Nothing is simple. Or maybe some things are, but home improvement projects are not among them. Otherwise, where’s the source of drama in all those HGTV house flipper and renovation shows that I love to watch?
So I shouldn’t have been surprised when our major summer project—repainting the front, back and side porches—veered off-course.
It sounded so straightforward. A little prep work—scraping, power washing—a little paint and a little elbow grease. Voilà! Instant facelift for the house. But that’s not exactly what happened.
We knew we had a couple of spongy floorboards on the back deck, and here’s where our best-laid plans went awry. My husband was going to replace them. Easy peasy. He had replaced a few other floorboards two or three years ago, when last we painted. No big deal.
Well, remember the song about how the knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone?
Removing the two errant floorboards disclosed rot in the neighboring boards, so my husband began taking those out too, one after another after another. Pretty soon he decided that with so many floorboards gone, he might as well install a whole new deck.
To dismantle all that flooring, he had to pull out the two columns that hold up the porch roof. Uh oh. One of them turned out to have an ant colony inside—not carpenter ants, thankfully, but the grease and sugar ants that invade our kitchen every summer. We now knew where they lived. We would have to put in new columns.
Next on the hatchet list was a foundational crossbeam at the very front of the porch, one of two planks sistering each other in the important job of supporting the entire structure. Fortunately, only one of them had rot. Out it came.
At this point, there’s not much left—just a skeletal infrastructure of boards and beams. A couple of jerry-rigged uprights are wedged into place to temporarily hold up the roof.
The new lumber has just arrived and my husband believes the porch will go back together more easily than it came apart. I hope he’s right because in the meantime, I can’t use my back door. There’s no there there. I don’t fancy stepping out onto bare beams like a tightrope walker or a pirate walking the plank, though my husband has gotten used to it. The cats, too. Wimp that I am, I use the front door and circle around.
With the back porch a construction zone and the front porch a huge endeavor, I decided to start my painting on the side. There’s no actual porch there—more a landing and set of stairs. I finished over the weekend and I’m not sure about the color. The idea was to match the decking and the siding. In some lights, the colors jibe. In others, not so much.
I’m considering the side area my beta test zone, and will live with the color a while before deciding whether to change it. Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to starting on the back—once it gets rebuilt.