The Cool House: masonry
Showing posts with label masonry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label masonry. Show all posts

Monday, November 03, 2014

Spucing Up

Hard to believe that it's been almost a year since I last posted anything on this blog. It's not that we haven't been tending to The Cool House rather that social media has changed a lot about the way I document my life and that goes for the house too.  I'm more likely to take a thousand word snap of something we've done and post it right there to Facebook or twitter. One click and I've saved all that tedious typing. You could say instagram killed this blog.

But it would be unfair to ask you to search through all the hundreds of photos of sunsets and kittens to find one that shows the renovated pool, or the color we ended up with in the sitting room after several, expensive redoes.  So, here, in no particular order, are the projects we undertook in the first ten months of 2014.

Pool renovation: all the pipes, skimmers and reruns were replaced. This job entailed digging up and replacing half the brick patio but it mbas meant no more leaks. Also the pool light works again and we have a new, quieter energy saving pump. The pool housing is screened off with a nicer replacement for the termite eaten fence and next Spring a gas heater will be installed.

We lost a couple of trees and big rhododendrons to last year's severe winter, which Neal the Landscaper said was an opportunity, especially as the pool guys had to rip through the shrubbery to lay new pipes so hey presto one May weekend we got a new awesome shrubbery. well, almost new, The Guy insisted on keeping a dog wood because it looks spectacular from the master window for one week in May. It will probably come crashing down this winter!

The kitchen patio, front path and steps were re-grouted and broken bluestone slabs were replaced. We also installed four Marvin windows in the den, downstairs bath and basement where the rot or weather had damaged them beyond repair.

While all that was going on we started the BIG PAINT JOB, which kept getting bigger as we progressed form room to room. I'd taken three months to narrow down the fifty odd shades of gray and gold to half a dozen. We used Benjamin Moore Aura paint on all the walls and baseboards, which has no off gases and dries to a tough knock resist finish; the painters replaced moldings as needed. Eventually after much trial and error, we chose Collingwood for the kitchen and second and fourth bedrooms, Moonshine for the great room, stairs, hall and balcony and one bath, Camouflage for the third bedroom & the den. My office ended up Golden Tan, the third bedroom Buena Vista Gold, the laundry Metropolitan and we matched the original dusky pink tiles in the downstairs bath to Peau de Soie. The painters took advantage of the cool, dry summer and stained the house Mission Brown, with doors in Marvin Bronze to match the windows.

Last but certainly most significantly, we converted from oil to gas. This was prompted when our oil guy telling us he couldn't keep the monster burner going much longer coincided with an oil bill that cost more than our first new car. I won't bore you with the details of the 6 month saga of no heat or no hot water, repairs, work-arounds and crossing our fingers it took to get us to October 8 when National Grid finally turned the gas on. It's also not the prettiest project, and it took one guy an entire 8AM-4PM day to get the monster out of the basement but it did finally get done. We worried about an ugly gas meter outside our beautiful house but we managed to hide it behind an estate rhododendron. Can you see it in the photo above? No? Neither can anyone else! More importantly we can take showers without screaming and the air coming out of the vents is toasty so it's probably the project that impacts our comfort level the most.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Climbing the walls

Lots going on, some things I want to make into a special post, others are barely worthy of a tweet let alone a line on this blog but for the moment here's a quick update:
We have granite pavers as an apron outside the garage, we do not have asphalt meeting that because the sealant places close for the winter. Check back mid-March for after photos, one "during" photo here.
The electricians returned to patch the hole in the wall. Apparently they are not carpenters so normally they'd just leave a big hole! Good to know that in advance because I would just have left the old outlet there. Also, where I come from this is known as being bloody lazy! The white cable down the outside of the house was "temporary" as one guy had run out of black and they knew they'd be back in the New Year to work on the master bath! This might have worked as an excuse had I not agreed with the other guy that there were three possible ways to do this:
a) pop off the baseboard, run the cable, tap back the moldings.
b) run a new cable in the wall from basement to the new outlet
c) run the cable up from the old outlet, through the void space and down the other wall.
The electrician favored option c but couldn't fit self into void so decided not to bother with a or b but to go outside and DRILL HOLES IN MY REDWOOD SIDING. This is the easiest fix and is known where I come from as being an idle bugger; this is also the reason we don't let Verizon anywhere near out house. I think they understand now that no one touches my redwood siding, OK? And surprise, they decided option a was the best way to remedy the situation. I guess I'll be paying for their time twice though...
New extension brackets for the wood blinds in the master bedroom have been mailed and these guys are really sorry...
We have the big blue sectional and rug in place... but you'll have to wait for Friday for the big reveal. Until then: sneak peek
The tree is still outside...

