Monday, December 16, 2013

Screen It In

August 2013

It was time to make the final push to finish the porch. Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures of this push. We were so busy and it was such a blur it just kind of happened. The first weekend Josh started building the screens. Our friends Kristin and Kyle let us use their mitre saw so we could churn out all the cuts to make each of our frames. It became obvious very quickly that we underestimated the amount of trim this would take. We had a lot of 5-6' length pieces that left us with plenty of unusable 2-3' sections of wood. We drove back to Lowes and bought 20 more pieces of wood (another $150). We decided to paint 15 of them. So back in the basement we went painting the sticks. Josh and I shared the task but it was still maddening after painting 30 pieces already.

The actual building of frames was really a one person show. Josh mitred the corners and nailed them together with our brad nailer. I pretty much did other house stuff during this time. It was a frustrating task, since we had made the raised beds out of rough cut lumber there was very few level or plumb areas. Josh would measure, confirm the piece fit, cut it's mates nail the pieces together, and then... it wouldn't fit. Part of it was the thickness of the screens, part of it was the allowance for the fact that they didn't nail together super tight and this added some length to every edge. Either way, it was a slow process. I pretty much tried to help, and then tried to stay out of the way.

It took one full weekend and another Saturday to make the frames. On Sunday Josh banged out all the interior trim pieces on the openings and we were done with all the cutting. It was getting late so we had to add one more day to actually build the screens. The following Saturday I started rolling the screen material out, stapling it, and cutting to size. This was quick work, there was attention required to keep it taut and also not to cut yourself on the unfinished screen edges (seriously I need to wear gloves). We brad nailed the frames together and placed them in the openings.

Note the dog door.  Which is now the second dog door Gus must use to get to the backyard.  He is not amused
Next we installed the screen clips, these are simple small black metal fins that screw into the porch frame to hold the screens tight. They can be spun to release the screens for when we want to clean them, repair them, or if we ever want to take them out. We chose to use 2-3 per side, the bottoms of all screens would use gravity to stay in place. Once they were all in, it looked pretty darn sharp. It was a marvel to see it all come together. Granted, we still needed to caulk some corners and touch up paint areas where we had to sand to make them fit. But, it was, for all useful purposes: DONE. Two summers, roughly 14 weekends and we had finished our screen porch! This was our biggest diy project to date, it showed a lot of our weaknesses, it proved that hiring a professional would have gotten things done so much faster. However, we learned a bunch, we probably broke even on costs, and we got a totally custom porch that was designed to work for our needs.

When we updated the front porch we changed our house numbers, however, these are the originals that we repainted and are glad will stay with the house.
We had a few small steps left to fully enjoy our space. We called in our electrician to install a new ceiling fan/light and to move an outlet box to the ceiling so we could install string lights along the perimeter of the porch. We also needed to get some porch furniture so we could actually use our new found square footage. More to follow..... 

This is a cheat picture with some of our new furniture. More to come.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Red Paint... Will Be the Death of Us

June 2013

Now that the porch was painted and stained we could start making the screens for the openings. After several brainstorms we decided to make these ourselves. The work needed to create 'standard' sized openings to utilize prebuilt screens was almost the same. Building our own screens would give a more custom look while using store bought would look more builder grade.  Step one: what to build the screens out of?  We ruled out cedar due to cost and MDF out of crappiness, which left us with pine trim pieces. These would work well because we wanted the screens to be removeable, light, and attractive.

We found our pine trim stock at Lowes. It was 1" wide and 1/4" thick. One edge was bull nosed which we liked. It made them less boring and standard looking. They came pre-primed and I always like when a step has been removed for us. The biggest issue was how much of the material we needed. The pieces came in 8' lengths and as we started tabulating the number of sticks grew. Our plan was to build two frames for each opening. We would staple the screening to one side and then nail the frames together to make a complete screen. So each opening x 2. In addition to the screens, we needed to purchase trim to create frames inside the porch bays to allow the screens to rest in the openings. We decided the same trim for the screens would work pretty well. Before the math made our heads explode we decided to get 30 sticks. At roughly $8 a piece, it brought us to $240 in wood. We also had to buy screen material $116 for a roll (we chose black aluminum, which was more expensive but more durable), brad nails, staples, screen clips, black screws, and paint. I talked the Lowes lady into giving us contractor pricing (since we bought so much) and we gulped and moved forward.

Since it was June in Oregon, it rained the entire month, so I set up shop in the basement to paint the trim red. I am not sure when we decided to make the frames red. By this I mean, that I decided they should be red. Very quickly I grew to regret this decision. As I already knew, our red (Benjamin Moore Raisin Torte) requires 2-3 coats to cover. This was even worse since the pieces were painted with white primer and it was slow going painting the 1" pieces without drips or brush marks. I spent hours in the basement half bent over painting the sticks on saw horses. It took about 2 hours to coat all the pieces on one side, wait to dry 4-6 hours, paint again, then flip and paint the backside (I cheated and did one coat on the back). This is the point where I should have sucked it up and purchased a paint spray gun and the job would have taken half the time.

As soon as the trim pieces were complete, I remembered that our porch doors would also need to be red. So four doors came off their hinges, down in the basement and onto my trusty saw horses. These required primer, and two coats of red on each side. It was a lone women show and it was not fun. We rehung the red doors once we stained the porch.  After all this effort, we were still miles away from being completed and we needed two full weekends to complete the rest.