Beach house #22 – thinking in color

August 20th, 2017

Went and bought my first can of accent color from Lowe’s last weekend. It’s called “Amalfi” and it took me literally 2.5 seconds to pick it out and decide that it was The One.


(Yes, I know the paint chip on the wood is called “Blue Nile” – the paint lady stole my chip and it may have been the last one because this was the closest substitute I could find! It’s pretty close. Just go with me here.)

I laid it on a serendipitously-placed display of Olympic stains. I had been planning to use Cedar Naturaltone (upper left) and what did I buy all those real cedar boards for if not to, you know, look like cedar? …But now I’ve kind of fallen in love with the two warmer stains on the right. Particularly the upper right. What do you think?



I just noticed that the ones on the right are BOTH labelled “Redwood Naturaltone”… ha! Guess maybe I don’t have to decide after all?

Beach house #21 – happy deck!

August 18th, 2017

I got the rest of the decking boards laid! It looks great!


View from the front door:


I kind of love the color of the boards just as-is, though they are going to be stained and sealed.

Check out the neat little border:


Laying the 1x6x12 perpendicular to the others like that solved three problems. 1) it eliminated the need to lay lots of very small boards across the slender arm of the street-side of the landing. 2) it eliminates any visible cut ends from the street. 3) it let us buy 24 10′ boards instead of 12′ boards, which saved us a tidy $60 or so.

By the way, that landing is there because the space from the top of the staircase, all the way up to the highest point that we could have laid the deck (level with the door threshold), was only 6 1/4″, a full 1 1/4″ shorter than all the rest of the stairs on the staircase. This change in step height dictated that by code, we must install a 36″ landing at the top of the stairs. So we had to have a landing, and I didn’t want 1) a lonely little naked column all by itself, or 2) a cut-off-looking fascia board visible from the street. I wanted a single, solid line all the way across. So we ended up building this little arm. I think it works well and ties everything together.

I’m so proud of how neatly it fits against the decking! I had to lay them all first, wedge and squeeze and clamp them together, and then use the same board as a template for a circular saw cut across all of them at once.




I haven’t installed any of the trim/edging/fascia pieces yet, and most of the boards aren’t screwed down because I have to wait for that until the railing posts are installed (I still need access to the joists below in order to screw multiple 8″ lag bolts through everything) but it already looks nice! Some good friends and I christened it with some afternoon beer-hangout-time yesterday. (HAI C & S!) Couldn’t have asked for better deck-christening buddies! 😀

Beach house #20 – sad miters.

August 16th, 2017

So, it turns out my fancy sliding compound miter saw… sucks.

See this little test column base cap I did? I ripped an angle on it on the table saw, planed it down smooth, and then cut it into mitered pieces on my compound miter saw.

Lovely, right?


Well….. no. Not if you can get up close and actually see the joins – every single one of them is out of whack by up to 1/8″! That may sound like a small amount but believe me, it’s very visually obvious. I’m like, embarrassed for actual carpenters to come see this thing, it’s that ugly. I even tried to fill the gaps with some “cedar” (not) colored caulk, which only made things worse.

So I always knew I was never any great shakes with detailed carpentry stuff, but I thought I was better than that, so I checked my saw – all the angles are off! It has to be pressed to one side while cutting 90-degree cuts, so its horizontal angles are off as well as its vertical, miter-angle cuts. I’m sure my own lack of skill would have made for less-than-perfect cuts anyway, but it’s super disappointing to think that I had this great, expensive piece of machinery that would solve all my mitering problems and then…. then it’s all wonky and I don’t know how to even approach fixing it.

I may try another couple of miter cuts on my table saw. That $40 piece of yard-sale-crap has no pretensions of being a piece of precision machinery, but at least I sort of know how to adjust it, as far as it can be adjusted. If I can’t get that to work I may ask my neighbor the cabinet-maker… or I may just give up and do straight butt-joints with non-angled tops. It doesn’t look terrible, and I’m sure I could pull it off, at least.


Disappointing. :(

Beach house #19 – Foundations

August 14th, 2017

Looks like the foundation and sill plate guys are nearly done! It’s been slow primarily because they have to lay 7 sections, and get their work inspected prior to and after each concrete pour, which can take days (or even a whole week if lines get crossed and no one arrives to let the inspector in).

But nearly every sill plate section is done except one!


Oh boy does that look better than before (well, before was mostly just sawdust).

And there are real headers on the doors now!

Before, saggy and termite-hollow and yet -gulp!- supporting two floor joists:


After: fancy expensive steel lintel! Yay!



Moar steel header! Yay!


And (once I got them to come back and flip that header the correct way) – a framed basement window! Yay!


They also got several floor joists yanked and replaced. Hopefully all they have to do next is replace that last bit of sill plate and then they can rebuilt the missing structural wall that’s holding back the ENTIRE FREAKING PROJECT.

think this means that because the house won’t be shifting while being jacked up over and over, that I can get the window guy to come in next. (the last bit is in the center of the house, not the edges where the windows are). Good thing too, my windows have been ready for a week! (well, except for this basement window, which I couldn’t order until I knew the final dimensions of the framing).

