Thursday, August 26, 2010

Craftmanship, Creative Expression or ..........

just the sense of accomplishment? I'm not sure what the feeling is that comes with getting something right on this project but it is a good one. I created a proper sill where none existed before and found myself feeling like I do when I create a sculpture.

My hope, as I renovate my house, is to give it as much of the folk Victorian look and character as possible, within a budget. I replaced the windows with modern, vinyl, double pane windows but I'm trying to recreate an "older" look in the window casings, giving the impression of original without the cost.

The challenges are varied and many. For some windows, I reframed completely and used new construction windows so there was no existing casing present. Some windows were replacement windows which slipped inside of the existing frame after I removed the old sashes. A couple of these had existing casing, including sills, although the style was not consistent as these windows were trimmed in brick mold rather than wide, flat boards.

Others of the replacement windows were trimmed but the previous owners destroyed portions of it in order to apply 4'x8' sheets of masonite siding. Since they wanted quick & easy installation they apparently beat the sills and drip caps with a hammer to knock them out of the way. These pose the greatest challenge, trying to make the remnant of the sill into a smooth surface which will allow for grafting on a new sill extension and creating new drip caps to take the place of those smashed to bits.

The first two efforts at building sills went well. These were not damaged, they were new window sizes and no sill was there after the reframe. Basic theory for the remaining sills is the same though, so I do not foresee major problems but only time will tell on that.

Poor old house has weathered a lot of years and they have taken a toll on it. The old cedar siding is in surprisingly good condition, termites never touched it, despite having made a few attacks on the sheathing beneath it. I hope to "rehome" the siding to someone who can use it as it seems a terrible thing to send beautiful, resiliant wood like this to the dump. On a small application, this siding could be brought back to usefulness and serve even more years protecting structures for someone.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pretty in Pink

Three years after deciding to reside, here I am finally stripping siding off of the house in preparation for applying new, fiber cement siding. This is a seriously dirty job! This house was built at the end of the "dirty thirties" but in 75 year on the central plains a lot of dirt collects in the walls and ceilings of a house. It is not unusual to find an inch or more of dirt at the bottom of spaces between studs. I resorted to the shop-vac to clean up as I pried up sheathing boards to check for sill damage.

The old part of the house was built in 1936 and in keeping with the time, the sheathing in that section is solid, 3/4 inch thick, 8 inch wide yellow pine boards. AMAZING! Beautiful wood and rock hard after 75 years except for a few spots along the sill where water or termites have attacked during the past 3/4 century. Fortunately, I only found one damaged section, only 16" wide and not rotted through the full thickness, so I reinforced this rather than cutting out the sill to replace the bad area.

The newer portion of the house was built in 1975 and large sections of it are sheathed in this less desirable product. Although it has the advantage of being much flatter than the board sheathing, as is obvious from reading the labeling, this product "may smolder or burn". I hope to never see this warning tested but meanwhile I tell myself it can't burn any faster than the dry old wood in the rest of the house.
Siding does come down off this much easier since it is much softer than wood so nails can be pulled out without great effort.

As the project requirements have grown, "tool
world" has been created in the side yard. Indeed, I am a KU alumni but the canopy was selected only for it's clearance price as I needed a shelter to keep tools under while working. After a few days of dragging hammers, nails, screws, drills, saws...... back into the house every evening, I was looking for alternatives. This one gives me the chance to display my Jayhawk pride while keeping my tools dry. The 10' span of the canopy is almost as big as the side yard so I'm now effectively killing the scrappy grass that had finally managed to grow in this space. Sacrifice is sometimes necessary.

After all the siding on the south side of the house was removed and hauled out back where it is stacked, in hopes someone will want it, I set about applying pink, fan-fold insulation board. Having initially planned to use vinyl siding, I bought fan-fold to help level out the surface for the new siding. With vinyl it is not necessary to remove old siding but the lapped texture is not amenable to siding over without something to smooth the surface.

I did not find the application of pink fan-fold to be great fun, despite the lovely appearance the house has all covered in pink, with red text all over it. OK, I'm kidding! Pink seems to be all about trademark, they want EVERYONE who goes by to know you bought an Owens Corning product. Hardly anyone gets to see that pink, cotton candy stuff you put in your attic or walls but this stuff is like a giant OC billboard.

Since it comes in 4' widths, 50' long, which unfolds spontaniously, it proved to be a challenge to keep the sheets of insulation where they needed to be while holding a stapler in one hand. It went up but not without a fight. Then, after getting it tacked over half the south side, I did additional research and found it was at best a waste of time, in terms of R-factor, at worst a possible problem in terms of moisture retention when used in conjunction with housewrap. With that information I decided to finish out the south side but I will not be applying fan-fold to the rest of the house. Too bad, it would have been interesting to have the entire house pink, especially if it turns out I don't get the siding attached before winter sets in.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What is it about having projects to complete that makes 10 more projects present themselves? Do it yourselfer karma? I spent my weekend restoring a wood patio door to replace the old aluminum slider, cleaning and sealing the deck and taking more siding off the house so I can start on the new siding when it arrives. There I was in the incredibly hot, humid outdoors, sweating, sweating, sweating but things were moving along well. After dark it was finally time to give it up and go inside, feed the dogs, cool off and get ready for bed. Then the fun began.

Quick bathroom stop was in order but when it was time to flush, no flushing going on. The clip on the flap was broken so flipping the handle did nothing. Now flushing involves taking the lid off the tank and sticking my hand down to pull up the flap. OK, I can deal, just have to get a new flap and install it. A minor inconvenience. Maybe a shower will make me feel better about it all.

How fun it is to peel off sweat saturated clothing! Ready for a nice cool shower, instead I get COLD shower. It seems the hot water heater has gone out again. This means lighting the heater and letting it run long enough to heat a tank of water before I can shower. Eventually I did get the shower but shortly discovered that as soon as the tank of water is warm, the heater goes out again. Now I have to figure out why my water heater, which is only about 3 years old, will not stay lit after heating. This also means that every day, when I get home from work, I have to go down and light the water heater so there will be warm water for a shower after I finish my outside work for the day, since the temperature is running pretty close to 100 (or higher) every day. Who was that who said they were tired of winter? WHAT WAS I THINKING?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Well, one should always be careful what they wish for. Winter left and summer came. Spring was entirely too short. Way too little got done this spring so now with August upon us, I am finally getting started on siding process. I started pulling old siding off and stacking it out back, hoping someone will want it for a garage or shed. I don't want to have to keep it around until big cleanup week.

I had to replace the diningroom window this spring when the wind broke a branch out of the tree next door and it came through the window. This one is installed better, I put the sill wrap on the bottom. I put in the new bathroom window last weekend and started working on the replacement patio door. Projects are backed up, I'm sure there are enough to last me until I die.

In the spring I finally started building my library. I am excited about this, I have wanted my own library for years and I am enjoying it. There is still a lot to do, including gluing maps to the rest of the ceiling and putting up new paneling over the strandboard that was on the walls when I moved in. The floor still needs to be sanded and sealed but that is a project for a long weekend as I will need to rent a sander. I've made my list for this weekend, hoping that will keep me on track to get things done.
I am feeling rather worn out so hope to get some good sleep tonight so I can get lots done this weekend. I have rehab to do on my replacement patio door as well, that could eat up much of a weekend but since it is in the garage, I can work on it in the evening since I put lights and outlets in the garage. I can fire up the sander and get that ready before the siding arrives. The more I can get out of the garage before 5000 pounds of fiber cement siding arrives, the better it will be.