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House painting progress

We had two options for painting the house in the dark blue-grey of my dreams: 1) Paying some dudes to do it, somewhere in the five-figure range, or 2) doing it ourselves, which would be significantly cheaper but cost us many weekend days’ worth of labour. The sensible option is 1, but we’re going with 2. Here’s how that’s going!

Big self-defensive disclaimer here: It’s not a fast project, this one. We got a late start on it last summer due to being out of town for weeks at a time. Add in some inclement weather and a heaping amount of distraction/laziness and it brings us to now, six months later, with a quarter of the house painted. Some people are guns and can get a whole house done in less than that. That’s so nice for them.

Still, the house painting ticks along in the background, and will see a renewed interest come summer. Once Daylight Savings kicks in it won’t just be weekends-only. It’s like Slow Food, but for a house. The Slow House Movement. Come watch the silver birch change with the seasons.

Peeling paint

Now that I’ve said my bit… here goes.

This is what two of the west-facing walls of our house looked like when we moved in. Most of the exterior paint is in okay condition, but these back walls cop all the weather, so the paint out here was shot. Even if I’d loved the white weatherboards, these ones still had to be stripped back to the timber.

Scaffold platform

We were fortunate to borrow a scaffold from Jamie’s dad. Most people don’t exactly have aluminum scaffolding kicking around in their garden sheds. We just left the scaffold parked there while slowly scraping off paint.

Stripping back weatherboards

Ever tried to scrape paint off a full-sized weatherboard wall? It’s bloody slow going with a heat gun. I swabbed a chipped-off section with a lead tester stick and it turned red, so we had to take precautions and contain the mess as much as possible. Lesson learned: clean up after yourself EVERY SINGLE DAY. 

We had respirators and used the lowest setting on the heat gun, so it took — and felt — even longer. I also let Jamie do the majority of this while I busied myself with literally anything else. Thankfully we only have to scrape back the western walls, even if we’ve only covered half the surface area so far.

Mishka, our cat helper

Cat helper, being cat.

Stripped-back weatherboards

Once the paint was scraped off, Jamie gave the boards a quick pass with 60-grit pads on our random orbital sander. That really cleaned them up! He then filled in the worn, damaged sections with builder’s bog and sanded those too. I used weatherboard caulking to fill in the gaps between all the boards. Only then were the walls ready for primer.

A quality primer is essential, because goodness knows we didn’t want to go through this process again in a hurry. We used Zinsser 1-2-3, which is water-based and meant to be decent stuff. I had it tinted as dark as possible, which was uncannily close to the blue-grey used on the roof and trims.

Primer/paint progress

It was this crazy patchwork process for a couple weeks while we took turns caulking, priming, painting, recoating and moving the scaffold. One coat primer, applied with a brush, and then two topcoats of Taubmans Sunproof in Colorbond Ironstone. 

Jamie got an electric Karcher spray gun, but it didn’t work out for us and we had to return it. After the first spray and rinse it’d just belch out paint, which was no good. Next time we’re getting one with an air compressor, which will be much simpler. In the meantime, we finished off this round of painting with good old brushes and rollers.

The birch tree is close to the house, so it’s seen a lot of cuts over the years. While we had the scaffold out, I cleaned up some of the excess branches. I’ll take some more off it next year as well. Someone suggested chopping back all of its branches to stumps, which, thanks for the hot tip, but that’s why it has it has a grillion other branches shooting off everywhere in the first place.

Deck painting prep

We also weren’t just working on those two walls! The walls under the deck and by the laundry — the north-facing walls — also got a coat of primer and paint. The paint out here was in good condition, so that process was much faster.

Painted alcove

Finally: two coats of paint on the alcove. The area still needs some clean-up, but for now I keep standing back and feeling proud of our work. Let me enjoy it for a little bit longer.

(That greenish lump in the window is Texas Pete, my pet habanero. Right now he’s covered in little thumbnail-sized peppers. ¡Hola!)

Deck, unpainted
Deck, painted

I’ll post a few more ~grand reveal~ photos of our work in a later post, because this one already has a bunch of images, but here’s a keeping-it-real shot of the deck, two years ago and now. (We cleaned out the scrap pile and added to it all over again. Figures. We also appear to have a travelling esky.) It already looked better with a merbau stain, charcoal beams and rails and plants, but I’m so happy to see more of the weatherboards become dark blue-grey.

The silvery box is a mini-greenhouse… which is another future post in the works.

Winter cactus

Honestly, I feel a thrill every time I see our painted weatherboards, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of them! I like them when it’s sunny, I like them when it’s cloudy. It might be slow going but in the end it really won’t matter. What do you think of the colour so far?

10 thoughts on “House painting progress”

  1. I didn’t think I liked dark painted houses, but I was pleasantly surprised by your house. It looks very good and I’m liking the dark color. I especially like the way the deck looks. They almost redwood shade of the wood, along with the red brick below, makes a very nice color combination. Good job, you two! Get your father to tell you sometime of his housepainting experience with my brother the summer we were married.

    1. Thanks, mom. 🙂 Jamie also said that he really liked the wood against the dark blue. Is this a happy story? It doesn’t sound like a happy story.

    2. Summer in St. Louis (hot & muggy), getting my parents house ready to sell, scraping & sanding, eating bologna sandwiches every day for lunch. They did a 10 year paint job on a house going up for sale. Got it done in about 3 months (summer break for teacher & student). Your dad still won’t eat bologna

  2. I love the new colour. It’s a beautiful back drop to show off the silver birch. (I love them too, BTW, but they are not great for coastal W.A.) Such a big job you’ve undertaken – but should keep you well clear of gyms for another good year! Yet another saving!

    1. Thanks, Jo! I’m surprised that silver birch can survive anywhere in Australia – Tassie might be cool-temperate but it’s not exactly Finland. I also really like the stark white branches, they look nice in all seasons.

  3. I like the Slow House idea… I think mine will fall into that Slow Decorating phase when we move in.
    And I love the dark grey-blue colour, I think it’s wonderful as a backdrop for pretty much all plants. The deck looks so much better now with the dark colour, it looks great with the merbau stain.

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  6. Hello. Thanks I’ve read your blog.I agree that a quality primer is essential for the paint job to be successful. I’m not very good at painting and keeping things in good shape, but i do like redecorating the house. So I might just need to hire a house painter to take care of my exterior painting this summer since I’m not very skilled at all. Thanks for posting this awesome information on painting! Keep up the good work!

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