The Cross House
Here in Kansas it is possible to paint the exterior of your house all through to the end of December. CAVEAT: just not every day. It becomes kinda hit or miss these two months. Once I had 70 degree weather between Christmas and New Years. So, I removed the exterior wall in my kitchen — sure, why not? — and rebuilt it. The wall went from having one tiny south-facing window to having a beveled-glass door, and two matching beveled-glass sidelights, opening onto a new deck (which I built in the spring).
The whole wall was new, and I managed to get it finished, insulated, and with the new exterior siding having a coat of primer, before the temperature dropped to like 12 degrees on January 3.
Kansas is like that.
MANY YEARS LATER
I am trying to get the main facade of the Cross House painted before January. As such, I am now paying daily attention to the weather. Breathlessly, I begin each day at the computer clicking on WeatherUnderground and waiting for the results. Does the ten-day forecast show any days above 50 dregrees — the threshold for painting?
Today is Thankgiving. The high was 46. Too cold to paint. Sensibly, I stayed home and enjoyed the traditions of the holiday, including having not one but two pieces of pumpkin cheesecake with whip cream. However, had the temperature been above 50, traditions be damned! I would have been up on scaffolding with paint brush in one hand (and, likely, a piece of pumpkin cheesecake in the other).
Tomorrow however are TWO predicted days of — I am agog — over 60 degrees. Whoee!!!!!!!! Over 60!!!!!!!! Whoee!!!!!!!!
The wall shingles are original. They are in pretty good shape, particular considering that they are 120-years-old. The main roof also — stunningly — retains its original wood shingles, but these are buried under the circa-1940 diamond-tile roofing tiles. The tiles are not particularly attractive but a retired roofer gave me good advice. He says that people regularly tear off these style tiles but later regret it. This is because such tiles last forever. “And I mean forever,” he emphasized. This is because the tiles are made of, gulp, asbestos. Of course, as long as I do not disturb the tiles they pose no health risk. And they will long outlive me.
Anyway, at the junction of where octagon tower meets roof the 1940s roofing guys simply laid the new tiles upon the old roof. Under the old roof is also the original flashing where tower meets roof. This means that since the 1940s, when rain hits that section of the octagon tower, it falls down the wall, bypassing the 1940s roofing tiles, wets the 1894 wood roofing, and then is directed by 120-year-old flashing into the built-in gutter.
This is so not good.
And the whole 1940s roof is like this. Sorry for my language but the only proper response is: Fuck
However, in all the instances so far encountered where the 1940s roofing buts up against a tower/dormer/chimney the clearance is quite thin, and a good caulk bead offers adequate protection. Until the caulk needs to be redone.
This was not the case where octagon tower met roof. There was a gap of almost two-inches between the wall shingles and the 1940s roofing. Geez.
New western red cedar shingles to the rescue! [NOTE: The nail heads on the upper-most row of shingles will get covered by a temporarily removed trim piece.]
For reasons I cannot explain, even though this junction of roof/tower should have rotted out because of the condition described above, there is no evidence inside the house of any water damage in this area.
That said, let us rejoin an image:
There is no other place on the exterior where I have found punky shingles. Just this location. I pondered the WHY of the punkiness but could find no obvious cause. When I removed the shingles, their backs were even moist. Hey, I thought, this can’t be good.
Months later, when my butt was sitting on the roof above the punky wall, I realized that perhaps the WIDE spacing between the octagon tower and the 1940s roofing is what caused the shingles below to decay. So, the 120-year-old flashing managed to keep water from getting inside of the house but not from migrating behind the exterior shingles. Or at least this is what I think happened.
If the weather Gods allow, by Saturday late afternoon I will have finished painting the octagon tower now shrouded in scaffolding. Then the scaffolding will be moved over to the right to paint the next section of the octagon.
You see, I have another potential weather window later in the week:
It is now Sunday morning. The two days of nice weather have vanished. It is cold and windy. Brrrrrrrrrrrr!
However, I finished my painting. Whoee!