Sunday, August 26, 2012

Porch Painted (First Coat)

So today I prepped and painted the porch. Most of it, at least.

I spent several hours this morning/afternoon (around 11am - 3:00pm) puttying/gap-filling, and prepping for paint. This included getting up on ladders to caulk around the crown moulding, along the inside gap of the fascia, all kinds of nails holes in the fascia, along the edges that met with the siding, etc.

I did not install or buy the moulding along the bottom yet, and the top one will wait until I replace the sills (maybe next year?)

I started painting after I got back from groceries, and a quick road trip with Mom to grab some salvaged windows, and after a quick supper. So painting started with the BIN primer (white tinted shellac for the knots), around 6pm.

As I was priming, I ended up dropping the can right at the steps (in the doorway), and losing about half the can. I made a HUGE ASS mess in the process.

I was not happy.

Of course I didn't bother to change into some painting clothes (since I had been careful up until that point), and of course it splashed all over me, my glasses, and my shirt (which I'm pretty sure is now ruined).

Mom was over on the computer, and I got her to take the photo.

Luckily, the shorts survived relatively unharmed, as did my black shoes (cheapie shoes, but ones that I like).

I finished painting around 8pm. It was too dark out to take decent photos, so you get nuthin' till tomorrow or later.

I'll make a note to photograph the salvaged windows as well.

EDIT: I should note that I painted all the exterior of the porch EXCEPT FOR the window areas, and the sills. I basically painted the fascia, the portion above the crown, the entire flat surface around the windows/corner posts/around the door, door casings and jamb, and all the t-g.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Short Rant About Outlets + I Got A Sink!

Alright, I don't know how wide spread this issue is, but I wanted to touch on it just quickly.

Here in Ontario, there are new electrical code requirements for electrical outlets (wall sockets/plugs), and I'm not in favour.

The code specifies (as of a few years ago) that any outlets within reach of children (which in most cases is ALL OF THEM since they tend to be 18" off the floor) be of the new "Tamper Resistant" kind. These are marked with a TR on the face plates.

I've seen them several times in new homes being built, and I've seen them being stocked in DIY stores, since they are now phasing-out the regular type.

My issue:

I HATE THESE. And they're also more expensive. They have built-in plastic battens to sort-of block the holes, but it also makes them a bit more of a pain in the ass to use. It's not an issue if you have something plugged in all the time, but if it's an outlet that you use often, it's a bit harder to plug into it, since you have to push extra hard to disengage/slide the battens with the prongs.

I also don't like the TR letters printed in the plastic. But that's just me being EXTRA PICKY, haha. But things like this annoy me.

So that said, if you prefer the regular style outlets, get them now while you still can. The entire reason I made this post was because I happen to have come across 2 boxes (10 packs) of the "old style" plain ones today, and I bought them.

I don't know how they expect that everyone in the province will just go out and change all their outlets, but technically it's now a code requirement, which is just stupid. What ever happened to just using those plastic outlet covers and just teaching your kids to use their head.


I was headed to Home Hardware this morning for more nails and sand paper (which I ended up forgetting to buy), and they were having a big "yard sale" clearance sale. I spotted a bunch of sinks, and one of them would be perfect for my vanity project. I actually grabbed a measuring tape from the sale items, and checked that it would fit.

It's a porcelain under-mount sink, 17 x 14, and the best part: only 6.99$! It was originally 29.99$ (which isn't terribly pricey either). Even if I don't end up using it (I really want white marble with an under-mount sink, but it might be $$$$), I could still get my money back on it on Kijiji or at a yard sale.


Meanwhile, a whoooooole bunch more work has been done on the porch. The entire door frame ware removed and remade, the exterior casings were installed, and the door is hung (but not fully trimmed yet). But I'll wait to post photos of all that until I have things a bit more finished/painted.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Porch Progress Thus Far

Alright, I've been promising update photos for a while, so here's about 20, as current as yesterday.

As I showed in a previous post about the porch, I started replacing all the old tongue and groove boards around the porch's lower wall. Most of it was rotted on the bottom, and it was practically falling off since the nails holding it in place were nearly rusted through. Add to that the several layers of failing paint, and then it's just not worth stripping and saving it.

I had half of it done earlier, and the second half, I think last weekend...

In the process, I had to remove part of the railing, which was very poorly attached, and I also removed part of the door casing.

I also started working a little bit on the inside of the porch. I probably won't do much work on the interior this year, but I might get some of the trim and woodwork done.

I started by removing the old 1/4 round along the floor, since it was in bad shape. I also want to replace the cove along the top of the "base wall" since some of the corners are screwed up, and it's also not in very good shape. Other than this, I have one length to replace at the ceiling, and one or two boards in the ceiling to redo (from rot caused by a roof leak).

