint colors for the outside of the Bangor Foursquare. After doing a bit more research about tools to strip paint from clapboards, and reading about the Silent Paint Remover, we learned that it was a less sturdy version of the Speedheater Infrared Paint Remover. We have decided we will invest in the latter rather than the former. Hoping to get cracking this fall, with the help of some rented scaffolding.

So, that brings us to decision-making about possible paint colors. Found some cool resources and tools, such as these websites, featuring the American Foursquare style. Here are just a few:

From among all of these and from some great picture collections on Flickr and Pinterest, here are a few of our favorite color schemes:

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Painting Clapboards and Installing a Cat Door

As of Memorial Day Weekend, we are all officially moved into the Bangor Foursquare! It's been wonderful to be back - albeit a bit weird at times (is it a new house? an old house? is it my house? it is our house?). A few little niggling projects awaited us, however. I spent most of this week scraping paint from the clapboards outside, as some of it has begun to peel and flake. I recall hearing that the previous owner of the home would have one side of the house repainted every five years. Well, I did not keep up with that schedule and it shows. I think what I find most disconcerting is that I had to have the north side of the house repainted when I bought it in 2007 as I got an FHA mortgage and some of that paint is already peeling. So, this time hubby and I are attempting to do it ourselves. Two days ago, this consisted of a lot of hand scraping and spot painting. I found this result to be less than satisfactory. Yesterday, I converted to hand scraping and painting entire sections of the clapboard, making the paint appear to be a little more consistent in color. Regardless, however, it appears this will be a laborious task. As I attempted to tackle the cracking paint on the front porch trim today, I felt pretty daunted. It led me to asking Internet what to do. My long-term love, This Old House, showed me this post, which led me to this product - the Silent Paint Remover. I'm thinking this might be the ticket to repainting this old house. It makes me even wonder if we can do the whole thing ourselves -- which makes me daydream about all sorts of exciting color combinations. It's been an all-white house for a very long time but I know it wasn't always such. As loyal readers may recall, a few years ago I got a hold of a photo from the Bangor Historical Society of the Bangor Foursquare circa 1930, showing multiple colors. Of course, being a black-and-white photo, the actual colors are hard to identify and I can't see any evidence under the paint layers outside. So, we'll get creative me-thinks. It's exciting to ponder.

So, while I marinated in my consternation over the painting situation today, I decided to tackle another project that has niggled at me since we moved back in.  My new family includes this fine fellow, Barney the Cat.
Barney is - how should we say it? - stinky. He is a stinky, smelly cat. But, we love him nevertheless. So, my solution for dealing with Barney's eau-de-poopy is to house his cat box in the basement. My slight OCD-ness, however, has not meshed well with having the door ajar. I was loathe to cut a whole in the beautiful solid wood door but, ultimately, I am happy with the result:
As with any project I tend to tackle, it wasn't anywhere as easy as I expected it to be and it took twice the amount of time I expected it to take. I was mostly concerned how it would sit in the door given the panels. But, in the end, this $30 beauty from Home Depot did the trick (To add insult to injury, Barney is not only stinky, he's kind of chubby. The brand name of the cat door was Hefty Kat). Barney has already mastered the in-and-out of it, being the smart, stinky cat that he is. All in all, a good day's work. Time to get cracking on some Father's Day dinner. We're excited to finally have our grill at the Bangor Foursquare - I don't know how we would survive the summer months without it.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Lotus Flower

The name of the color is Lotus Flower - I think this name was chosen instead of "Pepto Bismol," probably because of the trademarking. Nevertheless, this is the color my step-daughter, Ohara, chose for her new room in our new-old house. That's right - moving back to the Bangor Foursquare at the end of May. Woot! My husband's home in the country finally sold and we're moving back to the city - well, Bangor, at any rate.

Today was the first day of moving a few things over and getting her room ready. I'm happy the Bangor Foursquare will have a child in it again after so many years. This room will give her happy memories - heaven knows it's already seen its share of paint colors.