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Painting and Restoring a 143-Year-Old Home

By 227 North Street on Aug 20, 2013

It all began seven weeks ago, the forecast is now easily another four to six weeks to go, and we are only doing the three story section of the house this year.

We certainly have hired the absolute, with out a doubt, correct person for this job. Timothy Hilton, Earthtone Painting, is in charge of the sealing up and painting of the house. Seven weeks of burning paint, scraping, sanding, burning paint, scraping, sanding, priming, sanding, filling, sanding, priming, filling, sanding, priming, caulking, priming, filling, sanding.... Will it never end? But, the work is impeccable and for one hundred and forty three year old surfaces, it is looking better than we could have hoped for.

We are personally doing all of the rebuilding and are barely keeping up Timothy. It began with once again removing the front porch from the house, and then all of the quoins from the corners. Quoins are the trim blocks that make the corners appear to be made of stone blocks, very Italianate.

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Ladder up, and ready to take her down


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Porch parts everywhere


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Columns waiting their turn to burn


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And burn we are, with a blow torch!

The porch restoration — the paint removal from the columns, specifically — is part of what we agreed to do ourselves. We have both used chemical stripper, and heat guns in the past, but the job of removing all of the old paint from the columns would never get done with either of those methods, so out came the blow torch. Fire up, don't be timid, and use a handy high tech tool for scraping away the burned paint: an old large tablespoon. Work fast and watch for smoldering!

As we work on the porch, we also stripped away moldings from the bay windows, and the quoins from the corners of the house. The front of the house is southern exposure and the sun has destroyed so many of the small pieces due to the negligence of the former owners. The moldings and quoins are being copied in redwood and cypress.

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Here we go, Timothy begins the burning.


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Timothy and his part-time helper


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Just before the quoins are removed from the house


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Layers and layers of paint burned away, and now the sanding begins


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New flashing for the bay windows


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And did I forget to mention a ridge vent?


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Gray primer and the filling commences


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All of the plants surrounding the foot of the house are about to be seriously cut back


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New skirting finally on the lower sides of the house


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A closer view of the smoothing of the old siding


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Another close view


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Electric and gas lines finally exposed for the lighting
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The East side in case you thought we were missing it


Timothy has been using the Battleship Gray primer as it really helps him to see the flaws, and this of course is making everyone in town confused and crazy.

The final colors are still somewhat in flux as our original gray looked, well, simply wrong when sampled. We now have a color pretty firmly in mind, but with the "White Faction" practically picketing in front of the house, we are keeping it a secret. Just know that the house will not be white.

Now it is back out into the yard for me. I have columns to burn, and quoins to install!

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