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Problematic Porch Project? Puh-leeze.

Steps, ho!!!

They’re the worst part of the porch.

Sure, the wear and tear is to be expected. The steps get used more than any other part of the porch and are exposed to every single element Mother Nature can throw at them…

But what is UP with the clear shot into the cavernous netherworld? For real. Nobody wants to see that.

It brings down the whole curb appeal of our property, like, 80 percent.

So, after much back & forth-ery, we decided our best option was to put some kind of simple flashing behind the steps to obscure the yuck.

Rental House Rule #12: Distract, obscure, refocus.

Our plan A involved putting a big piece of lattice across the opening behind the steps, but because of the way they’re constructed, we couldn’t possibly fit a section larger than 14″ wide through the framework. Which would mean cutting the lattice into sections & reassembling it while underneath the porch. Yeah… gonna pass on that.

Instead, we took measurements, planning to grab some thin plywood and have it cut to size by the helpful employees at the ole big box.

Unfortunately, we found that each step had a different measurement. Some steps even varied by almost an inch from one side to the other. (Weird that we can’t feel that when we climb them… we must have a little Alpaca in our genes.)

So rather than try to explain our situation to the big box guy, we decided to tackle the problem on our own.

What we’ll end up doing is cutting the wood ourselves. We’re not going to sweat a half-inch difference here & there. Instead, we’ll do a “peekaboo” treatment.

In other words, we’ll cut pieces of wood that are shorter (vertically) than the space they’ll occupy. Then we’ll paint them to contrast the color of the steps and place them with their top edges flush to the top underside of each step. A little bit of empty space will still exist, but the effect created by blocking most of the view will be enough to draw the eye to the front of the steps, rather than to the area behind them. (We hope.)

But first, I need to paint those steps.

Hey, Amy — what’s up with the sandy newspaper?

Well, I’ll tell you, curious reader!

Not only are our steps uneven & steep, they are also phenomenally slippery. During the fall & winter months, this causes great amounts of undue stress.

When we first moved in, I went to the hardware store & bought some of that non-skid adhesive tape to solve the problem.

Yeah. That stuff doesn’t stick. And at about $25 for the amount of tape we require, (Where do they get off???) it was a major rip-off. We got maybe a month of use out of it. Maybe.

So, Dan recommended a trick he’s seen in the past: sprinkling wet paint with sand to create the same non-skid effect.

Neither of us has actually tried this procedure before, so we were kinda flying blind, but we figured, “How hard could it be? Seems pretty self-explanatory!”

Famous last words?

Nah. It was a cinch. But there WAS one very, very important detail that we somehow overlooked. (Despite having 4 college degrees between us. Shut up.)

Which brings us to the sandy newspaper…

YOU MUST USE DRY SAND

If you, like me, get lazy & think, “Eh, how much of a difference could it make?”… you’ll find out.

It makes a huge difference.

“Wet sand clumps, genius.”

Oh yeah.

So, to avoid this loveliness (pic right), make sure your sand is dry. Ours was not. Obviously. So, after my first coat dried overnight, I hit it with a second coat of paint & a second application of sand. Dry, this time :-/

To do it right, you’ll want to wet your hands slightly, (Spray bottle… or just spit on them. Heh, heh.) and dip them in your dry sand.

Then brush the sand off the way you would if you were at the beach. You know, that clap/slide/shake maneuver. You know. Just do that above your steps over & over until you’ve achieved thin, even-ish coverage. And wear glasses. And prepare to shower.

The process went much more smoothly once I’d figured this out. Or roughly, as the case may be. Whatever… it looked much better the second time around:

See the nice, even texture? Sa-weet!

And super grippy!!!

Plus, from a few feet back, you can barely tell it’s there…

So, for a tiny bit of extra effort & about 4 cents, we now have skid-proof porch steps. Whew!

And they look SO much better with a fresh coat of paint! Especially on the sides:

See?So. Much. Better.

The last painter apparently ran out of either paint or give-a-damn before finishing the job…

I imagine it was give-a-damn.

(BTW, this shot was taken after the first coat of paint/sand. It does not look this blotchy now.)

We still have to address the TMI problem by cutting/painting/installing those peekaboo flashings I spoke of earlier, but I wanted to get this “progress post” up so y’all would know I’m still in there chuggin’ away.

Really, the steps were a breeze. It took me about 30 minutes per application — once before bed (let dry overnight) and again in the morning.

You can totally do it, SO easily.

Just make sure to put up a “wet paint” sign!!!

NEXT POST: MORE PORCH PROGRESS — WE’RE GETTING CLOSE TO THE BIG REVEAL!!!!!

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