Friday, September 20, 2019

Beefing Up The Pillars!

After we got the house all painted I started looking at the pillars and noticed how puny they were. Michael and I had talked about eventually transforming them in one way or another with wood or stone, but that was always going to be a few years down the line. Since we were kind of in this mode of get it done and since my confidence in my abilities to do things had been boosted I decided I wanted to give it a try and transform them myself.

One of the main reasons I thought the pillars...I keep wanting to call them columns, but they aren't round...didn't look right was because we had the windows framed in. With the window molding becoming more of a feature it looked unbalanced...they were actually the same size at the pillars when really the pillars needed to be more of a feature! 

Here's a closer look! Just a toothpick really! 

The side view was even worst because of those silly thicker pieces on the top. 

At this point in time Michael was spent...he did not want to start ANOTHER project. I knew I wanted to do it myself and not worry him or have him lift a finger. I did want his opinion on the design though. 

I drew out the plans so we could talk about it. The two pillars on the outsides are the different sides of the original pillars and the one in the middle was what I wanted it to look like.  

One thing I did need from Michael was for him to give me a lesson on using the nail gun and the skill saw. He also helped me get my head wrapped around how to actually build the wraps around the pillars. 

I basically built two boxes and then connected them to make a three sided box. 

Here it is! 

Then I put that around the existing pillar. 

I got that level...making sure it was at least 1/4 of an inch off the ground to allow for water flow under it....and then closed in the box and attached it to the pillar. 

The best part about this project was we already had a bunch of the wood we needed because of the scraps from the deck. 

It didn't matter if it look funny because they were going to get covered with siding later on. It did look pretty strange while I was building them though! 

I wanted the pillars to be squared as much as possible. Of course when transforming a house that was built in the 1970's nothing is actually square or level so there are times you just have to go with it. The pillars ended up being around 9.5 inches square on the bottom and around 6.5 inches on the top. 

Stepping back and checking out my work...I love the cap on the bottom part. 

I wanted the pillars to match the siding of the house so I went and bought HardiePlank siding. This was the most expensive part of the build. I can't remember exactly, but I think in all it cost me less than $300 for all 3 pillars. The siding was a bit tricky though because it was strong, but at the same time it could split easily. In fact I was trying to load it into the cart at Lowe's and it just snapped in half. I felt so bad. A Lowe's employee told me not to worry about it and he helped me load them in the cart and then again in my van. Unloading it once I got home wasn't as bad as I thought it would be as long as I pulled the siding out of the van and had it be supported by the ground as much as possible. I did end up having to buy a diamond blade in order to cut the HardiePlank so I also learned how to change out the blade on the Chop Saw!

The bottom part is all sided! 

The finishing trim of the pillars was the part I didn't really know how it was going to work out until I got to that point in the build. I was hard to plan this part out so I figured I would just wing it. :) 

Here's the look of it from the front side. Since I did it this way the front and back sides matched and the two sides ended up matching each other, but they look different from the front and back. It worked though. 

Here's the front on the left and the side on the right. Even though they are different I feel like they work! 

Putting on the trim was when I got another on the job injury...I didn't necessarily shoot a nail into my hand it was more it ricochet into my hand because the nail hit a knot in the wood. It definitely hurt, but it could have been so much worse! I did learn to not put my hands anywhere near where I was shooting in the nails. 

Moved onto the siding on the top portion of the column. Checking it out from afar! 

On this day Michael was also installing out storm door. I really wanted to try to do this for him, but once I opened the box and started to read the instructions I knew this was WAY beyond my skills. 

Back to my columns....ugh pillars....because of those funny pieces of wood at the top of the pillars I had to carry the new beefed up pillars up to the top of the beams. I tried to see if I could have them stop at the bottom of the beam, but it looked ridiculous. 

These little small sections drove me crazy though, but what's new when it comes to home improvement! 

Top of the pillar is all done and trimmed in. 

Checking it out from the side. 

Here's what I did in regards to those funny spots at the top. it looks a bit overbearing, but Michael assured me that once they were painted it wouldn't matter. 

Old pillar - New pillar! 

Another project Michael did during this time was reattaching the small section of fence that connected to the house. It was my job to stain it, but that happened later! 

Moving onto the second pillar. 

The first pillar I worked on didn't have anything obstructing it, but the second pillar did...I had to factor the curbing into the plans. Because of this I had push the pillar a little bit more towards the back. 

Leveling it out! 

Attaching it to the existing pillar. Of course the pillar itself wasn't level so I had to tweak it using shims! 

The first pillar I worked on to the right of the front door is actually closer to that front step so in order to help even this out I built this pillar out on the right side to draw it closer to the front step and bridge that separation a little bit. 

Lots of random scraps getting put to good use! 

Siding on the bottom! 

Siding on the top! 

Just plain and simple right now! 

Trimming it out was a bit interesting due to that curbing. 

I decided to trim it on top of the curb so the bottom portion of this pillar it a bit shorter than the other pillar. 

Not identical twins! 

This was when I started to second guess myself. I actually started thinking I liked it a bit more on the simple side without the trim on the upper portion. I had the kids come out and vote and it ended up being a tie. I texted this picture to Michael and asked his opinion. He went with the pillar on the right so that's what we went with. 

Second pillar all finished! 

Oh my goodness! They look SO much better and they aren't even painted yet! 

The third pillar was the most interesting because I had to factor in the gutter that ran down the side. 

I ended up cutting a section out so I built around it. 

I actually surprised myself with how good it turned out! 

Not the prettiest cut, but that's why there is the saying...."Caulk and paint makes a carpenter what he ain't!" 

All three pillars done and ready to be caulked and painted. 

Here they are from the side and as you can see the pillar on the end is not straight it definitely leans to the left, but there was nothing I could do to fix that. You can only tell from the side though so that's what matters to me. 

I have to tell you caulking is not my favorite at all!!! 

I was so proud of myself for just getting it done though. I didn't ask Michael to help at all which is miracle in and of itself! 

Time for paint!!! 

I didn't start painting until around 4pm on Saturday August 17th and I wanted to finish it so I was out there painting until around 8:30pm. 

While I was painting the last pillar I ended up falling. It's hard to tell from this picture, but this is where our porch ends on the far left of the house. I stepped off the step ladder into the bushes thinking I would step on the ground, but there was no ground. I fell around 2 1/2 feet and land on my butt. Thankfully I didn't spill the paint I was holding, but my elbow did hit a rock that was hidden under the bushes. It really hurt!!! I got a cut on my elbow and I couldn't actually put any weight on it for weeks. In fact I told Michael if I had to pick one injury over another I would have rather shot my hand with a nail again instead of fall and hit my elbow! 

The painted pillars and my white storm door....I love!!! 

Here's the view of the front of the house with the pillars all finished! I definitely feel like it made such a difference. They no longer look puny...they look like a staple that was meant to be there. From start to finish it took me 9 days to completely renovate these. Not bad when you think that I had kids at home! I love that I've gained so much construction knowledge this summer and I feel like it's only going to help me feel confident when it comes to future projects.