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Friday, August 25, 2006

think before you paint

This month a few summers ago, I decided (quite foolishly) that I was more than capable of doing some painting upon moving into an old apartment. Ignoring the humidity and getting dehydrated in the process (I had to strip twenty years of wallpaper first), I now believe that that decision was most likely a key factor in my passing a kidney stone not long after. If the phrase "kidney stone" made you say "ouch", well, so you should, as never before would I have ever thought that I'd be in an emergency room one day eternally grateful for the miracle of morphine. But that's an entry for another day. THIS entry was written when I'd regained my sense of humour about the whole painting episode, and wanted to relay my adventure to one of my brothers—a painting expert of course! He was duly amused.


First, it is hard work. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. You'll get tired, and probably cranky. Maybe very cranky. Perhaps it is even better if you live alone while attempting this tedious task. So, before you get started, let me fill you in on what I discovered on my first (last?) attempt at interior house painting. Well, if you must know, a bathroom. No, don't roll your eyes, it may be a small room, but it's still work. Hard work, as I may already have mentioned.

Now, it's probably a good idea to talk to people before trying this job on your own. It's an even better idea to listen to what they have to say. And to make it even more worthwhile, take notes. Especially if you suspect that you're likely to forget everything you hear. Having said that, be forewarned. Some people may not want you to know what painting really involves. Inwardly they may be chuckling at your naiveté, and gleefully anticipating your tale of disaster. Other people, much kinder in nature, simply don't want to frighten you while you're still in an eager and ignorant state. They already know that the words, "Oh, that was so much fun! And so easy!" will never be spoken. They also realize that you must discover this on your own. Actually, it's a bit like childbirth, isn't it? People don't discuss how uncomfortable and painful giving birth really is. Why, if they did, reproduction might stop. Sure, you forget the pain once you see the baby, but in the meantime.... Well, painting is quite similar. You're happy with the end result (hopefully), but while you're doing it....

Okay, enough with the analogy. Here are the most important things to remember about painting the first coat:

* make sure you have all the equipment you need before starting (this may sound obvious, but it isn't),

* make sure you know what colour you're using (again, this may sound obvious, but in the case of hand-me-down paint poured into another can, this isn't always so),

* it is not enough to just cover the floor: cover the toilet, sink, or anything else that may be in the room (unless of course you're using white paint and all your amenities are white as well—who says splatters can't be attractive?),

* do the corners first (I cannot stress this enough, honestly),

* don't forget to open at least one window to ventilate the room (you might like paint fumes, but your pets won't),

* exterior oil-based paint is best used outside (I know, you're trying to save money any way you can, and this leftover paint might as well get used up, but trust me, unless you don't mind breathing in paint fumes for over a week...),

* wear something to cover your hair (unless, as in my case, you're using white paint and you've already got some grey hairs and wouldn't mind having some extra highlights), and

* try painting during daylight hours (it really does make a difference).

Now, about that second coat of paint. First, decide whether it's really necessary. Give yourself lots of latitude here. If your mother or Aunt Mary wouldn't approve of the results of your first coat—too bad. Only do it if you know that you absolutely can't live with it as it is. And realize that there are worse things than having a less than perfect coat of paint. For example, you could get hit by a bus, lose your job, or be told that your spouse is leaving you. Keeping that in mind, is it still so important to do another coat? Really, the best thing to do is to just leave it.

If, however, you must go ahead, remember what I said about people not wanting to let you know the reality of painting that first coat? Well, unfortunately, the same applies to the second coat. Please, whatever you do, don't be lulled into thinking that this will be any easier. However satisfied you may have been with the eventual outcome of the first coat, please don't think that the hard part is over. Don't pat yourself on the back and be self-complacent in your newfound painting abilities. Overconfidence never helped anyone, trust me. You know those nice people before you painted the first coat? Well, they're up to their well-intentioned shenanigans again. They dare not tell you what's lurking ahead. They know all too well that once again you would not proceed. And to be honest, some of them may be enjoying themselves a tad too much to be labelled "nice" people. Take it from me; the best thing to do is to assume you know nothing. Get rid of any cockiness you may possess and act as if you've never painted before.

Here are the basics to remember about the second coat of paint:

* don't forget to do the corners first (no, I wasn't kidding the first time around, but if you do forget, seriously consider not doing them at all—trust me on this one),

* it's much harder to see white on white than white on blue, so you will have to look even harder to see what you are (or aren't) covering,

* I'm not sure, but it might be a good idea to at least rinse the roller between coats of paint if you won't be doing the second coat the same day (actually, just use another roller altogether!),

* make sure the roller is completely covered with paint (unless of course you're TRYING to get that patterned effect on the walls),

* in order to do this keep your tray clean of yucky paint skins that have accumulated (maybe because you're using hand-me-down paint?), so that you can use the entire tray to cover that roller, and

* painting white on white late at night with blaring lights will not help existing eye problems (there's a good reason most people paint during daytime hours).

Finally, it wouldn't be a bad idea to have some nice border paper already available just in case you end up with marks on your ceiling because you didn't paint the edges properly first. Not that I would know about that personally, of course, but I've heard stories.... Seriously though, if you do manage to overcome the trauma of your first painting attempt, then, who knows, you may want to paint again someday. Tee hee. Sorry, I just couldn't resist. We both know that THAT'S very unlikely to happen. But, if you do survive your first painting attempt, give yourself a round of applause, and have your words of wisdom ready should anyone be foolish enough to ask you for advice on how to paint.

Good luck!


Blogger Kitty Cats Corner said...

You are much braver than I . . .


August 28, 2006 3:58 a.m.


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