Thursday, June 1, 2017

Updating that Chapter About the Screen Porch

There's a better picture at the end of this chapter!

It's June! Screen porch weather here in the Midwest. Which brings me right back to the last time I was blogging semi-regularly, in October, about what evolved into a multi-month repair job on....the screen porch. 

I've imagined the story of my porch's construction before, and I will share it again because I believe it to be true: two guys got drunk on a couple of cases of Natty Light and decided to build a screen porch out of whatever shit they could find laying around. 

That was maybe 20 years or so ago. Add the insult of many years of bad patchy roofing repairs, a leaky or non-existent gutter, and the natural processes of sun and rain, it was something of a miracle (or just plain habit) it was still standing. 

Going back a bit, I've written about how we (we being me and Tom, but let's be honest: it was mostly Tom) spent most of August and September of last year, HERE, and HERE, tearing into the rot and getting the place sound again. Going even further back, we have my superficial attempts at coping with the ugly HERE.

I'm still having some technical difficulties blogging in anything resembling an organized fashion, because in May I had no less than FOUR college students' worth of stuff show up from two colleges, and one of those students (my oldest, Grant) commenced from his university. So he was moving out of his apartment digs in a serious and permanent fashion. Where does one land? Mom's place. More specifically, her basement, her guest room, her garage. AND her screen porch. I've been waiting to get some photos decent enough to write around, and I'm still finding it necessary to do it in weird stages because of stacked boxes, trailers of kayaks (don't ask) and the flotsam and jetsam of daily life.

A sneak peak at the new ceiling: 

So what you're getting here is interior shots. But only part of it. Once the transitional nonsense of my spring is over, I'll blog the rest. It's not that I intended this to turn into "screen porch, strip-tease edition", emphasis on the tease, but it's just been that crazy around here. If I waited until my life was sane, you'd never read about it here again. 

Here's some honesty about "I-don't-give-a-crap-any-more-what-it-looks-like-I-just-want-it-done" renovation choices: the screen porch floor. The porch was built on slab, which was probably the only thing the original builders got right. But then they glued down lavender-mauve carpet that was not intended for exterior applications and all the fun you can imagine happened. It rained, the carpet got wet around the edges of the porch. It got hot, the humidity made the carpet rank and smelly. It had to go. And it went, more easily than I thought, considering how many home improvement horror stories that I've read about glued carpet that seemed more or less permanent up to and including the Apocalypse. 

It had baked in the sun to a brittle crisp, and the carpet peeled up fairly well enough. But. (There's always one more 'but' in these stories, isn't there?) while it made the carpet easy to get up, it also meant that the glue that had hardened to the floor was really ON there. That glue was stuck to the floor like, well, glue. 

So I sanded. And when I sanded, some of it came up, but some of it got hot with the friction and remelted into a sticky substance (like glue, maybe, mmmmm?) and gummed up the sand paper. Then I sanded with a wheel sander with a metal brush, and it heated up the old glue if I went over one patch too many times, and also threw sparks around, which made me super nervous. The idea of spreading chemicals around to dissolve it made me nervous too. 

Tired, nervous, impatient, and failing is not a good combination for doing a thorough job. I reasoned that if we left the glue alone, it was mostly in the corners, it was hard like an enamel or varnish coating. Let's just paint the damn thing, glue and all, and be done with it. Please. 

So that's what I did. Brown concrete patio paint, two thick coats. That brought the entire interior project to this: re-paneled walls and ceiling, repainted and rewired, windows reframed (but not replaced), new sills, and a finally finished (one way or the other) floor. 

The floor is not perfect. Then again, it's a concrete patio floor. I can't say I've cared two cents about its imperfection since we moved the furniture back in. And I so wanted to move in I started playing before I was even finished, like this: 

You can see the concrete-and-carpet-glue floor before sanding in the above shot. And the ceramic planters. Because that was really what all this work was really about-- getting those out of storage, finally. 

Everything you see is stuff I already had--8-year-old (with the original cushions, a little faded) Target all-weather wicker arm chairs, the weird little table I dragged all the way home from Kudzu Antiques in Decatur, Georgia. The hanging lamp, wire shelf (in the window) and ceramic planters I'd picked up over time and squirreled away for the right place. The little cactuses in terra cotta belong to my son Grant; I'm babysitting them while he's in between apartments. 

The area rug is a bit on the small side, but it was one I'd ordered from Overstock a couple of years ago for the front foyer. It was too thick to clear the swing of the front door and I was too cheap and lazy to ship it back. I stored it, figuring it would find a place when I needed a rug. And it did. 

I'm not a big fan of design folks talking about "use what you have" decorating like it's some gloriously free thing, because it isn't really. I mean, at one time or another you paid for it, whether you got it new or whether you got it second-hand. So while, yes, all these were pieces I already had, that does represent some years of acquiring and accumulating. It also represents the patience it took to wait until they had the right space to move into. Tom's carpentry skills (mostly) and my painting/staining/cleaning made all of the pieces fit together, and seem like home. 

In the coming weeks, I ought to be more organized (here's hoping), and will share more of the finished project, including exterior views and some new developments on the outdoor patio. Until next time!


  1. Looks great!! I envy you your screen porch. Missouri folk don't have many--wish we had one. Mosquitoes win most of the time.

    1. You aren't kidding. Missouri mosquitoes are serious business!

  2. Hi, I did the same thing but gave up within minutes of trying to remove the glue. So I taped out a running bond pattern of slate and thought the glue bumps brought just the right dimension to the fake stone. Jd

    1. Great idea! I sort of rationalized it that way too. Adds texture, right? :)

  3. Lovely result.

    What is the wall surface underneath the windows? Does that come in sheets?

    1. Karen Anne, I'm sorry, I must have miss your comment earlier and it didn't get posted! it is grooved car siding from Menard's and comes in 8, 10 and 12 foot lengths. It isn't a panel product, though there are plenty out there that would resemble this when finished.