Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Porch Column Bases 7: Finishing Touches

The last steps remaining to be done were the final caulking, filling and painting of the four columns whose bases we replaced, all described in the first six posts titled "Porch Column Bases." The previous post is here.

Before I tackled the final touches, I photographed a bit of damage that happened to the tops, either when we removed the bases and left the columns hanging, or when we repositioned the columns on the new bases.

I don't know exactly what happened, but when we went to put the new bases in place, and line up the columns, there were slight differences in positioning. I don't know if our eyes don't see the same straight line, or some of the columns were out of plumb before, or are now, or what, but when we lined up the columns on the new bases, there were slight shifts of emphasis, and cracks developed in the tops of the bases, where they attach to the porch roof beam. I photographed these and then just painted them shut. Will have to keep an eye on them for any additional shifting.

I mention it, because I think this is another area where we were lucky. The tops were as secure as the bottoms, and never detached while we were working on the bottoms. But I would suggest you check that, as you're taking off the bottoms. We just kind of took it for granted and got lucky that all the tops stayed in place.

Another thing that developed was a crack in the paint on the beam that runs the length of the porch (you can see it faintly here, right above the porch column capital). This beam is spliced. Again, we're lucky everything held together and again, I'd suggest you try to determine whether the beam is spliced or at least keep an eye out for it, when you're pulling everything apart.

In any case, a day or two after we nailed everything down, I went around and made sure all the nails and screws were countersunk enough, and then filled all the shimmed up gaps and countersunk nail heads and screws  with wood putty. In this case I used a pre-mixed, fluffy putty that was easy to apply sideways, and stayed put when I pressed it into the shimmed gaps. I'd had enough of epoxy oozing out of gaps, and also didn't see the need to use epoxy for this job. I hope I was right about that decision, long-term.

After the putty dried, I sanded it lightly, vacuumed everything up and then caulked the columns where they meet the bases and the bases where they meet the porch floor. 

Here are some close-ups and some longer views of the whole ball of wax after puttying and caulking:

Then I taped off the bases and started painting. That part went blessedly fast. Fall was well advanced at this point, the days were getting short, the day was one of those soft grey, pretty fall days, and I was glad to have an easy outdoor job for once, and even more glad to be done by nightfall.

To see before and after shots, the next and final post in this series is here.

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