The Back Porch Megapost

The Project that Launched House 173!

When House 173 launched as 173 Our Old House on December 31, 2010, I knew absolutely nothing about blogging, and not much has changed since. Except for 173. There have been many fun projects, some necessary projects, some big and some small. But, remodeling the back porch is what started it all. I wanted a fun way to catalogue the project and share it with friends and family, so a blog it was. This Megapost will assemble into one post the several that chronicled the remodeling of...

The back porch

January 10, 2011

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!

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".

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.

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.... 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. It used to be that old-school blue-green porch floor color (which I love), but it just wouldn't go with the look we were heading toward. Here's a pic with all the "big" stuff done.

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!"

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.

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 Baer 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 Baer 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 Loewes and Home Depot. Look through the aisles, eavesdrop on conversations and just ask people questions!
4. Grossman's sells the exact same windows as Loewes and Home Depot, but at roughly half the price!

The back door

July 11, 2011

Just when you thought you'd heard the last of the back porch - mwahhhahahaa! Seems like I'm always remembering "one last thing." This weekend was the back door. Here's the before:

From that angle and distance, I guess it doesn't look all that bad with the exception of the bare spot from my experimental heat-gun test last fall. But up close the whole door looked like this:

So there wasn't much choice but to strip this thing down to the bare wood. After all, as you've read ad nausem - that's what the rest of the back porch went through.

So out came the handy dandy Wagner heat gun. As you can see, I had a "plan". Actually the next picture shows either my obsession-compulsion, or some level of ADD. I did all the rails first, then the stiles.

Then I came to the area with the windows. Now, I knew that I couldn't aim the heat gun right at the glass because it would crack. Well, I have now learned that you really shouldn't aim the heat gun anywhere near the glass - one of them cracked (this will lead to another post probably later in the week). So- no heat. Out came the paint stripper, and after two applications - it's on its way!

At the end of the day, a day that started with dreams of a finished door, I have a back door well on its way to being re-finished.

If you've followed this blog at all, you realize that the back porch is all brown and white. We really wanted to add some color, but we're not really adventurous when it comes to color. I went through the "oops" paints in my workshop and considered each - greens, reds, blue, pink, none of them seemed to fit with 1 - the porch, and 2 - our personalities. Then I remembered this little tool box/planter I made this past winter:

I LOVE this shade of yellow. It's hard to really see on a computer screen, and I put a stain "patina" on the toolbox, but it really is a nice, creamy, muted yellow. So we tried to consider the whole door. Did we want it monochrome or some combination.

Before you laugh too hard - I have Photoshop, but it's an oooold version, and I'm not really great with it. So out came the crayons to get some estimation of what we'd like to see. I didn't have a crayon in the exact color, but with a little imagination we could see that "E" was going to be the layout we'd like:

There you have it...the stripping and planning of the back door. Hopefully soon you will be honored (c'mon, you gotta know I say that tongue-in-cheek!) with posts on how to repair a window in a wood door, and the (final?) reveal of the back porch door!

The back door - part two

August 12, 2011

Finally the humidity has let up and, luckily, I had the day off today! So I took the back door out to the car port and got to work. The first job today was to sand the whole thing down

Then I used one of those small rollers and primed:

Then I had to replace one of the window panes I broke while stripping the door. I went to the local hardware store, but they didn't carry 1/4" thick glass (I had no idea door glass was so thick, although it makes sense!), so I had to go to a local glass place (I guess it's a store, but I never think of places like this as stores). The guy at the hardware store told me to bring my first born child and my best car because 1/4" thick glass was expensive. But, as it turns out, it only cost $9! The problem was though - while attempting to remove the glass, I broke one of the window stops, so I had to fabricate my own. It wasn't that big a deal, I just ran some decorative base molding through the table saw and - wallah! Window stop!
(Sorry - pic lost to posterity)

So now the window is in, and the door is primed - the next (and hopefully last) time you hear about this door it'll be done!

The back door - The (next to) last!

August 15, 2011

It really seems insane that the transformation of a back door would require this many posts. I thought about that for a few minutes before sitting down to write, and I think I know what it is - it's NOT that it was such a complicated job, no. It's that yours truly isn't patient enough to wait 'til it's all over to post something about it! As a result - the (next to) last Back Door post. (There'll be one more just because I'm contemplating one more thing.)

So when we last left the back door, it was primed and looking like this:

So we decided to paint the door while on the hinges. I know, I know, not best practice...but it was a rainy day and I just wanted this thing done! So we got it all taped up. One note here - the more I use painter's tape, the more I realize I'm doing something wrong, or it's just not what it's cracked up to be. Every time I've ever used it, it pulled paint off the project (in this case the door) and I had to do some touch-up work.

