Archive for the ‘exterior’ Category

drumroll plz… the color choices

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Well, the day is here — the day we commit to colors. Here’s how it went down.

David decided that once he finishes adding insulation to the outside of the house there won’t be enough of our existing redwood to go around the enlarged envelope, so he ordered cedar. How will we deal with the natural color differences in two kinds of wood on a single house? Easy. The existing redwood will get pulled from all the inset areas and get used on the main envelope. The new cedar will go on the insets.

And how will that look? Well, I went back to my initial color exploration and got out the colored pencils.

How lo-fi.

And approximate.

Some of you liked the bold color approach, so I tried this… Grey on the outside and a plant-inspired gold-green on the inside. Would take some courage but I kinda dig it…

grey and color












Not a neon green but a green with a Dijon-y tone to it. Along these lines…

goldy green paint swatches




















Grey on the outside and brown (natural wood color) on the inside. Safer but not loving it…

grey and brown












I always pictured the house as grey, but another option was brown (natural wood color) on the outside and dark, dark grey on the inside. I liked this better…

brown and grey












Bix, of course, lobbied for his choice…

yellow and red candy-striped












At this point we thought we might want to see the grain of the redwood through whatever shade we chose for the main body. So David planed the paint off a few of the boards that were removed from the deck-end of the house to see what shape the wood is in…

paint removal




















Then off we went to Adler’s paint department with 40-year-old redwood and new cedar in hand to try out stains. Here’s what the first color tests looked like…

color tests on redwood and cedar




















New cedar on the left. Original redwood on the right. The dark grey at the bottom is too dark for the exterior. We don’t want to live in a black box. The lighter grey is okay. But how about the way that clear stain really brings out the richness and character of the redwood? Why hide that?

Sidetrack… Just for yucks I tried the gold-green against the wood color to see if that might still work for the insets…

wood and gold green


Okay, my sweater’s way too bright in the sun but you get the idea. David, however, was not convinced. So gold-green was eliminated. (I’ll be resurrecting some version of it as an interior paint color.)

There’s a modern house on my running route that’s a decent example of a real wood-look exterior…

another modern in providence












Don’t love the off-white as a contrast choice for us but what about dark, steely grey or even black? It’s a little more dramatic without being show-offy…

Walden Residence by House + House Architects |

Walden Residence by House + House Architects |


Once you add grey/black, white works nicely (perhaps for our foundation if we can’t figure out how to take it back to its original concrete-grey)…

Casa Ro by Elias Rizo Arquitectos |

Casa Ro by Elias Rizo Arquitectos |


So I guess that’s it then.

On the main body, glorious redwood — stained clear to show its awesomeness.

A dark, almost black stain on the insets.

And white at the base assuming (and it’s a pretty good assumption) that we can’t bring it back to a bare concrete state.


up to our knees in cedar

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Liberty Cedar arrived today and dropped a load…

delivery from liberty cedar












… of cedar.

This means that siding the still tarped-over deck-end of the house is imminent. Which also means we need a final decision on exterior color. Like now. Argh.

after 8 wks of pondering

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Remember way back at the beginning of December when Land Design Associates was working on the front walkway? While here, they also dealt with this ugly crack in the concrete that I showed you before…

crack in front of steps




















Yep, that one. There was much conjecture about what we would do about it. After considering the options, David settled (surprisingly) on the idea of insetting beach pebbles like the ones we have around our house…

our beach pebble border




















They look pretty nice when you clean the dust off…

beach pebbles up close




















So we crossed our fingers and let the boys go at it. There was an impressive display of dust…

concrete getting scored




















An incredible amount of sledge hammering…

concrete getting pounded




















The prying up of amazingly stout concrete…

prying up the concrete




















And eventually there was a welcome mat-sized spot to fill with new concrete…

getting filled with new concrete












Topped off by concrete with a dark stain to match the beach pebbles…

topping off with stained concrete




















Followed by the beach pebbles themselves, getting their tops as level as possible…

leveling stones




















Then, voila! Beach pebble welcome mat where there once was a crack!

stone welcome mat finished




















So it doesn’t look too bad, right? I mean, sure, it’s a little gloppy in spots (especially along the front curve. But in theory we can rough that out.)

a closer look














ugh, a new crack!












I just couldn’t deal.

All that sawing and pounding action took its toll, I guess. Granted, the new crack is much smaller than the old crack. But water will work its way in over time and freezing and thawing will surely make that crack bigger. Yay.

