Wall is fixed! (plus lots o’ handy painting tips)

I’m a worrier… I really am.   But mostly about the unknown.   The Unknown.  AKA: the most pointless thing to worry about.   All my life I’ve tried to instill the ole “Don’t stress until there’s a reason to stress” thing, and it works in some instances.  Honestly, there’s no rhyme or reason to it… Big things, I have no problem with.   Minor things… Stress city.  And for whatever reason, when it comes to our home and possible expenses, I fail EVERY TIME in my efforts to not think about it.   If I’m aware of a problem but don’t know the extent of it, my imagination runs wild and I inevitably envision the most dire scenario.   I DREAM about it.   Drive my saint of a husband mad about it.   But the funny thing is that once I know the issue, even if it’s really bad, it’s like flipping a switch and I’m totally fine.   It’s like once I know, I’m golden.   Once a plan is in place I’m alright.  I. Just. Have. To. Know.

And that’s how our wood rot issue was for me.  Remember when I discussed that our exterior back wall was rotting here in this post?  Well, once we discovered it, I was literally dreaming about the wall crashing down.  Dramatic?  Yes.  Unfounded? Quite.  But I couldn’t help it.  We immediately started calling contractors to see about getting estimates.  We called four who were recommended by friends.  Unfortunately, with all of the recent rain everybody had a lot going on…

One never called back.

One said he would come take a look but never did.

One told us that the rot was BAD and it was way beyond his skill set, thus, he wouldn’t fix it.

One told us the complete opposite… That it was minor rot and he wouldn’t go through the effort of fixing it (even though he never took a close look at the extent of it).  We suspect that he was just really busy and didn’t want to do the job.

After that guy, we removed more trim and discovered that the main supports of the wall were resting on that rotted plate board.  So, yes.  It needed to be fixed.  And we were really frustrated that nobody seemed to wanna help us.  At this point it had been about 3 weeks of trying to get somebody out to assess the problem to no avail.

Then, one morning, my dad’s friend called me and said that he knew a framer who was really good.   We called him and within an hour he was at our house to give us an estimate.    On a SATURDAY.  Not only was his estimate lower than expected, he didn’t seem concerned about our picture window (ie: my main worry and the whole reason we weren’t DIYing this to begin with).   In fact, he doubted he’d have to remove it to fix the issue.   He told us that he’d come with his crew the following week to remove our siding to give us a more exact quote and to fully assess the damage.  Then, he could either fix it right then and there or if it was too expensive, he’d just reattach the siding and leave.

We were in.

A week later, he and his crew arrived.   They removed the bottom of the siding and discovered that the damage was only the bottom plate board and the very bottom of two studs…

He finalized the quote at that point and it ended up being $500 LESS than the original quote. So basically, equivalent to our deductible had we chosen to go through insurance (which we didn’t).  And it included fixing the wall with treated wood and installing Hardee siding and trim on all siding areas along the back of our house.  Plus, he ensured us that it would look exactly the same to maintain the character of the house.    Obviously, we gave the okay.

Once they got going, things got a little nerve-wracking when we discovered that our window was actually not a legit window.  It was a huge piece of dual paned tempered glass that had been framed in.   And once they removed the trim we saw that hardly anything was holding it In place.   Our framer suspected that it was a DIY job based on what he saw.

He braced it in with a few pieces of scrap lumber and set about fixing the wall in sections.  I didn’t take a ton of pics during the process, because, well… I felt weird taking pictures of random men working.   I did manage get one, though, to give you a bit of a before/after gist of the inner workings of our wall…

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Check out that gorgeous, firm plate board.  Oh, yeeeeah.  Once they were done, it looked like this…


 Pretty much the same, right?? Just with way better materials that won’t soak up moisture.

The entire job took them about 7 hours from start to finish.   They were punctual, courteous, and hard-working.   All-in-all, we’re pretty satisfied.

