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.