August 16, 2016

For years I've been saying 173 was living on borrowed time with the hot water heater.  I mean, if you looked at it you'd think it was fairly new - but no:
This fine piece of equipment was installed in 1994..
Yesterday she finally gave out.  After my shower I went down to the laundry room for something and I saw the water on the floor and realized this was the day.   I was able to get a plumber pretty quickly, so a few hours later:
Same manufacturer but what's the odds this one will last as long?  And you know how one thing leads to another?  Well, I thought I might as well change the kitchen faucet (this I did myself),  Here's the most boring picture ever taken - the old faucet:
Believe-it-or-not, this simple job took several hours and three trips to the hardware store.  When I first installed the new faucet, I used the old supply hoses.  Big mistake, they leaked terrible...must have been all the torque applied to loosen them.  I shouldn't have tried to cheap out and just picked up a couple new ones when I got the faucet!
Then, you see that length of pipe?  The one with the big hole in it?  Well, that's the drain pipe.  And that hole is where the dishwasher was once attached.  In working under the sink, I must have leaned on that line and broke it clean off.  To the store!  
Anyway, that job is done.  Here's an equally boring pic:
Okay - 'til next time!

The Back Stoop

August 14, 2016

Creative Post name huh?  A couple weeks ago I made a minor moderation to the front stoop, so you might think that prompted this most recent project.  Nope.  This project has been planned since last year, just finally reached it on the (in my head) priority list.  So, let's go!

As is my mantra throughout this blog, I didn't take many "before" pictures when 173 was first purchased.  The closest I have for the back stoop is a series of "first time around" shots from 1991:

I think that was toward the end of the "beige" years, and I also think that was when we were changing 173 from the white-and-green theme to white-and-brown.  I think.  Either way, we were pretty pleased with the look at the time.  If you look closely in the back by the old fence, you can see the remnants of the  old wooden wheelbarrow that came with the house.  Obviously the last picture there was in the fall, and we had bought a bale of hay and pumpkins for that fall-feeling.  Good times.

That beige wasn't paint, it was a semitransparent stain from Behr.  It looked really crisp but within a couple years it was looking pretty worn.  Besides that, I had shingled the back porch exterior so we decided to go with a dark brown - this time it was paint.

Once again, we were pretty pleased.  But, that stoop had to be painted every year, and the winter and salt were brutal on the decking.  

And of course, 173's color scheme has changed so the brown just doesn't cut it anymore!

On top of that, the railings had really loosened, and the stoop as a whole was just kind of embarrassing.

Aaaand...it was time.  So off to Lowes and $50 later I picked up this belt sander:

I had an old Craftsman belt sander, but no matter what I did I couldn't keep the belt aligned.  So I did (minimal) research and found that this sander had some auto-mechanism that kept the belt aligned, good enough for me!  And really, it did a nice job:

The next step was putting on new steps.  All these years and I didn't know the steps were free-standing!  That made it much easier to work on them.  

One of the things I really wanted to do was save the stringers if at all possible.  It was:

The stringers were in pretty good shape, just one part was a little punky so I married a little piece of pressure treated 2x4 - just in case.

As is my wont, before doing all this I did a good bit of research, and read somewhere that putting tar paper on the stringer treads was a good idea.  Of course I always have some lying around so...

Then it was just a matter of putting on the steps and risers:

I know the right hand side of the treads are hanging over a bit too much, but that really was intentional.  The idea was it would help (no delusions here - just help) keep some of the moisture away from that bottom of the stringer, and give a little more space for plants (you'll probably see that next summer).

Then came the posts and rails.  Before I get there, I gotta show you these things:

They cost about $7 per pair, and they go here:

They make railings so incredibly secure, cut installation time down, and saved me from splitting the rails when screwing them to the posts.  So, I first went with a 2-rail look:

After getting them all installed, I stood back, snapped a couple pics and thought it just looked sparse, and with that much post sticking up, just looked weird.  So I rearranged and added a rail, and I think it came out much better:

That left the doors (with the lattice).  There's about 4 feet of headroom under the stoop, and about the same under the entire back porch, which gives us a lot of storage.  The framing around the doors is good, so I just sanded that, but the doors themselves were showing their age structurally.  So I decided to make new doors.  This was a fun project, and afforded me one of the few times I actually got to use my Kreg tool:

I'm sure I'm not the only one this has happened to...I ran out of the "proper" length of Kreg screws, and not wanting to take the time to go to the store just for that - I used a slightly longer screw - dumb.  I ended up having a few screws come out the front of the frames, so I had to change them, and fix the front (and while I was at it I caulked the joints):

Here they are (before fixing the screws):

Now I'm at a standstill.  The pressure treated wood needs to dry a little before staining and painting, and I thought I'd put the new lattice in after painting.  All of which means it will be a couple weeks before the project is complete, but for now...great progress!

Bonus Picture:

Always the fingers!

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