Posts Tagged ‘home repair’

Does It Work – Spray Paint Brass Chandelier

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

I love scrounging around at the Habitat for Humanity ReUse Center for great finds for the house.  In our home renovation project, we’ve replaced all the lights with modern brushed/satin nickel/steel/shiny silver looking stuff except for our old school brass chandelier in the dining room.  I went to the Habitat Center to see if I could find a nice used chandelier and they had on display 2 spray painted “Look What You Can Do With Brass” chandeliers.  Apparently, they have a glut of brass that no one wants, so they primed a couple and spray painted them to look like more modern.

I figured what the heck!  I taped off the light sockets and hung my lamp outside.  I used a grey metal primer and went to town on everything. 

I sprayed on a couple very light coats following the directions on the can.  Since the chain was brassy and the wire was a yellow/gold color, I even spray painted those…

After the primer thoroughly dried, I gave everything a couple of coats of a fancy hammered finish spray paint.  I have two table lamps that have a hammered finish and in comparison, things were looking promising with the chandelier.

Voila!  Here’s the final product.  I bet you can’t even recognize the original brass fixture!

Actually, here’s how the chandelier turned out – which is why we went and bought a new one from Lowe’s.  Once the paint dried it took on a matte finish, which looked really bad.  The spray painted chain and electric cord also looked strange.  When you add the weird fluted glass shades, the entire project went downhill. 

As far as technique, the spray paint adhered flawlessly.  Maybe if we had chosen a different finish and had some nice white alabaster shades it would have looked better.  If you try this, I would not suggest painting the chain.  Chain is cheap.  Go buy a length in the color that you need.

All in all, the spray paint cost us $5 (both cans were from the Habitat Center).  It was worth the gamble to see if it would work.  The new light fixture was the basic $42 model from Lowe’s.  Home Depot had a less expensive one for $37, but it looked a bit strange.

I would have to say that, technically, you can spray paint a brass chandelier.  Whether you should or not depends on the color and finish that you choose (go for something with a gloss).

Beat the heat and get things done

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

How do you let your two year old get some exercise when it’s sweltering outside?  Give him a water hose!  I dressed him in his thinnest jammies, so the bugs wouldn’t eat him, and let him get drenched with the hose.  He LoVeD it!

Come rain or shine, we still have to press on with the work.  In between torrential rain showers, I sprayed my dining room chandelier with a coat of primer.  I’m experimenting with a paint technique to rejuvinate our dated brass fixture (blog post coming).

The hubby kept working on the bricks.  We’ve finished this side of the house and the curve going to the porch looks really good (blog post coming).

We are SO close to finishing this side of the house.  We have about 3 square feet of the patio by the gate to finish.  Though we love the rain, it was frustrating trying to work between the storms all day long.  We had hoped to brush sand/cement/mortar in between the bricks to set them, but it was entirely too wet to try.

Instead of fighting it, the hubby decided to go with the storms and wash the cars!  Hey, free rain water – why not?

Inside, I kept the kids hydrated to stay cool while we gave the A/C a break during the storms.  Evelyn drinks out of a big girl cup and it is too cute to hear her little teeth clinking on the glass.

She’s got 4 big chompers now and I can see a few more coming in.  She’s just shy of 9 months and I can’t believe how fast she is growing.

I tried to give Oliver a haircut to help him stay cool, but he was having none of that!  I think he’s still traumatized from the last hair cut I gave him.  Not sure what we’ll do this time around…

We are almost 100% finished with the kids’ rooms.  We hung all the curtains and valances today, changed out the last of the plugs for new ones, brought down the closet doors from the attic, and brought in some toys from the living room.  I have some cool ideas for making wall art to hang in each room that I will be working on this week.

I refused to touch the kitchen until we started wrapping up the other rooms.  We’ll start on the kitchen tomorrow and hopefully knock it out over the week.  We have a busy week with Oliver starting a new school, the realtor coming by to fill out paperwork, a couple doctor’s appointments, a playdate for Evelyn, and a trip to Marbles for a family night out.  Busy much?  :-)

Hope everyone has a great week ahead!

Home Renovation Blues

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

It’s been 2 months now since we started working on the house to get it ready for listing.  It seems that every time we get one thing done, 3 more problems need to get fixed. 

Last weekend, we evicted the kids from their bedrooms and had those painted head to toe.

Oliver actually likes crashing in our bedroom.  I think he likes being close to mommy at night.  At least, that’s how I’ll remember the story…

Evelyn loves the chaos.  Every day she has a new mess in the living room to explore.  She crawls around the boxes like they were her very own obstacle course.