Progress… we’re finally back at square one!

Beach house #18 – sorry daddy

August 12th, 2017

Unfortunately, we used up most of my parents’ stay before we got around to doing the deck, so we didn’t get to finish before they left. They got to see it almost done though.


We laid down a few boards to figure out where we’d start running them and what to square them up to (not one line in this whole house is actually square, so you have to choose. I chose the door lintel, so that when you’re looking out, or approaching the door, the boards will look square.)

I spent most of the day finishing up the details. Angle brackets that needed extra concrete screws in them and blocking to keep things from wiggling. I also painted copper wood preservative over every cut end before fastening it in place. In addition to concrete anchors, 3″ galvanized nails, plentiful brackets, and tons of decking screws, we ended up using big blops of adhesive (not a continuous line that might trap water) every couple feet underneath each and every strip, shim, and board. This porch is pretty darn solid!


Right before we left my dad screwed down the very first board and we laid some more down next to it so he could see what it would look like.


I’m sad he won’t get to stand on the thing he worked so hard for.

View from the front door:


Starting to get to the exciting part!

Beach house #17 – decking dreams

August 10th, 2017

In typical family fashion, my dad and I finished that first half of the beam and promptly got distracted with a different porch project. I had been wishy-washing over whether to build a deck over the ugly, badly-laid tiles, but while my folks were here, a deck just seemed the logical thing to do. What with the foundation and sill plate guys still hard at work, we were restricted to working on the porch pretty much; and anyone who has tried to manipulate multiple pressure treated 10- and 12-foot beams knows it’s just easier with two people!

We spent probably three whole days just planning, planning, and planning – it was really difficult given that each tile had a different height and both separate levels of the porch sloped in two – and even three! – different directions. I should show you the dozen drawings we made…. the half-pad of graph paper we used up – or maybe I’ll spare you. :)

Long story short, it took days and days to plan, but only one day to lay, screw in, and shim the initial furring strips.


The next day we laid, shimmed, and anchored the 2x4s that run across the lower part of the porch.


After many frustrating hours with my little bottom-end battery-powered Porter Cable, my dad splurged and bought me an early Christmas present.

It’s battery-powered, which is nice because I’ve learned I will put projects off indefinitely if I have to daisy-chain extension cords in order to do them. So it’s not as powerful as the corded one my neighbor lent me, but it’s much more powerful than the one I had before. And it can do the smaller 5/32″ holes, which my neighbor’s couldn’t get down to. I drilled a series of holes in concrete in an average of maybe 15-30 seconds each- soooooo much nicer.


Beach house #16 – The face-lift continues

August 8th, 2017

My parents were here for the last two weeks and…. did we take a vacation like a normal family? Sit around, go on car trips, go to museums, eat a lot of junk food? Well, there was some of that. I’m not a slave-driver. But (luckily for me) my family is just as crazy as I am. My dad the architect and my mom rehabbed the house I grew up in, taking it from little more than a shell (really a tear-down) to a house worth way more than I’ll ever be able to afford. So they got here and got right to work!

The first thing we did was start to build the false beam across the front. One was a beam 10’5″ long, and the second beam would be only 5’5″. We were thinking of attaching an actual 4×4 beam onto the existing beam and then cladding it, but in the end we decided that it would be easier – and lighter! – just to build a hollow false beam instead.


Dauntless Daddy!

We searched and searched for about two hours through every single cedar board at Lowe’s. We found some very nice boards, but even the best ones were cupped and a bit warped and some were more than 1/4″ different in width from each other! So we had some difficulties building what should have been a very simple box. But thanks to a friend’s nail gun – THANK YOU KEVIN – and an hour or two of my dad’s sanding and patient measuring, and some cool borrowed cabinet-maker-type clamps from a neighbor who seems really eager to help us move this project along (har, har) – we finally got it done!!!





That beam is really going to help visually balance out the whole porch when it’s done.

And boy am I glad to have had help!

Beach house #15 – roofers!

August 6th, 2017

Surprise, surprise! When we showed up to work on the house this morning, the roofers were already well into tearing up the old shingles.


Just a few hours later they were already nearly done:


Good thing too, since it then absolutely poured for the next two days.

It’s gonna look great when they’re done with all the fascia cladding and gutters too!

Beach house #14 – mockups

August 4th, 2017

I did a little photoshop to dream about what the house might look like when done:


493 facelift revision

Siding, windows, porch….Some day!

Beach House #13 – woolgathering

August 2nd, 2017

Some ideas for the way I want the porch to look – Gotta love Pinterest for idea-gathering.


This one is the closest I’ve found to the all-over look I have in mind:


I love the way the wood tones warm up the gray siding, and the white makes everything look crisp and clean.




I think I’ll plant some giant Limelight hydrangeas in front just like this blog suggests:


I don’t think I’ll have time for decorative corbels like these below, but I do like them and they don’t look too difficult.


Or these, these are nice too: