Build: Day Eight

Ugh, the last couple of days have been a zoo. Yesterday Jeff worked on the house while I did a thousand other things, and he got tons done, including the rest of the siding and the windows in the loft.  I also got a ton done, including some Floor Science and Paint Science, and another fruitful trip to the awesome architectural surplus store.  Here’s a rundown on the last 48 hours in Tiny Housening, and then I am calling it quits for the night.

Here are some pictures of what Jeff did yesterday, along with some random pictures of Nellie and Widget exploring the new house today, because why not?Boy, I hate that siding. But it will look pretty soon enough.


Nellie Cowger is a saint among dogs. Widget spends like 80% of the day biting Nell’s neck.



Nellie in the fauxlarium

Lots of Widgetyness was taking place

ONE OF US got tethered to a tree after we decided to lick paint off the can lid and had to be held under the faucet of the weird hillbilly sink so we didn’t die of paint poisoning and then got blue noseprints all over everything. GUESS WHO? (hint: it the one of us that is tiny and pointy and bad).

I’ve pretty much decided on dark blue as opposed to dark gray for the outside of the house, so yesterday I drove up to several paint stores to track down a bunch of different dark blue paint samples. I had the vague notion that I might get a couple of gallons paint for cheap in a Black Friday sale, though that didn’t end up happening. Today, I went down and tried out the samples I got on the different walls (I tried it on every wall so I can see how the paints look in different light conditions, etc.) Here’s what I was deciding between:
(not that this is interesting to anyone but me, but if you are a scholar of blue paint, from left to right that’s Benjamin Moore Hale Navy, Behr Nocturnal Sea, Sherwin Williams Naval Blue (a lot like Hale Navy but warmer and brighter), SW Loyal Blue and SW Rainstorm.)Loyal Blue was my lead contender when I was looking at it on the computer, but in person I nixed it immediately: way too bright and peacocky. I nixed the Behr for the same reasons. Unsurprisingly, I definitely prefer the colder colors with more gray in them: I was not expecting to like the Benjamin Moore as much as I did, but I kind of love it, even though it is certainly the grimmest of any of the colors (it also covers the weird bumps in the T1-11 better than any of the others: not inconsequential). I also kind of like the Sherwin Williams Rainstorm, which is a very cold, dark teal, and the SW Naval Blue is OK, too, though I think I like the colder navy better. My inner Anton Webern is totally coming out in this paint color selection: just cold freaking modernism all the way. The guy at Sherwin Williams last night was totally freaked out by how dark I was going and basically was like, “None of these colors are appropriate for a house!”, but I think he was just concerned that I wasn’t going  SouthwestPinky-Greige like every other house around here.

On the same super-fast  trip, I also went by Lumber Liquidators for more floor samples, and when I got home, I got a second wind for projects, so I decided to try to do a semi-quantitative test of Flooring Vs. Pet Hair.

…which involved taking a little hair sample from all of the pets (mostly achieved by sneaking up on them with scissors and taking a little core sample). Emmett is NOT PLEASED by this violation of his shiny pelt.
DSC00131Once I had my little hair samples, I stuck them on scotch tape, then decided to up the ante a bit by also taking samples of random Arizona sanddirt and my hair (I had to take one for the team, since all the pets did.) I also got a wet sponge so I could see how much residual ghosting happened when you smudged a wet fingerprint on the wood. I then scored everything (1=best, 5=worst) and when I was done, I added up the numbers to see which sample had the lowest (and thus best) score. SCIENCE!

Here are all my samples with their accompanying score. Dark wood, as I suspected based on y’all’s anecdata, didn’t do very well; surprisingly, neither did light wood. The medium tone worked best; the variegation of the tigerwood and the cork also did well.
Floor test hair!

Cork, however, has officially been ruled out (though I may still use a little in the loft), because of Test Two: The Widget Test.

I am lucky(?) to have a puppy who will happily put anydamn thing in her mouth if asked, and is totally on board with nomming random things to test their durability. These floor samples were pretty hard and I didn’t want her to hurt her teeth, so I only gave her a few seconds with each (and I only gave her a couple of the samples, not all six). But that was enough to get a pretty definite sense of how the different woods looked when they’d been abused. I know that my dogs are never going to be chomping on my floor (at least, I hope not), but pointy Widget fangs were a pretty good stand-in to help me gauge how the floors would do with nails. The cork, for example, was thrashed in about two seconds.



Here all the results, which I arranged in a little collage highlighting areas of damage. Everything got pretty beat up–even the strand bamboo showed some big marks, Janka Hardness Scale 3000 be damned. The tiger and the medium-toned bamboo had some obvious marks, but they were the least obvious of any of them.
floor test- Widget test!

So I scored those, added them to the hair test results, and what I came up with was that the medium-toned bamboo (kind of reddish, neither light nor dark) was the clear winner. And then today, I was back at Gerson’s (the architectural salvage store) and when I walked in, the guys told me they still had some of that bamboo I was looking at last week. They didn’t have as much as before, just four boxes, and I STILL don’t know how durable it is, but a) it was that medium tone that I decided on last night and b) it was FIFTEEN DOLLARS A BOX, making this a $60 floor, so I just bit the bullet and bought everything they had left (bolstered by your advice in the poll last week.) I think I will only need one or two more boxes to finish the downstairs floor, and if it gets thrashed by the dogs, well, it will still be a sub-$100 floor, and that is not nothing. YAY FLOOR!

So this morning, when I was settling up with Jeff, he informed me that my new Priority #1 had to be finding a front door, mostly so we could start locking stuff up in the house down at the build site (he’s been schlepping everything back and forth). And oy, I don’t know if you guys have shopped for exterior doors lately, but those guys are EXPENSIVE. I was looking at Home Depot last night when I was getting paint samples, and most of the ones I saw started at around $280 (and those were shitty cheap-looking fiberglass, and only a very few swung to the left, which is what I need). If you wanted something that didn’t look just awful, that started getting closer to $500, and those still weren’t actually wood doors, just weird composites. So when I got home, I poked around online to see what it would cost to have a wooden door built: the cheapest I found in the area was this nice Mennonite guy who did beautiful work that started at about $1000. So that was that, though someday I will be rich and then I’m coming for you, Mr. Mennonite!Thus, today I ended up back at Gerson’s to try to find a nice salvaged door. And find one I did! It was $79, it is solid wood, it is the perfect size, it swings to the left, it is pretty without being all weird and gaudy, and I loved it instantly. Two problems: first, it was not pre-hung (Jeff’s ONLY stipulation was that the door be pre-hung), and two, it was covered in an unspecified amount of old paint. So as they were loading it into my car, I was breezily thinking 1) eh, how hard could it be to hang a door?/I’ll just do it myself (bear in mind that as I was thinking this, I had zero idea what ‘hanging a door’ actually meant; I just assumed I could probably do it) and 2) I’ve stripped a little paint in my day, surely it would not be that big of a deal!

Oh my god, dudes. Here’s my new door, hanging out on sawhorses in bad garage light. It is gonna be a PROJECT.


So, first: to hang a door actually is kind of a big deal, as I learned from the dude at the hardware store tonight. You actually have to build out a door jamb, and then a frame to go around the rest of the door (I’d never really thought about it before, but duh, of course doors aren’t being bolted right into the doorway.) Seriously, go look at whatever door is near you: see how it has a little frame? I had never really noticed. Anyway, instead of being hardcore and just building it out of lumber, I ended up buying a prefinished door jamb kit and a door header, which I’ll nail together then bolt to the door when I get the door itself refinished. But that’s a little bit of a thing (luckily on youtube, there is a video with a comforting Canadian woodworker who explains the whole process, and that made me feel better.)

Second: It turns out there is a LOT of paint on this guy, and it’s pretty well set. I bought some hippie stripper (her name is Quinoa, and she works nights down at the Positive Vibes Lounge) so I could work on the door in the garage. I put a layer on and gave it an hour and a half or so to sit (after trying futily to sand it a bit).

When I got my little paint stripper tool and started working on it, I found another layer of greenish paint under the white paint: the white came off pretty easily, but the greenish wasn’t going anywhere, so I decided to reapply the stripper and leave it overnight.

The nice thing is that in the couple areas where I could get through the green paint, I could tell that there was a pretty nice wood under it (that part was kind of a gamble, though I reasoned that worst case scenario, I could always paint it white again.) The door is VERY heavy, and I am pretty sure the wood is a hardwood (I couldn’t dent it with my fingernail); I don’t claim to be an arborist or anything like that, but from the way the grain is, I am thinking it might possibly be mahogany. If that is the case, then freaking SCORE!

Of course, there’s a whole ‘nother god-knows-how-many layers of paint on the other side of the door, so we’ll see if I ever reach this alleged mahogany.

[Also, it needs hardware. If any of you know a source for not insanely expensive modern door hardware (no weird curlicues), do please tell me, because I sure cannot find one.]

In conclusion, from the comments last week, I think it is awesome that you guys have such strong opinions about Property Brothers 🙂


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