Always with the stripping

After a brutal few weeks at work and a well-deserved week of vacation with Rachel’s family at the beach in Florida, we’re back at it on the house, continuing the project that I started more than a month ago: stripping the front concrete porch steps and pedestal caps.

Here’s the best view I’ve got of before, and then after the first go with stripper, scraping and washing.

DSC_0012Front steps half-stripped

Lots of blue and gray layers of paint on there. This process has been more tedious and involved than I thought it might be (I should know better at this point) but not all that complicated. What I thought might just involve a layer, maybe two, of stripper has turned into the perpetual case of “just one more coat and wash.”

I brush on the concrete stripper, leave it on for about 5-7 hours, and then scrape off everything I can with the scraper and other tools. Then I go to the pressure washer, which is beyond tedious since it only really brings the paint off when you have it dialed into the laser-like setting. So to do one stair tread properly takes at least 8-10 minutes. Multiply that by 5 treads, 6 backs, and then the ginormous bottom landing, and that’s a lot of hours of pressure washing.

The urgency got ramped up last week when the guy I borrowed the washer from arranged to loan it to someone else. So I gotta get finished and share the wealth. Thankfully, the guy getting it next was nice enough to give me an extra week with it. Which has translated into working on this pretty much every night and all weekend (except for Sunday afternoon when I went to the Gold Cup semifinal: USA vs Jamaica here in DC!)

I’m ready to be done with the pressure washing. As is my back. I did learn why it’s better to wear jeans, though.

Perils of pressure washing

I was trying to swat a mosquito and the stream just glided over my ankle for a brief moment while I was waving about. It stung pretty bad and I thought I might have a little red line the next day, but it actually broke the skin and scabbed over the next day. Which left me wondering how any of this paint could still be hanging on!?

But things are looking good. The pedestal caps are essentially done and ready for etcher and wire brushing, and the column caps will probably get finished tomorrow or Thursday. The stairs are really just down to a few spots that need to be heavily treated — the rest of the tread area is in good shape.

The next big decision will be what to do with the steps after they’re stripped bare. Rachel has wanted to leave them plain in some fashion, I’ve been wanting to paint them but I’m thinking about staining the concrete instead. We’re definitely going to paint the pedestal and column caps, though.

But by this weekend everything should be ready. I think.

Surely, just one more coat and wash.

Half-stripped steps
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Thankfully, the front edge of the garden on the sidewalk came clean with just one coat of stripper and the pressure washer. Here it is before and then halfway through (yesterday.)

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Front concrete halfway washed

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