Friday, June 29, 2007

Window Scraping - Part II

Window restoration has been an adventure and we have learned that patience is a virtue when it comes to this sort of project. Without patience the 100 years of paint build-up don't come off very easily!

The picture to the right is me scraping the first window, the one from the previous post. We'd let it sit for about 4 hours and I wanted to start scraping...I don't have much patience considering that the stripper said it would take 4 to 24 hours to work. Guess I should have listened. The first couple of layers of paint came off but the remaining ones stuck fast to the wood.

After scraping most of the first of the two sashes, we decided to let the other frame sit a while longer. You can see the difference in the middle picture to the left. The sash on the left is the first one we attempted. The sash on the right is the second one. See the wood grain! No more paint...well on the flat surfaces that is. The sides have been more of a challenge because of the tiny details. But once you have the right tools - a fine pointed scraper and a wire brush - the job becomes a little bit easier.

So at this point we haven't gotten very far. I don't think we quite realized the project this was going to be. We are only partially through scaping one side of the window! We still have the window frame to scrape and rebuild, sash cords to re-install, and then we need to put in all back together again. I'm just glad we only took out one window and not more!

This project also makes a big mess! I guess that's what happens when you're dealing with 100 years of paint!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Fun With Windows

One of our next big tasks for the house is to clean up the glorious original windows. We priced out replacements, and our options were: 1) order high-cost custom replacements, or 2) reduce the size of the openings so that standard windows would fit. Needless to say, neither seemed a very good option. So instead, we decided to remove, strip, and recondition each of the windows in the house, one at a time.

Now, for any of your who haven't ever had the pleasure of stripping paint, it's, well, not a very pleasant experience to say the least. The fumes alone from most paint strippers could kill an ox, and if you happen to get any of the stuff on your skin, it feels like that time in chem class when you spilled the "Caution: Do Not Spill" bottle on your hand. To top it off, most are highly toxic to the environment.

So, being the eco-conscious citizens we are, we set out to find a eco-friendly stripper that wouldn't singlehandedly change our yard into a Superfund site, but would still take off 116 years worth of paint and crud. Enter Ready-Strip.

This stuff promises all of the above. I have to say I'm a bit skeptical, since it's one of those products you see on midday infomercials, but all the reviews seems pretty positive. So, we headed down to the local paint store and bought a nice big bucket of it.

Right out of the gate, I can tell you that it smells just about as strongly as the normal version. Albeit, its odor is a bit more pleasant; I would describe it as strong blue cheese (yeah, call me crazy, my wife did until she smelled it too). Its consistency would best be described as, well, like snot. It's goopy and gloppy, and if it wasn't meant to remove paint, I'd almost say it would make a good stand-in for the above-mentioned bodily fluid.

The directions say to leave it on until it turns a pale green / white, then to scrape off the paint with special scraping tools designed for this purpose. Our plan is to get the windows as clean as possible, then re-paint them a nice off-white to match the rest of the trim. One window already will need some more structural work, including re-gluing the bottom rail (I think that's what it's called), and of course we'll re-glaze the lot as well.

Now comes the tricky part... in order to get the windows out, we had to remove the two "stops" holding them in on the window frame. Seems like an easy task, no? Well in this case, it turned out to be a bit more interesting. Whether it was years of paint, or some other mysterious cause, they proved a real bear to remove. In the process, we seem to have uncovered a bit more work to do!

Help Us!

As you can see, our frames look a bit worse for the wear. It turns out they've been pieced together from several different chunks of wood, seemingly without any particular plan. The question now becomes: how do we fix it?

So, fellow bloggers, we turn to you for advice. We've already read several books on the subject, however we'd love to get some practical advice from anyone who has already taken on this task before we dive in. Do we rip out the whole thing and frame it from scratch? Or can we just patch the damaged sections?

Luckily, we have storm windows, so they can provide at least some protection from the elements while we're completing the work. Still, I heard somewhere that storm windows aren't too good all by themselves. Kind of like lime juice, tonic water, and gin... by themselves, not too appetizing. But combine them together, and voila, a nice refreshing G&T. :) Sooo, if anyone has some tips to help us, it would be greatly appreciated! Stay tuned as the saga of the windows continues to unfold.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

We Have A Winner (#2)!
Congratulations to L from, for correctly identifying the plant as Clematis Jackmanii, also called "Jackman's Clemati". Wikipedia tells me it's a vine native to temperate climates, and that this particular variety is native to England. Apparently it's native blooming season is July - August (which makes me a bit nervous, since they appear to be doing just fine here in early May).

Thanks again for your helping us with our new found garden!

Monday, June 11, 2007

It's Time For Another Episode of...

Name That Plant!

Our next mystery plant is a gorgeous purple flowered vine that is growing in several places on the fence between our neighbor's yard and ours. It smells lovely, but unfortunately seems to be almost past its prime at this point in the year.

As always, your victory will be eternally preserved on our blog, so that all may know your expertise. Let the games begin!

Friday, June 08, 2007

A Zen Living Room

A few weeks ago, Josh and I received a lamp as a house warming gift from my Aunt Pat and Uncle Paul. Last weekend we finally had the time to put it together. Here are a few pics of the assembly process.

It has added a very nice element to our living room.

Each little element we have added to the living room has made it feel that much more like home. We added the lamp, some pictures behind the couch, hung our marriage promise on the wall, even a coat rack by the door. What a great place to call home!