So, once the hard labor was complete, it was up to me to finish sealing and painting.   I began by caulking every single seam and nail hole.   I knew I’d be priming since there were many color undertones in the materials on the wall and I didn’t want them peeking through my paint, so I just used whatever colored caulking I had on hand.   I just made sure of two very important things…

1. That my caulk had silicone in it to keep the caulk from shrinking and cracking.

2. That it was paintable.

Once the wall was caulked, it looked like this…

It’s amazing how something as simple as caulk goes such a long way to making a project looked finished.  I was sure to use clear caulking around the window to make it less obvious and this was the only area that I used this foolproof caulking method to ensure clean, crisp lines.   It works every time.

The next day, I set about priming.   And I’m not gonna lie… The process was a beating.   Now, I need you to understand that this is a GIANT statement coming from a paint-loving gal like myself (who regularly offers to paint my friends houses FOR FUN).  Ya see, I decided to prime immediately after I’d returned from a long jog.  And it was hot out.   And I’ll tell ya, fatigue and dehydration do not make good decisions.  And my decision in question:  material choice.   I know this.  I totally know this, yet in my mission to collect materials from my stash, I simply chose the first roller cover I saw rather than evaluating the best option.  And once I started priming, I immediately realized that I needed a much fluffier roller to get into all the seams and crannies.  This was taken after I’d primed to the best of my ability with significant pressure on the roller…

But then, my nemesis Fatigue and his weazily little toadie, Laziness, reared their ugly heads and said “Meh.  This roller’s already dirty anyways and how much extra time will it really take to just deal with it as is??”.   So, rather than switch rollers, I pressed on.  I ended up having to brush along every single seam and then roll in between numerous times with decent pressure to get thorough coverage.  How long did it take, you ask? Well…

It took me TWO HOURS to get this far…


And I’m a fast painter.  Seriously, ya’ll.  It’s ALL in the materials you choose.  So, channel Indiana Jones and choose wisely.

Speaking of materials, one item that I strongly recommend you splurge on is your paintbrush.  I edge freehand using a 2 1/2″ angled brush by Wooster.  It’s my absolute favorite and totally worth the $14 (Not sponsored, just spreading the love).   I love how it holds the paint and leaves a crisp line…

This brush is also the best for edging the textured walls that are so prevalent here in the south.  I wrote a post with 11 tips for painting textured walls a while back, so check that out for more tips about that.  Anyways, I’ve found that edging well is all about…

1. Using a good brush,  and…

2.  Knowing how to load your brush.  This is something that you get the hang of with experience, but basically you want to load your brush with  enough paint to prevent individual bristles from separating (which leaves a “brushstrokey” edge), but not so much that it drips.   Keep in mind the plane that you’re working on and how gravity is pulling the paint.  I always load the brush more heavily when edging ceiling lines because it allows a crisper line up top and you don’t have to worry about drips marring your line as gravity takes over.  For baseboard lines, it’s the opposite.   I load it less because that’s where drips can affect your finished product.   And for horizontal lines like in the picture above, its somewhere in between.

Another tip that I love and bears repeating is this little gem that I picked up on Pinterest.

Line your tray with a plastic shopping bag to save on clean up.  I wrap the handles around the legs of the tray to keep it from slipping…

It works like a charm every time.

Anyways, back to priming.  I used Kilz Premium primer, mainly because I already had it on hand.   It’s mildew resistant and stain-blocking as well, so it was a good choice for this project.   Once I was done priming, the wall looked like this…

Priming not only evened out the playing field as far as undertones went, it also made areas that I’d missed when caulking obvious.   Like, this seam….

And nail holes….

So, I went back with white caulk and filled all those in.

The following day, I set about painting.   Luckily, our painter had left us a bunch of paint from when we had the exterior of the house painted.  It was Sherwin Williams Resilience in Loggia mixed at 25%.   Having learned my lesson with the roller cover the day before, I chose the puffiest roller I had which was meant for rough surfaces.  I rolled on a small section…

Perfect coverage with minimal effort.