Can you believe that we have run out of stuff to pack?  Between the yard sale, the storage unit, and donations to various centers, our house if pretty empty.  We just made a trip today to the Habitat ReUse Center with a van full of stuff to donate.

We manage to stay busy every day, every night, yet I still feel like we are so far away from listing.  Here’s what we did today:

– dug up the bricks from the side we did in 2008, cleared out all the weeds/debris, and relaid t hem.  finished 100% the bricks along the sidewalk to the house.  sunk the last metal supports for the brick patio.
– reinforced the kitchen floor from underneath the house in the crawlspace.
– cleaned both bathrooms, did the dishes, picked up the house, cleaned and vacuumed the kid’s rooms, actually took a shower in the morning, and squeezed in a 2 hour nap in the afternoon!  (these are huge accomplishments for me)
– cut the shelves for Oliver’s closet
– gave both kids a bath and got them squeaky clean.
– had home cooked food for all 3 meals (no Chick-fil-a this weekend) and precooked dinner for tomorrow.
– made a trip to the donation center.

Lastly, we finally watched a movie that we got from Netflix 2 months ago – the Departed.  Tomorrow, we have another jam packed day.  I cannot wait for all this mess to be finished!

Installing New Countertops Part 2

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

It took the installers a day to build the countertop at their shop and they came back the day after to install it.  First order of business, chisel and sand away all the liquid nail globs.

Evelyn munched on books and supervised from the living room.

Next, they hauled in the countertop in one solid piece.  Lucky for them it was a straight shot from our back deck, through the living room, and into the kitchen.  If they had to come through the front door, they would have been screwed! 

Evelyn is making sure they don’t ding the walls with that huge top.

Here it is!  We chose a brown granite looking laminate called Butterum Granite #7732-58.  I actually like it a lot!  The hubby thought it would be darker.  It matches the rest of our house and is a nice neutral color.  Not to mention all the stains it will hide.  :-) 

We had them narrow the bartop down from 36 inches to 30 inches.  I cannot believe how big of a difference 6 inches makes in our dining room.  Before, we had such a large overhang that you couldn’t even center the table underneath the light.  Now, people can actually move around the table while people are eating without squeezing by.  The dining room feels Huge!

Evelyn charmed all the contractors, even the grizzly one.  It’s so funny watching a crochety old man turn around and say in a high pitch voice, “Welllll, helloooo sweetheart.  You’re just a cutie pie aren’t you?”  She gave the counter top her seal of approval and I like it too.

Next up, installing the sink and new faucet.  This weekend we tile the backsplash, or attempt to if we can find the time!

Installing New Countertops Part 1

Monday, July 18th, 2011

We initially had no plans to replace the countertops before listing the house, but rather chose to throw in $1000 as an incentive for the buyer to have the countertops replaced.  Our realtor quickly nixed that idea and said that offering incentives automatically raise a red flag with the buyer that this is a fixer upper.  Due to the poor condition of the counters, he said we really needed to have them replaced before we listed.

This was almost 6 weeks ago…

We went to Lowes and Home Depot to price countertop installations.  Lowes came back with $1,800 and Home Depot $1,200.  Our countertops were custom built, which means we couldn’t use off the shelf laminate tops.  That raised the price at either store, but by $600 at Lowes for the exact same laminate?  Not only that, but Lowes charged us $35 to come out and do the quote.  Home Depot – zero. 

After about 6 weeks, the laminate finally arrived at the installers and they were coming out to tear out our old counters.  We had some fun with Sharpies and I drew the story of my life in this little house from 2000 – 2011.  I wanted to spill some achohol and light it on fire to see if it would burn the counters.   The hubby didn’t want to risk damaging the new puck lights that my dad installed.  Boo to sensible hubby.  (Yes dad, I’m still a little pyromaniac. Sorry for setting my bedroom on fire when I was little…)

We had to remove all the drawers and empty all the cabinets.  It seems that just when we make headway clearing and cleaning stuff up we just trash the house all over again.  It’s a bit demoralizing at times, but yadda yadda yadda its all for the greater good right?

Evelyn was an excellent foreman.  She kept those guys on track and moving fast.

The entire time they were here, all I could hear was grumbling about the crazy people who had installed it initially and what a crappy job they did.  Our counter had been liquid nailed to the cabinet AND screwed in.  It had also been relaminated and the glue that held the two sheets together failed causing all the bubbling on the counter.  It was one thing after another.  I’m very glad that we decided against tearing out the counters ourselves to save money!  Sometimes, it just isn’t worth it…

Buh- bye old counter! 

