Dear PoP – Renovation Recommendations (Porch and Painter)

Photo by PoPville flickr user Mr. T in DC

“Dear PoP,

It is bonus season at work & while my bonus typically goes directly to the student loans, this year, I was thinking I would love to tackle some nagging house projects.

The 1st project is revamping our front porch — the wood is rotting & our concrete stairs are cracking & the stairs have brick sides that need to be tuck-pointed. I’ve seen lots of stairs in the neighborhood who have “re-faced” their stairs with slate/brick. Do people have any recommendation for this project – pros, cons? Is this something that experienced DIYer could do or should we hire-out? If so, any contractor recommendations.

The other project is painting our 2-story foyer, including repairing plaster walls & painting the ceiling & skylight. Any painter recommendations?”

18 Comment

  • i think an experienced DYIer could do the painting.

    • The foyer is 2 stories high with an open staircase, so I know we need to hire that out, because we don’t have ladders or scaffolding that would work. Trust me – it pains me to hire someone to paint.

      • Call Jose Guardado at J&A Home Improvement. He was our contractor for our home renovation, which included fixing and painting the foyer/staircase walls. They are fast, professional, honest, and reasonably priced. I couldn’t recommend them more. Jose’s number is 240-694-8184.

        We also did a lot of our painting and wall repair work ourselves, but you’re right – this is not one you want to attempt on your own.

        • Jose seemed liked a good guy and we contacted him off of a recommendation. He was nice in person, but he kept putting off a start date to do our porch until it came down to the fact that he was MIA. He renovated a neighbors house from top to bottom around the corner, so when we saw our neighbor he was surprised Jose was MIA. Anyway, I would have loved to use Jose…good luck if you get a hold of him and he comes through.

          P.S. the other day he requested to be friends on Linkdin

  • Carlos Mosquera did our painting — lots of plaster wall repair plus painting several rooms. Very happy with him and the work. (301) 442-4148

  • Not sure if they’re still doing this, but the DDOE has a program called RiverSmart Homes. The objective is to reduce the amount of runoff entering the rivers.

    There are several programs in which you can get subsidized rain barrels, trees planted and pervious pavers to replace old cracked pavement. The new surface would allow rain water to seep into the ground rather than run off into the sewer system.

    You might look into it:,a,1209,q,499733.asp

    • Good luck with getting anything out of them right now. If they’re district funded, the money’s been raided already. The DC Solar funding has already been raided.

    • We had a meeting with a DDOE person and she said that the city wouldn’t pay for just a walkway for pavers, they would also need to do the driveway (the city figures they don’t get enough of a benefit for the cost if it’s a small area). That was in reference to a ~20ft walkway in our backyard, so I doubt that the steps would qualify.

      • Hmmm…. we didn’t have any problems like that, but then again, the stuff we got wasn’t big ticket, really (2 trees planted, rain garden installed).

  • Any project is potentially a DiYer if you’re patient and like to figure stuff out without getting discouraged.

    However, if you have to ask whether it’s a DiY or not, it’s probably not. A couple weeks worth of internet searches will let you know if you want to tackle it or not. Of course, pictures will help.

  • We just had significant work done on the porch on our 100-yo rowhouse. It had wood rotting issues, etc. Glen Sperling at Harmony Remodeling did the work — him and his team did a great job and quick! (even over the holidays) He is conscious of the environment and offered a good price. I would highly recommend his work.

  • Painting is definitely DIY – but so so so much better when you hire someone – especially odd spaces. The price/hassle ratio is very good. I recommend a local guy – Andres Gonzales 202-365-7390. Don’t know about plaster work, but he has done drywall repair and beautiful painting – quick, clean and excellent finish, especially with dark colors.

  • I don’t know where you live, but historic districts have restrictions on the materials you can use for porches/stairs. I’m pretty sure slate is out (not sure about brick).

  • Norman Paint Services, LLC seems to be the best in the area. With such a project as this, you want a company that is bonded and insured. This takes the issue of liability off of your plate. Norman Duff will do the work personally. He is a teaching painter/contractor, having taught building trades out at the Oakhill Juvenille Detention Center. Drywall and carpentry are also included as part of his services. His estimates are competitive/negotiable. He has been in business for 25+ years and was raised in DC. His number is 202.905.5079. Tell him Charlie sent you!

  • Slate pavers or brick veneer on concrete steps will pop off before 10 years, even by average masons. Definitely not DIY. Save your money and skip this fad (it’s almost over anyway). Stick with full brick or concrete if you want something that lasts.

  • Monroe represent!

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