September 9, 2008

What is better, old or new?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008 Posted by Ryan , , , , No comments
While removing the old shingles from the house during the great re-roofing of aught eight ('08) I also started the process of removing the aluminum trim added with the last roof. I think the last roof was possibly installed in the late sixties or early seventies. I meet some resistance when I insisted the aluminum be removed with cries of, "but it's low/no maintenance. You'll never have to paint." Yeah, but it looks like aluminum trim. Metal trim will never look like wood. I walk past houses and can immediately see that the house has vinyl or aluminum siding. That sheen, the false clapboard shadows, the siding width inconsistent with the architecture of the house. It just looks fake, it looks wrong, and I don't want that on my house.

Removing all the 40-year-old aluminum trim exposed all the weathered trim with flaking peeling paint - which is why the aluminum went up in the first place. I have to re-paint the trim and soffits soon but the windows can wait. I can't take the aluminum off until I remove the aluminum storm windows, which will wait until I get new ones. Since the house is brick (tan with red accents - not white brick like I mistakenly told someone looking for my house once) I won't be changing the body color ever. No, no, no on the painted brick. The top layer of chipped paint on the trim is white. It's petty, but I don't want white trim. Everyone has white trim, it just seems so easy, so common. The bottom layer (original) paint on the trim is off-white. Okay, that's a little better. I tried thinking of other trim colors that would work like tans, and browns but that could get heavy and could be hard to match to the dirty/filthy creamy tan color of the brick. So off-white/lite cream it is.

The main trim wraps around the bottom of the roof and the soffits. One of the surprises was that the fascia board has an ogee profile (think crown molding) and the soffits are bead board. Fancy, but scraping the old paint will be a little more of a pain in the ass. Although I'll carry the cream paint to the window trim I want to do something different on the window casements - you know, the window part of the window. The house has inward swinging casement windows instead of the more common double-hung sash window. While scraping the interior of the bathroom window last weekend I hit the exterior of the window with the sander to knock off some blistering paint and noticed that under the bright green top layer was a more subtle light green paint. I'm starting to think the exterior of the house was only painted the two times - when the house was built and then again in the 40s or early 50s - and then came the aluminum.

While I hate the current green color (type "bright green" in Google image search and the first four results...that's the color of my windows right now and with 8-9 panes each that's a lot of green)I am still open to the light green option. However, originally the roof was green too. Green stained cedar shakes. While ripping off the layers of roofing we found:
1. Green shakes
2. Red diamond shaped asphalt shingles (French Method)with an embossed wave pattern
3. Green interlocking (T-lock) asphalt shingles with a large embossed wood grain pattern
4. Red (w/ black & green flecks) 3-tab shingles

If you are interested in the history of asphalt shingles, I found this engrossing article from Old House Journal.

So now that the roof is red, I'm thinking of red for the windows too. Perhaps like the persimmon shade I painted the back door (I'll get a picture of it soon.)


I found an excerpt from The Household Painter (1923), by A. Ashmun Kelly on the Old-House Journal website with some advice on selecting house colors:

  • Color choices should not be made by personal preference alone.
  • Exterior colors should be chosen according to the style of the house.
  • Location of the house and the surroundings should weigh in on the decision.
  • In suburban settings, colors should harmonize with nearby houses, not duplicate them—cooperate, don't compete.
  • Large houses painted in medium to dark colors recede into the background.
  • Large houses painted in light colors stand apart from the background.