Last winter I was cruising through some blogs and came across The Yellow Front Door. I really liked her idea of getting people to paint their doors yellow (I only wish she was still blogging), and like I said in a previous post, I had this yellow paint that I loved. It's "Goldenrod" by Valspar. On the computer it looks awfully bright, but in real life it's a rich, creamy yellow. As I've noted before, I've used Baehr paint from Home Depot on a couple occasions and was less than thrilled. So this time I gave Valspar a try. I really did like the way it covered, it's going to (obviously) take some time to find out about its durability.

So here it is! I'm posting a couple different angles because it's hard to get a full-on shot from inside the porch.

I love how it instantly added some color to the porch (of course, what would I expect from a yellow door - right?)!

Like I said, I'm considering one more thing for the door. If it happens, you'll see yet another door posting...we'll see.

AFTERNOTE: This is fun! One of the blogs I follow, Young House Love, just posted about painting their door - yellow! Now, our house is nothing like theirs, but I've gotten some great ideas, motivation and inspiration from their we have similar doors! We even used the same paint (albeit a different shade of yellow)! Anyway, because of the similarities of our posts and the great stuff in their blog, I wanted to pass the information along! See their door here.

Punch list - Back door hardware

August 19, 2011

Snow day! No, it didn't snow in August (although it wouldn't surprise all the "Global Warming" folks out there), "snow day" is what I call those even semi-unanticipated days off, like waking up in the morning in 2nd grade and finding school's been cancelled because of the 11" of the wonderful white stuff! I hadn't planned any projects for today, but something's been buggin' me all week. After stripping and painting the back door, the handle and lock looked a mess...

Part of the problem was - they were simply old and worn. The other part was that I'm just a horrible painter! When I stripped and primed the door, I didn't remove the hardware because it was old and I was afraid I'd never be able to get it back on properly (experience is a hard teacher!). So this is how it turned out...

So this morning, I measured the hardware and - off to Home Depot! I looked around for a new plate and door handle, and considered a new lock. Well, I guess this door really IS old, because they just don't seem to sell simple hardware like this anymore. Then I remembered a post I just saw from Young House Love about how they re-did their door hardware. So - I saved a ton of money and just bought some paint...

Okay, before you say it - I realize I said the other day that I don't care for the Oil Rubbed Bronze look, but after seeing how the hardware at YHL turned out on their yellow door, I figured I'd give it a try. I already had some de-glosser and Rustoleum primer, so I just picked up some 220 grit sandpaper and went to work:

Basically, I just followed the steps that they took at YHL: sanded, deglossed, primed and painted. The only thing I found different was that the 220 grit sandpaper didn't scratch the hardware. Anyway, so we sprayed on the Rustolem, went to an Indian Buffet for lunch, and put it all back together.

So there you have it! Copying is indeed the sincerest form of flattery, and sometimes the mark of wisdom! I love how it turned out - TONS better than the before!! Oh yeah - all the hardware went back on the door with no problem. None!

Even more door stuff AND I made the reading list!

August 20, 2011

It's incredible to me how many little things go in to simply changing the color of the back door. Here's the list (for crying-out-loud) SO FAR:

1. Strip the door
2. Make my own window stop for step #3
3. Replace glass broken during step #1
4. Prime the door
5. Paint said door
6. Touch up paint removed because I keep doing something wrong with the painter's tape
7. Notice how bad the hardware looks - remove, strip, prime and paint, re-install hardware

Then today:
8. Notice that the door sweep and the weather stripping looks horrible, so replace weather stripping.

Now, step #8 wasn't difficult at all, and the results made a fantastic difference, but - I can't get over the fact that I keep running into more things to do with the door! Good Grief! It's time to move on already!

A couple things I learned about weather stripping the door:

1. It's REALLY easy - took less than 45 minutes.
2. It comes in colors other than just aluminum! I went with oil rubbed bronze to match the hardware
3. While installing weather stripping, don't just close the door - lock it too! Something about locking the door drew it into the frame tighter.
4. The back door remodel is endless! I can't even imagine what other steps lurk out there on the back porch!

I don't have Before and After pics of today's little project, and even if I did they'd probably be pretty boring. But I took these pictures the other day and I love how the yellow door looks so what better place to share?

(Try to ignore the last bit of laundry on the line there!)

THEN! There's this bit of fun news! The folks over at The Stucco Bungalow have started a new blog called Blue Door Blogs. It's fun because they...well, let me see if I can get this "Quote" tool to work:

No daily voting. No link party themes. No winning. No losing. No kidding. Just a big fat reading list of house blog posts from hard working folks with similar interests and very different points of view.

I love reading house blogs, I find inspiration, education and motivation, so this should really be a great blog! BUT - what makes it even better is - they listed MY blog! I'd love to say that it's because they saw the quality workmanship and creative writing style and just HAD to list it! Yeah! Umm, no. The truth is - I asked them! The really neat part is - they said YES! I have no delusions of grandeur about this blog, but I'm honored that they didn't just wad up my request and throw it in the trash, and I'm excited that maybe more than 2 or 3 people might see it!!

So - THANKS Blue Door!

Thanks for stopping by and be safe out there!
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