Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Replacing Basement Windows


Our basement windows were a mess.  They were a mess when we bought our house -- rusted open, rusted closed, providing poor insulation and protection from the weather.  They were single pane, old glass, steel frame and casing in concrete, and original to the house.  But it gets better -- within the last couple of years, they have had holes broken into them, leaving the basement drafty, damp, and buggier than usual. They were just lovely.

So I decided it was time to replace them. I've never done windows before, but I have wanted to, and basement windows seemed the perfect place to start.  First I watched a few YouTube videos on replacing basement windows.  The videos, of course, make it seem so easy.   I made my list of tools and supplies (windows, concrete mix, professional caulking, and foam insulation), made measurements, and got started.

Part 1: Removing the old window from its frame.
This was much simpler than it seemed it would be.  There was a single metal hinge on the window that easily slid up and out of the frame.

Part 2: Removing the frame/casing.
After realizing that the frame was steel and embedded in the concrete and understanding that I would need to rent a reciprocating saw in order to tear it out, I decided to forego this step and place the new windows without removing the frame.

Part 3: Preparing the new windows for insertion.
Crazily enough, the part I had the hardest time with was removing the glass from the new windows (Project Source Tilting Vinyl Windows from Lowe's) so I could easily work with the window frame without breaking the window.  I finally discovered the clip on the inside of the window hinge that needed to be snapped open to unlock it -- a small screwdriver was the perfect tool for the job.

Part 4: Inserting the new windows.
I fit the new windows flush against the old steel frame.  I had to fill some extra space with concrete (the new windows were slightly smaller than the space I was fitting them into).  Then I sealed the window with caulk and filled the gaps with insulation.  Since my basement is not a finished basement, a little mess around the windows isn't a big problem (though the windows I did after this one are a little neater).

Part 5: Replace the glass and screen into the window.
Reinserting the screen was tricky, since I had to fit it through the old steel frame and then into the new vinyl frame, but I discovered the trick, and the screens all went in.  Then I put in the glass, which, because the windows are so close to the drop ceiling, was more difficult that it should have been.

I removed the stickers, washed the glass and frames, and shazam -- I had 3 new basement windows!  I still have two windows left to replace, but I think I have the swing it now.  (Maybe someday I'll even put trim around them.)
Each window took about a day, but not a solid day -- there was lots of free time because of all the drying that needed doing.
We are very happy with the new windows so far.  The basement is quieter and less drafty, and the screens protect from random rocks breaking the glass and from bugs getting in when the windows are open (and they do actually open now).  Plus, I saved a bunch of money by doing the work myself!  Now it's time to get new covers for those window wells (which I will also have to make, since I have yet to find any in a store that actually fit).

Replacing basement windows soon?  Good luck!
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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Quick Crate Storage Ottomans

We needed ottomans.  And after a couple years of half-hearted, periodic searching for inexpensive ottomans online, I decided it was time to make some.

For each ottoman, I purchased/needed:

  • 1 12x18x9.5 crate
  • 1 package (4) of gliders
  • 1 package (2) of hinges
  • 1 piece of high density 1-inch foam
  • medium loft batting
  • fabric, home decorating or outdoor (>1/2 yard)
  • a piece of wood, approx. 12x18inches
  • tools (staple gun, drill/screwdriver, hammer, scissors)

I started by drilling 4 small holes in the bottom of the crate and hammering in the gliders.

Then I cut the foam to fit the piece of wood, and the batting to tuck around the foam and the wood (this is for the lid).

I stapled the batting to the underside of the wood, and then added the fabric.  I turned the edges of the fabric around the batting and stapled it to the piece of wood.  (For cleaner looking edges, you can glue down a piece of ribbon.)

The final step was to secure the hinges to the underside of the lid and the inside of the crate.  This might be a touch tricky, because the crate and lid are not at the same level on the table, but I found that some pieces of 2x4 were sufficient to bring the crate even to the lid.

Not counting shopping time, each ottoman took about 45 minutes (which included intermittent time entertaining the dog).  I figure the cost at about $30 each (the crates and the foam being the biggest expenses), and I have some batting and fabric leftover (hopefully enough to make a matching pillow) that I can use for a future project.

I might decide to stain or paint them eventually, but in the meantime, they are perfectly serviceable.  Also, if we should decide to change the colours of our living room, they can recovered pretty easily, probably even without taking the hinges off.
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Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Bramble Ramble


Our house is bordered on one side by an overgrowth of bushes and trees and brush, some of it planted there when the house was built all those decades ago and allowed to metastasize, and some of it random growth.  Among that random growth (some would call it weeds) is a stretch of wild black raspberries which this year decided to produce a beautiful quantity of fruit.


Unfortunately, the recent near-drought has turned most of those juicy berries into sweet, crunchy seedpods.  However, because of all those beautiful berries and lush greenery, I was inspired to create a "bramble ramble" -- to clear out some of the over- and under-growth and increase the swath of bramble berry bushes. 
So I cleared growth from around the wild patch.  I traded with a neighbour some fresh eggs for raspberry canes.  I cleared more brush, dug out even more burning bushes, trimmed back trees, and created space.  Then I planted the bartered-for canes (along with a little compost from the chicken run).  I watered.  I waited.  I watered some more.

The canes that were alive when I planted them are thriving -- one is even producing more canes already!  I look forward to tearing out some more burning bush (they are seriously taking over our property) and adding more raspberries to the "ramble."  I'm even considering transplanting the gooseberries to this space next year, but I haven't yet decided about that.

Now I wait with patience for those delicious berries next year, and hope I get to them before the birds!
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