A Priori

After a record drought that lasted for over 4 months, it’s raining here. Was showering on and off for 2 days, then, today, the rain has been steady all day. Predictions are for showers for 2 more days. All this would be good news except for the car size hole in our roof.  A hole we deliberately constructed during the past weekend.

I’m on vacation for 2 weeks, supposedly putting a roof on our addition and fixing the remaining roof leaks in the back roof. We did get most of the demolition done (thus, the car sized hole) before the rain started. But very little construction has started…sigh…so, instead of building a roof, we find ourselves writing about building a roof. Meanwhile, 6 mil plastic separates the rain from our kitchen.

Some “before” pictures for your reference:

A side view of the roof line where the addition meets the original structure at the mudroom entrance. Addition to the left, original 1921 structure to the right.

Mudroom roof line

The flat, not slightly sloped, but flat as a pancake flat, roof of the addition. Layered with latex roof sealer on top, bitumen tar in the middle and untreated plywood on the bottom.

Addition roof

The west side of the house where the addition butts the original structure. The stylish yellow arrows indicate impending demolition.

Addition to the right side

A series of 3 shots showing the original back roof of the house. Note all the changes in roof slope and the intersecting angles. Every one of the roof intersections currently leaks when wet. What’s not so obvious from these photos are the galvanized metal pans under the staircase� and east bedroom windows. The roof line at these windows was constructed with a reverse dormer to let in sunlight during the winter months when the sun angle is low. The metal pans line the inverse dormers to keep them flat bottom dry….at least when originally constructed. Both pans are rusted and previous owners have coated them with bitumen tar in a failed attempt at “fixing”.

West bedroom window and roof

Stair windows and metal pan

East bedroom window and reverse dormer

The plan is to replace the shingles on the back roof with metal roofing and to build a sloping metal roof over the addition. The new and old roof lines will be tied together with the soffit/fascia line joined in a more or less continuous fashion. A side benefit will be a porch roof over the mudroom door.

More to come as weather permits…

Unofficially Autumn again

Besides continuing to work on restoring window sashes, we began the preparations for winter. Bringing in the plants and cleaning off the side porch are usually the first of these seasonal machinations.

It’s been a hard year for some of the moisture loving plants but a very good year for the ones that like hot, dryish weather. The fiscus tree, wandering jews, and the aloe all did very well outside. The bird of paradise plants…not so well.

Here’s a picture of about half of them, back in the living room, beginning the long wait for spring.

Plants back inside

Big Aloe plant

Another one of the few

On our “Recommended Resources” page, there are less than 20 products, companies, or opinions that have been proven time and again to work for 118 Henry Street. These few, of the dozens of products/techniques we’ve attempted, worked the first time we tried them, and continue to work to this day.

For positive example, take Valspar’s American Traditions paint. We’ve used it on every interior project so far. We’ve used half a gallon, let it set for 6 months, then use the remainder with no color change or ill effect. Some other expensive paints were not so stable. The final finish is always stable and durable.

For negative example, despite having spent over 300 hours stripping paint in the last five years, we cannot recommend any chemical paint remover. All of them we tried have extremely negative side effects, either discoloring/damaging the wood or being caustic. Most were downright ineffective. The most reliable, the quickest, and the least damaging (to wood or environment) way to remove paint is with a heat gun and a variety of scrapers. Which heat gun is the best? Which scrapers work best? Truth is, all heat guns are about the same, buy the most expensive you can afford. Regards scrapers, buy about everyone you find..likely you will use them all at one time or another. Thus, no 118 Henry Street recommendation for paint removal products.

We do have a new addition to the “Recommended Resources”. A tool that has not only make the process of restoring our windows easier and faster, but also has reduced the inevitable loss of old glass in such a process.

Old float glass is thinner, more brittle, and of variable strength compared to modern window glass. For every 12 panes we remove from the old sashes, 1 or 2 is lost to breakage. When replacing the glass in the restored sashes, it normally has been the same loss ratio. Almost always, breaking of the old glass when replacing them has occurred when trying to insert modern glazing points in the sash.

The Fletcher-Terry Framemaster point driver has completely eliminated this source of glass breakage for us.

Framemaster point driver

The Framemaster use a very small 3/8″ glazing point that is spring driven into the wooden sash to hold the glass. It puts no pressure on the glass and is very quick to use.

Ultimately we have over 30 windows to restore and the Framemaster is a must-have for us.