Stripping the Porch

I optimistically planned to get the house painted the first summer. This was complicated by my lack of scaffolding. I phoned around, and while places would rent scaffolding, none of the ones I spoke to would set it up, to avoid liabilty issues. I wondered about other options, like using a scissor lift or a cherry picker. I had no experience with any of this, except for previously doing some painting on a scaffold at my former house. If I bought my own scaffolding, I would have to find an experienced person to help me safely set it up. And since I didn’t know anything about scaffolding, how would I even know if what I was buying was appropriate, or complete or anything ?

In the meantime I shyly asked the car lot if I could borrow their extension ladder they used to change the gas price sign. They graciously loaned it to me, and I made sure to return it every day when I was done with it.

I had little extension ladder experience. I practiced in the back yard, out of sight, until I felt less spooked. I watched ladder safety films on YouTube. I hoped for no humiliating Laurel and Hardy ladder comedy.

I started stripping the porch moulding on the 6 foot ladder. It had a complicated profile, with deep grooves. I could only do a few hours a day before my feet and shoulders would ache.


The paint on the porch was loose, so it was pointless to just paint over it. It had to all come off. I scraped and scraped. It took forever. The original color seemed to be a very dark green followed by a grey.


When I got it all off, if was sort of underwhelming. I think it took me about 50 hours. At least my scraping abilities were confident by the time I was using the borrowed ladder at the front.


I primed it with an exterior oil primer, then painted with exterior latex. Finding solvent based paint that isn’t a high gloss finish is now almost impossible.

I chose Benjamin Moore’s “New London Burgundy” from their historical collection. I thought it would contrast nicely with the yellow brick. I painted it, with a lighter burgundy and an antique rose inside the boxes. I wanted to like it, but I didn’t. I had been fussing about paint color combinations for the entire summer. The staff at the local Benjamin Moore store let me take swatch books home, as it was obvious if they didn’t that I might start TALKING to them about paint colors, which is probably a fate worse than death. Anyhow – it seemed like New London Burgundy was going to be my color solution but it wasn’t. It was another problem.


The glossy solvent based enamel mixed for the door seemed to be a different color from the New London Burgundy latex. It was a lighter, yuckier purple, even less what I was after.


At this point John was ready to start working on the house, so I had to ignore my paint choices.

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