Painting Exterior Trim

The trim on my house needs paint, especially in the rear which has a southern exposure.
I have had this project on my mind for some time now and wanted to get this started before the winter's rain. I'm starting on the top deck where the paint seems to be at its worst and where it is very easy to tackle with a step ladder.

It really bakes up here. This sill, which also must hold morning dew the longest, was down to the wood. This was the original paint, which is about 9 years old. I don't know if that is considered good longevity for a paint job or not (kind of not to me but whatever). 
This is actually a pretty easy paint job. The window and doors are clad so it really is just the wooden trim around them and the fascia at the roofline that needs help. We used a few methods to prep the surface -a scraper, wire brush and a random orbit sander. 

As an aside, it appears that everything -doors,windows, trim has faded in the sun. My recollection when buying the windows was that the cladding was billed as resistant to fading and chalking. The cladding color has held up well everywhere except the sill. I've read that Loewen recommends car wax to bring back luster to a clad surface so I will be trying that after I finish painting.

Oy. That looks like rot to me. I really cleaned that out and then filled it with Bondo All Purpose Putty. 

This stuff is toxic as shit but really works well. It's totally non-porous so it sands smooth like a gem and has a very quick ready to sand time (15 minutes).

I use a pretty wide putty knife to get a wide repair that is easier to sand invisible. The random orbit sander cuts through this very quickly with 100 grit.

There were also a few other splits and cracks that I filled and sanded. 
It took two of us only a few hours to scrape, fill, and sand to be fully prepped for primer. 

I used Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 to prime. Because this is a very sunny area and August's heavy fog has of course now decided to dissipate, I've tried to squeeze my painting work into the morning before the 9:30 or 10.

The trickiest part of this project is getting a perfect color match for the paint. Of course, a more organized person would have the formula for the original paint used here. Unfortunately I can't find that paint can anywhere -I probably absentmindedly recycled that long ago.

I've had one fail so far, mixed at my local hardware store -too dark. I'm going to try another place in the city. Fingers crossed and I'll photo and post completed project later.


Just Go With It

Woosh, I have been doing a lot of painting in my house of late. 
As part of my recent painting of the front entrance hall, I also gave the door that leads from the garage to the entrance a nifty new look.

You see, the door that leads to the garage into the house gets seriously banged up -especially from the outside which is shown here. Perhaps it's all the bikes that are getting trekked up and down the stairs (don't even ask) or that the door opens off a stair and often gets nudged open with a foot (guilty), but for whatever reason it takes abuse. 

I came to the conclusion that the door would look best if the paint job did not require surface perfection. I'm not into that shabby chic distressed paint look, so I went with creating a modern graphic coupled with a sanded, matte surface that would still look alright beaten up. 

I titled this post "Just Go With It" but it could just as easily be "Form Follows Function", which is a principle to which I wholeheartedly subscribe. While I'm rambling, this design is a runner up to my first wish -which would be a copper clad door but that is just pure fantasy. 

The shadows from the garage door struts make this a bit hard to read but there are two blue triangles here -a large very visible one at the bottom and a smaller one at the top. My initial instinct was to make two symmetrical triangles meeting in the middle but then when I began taping them off, I realized that the graphic was a bit nautical flag-ish.

I achieved the velvetish surface by first brushing on like 4 or 5 coats of black -giving each 24 hours to cure in between coats. Then after taping the design, I put on two coats of Benjamin Moore Polo Blue. After giving that another 24 hours to cure, I went at it with my sander with 150 grit. The nice surprise was that the Polo Blue sanded out to a lovely lighter but very rich shade.

This door has been hung and functioning for a few weeks now. It already has one nick and some scuffs but it's still ok.



Me Seeing Me

Last week I had a nice surprise when Remodelista reran a piece about the portable camp stove I installed in the shed a few years back. I very much admire the style and content of this site (a daily check in for me), so I am always super flattered when they pick up any of my content. See the story here.




I blew some dough on some more Nest products. 
That is not actually entirely true. I bought these with points. So there was money spent at one time, but not in this instance. 

