Friday, October 29, 2010

You're Stairing or Tread Lightly

   After a very wet and rainy weekend, Ed and Rick framed in the rooms in the basement.  The utility room is just off the exterior basement roll-up door. In the center will be a media room, with stairs to the rest of the house, a game room, affectionately known as the Saloon, and the gym.
   Once the basement interior was framed, Ed started prepping for more cement. This time he's pouring the front stair base and the footing for the side deck which will connect the house to the garage.

The next morning he knocked the forms apart and started hanging the stringers which he had already cut. Because the stairs are made out of Trex deck, the stringers have to be every 16". This accommodates both the flex (Trex flex!) and the curvature of the stairs.

  Each tread piece went from stringer to stringer. Each riser was in three pieces. Between the risers and the stair treads, there were 110 pieces. Each piece had to be individually marked and cut.

   I had driven into town to order fireplaces and run errands. By the time I got home in the afternoon,  the front stairs were finished.  This is the first time we have been able to access the house without either going up a ladder, or entering through the basement.  I went up and down the stairs several times, just to try them out.  Aren't they beautiful?


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Storm's A'Coming

   Ed and Rick have been working to get the last of the shingling finished before the rain starts. Ed says it feels like he's been stapling shingles for years, but has really been two months. They stapled that first shingle the last week of August.
  Always thinking ahead, Ed wired in two electrical boxes for the Christmas lights. Then they began putting up the tongue-in-groove pine boards for the front porch soffit.

   It looks awesome! In fact it looks so good Ed decided to use it on the back porch soffit as well. We had originally used stained cedar plywood, but aren't happy with how it looks. Ed can just install this right over the plywood, and it will look so much better.
   Finally, that last shingle went on. It's a milestone, believe me!

   In the meantime, we had a run of really beautiful fall weather. I wanted to paint the basement door to match the faux carriage doors I painted on the garage.  It's a little silly because you can't really see the basement roll-up door. But that didn't slow me down.
   Over the basic white, and just to be sure, I put a coat of Kilz primer. You can never go wrong with a nice coat of primer.  I'm sure that's a proverb someplace..After the primer dried, I applied a coat of Valspar exterior satin, Natural Cork. Then a coat of 3 parts glaze, 1 part Natural Cork, and  1/2  part (?) of black. Brush it on, wipe it off. The darker color gets in the grooves of the simulated wood grain and adds a sense of depth.

   How lucky can I get? I awoke to another glorious day..cold in the morning and sunny all afternoon.  I got out my pencil, copied my design from my graph paper to the door and mixed the next color. This time, no glaze, 1 pint of Natural Cork, and 2 oz. of black.
   If the weather were not about to change, I would have let this dry for several days. OK, maybe not, because I have no patience, but I was having fun.

 I started painting the shadow lines.This is what defines the door, and makes it three dimensional. It took staring at photos of doors for quite some time for me to get this because I'm not artistic by nature. I also painted in some hinges and door handles. Later today I'll put some little detail touches on those pieces, using some touches of lighter paint to paint in screws, and create roundness on the door handles.

    What a feeling! The entire exterior of the house is secure, locks are on the doors, and sealed to the weather. We were so concerned that we wouldn't have it done in time before winter arrived.  Today is going to be the last decent day for a while. It feels good to know it can storm all it wants, without ill effect. Ed has worked so hard to get it done. Now he can take a breath!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

One Hot Ragtime or That Burns My Britches

The shingling continues. Ed is really tired of it, but he expects to be done this week. He's really looking forward to that! This is the east side of the house. Those darned corbels are a pain to put up, because it requires about 6 trips up and down the ladder. Carry up the base. Measure the length and  angle. Go down the ladder. Cut the angle off the base. Go back up the ladder. Secure the base. Go back down the ladder. Get the corbel. Go up the ladder. Like that.

 After the east side was done, they moved to the back and worked on the second story. I love the way the shingles wrap around the top of the center window. Each shingle had to be cut to fit. Ed has an amazing eye for detail, and it really shows.

   In the meantime, it's been my job to stain and seal the front door, sidelights and transom. I used Minwax pre-stain wood treatment to help the stain go on more evenly. It's a mixture of varnish and paint thinner. Then I used  Minwax gel stain, Aged Oak, and Minwax urethane sealer.

   Note To Self: Do not take a rag full of paint thinner and stain and stick it in your back jeans pocket for several hours.
   I was waiting for one coat to dry, and was checking my e-mail, when I felt a horrible pain in my back. "Oh great," I thought "I've pulled a muscle or pinched a nerve or something." It was pretty intense, and getting stronger. I finally realized that darned paint rag in my back pocket had soaked through and was burning my skin. I wound up with a nasty burn the size of ..well..a pants pocket..on my I probably won't do that again!
The good news is, the door looks great. It is a Simpson door in douglas fir. The stile in the center of the door echoes the shape of the columns on the porch.

