After completing the long job of weather proofing the balcony doors we moved on to the task of sprucing up the front of our house. First impressions count and although the scruffy frontal appearance was not doing any harm it looked a bit unsightly so we decided it was high time we did something about it after all first impressions count. We started with the metal area above the roller shutters which was all flaking and ugly as hell. Then we moved onto the black balcony, step railings and gates. Finally we painted the front area below the balcony which was the worst part in my opinion. It was a long job but with some trusty Mr & Mrs Teamwork we got through it and our marriage survived the DIY ordeal (ha ha).

Metal Shutter Cover

Attempting to scrape old paint off of the metal area above shutters in 30 c heat is insane. It is hot as burning hell up a ladder and trying not to lose my balance and fall over the balcony was a tricky task for clumsy me. I also managed to burn my right boob as I garden and DIY braless which is probably not the wisest choice when it’s 30 c as the metal got boiling hot. Gives a whole new meaning to hot titties (ha ha). All the flakes of paint got stuck to my factor 30 sunscreen, it literally got everywhere! On a more positive note, what an incredible arm workout, my biceps certainly got a whopper of a workout, who needs the gym when you have DIY! My plan was to work until 6pm each day or until I fell off the ladder, which ever came first (ha ha). We then got to relax with chicken and coffee therapy and a well deserved ice cream. My new excuse for eating ice creams every day in the hot weather is so I can recycle the wooden lolly sticks and transform them into plant labels for next year. What can I say, I’m certainly frugal.

Hubby kept touching my ass with his scraper tool. I was tempted to throw him off the balcony if he continued (ha ha). Jokes aside, this was a horrible and time consuming task but it had to be done. It was so hard to scrape all the old paint off and we wanted to take it right back to the bare metal to get a good finish. We don’t own a heat gun and I didn’t want the unnecessary expense of buying a power tool just for one job. We ended up having to buy a liquid paint stripper which was very toxic with horrendous fumes. Thank goodness we had a pack of face masks and gloves. The paint we used was Hammerite brilliant white and they weren’t lying! It is so brilliant white it glows in the dark (ha ha). It made the other white aspects of the walls look very dirty. Don’t you just hate it when you complete one job then it shows up the rest of the houses imperfections and produces another job (ha ha). We wrecked our lovely ladder and the old metal white chair whilst completing this task. The paint stripper flew everywhere and landed all over the ladder and chair, saturating both and magically melted off all the paint. There is no way of saving the ladders appearance and the power washer didn’t work. It’s still a ladder and fit for purpose just covered in shit. I am going to try and salvage the chair at some point. It was one of the pieces of furniture left in the house when we purchased it and I quite like it as a balcony chair so I will try my best to make it look pretty again. I completely forgot that we have old chairs in the loft that we could have used. What can I say, I’m an idiot (ha ha). I also need to let you all know that I am the worlds messiest painter. I have even won an award in the past and have the certificate displayed on my fridge to prove it!


Work in Progress

After 1 Coat

After 2 Coats

As white as driven snow!

Silicone Sergio

Final task was to re-silicone the top edge where it meets the wall. I left this task to hubby as he loves using a silicone gun, he thinks he is James Bond. I was in charge of hosing down the silicone he dropped hence the wet floor. He trashed his Sergio T.Shirt and got it covered in Silicone so now I call him “Silicone Sergio” (ha ha).

Off the Rails

Our method for this task was to first cut back any foliage that was obstructing the railings then I cleaned all the railings with soapy water and a sponge to remove grime and bird poop. Then I power washed them twice to remove stubborn moss. Next stage was sanding with special sandpaper for metal of various grits starting with 80. Then a quick sand with finer grit and a final power wash before painting. We purchased a small electric hand held Sander but used a combination of this new power tool and a good old fashioned hand job, that sounds rude! (ha ha). The product we used was a Bondex product in black with a built in primer to prevent corrosion and we applied 2 coats with a small roller and paint brush. I found that the end posts, handrail and baluster parts of the railings worked better with a tiny roller as they are flat. It was much quicker using a roller and prevented brush strokes. A brush was used for the curved scroll bits which was very time consuming. Top tip: Be careful when power washing on high speed whilst wearing flip flops, I very nearly blasted a couple of toes off (ha ha). If you want to have fun, accidently on purpose spray your significant other and say “Oh gosh, I am so sorry” (ha ha). Another funny thing happened whilst washing out my roller and brushes. I decided to wear yellow (Marigold) rubber gloves as the equivalent product to the U.K white spirit is very potent and previously got into all into my cuts and hurt. I did think the rubber gloves might dissolve and melt with the severity of the product but I was not expecting my gloves to expand and magically grow in size so it looked like I had enormous hands like a giant (ha ha). It was funny until one melted a hole and the finger dropped off (glove finger, not my human finger).

