Foiled by Gravity

I had a very productive weekend! I spent yesterday doing all kinds of door-related work. I applied the first coat of stain to the trim, finished caulking all the way around the outside and inside of the door, and played with the nastiest stuff I’ve ever worked with – asphalt/tar caulk, filling the gap between the driveway and the doorframe. (The driveway is, of course, unlevel.)

I did all this while eying the clouds as they built and waned. I did all my staining out in the driveway – avoiding the fumes that would build in the basement and the darkness of the garage –
but had everything on a sheet, ready to drag into the garage at the first raindrops. I got lucky, and the sun even came out.

Then I came inside and set off to fill the big, hollow void that I discovered last week. On Dad’s advice, I had bought some Great Stuff, and had happily picked the “Big Gap” variety. I donned my goggles and my one remaining rubber glove (the other having fallen victim to the gross tar gunk), climbed my step stool, and poised to start at the top and work my way down. I quickly realized that gravity had other ideas, as everything I filled plopped its way down the shaft to the bottom. Working quickly, I climbed down and started working from the bottom up, purposely only filling about half the gap, per the instructions.

My big can of Big Gap Great Stuff only filled about half the void, so resigned, I pushed the stuff into place and packed up for the afternoon.

Two hours later, I passed through the back hallway and stopped cold. The Great Stuff had settled down from where I had originally put it. Gravity had intervened, pulling the whole mass downwards into a big blob. I tried to push it back up, but it was still sticky and malleable and I was afraid of making it worse, so I left it to solidify, hoping I could carve it up and reuse the misplaced foam. (I had used Great Stuff before to fill in some (horizontal) gaps in the basement and found it easy to work with – and once it hardens, easy to carve off the excess with a knife. Gravity hadn’t been a factor when working horizontally.)

By morning, an entire digestive system of foam adorned my wall. After a busy day (laundry, weeding, more staining, and Elgin’s Greekfest), I decided to tackle the stomach-shaped mass. I set off with a razor blade, but found a screwdriver more useful. I hacked into the stomach, chiseling off small chunks – like packing peanuts, but without the candy colors. In a way, they worked out better than the original foam, since I could easily stuff them back around in the corners of the void, whereas working with aerosol, you just point and hope. I filled a pretty good portion of the hole with the leftovers, taking off a couple chunks of paint in the process. (Fortunately, in my garage diggings yesterday, I found a third of a gallon of paint labeled “Back Entry.” It perfectly matches the paint already on the walls, which we feared we would have to repaint entirely to compensate for the slightly-smaller trim and a bit of damage (i.e. the hole we made while prying off the old trim).

One small can of Great Stuff should fill the rest of the void – and no, I won’t be getting the “Big Gap” variety again! Plus, I’ve learned that when working in vertical spaces, it may help to prop up the fresh foam while it solidifies – I’m thinking a piece of cardboard may do the trick.

Regardless, I’m closer to finishing the door project once and for all! Then I move onto the fence…

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