Exterior Paint Job Part 1: Summer of ’17: Shave, Sand, Wash, Stain

I usually appreciate textured surfaces, and the occasional chippy paint. And I love an “old wall” look. But I don’t love it when it looks like this on my house:

Peeling Paint on Cedar Siding

Peeling Exterior Paint

Twice in the past 13 years, we paid contractors to scrape and paint our cedar-sided house. But they scraped pretty much half-heartedly, kind of just barely. It’s not a fun job, for sure. Now we’re doing the job. On all 3,000 sq ft of siding.

Removing Paint from Cedar Siding

Scraping Paint from Cedar Siding

Shave. Sand. Wash. Stain.




For 3 months of summer days and evenings!


We HAVE to. Because when you’re up close, it looks like we have the haunted house on the block. And beyond the looks, the siding and house are not well protected from the elements.

Some neighbors warned us, don’t do it yourselves!! Replace the siding instead! It’s easier! Yeah and it’s really expensive. And there isn’t much wrong with the cedar. Sure there are a few rotten areas and some woodpecker holes. But they can be easily fixed with epoxy and rot terminator, or replaced. Our house is nearly 50 years old. I might think that 50-year-old cedar is better than today’s new cedar?

We talked with several contractors about doing this full job of scraping all wood down to raw wood. Some wouldn’t even do it. Others quoted way more than we can pay for the entire job, especially after we’ve already paid twice for re-painting.

So, we’re doing it.

PaintShaver Pro on Cedar Siding

Removing Exterior Paint from Cedar Siding

Removing Exterior Paint with PaintShaver Pro

Shade Seekers

We live near Chicago, so we’re in a race against the weather. We have to finish before snow flies. But seeing that it’s 95 degrees on September 23 — thus I’m indoors writing a blog post at high noon and not scraping, sanding etc. outdoors — maybe we’ll have more time than we think.

Here’s a video from this morning. We have to organize our days around the sun, so we work as much as possible in the shade. For awhile, the wall over our garage was shaded:

So, this blog has been quiet for a long time because I’ve been very busy. I’ve been busy since spring on this project. It started with researching everything we’re doing, and then actually doing it. I don’t know how bloggers who do serious big-time renovations can do the work AND edit the photos AND write about it. I’ve been physically and mentally exhausted after days of this work! But I will say, this also feels like good healthy work for the body.

I spent 25+ years sitting at computers in offices all day, every day. Research shows that much sitting is terrible for our health, and people die earlier because of all the sitting. My arms and legs and many muscles have been under-used for YEARS. Sometimes when I stood up after long stretches of working at a desk, my legs felt like floppy Kermit the Frog legs! Well they’re getting used now! This is hard work, and I do complain about the aches and pains, but I overall feel better. I’m taking a “gap year” of sorts from my career this year, so I have the time to do this all day. As the days go on, the work gets easier and I know I’m getting stronger. I am choosing to look at the bright side of this work.

Some positives of this project include design changes we’re making to the house. Of course you know I love opportunity for that!

  • I’m changing all the white on trim, windows, doors with a warm gray.
  • New shutters! Real functional shutter hardware with wood framed board and batten style shutters. And, shutters properly sized for the windows. The real deal.
  • It’s hard to see lights in the photo above, but we’re replacing porch and garage lights. From cheap traditional colonial lights, to bigger “modern industrial farmhouse” trendier lights. With motion sensing, so every time deer, raccoon, skunk, fox and coyote walk by at night, I can freak out and think it’s a burglar.
  • We’re adding a big walkway from the driveway to the porch. I am pining for bluestone but we’ll likely do pavers with a bluestone look.
  • Next spring, more of a garden in the front. In order to use the scaffolding, we chopped down a bland row of evergreen bushes that ran along the front of the porch. Before spring, I’ll be researching shrubs with four-season interest.
  • I think we’ll run out of time this year, so likely next spring we’ll add stone veneer along the bottom half of the sunroom that’s on the back of the house. And eventually a patio will be added to wrap around the sunroom.

Future Blog Posts

I’ll follow-up later with more posts about this big exterior paint project:

  • Product review – the Paintshaver Pro from American International Tool. This tool is a dream come true and makes this job possible. You can see my husband using it in the video above. I’ll do a whole post about the tool.
  • There are color and design decisions to share — not just a show n’ tell but the reasons and why’s behind the decisions.
  • Stain vs Paint. We’re staining this time, with Sherwin Williams Woodscapes in a solid color stain.
  • DIY shutters and functional shutter hardware. I still have to make samples of the shutters. There’s more than 30 shutters to make. I am more of a “one & done” DIY’er, not a production person, so I honestly think making all those shutters will be more painful than this exterior paint job!
  • Some safety tips. Some people might say we’re going overboard – we’re renting a big boom lift for the highest parts of the house next week, instead of rigging up DIY things to get higher up. I worked in safety for decades, and I’ve worked in a trauma center and seen first-hand what can happen to people. So I’m cautious. Not overly-scared because I’m up there on the roof too, but cautious. So I’ll have some things to say about fall prevention and the importance of investing in safety.

So this was a quick update for now, more later!

EDITED TO ADD: Ha, so you know how I said above that it’s hard to do this work AND also blog about it. Well I wrote this on Sept 23 and finally posting late on Sept 27. Meanwhile we got this big blue boy delivered and we have it for a week, so every day our paint shaving is taken to new heights! :)

Boom Lift for Exterior Paint Job


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