The locksets we decided on  are Emtek Arts and Crafts edition, with glass knobs on the interior side. I'm thrilled. They are beautiful.
   I'm always a little nervous ordering items sight unseen on the internet, but this was definitely a very good choice.

 They are heavy and solid. The mechanics work smoothly and quietly. And they just make my heart sing every time I look at them. That's a good thing because there are eight doors that will have them.

  Yesterday I stained piece after piece of 6" tongue-in-groove boards for the front porch soffits. No, I didn't put anything in my back pocket.I did manage to get it all stained without further injury.
  As soon as Ed and Rick are done with the shingles, the soffit will be the next project.

Just about the time I was done with the staining, the Milgard representative showed up to finish the last of the corrections on the windows. In no time at all he changed out the regular glass and installed the tempered glass.  The windows are finally correct and complete.

  This morning, Overhead Door Co. showed up to install the basement roll up door. They were done, cleaned up and out of here in two hours. I'll probably paint this door to match the faux carriage doors on the garage, but I'll need three days of good weather to do that, and rain is predicted for tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

This Is The Song That Never Ends

  Ed is still shingling. Have I mentioned the shingles? They go on and on. Ed finished the west side of the house, which is the weather side. It was also the highest, scariest side to work on.
   Now that it's autumn, and the leaves are coming off the trees, you can see the house from the road. As you come up the valley, this is the first glimpse of the house. Those beautiful cedar shingles, placed one by one, are a striking sight.

 But....second verse, same as the first. Ed and Rick moved over to the other side of the house and began again. At least by this time, Ed has stopped worrying about the weather. He's confident he can get the shingles on before the heavy rains start. We're also finally getting that beautiful fall weather.  It's cold in the morning, and clear and 65* during the day, perfect working weather.

Ed put up the corbels (lookouts..I'm never sure what to call them..) and kept moving up.

  Ed and Rick have put up about 50 boxes of shingles. Each box covers 50 square feet. Ed figures he'll use about  six more boxes. Two staples per shingle, sometimes three for the big ones. Every piece that angles against the roof or window trim has to be cut to fit. That's a lot of custom fitting. It's a lot of cardboard boxes to the recycle bin. The best byproduct is the trim of the shingles. It makes great kindling for the fireplace!

It just goes on and on. I would be overwhelmed by the size of the project, but Ed says to just take it in small daily steps.

 "Slow and steady wins the race", he reminds me.
And, of course, he's right. He's finishing up the sides of the dormer today, and will finish the front this week.

   In the meantime, the correct front door was delivered, and I got right to work. The door is douglas fir, so I used a pre-stain treatment on the wood before I stained it. I used the same stain on the front door as I used on the Codel fiberglass french doors, Minwax gel stain, Aged Oak. It comes out a little darker on the fir than the fiberglass, which is fine.
As soon as it warms up a little bit this morning, I'll put on the first coat of sealer.

   The bane of my existence has become the Codel fiberglass french doors. Had I known then what I know now, I would not have bought Codel doors. My first inkling was when I tried to call their customer service line after mis-applying the gel stain. That was not a happy or productive experience, but I thought "Hey, every company has an employee that doesn't know which end is up."

   We bought six sets of in-swing french doors. As I began to stain one set, I noticed the embossed grain on the one door was completely different than the other five sets.  Most of them are embossed to look like an actual wood door. I mean, that's the point isn't it?

   The one set has the grain all going the same direction, vertically. It looks like somebody took a big piece of plywood, cut a hole in the middle for the glass, and called it a door. It's awful! I called the window and door company we bought them through, who agreed it didn't sound normal and said they would have the Codel representative call us.
   Kal, the Codel representative called us the next morning. After some back and forth calling, Kal advised us that the french doors are made in three widths. The wide and narrow width doors are made as a normal door is made, as our five other sets are made. The middle size, is manufactured differently. Neither the distributor in Longview, nor Kal, the Codel representative had even been aware of this, which apparently is why we hadn't been advised when we bought the doors. Codel would be willing to replace this door with a smaller or larger door, but they wouldn't cover the new framing. Just to be clear, framing includes the exterior custom door trim, the shingles that surround the trim, and the transom window over the door, all of which are already in place. All of those would have to be torn out and  replaced out of our pocket. And Ed would have to suspend shingling the rest of the south side of the house until the new door and new transom window were manufactured and  installed. Did I mention we have only two weeks of decent weather before winter is here? Other than that Codel had no solution for us, nor were they particularly concerned.
   Words fail me. The door looks horrible, and it would cost over $1000.00 to rework the door opening. If I win the lottery, the first thing going to the dump are these Codel doors.

  In spite of this aggravation, life is good. Every day that the work gets done without anyone falling or getting injured is a good day. We have food on the table, love in our hearts, and hope for the next day. Bright blessings surround us.