July 31 to August 2, 2020
My plans for the weekend were simple–finish painting. Nothing more. Oh, and maybe re-level the cabin. But that was it. I’d already picked up two gallons of tinted Kilz Original oil-based primer, which should be more than enough for one last coat, plus three coats on the upstairs back wall.
I’m tired of priming. By Sunday, the fumes are overwhelming, and I’ve been heading home with a throbbing headache. That’s not the way I want to spend my weekends. So, one more, and then I’m done. No more priming.
And, with any luck, I could start on the actual painting this weekend, too. But, I hadn’t picked up that paint yet. My visit to Home Depot that morning had not been a happy one. Rather than completing my shopping list, I grabbed the bare minimum–just the Kilz and more backer rod for filling in gaps in the walls.
However, I’d also called around and found a rental place that carried the jacks I needed in a nearby town. And, for only $9 a day. What a bargain!
I headed out to River Song as soon as the clock struck 5. And, by 6:30, I was rolling on another coat. Everything was still in place from last weekend, so I didn’t have to spend any time prepping. In no time, I finished the third and final coat.
Whew! That left only the upstairs back wall. And frankly, I was in no hurry. The overhanging roof and the flashing protect the wall well. But, I wrapped the roller in plastic, anyway. If I did decide to do the back wall this weekend, I could reuse it.
My final task for the evening–I walked around the cabin and filled in any small gaps in the wood with backer rod. This stuff is great!
Saturday, August 1
So much for the sunny weather forecast! Some time in the middle of the night, it started to rain. Not heavily, but enough to make me lose some sleep. It wasn’t supposed to rain this weekend. It mostly stopped by morning, but the surly clouds overhead made me change my painting plans, and I headed into town first thing to rent a couple of jacks.
I decided on two six-ton hydraulic bottle jacks. Unlike my scissor jacks, these used levers, which would be easier on my hands than turning rods. But, they were taller than my scissor jacks. Which meant I had to dig holes to fit them under the foundation.
Easier said than done in a forest full of trees.
The shovel hit tree roots every time. I hacked and shoveled and pried and snipped and sawed. Sweat poured into my eyes as I pulled out dirt by the handfuls. At one point, I pried at a large root with my shovel, trying to loosen it enough to use my chainsaw to cut it out of the way. Suddenly, the handle snapped, the spear-sharped jagged end just inches from my face.
It was sobering. I did not anticipate the shovel handle breaking. I needed to be more thoughtful. Fortunately, I have an emergency shovel in my truck, one of those metal army-surplus types. It did the trick, and after about an hour, I had a hole six inches deep at the sagging southeast corner.
Just one hole, but it was enough. I could use one bottle jack to raise the cabin, and my two scissor jacks to help hold it up.
I monkeyed with it for about an hour. It was easy enough to raise, but leveling was another matter. I thought I had it leveled at one point, but then I noticed not only was the southeast corner lifted up, but also the entire back half of the cabin. Everything behind the front wall was off the foundation.
Well, that wouldn’t do. I needed the north side to stay put on the foundation blocks while I raised and leveled the south side.
No matter what I did, I could not get the north side of the cabin to stay down.
Finally, I decided to raise the southeast end by one inch, which was half what I intended, and then let the building settle for a while. Jacks are cheap to rent, and the building is easy enough to raise. I would do a little now, let the building settle, and then level it a little more in a month or two. I remembered when I had paid a professional to level the shed at my house. He needed to come back and adjust it two weeks later, too, so perhaps this is normal.
In any event, the cabin is a little more level. According to the app on my phone, the bathroom sloped 2% before leveling, and 1% after. So, it’s some improvement. And, the front door now stays open without needing to be tied in place.
While I had the cabin raised, I checked the foundation blocks to ensure they were completely under the wall edge. Some had been sticking out a bit, and I was concerned they would create pathways for water into the foundation and wall. A couple taps with my rubber mallet, and they moved into place.
With that done, I called it good and drove through a light rain back into town.
By the time I dropped off the jacks, the sun was out. I decided to take a chance and pick up my paint. This time, no grief; the staff had two gallons of Behr exterior acrylic paint ready for me in minutes. Night Mission! A dark green similar to that used in camouflage patterns. I’m not a big fan of camo, but I do want my cabin to be unobtrusive and not easily seen from the road. So, Night Mission for the main color, Private Black for the trim, and Sorel Leaf for the doors and accents. Camo colors, but not camo patterns. And maybe some fun autumn leaf-colored paw prints going up the walls?
I got back to my cabin by late afternoon. The clouds were all gone, and again, painting didn’t take long. Initially, the paint looked cow pie green, which is exactly what I was trying to avoid. Fortunately, as the guy at the store promised, it dried darker, losing its cow pie-ness. And surprisingly, whereas three coats of primer took five gallons of Kilz, one coat of paint took only about 2/3 of a gallon. Nice! Two gallons should be enough for three coats!
I called it quits at about 7:00 p.m., absolutely exhausted. Two hours later, I was already in bed with lights out.
Sunday, August 2
I really wanted priming done. Those fumes are nasty. So, bright and early Sunday morning, I tackled that upper back wall. It’s only 24-square feet, so it really only took about ten minutes. While I was at it, I went ahead and primed the door, too. According to the directions on the can, I only had to wait an hour between coats. Which meant I could get in all three today.
While that was drying, I applied a second coat of paint on the rest of the cabin. I took a break for an hour, giving both additional time to dry, and then rolled on another coat of primer. Rinse and repeat; I had all three coats of each done by the end of the day.
And I hope I never have to use an oil-based paint or primer again.
Painting the upper back wall can wait until next weekend. Thankfully, I have enough paint left for at least two coats on that back wall. And two coats will be enough, so no need to buy more of the Night Mission.
Sadly, I didn’t finish painting and cleanup until almost 7:00 p.m., so I didn’t get a chance to take a bath in the river again. I was really looking forward to it. But, by late afternoon, the sun is long gone from the river gorge. And, I simply didn’t have the energy to tackle the bluff.
But, it was worth it. And, my cabin looks great!
I grabbed the trim on my way out. I can paint that at home during the week, reducing my work next weekend.