The tear out took about 2 hours and then they brought in particle board to make a template for the new countertops.  They are going to make the countertop at their shop and bring the entire thing back another day to install it.  The countertops will be scribed to fit the walls exactly and will match the pitch of the base cabinets.  In otherwords, they are not going to shim anything to level things out. hmmmm…

We are without a sink and have very little room left to move around.  I built a corral in the living room out of boxes so the kids have a safe area to play.  For the rest of us, it’s bruised shins, stubbed toes, and lots of careful maneuvering.  (Someone please tell me again why we are doing this???)

We are getting closer to listing the house.  The counters were a big hold up.  We plan to tile this weekend and clean/finish painting next week.  Nearing the home stretch people!

Clean Up Your Inside Doors With Paint

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

You never know just how grimy your house is until you start painting.  Once one area is fresh and clean the rest of the house screams – Paint Me!  It’s no surprise that the doors, which are some of the grimiest, scuffed up, and well used surfaces of the house, need a fresh coat of paint too.  With little effort, you can save money and do it yourself.  No need to buy new doors or hire someone else to help out.

Yesterday, the hubby set up a paint station for me out back.  We have 8 internal doors total.  He took off the hinges and the door knobs and let me loose.  TIP: Use a permanent marker and write on each door what room it came from.  Write in the space cut out for the hinge so you can see it after the door has been painted.

The first chore was to sand every surface of the door to 1) roughen the door so the new paint will stick and 2) remove loose and peeling paint.   For my purposes, sanding also served to clean the door.  Otherwise, you would need to wash the door down so the new paint will stick better.

If you are doing one or two doors, by all means use sandpaper and do it by hand.  If you are doing multiple doors (like, 8 of them) then do yourself a favor and beg, borrow or steal a random orbital sander or  you’ll be sanding those doors until the cows come home.  (To all my kleptomaniac fans, 2 Pennies does not advocate the stealing of sanders in any way.)

Orbital sanders are relatively inexpensive as far as power tools go.  I used a little $30 el cheapo Black and Decker sander for 10 years, before it went to tool heaven.  The hubby went with a more expensive replacement, because he wanted more power (don’t they all?).  It still works the same to me.

I used a white Valspar semi-gloss latex for the doors to make it pOp and because a semi-gloss finish is easier to clean.  I rolled the paint on with a roller meant for super smooth surfaces.  For the best finish, you need at least 2 thin, even coats.  I don’t care what the advertisments say, I have yet to use a paint that only took one coat. 

When I came back to do a second coat, I discovered a flaw in our brilliant paint setup – trees and other debris.  Most every door had some sort of gunk on it from pine needles to bird poop.  The hubby had to string up a tarp to protect my finish.  After a second first coat, we were back in business…until the thunderstorm.

By the third day, I was able to finish 5 doors 100%.  I was outside working on the last 3 (see pic above) when a storm rolled in.  Not only did it roll in, but it stayed for 5 days. 

The tarp was able to keep debris off my doors, but it collapsed under the weight of the rain.  I managed to haul in 2 half finished doors, but the 3rd door bit the dust.

With the hinges and knobs replaced, the new doors look spiffy indeed.  We can’t help but marvel at how clean they look!  I still have 3 doors to finish, but considering I’m juggling packing, moving, and kiddos I think I’ll be okay.

TIP: If you went through the trouble to take the door off the hinges to paint, you might as well paint the door trim before you put the new door back up.

Tips and Tricks for painting an interior door:

1) Remove hinges, knobs, hooks, and other items attached to your door.  Write which door goes where on the door itself in the space where the hinge attaches.

2) Setup a well ventilated workspace that is protected from the environment.

3) Wash or sand the door to prep it for paint.  Use a 120 grit sandpaper for the first run and then 220 to smooth everything out.  Random orbital sanders rock. 

4) Roll on your paint with a smooth surface paint roller.  Brushes will leave too many marks.  You may use either the roller or a brush for the edges.  Be careful not to paint over your door markings in the hinge area.  Also, be careful not to goop up paint in the hinge cutout or your hinges won’t fit properly.  Give it at least 2 coats and dry thoroughly before flipping door over.

5) Reinstall hardware and bingo – you have a nice and clean door!

Vinyl Siding Project Finished – Overview

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

After 10 days, the contractors finally finished the vinyl siding on our house.  It cost around 7 grand and took 4 weeks from the time that Lowes gave us an estimate, to ordering and delivering materials, and installing the siding.  Here are some before and after shots.

After several years of drought and massive water restrictions, we created an extensive rainwater collection system.  Our plants loved it, but so did the mosquitos!