While working on the door frame, I'm going to replace and possibly improve/dress-up the door casings, so I removed those as well.

Another thing I want to change is this:

On the inside and outside of the porch, the sill goes into the door casing, and the casing is cut to notch around it. I've always thought this looked bad (since day 1), and I will modify it.

Here are a few details of the botched screen door install/patch job around the door. You can barely see the original door jamb under the various bits of added wood, and depending on the condition, I might have to remake it entirely.

The door is so badly installed and crooked that the house numbers look lopsided.


Alright, the following set of photos are the work that I did on the old cedar door so far. This is a rather extensive/involved repair, but it's a repair that I did with very limited tools. All I used for this was a router with a 5/8 square rabbet cutting bit (one with blades on the bottom edges as well as the sides), a table saw, clamps, and a chisel. I also used a speed square as a fence to route a nice straight cut on the ends). A planer is also nice to have for your patches, but you can work around this by using stock (thinner) material, or ripping-down your wood to fit.

NOTE: Some of the photos *suck*. The garage has really crappy lighting, and I was not going to get my tripod just for this.

I started by deciding how deep I should route-out my patches, so that I didn't remove too much material, but deep enough to add a lot of strength in the final product. I opted for 3/8" depth on each side.

I then cut a piece of cedar to rough size, and sawed though it on both sides. My saw has a small blade, so I had to finish the cut with a hand saw.

The two pieces were then run through a planer to nearly the exact depth (to minimize sanding later), and glued in place.

As I mentioned two posts ago, I used a special moisture cured, expanding urethane glue from work. This stuff is not available to the general public (it comes in huge barrels), but you can use an exterior wood glue, or alternatively, we also have a glue by Kleiberit. The one we use is hard to find, and it comes in a caulking gun tube, and it's a similar foaming/expanding moisture-cured urethane. I think it's similar to this one:

One of the pros of this foaming urethane is that it has really good gap-filling properties (so it will actually work it's way into small cracks and crevices), and it's water proof and heat resistant. It will glue almost anything together, including metals, plastics, etc. The advantage, here, is that you don't always need to scrape-away all of the old glue if you're repairing something like an old chair.

Basically, this door will rot before it ever falls apart again.

The one big drawback is that it's very messy, you MUST use gloves, and it's almost impossible to wash off if you DO smear it somewhere. The cured foam is also hard to remove, since it's rubbery, and won't scrape off. We usually use a VERY sharp chisel, to cut away most of it, or it can be sanded down/planed.

Joints are usually misted or dampened with water prior to gluing. You don't NEED to moisten the joints, but it bonds better, and cures faster. It goes on in the consistency of honey (with a similar clear brownish orange), and it dries to look like beige expanding foam with a similar texture after it's fully cured.

Here, I've sanded down the patch on both sides, and then ripped-down the piece to rebuild the entire outside edge of the door (partially to patch the two existing holes, but also because of damage and rot along this edge.

New strip of cedar from an 8 foot "2x6"

Entire door reassembled, and checked for square.

Clamps removed and the door has been surface sanded on this side (using a belt sander).

It's FAR from perfect, but it should look alright once it's painted. I'll be using latex silicone along the panel edges and corners.


I squared the bottom edge (which wasn't too bad), but the top will need a lot trimmed off. Nearly 3/4". The door had previously been trimmed, but it should still fit my opening, even with this much trimmed off.

That's it for now!

Cornwall Homes (Updates)

I need feedback, here. Does anyone care to stay updated on some of these "botched renos", or would you prefer to see just the occasional "really nice" Cornwall homes? I'm indifferent, so as the viewers/readers I'd rather know what YOU want to see.

Alright, quick photo update on the two unfortunate houses in my 'hood. The "finished" foursquare one a few blocks away is now up for sale again, meaning it was a flip. The house was originally sold for ~120,000$, and now they're asking 189,000$. This is quite high for the neighbourhood it's in. My house was only 85K, and I think I have more square footage, however that one has a nice private yard and a new deck.

See the listing here for interior photos. All the doors are now new (cheap) 6 panel Home Depot doors, a lot of the floors were replaced, etc.

I also just noticed that they ripped out some of the detail mouldings on the arches. There are two curved archways on the first floor and originally they had these sort of column caps around the top just under the curved portions. It was one of those features that was a unique architectural detail. I did not think that they had removed these. They actually got rid of an archway entirely.

I found this OLD LISTING. See the difference:

They got rid of all the beautiful old window casings, too, and the antique furnace grates (which absolutely kills me because I would have taken them).


The house near Mom's place has fared even worst.

