Asshat attempts to fix home

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Jin+Guice
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Joined: Sat Jun 30, 2018 8:15 am

Asshat attempts to fix home

Post by Jin+Guice » Sun Nov 25, 2018 8:47 pm

There are several things wrong with my house and I'd like to try to fix them. I have no idea what I'm doing, but I have worked a hammer, a drill and a screw driver before, so maybe it's not that hard.

The first thing I'd like to do is replace the railing on our deck. Our deck collapsed a few years ago at a party and the dudes who replaced it didn't replaced the railing which has no rotted. The railing serves no structural purpose that I know of, it's for aesthetics and to keep people from falling off of the deck. I should just be able to measure the distance between the pylons that the railing attaches and buy or cut wood to be that length correct? What type of wood should I use (I live in SE Louisiana so it is very humid and there are termites)?

I also need to paint said railing. What type of paint should I use? Ideally this paint is weather and rot resistant as well as environmentally friendly. The new deck that was installed is also unfinished wood, do I need to finish it?

I also need to repaint our porch where the paint is pealing. The porch is covered (roof but open on the sides), does this change the type of paint I should use?

Our exterior doors are also suffering from some (I'm guessing water) damage at the bottom. This makes them difficult to open and close. I think I just need to take the door off, nail the bottom portion back on and rehang them? I've heard hanging doors is really hard though, has anyone done it?

Thanks for the help.

Lucky C
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Joined: Sat Apr 16, 2016 6:09 am

Re: Asshat attempts to fix home

Post by Lucky C » Sun Nov 25, 2018 9:53 pm

If you care more about rot than other factors you don't need to get wood railings, you can get vinyl. Railings come as kits/preassembled to make it easier.

If the door is in good condition but just doesn't shut well you may just have to cut some of the bottom of it off. You can give it a specific uniform gap to fit a door sweep and then it will be more airtight anyway.

I would look up videos of (Ask) This Old House or other DIY videos on Youtube to figure these things out. Watch a couple different videos on each topic since they may offer different/complementary approaches. But sometimes what gets in the way of searching for the right video is simply knowing the right terminology. I recommend a general reference like the Reader's Digest Complete Do-It-Yourself manual - which I was able to grab on paperbackswap.com - or any online reference with diagrams of the parts of the house and explanations of their purposes.

Scott 2
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Re: Asshat attempts to fix home

Post by Scott 2 » Sun Nov 25, 2018 9:56 pm

You could get a couple quotes for the jobs, ask them to itemize what they'll do, then decide if it's something you want to do yourself.

IMO home repair has to be a hobby you enjoy, to come out ahead doing it yourself. You'll be much slower than the "expensive" professional.

Kriegsspiel
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Re: Asshat attempts to fix home

Post by Kriegsspiel » Mon Nov 26, 2018 5:37 pm

I bought a house with a back wooden deck that hadn't been painted, so it had a lot of mold/discoloration. I used a pressure washer to spray off all the gunk, then painted it (paint brush and roller) with an opaque deck sealer from Home Depot. I wish I had gotten a clear coating because it looked pretty good after power washing it, but oh well. I'd say 2 or 3 gallons would probably be ok for a... "normal" size deck.

Optimal_Solution
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Re: Asshat attempts to fix home

Post by Optimal_Solution » Tue Nov 27, 2018 9:37 am

Warning: vinyl / fake-wood railings have a tendency to sag badly after a few years. (Source: my parent's deck and my numerous neighbors with sagging/warped fences)

Only use vinyl planks where it does not span a large gap.

Riggerjack
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Re: Asshat attempts to fix home

Post by Riggerjack » Tue Nov 27, 2018 11:39 am

Let me see if I can help.

Deck railings over a 30" or greater drop IS structural. It must withstand a 200lb force, and stop a 4" sphere from passing through. That's the test. The concept is to stop babies from crawling off, and drunks from going through. These may not be your concerns, but the railing may be there longer than you and your concerns. There is no need to build a future liability for yourself. I'm on my phone, I will link a good deck building codebook to walk you through it, later.

The door is much easier. Open the door. Tape a rag to the doorknob on each side (this stops you from scratching anything when you are working on it.). Shim under the open door. Using a nail, pound the pins out of your door hinges, starting at the bottom. It usually takes a good tap and you can pull them by hand after that. Catch your falling door.

Fix your door, somehow. I haven't seen it, use your best judgement.

When you want to rehang the door, place it on your shim, line up the pins in the hinges and drive them home (this may just be a matter of dropping them into place, or you may need a light hammer tap), remove shim, close door, open beer.

