Southern Front Porch Makeover – Spring 2020 One Room Challenge – Week 3 – Demo Day

Calling this “Demo Day” might be a stretch… but I thought it sounded more interesting than “Several weekends of pressure washing, sandblasting, and cursing”.

This week’s project was removing all the layers of paint from our porch floor and front walkway. “Sounds simple enough,” you might say. But you would be sorely mistaken. As it turns out, removing 5-6 layers of paint from a hundred year old concrete slab is not easy. Just as a reminder, here’s where we started:

This is us on the day we bought our house. See the pale gray floor with brick red showing through? When we had the interior of the house painted and all the dormer siding replaced and repainted, we said “Oh, what the heck”, and threw the porch floor into the mix too. It came out much more blue than I had hoped, but I decided to let it go and deal with it later, since all of our other house projects were much more pressing at the time. Within a few months, it had started chipping again. When I decided that the front porch would be our Spring One Room Challenge project, this is what the porch looked like.

If I were going to tell someone how to do this, here’s the order I’d tell them to do things:

  1. Spread paint stripper
  2. Use bristle broom to score paint and remove most of it
  3. Use a pressure washer with a 15° nozzle to remove the rest of the paint
  4. Use a pressure washer with a 25° nozzle or larger to remove all the paint chips and clean off any dirt
  5. If needed, use a media blaster to remove any stubborn paint spots
  6. Paint and seal
  7. Redo landscaping
  8. Voila! Clean slate, happy plants!

And guess what order we actually did it in? Almost the exact opposite. We started with landscaping, which took several weekends of work, and honestly I’m glad we got it done in April so as not to have to deal with so much heat in May and June. Next, we tried the media blaster for paint removal. This worked a little bit, but only very slowly and tediously. After that didn’t work, we got the pressure washer involved and started quite literally chipping away at the paint. That was slow going until Jonny bought magical 15° and 0° nozzles. FINALLY, we were getting somewhere. I finished up the porch floor, but the walkway was proving to be much more stubborn, so Jonny ran to the hardware store to buy concrete paint stripper. Surprise, surprise, that worked better than anything else. Jonny came inside after scraping it up and said, “We definitely should have done that first.”

Where does the landscaping come in to play? Well, we finished that up last week. That means that all those beautiful new plants had little blue paint chips all around them in the mulch. We did have one small stroke of… not genius, but a good idea. We bought 2 mm clear plastic drop cloths, draped them over the plants in the flowerbeds around the porch, and weighed them down with bricks. That was probably the only smart thing we did, but it saved us from accidentally pressure washing off a leaf or spraying paint chips into a hydrangea bush.

After hours (think somewhere around 20 -30 between the two of us) of work, we finally removed all of the blue paint, and most of the red, yellow, and gray layers, too.

This week’s project is painting, and since I love painting, I hope we can be just a little bit smarter about our process. I’m picking up paint samples today, and I can’t wait to get started. And I swear, we’re going to go in a much more logical order this time. Starting with the ceiling, and working our way to the floor–not the other way around.

Until next week, friends!


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