Monday, August 24, 2009

Step It Up

It started with just one step- this step, the one we had fixed already four times this year; the one The Guy had finally cemented into submission. The landscaper pointed out that a large chunk had fallen away, smashing into slate shards on the path below. Being an angel, as well as a semi-pro at masonry he offered to take care of it andon the hottest, most humid day of the summer, that's exactly what he did.
Of course, being a professional, he insisted on doing a proper job and re-setting all the loose stones. By the end he had re-mortared or replaced the entire first step and after deciding the front riser was unfinished, he re-faced that, too. The porch looks so looks so much better, the stepping stone paths are more integrated with the steps and visitors to the house no longer have to dance around the step, which is a big bonus.
A wise man once wrote on this blog that sometimes you have to Pay The Two Dollars. This is one of those cases where we should have asked a professional to do the masonry work. But we didn't know who to ask, and anyway it seemed like a simple job. If we had had the proper tools in the first place and opted to replace the stone rather than reuse it I'm certain we would have successfully completed the job ourselves at the first, or certainly, second attempt. As it was it took five... that's a lot of sweat and frustration. Now we have a pretty path, a couple of design flaws have been solved in this area but at least we now know who to ask if we have any more stonework issues. Live and learn!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Polish and dust (then polish some more)

The day started and ended with shoe polishing. There are no pictures of this because, frankly, photos of shoe cleaning are worse than photos of paint drying. But I will say that it's The Guy who undertakes this chore and there's a whole process involved: several rags, "real polish", brushes. perhaps a little spit to help things along and always, always, complaints about the choice of colour to match the shoes. I'm much more a buff it up sort of girl so I walk away as soon as he gets the polish out. But if you feel you need know more about the polishing process here's a condensed version.

An hour or so later the shoes shone and we could move on to the next chore: Masonry Part Deux.

One of the stones The Guy carefully re-set a few weekends ago popped again. When we lifted it this time it separated cleanly along a natural fault, leaving a thicker piece that we were able to reset and a thinner piece we'll keep and use to replace cracked stones on other projects.

We used a different grade of stone dust for the mortar that should be more resistant to cracking. It looks much more natural than last time so we're hopeful. (The reddish coloured line in the photo above isn't a crack but hæmatite within the stone).

But why were there two shoe cleaning episodes? Hmm. Someone undertook the messy, dusty work in his Cole Haan sandals....

.... and had to clean them quickly before another pair became "yard shoes". 
(Yes, I fibbed about the no shoe-polishing photo).

Sunday, April 05, 2009

More work than fun

Well, the whole save-a-tree rescue mission did not go according to plan. It turns out trees are heavier than one would think, well this one anyway, and our combined super strength was only enough to move it an inch or so. We abandoned the effort and if the landscaper can't move it we'll have to resort to the final solution - the chainsaw.
We moved on to the next chore on the list: repairing the mortar that had cracked during the frost. Here's a tip for anyone laying a patio with pavers or stone: Place the stones as close as possible to each other and fill the cracks with sand or stone dust. That way you avoid frost-pop, loose pavers and re-grouting every other Spring.

These bluestones were laid in a random pattern with mortar that varies from a 1/2" to a miniscule 1/8". It's fiddly work to get the loose mortar out and fill in the cracks, then you have to wipe the excess off before it dries and leaves ugly marks on the stones. I left half way through to walk the dogs and when I came back The Guy was on the phone. I hope he was getting DIY advice because that mortar is separating as he speaks. I also hope he didn't track stone dust through the house on his way to answer the call...

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Up the garden path

We moved the garden path 4" to the right. No, I'm not kidding. You would not believe the work entailed in moving five bluestone slabs 4". The digging, raking and sniping away at old roots so the stones would sit level took a couple of hours. And why, you might ask did we undertake this particular project at 5PM on Saturday? Because I was fed up of walking up the garden path only to have to step off it onto soil to get past the huge holly and open the gate.
Other Saturday projects successfully completed: purchase of a 12" brace to temporarily mend the fence again; fixing of said brace to fence panels and post; a rewarding Martini in Mary Carroll's bar at Huntington, followed by the purchase of a Caesar Salad Pizza from Rosa's Pizzeria next door.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Today's little chore

Originally uploaded by modernemama
He's been at it all day poor baby, 1000+ sq' of Bluestone that was black and green with mold and algae. Accompanied at all times by his faithful companion. Neither of them wants to come in until the job is completed. I'm just off to put the exterior lights on. I think they could be there all night, too.