Classic Turn-of-the-Century Capitol Hill Iron Stairs

On a recent walk through the neighborhood, I slowed down and took a close look at a lot of the cast iron front stairs at a handful of houses on my walk.  Many of the houses in these pictures have a mix of original cast iron and newer iron elements.  Many include fully-original cast iron elements with iron connecting components.


Capitol Hill Outdoor Kitchen

We just finished an outdoor kitchen project that was a lot of fun to build.  Kitchens always have tricky aspects, but we came up with a lot of solutions to make this one work well in the outdoors.

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For outdoor cabinets, there are only so many good options, and the lead times on stainless cabinets, for example, are ridiculously long.  Here, we built a frame for our countertop out of steel. This was way cheaper than stainless cabinets and it is also structurally as strong as can be and will hold up well over the years outdoors. We installed a 3 cm granite countertop and a stainless undermount sink. We kept the sink small because the countertop space will be more useful than the sink space since this space will be used more for entertaining than regular dining.

The steel frame underneath the countertop provides storage space, but we needed a way to conceal the space for aesthetic reasons and still leave the space accessible. We used an exterior-grade cement siding with PVC trim on treated plywood. All elements will hold up well outdoors and the look matches the adjacent exterior. The panels are hung on z-clips, so they lift right up and the space below can be used for storage.

We notched the panel to allow the passage of a natural gas line to service a gas grill. We hooked up a 5.3 CF fridge that provides a lot of room for drinks and food for the grill.

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In the spring, this will be one of the nicest rooftops in Capitol Hill.  This was a fun project!

Historic Cast Iron and Steel Handrail Restoration in Capitol Hill

Historic Cast Iron and Steel Handrail Restoration in Capitol HIll

Restoration of historic handrails is an important part of our work here in Capitol Hill. Stair and handrail components like the ones we restored in this project are some of the beautiful architectural characteristics that make Capitol Hill unique.

The steel railings on this project had been replaced since the original construction; however, when they were replaced, the handrails were not properly welded or treated.

We reinstalled the handrails and welded them fully. In other photos (see below) you can see the closeup views of the weld joints. The weld joints previously were not treated properly. The slag had not been removed after the weld bead cooled. Painting directly to slag does not work because the paint will not stick to slag. So, over the years, following the previous repair, the joints had rusted through.

At the few locations where the joints had not rusted completely, the welds held but sheared off the cast iron post. We reattached everything and re-welded and treated the connections at all the posts.

Condition of newel post before the GLBC repair.

Condition of newel post before the GLBC repair.

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