Hicks House

From Builder Basic to Beautiful


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How to Remove Stain from Vinyl Siding


How to Remove Deck Stain from Vinyl Siding | Hicks House

Yup you read that right, when we stained the deck, we also stained some sections of the house… oops. Sometimes despite the best preparation (we used plastic sheeting and tape to tape off the sections we thought would over spray) mistakes happen.

We obviously could not leave it like this. As its become summer we’re spending more and more time and eating more and more dinners out here and this was always taunting us:
How to remove stain from vinyl siding | Hicks House I asked several handy people how to get it off and the general answer was “It’s stain – the whole purpose of it is to NOT come off.” Well that’s just peachy. Some suggestions were to try acetone, or mineral oil.

Ken tried the mineral oil and after several minutes of severe scrubbing he got the splatters into more of a light brown smear. Wah Wah – not good enough.

There had to be better way. Then he found this stuff (affiliate link) Motsenbocker’s Lift-Off – No. 4 Spray Paint Graffiti Remover, 22 oz. Trigger Spray
:
How to remove stain from vinyl siding | Hicks House

So we picked up some scrubbers and a handled dish brush from the dollar store and Ken donned some gloves and tried again. The bottle said not to leave it on the applied area for too long because it can oxidize and strip the color UNDER what you were trying to remove so don’t spray too big an area at once.  Ken sprayed it down with the Liftoff and went over it with the scrubber.
How to remove stain from vinyl siding | Hicks House
For extra stubborn areas he used the plastic scrubber.
How to remove stain from vinyl siding | Hicks House
He didn’t even to press down or scrub that hard it just started coming off… almost like magic.

In order to wash it off after the scrubbing to ensure that it didn’t strip through our siding he then sprayed it down with Windex and wiped it off with a clean rag.

We were both in awe of how amazingly it worked. Not that I would recommend getting stain on your house but if it does happen at least there is a way to easily get it off.

How to Remove Deck Stain from Vinyl Siding | Hicks House

So what do you think? Are you as impressed as we were? I’d love to hear about your DIY oopsies.
Hicks House

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The Lawn War Rages On

After moving all the original grass seed that was planted by the builder was washed away and/or burnt to a crisp before we moved in, we decided to concentrate on moving in without worrying about the lawn for the first year. This year however, Ken has put a lot of time and effort into trying to whip the lawn into shape. However it seems like time and Mother Nature have not been on our side.

Back in April/May he spent just about every (non-rainy) night after work and all weekend digging up rocks and tilling the lawn to get it ready to be re-seeded. Everything looked like it was going good – the lawn looked like a big dust-bowl with no vegetation anywhere. Then we ran out of time and went on vacation for our one year anniversary and returned to crab grass/weed central. No lie, in that one week everything had taken root and grown like a foot high. “Sigh”

And if that wasn’t bad enough all the rain that came down while we gone (adding fuel to the weeds) also unearthed even MORE rocks. So Ken had to start all over de-rocking the lawn.
Lawn War | Hicks House

We also got a giant pile of top soil delivered to help even out some spots of the lawn that were less than flat – as well as fill in all the giant holes left behind from removing the rocks.
Lawn War | Hicks House

The topsoil itself was also riddled with rocks (are you noticing a never ending theme here?) so it didn’t make sense to fill in the holes with rock filled dirt. We’d just be trading big rocks for smaller rocks. So Ken built this handy screen to help sift through the topsoil.
Lawn War | Hicks House

It fit perfectly on top of his cart so he could pile dirt on top of the screen then shake it back and forth letting the dirt through the holes and catching all the rocks.
Lawn Wars | Hicks House
Lawn Wars | Hicks House

That’s a lot of rock! The result was what Ken called “the best topsoil EVER”
Lawn Wars | Hicks House

Chloe kept a watchful eye on the entire process – you know just to make sure he wasn’t slacking off out there. She’s a real control freak that one.
Lawn Wars | Hicks House

After the holes and low spots were all filled in we seeded the bare areas hoping to get at least some patches of “real” grass among the weeds.

Lawn Wars | Hicks House

After watering everyday for about a week (the neighbors must think we’re crazy – watering our weeds) we finally saw some GRASS!
Lawn Wars | Hicks House

One step closer to a real lawn. Ken has a plan of attack to get ahead of next spring so that the remaining weeds which still encompass about 80% of our property are gone and some grass comes back next spring.

