1965 Balcony Update

1965 Balcony Refresh: The Next Phase of Life

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Neighbors approached Brian and me as we worked to replace the balcony flooring. They were excited for us. One remarked that he had never seen the prior owners set foot out there in the 7 years they lived in the house.

The other commented that in all of the years he’s lived in the neighborhood, he’s never seen anyone work on the balcony. He complimented how great our repainted iron railings looked from the road, which was validating. It was SUCH a pain to scrape and paint the railings, but it looks so fresh and clean now.

Time for a Refresh

We were excited and encouraged to jump into this balcony refresh. As we neared the finish line, we realized it’d be wise to take some time for a personal refresh before wrapping up our project.

Brian and I kicked off our balcony update in August. As we navigated our first door replacement, transitioned into repainting our railings, and experimented with our new flooring, we realized we had been on-the-go for two months at this point.

The weather was on our side as Brian and I laid down the new floors. With no rain in the forecast, we were able to take a step back for a few days. It was what we needed to gather up the rest of the finishing materials.

Final Countdown

Our breather afforded us the opportunity to take inventory, do some research, and narrow down final choices.

Supply Run

Brian and I needed to replenish our paint and primer, then pick up the following:

  • 2.5-inch Exterior Screws
  • 1-inch Pan-Head Steel Screws
  • 16-Gauge 1.5in Electro-Galvanized Finishing Nails
  • 60-feet of Primed PVC Quarter Round Molding
  • J-B Weld SteelStik Epoxy Putty
  • Exterior Sealant & Elastomeric Sealant
  • Semi-Gloss Black Paint + Primer Spray Paint

We spent the next few days collecting the last of our supplies little by little. When Friday afternoon arrived, we were ready to rock and roll.

Screws Over Nails

The plywood sheets were originally fastened with nails. For better strength, durability, and resistance to withdrawal pressure, we chose to use 2.5-inch exterior screws. Screws are more expensive than nails, but they are worth it! Not only do they offer a cleaner install, but, if necessary, they are much easier to remove than nails.

I marked the joist locations along the wall with duct tape. This made it really easy to use our laser level to create straight lines for mounting screws.

For Extra Protection

We sanded down the scratched up areas on the plywood, as well as the fascia along the border of the balcony. If we were going to start out “fresh”, we might as well do it the right way.

I double-primed the sanded areas as Brian worked on sealing joints. The original plywood was sealed with concrete along the brick wall and had no sealant between the plywood sheets. After some reading, we found that elastomeric sealant would offer the best protection.

Elastomeric sealant is ideal for areas that experience a significant amount of expansion and contraction. This indoor/outdoor sealant is 100% waterproof and weatherproof and highly flexible. Brian went the extra step to seal over the flooring screws, as well as inside the screw holes for the 1-inch railing post screws.

We installed the quarter round along the fascia where it met the plywood flooring. Because we only used a ladder below for part of the installation, the rest of it was completed from above while standing on the balcony. Caulking and painting this section was incredibly aggravating, especially since it wasn’t that easy to see our progress as we worked on it. It took some tricky camera angles, a lot of hours, and a whole bunch of patience to thoroughly caulk the joints and then paint for complete coverage.

Final Coats

Once everything was sealed, it was time to apply the final coats of paint! I finished up the coats along the fascia and quarter round, while Brian painted two coats on the balcony floor. Afterwards, we repaired the railing foot posts with epoxy putty and painted the railing in places that needed it.

Before & After

Restoring our balcony improved our quality of life. While that might sound a little silly to some, it really made a difference for us. We love the amount of natural light shining through our full lite exterior door and storm door. The new plywood floors are especially durable, clean, and comfortable to walk and sit on. Fresh paint ties everything together and offers a polished finish.

Our balcony update has turned this space into an area that fills us with joy and accomplishment.

Before - Original exterior door and storm door
After - New exterior door and storm door

The Next Phase of Life

Brian and I are looking forward to enjoying our new space. Bringing our balcony back to life was a gratifying challenge. We are fortunate to experience it now, newly updated, as it enters into its next phase.

Since Brian and I wrapped up our project, our updated balcony has taught us that:

  • Painting and re-coating in high humidity can lead to paint blocking (which requires extra dry time)
  • Sunset beverages and easy tunes are a nice way to end a work day
  • Christmas lights add a festive and cozy ambiance
  • Regular ‘leaf blowing’ and hand mopping make the floors easier to clean
  • Dining al fresco can be a nice change of pace
  • Extra ceiling lights would be a good addition down the road
  • There’s more ‘house’ to appreciate and make our own with the reclaimed 184 sq. ft. balcony space

Nearly sixty years have ticked on by since the balcony was originally built. Previously owned by a chemist, a widow, a young family, and now…us. We’re actually pretty excited to keep it clean and maintained. Knowing the details and work that went into this update gives us a sense of pride and an intentional focus. As I noted in an earlier post, I aim to use the spaces I own.

No longer are we kept inside, away from slow decay and flaking paint. Our balcony update gleams with freshly-painted iron railings and new flooring. Sturdy and clean, this restored space invites new moments and memories to be made.

With that being said, I thank you for reading along and joining us on this adventure of ours!

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