25 September 2014

Holiday Housework - Painting and Gardening

This week I started a couple weeks of holidays, and with all breaks, the priority is house work. Job number one was to repaint our front steps since as you can see, they finishing needs a fair bit of work. We were never after a big renovation, we just needed a bit of weatherproofing. The months from January to March are about as heavy as anywhere in the world in terms of rainfall. The steps were freshly painted when we moved in a year ago, and we didn't like the idea of hoping they would hold up after what has happened to them after just one year.

Cleaning, scraping and sanding the stairs took around 3 hours of my Sunday. This was my first time painting anything on the exterior so I am not entirely sure if I picked off enough paint. I didn't really feel like spending money on a power sander, so I did everything by hand. I am generally content with how much effort I was putting into everything. I made sure everything was smooth to the touch and splintering was reduced as much as possible. The first coat went on on Monday and the second coat on Tuesday. It's Thursday as write this and we've just started walking on it a few hours ago. It rained a little bit the other day so the fingers are crossed it dried properly.

On a bit of impulse, we walked into the store planning on just going with the basic dark brown, we figured, now is the perfect time to experiment with some of our colour ideas. If it works well, great, but if not, there was a good chance the stairs would eventually get scrapped within a few years anyway. We went with Colorbond Ironstone (Chip no T147) by Cabot's Timbercolour. The shop worker recommended it as the most durable and easiest to work with. I don't have anything to compare it to other than the British Paints we used to paint our bathroom white.

I'm not an expert when it comes to house painting but I do have some experience. I've done interior drywall a few times painting my room as a kid, and I've painted the aforementioned bathroom. This being said, I don't know how to apply painter's tape. I always end up having to retouch. 

After two coats, we're more than happy with how it looks. We'll see how it holds up after this summer (we average over 1000mm of rain from Nov to Feb with 35C temperatures), but as it stands we really like it. Although I read and watched a lot of how-to's, this article in +SFGate  by +Kristy Robinson seemed to be the one I referred to the most.

We plan on making some major renovations and extensions to the house over the next 5 years so there's a good chance the steps could get scrapped, or at least redone sometime in that term. In any case, I was looking forward to this as an opportunity learn a little bit about exterior timber restoration. We're still in the drawing stages, but I'm sure a deck will be part the aforementioned renovations.

Tending to the garden was second on the list of priorities. Having these two projects to focus on in tandem worked quite well. You wouldn't tell from the photo, but I really like gardening. I am really enjoying revitalising our yard, which was in fairly bad shape when we moved in. There's a lot of laborious work in lawn repair (turfing, weeding, levelling, etc.) so we made sure to have one aesthetically pleasing garden to care for in the meantime.

After turning over the soil and pulling the weeds we moved the bulbs to the edges and planted a few begonia, ixora and hibiscus bushes. I am hoping we are not foolish for not laying down weedmat or spraying any sort of weed killer. Some have told us it's a necessity, others have assured us they've never used it. Live and learn. In terms of design, a less organised arrangement seems to work best with the vibe of our yard. Also, it's easier. It seems a little bare, but I'm counting on the shrubs to fill out. One thing's for certain, I love the smell and look of  the tea tree mulch the nursery recommended. We shall see.

One year into owning our fixer-upper and I'm learning that really the only way to learn is by trying and hoping for the best. We're loving chipping away at all of the jobs this old house keeps presenting to us. It's the end of day 6 and the two main tasks are complete. I still have 12 days left to my holiday, and although nothing is planned, I'm sure the house will give me something to do. Abraham Maslow said, "if the only tool you have is a hammer, (it is tempting to) treat everything as if it were a nail". I'm sure the law of the instrument still applies with a paint brush.