All in all, this is taking WAY more work than either of us anticipated. We’ll be so excited when we finally have decent grass we may be out there laying in the lawn with Chloe

Hicks House

 


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All Deck-ed Out

Easter weekend was a busy weekend around the house. While most people were enjoying eating candy and spending time with family we were de-rocking the lawn and staining the deck (well Ken was anyway. I did housework inside.)

I know, I know your SUPER jealous. All of the advice we had heard and read online suggested letting the wood “season” for a year before treating it. Since we bought our house last June and the deck was already there we figured it had been about a year, and if it was going to get done this year it needed to happen before we put patio furniture on it.

Here is our deck last summer, all we did was move in and buy a nice 6-person table. And here is how it looked before we started the staining process/
Hicks House | Deck-ed Out
Hicks House | Deck-ed Out

We decided to go with this stain. Ken did LOTS of research and the reviews were heads above any other brands. The only catch? They didn’t sell it in any stores anywhere near us so we had to buy it online. Which meant we also had to just choose a color without seeing any in person samples at the store. What we really wanted was gray and white Trex decking… but this is real life where money doesn’t grow on trees and we are not rebuilding a perfectly good one year old deck. So we went with the light walnut color. We wanted it to be darker than the super light natural wood but not red or super dark.

So the three day process began with Ken cleaning the deck then brightening the wood. After that we let it dry for two days. Easter was the actual staining day. He went out to get started at 10 am and didn’t finish until 7pm. Needless to say it took WAY longer than either of us anticipated. We both thought it would maybe take 4-5 hours. Way, way wrong.

It also ended up coming out much darker than we envisioned.
Hicks House | Deck-ed Out
Hicks House | Deck-ed Out

Although slightly darker than intended I think it looks good. With all the rain we’ve been having the last few weeks we’ve been able to see the stain in action as the water just beads up on the surface rather than sinking into the wood.
Hicks House | Deck-ed Out

All this rain has also prevented us from putting out our patio furniture and actually enjoying the deck… but at least the stain is working.

Hicks House

 


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Spring has Sprung

Here is New England it is finally finally been feeling like spring the past week or so (freak snow storm or two aside).

Hicks House | April Snow

So you know what that means in New England? That’s right, yard work!

You may remember from some posts from last year like this one, this one, this one, and this one how last year we had a semi-dead/semi-crabgrass lawn.

Well now its all dead. Which may or not be better than crabgrass – we’re not sure, but what we know for sure is that as the onslaught of snow finally melted the neighbors all had green grass peeking through and we had brown. We are officially THAT house in the neighborhood, and most likely will be for another year or so.

With the long weekend Easter provided to Ken he decided to capitalize on the day off and take Thursday as well to get a leg up on the yard work. Before the lawn can be prepped to be re-seeded (most likely this fall) it needed to be de-rocked.

As you may or may not know the lot our home sits on used to be part of a Christmas Tree farm. When they leveled the lawn they left the majority of the roots in the soil (nice of them right). Along with all the roots were tons and tons of rocks. Many of the roots we pulled last year as they surfaced, but the rocks we left… until now.

Here is a picture of the front next to the driveway where you can see several piles of smaller rocks all around – and our lovely brown grass.

Hicks House | Rock Removal

In the back was a spectacularly large rock boulder that required the help of a friend of ours and his pick up truck to remove.

Hicks House | Rock Removal

So now the yard is de-rocked and awaiting a load of top soil to fill in all the newly created holes and level out the slump in the back that turns into a makeshift pond whenever it rains.

After all that hard work (that Ken did – I was at actual work not working nearly as hard) we unwinded by taking a wine blending class and creating our our custom Bordeaux wine blends!

Hicks House | Wine

Have you been taking advantage of the 50 degree plus days by getting out in your lawn? I’d love to hear what yard work you’ve accomplished!

Hicks House

 


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A Splash of Color

What color to paint the front door?  It’s such a big decision it sends the first impression that visitors and passerby’s see of your home.  It was such a big decision in fact that when the builder offered to paint the door for us before we closed we couldn’t come to a decision.  I even went so far as to PhotoShop different colors onto a picture of the house to help us decide.  In the end we decided to live with the house for a while and just had him paint it white.

white house with a white door - how ordinarily boring

white house with a white door – how ordinarily boring

close up

close up

After several months we finally came to the consensus that we wanted yellow. It’s such a happy color, how can you come home to a yellow door and not become instantly more upbeat? Now the only question was what kind of yellow?

