Home Improvement

Wax On, Wax Off

Whoops, I almost forgot to tell you about how I scrubbed and re-sealed the existing hardwoods right before we moved in (literally, like 26 hours before we moved in). The new hardwoods upstairs were looking so flossy and glossy, I didn’t want the ones in the office, living room, and dining room to feel so 2000 and late. So I gave them some love.

First I swept up the random dust and old faux Christmas tree leaves and all the other stuff that was left behind.

Not a bad pile for an empty looking room, eh?

Then I bought this stuff at Home Depot because I had heard good things about it when it comes to cleaning and glossing up floors that are old/dulled/mildly scratched (you know, floors that don’t need a full re-finishing but could use some moisture/polish to fill in small scrapes and seal them again).

You know, little stuff like this.

After sweeping, the next step was to use their floor cleaning spray, by just working my way around the room spraying it on the floor and following that with the mop (with the cleaning pad on it). This made me mad sweaty, yo. So I give it a 7 on the exertion scale. You’re not just swabbing over the floors like you’re swiffering, you’re scrubbing the heck outta them to get them nice and clean.

Then came the actual sealing/polishing step. This was a lot less rigorous (so you ARE doing the swiffer motion here). The idea is just to gently spread out the liquid that you’re pouring out of the bottle as you work your way out of the room. Oh and for this step you have to use a polishing pad on the mop (it’s more like a lamb’s wool pad while the cleaning one is a bit more scrubbing-sponge-like). Note: see the green painters tape on my mop? That thing came out of the box all wonky and broken, so I had to MacGuyver it together.

In this picture you can see how the floor that I had done was all moisturized and shiny (top left of the pic below) while the floor behind the polish pad is kind of dull and dry.

Sadly, by the time I worked my way out of the room I was only mildly impressed. Parts of it had dried and looked just like they did before (dull, grayed, slightly scratched, etc) while other areas that were still wet looked awesome.

But once they dried… they were all chalky and dry again. I’m not sure if it was just something about our floors and the way they were refinished decades ago (some folks must love this stuff since we heard great things) but it wasn’t an awesome enough result for me to get going on the other two room’s floors. So it was back to Home Depot, where I bought another brand called Rejuvenate. It came in satin and high gloss but I chose high gloss since the floors upstairs are nice and shiny, which we like.

I still used the same Bona cleaning spray and the same Bona mop (with the cleaning head on it) since I already had those on hand and didn’t mind the job they did. It was just the Bona sealer that had left me high and dry (ok, just dry). So I switched ol’ wonky-mop’s head to the polishing one, but this time instead of using it to spread the Bona stuff, I worked my way out of the room with the Rejuvenate wood floor restorer. The room looked like this before:

And this after:

Granted it still had to dry a bit in that shot above, but the comparison between the Bona stuff and the Rejuvenate stuff definitely left us liking Rejuvenate a lot better. It went on more evenly and left everything rich and sealed looking – even well after it dried. Nothing looked chalky a few hours later, and I was able to apply two coats in each room (you could apply them a few hours apart instead of waiting 24 hours like the Bona stuff required) which was awesome. I even went back and did the office again with the Rejuvenate stuff instead of doing a second coat of Bona in there. And I was so much happier with it.

Here’s the dining room all dry. Flossy and glossy, eh? This is how the living room dried as well, and the office looks the same now that we went over it.

Have you used a floor cleaning and resealing system to bring life back to dull, mildly scratched, or chalky floors? Did you try Bona, Rejuvenate, or something else? Ever tried two different options for a smackdown to the death what’s-better comparison?



Painting Trim (Not That Trim)

As if all the blue and mauve stuff on the inside of the house isn’t enough, we had some outside trim that needed some attention. When we bought this house we knew we had four major things to deal with: the roof and the furnace, a few bad trees, and this last bear: some rotting areas of siding and trim that needed to be replaced along with a fresh paint job for the whole house. But at least we knew about all of them going into the house purchase (and the first two didn’t end up draining our wallets) – so maybe that softened the blow a little? Speaking of soft, I give you… our siding.

This hole was big enough for a bat or a mouse to crawl in. I’ll pause while you ewwww for a second.

Some of the wood trim and siding just couldn’t be salvaged and would need to be completely replaced. And the rest of it was in desperate need of a cleaning, scraping, priming, and two fresh coats of paint to protect it from rotting like the other stuff that was already too far gone. Given the extent of the rot, the sheer size of the project, and the fact that a lot of it was high off the ground, we knew it was a job for the pros. So we got four estimates and ultimately chose the crew that made us feel the most confident, who was a local chain called Certa Pro Painters. It didn’t hurt that they were recommended by a neighbor up the street along with wish-she-was-our-neighbor friend of ours. They also were the most flexible (which enabled us to save an extra 1k by doing some things ourselves, but more on that later).

