porch & exterior, part 5: prepping for paint

12.05 - 02.06 it's like rinsing the dishes before you put them in the dishwasher

click to see the full photo galleryAs part of our house refinance, we were able to set aside extra money to have the house painted, something we'd wanted to get done from the day we moved in. It was such a big deal, as a matter of fact, that the day after the finance company cut our checks, we wrote a preliminary payment to the painting contractor we'd selected.

They had several other jobs to finish before they could get to ours, and by then, it would be too late in the season to paint (too wet), but part of the contractor's bid included a winterizing package if they weren't able to paint until spring. Which played a large part in our choice; I can't tell you the number of nights I've lain awake in the winters, obsessing over how much water we were getting and whether this would be the year that all the bare places on the house, the places where the paint had long since flaked off and the original wood siding was exposed to the elements would start showing signs of moisture damage or rot. So the peace of mind of having all of the holes caulked and the bare wood primed before the long rains of winter set in was, frankly, worth a whole lot more than what we paid.

While we waited for our turn on the contractor's list, we had to have the back porch fixed (so they could prime the new skirting as part of the winterizing). And once the winterizing was done, all we could do was sit back and wait for the rains to die down long enough for us to get out and do the miscellaneous exterior repairs that had to be complete before the painters could come in the spring.

Oregon had a record amount of rainfall this winter, which is saying something considering the amount of water this place gets in the winter. For two kids from the mountain desert, it's a veritable deluge every year, but this year -- the year that we were waiting on the rains to subside in order for our house project to commence -- was of course the year the deluge turned positively biblical. So everyone who was grumbling about all the rain this year? Mea culpa, people.

It's funny the amount of work you have to do to a house to prepare it to prepare it for painting. Before the sanding and scraping and all of that, we had to take care of our part, which included fixing five broken windows, taking down all of the screens, removing the back porch stairs (to be rebuilt later), building a fascia piece for the front porch to trim off the lattice, having the gutters reattached, having two of the downspouts relocated, having the leaded glass upper in the picture window repointed and releaded, taking down the crappy plastic security light in the back, and removing the crappy metal screen door on the back porch.

Most of that we could do ourselves -- actually, probably all of it -- but we hired a gutter guy to take care of those, and a stained glass guy to take care of that, and a regular glass guy to take care of those. (The pics in the gallery are all "before" pictures...you'll see the "after" pics in the next stage, with the painted house.)

The funny thing about all of that stuff like the gutters and the cracked windows are the kind of thing you get used to when you've got much larger projects and more pressing repairs. One thing you quickly learn when you buy a fixer-upper is not to focus on more than a few problems at a time, simply because there's so much to be done and it'd be easy to get overwhelmed if you didn't. You know you'll get to them all sooner or later, so you learn to ignore the pea-sized hole in your bedroom window and the ominous groaning sound the gutters make during a heavy rain.

But here's the thing: once those things are all fixed? It's nearly as good as having the house painted. Sure, they're details that maybe no one else would notice, but because you've had to make a habit of studiously ignoring them for so long, having them put back in order is as big a change for you as the change in your house's colors is for your neighbors.

Slowly but surely, we're putting the old girl back the way she was once: the cherished home of a loving family.

click to see full photo gallery