Working Over the Gorge

You have to be comfortable with heights on this job!
This house is on Giles Street and the back faces Six Mile Creek gorge. This is a four story house—there’s a basement, a first and second story, and an attic. We completed three sides of the house in the fall of 2014. The front side only goes up two stories, so we didn’t have to use our real high ladders to do that side. That was the easy part!

Blue Spruce Painting and Decorating ithaca ny article image

East Side of House

The east and west sides of the house are on a slope. It was a challenge to get to them. It’s so steep on those sides that using ladders is extremely challenging. We had to do the first, second story and the attic with an aerial lift. The arm of the lift goes out 60 feet. This is a varied surface house. The first story is masonry, the second story and the attic are asbestos shingles. These sides didn’t need a lot of prep work before painting them-- they just needed a good washing. The windows and the eave trim were wood, though, so they needed to be scraped.
On the east side there’s a deck the length of the side of the house. It’s basically a walkway to the back of the house. Below the deck is the basement. It’s about twenty feet from the deck to the ground. We couldn’t fit the lift below that deck, so we had to do the work with ladders placed on the slope of the gorge. We had to paint the siding on that side of the house and then we stained the framing of the deck. We also had to rebuild one of the basement windows.

Blue Spruce Painting and Decorating ithaca ny article image


The homeowner picked a new color scheme for the house, and we helped her pick out colors. We did a set of sample boards with the Benjamin Moore Historic Color palette. These are colors that were used to paint houses during the 18th and 19th centuries. So, many of the paint color names reflect our history, like Shaker Beige. A sample board is an enlargement of a color chip, so you can picture what the color will look like on a bigger space. Most designers say that a two foot by three foot space is optimal to picture what a color will look like on a surface. We paint colors on pieces of drywall, so the customer can move them around the house or put two colors together to get a better idea of what the final look will be. The color scheme this homeowner chose fit with the natural surroundings of the gorge and also with the neighboring houses. The colors that we chose were Amherst Gray for the lower stories, Boothbay Gray for the upper stories, and Wickham Gray for the trim.
We haven’t done the most difficult side of this house, which is the gorge side. We have to build a scaffold to do the work on the second story that faces the gorge. There’s nowhere to put a ladder and we can’t use the lift. We have an engineer that has to design a scaffold and then it has to be approved by the city planning department. The hardest part of this job is yet to come!

Blue Spruce Painting and Decorating ithaca ny article image

Basement windows and framing