Our hottest-day-of-the-year tradition

We’ve had a curiously Southwest-like spring and summer here in the Northwest, with a bone-dry June (June is usually soggy) that’s continuing into July. We had almost as many days over 85 degrees in June as we normally have all summer. Over the 4th of July weekend, we had our ninth day over 90 degrees, with several more to go. Many of us have lost our sense of humor about the situation. I’m finding it a little scary to think about how we and our landscaping will survive our normal drought period, late July through August.

dry plants, rose campion, Japanese blood grass, sedum autmn joy, blue fescue

However, this is the perfect opportunity for Eric and me (well, okay, Eric, since I am a hot-weather wimp) to continue a summer tradition of doing a major outdoor construction project during the hottest weather of the summer. Sound like fun??

Let’s see … there was the fence … and the deck … and the front porch … and the brick front walk … all constructed in 90- to 100-degree heat. Not by me!!

This year, we’re finishing the side porch, which, if you recall, we began too late last summer and had to put on hiatus for the winter.

Here’s where we began this spring, with Eric renting a pad sander and scrubbing a winter’s worth of oxidation off his custom-milled decking.

sanding porch decking

With an eye toward what we think will be a trim color when we repaint the exterior, we used opaque alkyd-based waterproofing stain in barn red on the porch floor. (I’ve always liked a red floor for a porch. The front porch is currently gray, but it’ll change when we get around to repainting.) Two coats should give it a good weather seal … we hope. [Note: The best way to avoid having your backside appear in a blog post is to make sure you’re behind the camera. Sorry, dear.]

alkyd porch stain

porch floor, barn red

Next, Eric framed in the big square corner posts that echo the design of the front porch. These posts don’t provide structural support for anything but the railings. The porch deck is supported by framing underneath.

corner post framing

Everything on the side porch matches the design of the front porch, except that this porch isn’t covered. It’s exposed to the weather, which is our main concern. The top rails are treated 4x6s. Eric patiently applied wood filler and sanded them to disguise the surface cuts.

treated 4x6 rails

Yes, I have helped a little on this project … painting, as usual. At this point, the opaque white-stained railings were merely laying on the framing. Duke wanted to know how far the schedule had slipped.

4x6 treated railings

Eric inserted additional framing to secure the hefty railings and to accept the plywood sheathing, which will be covered with cedar shingles.

corner post framing

Even though only the horizontal portions of the railings were up, it gave the porch a sense of enclosure and a preview of what it will feel like when finished. We felt like we were making progress. One evening while we were sitting in our living room with the French doors open, a couple of people walked by. We heard one of them say, “He’s been working on that for a year!” Well, hmph! That seemed to motivate us.

horizontal porch railings

I was excited as Eric began making the slats for the railing, because they are what give the porch its personality. The slats are 1×8, with a 1-7/8-inch decorative hole. These holes are probably the only round design elements on this decidedly square bungalow.

By this time, the temperature was really heating up, with 90-plus-degree days. The blue canopy was a smart purchase a few years ago. Standing in the shade makes the heat more bearable. Eric tolerates the heat far better than I do. I must admit, I spent large portions of the brutally hot days inside with the AC, pretending to be busy, while in reality I was watching golf on TV with a cool drink in my hand … as Eric toiled outdoors. Every now and then I called him in for a cooling break.

hot weather, canopy, table saw

But eventually it was my turn under the canopy, heat be damned. I painted three coats of white stain on the slats. The job went quickly because the heat dried each coat in minutes. That meant I could dodge back indoors before sweating too much.

porch railing slats, decorative holes

The slats are held in place between two rows of quarter-round, top and bottom. Small spacers fill the gaps between the slats so that winter rain (assuming we’ll get rain again someday) won’t collect in the trough and rot the railing. I still need to slap some white on the spacers.

porch railing slats installed

Now that the railings are complete, the porch feels like a porch, and is functional. We love looking out the French doors and seeing this awesome additional room just outside! It’s more than twice the size of the one it replaced. Plenty of room for our bistro set and a couple of other chairs. Duke and the cats love it.

