Legacy Project: The Back Porch Remodel

A Complete Overhaul

In our first real post, the story was told of a Legacy Project that took place before the blog was started.  So here's a more recent project. The old back porch at ol' 173 was in baaaad shape. I don't have a complete "before" picture, but this first one should give a clue to its condition. Of particular note is the peeling paint on the walls and ceiling. The windows were the kind that opened into the porch on hinges. 

While when we first moved in we thought this was unique and charming, we soon found out that they were simply old and worn out. On top of that, when the windows were open, they reached almost halfway into the porch. AND...they leaked like the proverbial sieve!

Taking it Down

The first step was a bit of demo. Above the windows, the walls were covered over in 1/4 inch plywood and had been painted white so many times the paint was cracked and "gatoring".

 Instead of stripping it all down, I just went over it!

Inch by Inch

The next step was to strip the walls. Now THAT was a job. I hate the tedium of 2 or 3 inches at a time with the Wagner heat gun so I tried some paint stripper. As it turned out, there were so many coats of paint that the paint stripper was totally useless. Sooo, back to the heat gun. Now, I have a bit of patience, and just a little bit of mental "toughness" (heck, I've even run marathons), but stripping these walls with a heat gun nearly drove me to the...well, you know where. Take a look at those walls after all that work! Also notice the missing boards in the ceiling, I wanted to see what was up there and what was ahead.

A New Ceiling

In the next picture you see that the new ceiling is in. I opted to put up a paneling instead of trying to strip the old ceiling. The wood was old and dried out and wouldn't have been worth the work. There's no heat on the back porch, but I have this thing - whenever an outside wall is open, I put in some insulation. I dunno, maybe a waste of money, but.... 

All That Figurin'

Then it was window time. (I'll spare you the progress pics.) There were five original windows of varying sizes. I'm not that great at math (although you'd think addition and subtraction should be simple enough) so it took me weeks of mental exercises to figure that I needed four new windows on the back (with two different widths) and three on the side. Worked out okay though!

Without taking you through every-single menial task, we eventually put up the ceiling, new walls and painted. We went with a brown deck and floor paint. 

Before we use any power tools, let's take a moment to talk about shop safety. Be sure to read, understand, and follow all the safety rules that come with your power tools. Knowing how to use your power tools properly will greatly reduce the risk of personal injury. And remember this, there is no more important safety rule than to wear these: safety glasses! - Norm Abrams

It used to be that old-school blue-green porch floor color (which I love and later learned was called "Haint Blue"), but it just wouldn't go with the look we were heading toward. 

Don't You Love Norm Abrams?

I really like the following picture. It really shows off how great the windows turned out. When I trimmed the windows (inside and out) I decided to spend a little more money and went with PVC molding. I always remember Norm Abrams saying, "Vinyl is final!" 

A Kind of Kitchen Extension

So then came the cabinets. We have limited cabinet space in the kitchen, so the wife wanted some "overflow" storage for kitchen utensils that aren't often used. We found a nice set at Loewe's, and a neighbor had a 10% discount, so we got a great deal on the whole set. With a kitchen remodel looming in the very near future, I thought the cabinet installation would be good practice.

And the Details

So here it is pretty close to done. All that was left was some molding around the base cabinets, then the little additions like wall hooks, and a bit of decoration. Maybe in the spring I'll put up some shots of the complete "after".


Again, so much was learned that I couldn't possibly list them all. But here are a couple that really stand out in my mind:

1. Review the products you're going to buy, then review them again. I reviewed paints and primers over and over again, but still came away disappointed. We used Behr Premium plus primer and paint. This was the #2 top quality paint on several websites. It was about 1/2 the cost of the #1 and received excellent reviews, but after this experience - I definitely don't recommend it. Next painting project - I'm paying the extra and going with #1! HOWEVER! The Behr porch and floor paint was excellent!

2. When installing upper cabinets, join the cabinets together, then put up a ledger board to rest them on and keep them level while fixing them to the wall.

3. Spend a lot of time walking around Lowes and Home Depot. Look through the aisles, eavesdrop on conversations and just ask people questions!

4. Grossman's sells the exact same windows as Lowes and Home Depot, but at roughly half the price!
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