Have fun!

ffj
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Re: Asshat attempts to fix home

Post by ffj » Tue Nov 27, 2018 11:55 am

Judging from your questions, I get the sense you really don't know what you are doing. Haha

That's o.k. though, as everybody starts from that very same place. I would enlist some outside help to get you started. A competent handyman can educate you more in 30 minutes than a bunch of books. Consider it tuition, because right now you have no context, and following and helping a competent person will give you that. Without context, books are hard to digest sometimes.

When I teach, I teach the skill first, and then once the skill has been somewhat competently completed, then I teach the theory behind why it works. Again, people need context.

Campitor
Posts: 850
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Re: Asshat attempts to fix home

Post by Campitor » Tue Nov 27, 2018 6:04 pm


The first thing I'd like to do is replace the railing on our deck. Our deck collapsed a few years ago at a party and the dudes who replaced it didn't replaced the railing which has no rotted. The railing serves no structural purpose that I know of, it's for aesthetics and to keep people from falling off of the deck. I should just be able to measure the distance between the pylons that the railing attaches and buy or cut wood to be that length correct? What type of wood should I use (I live in SE Louisiana so it is very humid and there are termites)?
Cedar is expensive but it's rot and insect resistant. White oak, which is used in boat building, is water resistant and has some resistance to insects. A helpful link: https://pestkilled.com/termite-resistant-wood-101/
I also need to paint said railing. What type of paint should I use? Ideally this paint is weather and rot resistant as well as environmentally friendly. The new deck that was installed is also unfinished wood, do I need to finish it?
Oil paint is more durable than latex. Some oil paints are made with natural oils. Latex paint dries faster but doesn't last as long. All paint will peel if the wood underneath is wet - the water vapor trying to escape will make the paint balloon and peel. Unfinished wood must be cleaned and primed first before painting. Unfinished wood doesn't need to be painted if it's a water resistant type (teak, cypress, cedar,etc.)
I also need to repaint our porch where the paint is peeling. The porch is covered (roof but open on the sides), does this change the type of paint I should use?
You need to scrape off all the loose paint aggressively because the wet paint will cause any loose paint to fall off. My brother prefers using a power washer to remove paint (he was a professional house painter for many years) but I don't like that method for small jobs because you need to let the wood dry completely before painting or you get paint bubbles. In high traffic areas you need to use a paint made for foot traffic: http://a.co/d/gOWH8Ri. And you can cover old oil paint with latex paint if you do some prep but don't use oil paint over latex. Helpful links about the prep procedure: https://www.todayshomeowner.com/video/h ... ith-latex/
Our exterior doors are also suffering from some (I'm guessing water) damage at the bottom. This makes them difficult to open and close. I think I just need to take the door off, nail the bottom portion back on and rehang them? I've heard hanging doors is really hard though, has anyone done it?
Doors will swell when they get wet and shrink when they dry out. If you're exterior doors have swelled significantly, that means they have absorbed a lot of water which weakens the door if any fungus has taken hold - it breaks down the lignin that holds the wood together. There are wood polymers that you can buy to soak into the wood to restore integrity but only if the door is still in salvageable condition. I replaced all exterior wooden doors with insulated metal doors - they can rust but only if you don't paint/sand when they show signs of wear; occupants love opening doors with their feet which scuffs the paint.

Good luck!

Jin+Guice
Posts: 396
Joined: Sat Jun 30, 2018 8:15 am

Re: Asshat attempts to fix home

Post by Jin+Guice » Sat Dec 15, 2018 2:14 pm

Thanks for the help everyone. I'm always in a fight with my GF over this stuff, she always wants to pay someone and I always want to try and DIY it. She had been saying she was going to hire a handyman/ carpenter for months and she finally called one about 3 days after I made this thread, much to my chagrin.

This ended up being great, we got this old functional alcoholic/ drug/ carpenter dude from the neighborhood. He didn't have a car so I drove him to home depot to buy supplies and he let me question him on everything he was doing. I was hoping to help him with a little bit of the deck work but I ended up being busy that day, so I couldn't get the full DIY value. I did determine that I could've done most of it myself, but hiring him was invaluable as I wouldn't have known what needed to be replaced and what didn't. We ended up getting some pressure treated pre-cut boards at his recommendation and he used a power saw to cut them a bit more. He also cut some boards at an angle for the stairs which I wouldn't have known how to do. All in all I'm glad we hired him since he was able to tell me what needed to be done and explained to me why he was making the decisions he made. He was able to save many of the railings, which I probably wouldn't have done. The work was also finished a week after we first called him, I would be no where near finishing if I had done the project.



