Saturday, June 20, 2009


I get ideas sometimes about "fixing" things in my house. (I also get ideas about "fixing" things in my life occasionally, but that's another story for another time and would require some real thinking - so I'll just focus on on the things in my house). I would generally consider myself a pretty handy gal. I can change electrical sockets, hang light fixtures and I can wield a hammer with the best of them. I know the difference between a molly-bolt (if, indeed, that's how you spell it) and other types of wall hangers. I know how to use a drill properly and can tackle most mundane household chores with some degree of aplomb. In other words, I am not one of those women who think that a knife and a coffee cup, used in ways not intended in their original designs, are the ideal things to have in your tool box arsenal. I use the real things.

But what I have come to realize lately is that while I get "ideas" about things and often turn those ideas in to reality, I must confess that I don't like projects that take too long. This is problematic because sometimes my ideas, and the time that they will take in-my-mind's-eye, are disconnected. I like to imagine that my ideas will be completed within the two hour time period that I have allotted for them to take in my imaginary chore world. This is not usually the case. This can be disappointing.

A couple of days ago I had one of those "ideas". We have an old vintage porch set. You know, the kind that your grandma, or her neighbor-lady, had on their back porch? (You know, just like the one in the picture here - but this one's not mine, just a representative sample - I was too lazy to get out the camera) Its got a metal glider, a rocking chair and a regular chair. Its got this nifty little pie-plate design cut out on the backs and seats of all the pieces. Its a real charmer for those who appreciate vintage stuff from the 40-50's. Our set also, unfortunately, had the requisite rust poking through its not-so-great-anymore red and white paint job. Hence, the idea to paint the set. I allotted about 2 hours for this entire project. I am a fool and should never be asked to estimate completion times for anything except cooking microwave popcorn. And even then, I would have to have a couple of goes at it in any particular microwave.

Basically, I decided that I wanted a NEW color. In my mind's eye these guys were gonna be Utopian when I was done with my 120 minutes of painting perfection. Alas. Imaginary paint jobs are tricky things. I forgot to take in to consideration that my suckers were painted red. As in fire engine red. As in apple red. As in no other color could cover that red except for maybe the same red or perhaps a lovely shade of cheery black. I decided on painting them a nice sunny yellow. Yup in my world, one coat of a shiny yellow paint oughta do the trick. Do I need to mention the word "fool" again?

So, yesterday morning I merrily tripped off to our local Home Depot to get the necessary stuff. I had already googled "painting metal furniture" and knew that I needed to wash it off and take care of any obvious rust with a wire brush. I did that before I left - so that was not technically included in my time estimation of 2 hours. I talked to the paint guy about the benefits of spray vs brush. He advised spray. I took his advice. (Please insert the word "fool" here again) So I bought a couple o' cans of spray paint (for which I needed to get the approval of the home depot supervisor just in case I had ideas about becoming a world renown graffiti artist instead of a porch furniture painter) and headed home.

Were you, unlike me, clued in to the fact that spray paint is damn messy business? It is even messy if you have moved said porch furniture in to your garage and covered all surfaces with plastic tarps. It is profoundly sticky. Super mongo sticky. So marvelously sticky that after I had only marginally covered the underside of one of the chairs I was unable to move around deftly since my feet were now fusing to the plastic sheeting. I would point out that this makes spray painting slightly more complex. It would have been fine if, say, the furniture was on a lazy-susan and I could just spin it around to get to different places. But, in the absence of that little gem, instead I was like your basic house fly cemented to an exceptionally effective brand of fly paper. Only moments earlier, George the Younger had begged to paint too, so I let him. He joined me in tandem adherence . The two of us must have been a sight looking like wading egrets walking through a marsh sort of half-marching about trying to unstick our feet from the plastic. We gave up.

This wouldn't have been half so bad if we could have just turned the water on and rinsed off the sunny yellow paint that was now encrusted on the bottoms of our feet. Nope. Not half so bad. But the truth is I totally missed that this kind of paint wasn't your garden variety soap and water kind o' clean-up. This gunk required Mineral Spirits or some other liquid thinning substance. Did I have any of this? Hell no. (insert the word "fool" again here) So, he and I sat on the side walk waiting for my feet to dry enough to head back to Home Depot.

While I was there, I decided to change painting tactics and opted to use regular-in-the-can kind of paint. Got the paint, got the brushes, got more plastic sheeting. And, I did remember to get the mineral spirits in the end. I very nearly almost forgot it. I remembered as I was heading down the escalator towards the check out and sensed that my feet were now permanently glued to the inside of my tennis shoes. And, in case you are curious, Mineral Spirits not only do the trick of removing paint from your feet, but it also is pretty handy with little fragments of shoe insole. Just so you know.

The brush-can method was indeed a lot less messy. It is also a lot less speedy. Coverage isn't great, so after the first coat I had a moment or two (or a whole night of waking up in the middle of it thinking - - what was I thinking? I've totally mucked the whole set up and will now need to hire a guy with a car stripping thinga-ma-jiggy that can sand blast and then use the mega-car-paint-sprayer to fix my foul up) where I was appalled at the results. Yellow over red ain't pretty the first coat around.

But, this morning I went back to the project filled with lukewarm enthusiasm to begin the second coat. Wanna know something? It's looking pretty damn fine. Two coats down. At least two to go. At 3 hours per coat at 4 coats, my little project is now estimated at 12 hours. Add the two trips to home depot, the disaster with the spray paint and I suspect we're nearly at 17 hours. 24 hours drying time between coats adds another 4 days. Crap - see what I mean? 120 minutes just morphed in to a school-week-long project. Fool.

When I am done, I will take photos. I will need to take photos so that I can be on-line-proud of my "idea". I will feel exculpated from my current fool-hardy yellow-speckled state. This got me to thinking though - - what am I gonna do with a whole house remodel? Holy jumping one-armed wall paper hanger Batman! We're in for some real fun now. We close on the house next week.

1 comment:

Molly said...

I would have suggested spray-painting Primer with rust prohibitor and then used the regular paint. It would have definitely cut down on your need of coats and would have been less sticky since you wouldn't need to be "perfect." Of course, this is my advice from sitting on my butt in Minnesota!!