Under pressure (to pressure wash the cabin)

Published 10:51 am Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Generally, if the thought “How hard can this be?” crosses my mind, trouble soon follows.


It’s rarely a ‘hold my beer’ moment, although there have been those (a quick appraisal of the length of a rope tied to a tree hanging over a river was not, I repeat, not accurate), it’s more of a defiance of spending what I consider to be an exorbitant amount of money.

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“6,500?” I asked incredulously of Paul, who was holding a written estimate by a company to pressure wash and stain our IHOP of a cabin. “That is ridiculous—especially for a 1,500 square foot building. We’ll get another estimate.”


That second estimate, I should add, wasn’t through internet searches or combing community Facebook pages, but, rather, honking and flashing our lights at a truck we saw in town that had been wrapped with an advertisement for our needs. In fact, we almost drove him into a ditch. Cordial and helpful, he agreed to come to our house for an estimate. His quote was even more, but if we spent a couple of extra grand, he said, then no staining would be needed for another few years. He also showed concern for my well-being when I wondered about personally tackling the steep pitch of our roofline to get to the outside of the loft bedroom.


“Don’t do that,” he said firmly. “It’s too dangerous. There’s only one guy I know who could do that and he can’t.”


“Too busy?” I asked.


“Too dead. Fell off a roof.”


Later in the day, exasperated, I said to Paul, “This is a small house. A really small house. There is no reason we can’t do this job ourselves.”


“You mean MYself.” Paul corrected.


“No,” I countered, “OURselves. I’ll do most of it. And get this—everything I’ve been reading online says cedar siding is soft and shouldn’t be pressure washed in the first place because the force of the pressure can crack the siding. In fact, I found two cracked places. So let me research some stuff and we’ll go from there.”


How hard could it be?


Flash forward to our Amazon purchase of an all-natural, ‘cedar wash’ jug of powder arriving by that damned Fed Ex driver who leaves skid marks up and down the driveway at every opportunity, and Paul’s purchase of a scrub brush connected to a long dowel so that my amazonian reach would extend another five feet. After stirring the mixture in a 5-gallon bucket of warm water for the required 15 minutes, then pouring it into a garden sprayer, I decided to tackle the entire backside of the cabin because, really, it didn’t look that big and would take no time at all. Because I started the job during a dry stretch of weather, the siding immediately sucked in the mixture and I had to reapply almost immediately. I wanted to follow that at once with the scrub brush, but the jug said to let it sit for 15 minutes to give it a chance to lift the dirt and pollen. After enough time elapsed, I began to scrub vigorously. Eureka! I could see hints of the original honey-colored siding emerge and reaching higher, began to scrub well over my head until my biceps began their earnest protest. Rinsing the area with water from the garden hose, I could see another tantalizingly golden area, but it was still trapped beneath a layer of buildup, meaning I had to repeat the scrubbing from the floor to as high as I could reach. Three times. Sweat was running into my eyes and my shoulders began to tremble with fatigue. I’d been going at it for an hour before stepping back to admire my work. 


The siding was indeed glowing like amber. Even as it began to dry in the sun. 


All two square feet of it. 


I’m not licked. Now it’s a grudge match. I’m going to scrub every inch of this dirty little cabin until it’s clean. And then I’ll apply the stain with a big roller. I don’t care how long it takes. 


Even if I lose $6,500 worth of work to do it.