I did do some of this work by myself but most was a solid team effort as I can’t be trusted to not accidently get my hair stuck to the painted railings and it takes so long if there is only 1 person. Each small section takes roughly 45 minutes with 2 people. The most annoying factor was the weather. This job can’t be done if there is any sign of rain, strong wind (because all the leaves and shit sticks to it) and extreme heat. We experienced a heatwave in July that lasted for weeks. It’s not advisable to paint in very hot weather as the product becomes gloopy and drys too fast. We were afraid that the paint might bubble up in the drying process then peel off so we had to wait until we experienced some cooler days. I had a good plan to start work at 5pm or 6pm after hubby finished work but most days it was still 30 c at 5pm. In the end I set my alarm for 6am and hubby helped me for a couple of hours before work. This whole front section took an approx 12-15 hours labour on 3 separate occasions so 24-30 hours in total after the 2nd coat. As I said, it’s a long job and you get quite high breathing in the fumes so a mask is advised. Another annoying factor about this job is that you can only do about 3-4 hours per time as the brush gets matted after a few hours due to all the dabbing motions. and the paint gets too thick. The clean up process of the tray, roller and brushes takes so long that it’s not worth starting and only doing 1-2 hours so I committed myself to a few hours each time to maximise production. I also ruined one brush so I just binned it as it was cheap and it would end up costing more trying to clean it with the paint removing product and water and I had zero energy left to fight this cleaning battle.


Work in Progress

I forgot to take photos of the work in progress but it was long and hard and obviously very messy. I ended up with paint in places on my body that I didn’t know I had. I got some in my hair so I rocked some crazy Goth black low lights for 3 days (ha ha).


I think it looks awesome, it will never be perfect but it looks 100% better and most importantly it is now weather protected. Remember folk, if you look for perfection, you’ll never be content (ha ha).

Plenty More Railings

Our old schist casa has all the railings in Portugal. They are on the inside and outside of the house (ha ha). It’s going to be a lengthy job but I’m up for the challenge and it keeps me out of trouble. I can also have a lot of fun by shouting at random local villagers who pass by. I then duck down, hide and giggle to myself (ha ha).

Balcony Underneath Area

This is the area that I was most excited about completing. The task required scraping all the old flaky paint off, power washing, more extreme sanding, filling gaps then finally painting with 2 coats of external white paint. It is quite a tricky area to access and involves a lot of squatting which is vastly becoming my new favourite position (ha ha). I ended up trashing our beautiful Lilies with the power washer. I did cover everything in plastic sheeting but I think it slightly moved in the breeze of the wind. I ended up chopping them all back so we could access the area better but they soon grew back. We used Barbot paint which I obviously can’t remember as I am crap with names so I call it “Barbara”.


Grubby & Grimey

Now the white shutter metal area is completed it highlights how grubby the beneath area is and also the top ledge of the wall. Hubby and I will have to toss a coin to see who gets to climb on the roof and dangle over the edge with a paint roller to brighten up the top wall. I don’t actually mind climbing on roofs but it’s probably not a great idea with my poor balance skills which has worsened since my foot injury so I might delegate this task to him and supervise from a safe distance. I am delighted to share that hubby lost this bet (ha ha).

Work in Progress

As hubby lost the bet he had to climb on the roof and dangle over the edge whereas I just had to climb a ladder and try not to fall over the balcony. I am super impressed with the external paint we purchased. It is very thick, a bit like me (ha ha) and has good coverage. We applied 2-3 coats depending on the area. This is the progress after just 1 coat. I had to take the photos at an angle because of the blaring Portuguese sunshine. We set our clocks for 6.30am to paint our house as it’s not good to paint in direct sunlight as the paint will dry before it has time to bond to the wall and go all flaky. No one likes flaky stuff or people unless it’s a flaky Cornish pasty (ha ha). The paint did not splash as much as I anticipated so I didn’t bother wearing a plastic bag on my head. Hubby forgot to buy me a shower cap so I was going to use a bag and some pegs. It’s a good job because our neighbours would have thought I was mad and hubby would give me a new nickname of “Peggy” (ha ha).

Hubby at Work – Head for Heights

Helen at Work – The Bag Lady

I had to re-evaluate the bag and hair situation because hubby kept dropping paint in my hair from above then blaming it on birds pooping! The height of fashion: Locals think I’m nuts because I’ve got a plastic bag on my head as last time it took me 2 hours to get all the paint out of my hair. Hubby thinks I look like Marge Simpson. It’s not a very sexy look but I don’t own a shower cap. Maybe it will catch on and I will start a new trend (ha ha). Apologies I’m squinting the sun, it’s 6pm and still very bright.

