My parents are very ascetic people when it comes to their surroundings. As long as a house is clean and comfortable, they don't really care what it looks like. This is quite an admirable trait in the sense that they don't need a big home or lavish furnishings to live happily, but it also means that their home has aged right alongside them. It also means that I don't know the first thing about Do-It-Yourself home remodeling. My idea of hanging a picture is taking any old nail and banging it into a wall.
Admittedly, I'm not the first person you'd call to paint a kitchen.
Fortunately, Alfie grew up with a father who has worked as a bricklayer, painter and carpenter. Where he comes from, people remodel their homes every 2 or 3 years, either painting the walls or installing new carpets or buying a new sofa. Alfie's idea of hanging a picture is searching the wall for a stud, measuring the proper height and width for the picture, hammering a proper picture hook, and adjusting the picture to make sure it hangs straight. It's a good thing one of us knows what he's doing!
Between the 2 of us -- with Alfie doing most of the skilled work and me doing most of the, uh, supporting work, like helping with paint stripping or holding windows while he drills holes for hinges or running to the store for supplies -- we've been getting the job done. Over the weeks, I've even managed to graduate from drudge to apprentice, getting the confidence to do some actual painting (okay, it's mostly baseboards and the area behind the refrigerator, but it's a start).
Painting a room is classified as a beginner's job, and it does look so easy when you read instructions or watch a how-to video, but there are just some things that only experience can teach you. Here, in no particular order, is a list of things I've learned on the job:
* The old adage, "Double the time and double the budget" applies to DIY projects just as much as it does to contractors. Expect the unexpected.
* Budget an extra $30 for all the $3 sample cans of paint you will purchase when trying to decide on the perfect color for your walls ($60 if you have opinionated kids and/or spouse).
* Budget an extra week for making the decision.
* When deciding which primers and top coats to purchase, remember your third grade chemistry classes: oil and water do not mix. In other words, if you use oil-based primer and water-based paint, you will have to sand everything off and suffer another 3 days delay.
* Buy the highest quality paintbrushes and masking tape. It's worth the extra expense: when you're a novice, you'll need all the help you can get.
* You will make so many trips to Home Depot / Lowe's / your local hardware store to pick up supplies, the store clerks will get to know you by name.
* No need to work out on a day that you're sanding and stripping paint. You'll be using arm and chest muscles you never knew you had.
* If genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration, then painting walls is 99% boring preparation and 1% fun painting.
* Your children's interest in helping is only limited to the areas where mistakes show the most (i.e. painting the walls and baseboards);
* Also, their interest will only last for 1-2 weeks.
* As will the streaks of paint that get in their hair.
* Sawdust is like sand on the beach: it gets into every nook and cranny. Have your vacuum cleaner on hand and clean up as you go.
* When you paint, you need to cover EVERYTHING: the floor, the walls, any place where paint could possible spatter, streak or spill.
* That includes yourself . Don't kid yourself by thinking you can be careful; sooner or later, you'll get paint on your clothing. Those freebie XXL tshirts you got at your last convention are the perfect painting attire!
* Disposable gloves and paper towels are a novice painter's best friend.
* Remember to take photos before you start, as you go, and when you finish.
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