Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Reality Paints

I have been horribly misled by reality television. I’m a big fan of Trading Spaces. While stationed in Japan, I would volunteer for Saturday duty so that I could watch episode after episode. (I didn’t have cable at home.) I would while away the long hours enthralled in my favorite show and envisioning the decorating transformations I would someday make in my own home. At last, after years of either renting or living in the barracks, I have a great big canvas on which to paint my vision. However, it is the painting itself that is not accurately portrayed on TV. It is much harder than it looks!

I was surprised at just how messy painting is. I abhor messes. I avoid sloppy food. I cannot bear to enter my currently filthy kitchen. The grimy view of the underside of the tub faucet sends me into a cleaning frenzy. I like things very tidy and I imagined that I could paint neatly. After all, on Trading Spaces, the homeowners’ shirts are spotless when the show concludes. My shirt, however, quickly became spotted. Paint dribbled from the brush and splattered from the roller. The paint drips on the floor were smeared as I stepped in them. Even my hair had paint in it. I had Mike deliver me items like CDs and drinks because I was afraid to take my painty self out of the attic.

I did not expect the paint job to take so long or to consume so much paint. On Trading Spaces, the painting seems to take just an hour or two and one coat usually does the job. I have logged 15 hours and over 3 gallons of paint on approximately 900 square feet of wall/ceiling. (My initial rate was about 112 sq. feet an hour, but I improved with time.) I have applied two coats of buttercream over the former mustard yellow, and it still needs a third coat in places. Although the task has eaten my weekend and nights, I do not mind the time I spend painting. I have a grand time belting out musicals and losing myself in the zen of the brush and roller. What I mind is the time I don’t spend sleeping!

The much praised “M” or “W” painting technique is harder than it looks. On one Trading Spaces episode, a homeowner was banned from painting because he was rolling the roller parallel to the floor. The designer subsequently demonstrated the proper zigzag technique. While I eventually managed to paint nice “W”s on the walls, I found it impossible on ceilings and sloped surfaces. I was lucky to get the paint above my head without it dripping in my eyes.

A few pointers on reality painting:
1. Consider primer. Should I have used it? I suppose it would have saved me some money on Behr paint. Would primer have covered the yellow better than the designer paint?
2. Buy an edging roller. I used a brush for all the edge work, but I wish I had a little roller for tough places, like behind the stair rail and above the windows, so that the overall texture was more consistent.
3. If you wash your roller cover, make sure it is dry before using it again. After the first night of painting, I rinsed my brush and roller cover, as I thought I should. However, I did not remove the cover from the roller frame. As a result, it did not dry. I noticed that it was damp the next day, but did not realize that it was actually water logged. I dipped it into my roller tray of paint and started rolling. It made quite a mess; the thinned paint splattered all over me and then dripped off the wall, ran over the tape, and drizzled onto the shoe molding.
4. Have rags handy. I made quite a few “boo-boos” as I repeatedly overpainted onto the trim and molding. As long as I cleaned it up immediately, there was no lasting damage.
5. Allow yourself plenty of time. I began painting on Saturday night. I have to be finished by tonight (Tuesday) so that it will be dry for the carpet installation on Thursday morning. If I had started earlier, I wouldn’t have had to paint until past midnight every day and maybe I would have had time to clean the kitchen!

Being the Trading Spaces fan that I am, I have multiple books based on the show. I am wise to the fact that the homeowners, designers, and Ty/Amy-Wynn don’t really do all of the work. There are painters and carpenters and seamstresses that complete many of the tasks, off camera. I just hadn’t realized how much help they must be giving. I still enjoy home makeover shows, but I’ve come to realize just how much closer to fantasy than reality they are.


Blogger Scott in Washington said...

I really hate painting. I think I'll hate painting when I'm old and gray and in a home somewhere. I'll say things like, "I may be in diapers now and have gout, but at least I don't have to paint anymore!"

It goes back to my time in Japan. What should the government do with an E5 with two years of higly specialized training that cost the goverment upwards to $250k on a Saturday if the cold war is going a little slowly? Why not have him put another coat of institutional white on the barrack walls? Heck, why not paint every room every couple of months for no apparent reason?

All PTSD-esque ranting aside, I still don't like it, even in my own home. Thats why when Brit and Lauren start painting in our house, I'm apt to find that the septic tank needs emergency servicing, or its time to repair divets in the basement sheetrocking or ANYTHING, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY.

Still, sometimes the stupidest thoughts slip in and out of your mind, gaining approval and legitimacy without even cursory review by the more logical parts of you pysche - thoughts like "Maybe I should paint the outside of the hole house this summer WITH A BRUSH! Mwah hah hah!"

I had to use a brush to get down in between the chinks of our log siding and down into the grooves of the T-111 siding. I took off two 40 chunks from work, which because we were working 4-10s, gave me 20 complete days to complete the project. I also had to pressure wash and then chip the entire surface The house went from flakey faded blue to cedar red, but I'll go to the smelliest, most depressing home for retired non-house painters before I do that again.

Off to the staff meeting,

9:02 AM  

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