Sunday, June 26, 2005

Back Porch/Deck Done!

It's done. Well, sort of. As always there are a few loose ends to pickup. Later. But, the main need, getting the railing and skirting up, has been completed. That's good. It's a big milestone. Now I can return to the inside (just in time for the heat) and work on the stairs...

Here are some pictures. As always, click on the picture for bigger size options.

So, what didn't get done outside. Well, I was covering the butt ends of the decking with some trim when I ran out of finish nails. Also, it started raining pretty hard. I could go to the store and get some more nails and I could put a rain coat on, but it's a lot easier to quit, declare victory, and go blog about it.

Notice that the deck is pretty wet...

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


I'm sloooooowly coming to the realization that I cannot, and probably should not, do it all myself. Jenn helps when she can, but since I let the general contractor go, I've been doing much of the work myself. As things stand with the permits, I need to finish the stairs before October. It will require a lot of detail work that needs to be nearly perfect since it will be the focal point of the main floor. I just don't think I could get a finish carpenter to do it right without costing me an arm, a leg, a first born, etc. I'm going to do the stairs this summer.

But, summer is the time of year to paint the exterior of the house. The trim, rafter tails, and overhang are bare wood that has been exposed to two winters now and probably shouldn't see a third. The trim must be painted this summer. But, I'll be too busy inside. Jenn doesn't like ladders (the roof is 26' above ground in some places), and besides she's pretty busy keeping with the yard. The pitch and height of the roof means it will be difficult and dangerous in parts. It needs to be done right away and it needs to be done right. We're going to need to outsource.

So, how do we pick a painting contractor? I did a quick Google Local search and it appears there are millions of house painters in Portland, which is a little strange since our metro area only has about 1.5 million people. The phonebook confirms a huge number of painters available.

So, we're going to have to pick a few, get some quotes, and pick one. Soon, 'cause summer doesn't last long.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Leftover Decking Means Wedding Bench

If you have ever built a deck, you have probably wondered what to do with all the leftover scraps. I discovered a few years back that one good use for cedar decking is to build simple garden furniture.

We realized when we got back from Europe that our friend's wedding was coming up quick and we didn't have a clue what to get them. The last time some close friends got married I built them a bench out of some leftover decking from my old house. So, I thought, since I have a whole lot of scrap cedar from the 2 porches, I'd build another bench. This is actually the ninth piece of furniture I've made out of cedar in the past few years and it took me about 10 hours to cut, assemble, sand, and oil.

Here are a couple of pictures (click on the pictures for different sizes). First, Jenn poses for me on the bench.

Second, the bride and groom pose for pictures on the bench. They seemed to like it very much. Whew! :-)

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Beware of EIFS!!!

The Oregonian is running a series of articles about when building projects go horribly wrong. Sunday's article focuses on the biggest threat to a house in western Oregon: rain. There is a growing trend here, and elsewhere in the nation, of new construction that turns out to be rotten to the core within a few years. These construction failures result in anxieties, costly repairs, and often lawsuits.

Article here (sorry, minimal registration required)

One of the most recent culprits is a relatively new synthetic stucco generically known as Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems, or EIFS. This stuff may sound great since it includes a layer of polystyrene which increases the insulation value of the wall and helps to keep moisture out. But, if water ever does gets past this siding (for example a poorly installed window or flashing), it stays in the walls and is not allowed to ever dry out. It will then slowly rot everything around it including your framing, subfloor, etc. One quote from the article:

"It's not just that you have to replace the siding... You have to replace the building under the siding. And you can't and don't know it until it is too late."

Numerous examples around the Portland area were sited including condos, a hotel, and individual houses. So, if you are thinking about using EIFS, you might want to look into it further and find out if it is a good idea for your area. If you have already used EIFS, you might want to have a professional check it out thoroughly and make sure it has been installed perfectly and has never leaked.

Frankly, I think if you are using a building material like this, you are just asking for trouble. It seems it is only a matter of time before something goes wrong. Especially if you are restoring or adding on to an older house, you should try and stick to more traditional materials. This isn't to say you should not stick some fiberglass in the walls, your local building code probably requires it. But, there is a reason why your 50-100 year old house still has its original wood siding, while the vinyl siding on your friends 5 year old house is faded and cracking.