I have been slowly trading out my smoke detectors for a couple years now. We have like fifty-effing million of them in the house. Actually, I have 10 of them, plus one in the garage. That's a lot to replace at 100 big ones a pop. I have replaced 8 and have only 3 to go. I am upgrading for a few reasons. Mainly, it is because my old type would go off for no rhyme or reason -often in the middle of the night. They'd make just three chirps but believe me, that's enough to jolt a bear out of hibernation. I believe they go off because of a power surge. They also were hyper-sensitive, so that the one on my main floor would go off from cooking and the one in the hall by the boys bath would go off from steam. Mind you, they are all connected in line so if one went off, the whole friggin house (10 alarms) went off. What a royal pain in the ass -especially for a boy with autism.

I bought the first Nest to see if these too would go off randomly from the power surges. Well....they do (sometimes, but less frequently -maybe once every month or so) but the Nest alarms speak first, in a nice calm lady voice, before they chirp. So usually they will correct themselves before the louder part of alarm goes off. I can also tell from the Nest App which alarm was triggered, which I guess may be an important piece of information when I finally have the surge thing cured.

And, I like the fact that the Nests are also carbon monoxide detectors and are a million times better looking than those other lame-ass things (I mean really? who the heck came up with that design with the impossible battery compartment and the ugly-ass shape?)

Just 3 more to go. I should just rip the band-aid off and get them. You might have noticed that also included in this blow-out purchase was a thermostat. I got that for the main floor, purely for aesthetic reasons (shame...insert 3 bell emojis because that's pretty shallow). I haven't installed that yet and perhaps will post about that later. 

Cheers to hopeful silent nights.


Sunday Walk

Kit, Oliver and I took one of our favorite city walks today. This entails first riding the train downtown (a favorite activity for Kit) to the ferry building and then walking all the way home. The route we take is about 8 miles. It was a glorious San Francisco day with the fog moving in and out the entire route home and I took a few shots of buildings and scenes that interested me. 



Hot Tub!

I have big plans for my garden, which naturally means that I should spend some time tearing it up.
Destroying the yard is actually the confluence of two things. First, it has been extremely dry here in San Francisco, and many of my plantings are beyond stressed and have died. Generally, I enjoy the zen of weeding and pruning, but because of the draught, things have gotten so straggly, I have pretty much neglected the yard entirely. It was time for a major clean up. For kicks, I went back and looked though some of my old posts about the garden, this post from January of 2013 shows it when it was far more lush, even with less mature plantings. (Remember this yard started as a bare dirt lot back in 2008).

Second, we are finally going to pull the trigger on a cedar soaking tank for Kit, and are trying to go as big as possible in our little back yard, which means we need to clear out some plants to make room for this monstrosity.
We're going to put the soaker on the East side, up against the retaining wall, where it gets the most sun and will be least obtrusive. We are trying to go really big, and for this reason thought it best to mock it up with story poles to get a real sense of height and diameter. If you have no idea what what a soaker tub is, click here to see my inspiration.

We're shooting for 10' in diameter and 4.5" deep. We are going with this depth because -for a multitude of reasons (which I will go into later as this thing is built)- we want to be able to place it on a pad at ground level and not sink it into the ground. 

By the time I took this photo, my mock up was looking like a circus tent. The high points of the string, are the true height of the top of the tub -it's really big so very tricky to get this looking right aesthetically. We can probably all agree that there are a lot of ugly-ass cedar hot tubs out there with cheesy decks around them. I've been contemplating the space and drawing things out for a few weeks now, with the aim of being as minimal but well functioning as possible. As the saying goes, "form ever follows function", right?! 

Also part of this garden overhaul is replacing the pebbled area with troweled concrete. Going to be blessedly smooth and superb.

Ok. I hope this cursory explanation of what I hope to accomplish isn't frustrating. Can't wait to get this job started. A lot of detail to work out first. 


