Before & After & After Again, Part 2: Porches and Paint

Sometimes when you are passionately busy building, there will be others as busy destroying. Do not stop. One day you will notice how high above you get and how down below they end up. -Sameh Elsayed

There were things wrong when we moved in that we knew about. The porch needing attention was one, the outside with it’s WWIIish era asphalt shingles covering the original wood siding was a future hope, and the roof, well, we just prayed it would hold on.  Along the way we gained immense happiness from putting things right and healing our house. It was profound, purposeful love. Here is Part 2 of our old house saga.

At the same time we were dealing with the plumbing and the heat we were also trying to fix the front porch, which wasn’t in good condition at all. I have come to the realization that wood porches are notoriously difficult to maintain and if I could afford it I would replace it with composite. Alas, we need to eat, so southern yellow pine it is! At $2.88 an 8 foot board you can’t beat it. Unfortunately ya have to paint it, like every summer. Ugh.

The two most dangerous things to architecture: modernism and water.



The giant sistered timber in the middle here was so rotten in the top that we couldn’t nail into it. So I mixed a ton of wood glue and wood chips and hardener, put it in the cleaned out spot where the rot was, and viola! So far so good!IMG_2678

We tried wood-filler to hold-on a little longer. It was a joke so we started in on the project. We were afraid the mailman wouldn’t deliver to our box on the porch otherwise!


If I hadn’t been so overwhelmed by this huge project I would have tried to clean up all the wood scraps that had been left there from the 70s re-decking this porch had. This is termite bait! IMG_2691

Yeah, we also left this. I know one day it will come back to bite us in the …IMG_2692IMG_2697

This wonderful man. What would I do without him? P.S. An air nail gun made this job go really quick.IMG_2700

My favorite part of all this was when my little boy laid down on the new wood in front of the door by our outside cat. She was nursing her babies and my son watched them so tenderly and told me the kittens were having “Nannies” (his word for nursing). My heart just melted!IMG_2704

In the middle of painting this porch it was labor-day weekend. Our outside cat and her kittens kept trying to come up on the porch to stay cool. The paint is oil-based and a huge mess. So I went down to let them play in the basement while I painted and found that our main water line had broken. Water was EVERYWHERE! More plumbing!!!!

Pause for plumbing emergency!

While taking a break from the decking we sat on the porch swing. A sweet older couple stopped and admired us, told us how cute we looked! 🙂

Finally done!

There were also a lot of broken windows. We have over 80 windows and we tried to take them out a couple at a time and have them fixed. Mostly it was storm windows that were broken and our wavy glass was not damaged. However this window was missing it’s storm and had been badly patched.


The outside was always an unknown. Thankfully we were able to get it done a couple of years after we moved in. We finally had to get a new roof and we had the old asphalt siding removed too. It was falling off anyway!


Underneath was what looked like tear stains! It was really pitiful, but in surprisingly good shape! The job of removing this stuff was completed on Halloween day! We had hardly any trick-or-treaters that year- I think we were a little too spooky!


We sure did stop a lot of traffic! Under this siding wasps were hibernating! Our crew was thankful for a cool day and wasp poison! We had been plagued by wasps since moving in and I was so glad they were not going to have a nesting place anymore!


Whoever put on the asphalt siding tore off the drip-edge that ran all the way around the middle of the structure. They left the one on the bottom, but this one- gone. Also covered were the decorative posts on the corners and missing are their capitals. Thankfully our carpenters easily reconstructed them! The new siding is a reddish color.


This stupid hole all around out house stayed there all winter until our carpenters/painter’s came in the spring. It made that winter MISERABLE. Cold wind blew into the house from all around!

It’s even more depressing than I remember.

First our dedicated painters washed the entire house after fixing the wood, then they started with the white trim, which took 40 gallons!


Lots of loving work taping off that window. 🙂

Originally we wanted a painted lady, but time, money and the house told us no. We found a match to the green we found under the siding and followed the last paint job. Sherwin-Williams should have sponsored us! We would have made great ads for them!


40 gallons of Majolica Green later…


More porch repairs, including re-decking under a column, which involves a jack and me holding my breath!IMG_3763IMG_3769IMG_3780

Remember this picture? See the rotten eave with a bracket under it? Our carpenters fixed the eave but my hubby fixed the bracket!




We also got our new roof. The red shingles that were there had to go. They don’t make red anymore, so we went back with grey. We were so relieved when they were done (they finished on the last day of school). It felt like we had gotten everything on our wish list for Christmas! We had a big party with our motorcycle friends to celebrate!IMG_6781IMG_6779Scan07E404D9-C458-4F74-8009-2F9A3A4F73C7

Just as everything was finishing up we got wonderful news. Our National Register Listing had been accepted and we were now official! Thanks to the wonderful people at our state historic preservation office who helped to write it up for us!


He who loves and old house,
Never loves in vain.
How can an old house, used to sun and rain,
To lilac and larkspur and an elm above,
Ever fail to answer,
The heart that gives it love.
-Isabel Fiske Connant

Stay tuned for more renovation/restoration posts!






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