Sunday, May 22, 2016

Did Porch Paint fix our Porch?

Let's just be honest here - the front porch, er, stoop, to our house is ugly.  I would love to have a welcoming front porch with rocking chairs and hanging flower baskets, but that's not really going to happen on this house.  After we built our retaining wall last year, my eyes woke up to just how sad our porch situation had become:

Some of that ugliness was mildew, but mostly it was from old paint peeling off, and the concrete spalling (aka falling apart).  Yes, Hubby, I used that word again.  You married an engineer.

As usual, I have a plan in my head for what I would like to do as a permanent fix, but who knows if it will ever happen.  After building that wall though, I just couldn't take the ugly stoop any more.  About that time, the home improvement stores were running adds for the ultra thick porch/deck paint, saying that it could bring new life to worn out concrete and decking.  Too good to be true?  Maybe.  Worth a shot? Sure.  I mean, was it going to get worse than this?

I picked up one gallon of Behr's Deck Over paint in a light gray color, attempting to coordinate with the new concrete blocks, and set off to fix my ugly porch.  I also grabbed a can of black spray paint and gave the railing a fresh coat of paint while I was at it.

The first step was to give the whole surface a good wash, and try to get all of the loose pieces of concrete off.  This is pretty much impossible, but loose pieces are only going to fall of later and mess up the coating, so I did what I could.  Then, I took some concrete patch/filler and filled in the worst areas.  

Finally, I coated the porch in the Deck Over paint, following the instructions pretty carefully (rare moment around here).  The paint requires two coats, and is more like the consistency of brownie batter than paint.  It took most of the gallon to cover my porch and steps.  It really is more of a coating than a paint, and so it smooths out a lot of the rough surface on the concrete. After I was finished, here's what we had:

Not bad, huh?  I mean, it's still concrete, but at least it looks fresh and clean.  I was much happier to walk up to this at the end of the day than the cracked, mildew covered nastiness that was there before.  

So, here we are, about 8 months later.  How did we like it and how did it hold up?

First, dirt does not come off of this thing easily.  Rain does not wash it clean, and neither does a spray down with the hose.  I had to get out a scrub brush and cleaner to get the dirt off of the porch!  I thought that was a little weird.  

Second, it could not withstand the snow shovel.  I didn't really expect it to, but there wasn't really anything else we could do with two feet of snow!  It was pretty quick to peel with any shoveling, which is something to consider depending on where you plan to use it.

Here's how it looks today:

It has chipped in many places, and dirt has settled in, especially since it has been raining constantly for the last 6 weeks.

So, to recap, before:

Immediately after painting:

And one year later:

I really wanted to photograph this when the sun was shining, but since that just isn't happening these days, we'll have to deal with the 'one year later' photo being extra dreary... sorry about that!

Anyway, if you are thinking about painting a concrete surface, I hope this helps you to decide if it's worth it.  It definitely looks better than it did, but i'm not sure it's looks great.  Maybe in an area with a little less abuse, it might work a little better?

Happy DIY-ing!


Sunday, May 1, 2016

Tall Planters for the Front Porch

Hi there!

It's a rainy spring day here, so I figured I would catch up on some blog posts. I love that I can be working outside again!  I'm totally exhausted, but very happy!  Anyone with me?  If you have been looking for a new planter, but are surprised at the cost of them, I might have a solution for you!  Here's my latest home made planter box:

I have made planters a few times before, which you can see here and here, but these tall skinny ones fit perfectly on either side of our front door.  We had a few deck boards left over after building our deck last fall (post coming soon!), so I decided to make use of them and build these. My favorite part is that they are tapered; the top is wider than the bottom.

I'll write down the instructions to build a box to the size I made, but keep in mind that you can scale this for your needs.  They are made to hold a square pot inside, so I suggest buying that first and building a planter to fit.  My version is just under 11" at the top opening, so your pot can't be wider than that for the dimensions I'm using.  

Each planter took about 20' of deck board, which is 5.5" wide.  The basic process is to build squares that you will stack on top of each other.  Then, use the trim pieces to hold the squares to each other.

So, to make the top square, cut 4 pieces on a miter saw at a 2.5 degree angle, that are 12" on the longest side.  The short sides will come out to about 11.5".  Make note of the exact length for the next step.  Screw them together like so, so that each side is of equal length:

View from bottom of planter

Next, cut 4 more pieces, at a 2.5 degree angle, with the long side at the measurement you took in the previous step (about 11.5").  Measure the short side again (it will be about 11"), then screw them together.

Repeat this process until you have 5 squares, or you reach the height you want.  
Stack the squares on top of each other, and attach trim to each square using 1x2's and 1x3's for the trim.  Or, if you are really particular, cut them down so that each side will be exactly the same once you put them together.  I also braced the bottom couple squares internally, but it was probably more trouble than it was worth, and i could only go up part way to avoid interfering with the square pot.

Next, use more trim to frame out the very top. I cut these at 45 degree angles, but you could also just use square ends.

view looking inside from top

Finally, cut two pieces to use as a cleat and another piece to sit on top of the cleats.  This will give your pot something to sit on.  Screw this in at the appropriate height for your pot.

I stained by planters in the shade "gunstock" because I'll be adding some cedar window boxes to the house, and wanted these to be similar in color.

 Don't forget to fill with your favorite plants (and maybe a solar light if you always forget to turn on the front porch light like me...)!  These pansies and primrose were my choice for early spring.  I'll be planting the primrose in the flower bed and adding some more summer-y (heat tolerant) plants soon.

I made these out of scrap wood, but it looks like for 3 8' deck boards and some trim you would be out about $20.  Much better than some of the prices for large planters!

I like that since these are pressure treated lumber, they should be able to withstand the elements for a long time.  My front porch gets very intense heat in the summer, and plastic pots just get brittle and break within a season or two.  

As always, if you need any clarification on how to build these, just leave a comment!

Hope you are enjoying the spring!