26 September 2011

Extreme porch make-over & insul(t)brick



Like most old farmhouses, our backporch is our "front door". We have a front door and I think visitors have used it once or twice in the 20 months we have lived here, but many more times than not people come to the back door on the porch. It was the door we first used to get a look at the house on Sycamore Hill and rarely do we use any other door to leave the house.




Our back door in town was essentially our front door too. The problem was that we had two of them and since one didn't function the first five years we lived there everyone got used to using the other. Then we put on a gorgeous new door, stone porch and pergola, and created an inviting entryway.....and since people were used to using the other door, well, it was at least nice to look at.


So we moved to Sycamore Hill and couldn't have asked for an uglier back door. There was a 30' long porch, 6' wide with a pocked and broken concrete floor, screened in openings that were full of debris, boards enclosing the top portion of the openings so you could only see as far as the gravel drive, and the house wall was the best....it was covered in insulbrick, which was a fiberboard material used for siding, usually over wood siding, installed during the 1920s-40s. It was promoted as a brick look with insulatory qualities. I call it insult-brick, because it is a bit of an insult.


Now, I'm sure somewhere out there is a good example of insulbrick that maybe should be preserved for posterity. However, our back porch wall is/was not such a location. It was dark grey-black and seemed to welcome mud-crafting wasps. But the ugly didn't end there. Right outside our back door, in the porch floor, was a "small pit" as the former owner described it, saying she fell into it one time while she visited her grandparents. The pit had wood boards over it and steel panels covering the wood. Out of curiosity just a few weeks ago I popped up a board. Small pit? That thing is 6' deep! It's a fall-out shelter!



So, we moved in and the porch became the repository for all the crap that we had to move out of the house to renovate it. Finally we emptied the porch of the junk after 6 months of living here. Then it sat. Then this spring I pulled off the two screen doors that certainly had seen better days, and the piece of plywood covering one doorway, and things just seemed a bit better. Then, in a fit of frustration and a bit of curiosity, I pulled out one screen and wood framing around it in one of the openings. The difference was like night and day. I had to be somewhere in an hour, but I started the demo that changed the face of the back porch from ugly to tolerable.


Then-what to do with that insulbrick? We plan to reside the house in a few years, but wouldn't a little primer and paint lighten things up? So I primed, and just a few weeks ago my dad painted, the porch. Wow. And then, though I'm not a big fan of outdoor carpet, I patched the concrete and covered up that mess with some fine synthetics which are waiting to be glued down. What a huge difference this has made on the old house. And the nice thing is that everyone has to use this door...so it's more than just nice to look at. The pictures are the progression from ugly this spring to about perfect this fall. The wife has decorating ideas, but a few pumpkins added about all the charm it needed. Now to paint the doors.

9 comments:

jimgrey said...

I never would have thought to paint the Insulbrick. Good call.

Mark A. Smith said...

That almost makes me want to whitewash the whole siding for historical accuracy. I guess I've been around Delphi too long.

me said...

LOVE IT!! I've said it once and I'll say it again...your house is is just so cozy and inviting and your porch make-over just sends it over the top. :)

Anonymous said...

did you take that light fixture down or do the lazy man's paint job and paint around it?

vanilla said...

Wow. Nicely done. And, too, congratulations on the successful effort to attain state byway status for Michigan Road.

hoosier reborn said...

Thanks everyone. It was a cheap $250 spruce-up job that vastly improved the house!

Mark-I was asking someone just the other day about white-wash!

Anon-I did the lazy man's way, but taped a few trash bags over it tightly.

Vanilla-thanks for the congrats on the byway. That post will come shortly.

Anonymous said...

What type of paint and primer did you use? Need to do this on he side of an old cottage.

Anonymous said...

My whole house is covered in insulbrick, I can not afford to replace it in any way but I love the idea of painting it... this is a very large house & I can't wait to see if it's in my budget to do the painting...

Stacy Libengood said...

Love the idea of painting this unsightly insulbrick that covers my very large home... every other house on my street is so nice... then there is mine, I do however love the character on the inside of the house, I wonder what the cost would be to do this kind of job. It would be so nice to finally fit in with the neighborhood, it does bother me daily to even look at my house & I need to get a move on, just don't know where to start... I'd love my kids to be proud of our 1st home!!