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The Joy of Painting

A Diary

I spent the weekend transforming our family room with a fresh coat of paint. It was a simple project, but not everything went smoothly.

I swore that I was not going to invest any time and money in any part of the addition, including the family room. With so many construction flaws in the addition, we planned on a complete tear down and re-build. Any improvements would end up in the landfill. So we decided to live with the hideous pink and cream sponged walls and cranberry carpet.

old family room colors
The old family room colors.

After doing the math recently, I realized that we are looking at another 5 years before we can afford to rebuild the addition. This is the first room that visitors see and needless to say, it is an embarrassment. The idea of living with it for another five years is more than I can bear.

The straw that finally broke the proverbial camel’s back was an unfortunate bout of canine fecal incontinence courtesy of our visiting in-laws’ aging German Shepherd.  Poor old guy (and poor us when we walked into the room after a family day out).  There were dozens of messy deposits throughout the room.  We cleaned up the mess.  We spot cleaned the carpet.  And we got most of the stains and smell out.  The next step would have been to have the carpet professionally cleaned.  But no matter how clean the carpet would look, we would always know.  More importantly, no matter how clean the carpet would become, it would still be cranberry. 

So the decision was made to invest in a neutral carpet.  And since we are replacing the carpet, a fresh coat of paint would be a most welcome change.  I have gone from investing no money to investing close to $2,000 in a room that has a date with the wrecking ball.

Friday October 29

Hoping to get a head start, I was up on a step ladder at 4:30 this morning, removing the hideous wallpaper border that encompassed the room. There are tools to steam off wallpaper, but I have always had pretty good luck using just a wet sponge.  After about an hour into this task, my patience was wearing thin so I reached for my Shark steam bottle. That made the job a lot easier.  It still took a few hours (with a half hour break) to get rid of the border.

At about 9:00, I removed the remaining contents of the room, save for the sofa, chair and dining table. Those I could shift around while painting.  By 10:30, the roller and brush were in my hand.

I had expected to paint the ceiling and walls in the same day, but the popcorn ceiling required a lot more effort and paint than I anticipated.  The room is roughly 500 square feet, but because of the texture, the surface area of the ceiling is a whole lot more. That was just the beginning of my problems.

I had only been painting for about half an hour when the roller extension pole broke at the threads.  Now I had to paint the rest of the room with my arm extended above my shoulder. To add insult to injury, or, more specifically, to add injury to insult, I ended up with a sore lip and a mouth and beard full of paint when the roller plummeted from the ceiling to my face.

By about 4:30, I exhausted my paint supply, with only about 40 or 50 square feet remaining to be painted.  That necessitated a one hour round trip to Home Depot for more paint and a new extension pole

I left for Depot around 5:00 and returned at 6:00.  After another half hour of work, I finished the ceiling.  It looks pretty good– and a whole lot cleaner – so I am only going to do the one coat.  I must admit that even if it looked like crap, I would still not be doing a second coat.

I don’t think my shoulder could take it.

If there are no further headaches or surprises, I will paint the walls Saturday and the trim on Sunday.  Not sure if I’ll be able to pull up the carpet this weekend as planned. But the installers aren’t going to be here until Thursday, so that gives me 3 days to work on it.

Right now, I have a sore shoulder, my neck hurts, my hand is stiff, and I’m tired.  And all I’ve really done so far is the ceiling…

Saturday October 30

I awoke this morning to the sweet serenade of my alarm clock.  After hitting the snooze button a few times, I got up, threw on my painting clothes and headed to the family room at about 8:00.  I spent the next four hours (less a five minute break) doing all the brush work– cutting in at the ceiling, corners and around the trim.  The room is large (roughly 500 square feet) but it is an odd shape.  In total, I painted well in excess of 400 linear feet (close to double what a typical 20×20 room with 8 foot ceilings and a doorway and a couple of windows would require).  That’s a lot of time and distance to keep a steady hand.  Thankfully, the rolling took just over half an hour.  I finished the first coat of paint by 1:00.

Unfortunately, the paint we are using (CIL Smart) cannot be re-coated for 6 hours.  By that time, daylight would be running out and the quality of artificial light in the room is not conducive to doing a good paint job so I resigned myself to doing the second coat on Sunday.

Not wanting to waste the rest of the day, I began removing the carpet and took it to the dump.  It was a very satisfying feeling to plunge the utility knife into the cranberry abomination and shred it.  [insert evil laugh here] There were no nasty surprises– just a confirmation that the previous homeowner cut corners when he built the addition.  We already knew that the floor joists are only 2x6s.  The floor sheathing, revealed today, is only 7/16 OSB.  Not a lot of structural integrity there.  I’m not sure what the minimum code is, but I think that the thinnest floor would be 5/8.  My choice would be 3/4 inch plywood over 2×10 joists.

{Turns out that I jumped to a false conclusion.  But based on every other structural problem with the house, who could blame me?  An unfinished section in a small closet revealed that the 7/16 inch OSB was installed over plywood.    That means that there is likely a total of an inch or more of flooring material.  It makes sense.  There is no way 7/16 OSB could have provided enough strength to support our furniture, or us, for as long as we’ve been here.}

The wall color we chose is Jade Frost by CIL, a grayish green that is part of their “Deep and Luxurious” collection.  I think we made a pretty good choice.

The above picture shows a portion of the family room as seen from the kitchen.  You can see all the elements of the previous owner’s decorating that we never liked to begin with, but grew to abhor over the course of our seven years in this house.  Pink and cream sponged walls.  Cranberry carpet.  Blue flowered wallpaper border.

The picture below shows the family room between the first and second coat of paint.  Much of the carpet has been removed and the wallpaper border is gone.  The ceiling is less than 8 feet, but it doesn’t feel as low now as it did with that hideous border.

family room paint
The family room between coats of paint.

Sunday October 31

The second coat of paint went on much faster than the first.  Start to finish only took four and a half hours, almost two hours less than the first coat.  Had we not been in desperate need of groceries (the cupboard was bare), I might have invested a couple of hours in painting the trim instead of wandering the supermarket aisles.  But I managed to accomplish everything I set out to accomplish today.  In fact, this weekend has been pretty successful.  Exhausting, but successful. 



  1. Andrew

    Ouch. I know that pain. The shoulder pain, not the sting of a roller hitting the face. But, as with most projects, sometimes we can run but sometimes we have to walk. Today you had to crawl. Running days ahead!

    • Thumb&Hammer

      All things considered, I think things actually went well. Yes, the ceiling took a lot longer to paint than I originally anticipated, but then, just about everything I do takes longer than I originally anticipate. This blog is a shrine to that. And I may have run out of paint, but I was able to make the trip to Home Depot and finish the job. And I still have enough of a time cushion that I will be finished everything before the installation of the carpet. I like your run/walk/crawl anaolgy, though I’m not sure I agree with the day being a “crawl.” And I almost never run. Slow and steady wins the race.

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