Archive for category exterior

Doors and windows

In addition to trying to sort all my tools and supplies in the living room (that’s where they’ve been since I don’t have real space in the back room until the shed is built) today was spent painting windows, caulking a few of the storms, and finally finishing fixing (alliterative adventures abound) the porch door. Every window on the first floor is painted; almost all are ready for winter – I need to caulk the new ones in the kitchen and we should be good.

The door had two minor problems. First, it had settled (and I hadn’t hung it super squarely to begin with) so the top far corner was rubbing against the frame. There’s a simple fix using a trick I learned while hanging some drywall back in high school – wonderbars are just levers, and they let one person do two jobs. Prop the far side with the bar lengthwise:

It’s actually best if you flip the bar over (so you are using the lever closer to the door), but this way might be necessary depending on how much clearance you have under the panel you’re trying to level – fortunately my very nice old porch door is very worn on the bottom, so I was able to use it the ‘right’ way. In other words I messed up when I was staging this shot after the fact. Resuming the how to: Take the screws out of the top and middle hinge on the frame side. Press down on the wonderbar to bring the door square against the frame on the hinge side. Resink the screws starting at the top – you may have to go in at a slight angle to catch clean wood as opposed to the old hole. Chances are you’ll be fine going straight – old doors tend to have a little more space between them and the frame, so if it’s to the point of rubbing then squaring the door will probably move the hinge screw holes over quite a bit.

Problem two was mostly aesthetic. The strike plate was set for the aluminum screen door I took down. You can see where another strike plate used to be set further back, but this one didn’t quite fit there. The result was that the door latched but wasn’t flush with the frame – it butted out 3/8″ on the far side.

I couldn’t locate a smaller strike plate during a couple of shopping trips, so I went for the next best thing – carving. A few minutes with the jig and then a pocketknife got me a flush enough space to screw in the plate. I think I’m going to invest in a chisel set for all the wood I’ve got in this place though.

Properly hung door, seven painted windows, and a living room I can walk through. It’s been a good Saturday, even if I didn’t get out to the electrical supply place.

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The worst thing on the outside of the house

At least I hope that’s the case.

There are two big picture windows in the living room, both with some stained glass. The one on the west wall (which is the most exposed to the elements) looks like it hasn’t been touched in decades – when I moved in, I could see some separation between the glass and the wood framing elements; the caulk is severely damaged on much of it.

Now, the storm window that’s coming will go a long way to protecting this, at least for this year. I’ve had good success with plastic sheeting in the interim to keep the rain and some of the wind away. Tape on the inside plugs the biggest gaps to prevent drafts. I don’t plan on working on restoring or in any way fixing the two sashes anytime soon – painting the exterior frame and getting the storm in is likely all I’ll do this fall. However, there are two questions that this window raises.

The first is the obvious – how to best go about fixing the sashes, especially the multi-framed stained glass one up top? Any resources anyone can point me to would be much appreciated. The second is a historical one. Everyone who’s looked at this glass has said the same thing – it’s not original, and likely went in well after the other stained glass in the house. Is there a way to narrow down when the glass was installed – the color, the style of framing?

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No more creative a title than that. Today was a productive continuation of yesterday – swapped some lightbulbs through the town lightbulb exchange (Oberlin College students and town residents can turn in incandescent lightbulbs and get CFLs instead – totally free thanks to a donation from an anonymous alum), took my new jigsaw out for a spin (pictures hopefully tomorrow when the rest of that project falls into place), and painted several windows. Most of the windows have pretty weathered sills and surrounds – it’s been a while since anyone painted the trim, let alone all the shingles. As long as the shingles aren’t loose, they should survive the winter regardless of paint. The trim on the other hand really needed a good seal – I’ll probably go over the sills and any rough spots with a second coat this week.

Once again I failed to take a before picture.
Just pretend the trim looks like everything around it.

Both of the big picture windows got attention today. Here’s a before on the side window (see next post for more on this) which, like its sister in the front, will be getting custom built storm windows in a few weeks. Great note on that – I went to both Home Depot and Lowes to ask about custom ordering storms, just to see if the price was any lower than what I’d been quoted from an independent company. Neither could even give me a quote – the height and width (combined) of these windows was too large for their computers to handle.

Oh, and also mowed the front lawn – who wants to take bets that this won’t be the last time I’ll do that this year?

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With friends like these…

I should have more people over more regularly. It’s not just the multi-person projects that get done (painting part of one of the exterior walls, for example), something about having other people around gets me more active, to the point that I’ll swap a couple of mismatched cabinet handles in the kitchen (that I’ve been staring at for months) while we’re all standing around and chatting.

Sarah and Mike stopped over today and we did the above plus: mapped out shed dimensions to make sure I’m placing it well; installed a new jack in the basement to replace one that was missing (!); moved all the tree limbs that came down in the storm the other week to the front for city pickup; and I just put some plumbers tape on a valve in the upstairs shower to stop a small drip.

Pictures soon.


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Catch up

Still digging out at work, meaning not much has been happening at the house. I hope to be back to actually part time soon. I also hope to order that shed in the next two days which will really be the last big thing that needs to happen before winter hits. Even the scraping and painting and such are either isolated sections or, should it come to it, they can wait.

