Sippican Cottage

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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

Get Busy (Two Years Ago)

[Editor’s Note: If you just stumbled in, we’re redecorating the master bedroom in a day and a half. ]

{Author’s Note: There is no editor, and this all happened two years ago.}

It took too long to make the paint. I have to finish enough of the room on Saturday to put all the assorted flotsam and jetsam in the room in the finished part and press on to the finish line on Sunday. But there’s a limit to just how crummy a job I’m willing to do, no matter what kind of hurry I’m in. So look above to see what we use to prepare for the actual work. Well, that and yeso. And a vacuum cleaner.

What’s yeso you ask? It’s plaster in spanish. Everything comes labeled in Espanol et Francais these days, and yeso is so much more fun to say than plaster, so we go with it.

Here’s the room:
Please note that the floor is not finished either. Now, you pikers were wondering if I could repaint my bedroom in a day and a half. My indifference to your doubts can scarce be measured. If all I had to do was paint it, I’d be drunk by now. I’ve got to finish the floor, too.

You see, my wife and I suffered mightily to get our home. My wife, mostly. And we had to move into our Master Bedroom before it was complete, because the bedroom we had been sleeping in down the hall was promised to another family member, and that’s that. Hell, before we even had that room, the whole upstairs in our house was unfinished; and when we moved into our house at first, me, my wife, two cats, and eventually an infant slept in the room I’m currently typing this essay in. Cozy. So my wife never complained about this floor not being finished, because there was so much more floor than before that she hardly cared.

That’s pine plank flooring, screwed and pegged. Our whole house has it, except for ceramic tile in the bathrooms and kitchens. Many people think it’s extravagant. It cost less than wall to wall carpet, that’s why I did it. There’s a lot of sweat equity in it, though. Anyway, we’re going to finish it too. You people still taking action on the likelihood of me finishing?
Pull all the nails and hooks out of the walls. Remove the electrical cover plates. Lose all the screws. (Just kidding. Put the screws back in the electrical outlets after you remove the plates, or you’re fired) Mix a little yeso powder in water, and when it’s a thick doughy paste, use your putty knife to fill all the nail holes. Don’t listen to morons who tell you to mound it up because it will shrink. Scraping wet plaster off the wall is easy. Sanding is hard. Fill the hole, scrape all excess off, and two minutes later the plaster will be hard and you can fill it again to take care of the shrinkage problem. (Insert George Costanza joke here)

Caulk all the seams where the woodwork meets the plaster. You’ll never get a good looking job without doing this. Fill nailholes in woodwork with Dap 33 putty if necessary. Not many in a repaint. Sand all the woodwork first, and your yeso patches after, with 220 grit sandpaper. Vacuum everything. Now vacuum everything again, you did a lousy job. Now we actually paint something.

What color is the trim going to be? The pinkish tone of the existing woodwork ain’t cutting it. I need something whiter, but not white. Hey, here’s a gallon of Benjamin Moore alkyd satin “White Dove.” White Dove is never called “White Dove” by the female customers. They call it “Dove White,” no matter how many times they hear it said or see it written “White Dove,” and Benjamin Moore should just give up and call it that. Old Ben throws a little earth tone in white, probably raw or burnt umber, and it makes a nice warm pale gray. And I have some. Warren G. Harding’s paint shaker to the rescue!

Use a natural bristle brush in a real paint pot (Never the can. Never.) Cut in (paint in a straight line) the crown moulding, and around the standing (vertical) moulding where it meets the walls. Leave the running (horizontal) moulding till you’ve painted the walls. Paint the baseboard after everything else because it’s dirty down there, no matter how many times you vacuum.

You’re supposed to let that dry overnight. Not bloody likely. Don’t get a lot on the walls, eat dinner, and go back and give the walls two coats of green with a synthetic bristle brush to cut in, and a roller for the field. Get everywhere you can reach now, because that’s where you’ve got to put the furniture tomorrow to get the rest of the room.

And don’t make a mess! The first sentence in the stipulations of any painting contract reads:

Protection of surfaces not to be painted.

Duh. If you’re making a mess, you’re doing it wrong.

You get two cracks at drawing a straight line where green meets white, and let me say a word about doing it.

I don’t have time to use adhesive tape to draw a straight line. The place the tape would go is covered in wet paint anyway. And if you go to the paint store, you’ll see one doogizmo after another being sold to allow you to cheat and achieve this straight line. Forget all of them, and the tape too.

People in recent memory generally had all sorts of hand skills and practical knowledge we are all oblivious to now. They could split wood properly, and sharpen a handsaw, and fix a two stroke engine, and limb trees, and all sorts of things that are lost in the mists of time for most of us now. But there are a few hand skills that any self respecting handy person should acquire. And painting a straight line between the wall and the ceiling or the wall and a doorframe should be one of them. You’ll go slow for a while, but you’ll get it. Me? I told you, I’m the Prince of Darkness.

It’s getting late on Saturday, and about 1/3 of the room is painted. What the hell am I going to do about the floor?

(to be continued)

5 Responses

  1. Do you ever take requests? The video you posted that your nephew made a couple (?) summers back, covering a BeeGees song, was priceless.

  2. It’s a holiday weekend.

    Canadian Thanksgiving for some; Columbus Day for others.

    Could give you an extra day for completion of your makeover.

    Not that you will need it.

  3. I paint like you do, took me one whole house to learn it right. I’m on the third one now and I’ve decided I never want to paint another room as long as I live.

    Love your place of business here and I’m lusting after your furniture…..maybe after the last room’s painted and the floors are finished.

    **If we can put in requests, I’d like to see more of your boy’s videos, they’re wonderful.

  4. More importantly,

    We need YOUR videos.

    Several years back we began repainting our (now) old house. (We moved just this last summer)

    My wife decided she had had enough and just started caulking everything in sight. In the beginning, it was ugly. Now she’s a pro. No tape, no second passes. Doing it right the first time takes several years of doing it wrong the first time. Still, I could never do it until I had seen her do it several times, and even then, not as well.

    So we need to see you cut in.

    Heck, you could be the next Norm Abrams.

    ( without the cheating edits… I’ve seen a dozen cross-cuts with moderate tear out on the table saw that when they went to the work bench were pristine. Unless Norm has invented the wood welder, he had help from the cameraman. I can’t stand it when they insult our intelligence.)

  5. Hi Golden West- I do take requests, but unfortunately my nephew took all his videos off YouTube. Not sure why. He lives in Venice, CA, so maybe it would be less trouble if you asked him.

    Hi everyman- In the small print it says I did this two years ago.

    Hi Daphne- Thanks. I feed those little boys by making furniture, so I appreciate the sentiment.

    We have only the most barbarous tools available to us to make videos, so they are few and far between, it’s true. But I’ll poke him and tell him it’s time for more.

    Hi Travis- I did it for a living for a very long time. I don’t think I could calculate how many running miles of straight lines I’ve painted. It is, as you say, a hand skill that you can develop with repetition. When your job is painting four apartments in a day to try to get through night school, you get it right quick.

    I appreciate your sentiment that I should make videos. I’m immodest enough to say that if someone had a lick of sense they’d point a camera at me. They seem to hand out cable shows like candy. It seems I must be doing something to actively avoid being televised; I’m not sure there’s any other explanation for it.

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