A few weeks ago (maybe a month by now), she had told me they were ripping off all the brick, and putting up "ugly beige siding" (her exact words). It's pretty bad when even my Mom is saying it's awful, since she tends to be slightly indifferent. She also didn't like the awful brown windows that they installed.

These are old photos from back then (few weeks back):

You can see that everything was gutted to the studs:

Piles of bricks...

Then fast forward to yesterday, when I took these. The house looks so awful I can't even list the items that look wrong.

I was really hoping that they would reinstall the original window layout (2 on each side on the upper part), but who does that anymore. Light? Who wants that? It looks like the house is totally off balance.

God DAMN this looks bad. And what the heck is that bump-out on the roof. It looks like a shed. I can only assume it's a closet, but it looks RETARDED.

This almost makes me want to cry.

This side looks slightly less stupid, but I hate the brown windows with light yellow siding, with white trim. It's also obvious that two windows are missing, though if you want to be picky, maybe as many as 5 windows missing (2 on the top roof "room", 2 on the back of the house (one on each floor), and one right in the middle). Plus 2 basement windows, so yeah, 7-ish? That's pretty terrible. This doesn't count missing windows on the other sides of the house.

Just compare with some of the "before" photos:

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Porch Door Rehab

I feel like such a bad/lazy blogger for once again not including photos. I haven't had time to take them off the camera and edit them yet.

I'm still working on the porch renovations.

The t-g is all installed and puttied, but not painted yet (the weather has not cooperated and now I want to do the door and door trim at the same time).

The door I'll be using for the porch is one of the old scrapped Cedar doors that a neighbour a few doors down threw away. It originally had a glass/vinyl window insert, which I removed.

Here's the door "as found":

I think this was from this spring.

Anyways, you can see from the photo that it was pretty rough, but it's the right size, the right style, and it also happens to have the panels that line up nearly perfectly with the porch's lower wall.

The door was very much falling apart, so earlier this week I knocked it completely apart, scraped off all the loose paint, sanded some of it, and started to do some repairs. The main area of concern was the area where the knob and lock were installed. Water had gotten in there, and the entire section was really weak. I also wanted to install a more traditional knob, and no lock, so I decided to patch and repair that entire board. This was quite involved, and I'll explain in more details with photos.

I also got to use some really cool glue from work, which is a foaming, moisture-cured urethane glue designed to glue (wooden) airplane propellers. I'm totally serious. We have this huge drum of it, and we use it for all our exterior items (like porch posts, columns, and railings, and any exterior trim that needs to be laminated). It dries as a beige foam.

So yeah, today I reassembled the entire door, and I have one side sanded.

I have to sand the other side, and then trim the door at the top (which is super crooked), install a drip edge along the bottom, and start building a window insert to match my 4-over-2 porch windows.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Porch Restoration Progress

The porch is actually quite nicely put together, but it has been neglected for decades. The old t-g was patched over with siding (which I didn't like), and it seemed rather odd to have ONLY one section on it that was metal, and everything else was wood and would need painting.

I decided to take down the siding and have a look underneath. I knew it was t-g because of a missing section next to the stairs, but I didn't know what shape it would be in. As it turned out, it was pretty bad.

All the boards were slightly shrunken, cupped, rotted, and caked in thick failing oil paint (probably lead based). I knew it was not worth the trouble to scrape and repaint them.

As I was tearing them off to replace them (with nearly identical stock from Home Depot!) I was actually surprised to see that the boards were in relatively good shape. The ones that were rotted were only rotted on the bottom 2 inches, and along the seams.

I started with the front, since it would be quick and easy to do. I had pre-assembled and glued together two "corner blocks". These are just 2 boards cut at a 45 degree and glued together on the seam with waterproof exterior glue (and a few small nails).

As you can see, above, the interior t-g boards are thinner plain boards around 3", and the exterior ones are 3/4" thick V groove double boards at around 4 1/2"

Front done, siliconed in the joints and nail holes, and nearly ready for sealer/primer.

The other issue I had to fix were the two end boards.

When they built this porch, they made it quite easy/simple rather than practical for water shedding/future repairs. The base is pretty much built like a deck, with the floor boards exposed on 3 sides. Over this, they added main support beams in the corners, and then very simple 2x4 "boxes" with t-g nailed on each side. These are then capped with a sill and the windows sit on that.

Because of the way the floor was laid, it's hard to make repairs. The end boards were thankfully SO ROTTEN that I was able to just pull them out.

I don't have any in-between shots, since I was running out of daylight, but I had to rip off all the boards from this side, then remove the floor edge board, measure, cut, and fit the new one, and screw it down carefully. I used some 1" cedar deck board for this since it will be a bit more rot-resistant than the original pine.