Things done today:
– more porch scraping since the weather was nice; found that the squirrels are getting ready for winter and thus need to get kicked out now.
– hung blinds in the kitchen window so it looks less bare
– turned this:

into this:

Also discovered that this light fixture and both outlets in the room are on the same breaker – the ceiling units and the outlets in other rooms are often separate due, I suspect, to when the lines went in. This is a little bit of a concern because I thought at least one other load is also on that circuit, meaning tenants might not find it so easy to watch TV, have the light on, and run the popcorn maker or whatever else they’re doing at once. Will need to double check the panel labels and add this to the list of rewiring jobs for next summer.

Finally, the latest entry in the series ‘People Who Passed Out Asleep on my Couch’. Doug took a red-eye drive in from Minnesota (11.5 hours) and fell asleep mid-sentence whilst laying on the couch.

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Scraping and painting, and problems with both (now with pictures!).

Plenty of both the last couple of days. I’ve got one renter moving in right now and am trying to get all the upstairs rooms painted (if they need it). This is mostly standard stuff – tape off, roller, brush, clean up (got an excellent selection of self-priming paints from Sherwin Williams so things go even faster) – but I have one problem in the back bedroom:

A section of the wallboard had cracked and buckled, probably from someone years ago putting their elbow through the other side of the wall. Whatever the reason, I needed to cut the section out down to the plaster. The plan was to buy some drywall or wallboard of the same thickness, tack it into the space, spackle the edges, and paint the whole wall. Unfortunately, this wallboard or whatever is just under a quarter inch thick and something like it probably hasn’t been manufactured in years, according to other people who know old buildings. Home Depot certainly doesn’t seem to have anything. I’m thinking about just spackling the entire hole, although that seems like a huge waste of spackle, or tacking luan or other wood into the space, although that seems like it will produce a wall with wildly different surfaces.

I’m also continuing to hack at the porch. I finished the entire lower rail today, plan to get the entire ceiling done within the next couple of days, but am really not looking forward to dealing with the spindles which have thick paint that is either cracking or not moving.

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The past couple of days…

Have been a veritable flurry of activity. I scraped about 1/10th of the porch. That’s a lot when you realize this is the paint on my porch:
At least three layers, at least two of which are heavy-duty exterior paint. Not heavy duty enough, because this is what I’m tackling before I can paint anything:

At the rate I’m going (couple of hours, most days), it should be done by early next week. If the weather holds, I can paint all at once. And maybe even put a coat of the new blue (very similar to the old blue) on the front shingles. You know, the ones that needs painting the least.

Meanwhile, inside… I don’t know how the hell this happened:

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Step one: Tyvek

Forty-five minutes is at least 20 minutes longer than I expected this to take:

Major sources of delay: discovering the bathroom vent pipe wasn’t solidly hooked up inside the wall (solution: snip the end of the short pipe so it could be collapsed a little and slide inside the pipe in the wall); and realizing ex post facto that a utility knife would have been a better choice to cut the paper than the shears I brought with me.

Still – some nice old wood under these shingles. I continue to indulge the fantasy of having all the shingles removed, finding not a single spot of rot or weakness or air gaps underneath, and painting the entire building to last, low maintenance, for another 100 years.

Until then, I’ll be back up on the ladder soon to put shingles over the paper. I’m looking for the answer to this question – can I use a nail gun to attach the shingles, as opposed to predrilling both shingle and the board underneath, then tapping two nails through each shingle? That’s the way the previous owner did it, but if a nail gun with the right size nails and the right pressure setting can do the job then I’ll gladly spend the money to spend that much less time.

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Hey look, it’s a door!

Adjusted the hinges this morning so it sits right in the frame, picked up the right screws for the handle at the hardware store this afternoon. Will paint all the hardware tomorrow (maybe…)
and I need to dig up some weatherstripping for the bottom. Also I should build a cutout for the latch jamb so it actually latches. But look! What an improvement! (Ignore the rest of the porch).

Also done today – painted the banisters on the front steps to cut down on rust –

…and finally got the windows installed upstairs. My tenants can breath again. Hooray for breathing.

Ed note – man those are lousy pictures. I’ll try and take some better ones when I’m done with the last bits of hardware.

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Sick day

The big plan for today was to take down my old rusted shed and pull up a few roots/stumps to make way for a new shed (one of these days). I got the barn-razing (har) email out a little late, though, and I was feeling under the weather (don’t worry – a nap and some food and I was fine by evening), so that plan has been postponed for a bit.

– finally hung porch door; need to either adjust middle and top hinge or shave 1/8+” off the other side to get it fitting smoothly in the frame.

– leveled washer; now need to get a vibration dampener

– started prep on wall in back bedroom – there was a cracked section of drywall; I started cutting and have wound up expanding to about 18″ square to get around various cracks and warps. There’s more to one side, but I don’t want to rip out too much, and what remains is at least level. Plan is to cut a section of drywall (looks thinner than normal), screw into the gap, putty edges, paint entire wall.

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