Mid July Mince Pies & Meringues

My reward for all my hard work: Mince pies! We found 4 rogue mince pies at the bottom of the chest freezer. Gotta love a mince pie accompanied with homemade custard. These were a gift that a Facebook friend bought back from working at Elf Town in Ireland over Christmas. Only the crazy Brit could eat British Christmas mince pies in July and 30 c heat (ha ha). I actually wanted 2 but hubby only heated up one each so I had a side of homemade meringue and jam too because why not! Thanks to my lovely hens for the tasty eggs.


Wow, I am amazed at the transformation!

Balcony Bliss

My face says it all! Pure Joy and excitement to have eventually finished this timely task. So many crazy early mornings of dedication and hours of labour. We celebrated by heading off to a local festival to meet up with friends and enjoy some music and FUN. I LOVE that I am accidently colour coordinating in my black and white zebra dress (ha ha).

Success Selfies

I think hubby is as pleased as me to have finished the facade fiasco. Team Work makes Dream Work, together everyone achieves more (ha ha). I am not sure if I am more excited about finishing this job or actually heading off out to our first festival in over 2.5 years!

My Reward – Summer Vibes, Festival Fun & Farturas

Seeing as hubby could not reward me with food due to my wisdom tooth extraction pain he took me on a rare night out to our first festival. MT80 80’s Rock tribute band were awesome. Music is the strongest form of magic. He then proceeded to eat farturas in front of me (ha ha).

Final Words – Fantastic Facade

Never underestimate a fresh coat of white paint! I love the transformation of the front of our house. It’s pure, simple, fresh and clean but most of all it contrasts with the colour of the schist stone so beautifully. My focus was initially to continue with the other railings and to try and get as much completed before I have my upcoming surgery in September. After my operation I will be bed ridden for weeks if not months and I won’t be able to lift anything so I wanted to get as much done prior to my operation but time wise it’s just not feasible as it’s a weather dependant job and I only have hubby’s help on weekends. My daughter is also visiting at the end of August so we have made a sensible decision to put the rest of this task on hold until 2023 or until I have recovered from my surgery. This is hard to do for me as I have OCD but I need to down my paint brush and enjoy some well deserved fun. I hate seeing flaky railings but the others are not too bad and won’t deteriorate much in a few months. Hubby literally just caught me with a Sharpie pen trying to colour in a few flaky railings that have chipped and exposed the red primer (ha ha). The pen didn’t work that well at colour camouflaging, I just looked like the crazy Brit (again). Hubby is going to hide all the paint brushes and Sharpie pens because I can’t be trusted. I am officially exhausted! My body is aching for some glorious Portuguese sunshine and I want to celebrate and venture out on some awesome adventures with my DIY partner in crime. At the moment we are planning to SUP board most weekends because when the weather is 35-40 c one needs to be submerged in water and enjoy some aqua therapy. Striking a healthy balance between DIY and fun is important.

All Work and No Play will make you Sad and Grey!

DIY Weekend Warriors – Radiant Railing Update 2023

We are slowly making our way through weather proofing all our garden railings. It’s a long, exhausting job but we have been blessed with some gorgeous sunny weather during Jan/Feb 2023 so it’s perfect for sanding and painting. To all my UK friends who think my life is all glamour and sipping cocktails in a pool under the Portuguese sun. This is my life 99% of the time, working like a beaver, covered in shite, headscarf trying to disguise and protect dirty hair that hasn’t been washed in over 7 days but I still have a smile on my face. Good old fashioned “Hand Job” sanding is such an arm workout, who needs the gym! Someone broke the electric sander (ha ha).

I usually shop at charity and thrift stores for DIY and gardening clothing but Portugal lacks these type of shops so although I hate “Primarni” with a passion, I often buy their bargain €3 leggings and €1.80 vests to wreck in the gardening. They are basic, cheap and quite robust, just like me (ha ha) and the pants pass the squat test, don’t become see through or expose your butt crack when you bend over which is always a positive. What a glorious super soulmate sunny Saturday (21 degrees) in the shade. I do LOVE the weekends when I have my little hubby helper. Now it’s time for Caffeine & chicken therapy, as I’m gathering the eggs, I’m slowly watching my ladies disappear up the steps to next doors garden and pastures new. I LOVE my Crazy chickens.

Mr & Mrs Marshmallow

Another full day of DIY. I couldn’t risk the paint drying out so worked right through lunch. I am absolutely covered in paint but hubby came up with a genius idea of feeding me marshmallows without eating paint, BBQ skewered marshmallows to keep my energy levels up, a perfect sugar fix.

Now just chilling with my chickens and enjoying a very late al fresco lunch: Ham & 2 fried egg bap. Basic but bloody beautiful. Thanks to my lovely ladies Carol, Michonne, Maggie and Judith. Another day of hard work and sheer commitment in the beautiful sunshine. Feeling totally blessed. My mission is to complete these railings before I die (ha ha).

The Sandpaper Budget

I broke the electric sander so I am now having to go back to basics and endure a mega hand job (ha ha). I think I need a monthly budget for Sandpaper!