Paving the Way

Shortly after I bought the north wing, the City redid the sidewalks and curbs all along the street. This included removing a large tree in front of the house.  When they got to my neighbors driveway, the dropped the sidewalk to match the end of the driveway and curb cut.  A number of years later, they re paved the street, which resulted in runoff collecting in the end of the driveway and sidewalk. While annoying, this condition continued for a number of years.  More recently, the garage door broke.  In addition, my neighbors had a second child, and traded in their sedan for a mini van.  Due to the need to access the passenger side doors, the van is left in the driveway.  Unfortunately, this blocks the high part of the driveway, and when there is runoff, the sidewalk becomes impassable.


Earlier this week, I came home from work and discovered a paving company repaving the driveway and the sidewalk. They seem to be doing this work in the dark and very close to Joyce’s car but when we did see the results in the morning we were a bit concerned.

Aside from using what appears to be cold patch, rather then find grade asphalt, the edges were not well detailed and worst of all it appears to have created a low spot solely in front of our front steps.


A light rain fall proved that her fears were well-founded. So off to Home Depot and picking up some new materials.

After a bit of judicious trimming of the asphalt that have been put down, we added a sand bass to bring level up a little bit and then started to lay in 24″ x 24″ paving blocks. A little bit of trimming of smaller blocks near the stairs and then slip some sand in between them and hopefully they’ll stay in place as the snow flies. The big blocks weigh 90 pounds each so I’m hoping they stay in place

Changing Colors

We thought it might be nice to be able to light the windows in the attic with colored lights – and change the colors as well. As a starting point, we got an internet controllable light from  But since we had 5 windows, we hoped to just point the bulb up, and bounce off the walls.   Alas, the attic had never been painted (not counting some tests from 20 years back) 

Poked around in the basement and found some leftover paint. Since the goal was just to reflect light, a quick paint job on most of the upper surfaces should be enough.   

Maybe someday we might do a second coat,  but for now, this seems adequate .

Stacking the Deck

With the front facade done, it was time to resume work on the back of the house.  But since I had all of the scaffolding stacked in back, it seemed a good chance to do the deck facia. The first step was to set up the scaffolding as a rolling cart.  For the first phase, I was able to add some planks to get easy access via the deck stairs. 

I wanted to ensure drainage, so I needed standoffs to keep the Trex facia away from steel framing. I had found some PVC lath that I used on the front, but it was a bit thicker than I wanted. So, a few passes through thickness planer and I had what I needed. After cutting them to 8″ lengths, I taped them to the steel frame, until I could run the screws through them. I also set up some clamps and blocking to support planks until I could anchor them.

Once the planks were cut to length (and a 22.5 degree miter on the ends), I was able to slide the planks into the blocking, add a few shims and screw them into place.

Pulled the scaffolding around the corner, finished up the south side, and took the scaffolding down and got it ready to go to its next job in South Troy. 

Return of the Painted Lady

We were finally ready to start painting. But first, A couple of minor details. We had to pick the colors so this involved a bunch of different samples and some test swatches to see how it looks against the brick. We also needed to test how well the paint wood it here to the PVC to see if we needed to prime it or not, so an adhesion test was done.

Although the PVC trim was able to take paint directly, the existing would need to be primed. Before I can do that, I thought it best to cover my neighbors car, as I was pretty sure she did not want her car to be primed with my house.

In order to keep paint drips off of the brick, something that previous professional painters did not bother with, we attach some drop cloths to the front of the house. These actually blew out slightly from the base which provided very good coverage in trapping all of the drips of paint. With the priming done we’re ready to start painting the colors. We started with the base color, sort of a tan, called Abby Stone. An interesting painting accessory, was this little paint cup that along with a nice handle and liners, it had a magnet on the backside which will hold the brush for you when you want to change hands or just take a break.

With the basecoat done, it was time to start the accent color which was a dark blue, known as secret society.

With the façade done, we could start taking down the scaffolding, and as we went down the front of the house, paint the window frames of the downstairs windows. The attic windows we actually could do for the roof or from inside the attic itself. Before we could take the last top bit of scaffold down we had to finish the last piece of trim which had been backordered.

The scaffold got stacked up in the gangway, and we were able to paint the front door using regular ladders.

Plastic Fantastic. 

Who we already had some 4 x 8 sheets of PVC sheet for the front façade, we still needed the actual trim pieces that would be attached to it. A few phone calls and a few days later a truck arrive from Curtis lumber with some trim, a long, very long, very thin pallet.

The pieces on the side needed to be notched to go around the new brackets we had previously installed. I did not want to attach the front piece directly to the plywood, so I added some strips of PVC to provide a standoff; a drainage plane for the front sheet.

With the flat sheets in place, we started by adding a horizontal band which is the top of the horizontal pieces. Above this we built some brackets to support a second band that projects out that will eventually catch the crown molding.

The 16 foot piece of crown molding was just barely long enough. However we had to do a little splicing to get the final piece for the front. Several temporary supports were  needed to hold stuff in place while it was cut to length and then finally glued and screwed into the position.

With the crown molding in place, we can now start with the rest of the decorative trim, we were basically following the original pattern that was on the house 30 or 40  years ago.

We did have some fun one gluing the PVC in place. The tube of glue split and started losing out the side so we had to sort of useless crap as an applicator which made for a little messier job but hopefully the pain will cover all that. We also took some time to correct some loose bricks.  A little support from below, and we were able to remorter the bricks into place.