Monday, September 28, 2009

Restoring Siding and Building a Trap Door

The front of our house looked so good after removing the crappy white vinyl siding last September, that Jen and I have been talking ever since about restoring the original siding back a little bit further. We considered going "all the way" down the sides, but that idea was quickly eliminated, as it would require (a) lots of work to repair the original wood siding, and (b) lots of paint (and $).

So, a happy compromise was to take the siding off just along the front porch part of the home and restoring that original wood siding. This allows us to stay within a reasonable budget (1 gal of paint) and we also don't lose the (marginal) value of the foam board insulation under the vinyl that covers the heated living area. Best of all, the house looks good from the street instead of having the wood siding in front oddly transition to white vinyl at the corner, as shown below.


The timing to do this project is now, after the blower door test revealed that our access door connecting the basement to the front porch crawlspace was a major source of air leakage. Really not too surprising, considering how cold that part of the basement can get in winter. We decided to seal off this door permanently, and realized we could still access this storage space from the outside if we built a new door into the siding. This would actually make the front porch crawl space more usable and be a great space to store gardening pots, landscape supplies, etc.

As with many of the finer carpentry projects at Humphrey House, Kenny came up for a weekend to help with this project. Removing the siding went quite quickly, and we even found someone on Craigslist to take it away for free. During siding removal, we found the wood underneath was in really good shape,especially on the North wall. The south wall was a bit worse, but was still quite salvageable.

We then cut an access hole for a new door to the crawl space on the south wall. The bottom piece of lumber (touching the ground) was quite dry rotted, which is really no suprise given that it was original pine, untreated and left in contact with the soil. We had to replace this board, and also "sister" brace the studs as some of them had rotted at the bottom few inches. To avoid future damage, I also dug out a trench and filled it with two layers of old 16 x 8 concrete pavers and sand before we replaced the bottom board with a pressure-treated 2x8.

It was interesting to see the porch framing was really a "skirt" in which the studs came down from above, but were tied with a cross-beam to the main part of the house, and a support column at the corner. Of course, we had to reinforce this when we cut out the crossbeam for an access door. We put in a LVL header (leftover from the LVLs we sistered to the second floor floor joists), and beefed up the framing with supporting studs underneath this header.

Anyway, we debated how this new door should open, to the left or the right? To avoid future landscaping damage and any threshold issues, we decided that it would be best to try and get this new access door to swing UP, and we could attach it with a chain / hook to an eyelet in the wall.

We also wanted to make this look unobtrusive, so we used low profile 1x4's as the trim edges, and reused the siding cut out as the finish of the door, working to line up the lines so they would match the existing siding. This was more difficult than it sounds because there were some really bad pieces of wood in this particular part of the wall. With a few pieces of old kitchen wall lathe (we don't toss anything!) as a bit of a standoff, we ended up mounting the siding on a piece of plywood and the lines matched up pretty well. A few hinges completed the job, and we now have a nice little trap door to the front porch!

Once the wood siding is repaired with some wood filler and then primed, we will paint the door the same Roycraft Bronze Green as the surrounding wall so it all blends together. Then it will be a like a secret trap door to a hidden passageway! Where one can behold bags of potting soil! Exciting, right? Well, we'll see once it's all painted.

9 comments:

Mabel Sugar said...

Okay, so this makes a lot more sense now that I can see it completed and explained.

Sandy said...

You guys are absolutely awesome!

Adam said...

Dig your blog! You should definitely think about entering our home renovation contest

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garage door repair houston said...

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