Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The Great Outdoors, part two

I don't know if it's a good or bad thing but I am like a determined dog when I get an idea in my head. Having seen how much we managed to achieve in just one afternoon on the roof, I quickly booked some time off work to continue the project in earnest (and make the most of the good weather). Unfortunately, Mr F was unable to join me in my pursuit of blisters as he's got a new job so I was on my own with just the radio for company.

First thing was first: a trip to Homebase. As a child, I hated being dragged around various home improvement meccas but something weird happens when you get on the property ladder. Suddenly, I am perfectly content to wile away an afternoon poking around various aisles of Homebase or B&Q, examing hooks, spanners and all manner of exciting things. I mean, seriously, I think I might have a problem; I put more time into choosing our light switches than was strictly healthy.

Anyway, a half hour dawdle in the paint aisles later and I was back on the roof, armed with my tools:

I chose Weathercoat Smooth in Brilliant White, £27.99 (buy one, get one half price) as I was after a paint that would reflect the sun and really zing. Plus, it was buy one get one half price - a good thing when you're on a budget like we are. The masonry roller, paint brushes and tray were all from the Homebase Basics range, which did the trick nicely.

But before I could start painting, there was a small matter of the cracks in the wall to take of, so I'd bought some ready mixed Polyfilla. Now, the closest I'd come to filling cracks before this was tackling my crow's feet with Benefit's Porefessional so it took a little trial and error but eventually, I got there:

Although admittedly, I probably ended up with more on me than the actual wall. I left it to dry while I started at the other end of the terrace with my other tools. And so I painted. And painted. And painted some more. For six hours straight, bar one 10 minute break for a hotdog.

At this point, I learnt a very valuable lesson. Never, ever, under any circumstances paint in dungarees and a bikini top without a hell of a lot of sunblock. Not only did I have relatively bad sunburn by the end of the day but I also had the perfect outline of dungaree straps singed onto my back. Nice one.

However, we did also have a roof that looked distinctly nicer than it had a few hours before:

Here, you can see a three step comparison - even with the first thin coat it was looking much better. On the first day of painting, I made it about two thirds of the way round before collapsing, exhausted and with an empty can of paint, to nurse my sunburn, blisters and the extraordinary hand cramp from gripping rollers and brushes for six hours straight.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Flatzilla 2.0: The Great Outdoors, part one

So, it's been almost a year since I last posted on here and my, what a busy year it has been. Just as we finally settled in and got ready to host our first Christmas in our tiny flat, the freak weather hit us and while we weren't anywhere near the hideous flooding in Somerset, we did get to watch all of our beautifully freshly plastered walls destroyed through water damage.

I'm still getting over it. The less said the better. Needless to say, we learnt a lot of DIY skills very quickly in those soggy weeks.

And now, we have a new project: the roof.

So, a little background first: When we were looking for a flat, one of the biggest draws to what eventually became our home was the outdoor space. Having lived in a house with a very big garden since I was two, I was determined to have some kind of outdoor space. Our flat came with access to two very unloved communal terraces and in our lease negotiations we managed to convince the freeholders to hand over exclusive use of both under the provision that we would look after them.

We quickly transformed the small lower terrace by painting the rails, cleaning off the brick work and investing in a nice little Bistro set from good old John Lewis (You can read more about it here) but the upstairs terrace was a much bigger fish.

We were so excited to have the outdoor space that at first we simply put up with grubbiness but as soon as the sun came out this season, we began plotting what to do upstairs. There was only so long that I could look at weeds and dirty walls like this:

The long and short of it is that we need to tear up everything, put down a new framework and retile the entire thing which is not only expensive but difficult to do when every roofer within the M25 appears to be booked solid until sometime in November.

As the resident sun worshipper (see above), I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands and so began my next project, Flatzilla 2.0: The Great Outdoors. The plan? To kill the weeds, blast off 15 years (possibly more) of accumulated dirt and generally make it a lovely place where we could spend our summer, rather than this:

Just like St Tropez, right?

 After swapping our giant Karcher for a more reasonably sized handheld version that we could get up the stairs, we started Flatzilla 2.0 on June 29th by blasting everything off the walls.

Luckily, most of the paint was so old and chipped that some vigorous pressure washing blasted it straight off. And onto us. Mr F's legs took the brunt of it:

After one afternoon, we were free of around 90% of the old paint and once the sun dried off the wet walls, the difference was already staggering:

Stage one: completed. Now, we just had to let the walls dry before the REAL fun could begin.