Monday, November 18, 2013

Sand It. Wash It. Stain It. Paint It.

July 2013

This is the Daft Punk interpretation of my life.  Before we could screen in our porch we needed to stain it.  To say I was dreading it was an understatement. I actually got a quote for a contractor to stain it and paint the floor, but when the price came back at $1,100 I knew we had to do it.  The biggest issue was finding a time frame to do about 3-4 days worth of work.

The first step was to sand the entire porch.  There were several areas which had been stained by standing water and also by general wear and tear.  Josh and I decided that the Fourth of July was as good as an excuse as any to finally get on this project.  After about 2 hours we had sanded every inch.  Not fun work.   Then we used a borrowed power washer to fully clean the entire structure.  We also power washed the front porch and the sidewalk.  This was exciting and boring at the same time.   Power washing is messy and loud, but everything looks so pretty afterward! We then showered and decided to be American and went to a BBQ and drank alcohol.  Phew.

On Saturday, we got to work staining the wood.  Once again this is a job that is both fulfilling and exhausting.  There was a lot of surface and it started off easy as I used a 4" brush to stain the raised bed walls and the cap.  Then things got harder as I crawled through landscaping and started doing the vertical uprights and the rafters.  The sum up is that we started at 10am.  By 4pm I was spent.  We ran out of stain and had to make a Lowes trip then we ate dinner, then Josh went out and powered through and finished staining at 10pm. Cringe.  My arm was tired and my neck hurt.  I also dropped a very large cup of stain all over myself.  It was one of those days.

On Sunday, I was grumpy, but I knew we needed to power on.  A month prior we had taken the time to patch all the cracks in the concrete pad, we also filled in the gaps between the raised beds and the edge of the patio.  Since they had now dried the only thing left to do was paint the floor.  I was not planning on taking this on the same weekend, but then I figured this might be my last chance until the Fall. I woke up and went to Miller Paint bright and early, after cleaning the floor one more time, I was ready.  Armed with a satin finish Cabot floor paint (karma) I started painting the floor. It took 8 hours to dry before the next coat so I started at 12:00 on my hands and knees.  It was easy, especially with my trusty knee pad, but it was a bit of a 'just keep swimming' moment after the day before.  Around 8pm I came back and did one last coat and finished up around 9pm.  Thank goodness the Pacific Northwest has such long summer days.

So the round up.  Three days, roughly 30 hours of sanding, staining and painting and our porch was filled with fresh surfaces. We spent about $180 on stain and paint and we used some brushes and sanded pads to the tune of 40 bucks.  So you can count that as a $920 do it yourself savings.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Backyard Round Up

May 2013

Seriously, another backyard post?
We had one last hurdle to our backyard, it was the small space between the back porch and the house.  There was a lot going on here.  We have our hose bib, our 'o so lovely' AC condenser unit, and for the longest time a huge pile of pea gravel.  Thanks to our firepit and South pathway we no longer had a huge pile of gravel.  Instead, we had a pit of dead grass, invasive vines, and some driveable pavers we had bought as a demo for a Depave project.

Step one: clear everything out of the space.  I pulled up the driveable paves and powerwashed them clean.  Josh dug out the invasive English Ivy and some other horrible vine we had growing and then we turn up the ground, rotilled and leveled the area.   We knew we wanted a small graveled area back there. We needed an space to grill, get to the hose bib and allow us to wash the dog without him standing in mud.

Step two: what do we have?  While the driveable pavers are very neat, they were not really my style. But Josh really liked them and we had eight of them so it was a 'make it work moment.'  As background, these are concrete squares attached together in a 3' by 3' mat with wire holding them together.  They can handle a huge amount of weight and the voids can be filled with anything from gravel to grass to plants.  Pretty cool. They are great for driveways because they allow water to infiltrate the soil.

The first solution was to create a small landing pad directly outside of the porch doors.  This worked for several reasons, it stopped the gravel from kicking into the porch and it also helped transition the space from the yard into the porch.  It happened that we were able to cut the pieces so they fit perfectly between the raised beds and the AC unit pad.   Yay!  We still had three of the mats left.  Originally, we had planned on using river rocks to create the border from our gravel grilling area to the grass, similiar to what we did over at the firepit.  However, after talking, we both agreed it would be better if there was no barrier to step over.  Our solution?  Cut the mats into strips and install them along the edge to keep the gravel in place and create a level surface into the lawn.

Step Three: Beautify. We made a small planting bed under the bedroom window, added some grasses on either side of an existing rose bush. For the rest of the area we  put down landscape fabric and installed the rest of the pea gravel into the area.  We actually came up about a 1/2 yard short of gravel.  But we were able to find a pea gravel (abeit smaller pebbles) in bags at a local store and mixed it together with the old stuff so we could finish out the space.

In the end, I am really happy.  Please excuse the pictures we didn't take any that weekend so these are all current photos, and we are already in the throws of other projects.