I’m not going to think about that.


hmm, not too bad i guess





















what’s your angle on this light?

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Okay, time to order path lighting for the outside so people don’t break their necks trying to get around out there. These lights are specifically for the steps and we really only need a few out front and back.

After tons of poking around for something that’s not over-designed (“i’m an attention hog, do not look away from me!!”) and not too out-there (omg it’s like makers think the word “modern” = quirky and hideous), plus not too delicate (this house calls for something beefy, not slender) etc., I’ve finally located two options that are not only modern and minimal but pretty affordable!

First, this simple right-angled path light in aluminum…

hinkley right angle light bronze















From the Atlantis Collection made by Hinkley Lighting, it’s available in bronze, hermatite or titanium finish…

hinkley right angle options






Or this angled path light from their Piza collection, also in aluminum…

hinkley angle light bronze















Available in bronze and titanium finish…

hinkley angle options





I think either style could work. Our house has both right angles and angley angles…

angles and right angles




















Ah, remember summer when it was warm and the garden was just starting to take off?

Anyway, whaddya think? Angle or right angle? Bronze would blend into the scenery the best. Titanium would almost but not quite go with the aluminum window frames and flashing, as well as the galvanized aluminum planter boxes and steps. Decisions, decisions.

exterior color inspiration

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

We won’t get to the full exterior of the house this year, obviously. But because the deck-end siding had to come off to add the new windows, we should think about color before we re-side. I’ve always imagined that once the paint is planed off of the redwood that we’d go dark grey, setting off the insets with a natural (brown) wood shade — stain, not paint, so we can still see the wood grain.

But what if we took a quick look at a few color possibilities?


When I say “insets,” I’m referring to the cutouts in the outer envelope — around the front door + the full height of the deck-end…

minty 1972, corner view











And around the back door…
minty 1972, back view












house 2011












Now let’s try to picture a few possibilities…



Probably too dramatic for our house but it sure does look cool…

pull house, taylor and miller architecture and design |

pull house, taylor and miller architecture and design |

los feliz residence, warren techentin architecture |

los feliz residence, warren techentin architecture |

I know, the color is only on the window frames (our new frames are all silver aluminum), but you get the idea.

park residence, MACK architecs |

park residence, MACK architecs |



scape house, andrew simpson architects |

scape house, andrew simpson architects |

humbug, kebbel daish architects ltd. |

humbug, kebbel daish architects ltd. |

zen garden house, david jay wiener architect | architectural record

zen garden house, david jay wiener architect | architectural record



private house, weinstein vaadia architects |

private house, weinstein vaadia architects |



minimum house, scheidt kasprusch architekten |

minimum house, scheidt kasprusch architekten |

richmond house, rachcoff vella architecture |

richmond house, rachcoff vella architecture |



kerr ritchie house, kerr ritchie architects |

kerr ritchie house, kerr ritchie architects |

(I am also including this shot from the interior, because the shape of the inset is almost exactly like ours…)

kerr ritchie house, kerr ritchie architects |

kerr ritchie house, kerr ritchie architects |

rubber house, cityforster |

rubber house, cityforster |



texas hill road residence, incorporated architecture and design |

texas hill road residence, incorporated architecture and design |

genolier house, lrs architects |

genolier house, lrs architects |



dorsey residence, coates design architects |

dorsey residence, coates design architects |


Off to look at stains later today!

window time: day 2

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

This is where we left off with windows. Now here’s where we pick up… The problem with just-in-time construction is it doesn’t allow for falling behind.

Tuesday we tried to stay ahead of the window and door installers by at least one opening. Here’s Joe applying house-wrap over the new foam+plywood and frames on the upstairs portion of the back wall…





















Joe installed the custom flashing, bending it up at the inside corners and then sealing it down with super-duper tape…





















Tape? For obvious reasons, you don’t want to put any fasteners through flashing — water has a way of getting into places you thought it couldn’t. The trick to keeping it out is to seal everything from the bottom up in order to shed the water back out. Bad flashing details can trap water and then it’s perfectly happy to cause  mold, mildew and rot — not something we want.