This is when I beat my head against a metaphorical wall for an hour.  All the time I could’ve saved the day prior.  All the upper body strength sacrificed.   All because I opted to press on rather than take two minutes to change my roller cover.  Oy.  Lesson learned.

The same (if not more) amount of painting that I showed you in the priming picture..

…which had taken me two hours the day before, took me only 40 minutes this time around.  Seriously, I timed it.  The fluffier roller saved me from having to brush all the seams and repeatedly roll over the same area to get decent coverage like I had to with the smoother roller.    I know that the primer may have also helped time-wise, since it likely helped with the coverage of the paint, but still.   I ended up doing two coats of paint in pretty much the same amount of time it had taken me to prime one coat thanks to a change in materials.

So, anyways, when all was said and done, it looked like this…
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Crisp and clean and so wonderfully water resistant.  It’s like a breath of fresh air.   And now we can start focusing on fun things (hopefully… fingers crossed), like our breakfast nook chairs or starting our kitchen reno.   Woo hoo!  J

TDC Before and After

The No-Spend Era

Let’s roll back to several weeks ago…

We went on a vacation to Hot Springs.  We came home.  I walked into our house.  It looked bright and lovely, and so miraculously ours.  I’d cleaned the entire joint prior to leaving for our trip so that we’d walk into a nice, fresh home when we returned.  And it worked.   The house looked and smelled so clean… Which honestly, kind of surprised me.   With an older house I’d half expected to walk in to discover a stale or musty odor after days of vacancy.   But, it was perfect.  Refreshing, even.

I thought, “I really love this house”.  And I smiled widely.

Fast forward to thirty minutes later.   We decided to ditch the unpacking in favor of swimming in our pool for the first time since it was such a gorgeous day.  While I was back there, I decided to water my potted plants on the back patio, which is when SWARMS of mosquitoes rose from the base of our house and ascended upon me.

In panicked horror, I realized that mosquitoes are attracted to water.  Thus, there must be moisture around the wooden siding of our house.

Now, in case y’all hadn’t heard, Texas has been absolutely doused with water lately.  I’ve never in my entire life seen so much rain.   Three storms in particular were especially bad.   And I’ll never forget the very first of them…

Our friend happened to be visiting with his two adorable daughters.  The kids were inside playing when the skies opened up and began hammering us with a veritable waterfall of rain.   Joey, our friend, and I walked onto the back patio to watch.  Here’s the patio for any newbies out there.  Just to give you an idea of where we were…

At first, the storm was just entertaining.  “WOW!  LOOK AT ALL THE RAIN!”  and “THIS IS CRAZY!” and “I LOVE THAT WE CAN STAND BENEATH THE COVERED PORCH AND WATCH THIS!!”.

Then, our friend pointed to the ground and stated “Hey!  Look at that water!!”.

We watched in amazed terror as the water rose from the retaining wall towards the house at an alarming rate.   Within about 2-3 minutes, the water was up to the house and rising despite our feeble efforts to deflect the water with brooms (#sadplan).  Before too long (Maybe 5-7 minutes, if that??), we were shin deep in water by the retaining wall, and the water against the house was about 3 inches deep.  Fortunately, our doorways are risen up higher than than that, so the water still had a little ways to go before entering our house, but I knew… The bottom of the wood siding was NOT sealed at the foundation.  And being that the water was 3 inches deep against the siding, I feared that it was seeping into our walls that way.

We have a french drain and sump pump by the porch to help with drainage, and with normal rain, the porch remains dry…  but this rain… HOLY MOLY.  It was just SO.MUCH.WATER.  The sump pump simply couldn’t keep up.

Luckily, at this point, Joey remembered that we had an extra, back-up sump pump in the garage.  He grabbed it, removed this drainage basin grate on the opposite side of our porch…

… stuck the sump pump in there and began pumping water out of the porch.

The rain began to slow a bit, so between that, and the additional sump pump, we were able to pump the water out of the porch and away from the house.

What an adrenaline rush.  Sheesh!  It was safe to say that I definitely needed a beverage of the fun alcoholic variety afterwards.

