But things are still coming out, too. If you’ll recall from this spring, the back bedroom in my house had only one long, narrow window. And since you don’t recall it, here it is, back when the room still had walls. The ceiling is on the floor, in case you were wondering.
I scored a really nice pair of windows on Craigslist and figured that since the last 5 feet of that room are wood frame instead of brick, putting them in would be pretty straightforward. Famous last words. Instead it took me and my dad a full Saturday and Sunday and 3 weekday evenings. Two of those even meant leaving work early. Why? Because pulling apart that wall made me finally realize how bad the stucco job on it really was. Sure I knew it was bad, but I naively thought I could get a couple years out of it. Here’s why I was wrong:
What are you seeing here? The stucco isn’t just horribly bumpy and inconsistently finished. It goes OVER THE FLASHING. This is a great way to get water under it. Now in some places, it’s so thin that the lathe (that steel mesh you see poking out) has made rust stains on the surface, while in others it’s well over an inch thick. On top of that, it’s installed right over three (3) layers of asphalt shingles, including thick decorative trim, making all of it somewhat easy to push around.
Then there’s the bottom, which was covered in textured plywood siding. But what’s really special about this is that whoever installed it finished the edges with flashing installed upside down so that it holds water and channels it toward the interior of the walls. You can see the water stains on the siding, surprise surprise.
Short story is I didn’t want to install fancy Marvin windows (which are kind of fussy to install anyway) into a wall that’s leaking. Nor did I want to have drafts sealed and wall cavities stuffed with insulation when they’re leaky. This is one of the many reasons why it’s a good thing the house had been so drafty. So, father of the year and I decided to strip the walls down to the original wood siding, which was installed without sheathing, then replace the bad boards in that, and wrap it. Basically the house is now correctly built using old siding in place of the much cheaper plywood that would be used today. So here it is most of the way through that. Now I have a bone to pick with new wood. I know this fast grown stuff is more sustainable than the primeval forest that was probably destroyed to build mine, but the wood warped so quickly that we had to clamp the studs together to get them square. And my dad wants me to point out that his C clamp is bigger than yours.
Now to install the windows, I used Protectowrap, a peel and stick flexible plastic flashing product, around the rough opening and added a layer of aluminum flashing on top of that under the window sills. That way if the cut edges of the plywood sheathing aren’t sloped just right to drain off any water that gets under the windows, the aluminum will be. The wall was about 3/4″ off level, so we installed them level and will have to shim the wall out. I love them. Obsessively. There’s more sun in just about the entire house now, and they’re really nicely crafted, almost as pretty as an old window and much more efficient. If I ever rent out that bedroom, I might put it in the lease that they have to leave the door open! And here’s what they look like now. Swoon.
Sorry, there’s so much light coming in now (!!!) and so little in the house that I didn’t do so great getting interior shots. These are all wood, with only a thin vinyl track on the jambs. That’s a great way to minimize resale, methinks. But then, if I were buying them retail I would have gotten aluminum clad windows at least on the back. Coming up soon is external trim around these windows and new siding. I’m putting a lot of effort into adding trim and flashing to carry water away wherever possible.
And this week had one extra bonus. I had another odd change of pace today when I pulled something apart and discovered that the house needs LESS work than I thought. For some reason, someone put that plywood siding that was starting to rot right over original beadboard that’s in great condition, not even peeling! It does need to be washed off. This is the first time I can remember getting any good news from pulling anything open, and I’m still not quite sure if I can handle it. But anyway, here’s my new porch ceiling/cantilever bottom.
Now shifting gears back to the interior, I got word that I may not be able to get reclaimed wood in the sizes I need for the fake beam in the living room. Maybe I’ll just install wood casing over it. And I’ve decided that the skylight in the kitchen is more bother than it’s worth. I already get a decent amount of sun in there. But in the upstairs hall I’ll put in a regular skylight instead of a tube, which should hopefully work wonders for the living room… and the hall.