This was our inspiration that I found our Pinterest.  We both loved it.  It’s from Beautiful MattersBlog

Inspiration Door

Inspiration Door

So we went to the paint store and looked at all the options of paint swatches and came to a decision.  I was slightly worried it may be on the bright side, but hey it’s only paint and the whole point is to get the door to “POP” right?

So I got to work cleaning the door with some mineral oil to get off any dirt and grime that was on it. (I read this is extremely important in order for the paint to adhere properly.) It turned out to be a LOT dirtier than I could have imagined.

look how dirty!

look how dirty!

Then I got ready to start painting – shook up the can to mix the paint properly and popped it open…

the first sign this might not go so well...

the first sign this might not go so well…

It looked awfully bright, but hey the inspo door is bright and you can’t always tell by what the color looks like in the can right? After all there is way more of it concentrated in a small little area and it always looks different once its dry. So I got to painting. Here’s the finished product:

close up

close up

far away

far away

My eyes! MY EYES!!! We couldn’t have possibly picked a color this bright! the swatch must have lied to us…

oh but we did pick it

oh but we did pick it

What were we thinking? I’ll tell you what I’m thinking now, I’m thinking I need a re-do. As its now the end of October and its getting too cold outside in New England I may have to wait until spring. It’s possibly it may grow on me in the next couple of months – stranger things have happened.

The bright yellow on bright white is just too much – the inspiration door is bright yellow on gray which helps tone it down… Rookie mistake!  We should have known better!

So what do you think is it too bright or just right? I’d love to hear your opinion!


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Finishing Touches to the Garage

One of the things that comes with a “brand new house” is a completely un-finished garage.  I didn’t think anything of this, after-all aren’t all garages un-finished?  The answer to that is two-part, they are un-finished with regard to the rest of your house i.e. concrete floors no paint on the walls etc.  However, most are insulated and dry walled – ours was not.  With the sweltering hot days we have experienced up here in New England this summer, with several days in a row coming close to exceeding 100 degrees, the garage would heat up to a comfortable 150 (estimating, but not exaggerating).

Considering how Ken planned to turn the garage into tool central, the heat was not providing a enjoyable work atmosphere.  Also necessary in order for him to fully enjoy the space was more electrical outlets.  The only two the builder provided were in the ceiling to connect the garage door openers to (the house didn’t come with openers either – but that is another post).

So, before Ken could get to insulating and sheet-rocking the garage he had to run electrical.  This he did himself, although for the average person I wouldn’t recommend it as you could get electrocuted – duh.  Ken is no average home improvement weekend warrior, he knows a lot about how things work, had some basic electrical knowledge and learned what he needed to know before starting to avoid that whole electrocution thing.

That orange light means it works!

That orange light means it works!

Then insulation was put in between all the studs:

Insulated!

Insulated!

And sheet rock put up:

finishing stretch!

finishing stretch!

We unfortunately didn’t buy quite enough to finish the entire garage, but the back wall was the most important as this is where Ken wanted to build and put his tool bench. Even without the entire garage being completed there is still a HUGE difference in the temperature out there – but that may also be because we haven’t hit 100 in about a month… but I’m crediting the insulation.


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The Electric Fence Gets Tested

As I wrote about previously in Chloe’s Invisible Kingdom, training on the invisible fence was moving slower than we originally anticipated.  We’ve been trying to get outside with Chloe as much as possible and get her used to using more of the yard that the 6 foot radius her old tie-out stake reached.

She has been timid and uncertain and we have only been able to coax her out either on a leash to walk the perimeter or by playing chase around the yard.  Although she seems to love the chase game she says well within the boundaries and refuses to go towards the edge.  Which is good, but also worrisome since we were uncertain if tempted she would show the same restraint.

Then something wonderful happened, the perfect test to see how she dealt with temptation… there was a cat in our yard.  Without thinking it through fully I put on her collar and let her outside – she took off like a bat out of hell (so did the cat).  At that point we both realized we didn’t have a contingency plan for if she did go through the fence.  Luckily she got to the flags at the edge of the yard and stopped dead, the cat made it safely to the trees at the edge of the neighbors yard.

Chloe wandered back to deck and waited.  Sure enough the cat came streaking from the trees across the lawn and Chloe was off again, going so fast I was afraid she wouldn’t be able to stop even if she wanted to.  As soon as she got to the back corner of the lot she pulled a u-turn back towards the center.  SUCCESS!!! If a cat can’t tempt her past the boundary I feel much more confident that she is getting used to the invisible fence and will soon start to enjoy being out there.