The Tools You Need To Scrape and Sand Exterior Wood Siding

4 min read Scraping, sanding and painting your wooden house is not a job for the faint of heart but with these tools you can get the job done!

Scraping, sanding and painting your wooden house (especially if it’s in rather bad shape) is not a job for the faint of heart.  It’s hot, sweaty, dusty work that requires at least SOME ladder work.  If you like pinching pennies and feeling a sense of accomplishment, by all means take it on.  If you are looking for easy, fun DIY that people will admire … maybe choose another project.

For me, painting a beat up wall in an ugly color into a new smooth color of my choosing is about the most fun I can think of, and is well worth the labor.  Stay tuned for my discussion of how high on ladders you have to climb to paint a single story ranch in an upcoming post!

Continue reading “The Tools You Need To Scrape and Sand Exterior Wood Siding”

The Five Tools under Twenty Dollars You’ll Need to do Your Own Demolition

4 min read Here’s what you’ll want to have on hand in order to take own your own basement demolition. You can get most of these for under twenty bucks, and with them, you’ll be set to tear about nearly any basement.

Even if you plan to hire contractors to do your remodeling work, you can save money and feel a sense of ownership for the project by chipping in labor during demolition.  With a few of the right tools (and some common sense) removing an out of date “finished” basement before replacing it with a new one is a task most homeowners can tackle with success. Continue reading “The Five Tools under Twenty Dollars You’ll Need to do Your Own Demolition”

Minimizing Waste in Demoltion

3 min read Any remodeling project is inherently more or less wasteful. “Out with the old and in with the new” means that something is being tossed and new resources are being consumed. Here are the steps I took to keep limit the landfill content produced by my basement demolition.

From an ethical standpoint, I think remodeling is better than building new and even remodeling should always be justified by improving utility and energy efficiency to offset that waste.  From a design point of view, the new work should be not only more aesthetically pleasing but more multi-functional – future proofed as much as possible.

I apply these ideas to all the design work I do, and I’ve been trying to use the same principles during my physical remodeling here. Continue reading “Minimizing Waste in Demoltion”

Demo with a Dog

3 min read Just to throw a wrench in the works once again, I gave myself an additional major delay in construction (or de-construction) at the beginning of the year: bringing home a new dog, Roxie. Here’s a little intro to my pup and the techniques I’ve used to acclimate her to her new life as a construction dog.

I decided to make the most of my non-office-worker stint by bringing a pup into my life.  After some research,  I found Roxie at the Humane Society, sugar sweet but bouncing off the walls of the meeting room.  She’s around a year and a half old and was picked up as a stray in Mississippi in December.  I  brought her home the last day of January.   Continue reading “Demo with a Dog”

Progress: Basement Demolition and Discoveries

4 min read After a long winter of being distracted by design work and other projects, I got back to the fun of tearing apart the house again a few weeks ago.

[Actually I began some exploratory demolition by pulling down a few ceiling tiles at the end of January, only to be delayed by a the sudden memory that the building inspector hadn’t NOT said that the ugly acoustic tile ceiling could contain asbestos.  I decided to play it safe and took a sample over to the Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene for testing to confirm that it was safe.  Thirty eight bucks and three weeks later I got the all clear and was ready to head back down the basement stairs.] Continue reading “Progress: Basement Demolition and Discoveries”

Going Grey, or it’s not easy to Paint outside in the swing seasons

2 min read I wanted to squeak in one quarter of the house painting – the street side – before the weather got too cold for proper curing conditions. Here’s how I gamed the weather to get the job done!

Modern paint technology is pretty miraculously forgiving of weather conditions but there are still limits to the times of day and year that you can effectively get paint to stick to outside surfaces.

Since we wanted to get at least the front of the house painted in the fall, we found ourselves playing with two very important metrics for the paint – temperature and humidity. Continue reading “Going Grey, or it’s not easy to Paint outside in the swing seasons”

Tearing out the Hedge-of-Doom

2 min read The house itself isn’t the only dated thing about my little mid-century charmer – it also has an extremely old-fashioned yard.  This is one more element that I plan to bring forward into the 21st Century.

I’ve been told that the previous owner was once an avid gardener with vegetables growing in a sunny patch in the back yard but in recent years it seems his yard work had devolved into harshly flat topping the hedge along the front of the house and surrounding the little decorative fence.  Since the house went on the market, even that had stopped and little shoots were aimed upwards, threatening to engulf the house like the thicket of thorns around Briar Rose’s castle.


Frankly, even if I’d loved the hedge (which measured 4 feet high, 8 feet deep and 30 feet along the front of the house), it would have been hard to preserve it.  It had been planted too close to the building and grown even closer – trying to get behind it to paint the siding would have been impossible.  As it was, my yard-work loving mom joked about showing up to the closing with long-handled clippers and a saw. Continue reading “Tearing out the Hedge-of-Doom”