Let me first say, I'm not very proud of this post, but I think it's necessary in the interest of full disclosure.
So we've been on a bit of a painting kick of late. Though it isn't necessarily the most difficult of all DIY tasks, it is often some of the most gratifying and impactful changes you can make without breaking the bank, and you can usually complete it in a very short period of time. Actually, all of the work we've been doing in the kitchen and sun porch over the last few days was started rather innocently due to an outdoor painting project. Last weekend we had planned on doing some work on our bay window, and a trip to the hardware store to grab some gutter sealant turned into paint chips, and ultimately a gallon and two quart paint purchase.
About two weeks ago we had a bit of water come into our back bay window during a sideways rain storm, so we figured we should get up there and have a look. The back of the house also takes the brunt of the morning sun, and the paint on the bay window had started to peel from all of the harsh weather. We really needed to investigate the source of the leak, and also give the whole thing a coat of paint to protect it from the elements.
Though we could see some of the problems from the ground, as soon as I was on top of the sun porch roof I could see we have some serious issues. The raised panels on the lower portion had lots of paint flaking off and needed help.
The fixed window sash is almost entirely rotted on the lower portion of two openings.
The sill on the left hand window is almost entirely shot, and it feels like a spong when you press on it.
The glazing is also almost entirely shot, falling out in various places, an simply missing in others.
And to top it all off, there was some sort of a wasp or hornets nest in the corner of one of the window.
How much worse could it get? Well, I only had about two hours of daylight left when I started working, so there wasn't all that much I could even do. Ugh.
I started by sanding the raised panels to remove the flaking paint. This was a quick and easy way to prep the area for paint.
The unfortunate thing about these panels is that they're totally crappy, and it's completely my fault. I was improving the look of the bay window several years ago, and we opted to apply raised panels. All of the trim boards were done with Azek (PVC composite "wood" that doesn't rot). Well, it was all Azek except for the panels. The Azek in larger sheets were way too expensive for our project, and I didn't want to use MDF for this outdoor application (at least I did that right), so I ran out to the store and hastily bought some pine in 12" wide thickness that I could turn into a raised panel on the router. The big problem, this is crappy new growth pine, and they only had the material available in a finger jointed configuration, not solid pine.
Now years later, we're seeing the downfall of my ways. The extreme weather on this part of the house has made those panels contract and grow, but all of the individual pieces in the panel do that expansion and contraction at different rates, leaving gaps and cracks all over the panels. Those gaps and cracks also speed up the failure of the paint by stretching, cracking, and pinching, which lets water behind the paint, and ultimately results in wood and paint failure. Which leaves us with what we had today.
Bottom line - I need to replace the panels with something that will work better. But that's another project for another day, and I needed to do something as a stop gap measure now.
After the good sanding, I applied a good cost of penetrating Alkyd primer to any bare wood areas, cracks, or gaps.
Confession time: this was not my proudest moment.
Do you see the paint all over the glass, the rotten bumpy areas, the disgusting mess of a window that I was just painting? I felt like a battlefield medic, applying morphine in the form of primer and telling the window sash, sill, and raised panels, "You hang in there, everything's going to be okay!," knowing full well that it's a lost cause. In essence, I was just trying to make the sash comfortable until it passed, or in this case, until I have time to really fix it.
I slopped primer in every major gap, in the hopes it would seep in and seal the rotten wood at least until I have some time to actually address it. Like I said, not my proudest DIY moment.
The next night, as soon as I got home from work, I changed clothes and headed up on the roof to apply the topcoat. Before I started, I checked the weather to be sure I'd be in good shape. Monday was my only window of time to paint the window. It was clear, no rain anywhere near, but the next five days all had a chance of thunderstorms. So I got to work.
I only had about 2 hours to finish the whole project, but I was happy to see that my gratuitous application of primer had been successful. The sill and sash were not as spongy. Sure, they still looked horrible, but remember, another problem for another day. I had some painting to do, and I had an audience inside the window.
I started working on the left side and quickly painted the panel, sill, sash, and all the way up to the roof trim. I was using quite a bit of paint to be sure to, once again, get the best seal possible, but it was looking decent.
I knocked out the first section of three, moved onto the center window, got half way done and BAM, raindrop on my face.
What?!? Rain?!? What happened to my clear sky for 500 miles in every direction? I checked the radar and sure enough, some jerk of a storm had materialized out of nowhere right over our area and was headed our way.
It was raining, not hard enough for me to stop painting, but hard enough for me to be pissed. No joke. I was so mad, and I'm usually the more level headed and calm type of guy that everyone always says "Oh, Alex is so calm, he never gets upset or lets stuff bother him." Well, it's not actually true, some stuff apparently does, and in this case all it took was a little water.
I kept painting through the very light drizzle, then I checked the radar again, it was getting worse, and it was coming right for me. I could see the drops on the sill of the not yet fully cured paint, but I persevered, undeterred from my goal of making our dying bay window presentable for at least a few more seasons.
I was losing daylight, I was losing energy in the hot and mosquito infested air, and I was losing patience with mother nature. Here's how I felt.
See...not my proudest moment.
I kept painting through the rain, stopped for a moment when the rain got a little too hard, and then started again when it slowed. I finished up painting and thought to myself, "Seriously, what moron comes home from a long day of work and gets up on the roof to paint the house in the rain?" This guy right here, that's who.
As soon as I got down off of the roof, while the bats ventured out into the sky looking for their dusk meals, the rain stopped, just like that. I had completed the work on the bay, had given the sash, sill, and panels a stay of execution, and had finished what we had set out to do before being rudely interrupted to paint the kitchen. What did I have to show for all of this effort? A white bay window and an annoyed attitude. So I wrapped up the work and headed to bed with paint on my hands and arms, battle scars from a lackluster endeavor, but one that had to be completed.
Sure this looks way better than before, but it's by no means "good." My plan, some day (hopefully soon), is to add some storm windows to this bay window, remove the fixed sash, and add an operable sash in each of the openings. I'll also replace the panels on the lower portion of the window. But until that day, I'll live with rotted wood that's paint covered, paint lazily slopped on the window where glazing has fallen out, and sash that I can almost put my finger through. Why? As a shameful reminder of how I'm not done with this project yet.
Oh, and the source of the leak that actually got me up on the roof, I couldn't exactly put my finger on it. But I think it was caused by a little bit of flashing that had somehow been pushed up and was allowing rain to get in behind it and into the ceiling. Since I can't be 100% sure, we'll just have to wait until the next sideways rain comes through and watch for water.
Do you have any tasks or projects like this? Where you know you could/should do it better, but you've got to leave "well enough" alone? I feel like we've had our fair share, and I can't imagine we're the only ones.