New Door Sock

I have been busy these past weekends painting the entryway and the stairs up to the main floor.
You may recall that this stairway has a section to the ceiling that is very high and difficult to get to. In the end, I managed this by edging the ceiling with a long ladder propped on the stairs with some large wooden blocks (from this dumpster dive actually) and stabilized by Oliver. For the rest of the upper wall, we used a telescoping extension pole that worked wonders. (This is a before photo, btw, if you're wondering why this wall looks like shit). 

This post, however, isn't about painting (thank god you say) but rather about putting back together the entryway. There are some odds and ends that need seeing to here -the black doors need some refreshing, as does the door to the mail cabinet. Also on my to do list was making a new door snake.

This is my second go-round on a door snake for this location. The first one proved to be too light to provide maximum insulation here.

In addition to using heavier fill, I made this one a bit longer to extend a bit past the door on each end.

I originally bought this fabric for my living room One Room Challenge endeavor.

I have since moved this pillow upstairs. Just check out that awkward sleeping position on Otis' part....impressive.

Anyway, back to the sewing. Cut one length which is folded onto itself (right side facing each other) and sew an invisible seam along two lengths. Just as an aside, all sewing projects are made easier when sewing a fabric with lines or a grid pattern. If you are a beginner, opt for stripes and plaids if you like them and your project layout will be 100 percent easier and faster.

For a heavier fill this time around, I went with rice. I used about half of this 20lb bag for a door snake approximately 40ish inches by 4 inches.

To fill, I cut a small hole in the corner and funneled it in. There was a slight mess after, but nothing terrible.

To finish, I turned over the edge and machine sewed it shut about 1/8" from the end.

If you have a keen eye, you will notice that I also did some rug shuffling down here. Most recently, I had a striped hemp rug down there, which was nice but very thick -so much so that I had been forced to remove the weather stripping from the bottom of the door that leads to the garage for clearance. That bothered me, not only for the draftiness from the garage but also for basic safety concerns (carbon monoxide from garage boiler). Currently I'm using this blue and pink beauty that came from Oliver's family.

Not finished, but looking a lot crisper indeed. Once, I finish finish, I will photo and post.


Lesson Learned

Remember how I said I had a story to tell regarding the water damage I recently repaired on the first floor? 
Though it seems obvious now, initially, when this leak happened, I wasn't sure where the water was coming from only because it coincided with some heavy rain (that we've been without for a year) and I have a known water problem on the roof decks where the safety glass attaches to the parapet (that I'm in the midst of getting sorted out now).
Anyway, it took a while to figure out that it was coming from the laundry room on the second floor because everything looked hunky-dory in there, (but in reality water was running down the inside of the wall). 

There was no water on the floor and the hook-ups -which are under the folding table, looked fine. Honestly, I was most concerned that the outflow spout had been knocked out of the drain and that clearly wasn't the case. 

Upon closer inspection, I finally realized that the screw mechanism on the hot water supply line was cracked. The leaking was intermittent, I guess, because sometimes I must have been doing cold water laundry with no demand on this valve. I can only assume this is why I didn't draw a correlation of the leak to the laundry and instead did to the rain. Ok, so how is this crack even possible? 

From shenanigans like this. I can't even tell you how many times I've pulled my appliances out from their spots. I've moved them to adjust the lint hose, vacuum up lint, paint, repair the dryer, and repair the washer. At some point, I obviously put a lot of strain on that hose and it cracked. Bummer, however.....

This most likely never would have happened with a steel hose line even with me yanking. It cracked because it is plastic, yes, that's right, plastic!! What kind of idgit installs a supply line with plastic attachments on a second floor water source, when a steel one would be a much more prudent solution??? Grrrrrr. 

This is the type I have connected to my washer at the moment. They also make a burst free option, which is braided steel covered in rubber, which was not available at my neighborhood hardware when I purchased this. It is recommended that the washer line be replaced every 3 to 5 years -I did not know that! I still intend to swap out what I have now in the near future even though I feel this new one is sufficient for the time being (better safe than sorry).

So the moral of the story is that they make crappy plumbing supplies out of plastic, which don't hold up. Don't skimp on parts, because there is nothing like the heartache of an interior leak.