Cinderblock makeover (BH #52)

With the siding almost finished, all that was left was to finish up the cinderblocks underneath. Last week I realized with some anxiety that by the time we got back from our upcoming Thanksgiving vacation, temperatures would be in the freezing range. That meant I needed to get the paint on now now now – and I had only 3 days left to get it done before our plane trip.

I knew I had some peeling paint to deal with, but I didn’t realize how much until I saw it close up.

Step 1: I demolished the weird old planter outside the basement door and took down all the random screws and things that I could easily get out of the cinderblock.

Step 2: I started with a brass wire brush attached to a sturdy drill and got the big bits that would come off easily.

Step 3: Citristrip came next, but it could only really get the top, thin layer to come up and not the thicker layer underneath that was the real problem. That was ok because the top layer was really crumbly, crazed like the bottom of a mudpit after a hot summer.

Step 4: I scraped and scraped with a small metal spatula, trying to chip off the bigger pieces underneath. It wasn’t working too well and I realized with how stubborn it was being, I probably could have just painted over it.

Step 5: Back to work with the drill and wire brush.

Step 6: TSP. I bought a scrub brush attached to a long wooden pole. I lashed a huge rubbermaid tub into the back of my truck and filled it from the garden hose. Since there’s no running water at the house, I used 5 gallon buckets to lug water around. I mixed my TSP slurries in there and scrubbed the heck out of the cinderblock. It took three buckets for each wash, and I had to wash it twice before the water started getting clear.

Step 7: Rinsing. Repeat everything except omitting the TSP.

Step 8: Repair! I used masonry crack sealer to stop up all the little cracks and pits and holes here and there. I had been going to fill the larger gouges and hollows as well with a mortar paste, but at that point I was so exhausted I decided I just didn’t care.

In fact, come to think of it, it probably would’ve been easier to just nail up some diamond mesh and skim coat the whole thing with a fresh layer of mortar. And would have looked better too. UGH.

So all that took one and a half days to accomplish, and left me with this:



It’s even worse than before!


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