blackmon6The windows on the second floor of the Cupola Building are misleading. With 16-foot ceilings on both floors they look small from the street, but they are massive…each over 10 feet tall. There’s eighteen of them! Most need repair. There will no doubt be work on doors inside and out as well, so we’ll detail those projects on this page.

Side Door Repair, Part the Duex

Working on the Cupola building this weekend. Doors. Again.

That door is 8' tall!

That door is 8′ tall!

Glass reset. Rot repaired. Frame screwed back together. Stripped. Primered. Painted. Can’t seem to find a good “before” picture…(one will turn up)…everything was the pinkish color and hadn’t been painted in a couple decades. All peeling etc, down to bare wood in lots of places. Ugly. Tough job…a lot of work…that door is heavy…it’s 8 feet tall…and that’s 1/4″ laminated glass…but it’s done.

Smaller, but still damn heavy.

Smaller, but still damn heavy.

Not a fan of the pinkish…they call it “faux sunset” or some bs like that. I call it “labia minora”…but it’s one of 4 colors the historic society and main-street committee selected for my building decades ago and I can live with it…

I have the light blue, darker blue, “labia minora”, and a sort of aqua green/blue. With the right combination and contrasting trims etc that will work.

“Labia minora” and the light blue are actually VERY pastel and not at all what would have been applied to the building in it’s age…they went “bold” back then.

Anyway, looking better.

Oh, and a smaller side door…same treatment. Hours of work. Still dammed heavy!

Oh, and I cheated on the stoops. They are “Dover Grey”…from a quart can of 30 year old oil-based paint that I found (along with about 100 of it’s buddies) in a hidden “nook” in the building. Mix it well and it still paints just fine!

Side Door Repair

Worked on the rear (side) door of The Cupola this weekend…this is the door that leads directly to the staircase that goes all the way upstairs.

It may be original…hard to tell…but unlike the other exterior doors on this building, it is the original size for the opening.

It had several problems to address. Peeling paint, rot on the bottom end-grains, and loose/rotted trim that holds in the glass. The lockset also needed substantial work…over the years it had become a two-man job just to open this door.

The door has bars on it (added later). They are in good condition but have some surface rust. I’ll prime and paint them the same color as the door.

I had to remove the bars for this project though.

After the bars were off, I removed and reset the glass with new trim and glazing. The condition of the trim was so poor I removed it all with basically just my fingers…One good slam and the glass would have exited the door. The glass is double laminated and is quite heavy. Swearing could be heard echoing about the square as I struggled to reset the glass without breaking it…or myself…

Next, the rot.

The bottom end-grains were rotten because the door basically touches a concrete threshold…a bump in the concrete entryway…and the grain wicks moisture up into the door. There is also no sweep etc to help seal the water out. I figure it’s been working on rotting for 50-60 years…fortunately it’s sappy yellow pine and is quite slow about it.

No need to replace the entire door just for a bit of rot though. Solve the moisture problem, plug the rot, and we’ll go for another 100 years or so with regular maintenance.

The plastic wrap is critical…

The plastic wrap is critical…

I used Bondo to fill the rotted areas. It is an Epoxy-based plastic filler. It won’t absorb water, hardens to workable in 20-30 minutes, is VERY shape-able (grater/file/sanding), and will last indefinitely. You must be careful, like with any wood repair product, to solve the problem that caused the rot originally, but if you do, the Bondo will be a permanent repair. It costs around $30/gallon as opposed to many times that price for dedicated Epoxy-based wood repair products.

Bondo is your friend.

Bondo is your friend.

I wrapped a couple pieces of scrap wood in plastic wrap so they didn’t end up permanently bonded to the door, clamped them on as a form, mixed up a fist sized amount of Bondo, and worked it thoroughly into the rot. 25 minutes later I removed the forms and shaped the result with a rough file and presto! Done. I then flipped the door and did the other side. Remounting this door is no small feat when you’re by yourself…

Scraping and final caulking came next. It was a quiet Sunday…until I got out the carbide paint scraper. The resulting noises echoing down the quiet streets of the mostly deserted square were impressively loud and sounded much like what I can only describe as an “elephant orgy”.

I’m sure anybody within 3 blocks of the square was looking around and exclaiming, “What the HELL is THAT?”

Primer and paint next weekend.

Y’all take care…and FIX something, will ya?

Daniel Meyer

On the “things that can go wrong” front…

One of our big windows was supposed to be replaced Monday or Tuesday…for some reason it didn’t get done. It’s cracked and covered in decals (and dirty, I didn’t clean the ones that needed replaced).

Anyway, cleaned it today. Can’t remove the decals…it’s to fragile to handle the attention.

Ah well. It’s still a window. It’ll get done eventually!