Thursday, January 29, 2009

Refinishing the Front Porch

The farmhouse porch was in need of something, it was your typical painted porch in the typical grey porch paint. Ours was painted a "light grey" and showed every dead bug, spider, foot print, and debris. In the spring, it gets a covering of pollen and it would turn completely yellow. I felt like I had to sweep it in a feng shui kind of way, sweeping out the bad spirits, like twice a day.

I brought a decking contractor out to take a look at it, give me some recommendations and ultimately give me a price for doing "something" with it. I suggested stripping it and staining it, and he shook his head and said, "Nah, just calk it and paint it, it looks fine. Just needs some paint". He obviously didn't want the job and he didn't even offer me a price.

With a bucket of bleach and a scrub brush I set to prepping the porch for a coat of paint. I could tell that there were not THAT many coats of paint on the porch, the house is only 12 years old, but there were a few and the shades were many. I noticed a golden wood underneath the chip marks, and my imagination went to work. Wouldn't the porch look beautiful with a naturally stained wood?

I began working in a small area to see what I could uncover with some sand paper and some stripper. The wood was in very good condition, no rot, and a great color. I expanded my area working on the stripper and thought, this is really a huge undertaking.

A different contractor for my master bath arrived to work on a different project and saw what I was doing, it was almost spiritual. He said he had a porch he just refinished and he used a belt sander to take of 100 years of paint off and that he was then able to repaint the porch and completely restore it.

A quick search on the internet for porch refinishing proved nothing, which is another reason why I'm writing this blog. I did learn that I have a "tongue and groove untreated pine porch", but no suggestions surfaced on exactly what I should do with this. The porch is about 4 feet wide and not really wide enough for a belt sander so I explored other options.

I needed a sander I could handle and not take me for a spin. I decided on an orbital sander, found a local equipment rental place. It cost me about $50 a day to rent the sander and a little extra for sand paper, all available at the rental company. I refuse to be intimidated by men or be uncomfortable in a "man place" like the rental company. I definitely got a bit of attention, asked questions like they wanted me to, and they even loaded the equipment into my car. When I feel the discomfort coming on, I tend to talk in "we's" like my husband sent me to get this and I have no idea what I'm doing. It works every time. ;-)

Using a 60 grit sand paper, the sander was very user friendly. It wasn't too heavy for me to handle, but it was a lot of time on my knees. The sander easily got as close as I needed it to up against the columns and around the exterior wall of the house working with the grain of the wood. I had to be careful to keep the sander moving back and forth or the result was uneven sanding, heavy divots in some areas.

The outside framing of the porch that is exposed to the elements is pressure treated. Removing the paint showed beautiful untreated pine, and then "green" treated pine. I hadn't expected this, as well as not being able to get all the paint out of the grooves of the floor. All in all I was pleased with the removal process and my ability to get that part done!

Next came choosing a finish for the floor. Of course, on the Internet everyone offers up their own favorite product. I use Sherwin Williams products, so I went for a natural toner in an oil base for the untreated area. It gave the most natural look with uv protection and water resistance. A word of caution though, it was very ORANGE when first applied. It has since faded a bit and is more natural looking. Also the oil based product will allow me to go back and do touch ups as needed without again restaining the entire floor.

As for the pressure treated framing, I used a solid brown Sherwin product that has very high ratings on uv Resistance and is completely waterproof. The result is a nice two tone look. As for the leftover grey paint in the groves of the floor, I secretly painted over them with a coordinating brown paint. It gave the floor a worn, rustic look and covered imperfections and knots that had paint deep down in them. Finally, I used a clear silicone to seal gaps in the floor and between the floor and the framing, around the columns and against the house in an effort to keep the floor from getting wet, warping or rotting. I also had to do some touch up on the house where the sander bumped it.

And now the porch is one of my favorite places to be. The deck contractor came back, he admired my job on the porch, and he asked for more business from me and I thought "no, I think I'm good, thanks!" ;-)

Project cost: $250 for materials

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