Okay, another diversion from the political scene. I own an older home in West Central (at left), and I love to do as much of my own work and repairs as possible. Doing my own work not only saves money but also provides a sense of accomplishment. I recently undertook to replace my front porch steps. What a task – at least for me. I had done so many other repairs that I thought this couldn’t be that hard!
I am fortunate in that I have accumulated a number of power tools over the past several years. I have four kinds of saws (my compound miter saw is my favorite), four kinds of sanders, a router, a compressor with a nail gun, three drills (regular and cordless), tons of hand tools, and all kinds of odds and ends of small tools. I admit I would rather spend two hours shopping at Lowes or Home Depot for new tools than shopping for shoes.
Anyways, I thought “how hard could replacing porch steps be?” I went online and started reading about what materials I needed and what to do. I was pretty confident in my ability to complete the task, but just in case, I did mention to my fellow coworkers what I was going to do. Two or three of them were kind enough to offer assistance if I decided I needed help. I thought that if worse came to worse, I could break down and ask for help.
The porch steps had rotted at the bottom and had become dangerous to walk up. I worried about the mail person, so I put a couple of big pots on the rotted portions and stapled a note to the post to let her know about the steps. I knew I could get to the steps on the upcoming weekend, and I really thought I could get them done in a couple of days. Boy, was I wrong. I got them torn off and piled the wood in the yard until I could get time to cart it to the back for the garbage pickup.
I didn’t realize how heavy 2″ x 10″ x 8′ pressure treated wood could be. I picked up the stringers, treads, risers, brackets, and deck screws that I needed for my first weekend of what would be several spent on the steps. I got the steps torn out the first weekend, but the weather was hot and miserable so I stopped at just tearing out the steps. I hung a canvas sack on the post at the top for the mail person. I was confident I would get the steps put down the next weekend. Of course, something always comes up that isn’t anticipated, and this time was no different for me. My “glitch” was the bottom of the steps.
The cement was uneven and the old steps had been put together in one piece and then put into place. I had a gap at the bottom of the steps. As I usually do when I run into a problem with my home repairs, I sat down and started staring at the problem. I finally decided to go back and pick up a 4″x4″x 8′ piece and insert it under the stringers to level them out. That next weekend I only got the stringers attached and a couple of the treads secured.
This was turning out to be more time consuming than I had anticipated, but I wasn’t ready to give up and ask for help yet. I just kept plugging away each weekend until I had the steps replaced. But I wasn’t quite through.
The old banister would have been good enough, but I wanted to match the new steps with a new banister and spindles. This past weekend I finally put up the banister on the west side of the new steps. I still have a banister to add to the other side, a step up to add at the bottom, and I still have to paint the steps. But the major effort is done.
Now that I think about it, it was worth the effort. Everything takes me longer than normal, but how sweet it is when I finish. And, you know, the steps and railing don’t look half bad.