Monday, July 27, 2009

I ordered the new windows for the north side on Saturday. Custom size, tall, thin replacement windows. Wider windows would have been nice but after re-framing for a couple of the new windows, I decided that was more than I wanted to do for these windows. The old windows are original, wood sash windows that do not seal tightly. There are aluminum storm windows, which help but I have put plastic over those windows, in winter, for years. When the wind kicks up, the plastic "breathes", moving the blinds in and out.

Installation shouldn't be difficult, pull out the old sashes and put the new windows in and close them in. It will be nice to have windows there that are easy to open and don't have to be covered with plastic in the winter. The dogs will like it too, as they always enjoy looking out those windows when they are open.

Months later, April 2010, figured I would come back to this blog. I got the windows installed in the last couple weeks as well as the guest room window. Closing around the inside and trimming out is yet to be done but it has been really nice to have the weather warm enough to start the outside stuff. I bought 1600 square feet of pink, fanfold to put under the siding. The wind will have to settle before I try putting that up though. Being pink foam, it will fly like crazy in a good wind. I'm excited about the arrival of spring so I can get back to my outside projects.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Weeks have passed since finishing the painting on the front (West) of the house and I am FINALLY ready to start painting on the south side. Priming wasn't finished until 7:30 PM today, Sunday, so it's hard to say how much painting will get done this week. I may get started after work during the week as I am now excited about getting to put on color again.

Getting ready for paint on the south face took a lot longer than I anticipated. I quickly figured out that it was going to require a complete scraping after all, then the fascia joint at the top of the gable required cosmetic work (silicon implants) and the bottom of the fascia was unacceptable so that had to be rebuilt. The really ugly, box shape at the bottom of the gable was built from fiberboard so not only was it ugly but it also was swollen and soft in places from moisture. Removing it was easy, figuring out what the the person who built it was thinking was impossible. The bottom end of the soffit board was cut off as was the end of the little shelf below the shingles.

Since it appears the meeting of the bottom of the gable and the back roof occurred at a time after the original part of the house was built and it lacked architectural grace, I opted for an ornamental addition, joining the fascia board of the gable and the rear roof together smoothly. A matching curve was cut and installed on the other side, above the roof of the porch. Of course, having added this small feature on the side gable, I wonder if the front gable should also have curves. This is why my projects seem to never end!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Windows can be wondrous things that let light shine in and give a view of the world outside our domains. Old, drafty windows can be nothing but money sucking sources of frustration. I started replacing the 70 year old windows in my house about 4 years ago. The replacements average out to one window a year but not every year saw a new window. There are 3 windows still in need of replacement and I hope to see those go in this summer.

Last summer the window in the front face of the house was transformed from a tall thin window to a more pleasingly proportioned component of my home. It brightened up what is to become my library. I have always liked the idea of having my own library and the larger window seemed important for that space. Since it was a new installation window, not a replacement window, putting it in was more challenging. It required re-framing the opening after cutting into the existing framing. In the process, other problems became apparent and it ended up requiring me to replace part of a sill plate and cripple in some studs which had deteriorated at the bottom. For a few days I propped pieces of sheet rock against the inside wall to make sure no strange animals moved in during the night.

With it all back together and the new window in place, I truly believe it was worth the trouble. Not only does the front face look much more balanced, the north corner has new stability. The before picture is overwhelmed with greenery but that has changed as well, with the cedar shrub and spirea bush being removed. The pear tree is still there but will be pruned this fall.

When finished, all the windows in the house will be new, except for the front porch window, a large picture window with colored glass sash at the top. Formerly covered with a solid pane aluminum storm window, which was separating at the sides, the window is such a integral part of the character of the house that replacing it was not an option. The storm window with it's gaps and the large single glass of the window made for an energy nightmare so change was a must.

Using the glass from the storm window and learning "on the job" so to speak, I cut pieces to create a new, wooden sash for the old glass. Once assembled, the old style storm window set into the window sill, fitting tightly. Since I have never opened that window and never stressed over not being able to, I saw no reason to think I would need to open it in the future so I made small wooden brackets which were screwed to the sash and the sill, fixing the window firmly in place. Caulking around the top and sides made for a snug, double pane window which should be energy efficient.

The colored glass upper sash is one of the most striking features of the house. Sadly, the former owners did a very poor paint job on the frame and two pieces of glass were cracked. So, I set out to restore this window to the attractive architectural feature it had once been.

The center was clear glass, cracked across so that was removed and one end glass was also cracked. The original end glass was a lavender shade but there was no matching that color at this point so both end pieces had to be replaced. At the glass shop I found a beautiful rich ruby red glass, which the shop had just enough of to cut my 2 pieces. Having ordered these and a clear glass oval for the center, I was on the way out of the shop when I spotted textured glass. On that rack there was a piece of glass with a leaf design on it which was amazing so my order was changed.

The next day I picked up my new glass and went home to install it. Paint was scraped off the remaining glass, the sash repainted, glass was installed and the finished window sash was rehung. It is a beautiful thing with the setting sun shining through it, setting the wonderful colors aglow. This is a project I was truly pleased with.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Scraping, scraping, scraping........

OK, painting was inspirational, creative, fun even..... but scraping can get old after a while. What I had hoped would be a limited scraping, just knocking off a few loose spots, has turned into a down to bare wood scraping. Then, to make things more entertaining, when the side gable of the house was built, the facia and soffit boards were not joined evenly at the upper angle of the gable. Sadly, I have had to accept that this is a fix that is beyond what I can do. To square up the facia would require removing the board and repositioning. This would involve disrupting my roof which I am not going to do since the roof was new 4 years ago.

I'm working on a cosmetic fix that will minimize the uneven appearance although it is unlikely anyone will notice it if I leave it exactly as it is. I tend to be a bit obsessive about projects I undertake. If something is being done, I want it done right and it irks me when I have to settle for adequate. This serves to bog down a project at times, while I tweak it into "perfection". This is also why I actually prefer to do the majority of projects myself, rather than contracting someone to do it for me. I absolutely hate paying someone to do a job that I could have done better.

The first re-roofing on my house was such a situation. It was bad enough that when it was time to roof again, I was tempted to take on the job myself. Fortunately, I learned from my mistakes and did some research into contractors and found one with a good reputation and I went with high grade shingles. I can truthfully say that I have the best looking roof in the neighborhood now.

The past week has provided only limited opportunities to work on the house. Between two evenings of conference calls for dog rescue business and three nights of rain, painting has not been started, even though most of the scraping was finished last week. I was able to do some caulking, tighten up some joints and replace or tighten some shingles. I also managed, over the past few weeks, to let my sander, heat gun and scroll saw get rained on. So far these tools appear to have come through it, after drying out completely they still run. I will be the first to admit however that this is NOT a good thing for power tools.

With one weekend day left, I hope that tomorrow will be more productive. I would like to be ready to start priming by the end of the day. I could then start painting after work on Monday. After getting the front gable painted, I have really been anxious to start getting color on the side gable. I have all the windchimes down now and will have to decide what color to paint the wooden parts since most are seriously in need of paint of sealer. An excellent night or rainy weather project which will need to be done before rehanging any of the chimes. There are actually at least two more that go down the right side of the gable. I really like windchimes, as you might have guessed, except for the upkeep. Painting and restringing is a regular proceedure, especially out here where the wind blows a large percentage of the time.