Expectations vs. Reality

While my husband was on a camping trip this summer with some guys, I decided I would make good use of the time and paint another room in our house. We moved in here 6 years ago, and hadn’t finished repainting all the rooms yet, so it was (way) past time to tackle another room. This year I started in the master bedroom, which was painted in 2 shades of blue…medium dusty blue and dark dusty blue, 2 walls opposite each other were one color, and the other 2 walls the other color. Ugh.fullsizeoutput_9b7d

So I started my prep work, patching holes, and I felt like I went through about a half gallon of spackling compound covering up all the dings and dents from the prior owners, not to mention the screw pops in the sheet rock as well as a couple of bad spots left where we took a mounting bracket for a TV off the wall. The TV bracket had adhered to the paint which was really unexpected, given that the paint was long cured by the time we moved in and put up that bracket. So when we took it off it started giving us some trouble then suddenly came off with a big r-r-r-i-i-p-p and we just stood there with that look of “oh, crap” on our faces. I knew right then I was in for hours of patching and sanding, and I wasn’t disappointed. I can’t tell you how many times I redid that spot before I was satisfied.

Now unless you’re a professional painter, I’m going to say that you probably can’t do a good job of painting a room without one really essential thing: painter’s tape. Some folks know it as “blue painter’s tape” and others as “frog tape” but it all does the same thing: when applied correctly (or at all) it will keep the woodwork from getting paint on it. By now you can probably guess where I’m going, but honestly it was WAY worse than you can imagine. Because after the patching is done, normally you think “yea! It’s time to prep and tape the woodwork”, right? Nope, not in this house, or at least, not in the normal, traditional sense. You see, the prior owners didn’t believe in painter’s tape, or they just waved it over toward the wood and prayed it landed in the right spot. That room had been painted at least 3 times in 10 years and not once had they used painter’s tape. I know this because there were 3 different colors of paint layers on the edges of the windows, doorways and baseboards and in varying amounts. Sometimes just a tiny brush mark, but in one place two layers extended for a 2-foot run! And if that wasn’t bad enough, they roller painted over outlets and the cold air return as well – both the wall plate AND the actual outlet! I mean come on, how hard is it to remove a wall plate and slap tape on an outlet?

So there I knelt, squatted, stood and climbed up and down a ladder for 2 days, with a razor blade, scraping wood. I tried everything I could think of to help loosen the paint but in the end it just seemed simplest to do old-fashioned scraping and try not to ruin the woodwork. Finally, it was as good as I could get it, and then out came the Frog Tape. Everywhere, there was green tape. Take that, prior homeowner! About the only place I didn’t tape was along the ceiling edge but I’ve been taught how to cut in the paint along an edge, and was planning to repaint the ceiling when I was done with the walls anyway, for two reasons. One, it had never been done in the 17 years since the house was built and two, guess where else they got medium and dark blue paint? (But I DID tape off the walls when I did the ceiling. I’m good, but not perfect!)

Finally, it was time to paint, and the walls and ceiling look fantastic. You don’t realize how dingy your ceilings are until you paint them bright white. (Here’s a helpful tip: Glidden makes a wonderful ceiling paint that goes on pink, but dries white so that you can see where you’ve painted, as that can be difficult with white on white ceilings. I love that stuff!) I also love my 5 brand spankin’ new outlets, which at just over $2 each for the outlet and wall plate combined seemed money well spent so that I didn’t have to spend time scraping paint off the old ones, and my new cold air return. (Follow up note: I later found a multipack of outlets at our local big box retailer, 10 for under $4, plus 10 wall plates for under $2!)

IMG_2544I don’t get it…what the heck is so hard about taking 20 minutes to put some painter’s tape around woodwork? Are you really that flippin’ lazy? I guess the answer is “yes” because our entire house is like that, the one exception being our upstairs hallway, and that’s only because it’s never been painted and is still only primed. (I’m actually kind of excited to paint that area next.) I used to think that people would take a bit more care of their homes. I mean good grief; you pay this much money for something, why wouldn’t you fix it up right? But the reality is that people don’t take care of things, don’t do even basic maintenance, like changing furnace filters, cleaning lint out of the dryer trap or stop their kids from writing on closet walls. I guess I need to lower my expectations, because clearly my reality doesn’t match theirs. But at least the room looks wonderful, and the ceilings have only white ceiling paint on them now. Now on to the hallway and then the living room/dining room/kitchen, which is really a great room. THAT’s going to be a project and then some!

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2 thoughts on “Expectations vs. Reality

  1. They roller painted over outlet covers and cold air grilles?!? AAAAGH!!!

    I used to use painter’s tape, but the colour always sneaked under the tape and messed up the trim anyway. In our new place the only thing I masked were the outlets (yes, AFTER I’d removed the covers) so I wouldn’t accidentally gob paint on them as I blew by with the roller. I cut in all the door and window trim and baseboards without masking because I was just so dang sick of pulling off all my carefully applied masking only to discover that it hadn’t helped me at all. In the end I got a great result, but it took for-bloody-ever. (Have I mentioned lately how much I hate painting? No? I HATE PAINTING!)

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  2. I know! I’ve gotten so much better at cutting in and depending on how impatient I am will sometimes skip tape too. The Frog brand does a much better job of sealing edges I’ve found, and I like that they have a version for fresh paint so it’s less likely to lift off paint that isn’t fully cured. It’s just lucky for the previous homeowner that she moved to Florida, far, far from me.

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