The next thing I need to do is repaint. I feel like this is something I can actually do myself. I need to repaint the deck, the porch and the side steps. I'm going to start with the deck because it has the least paint that needs to be stripped and is the least visible from the street and won't affect the air bnb in the front room of the house.

What's the best way to strip paint? For the deck, I only need to strip the paint on the old portions of the railing, as the deck is unfinished (it was rebuilt a little over a year ago). When I do the porch and side stairs I will need to strip the paint from the whole thing. I tried using a power sander (that's what the carpenter recommended and he lent me his), but this method was very frustrating and slow. I also can't use it for some parts of the railing because they're too close together. The internet has suggested a power washer and some sort of chemical stripping agent.

What do the more experienced of you have to say? I'd like to avoid using chemicals as much as possible. If there is a non-powered way to do this that would yield more exercise I'm willing to sacrifice speed to do it this way up to a point, but I realize this solution may be untenable.

The next question is what kind of paint to get (outdoor, hire humidity)? Do I need to treat the wood first (I live in SE Louisiana so it is about as humid as it gets year round)? Do I need to use some kind of primer before I paint the wood? I'd like to prioritize quality (so I don't have to do this again soon and it looks good) as well as environmental friendliness if possible.

I'm looking up how to do all of this stuff on youtube and asking those I know/ hire how to do this stuff, but none of them have the combined goals of saving money, getting a bit of a workout, being environmentally friendly and getting it done in a reasonable amount of time. It's hard to get an old construction who knows way more than you to listen when you say "I'd be willing to take up to 3 times as much time and spend twice as much two meet goals XYZ." I'm asking here because I know many of you share the same values or at least willing to entertain them and have tons of experience.

Thanks for all of your help everyone.

Jin+Guice
Posts: 396
Joined: Sat Jun 30, 2018 8:15 am

Re: Asshat attempts to fix home

Post by Jin+Guice » Sat Dec 15, 2018 2:30 pm

Rereading prior responses I see the pressure washer is a popular method. What about for the deck railing?

@Campitor: I have no idea what kind of paint is used on the surfaces and the builder is out of business. Is there an easy way to tell. What method do you like for removing paint for smaller jobs?

@Riggerjack: The railing is for a deck that is about 5.5 feet from the ground and the fall is onto mulch. I think it'll be reasonably hard for a drunk person to go through the railing this guy put in. Thanks for the advice on the door, I'm a bit scared of that project because if I mess it up, we just don't have a door.

@ffj: I am totally clueless in pretty much all home repair areas and I'm not handy at all nor have I fixed much beyond soldering stuff together, screwing and unscrewing things and hammering things. I'm even pretty bad at those, heh. I used to proceed much more cautiously into areas where I had no idea what I was doing, but I've learned it actually works better to show up and start demanding what you want (even if these demands end up being ridiculous and you look like a fool) and blindly start trying to do it, so you can make mistakes. Some research is necessary, but it's easy to get bogged down by researching when you are scared to act. I also wouldn't attempt anything with structural ramifications or that will be catastrophic if I fuck it up (hence starting with painting instead of the doors).

ffj
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Re: Asshat attempts to fix home

Post by ffj » Sat Dec 15, 2018 10:07 pm

So why do you need to strip the old paint before applying new?

Clean and scrape any loose old paint and paint over what you have, unless the two paints are incompatible and won't adhere to each other. I would defiantly prime the entire surface to even out your final color. Talk to a paint person at the the hardware store and explain what you want to do as they can recommend both the primer and paint.

Keep in mind that the pressure treated wood your carpenter put in (your welcome btw ;) ) may still be very wet so give it time to dry out before you try to paint it.

Jason
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Re: Asshat attempts to fix home

Post by Jason » Sun Dec 16, 2018 11:15 am

Being the Platonic ideal of a DYI asshat, I could see this as the initial installment of what could become a wildy successful "Asshat Attempts" series. "Asshat Attempts Home Repair" followed by "Asshat Attempts Car Repair" "Asshat Attempts Gardening" "Asshat Attempts Camping" "Asshat Attempts Living in Vehicle", "Asshat Attempts Woodworking" etc. As an asshat, it's just easier to learn by watching people who are not asshats teach someone else who is an asshat then by being the asshat taught by the non-asshat.

Jin+Guice
Posts: 396
Joined: Sat Jun 30, 2018 8:15 am

Re: Asshat attempts to fix home

Post by Jin+Guice » Sun Dec 16, 2018 7:00 pm

@ffj: ...I thought I had to. I asked another friend with some construction experience and he also informed me that I don't need to. This is great news for me because it was going to be a real pain in the dick. It looks like I just have to sand off the paint that's flaking and sand down the paint that isn't a bit?

