Getting a Fresh Start with House Paint + Restoring Old Light Fixtures

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So it’s the first heatwave of 2018 here in Central Massachusetts, and our first in this house. Let’s just say it’s been, um, a tad uncomfortable. Our regular window-unit air conditioners we brought from our old house don’t fit in any of the windows here (which are awning-style casements) and the existing wall-unit ACs in the master bedroom and family room are ancient and don’t appear to work. There is also a whole-house fan (I had something similar growing up, anyone else?!), but it doesn’t seem to do much except make loud rattling noises that scare the shit out of the cats. While the roof overhang and high windows protect us from the sun beating down, there just isn’t any cross-ventilation and everything feels stuffy. The large surface area of the roof is also probably acting as some sort of heat-sink as well, making matters worse. I can put up with the 95-degree days until it’s time for bed and then I am just downright cranky. Poor Veronica’s room, which is at the back of the house, was nearly 90 degrees even after 10 p.m. on Sunday. We’re going to have to fix that situation very soon in order to get some decent sleep this summer. We’re mulling over a few options right now, and trying to figure out the best solution in terms of costs and efficiency. Stay tuned for that riveting post!

On a more exciting note: we watched paint dry! Heh. But seriously, the house painting is finally DONE and it looks amazing. It’s been a long slog to get this project complete, due to weather, our surprise gas line replacement, and a few scheduling issues. I’ll give you a little overview of the process, in case you’ve got a house that needs a complete exterior overhaul. Here are some lovely Before photos for comparison:

BEFORE

When the painting contractor first walked the property with us, he noted that the house probably hadn’t been painted in about 25 years. He found the shingles to be in ok-shape, and mostly just needed a good scrub and fresh paint except for some spot repairs where woodpeckers had spent several joyful years going to town on the side of the house. On the soffits (the flat panels that join the line of the roof to the walls of the house) however, the paint was coming off in sheets. This was most likely due to past water damage. We haven’t had any new leaks since the chimney was repointed and gutters were installed--knock on wood it stays that way. But nonetheless, the soffits needed to be repaired, scraped, and sealed to get them back up to snuff. There were large, overgrown shrubs at the front and north side of the house, which we removed, and in the process revealed lots of mildew and dirt. As Ronnie would say: YUCK.

Our painter did the following:

  1. Power-washed the entire house. This removed the mildew, caked-on-dirt, and loose paint. The house looked 50 times better just with this step!
  2. Next, he went back and scraped the house to go over any spots the power-washing didn’t get, such as window and door frames. He caulked and sealed around the windows and doors. 
  3. Finally: time for paint! He applied one coat of primer to the whole house. He used a brush on the windows and door frames and a sprayer for the shingles and soffits. 
  4. He applied one top coat to the house and trim, again using a brush and sprayer combo.
  5. Scraped and painted the front doors.

This amounted to about 6 days of work for one person, and I’d say almost half of that time was just on the scraping and prep. 

Paint Details:
House - Benjamin Moore White Diamond (Low Lustre)
Front Doors - Benjamin Moore Teal Tone (Semi-Gloss)

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So check it out! I plan to take some better photos with my real camera, when I'm a) home during the day and b) not chasing after a toddler, but you get the idea:

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We kept the same color combination--white house and aqua doors--and we love it! It really goes together well with the house’s style and feels classic and bold at the same time. Our painting contractor did a great job, and said we should be good for 8-10 years before needing to re-paint. We plan to do that ourselves, but really wanted a professional to do it this time to make sure everything was repaired and scraped and the paint was applied well. It’s a fresh start for this li’l ranch!

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With the house looking so fresh, the exterior lights looked even more crappy:

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These babies are original to the house, we believe, and are a cool Spanish Revival style, with amber glass and painted black metal details that emulate wrought iron. Like most of the house, they were in great condition underneath years of caked-on dirt and cobwebs. If anyone knows who the manufacturer might be, let me know! I looked on the back of the fixtures and didn’t see a stamp or label. Bringing them back to life was really easy, actually. It’s always nice to have a project like that, when there’s a million and one other things that are difficult and take ten times longer than you thought they would. 

Here’s what we did:

  1. First, we did a gentle dry scrub with a wire brush to remove any loose paint and dirt. 
  2. While Frank was doing that, I washed the glass globes with warm water, dish soap and a soft-bristled brush and then let air dry. I was hesitant to run them through the dishwasher, in case they broke.
  3. Next, we applied this metal primer to each fixture and let them dry.
  4. Once the primer was dry, we applied two coats of this spray paint. It’s not a flat black spray paint, but rather a very dark “metal look” paint. It has tiny flecks of gold and copper that give the paint a nice depth and looks pretty close to wrought iron.
  5. Finally, we replaced the bulbs with edison-style LEDs

After everything dried, we put them back together and hung them back up in their original spots. Easy-peasy! The whole thing probably took a couple of hours and most of that time was just waiting for the fixtures to dry in between coats.

Here's a close-up of the finished product:

So that’s the news from here. Tomorrow is the holiday, so I plan to sit outside and admire the house some more, while enjoying some All-American noms and drinks. Hope you have a great 4th of July!