A Turquoise Dream For My Long-Lost Readers…

I didn’t abandon Bella or you, lovely readers.

I just got distracted. 😉


But I’m back on task and the weather is warming, carpeting my field of vision with flowers and fresh buds, dressing up the casita’s landscape to be temporarily much prettier. It’s warm enough to paint, and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.

From February until two weeks ago, I did little else on this project but sand down the cedar corner trim after an unfortunate run-in with a wretched orange Cabot stain misleadingly labeled “clear”. This was a tedious process, even with the power sanders. Fortunately I found a linseed-based waterborne product that maintains the wood’s natural color, although it necessitates a yearly coating. I don’t mind. I also considered using the same untinted oil-based sealer I used for the fascia boards, but the can said not to use it untinted, (I’m guessing it has something to do with UV protection?) so I’m doing a bit of an experiment between the two.

Not sure if I mentioned that I also accumulated a carload of free oak flooring from a nice fellow out in a remote suburban development who put it on Craigslist. It is now sitting piled in our driveway under a tarp, waiting for me to painstakingly remove every nail. I wanted to take a picture of this guy, as I have for so many others who have helped me along the way, and his was a particularly sparkly kind of smile… But when I asked him his face erupted into a crinkle of laughter and he politely declined, saying he would prefer to be a behind-the-scenes player in the casita’s manfiestation. (My words, not his.) I also sold the 200 square feet of new oak flooring that I had previously bought off Craigslist from a nice couple in Fairmount Park; I decided it was too dark. I paid the ridiculous price of $210 and resold it for $350 to a happy woman remodeling her office. She had some guys with a van helping her who asked me if I had any other building materials I wanted to get rid of, so I passed along the half-used rolls of tar paper I had sitting around.

Warmer temperatures, sunshine, and free time finally arrived recently, and I got to work sanding, priming, and painting the windows. This was going to be way easier before putting the siding on, so I figured the Tyvek could keep doing its thing a while longer. As per usual, I grossly underestimated the amount of time it would take me to complete a task, thinking it would only take me a couple days to fix up the windows. Clearly I had never weatherproofed new wood windows before. I’ve spent the last week + working on them and have about 1/3 left to do. It’s just a meticulous kind of job that involves lots of patient attention to detail and painting technique. I actually enjoy it and it gives my critical mind a healthy outlet. Today I passed the whole day in a solitary zone, just listening to music, sanding, taping, painting, and priming. This turquoise color is truly a joy to work with. It makes me feel happy. Color therapy success! Five of the eight windows are finished, while the three double-hungs got the trim/exterior primed. I still need to prime the frames.

I’m using an oil-based primer which is kind of amazing stuff that smells horrible, made me lightheaded, and has the consistency of oobleck. Mostly because there were a couple cans of it sitting in the basement from one of my mom’s Restore jaunts, scored for $3 a quart. I’ve also been told this does the best job of sealing the wood, to which I can so far attest; originally the windows had a matte factory-applied water-based primer, which the Jeld-Wen technical rep told me to sand off after being left exposed all winter long. The oil-based stuff leaves a thicker, pearlescent coating. On top of that I’m using Benjamin Moore’s top-of-the-line water-based semi-gloss, Aura. I forget why I agreed to that. But it’s great stuff except for how quickly it dries. The color I’m using is called Gulf Stream and after all of those eye-crossing turquoise samples, I am totally satisfied that I went with the “right” one.

The interior of the windows also have to be sealed. If I really had my shit together, I would be sealing the whole windows all at once, since they’re kinda a pain to take out and put back (especially the awnings, as most are too heavy/big for me to put back in alone.) But I’m not positive yet how I want to seal the interiors; I’ve been planning on using tung oil cut with a citrus solvent which conveniently comes from a local company. I’m open to other suggestions if anyone has any, though – I’m wondering about possible interactions between the oil-coated interior wood and the painted exterior, i.e. staining? I know for sure that I want to leave the interiors their natural wood color. 🙂 Also, I figure this kind of interior work can take a backseat until the exterior is complete.

Speaking of which, I’m hoping I can get some siding up by the end of the month as well. I’m kind of avoiding it. Not sure why, maybe because I’m still not clear on how to actually do it. I’m sure like everything else, it will be one of those things that becomes crystal clear as I start actually doing it. Mid-May will bring a family getaway in Walt Disney World for a week, so I’m a busy bee until then!

Two side notes: I’m starting to wonder about the feasibility of settling the casita in an urban area now that I’m considering staying in Philly a little longer to go back to school. The good folks at Boneyard Studios might have some things to say about that, and I hope to take a visit down to see them this summer, along with walking a bit with my friend George, who will be completing his 3+-year walk from Washington to Washington DC. Lastly, in light of my increasing mental urgency to devote all free time to the casita, the garden is suffering. At least there’s two full beds of garlic coming up. But otherwise no crops in the ground yet. I’m dreaming about last year’s magnificent spinach that I was starting to enjoy at about this time…

Look for more regular updates now that the season’s turning! 🙂


12 thoughts on “A Turquoise Dream For My Long-Lost Readers…

  1. Hi Pixie,
    I injoyed reading your blog.I’ve been a painter for over 25 years.I would recomemd a product called sikkens for the int windows.its a great wood protector and also enhances the beauty of the wood.
    Have fun Jim

  2. I’m so glad you are blogging again! yeah for turquoise windows! let’s house and life talk again soon. random piece of advice…i recommend a ceiling fan…perhaps you are already planning on one.. we put one in and im so glad we did. we use it quite a bit, in the winter we used it to keep the heat down, and now we use to circulate air and cool the place. I imagine there are other creative ventilation systems to consider as well…. one thing we didn’t do was wire the light and fan separately…this would have been very helpful. we used the penofin verde that we had used for our exterior finish on the inside of our windows…seems to be fine so far! i so admire you.

  3. I say yes yes yes to tung oil with citrus solvent!! It’s a pain how many coats need to be put on (7-8) and there are some tricks to application, but the outcome is absolutely incredible. So durable and able to handle moisture well. My floor in my little house is finished with tung oil as is my bamboo counter and all the wood siding and cabinets in my kitchen area. Holding up well to the rigors of daily life. Good tidings for the rest of your project! -jenn

  4. Thank you Lisa & Jenn for sharing your wisdom! I am considering a ceiling fan since I know how pragmatic they are, but I certainly don’t like their aesthetic… TBC… Jenn, my finish carpenter has recommended a 3-part solution that’s longer lasting & fewer coats: 2 parts linseed oil, 1 part tung, 1 part spar or polyurethane. I’m gonna try it and see how it goes. More toxic but cheaper & less effort. 8 coats, yikes! You are a patient person! I might still use it for walls…

    • Good luck with the staining! Sounds like you have really done some research! One question: Do you know with the oil combo you are using if you can add coats later when the finish starts to wear without sanding before application? That was one of the main reasons i chose the finishes i did so that i could touch things up without sanding. Less coats is appealing though. Interested for my partner Kim’s house being built this summer so thanks in advance for any info.

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