And that was just the first of these events… It continued to rain, day after day after that.  And we experienced two more flash-flood caliber storms where water came up to our house.

Now, I have to say…  as much as this sucked for us, and as nerve-wracking as it was…  I do consider us very lucky.   We’ve had many friends who experienced flooding that actually went into their homes.   And there are Texas towns that have been absolutely devastated by the flooding… homes destroyed, fatalities, you name it.  So, this is not my attempt to complain and whine.  It’s simply the backstory to what I’m about to share with you.

I’ve mentioned before that our house was foreclosed on twice since it’s existence.  It was neglected.   Back when I was searching for the “REEEEAALLY before pics” of our home, I came across an old realty listing from 2012 when the owners prior to us purchased the home (the listing has since been removed or else I’d screen-shot it for you).   In the listing, it stated that a french drain with sump pump were newly installed.   I learned from the neighbors that it was the bank who installed them after the home was foreclosed on, not the previous owners.   My thoughts: If the bank felt the need to take on the expense of installing a french drain and sump pump, it must’ve been BAAAADDD back there.  Who knows how long water sat against the wood siding, right?

Which brings us back to that beautiful day that we returned from our vacation, and my battle with the mosquito swarm from Hades.  I basically ran from the house and grabbed Joey.  I explained what had happened and that I suspected that there was water behind the siding.   He removed the bottom piece of trim, seen here..

…and the trim literally crumbled in his hands.   Behind it, all that was left of the wood siding was the layer of paint that covered it.  The rest of it had transformed into a wet pulp that sat in an nasty pile on the ground.   We shop-vac’ed that mess up and much to our dismay discovered this…

The stud that attached our walls to the foundation was completely rotted.  Soft.  Like, I could push my finger through it if I’d tried.  Please note that the nail-head is likely where the wood used to come out to prior to rotting away…

And what concerned me most, was that this damage that you see is located right below our huge picture window.  And by huge, I mean really super large… This glorious piece of dual-paned glass measures 94″ x 70″  and gives us such pretty views of the patio like this…

It makes the porch feel like a cozy extension of the living room, and as a result, it’s one of my very favorite features of our home.   I’d be devastated if something happened to it.  Especially knowing that it’d likely cost an arm, a leg, and my first-only-born child to replace if it got damaged.

Upon the discovery of the rot, I immediately ran inside, looked behind the curtain next to the window and discovered this…

Cracked drywall.

Compressed and bowing drywall tape and framing.

Warped and bowed trim.

The photos don’t do it justice.  I blame my photography skills.  And it was dusk when I took these.

Anyways, I know for a fact that this damage was NOT there when we moved in.  Nor was it there months later when I hung the curtains.   This was recent, and likely due to the wet weather and flash-flooding.  My theory is that the wood was already rotted, but the recent moisture was the straw that broke the camels back and the wall began to sink (which in turn, caused the drywall damage).

We have no idea how extensive the damage is at this point.  We’ve had one contractor check it out so far and he flatly stated that our degree of damage was beyond his skill-set and that he wouldn’t touch it for fear of damaging our window.   We have two more contractors set to visit this week to evaluate and give estimates.  I’m praying that the damage is only that one beam and that it can be fixed quickly, while still keeping our window intact (fingers crossed, knock on wood). But we wont really know until the remaining siding is removed.  So, keep your fingers crossed for us.

In the meantime, this shall be known as “The No-Spend Era” as we wait to find out the cost of the wall repair.  I’ll be focusing on low/no cost fixes around the house and completing projects that I’ve been meaning to get done for a while (and already have the stuff for).   Sadly, my breakfast nook chairs will have to wait until the repairs are finished.  I do have a plan to make our current chairs more neutral using materials that I have on hand, though.  So, that’ll be good.

Anyways, that’s what we’ve been dealing with as of late.  I’m going to choose to think positively until told to do otherwise.  So, has anybody had this happen before?? What was your experience?