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Category: Repairing the Porch (Page 2 of 5)

Repairing the Porch, Day Fourteen

Before recording yesterday’s progress, let me first ask for prayers. My dad had a fall on Sunday, and it really weakened him. My family in Seward are all talking about what’s next for his care-taking. It’s been a difficult week for them. Prayers for strength and wisdom would really help.

And now, for the memory archive, yesterday’s progress:

The hard thing about doing a project you’ve never done before is all the stuff you don’t know.

Yesterday, I decided I would start on the railings. The railing kits have everything I need, including hardware and screws. Except the instructions assume you are screwing into wood. My railing posts are wood, but my columns are fiberglass-reinforced polymer, and they’re only a quarter inch thick. I needed some screw anchors.

I went to Home Depot and stood in front of the screw anchor display for a long time reading labels for weight ratings. I found what I wanted, but they were for number ten screws. What were the screws that came in the railing kit? I had brought one along, so I measured it in their handy-dandy screw gauge measurer. Number eight. Dang. But wait! I also had the little piece with me that the screws go through. Did number ten fit? Yes! Hooray!

The anchors called for one and a half inch, number ten screws. I went to the decking screws. Nothing that short. Dang. But wait! I knew from bolt shopping that stainless steel screws are also good for outside applications. Hooray! Now I just needed to find them in the display.

First I got sixteen packets of two, then I saw the box I needed. It's in the lower right hand corner of this picture.

First I got sixteen packets of two, then I saw the box I needed. It’s in the lower right hand corner of this picture.

I got home, and realized I couldn’t do the railings yet. The columns would eventually need to be painted, and it would be much easier to paint without the railings in place. So much of this project has been sequential… I can’t do this until I do that; I can’t do that until I do the other thing. Ack!

Fortunately, I have painted a lot. It was easy for me to select a paint and to take a post cap to the store to get a color match for the railings. It wasn’t easy, however, to paint with this super-duper exterior paint-and-primer-in-one. It was so thick! And it seemed to dry really, really quickly on the columns. It was leaving gloopy, half-dried paint boogers whenever I brushed over something I had painted only a minute earlier.

Dang.

Dang.

I decided I would paint two coats. I never paint two coats. Ugh. But this way I could sand down the bumps and make a smoother finish. As I continued to paint, I went fast, and kept the paint thick so it would stay wet longer. But I was still having trouble. It was like painting with Elmer’s Glue. The end result is lumpy and the brush strokes are obvious. But I have started to like it. It makes the columns look like they’re made of wood. They match the rest of this hundred-year-old house. Nice. Perhaps I should call this a new kind of faux finish. A distressed or aged wood look. I’m apparently very good at it.

The color looks really good. I thought it would be really white compared to my existing trim color. It’s not. It looks like the same color, but a slightly lighter shade. Yay!

The painted portion of this column is the lighter looking part.  It looks really white compared to the porch roof, but it's not.

The painted portion of this column is the lighter looking part. It looks really white compared to the porch roof, but it’s not.

The painted part of the column is the lighter color again, but look at it compared to the bay window in back.  Nice match!

The painted part of the column is the lighter color again, but look at it compared to the bay window in back. Nice match!

Repairing the Porch, Day Thirteen

I know comment fatigue might be setting in, dear readers, but this is my memory archive after all, so I have to keep writing about this project, even though I could have posted about eating my first garden tomatoes of the season, or the mold that is growing in my aquarium, or the fact that Gus used the sawdust under the table saw in my basement as a litter box. Instead, you get this:

It was another full day of work yesterday. We started by installing the fourth post from Tuesday. It wasn’t really a two person job, so Denis was a little frustrated, but as soon as we got it in, we went right to setting floor boards in place.

We started with the straight section in the front of my house. The boards were pretty easy to space out. There were only a couple places where there was something uneven. Where the floor boards went around the railing posts, they needed to be cut. That was Denis’ speciality. He was amazing! Check out the precision of the cuts on this board:

Stupendous!

Stupendous!

The sun was brutally hot, but we tried to stay in the shade. We worked long and hard to screw down the remaining deck boards. Setting the boards that were cut at a forty-five degree angle was tricky. They had to be tight together, and had to be flush so there was no ridge between them. By the time we were working on them, the sun was beating directly down on us, but we powered through.

Karl made the spacers and a device that marks where the screws go.  I cant imagine doing this work without them.  They were indispensable.

Karl made the spacers and a device that marks where the screws go. I cant imagine doing this work without them. They were indispensable.

There are only two pairs of boards to set in the corner, but there is some weird un-evenness there, and we were too tired for any problem-solving. We’ll start with that today, then Denis will put the rest of the screws in the floor boards, while I work on the porch railings.