After picking who to go with, it was color picking time. We decided that we wanted the trim to be one color and the siding to be another color, just so the house had a little more dimension. We didn’t hate the existing cream on cream trim and siding, but we did love a few other possibilities more, especially after walking around the neighborhood and staring at other brick colonials to see what they had going on. So after a whole lotta house-gawking, we came home and stared at our paint deck.

We decided we liked the idea of a putty color (not too brown, and not too gray – sort of right in the middle) since that tone is kind of “related” to the brick, so it ties in. We waffled back and forth between the two colors with the red arrow in that top swatch for a while and finally settled on the lighter one because we worried the darker one might be gloomy for the siding. Then for the windowsills and trim we picked a nice not-too-yellow-and-not-too-blue white tone.

Spoiler alert: we picked the wrong color and should have gone with the darker one for the siding. But thankfully we caught it early enough (just as the first coat was starting to go up) that they were happy to apply the darker tone as the second coat, which had great coverage since it was only a shade darker. So this is the final choice. Pretty, right?

It’s such a rich look, and because the brick is such a visually “weighty” color, it’s a really nice balance. The lighter color was so washed out it almost still looked cream – or even like a soft white. So… disaster averted!

See how the triangle over the portico looks like it’s a soft whispy white-ish color? That was just one square lighter on that swatch (yet it looked about three shades lighter when the light hit it!). You can see Danny applying the final color right over it, which really helped the white trim pop more while holding its own with the strong brick and the dark shutters behind it. Whew.

The process was actually pretty fun to watch (we didn’t envy them for a second up on those crazy ladders for five days in 90+ degree temperatures). The first step was power-washing the entire house, then they scraped the trim and siding before priming anything that was raw wood, and painting everything (two coats for the siding and trim, and one coat around the windows since they were just going from cream to white). If the wood/siding was in bad shape, they cut it out and replaced it. In the end, they had cut out and repaired about 20 pieces of rotten siding and trim, so it broke down to one day of power washing, two days of rot repair and scraping, and two days of priming/painting.

As for the paint, they used Duration by Sherwin Williams, which they said was awesome for the exterior and had really nice thick coverage (so we’re glad our house won’t be all sad and rotten again anytime soon). The colors we ended up going with were Snowbound (for the white trim) and Anonymous (for the putty colored siding).

We’re so happy with it. And we’ll never doubt those house painting tipsters again when that say “go a shade darker than you think for the exterior of a house since the light that hits it will wash things out.” We really thought we could just look at the swatches outside, but it was crazy how light/white that very clearly gray-brown swatch looked once it was up on the house! Three cheers for second chances. Oh man, we’re so thankful.

Here’s what the house looked like when we got it:

And here it is (a little closer) now. More dimensional, right? So much less… brown.

The new roof was definitely a game changer, but the fresh paint is a pretty noticeable upgrade too. Even just the white trim around the windows and the porch railing feels nice and fresh from the curb. It’s one of those things when we drive down the street to come home we’re still doing that double take since our brains are taking a second to catch up with the current look.

Here’s the back before, which we thought made the siding part on the top right look a little too light and unbalanced (gah, choppy photo, sorry!):

Now it just feels more evenly weighted, so it sticks out less and looks more integrated.

And here’s a closer shot that shows how the sunroom looked when it was all cream before.

Now it has a crisper feeling, and the dark storm windows on the house tie into the dark tones in the brick as well as the putty color in the siding – so the sunroom feels more tied in and less like a little add-on-pop-out in the back.

When it comes to the cost of rot repair/house painting, that definitely varies depending on where you live, how much rot you have, what type of house it is (mostly brick or all siding), how large your house is, etc. The receipt’s in one of our moving chaos piles (aka: lost in the Bermuda Triangle) but I think it was around 1K for all of the wood rot repair and over 2K for the scraping and painting. Update: Just remembered we got 10% off because John’s a member of ACAC, so any locals getting an estimate should show their membership card if they have one!

Writing the check was another one of those bleeding money moments, but we were able to knock 1K off their original estimate by offering to DIY some easier-to-reach spots ourselves that we had faith we could do well. So here’s a tip for anyone who loves tackling what they can while leaving the stuff that’s out of their league to the experts: just break it all down in your head and see what you think you can bite off. We said “hey, we’ll gladly paint three areas ourselves!” which are: the garage doors (we think we’ll go a tone darker than the siding with those)…

… the interior walls, trim, and ceiling of the sunroom (everyone quoted that since it’s technically an outdoor room), and the front door and sidelights.

Not only did that save us a cool grand, it means we have more time to think about what colors we want in those areas. Predictably, I’m the most excited about a new front door color. Nothing’s off limits. Seriously, every swatch in the rainbow is in the running.

One roof-related casualty did occur when we accidentally ran over a screw that had landed in our driveway, but thankfully it was only a $29 fix (we could get it patched instead of replacing it) so all’s well that ends well.

Oh home improvement. You take our money and sometimes you even flatten our tires, but we keep crawling back.