After the siding, the house fits into our woodsy lot much better.

The infamous chimney after the woodpecker damage, but before the ant invasion.

Looks totally different!  I am so happy to get rid of the green trim.

The vertical siding always made the front of the house look too large for it’s size.  The green also seemed drab to me.

The horizontal vinyl really brings the house back down to scale.  The white trim makes the house pop!  We added a decorative vent to the front and the back of the house for a little something something and painted the shutters and door a reddish brown.

So what do you think? I like it!

Here are a few things I learned from the experience:

1) Everybody has a job to do and nobody knows what the other person is doing.  The people at Lowes, the installation company and the actual installers themselves all had a different story as to what was going on.  Lowes handled the money and materials.  The install company gave Lowes the material order after a walk through and gave the installers the general plan.  The installers just did their job.  In other words, don’t ask them any questions about the materials or money.  If the installers are doing something that isn’t in the contract, call Lowes right away and don’t argue with the installers.

2) The onsite installers are the only people who know when they will be finished. Lowes said they would start on a Tuesday and be done by Friday (4 days).  The install boss said they would be done the following Tuesday or Wednesday.  The installers laughed and said they would push to be done by the following Thursday (10 days).  The guys onsite know exactly what is going on with your house, what needs to be done, and how long it will take them.

3) The installers will remove anything attached to your house (ie. light fixtures, door bells, house numbers, shutters) and will help you put them back on if you ask.  Some things they have to do per contract (ie. remove and reinstall the light fixture and doorbell), but others they will do if you ask nicely.  When I told them on the first day that I was going to paint the shutters, doorbell, and numbers, they removed those first so I could get to it.  They also installed a brand new porch light straight out of the box for us.  At the end, they reinstalled everything no problem and even suggested a new location for the house numbers on the porch post.

4) Work with your installers to ensure a smooth project from start to finish.  Talk to your installers on the first day to find out what they will do and when.  Share any ideas, wants, and desires with them.  They will do their best to work with you.  For example, I told them that I was going to paint the front porch and back deck floors.  They suggested that I paint a 12 inch border on the floor wherever the vinyl would touch it well in advance of them working on it.  After I painted and they installed the starter strip, we had a nice clean edge where the vinyl rested on the floor.  Other things they did for us:  They worked on the opposite side of the house when my kids had their afternoon naps.  They took our bug sprayer to the top of the chimney and killed an ant colony before putting up the vinyl siding.  They moved all the materials out of the yard where Lowes had dropped it and over to the driveway so our grass wouldn’t die.

5) Show your appreciation for a job well done.  I wouldn’t have thought to do this if my mother inlaw hadn’t suggested it, but I gave each guy a $40 tip when the job was done.  These guys worked diligently through 90+ degree weather on a 12 sided house with a 4 gabled roof, and two covered porch/deck.  They never complained, were always friendly, and did alot of little extras for us like working with the naps, killing the bugs, and hanging my stuff back up.  I put each tip in a little thank you card and wrote a little note expressing my appreciation.  They seemed to be very grateful and were a bit happier when they left.

Vinyl Siding Update: Day 8

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

It’s been over a week since the contractors have been working on our house.  They had the 3 day weekend off and they are pretty sure they will be finished tomorrow.  I sure hope so.  All the pounding and the mess is getting to me.  I have a ton of things to do and I can’t get to them with all that’s going on.

The big project today was the chimney.  The wood has been rotting for some time and we’ve been battling one ant infestation after another.  When they started pulling off the rotted wood, we saw that the ants had burrowed into the insulation.  They were living in the blue stuff and eating away at all the wet wood.

The dude was surprised at how much wood had to come off.  We told him the entire chimney had to be rebuilt!  Luckily, the framing underneath was 100% solid.  Before he put up the OSB, he took our bug sprayer up there and doused remaining ants. 

The other guy kept on keeping on with the soffits and trim.  He said that our house was as much work as 2 houses due to the design.  Most houses have 4 sides and 2 roof peaks.  Ours has 12 sides and 4 roof peaks.  Not to mention, we have a covered porch and a covered deck that they have to work with as well.

I can’t wait for tomorrow to come!  They will be hanging the shutters that I painted, the house numbers, and the doorbell.  They’ll also wrap all the trim around the doors with metal and finish up the chimney and soffits.  It will be done in time for our big party this weekend.  YAY!

Replacing Mailbox and Post

Monday, May 30th, 2011

I’m not sure where my friend read it, but she said that it helps to give your mailbox a facelift when you sell your house.  I guess it’s all a part of that nebulous concept called “curb appeal”. 