porch viewed from inside, French doors, Lacy


porch, bistro set, Lacy

Over the next several days, Eric will build the top caps for the corner posts and shingle the walls to match the front porch. I’ll do some touch-up painting and planting. And of course, the construction debris needs to be cleaned away. Ditto the pile of saws, drills, and extension cords just inside the French doors. Only then will we be done. We’ve decided to eat a celebration dinner out here when that happens—not a moment before! We’re so close now! Imagine that—we’re about to actually finish a project!

porch without shingles

As I finish this post from my porch perch, Duke, Lacy, Tara, Checkers, and Peggy Sue have all joined me at various times. I think this porch is a success!

porch, computer, Tara Softpaws



18 thoughts on “Our hottest-day-of-the-year tradition

  1. Africadayz

    This is looking great! I love the ‘double-sided railings with the round holes. Very impressed with Eric’s woodworking skills (and your painting, of course😊) Interesting about the heat. I wouldn’t like that all. Hope you get some rain soon.

    1. D'Arcy H Post author

      Hi Jacqui! We’re reading each others blogs at the same time, on different days, on opposite sides of the world. Something amazing about that! Thanks, the porch is now my favorite room!

  2. Tom & Judy

    The side porch turned out great thanks to both of your skills. (Eric and You) I think the red flooring is perfect and dresses it up. You two will probably spend a great deal of time on it when the weather cools off.

    1. D'Arcy H Post author

      Thanks, Jo. I was lucky to have seen a pic of the original porch many years ago, so I always knew it had to match the front porch.

    1. D'Arcy H Post author

      Thanks, Curt! Hang in there … yours is looking gorgeous, too! Actually yours is probably in better shape because of all your upgrades.

  3. acroteria

    I have a side entry waiting for decking and a railing for two years! The picket fence and brick walkway are taking weeks, already, because it’s either raining or too humid to breathe (Long Island, NY). I’ll trade you some rain in exchange for a 4-day weekend of Curt’s skills (and constitution in hot weather).

    1. D'Arcy H Post author

      Haha–it’s good to know we aren’t the only ones who can drag a project out for years. It sure would be nice to finish one. Eric is my husband, and I’m not loaning him out because we have too many projects still to go … but Curt has mad skilz and he lives a little closer to you! 🙂

  4. Garden, Home and Party

    I love the detailing on the pieces below the rails. I cracked up at your comments about the heat, I am so grumpy and whiny when its hot here. Yet, Labor Day, 4th of July, any long, summer weekend is when we usually take on house projects. Crazy.
    Great project. Oh, and on the comment heard while the doors were open…years ago we were replacing the sod in our front yard so our gardener sprayed the existing grass and it’s weeds to kill it off before laying new sod. A neighbor and her husband commented while passing by our open door, “Gee, she’s let her grass die and she usually keeps such a nice yard!” Ugh. Anyway, your porch looks great and obviously is quite comfortable since the cats have given it their stamp of approval. 🙂

    1. D'Arcy H Post author

      Hi Karen, I knew you would relate to my heat intolerance! The clouds came back today, thank goodness … but still no rain. So, so dry. But I am diggin’ this porch, even if it’s not finished!

  5. Angela M. de Grillet

    That porch looks great! I love the red with the white! Now, if only one wouldn’t take away from the cats a superb lounging location, a nice stone (like) planter, in the summer with flowering perennials aand in the winter with some pine or else green arrangements in, would look just perfect! Also, planting some nice, always green low bushes in front, would look great! Congrats on a great job well done!

  6. yardandplate

    WOW! You all get so much accomplished 🙂 And I love love love your landscaping out front….we have to redo our front porch…you all make it look so easy 🙂

    1. D'Arcy H Post author

      Thanks, Danielle! It always looks easy in pictures, doesn’t it? Of course, none of this would be possible without Eric’s skill. I just ut the icing on the cake … he BAKES the cake!! 🙂 Oh, and the front landscaping has been consumed by weeds this year. I’ve got to wage war on weeds, but the hot weather is returning this week.


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