Case Workers

With the floor of the guest bedroom in place, Hans and I proceeded to case the doorway. The casing is mostly 1x4s cut to fit neatly around the door opening, hiding the drywall edge. One jamb is in the very corner of the room, leaving insufficient space for a 1×4, so I measured how much space we actually had and ripped a 1×4 to fit. I couldn’t even use the guide on the table saw… the guide only works for uniform rips, and the piece of casing varies from 1¼ inches to 1½ inches. So I snapped a chalk line and made a freehand rip, then used a sander to make the edge smooth. It fit OK in the end.

Guest bedroom doorway, all cased and ready for action.
Guest bedroom doorway, all cased and ready for action.

We cased the floor, too, in a manner of speaking. (Nobody actually calls it that, but it fits the theme of this post.) Mark installed baseboard around the perimeter of most rooms upstairs, hiding the inevitable gap between the floor and the drywall. They look awesome, painted white against the master bedroom’s blue walls. I find it fascinating how so many architectural details have become aesthetic ornaments when their true function is more substantial.

Master bedroom floor, surrounded by baseboard and ready for the baseboard heater hookup.
Master bedroom floor, surrounded by baseboard and ready for the baseboard heater hookup.

Having run out of Azec plastic-wood for the exterior, but wanting the most prominent façade to look nice until Bob gets a new supply, I put a temporary casing around the witch window. The casing consists of ordinary 1x6s (pine, not plastic); I painted them white and then Hans kerfed them and cut them to length. It took a few tries to get a snug fit, which I achieved using easily-removed deck screws. While I was up there, I also reinstalled clapboard siding up to the gable peak.

Like new, only not. Exterior casing for the witch window.
Like new, only not. Exterior casing for the witch window.

This job goes on hiatus through Memorial Day. For our final chore before leaving, we gave the place a thorough clean. I organized all our salvaged lumber in the barn and vacuumed the barn floor, where the sawdust was inches thick in some places.

Order.
Order.

Window Treatment

A week of sunshine and highs in the 80s finds us outside. We switched around some scaffolds, and then worked top to bottom pulling clapboards from most sides of the house, saving the ones that didn’t crack on removal. With bare walls we could proceed with our window treatments.

Pronounced “clabb’rds”.

Two more new windows got installed: a replacement on the east gable end, and a new one at the foot of the stairs for which we’d framed the rough opening months ago. We cut lumber or plywood to fill any hollows or soft spots in the wall, and to shrink each rough opening to just exceed the new window’s dimensions. We also stapled new Typar to the wall. Once the window fit plumb and level, I nailed the flanges with roofing nails and taped the perimeter with Protecto (a rival to Zip-Tape I guess).

Hans nails the flanges of the new bottom-of-the-stairs window.
Hans nails the flanges of the new bottom-of-the-stairs window.

For the exterior, our window treatment consists of 1×6 trim on all four sides, using a plastic wood called Azec. It’s waterproof and supposedly maintenance-free, but we had major issues cleaning off the mud and grease stains after storing it outdoors. A rag drenched in Acetone finally did the job.

Hans cut pieces to fit tight around each perimeter, then used a table saw to kerf the inside corners. I installed the pieces flat with some finicky finish screws – they have threads in both directions, making them very hard to remove, plus they strip easily. The kerf prevented the window flanges from tipping the trim pieces out. Eventually somebody will caulk the remaining gaps between our windows and our trim. I tried it but kept making a mess, requiring me to break out the Acetone again.

Exterior trim in progress.
Exterior trim in progress.

For the interior, it’s a similar story, except the trim is 1×4 pine that gets painted – see the picture above. Mark took care of this. I certainly didn’t mind getting the outdoor jobs this week!

Kona and Ranger got outdoor jobs, too.
Kona and Ranger got outdoor jobs, too.

Which Window?

Window delivery! Bob is replacing every window in the house, and Allen Lumber arrived Wednesday morning with a truck full of new ones. Mark, D.D., and I immediately set down whatever we were doing and helped unload them to the barn.

All the windows. Bob reviews the order form to determine where each one goes.
All the windows. Bob reviews the order form to determine where each one goes.

Once we determined which window was which, we switched out the witch window. HUH?! Let me explain, before this entire post reads like an Abbott & Costello routine.

A witch window was originally installed vertically, but now it’s on an angle. Here’s what happens: the basic house has a window in a gable end. Then an addition gets built out from that end, and the only way to salvage the window is to rotate it so it fits between the old and new rooflines. They’re called witch windows because, apparently, witches can’t fly their brooms through a slanted window. (So if you want to witch-proof your house, better make ALL your windows askew!)

They’re also known as Vermont windows, because the overwhelming majority appear in 19th-century farmhouses here in the Green Mountain state. Why didn’t they catch on anywhere else? No clue. Vermonters are pretty clever, I guess.

Anyway, Hans and Mark popped out the old witch window and installed the new one. The shimming was a hassle, as was the outside trim. For much of the afternoon one of them worked from outside, standing on the (fleetingly) snowless roof of the front porch, and hanging onto the old stovepipe for balance. Our new window fits nicely, and now that it’s installed we can finish that wall and proceed to the bathroom ceiling.

Drywall progress: the new guest bedroom.
Drywall progress: the new guest bedroom.

Good thing, because we were running out of walls to rock. The guest bedroom is pretty much enclosed now. We still have materials to move, so we better make sure not to box ourselves out. Drywall won’t fit through a window, not even a witch window.

Hans and D.D. maneuver a 4-by-8 sheet of drywall up the stairs.
Hans and D.D. maneuver a 4-by-8 sheet of drywall up the stairs.