I really like the forty-five degree angle section. It’s so clean looking.

Those screws will be all the way down after today.

Those screws will be all the way down after today.

Repairing the Porch, Day Twelve

I keep trying to finish putting up railing posts, and I keep not finishing. Yesterday I at least got the front steps railing posts set in concrete.

I used the standard post-setting method:

Dig the hole a third to half as deep as the post is tall. (The post of course should be a third to a half longer than you want it to be)

This hole is twenty inches deep.

This hole is twenty inches deep.

Next, put gravel in the bottom. This helps water drain away from the bottom of the post.

I used fancy aquarium gravel that I dont have any use for anymore.

I used fancy aquarium gravel that I dont have any use for anymore.

Lastly, set your post in place, fill the hole a third of the way with water, and dump in quick-setting cement. Be sure to level the post quickly after pouring in the cement. It is true to its name and sets quickly.

I decided to set the post sleeve into the concrete to protect the wood core from water at ground level.

I decided to set the post sleeve into the concrete to protect the wood core from water at ground level.

After I got the posts in concrete, I could put in the posts at the top of the stair rails. I kept hitting obstacles though, and only got one post installed. It was frustrating.

Three of four posts in.

Three of four posts in.

Denis helped me with the posts in concrete, but once I started working with the other posts, he went to the boards we set on Monday and started screwing them to the joists. I have the screws that are sold by the company that makes the boards. The screws pull themselves into place and leave a hole behind.

Partially down on the right, all the way down on the left.

Partially down on the right, all the way down on the left.

The screws come with plugs that match the color of the boards. You tap them in with a hammer, and voila! Camouflaged screws! I like how it looks. It reminds me of fine woodworking.

There was a lot of glare in my floor pictures yesterday.

There was a lot of glare in my floor pictures yesterday.

While we were working, the railings were delivered! Woo hoo! I expected a flatbed truck from Home Depot, but it was just the regular UPS guy. I helped him unload the boxes. He was glad.

The railings sort of snap together like Lego.  I hope they're that easy.  They probably aren't.

The railings sort of snap together like Lego. I hope they’re that easy. They probably aren’t.

Repairing the Porch, Day Eleven

Yesterday I did a decent amount of work on the porch, so I can call it Day Eleven. Denis and Karl also worked on it. I’m so blessed to have knowledgeable and talented help. I would have cobbled the new floor together with crazy angles and weird shortcuts. Instead, I’m going to have a flat, straight, beautiful new floor.

Yesterday we fastened some boards to the joists. Karl had the master plan, and Denis had an eye for spacing. We put spacers in on one end of each board and screwed it down, then went to the other end. The spacers were made of MDF, or medium density fiberboard. It’s exactly one quarter inch thick. We didn’t put very many of the screws all the way down, because we wondered if we’d need to do any adjusting. I can only remember two times we backed the screw out and re-set the board.

Having a hammer drill has been awesome.  I highly recommend owning one.

Having a hammer drill has been awesome. I highly recommend owning one.

Putting the boards along the house was easy, but out by the edge of the porch, we had to cut around some obstacles. Denis did some excellent work with the jigsaw to fit boards around the railing posts.

After getting everything in place, we'll run a circular saw along the edge to cut a beautiful straight line.

After getting everything in place, we’ll run a circular saw along the edge to cut a beautiful straight line.

We stopped after getting the boards in place. Lots of screws are sticking up and need to be countersunk, but that’ll be easy, mindless work. Probably. Most of this hasn’t been as easy as I thought.

Looking like an actual floor!

Looking like an actual floor!

Repairing the Porch, Day Ten

Before the floor boards are screwed down, I need to get the railing support posts installed. Yesterday I tried to put in the posts. The learning curve for some of these things is so steep! There seem to be many different methods to putting railing posts on a porch. I decided to go with some metal brackets that are specifically designed for the job. The company even had detailed instructions with diagrams.

Because of all the research I was doing, and because I had to make a second trip to Home Depot to switch my zinc nuts and washers for stainless steel, I didn’t actually get a lot done. Only one post. But I am proud of it. It is level in all directions, it is installed according to the directions from the metal bracket company, and I even added an extra block of wood to the side of the post to give it extra stability.

It was dark by the time I finished.

It was dark by the time I finished.

Today I hope to get four more posts done. There is a fifth post, but it’s by the stairs, and the framing in that area needs some work before I can do the post. There are also some posts at the bottom of the stairs. They’ll have to be cemented into the ground. I’m going to take care of the horizontal railing before I tackle the stair rails. There is some angle cutting involved in the stair rails, and I’m a little nervous about it, so I’m deciding to not think about it for now.

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