This Old Erie House
By Linda Martin Community Blogger
Owners of old houses have so much in common that house talk comes easy between us. Please join in the conversation as we try to fix, restore and update our old Erie houses.  Read more about this blog.
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Posts tagged ‘paint’
Posted: October 19th, 2010

This past weekend we spent part of the time getting ready for winter. I sneer at people that say they like winter around here. They are only fooling themselves. It is their way to cope in order to get through this cruel, icy time of year. Let them. I see it for what it is, confinement in a freezer.

My husband brought down the storm windows. He checked them over and cleaned them and the glass inside and out. He told me the paint was good but next year we are going to have to reglaze them. Ugh! Well, that’s next year. So I was spared having to paint them before they were put up. I’ll use that white latex foam spray insulation (Dap Tex, I think) around the inside of the storm windows. It brushes away with a stiff brush and I just vacuum it up when we remove the windows in the spring.

I also sanded our 6 ft high cedar gate I made several years ago. It still in great shape except the spar varnish peels up every year. It makes me mad that I go through the effort only to have it fail. Last year I did an experiment with leftover Waterlox. I coated the south/west side of the gate with Waterlox before winter. It looked really pretty. Waterlox makes a marine product meant for outdoors but this is what I had leftover (the original finish for floors, woodwork and furniture) so I thought I’d try it. This Waterlox didn’t have UV filters etc in it. The sun’s UV rays penetrates through the finish and breaks down the bond between the wood and the finish. However, I did add some gel stain (oil based) to the mix which turned it a nice orangy-cedar color. The gate looked terrific in the spring after surviving temperatures down to zero and snow for months on end. The east side of the gate I used the spar varnish like always. The east side is the protected side as wind, rain and snow usually hit the west side. Both sides looked pretty good but the east side was starting to have small slits appearing in the finish.

I knew summer would be the real test. That humidity and rain coupled with the heat and strong sun rays would do the finish in I was sure. But the Waterlox side survived with very little damage, just a few tiny breaks in the finish. and it was on the side that has most of the hot sun and rain. The other side I had to scrape and sand to get all the peeling finish (peeling like a bad sunburn) off which is what I always have to do every year because that stuff just doesn’t last. This past weekend I put Waterlox mixed with the antique maple, oil-based gel stain on that side of the gate, too, after sanding off the peeling areas of spar varnish. I’ll need to put on 2 more coats to build up the finish and even out the color. The side that got the coating of Waterlox the year before just needed a light, thinned-down coat. The great part is you don’t have to sand between coats of Waterlox (each coat melts into the previous not like spar varnish that you have to scratch the surface for it to bond.)

My thought is that the oil-based Gel Stain I added to the Waterlox has solids in it that perhaps filtered some of the UV rays out. Whatever, it worked good. Even if I have to lightly re-coat it every year, I had to do it anyway and I wouldn’t have to sand it all down to re-coat it like I do with spar varnish. That is huge. Of course I’m putting Waterlox over some areas that still have some spar varnish so it is only going to hold as long as that under coat lasts. So now I’m thinking that next year I will buy some of the marine Waterlox made to withstand the outdoor weather and sun. It so expensive but if it lasts, it would be worth it. The industry just doesn’t make a product that lasts. The sun is a mean enemy of finishes. Even paint only lasts a few years before you have to start repainting. I guess they’d put themselves out of business if you didn’t have to keep going back to buy their products every year. So, like congressmen voting for term limits, it’s never going to happen.

Posted in: finishes, windows
Posted: September 6th, 2010

I stripped the wallpaper off our plaster walls in the living room and dining room a few years ago and fixed the ceilings in both rooms.  What was left was a nice light surface but had some darker areas.  I primed them before painting just to be sure it covered the dark areas and because I was afraid I didn’t get all the glue off from the wallpaper.  I had no problems painting those rooms.

Fast forward to last week.

This kitchen is like the devil.  It’s evil.  It’s HOT! It is very small and has 4 doors with a bunch of decorative crowns on top, a full wall of hoosier-like cupboards with the crowns on them and 2 large windows with crowns. I decided against taping the woodwork because it would take days (exaggeration) going around all that molding. Old plaster ceilings don’t have perfectly straight edges and previous taping was a waste of time and it always bled under or stuck and took the finish off the woodwork. And even when it didn’t, the lines didn’t look straight. Now I know why the old houses have crown moldings, to hide the uneven seams between plaster ceilings and walls. Our kitchen doesn’t have them. Crowns on everything else in the kitchen, though. And I can’t even reach the ceiling where the counters are because the ladder doesn’t get my short arms close enough. Good thing for husbands with long arms.

We are on day, what is it now? Day 5 ? and we still aren’t done. Our tiny little kitchen doesn’t have room to walk with the refrigerator and stove  moved out so a ladder could fit near the wall.  We are so tired of scooting sideways to get by anything.  We can’t find anything.  We put plastic down on the floor and I trip on it, we drip paint and I step in it.  There is no room to work.  Elbow to elbow, “excuse me”, “excuse me!”  There is no air conditioning downstairs and the temperature near the ceiling has to be close to 90 or higher.  It’s easy to get cranky when it’s so hot and you can’t move.   I’ve been working on the dining room floor and the kitchen stairs during the day and when my husband comes home we work painting until we can’t do it anymore. The other rooms were a pleasure, this certainly is not.