Our mailbox was in sad shape.  The first day we moved into the house, the hubby ran over the mailbox with the moving truck.  He then splinted the broken post between two pieces of wood and the poor thing had been tilting forward ever sine.  The ugly green mailbox itself was rusted and dented from some hooligan’s cherry bomb.  No facelift could rejuvenate this baby.  Time for a new setup.

I had been priming our new fence post over the past few days.  We decided to install it today as the mailman is off for the holiday.  The old mailbox post is underneath the new one.  See the sad little splint at the bottom?  You can also see the new post is much shorter than the old one.

The original post was just stuck in the ground.  We borrowed a post hole digger from a neighbor and made the hole a bit bigger so we could cement the post in place.  We backfilled the hole and tamped the dirt down so our little shorty post would be the proper height.

Now that the hole was bigger, the post wouldn’t stay upright for us to dump in cement.  The hubby improvised with 2 sawhorses, 2 pieces of wood, and 4 bar clamps.  He clamped one piece of wood to both sawhorses and then clamped another piece of wood behind the post to the first piece of wood.  He used a level to position the post.

We were so glad that we bought a half dozen bar clamps from Harbor Freight.  Every now and then, we get Harbor Freight’s circular and see them on sale for $1.99 each.  Normally, there is a limit that you can buy.  These little guys are well worth it.

To cement the post in place, he poured 1/2 to 3/4 of a bag of dry Quickcrete mix into the hole.  He then added water from a hose (following the directions on the box) and mixed it up with a broom handle.  Two hours later the concrete had set and it was rock hard!

He then cut a piece of wood that would go underneath the mailbox and attach to the mailbox post.  We had bought a precut mailbox plank from Lowes, but found that it was too wide for the mailbox that we bought.  The first time he attached the mailbox, we had it flush against the back of the post.  While pretty, the door wouldn’t open all the way because it was getting jammed on the wood underneath the mailbox.  We pulled the box forward an inch and voila – we now have the best mailbox on the block!

I have to go back and put a topcoat of paint over the primer and plant some flowers around the base still.  I’ll tackle that tomorrow!  Right now, it’s back to packing up our bedroom while the hubby is tamping rocks in the dark for our brick walkway.  We have realtors coming tomorrow and our target date to list the house is 6/19.  The clock is ticking!

Paint the Front Door

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

Another tip for selling your house – give your door a fresh coat of paint (typically a red paint color).

 Our entire door, side panel, and trim have been a dark green since the day I bought the house in Feb 2000.  How green was it?  See the side panel?  You can still see the green showing through after 5 coats of color blocking primer. 

You can search online for the “proper” way to paint a door – trust me, there is a method.  Everything depends on if your door is wood or metal, if the original paint job is in good shape or if it is peeling, if there are cracks or repairs that need to be made, etc… 

For me, the metal door is in fairly good condition and the thick green paint is in great condition.  The hubby removed the door knob, locks, and pins from the hinges.  He put the door on a pair of sawhorses for me in the shade of a tree.  I knew I wanted a type of red for the door, but fire engine or lipstick red weren’t for me.  The house is clay, the porch is a medium brown and the trim is white.  I decided on a reddish brown for the door and the shutters.  To be exact, it is called Thomas Jefferson Brown and it is a historical color.  I figured if it’s lasted this long, then it’s got to be good!

As far as technique goes, I lightly sanded the surface to remove the gloss and then I painted all the trim and panels first with a 2 – 3 inch brush.  I worked horizontally on all pieces and then vertically.  Same goes for the rails and stiles.  The rails are the horizontal parts of the door and the stiles run vertically.  Where they meet, I feathered the edges with a light touch and then I hit the edges of the door.  I did not bother to tape off the windows as I will use a razor to scrape the paint off after the door has cured.  Helpful tip: Load up your brush with paint and use long, smooth strokes for an even finish.

I started this process very early in the morning and let the paint dry for about 2 hours between coats.  I would have liked a longer drying time, especially since I needed 4 coats of paint for thorough coverage, but we managed. 

By the time the door was reinstalled, it was 830pm and I still hadn’t gotten to the trim.  I grabbed my quart of Kilz premium color and stain blocking primer and finally zapped the green for good!  I will have to do another coat tomorrow morning, but wow – does it look sharp tonight!

I must admit to having bittersweet feelings about our remodeling job.  Now that the green is gone, it looks and feels like a totally different house.  For as much as we didn’t like the old exterior, it suited us.  Now things are starting to look very fancy around here.  I guess momma has got to buy a new pair of shoes!

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