Next up: the two big fixed window frames. Waiting to go in, no glass in them yet…





















The aluminum window frames are thermally broken (they have a non-metallic connector between the inside and outside faces to limit heat transfer) but are ordinarily installed hollow. Joe and I decided leaving them hollow was a missed opportunity to be more energy-efficient, so I ripped 3/4″ EPS on the table saw to fit and we jammed it in there…





















Once the window frames were installed level and square (which was easy because we made the extension frames level and square), butyl rubber got applied to the inside face of the frame…





















Close-up of the frame almost ready for the glass…





















I was an honorary glass man for the day, helping hoist the new panels into place with a fancy suction cup handle. Those suckers were HEHVEE….





















Joe was the balance man…





















Once the glass was in against the butyl rubber, aluminum stops were snapped in on the outside and a rubber gasket was driven in-between the stops and the glass. No fasteners show so there’s a nice clean look.

That slot in the aluminum stop is a weep hole to let water out in case the wind drives it in there…

Glass panel installed.




















Each glass panel has a low-e coating on the inner piece of glass (“lite” in technical jargon). It acts as sort of a one-way system for radiant heat — heat from the sun can come in but can’t get back out…



The new sliders look great, perform great and slide like butter on a hot pan…





















A bump stop goes in at the top of the slider to keep fingers from being crushed…



Digging the nice, clean look of the door hardware…





















All in all, looking great from the outside…





















But wait — not done yet! The gaps between the window and door frames and the house need to be filled. Caulk can bridge small gaps just fine but bigger gaps require that foam backer rod stuffed in. This stops the caulk from falling in to the gap…

Backer rod saves caulk!




















Joe picked up a tube of this at Home Depot…





















DO NOT use this. It stank to high heaven and smelled up the whole house even though it clearly says “V.O.C. compliant.” Not good. I’ll find something braincell-friendlier for the rest of the project.

So here’s the finished caulking job. The caulk is clear so it’s hard to tell what’s happening but I promise it’s in there. You can clearly see the backer rod!

Clear caulk is freaky.




















Backer rod didn’t fill the really big gaps at the tops of the two big windows so I put blue tape across them, pushed in a bit to leave room for caulk…

Blue tape has SO many uses.












Then I filled all the gaps with expanding foam from the inside. The smaller gaps now have caulk or backer rod and caulk to stop the foam. The big gaps have the blue tape for the foam to expand up against. Soon I’ll strip the tape and caulk them from the outside, easy peasy.

What did we do before expanding foam?




















And that, my friends, was a long day.

our own TARP plan

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Rain and wind today. But will David and Joe let that stop them? Heck no. Those clever boys figured out a way to work in a bubble…

tarp from across street




















So what are they doing under there?

tarp from underneath




















Good question. They’re really too busy to tell me. The missing slider that leads out to our missing deck is probably a good clue. The living room is very cold, so if you drop by be sure to wear a coat.

monday update

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Ooh, more construction than deconstruction today! Tell us how it went, David…


Today Joe and I started putting the end of the house back to together. First we caulked the uneven joint between the concrete slab and the old plywood sheathing and applied ice and water barrier (a special super-sticky sealing tape). Joe bent up some aluminum into a J-shape which we attached to the old sheathing with a bead of caulk and nails. Then we cut pieces to fit from the 3” foam/plywood panels…


monday update




















… and slipped them down into the channel.

monday update 1




















They got attached to the existing 2” x 4” framing with 5” screws. The aluminum protects the foam and plywood from attack by water, ants and termites…

monday update 2




















We ran the aluminum up the sides of the new foam/plywood sheathing at each end of the wall…

monday update 3




















Then we taped the aluminum to the new sheathing with more ice and water barrier…

monday update 4




















Here you can see why we added 2” x 4” frames around the window and door openings…

monday update 5




















… we had to bring them out to the new face of the house, even with the new 3” foam/plywood sheathing!

Once the whole two-story wall has the foam/plywood layer applied, we’ll cover it with a vapor barrier. Then a layer of special breathable mesh goes on which allows air to dry the back of the siding and then the siding can go on. Whew.

Those two black hoses you see trailing down the wall…

monday update 6





















Those and the white PVC pipe are part of the new HVAC system which also went in today. More on that later. Man it was hectic upstairs and down…

monday update 7




















In a good way.


what are the boys up to today?

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Started on Tuesday. Two days later, David and Joe are busy out there again. Our redwood siding is coming off. Take a look…

deck project on thursday




















More later.

undecking EOD

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Where do rotting wooden deck boards go when they die?

deck headed to the dump




















The dump, duh. Unfortunately, not much salvageable here.