Also not shown was my crafty cabinetmaker magic where I had to carefully cut an oddly notched custom piece* to fit around the window sill and house edge, AND get the piece in there with the t-g joints still working and tight the whole length. There's a bit of cheating involved, but if you want to know how I did it in detail, just ask.

The clear tarps are because we're expecting a lot of rain over the next few days. We just had a HUUUUGE downpour about an hour ago and the entire garage is flooded (which hasn't happened in almost a year).

I can't accurately describe how anxious I am to replace that door and those awful stairs.

These are from this morning. The bottom 2x4 and a small bit of the corner post are rotten. I couldn't really do much about the bottom board (since all the interior t-g boards are nailed to it and I DO NOT want to match and replace those), so I added a new 2x4 to hold the new t-g "siding" boards firmly.

I also replaced the extremely rotted floor board, which crumbled to pieces (literally).

This corner sill piece was also badly rotted and partially missing, so I tore it out. I'm actually thinking of replacing all of these, but I'm not sure exactly how involved of a repair that would be, since a lot of pieces are sitting on or around them (like the capping boards on the corner columns, the windows, door jambs, etc).

Not shown, since it was starting to rain, are 90% of the boards for this side. I ran out of wood t-g (since the remaining pieces have too many flaws to use), so I'll need to grab 2 more lengths. I didn't have time to do the caulking or anything else, since I wanted to just tarp it.

Shop Storage (Hutch)

Alright, around 2 weeks ago, I started building a very large cabinet for the shop that will hold a large number of tools and other shop goodies. I had little to no storage, and the existing "shop table" was a joke.

I had just recently pulled-up the floor in the dining room and office, so I have all this random plywood in the garage, so I decided to use what I had available to build this cabinet.

Some of the materials I used were:

- 2x4s
- 2x3s
- 5/8" plywood
- 1/4" Fir plywood
- Random old pieces of painted pine t-g
- An assortment of old doors from the laundry room (not shown)
- 5 old basement windows from 2-3 different houses (garbage pick-ups)
- nails, screws
- 9 sets of hinges/catches, 4 drawer pulls (not yet purchased)


I decided to make the cabinet with a counter top at 96" wide (8 feet) and I sized everything else accordingly. The base is around 22" deep, and the top is around 12" deep. The height is around 8 feet (3 foot tall base with a 5 foot tall upper hutch).

Since I have very few decent tools, most of my cuts were made "rough", and then cleaned-up with a belt sander. This was the fastest and easiest way for me to build this, and I got most of it built in 2-3 days (what you see so far). Alternatively, you could use a router with a straight bit and a fence, but this is hard to do on plywood, and hard on the bit and router. The easiest way to do this (should you want to make a similar large piece) would be to get the pieces cut for you at a lumber store (many places will do this for free if you're buying the materials there).

I wanted the piece to be semi-decent looking, and paint-grade. I also wanted something hefty and SOLID. The base was made from screwed-together 2x4s:

The back and bottom sheets are 5/8", but the sides are thin 1/4" sanded Fir (which is smoother than the cheaper plywood). Note that the bottom boards are notched around the corner 2x4s. The side pieces are just glued and nailed on with small nails.

The entire face frame is made from painted scrap pine boards with a fairly rough texture. One of the main points in making this was to see if I could build the entire thing out of scrap wood. The doors were arranged so that I could reuse (cut down) some of the old laundry room doors from the cabinets that were upstairs. The narrower centre section will have 4 drawers (just plain wood-on-wood plywood).

I used some scrap MDF baseboard for the bottom.

The top hutch portion will have 5 doors made from old basement windows. I re-cut them slightly to make them all the same size. I made the top pretty high at 5 feet (making the full cabinet 8 feet high).

That's as far as I got on this project. The next step will be to build and attach the upper face frame, and attach a back. Once that's done, I can attach doors, build the drawers/tracks, cut shelves, etc. I plan to paint the finished cabinet a green colour (shop tool green).

Other Stuff:

I finally installed the smoke alarm upstairs. It used to be in the guest bedroom (former laundry room/kitchen) but it was a pretty stupid place for it. I decided it should go in the hallway (in the middle of the second floor). I kind of hate to have it there, but it's one of those necessities you just have to have, even though it's an eye sore.

Last weekend I also decided to do a bit more of the drywall mudding in the office and the dining room, and I was able to finish the corner in the office, and reinstall/patch the crown. I was able to reuse some found scraps, and it came together very nicely, considering I used just a mitre box with a HAND SAW. The ends that join up with the exterior wall mouldings were coped, and any gaps were covered with caulking.

The next post will cover the porch work from the past week.