Step Lightly

It was really time to repaint the front steps last year, but the rain got started early and went late, so it never happened. Now that we're getting close to fall and the start of the rain again, I figured I better get it done this week.

The key to repainting the steps is to choose a set of days when the mailman will not be walking up and down them. The mailman and we are the only people who actually use the front steps: our friends and neighbors always seem to go to the side door, which of course doesn't have a doorbell and if you knock we can't hear it pretty much anywhere in the house. When we get around to replacing the side stairs they will have to learn a whole new way of interacting with our house, I suppose.

Ideally I would have done this over Labour Day weekend, but that would have involved planning and foresight, so obviously it didn't happen. But with a bit of thinking things through, I figured out it would work to do it over any weekend if I started the prep early (it's OK if the mailman walks on sanded steps).

The steps, before

These are the steps before. The gunge on the sides is a mix of dirt and dog fur that makes something remarkably like plaster. It doesn't sweep away easily, and I cannot be bothered to go out there and scrub the steps every week, so it builds up. Yum.

Prepped for priming

Here they are after sanding (which removed the dog plaster very nicely) and a light scraping. I must say that the hardware store paint lady was totally right about using thinned latex as a primer; that stuff stays very nicely. The only place where paint is actually peeling is the place where there is a separate primer underneath. The rest of it is worn off, but we only put a light coat down before and that is totally my fault.

Tomorrow, after the mail comes, I will caulk and reprime and maybe get one coat of paint on. Another coat on Sunday, and then we will be ready for the mail on Monday.

posted by ayse on 09/16/11


Vegetable brushes and toothbrushes conquer most anything in corners.

Now if only cleaning louvered doors weren't so labor-intensive. I'm actually thinking of having them replaced.

I would actually pay a pretty hefty premium for a stove top that could be taken apart into pieces that went into the dishwasher, for a similar reason.

The scrubbing brush I have for cleaning the tub would work well in the stair corners if I were at all inclined to spend time scrubbing the stairs (which I am obviously not). I wish more things were designed to be easily cleaned. When women rule the world it wouldn't happen, either, because rulers never have to do the cleaning.

The trouble is that it's so much harder to make things round than straight. If the edges of stairs were scoop-shaped and slid smoothly up onto the sides, there wouldn't be little corners for things like dog plaster to accumulate.

That reminds me, the Victorians made an effort to address that problem. It's only the inside corners, not the whole stair edge, but still:

In action:

Oh, I've seen those dust corners recently. I think it was at a house that is part of the Trinidad, Colorado, history museum. Very clever.

Good luck with the painting. I spent the day scrubbing the front porch with wood cleaner. Once it dries, I'll wipe it down with wood bleach. Then a UV coat. "They" recommend doing this at least once if not twice a year. I'm more in the "twice a decade" camp.

I'm still hoping for a mechanical "mouse" that will go around the house dusting. I had thought that the Roomba would be that for vacuuming, but it requires so much careful maintenance that it's easier to just vacuum.

Note: We're getting pummeled with spam comments, so I've turned off the ability to use any HTML or include any links for the time being. Email with any issues.

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