The wetness thing is a real issue here. It rains most days and is very humid most other days. It looks like we've got a few sunny days at the start of this week, I'm hoping for the best.

Jason wrote:
Sun Dec 16, 2018 11:15 am
As an asshat, it's just easier to learn by watching people who are not asshats teach someone else who is an asshat then by being the asshat taught by the non-asshat.
I've never found this to be true unless you're hoping not to be uncovered as an asshat. If you send the production crew and experts to my house, I'll allow them to belittle me while they teach me.

Campitor
Posts: 850
Joined: Thu Aug 20, 2015 11:49 am

Re: Asshat attempts to fix home

Post by Campitor » Mon Dec 17, 2018 2:16 am

Jin+Guice wrote:
Sat Dec 15, 2018 2:30 pm
@Campitor: I have no idea what kind of paint is used on the surfaces and the builder is out of business. Is there an easy way to tell. What method do you like for removing paint for smaller jobs?
Dip a clean rag or cotton ball in denatured alcohol and rub it against the paint; if no color rubs off it's oil based. Latex paint will rub off when exposed to a rag soaked in denatured alcohol. My prefered method for removing paint on small jobs is to scrape with a paint scraper using medium pressure. Any paint that remains after scraping I sand until it feels smooth to the touch. Some people skip the sanding step but that leaves ridges which telegraph through the new paint - you want the wall to look smooth. There are electric scrapers you can rent that will remove paint down to the bare wood. I also use exterior wood filler/spackling to fill in voids and pound down any protruding nails before painting.

After my paint prep, I use a primer to help the paint stick better to any bare or previously painted surface. Don't overload the brush when painting or you get unsightly drips that will need to be wiped when wet or sanded when dry.

Gilberto de Piento
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Re: Asshat attempts to fix home

Post by Gilberto de Piento » Mon Dec 17, 2018 8:55 am

Maybe this was covered already but wear a respirator if you are sanding paint that may have lead in it. Even if you are sure there is no lead in the paint it is nice to not be coughing and blowing paint dust out of your nose all night afterward. Safety glasses aren't a bad idea either.

Also, if you can hook up whatever tool you are using to a shop vac that can prevent most of the dust from getting in the air.

Riggerjack
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Re: Asshat attempts to fix home

Post by Riggerjack » Mon Dec 17, 2018 10:40 am

I never sand paint as a first step. And wood NEEDS to be completely dry before painting. Wait for late spring/summer. It's wet now and will be, so just wait until it is Really Dry, not simply dry on the surface. Wood holds lots of moisture, if you cover that moist wood in paint, it will bubble up and peel. Not may, will.

If this were my project, I would use a heat gun and putty knife to scrape off any loose or easily removed paint. The heat gun can come from harbor freight for about $15, and is very handy to have in the toolbox. After most of the paint was scraped off, look at the condition of what is left. Can it be helped with sanding? How much paint is left?

Because at this point I would be choosing between an opaque stain, and paint. And when given the choice for outside wood, stain is the way to go in the PNW. Here life is wet, and not very hot. The stain makes a water resistant, UV resistant surface, that doesn't last as long as paint, but can be just cleaned and restained as needed. Much easier than stripping paint again. So, if you strip paint, and mainly what is left is paint in the pores of the wood, stain can be a better way to go. But if you still have large patches of paint stuck to wood after stripping, then I would repaint.

Stains are solids suspended in oil. When applied, the oil evaporates leaving the stain. It's fairly water resistant, but also a bit more susceptible to fire, I imagine. The color will fade over the years, but there is no solid coating like paint. So it won't crack, and allow water to enter and be sheltered, like paint will. And there's nothing to remove to restain, as stain goes over stain easily.

I find stain to certainly be less labor intensive, and more easily repaired. But depending on how much paint needs to be removed, and how hard it is to remove, I could paint a previously painted porch with no regrets. Only you will see how much paint is left and how hard to remove. So this will be your judgement call.

And watch a video about removing and repairing a door. If they remove the door jamb, rather than just pull the hinges, it's the wrong video for you. This is completely within asshat capability. Though I think spring/summer is the better time to tackle things like this.

I pulled my front doors for paint last summer. Each morning, I pulled the doors, put them on saw horses, and worked on them. I put 2 coats of paint on each side. I painted in the morning, and let them dry all day, then mounted the doors each evening. Only to pull them again the following morning, for more paint. This is easy, and simple. But having a second set of hands will make it even easier. Removing the door should be less than 5 minutes, and resetting it about the same.

You can do this.

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