Yellow must be a color that doesn’t cover other colors very well.  We paint and paint and the green still shows through.  The paint can says one-coat coverage.  LIAR!!  We bought extra to give it 2 coats just in case.  Two coats still doesn’t completely cover the green underneath.  I always thought the kitchen’s old green was a very light shade but against the light yellow it looks like a darker dull olive.

I went to the store today to get some kind of edger (and another gallon of paint)  because we were having such a time up against the woodwork. I was looking for miracles.  I saw one that looked like it really would work, I was sure of it.  I bought two so if it worked, we could both be cutting in at the same time. We tried one of the edgers to see how it worked before we opened the other one, that way we could return the unused one if it was junk.  It was junk.  My husband told me before he doesn’t like “gimmicks” and it certainly turned out to be just another gimmick and just made a mess and dripped paint on everything. So besides paint, I had egg on my face because I wasted $15 but I can return the other one. He did not rub it in and he could have.  I also bought a rather expensive cut-in brush as a back up.  I figured I could return it  if the edgers worked good, if they didn’t I would use the brush.  I ended up using the brush and it worked much better than anything else. I guess you can’t beat the old standards.

Soooo…what we should have done in hindsight is buy and apply tinted primer and then paint.  It would not have helped the temperature and sweating and it would not have helped doing miles of cutting in around the wood work but it probably would have made a more even color which we’ll get, eventually.  At least we got the one wall done (woohoo!!) and were able to put the appliances back against the wall tonight.  Now there will be room for two ladders.

I must have used a full  tank of hot water each night washing out all the trays and rollers and brushes.  It also take about 1/2 hour to clean everything.  No more. Tomorrow I’m lining the roller pan with one of my recycle bags.  When we are done, we’ll pour the extra back in the can and just throw the plastic away instead of washing the pan and having  paint going down the sink into the water supply.  I’m throwing the roller away, too.  I’ll scrape off the excess paint, let it dry and stick it in a plastic grocery bag.  They should be dried by garbage night. Good riddance. They aren’t that expensive.

It blows my mind that this one room is so hard.

Posted: August 23rd, 2010

I’m currently involved with 3 projects at once.  Multitasking.  When my back hurts from one, I move to the other. The weather turned wonderful.  Low 70s is my kind of temperature and makes me want to work.  I put on my earphones and turn on the audio book and I’m in my own little world.

I finally got around to putting the Waterlox on the dining-room floor (I did the living-room floor back in Dec/Jan.)  I am using the same method I used with the living room.  I put painters tape along the boards to divide the room in half and moved all the furniture to one side.  When the finished side is cured, I’ll move the furniture back to the other side and finish the remaining floor.  It looks good so far.  It will have to cure for 7-10 days before I can start on the other side. (photos to come soon.)

In the meantime I am stripping the back stairs that leads from the kitchen to the upstairs landing.  I haven’t decided what finish to use yet.  The oak front stairs was just completed in the garnet shellac but the pine back stairs borders the kitchen with the natural heart pine woodwork so I may leave those stairs a natural color, too.  I’ll just use Waterlox if I do.  I’m only halfway done with the stripping of the back stairs. I tried both the strong chemical stripper and the Peel Away 6.  Both are so messy. The chemical is so much faster but requires thick gloves and being really careful. Even a little splatter will burn your skin.  Of the parts I have already stripped, the chemical cleaned it best. The downside to the chemical stripper is I can’t leave for a moment in case one of the cats happens down the stairs. Another question I have to answer is if I want to sand out all the marks and dents on the treads.  It’s part of the allure of “antique.”  Some of the treads are worn down in the middle from a century of use.  It would be nice to have the stairs look spanking new but I love the history in the old look. I think the sanding will be minimal. It is what it is, old stairs.  People often try to make their new wood look old like this.

My husband and I bought the paint for our kitchen.  It has been on our list since we bought the house but we just never got to it.  It’s not all that big of a project so why live with ugly dirty, green walls and a green ceiling?  Yesterday we said, “Let’s just do it.”  The worst part will be cleaning those old high ceilings and repairing the cracks.  My neck hates that stuff. It’s the pits to be short and everything seems harder when you are short.   My husband volunteered to do the ceiling. I say, “Have at it!”  We picked a light pale yellow.  It looked pretty light at the store but I knew through past experience how yellow yellow can be when it is up on the wall.  I have the paint sample card up on the wall this morning and I think we picked the perfect color.  We haven’t found a lighting fixture yet that we like for the kitchen.  I’ll keep my eyes open on eBay to try to find a restored vintage lighting fixture that will look right in our kitchen and doesn’t cost a fortune. There is also a foot-square grate near the ceiling.  We want to take that down and see what the original color was.  It is painted green like the walls  now.  I think it would look really nice black and I have a feeling that is the original color.

Posted: August 15th, 2009

Here is a photo of the damage the winter and the snow shovel did to my front stairs.

stairs-before

snow-shovel-damage

See more photos by clicking “read the rest of this entry”

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: July 9th, 2009

The porch was beautiful.  And then it rained. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: March 26th, 2009

(Please check previous post for history of this project.)

When the weather permitted again, I started getting back to the  basement windows, one at a time. I bought a heat gun and scraping tools.  I removed the hinges and removed the window and set it aside.  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in: basement windows