Posts Tagged ‘remodeling old homes’

We have been on an odyssey of home update the last month.  This is a continuation of the quest to make our home salable when we finally decide to sell out when we need to downsize.  Last year we totally remodeled the main bathroom, and MAN does it ever look good!

When I had my hip replaced that bathroom was so cramped I could not even get my walker in there.  Fortunately the vanity had a counter I could lean on in order to get to the toilet, but that certainly was not ideal.  Getting a wheelchair in there was impossible.  Well, it is no secret that neither one of us is getting any younger, and “things” have a way of happening. When we decided to remodel that bathroom we wanted to make it handicapped accessible.  Just in case.

In order to accomplish that feat, we had to borrow space from the guest bedroom by changing its closet into bathroom space.  As there was no one using it, that was no big deal.  Well, except for the part where we had to move the filing cabinet that lived there into the family room.  Anyway, a bedroom without a closet is no longer a bedroom, it is an office or a bonus room.  In order to make this a three bedroom house again, we needed to provide that room with a closet.

Hence the big remodeling project.  We put a wall all the way across the family room in front of the existing wall and cut holes in the hall wall and the bedroom wall to form closets.  At the end of the new closet in the bedroom, we made a nook that has a built in desk.  After all that, we painted the new walls and closets.  Having the wall with the closet and desk painted and not the rest of the room made it look very tacky indeed, and since all the stuff was mostly out of the room we decided we would paint the old surfaces too.

Now, in my life I have painted a LOT of things: new construction, remodels, apartments that are being re-tenanted. I know what the procedure is.  If you are painting new construction, you wipe all the surfaces down with a damp or tacky cloth to remove the dust.  If it is old construction, you must wash the walls thoroughly.  The best stuff to use to wash old walls is Trisodium phosphate, TSP for short.  It has the virtue of etching old paint and getting it ready to receive a new layer at the same time that it is removing grease, grime, mold, sometimes the old paint, and the detritus of everyday living.  After you wash the walls, it is important to also rinse them down as well, to remove the last residue and the TSP that stays on the wall.

If you are painting new construction, it is a very good idea to prime the surface before you apply the paint to it.  That way, the relatively inexpensive primer will fill the pores of the sheetrock, or sheetrock mud, or wood, rather than the comparatively expensive paint you use for color and decor.  Also, the paint will adhere to the primer better than to the porous surface beneath.

If you do not do the crucial step of cleaning the surface you are going to paint, your paint will not stick to the wall.  Or it might stick, but it will not have a good bond with the old surface you have just covered with paint, and it may bubble up later on.

I am also a believer that when you are going to paint, you should use the highest quality paint you can afford, because your results will look better and last longer.  Accordingly, I went off to our local paint emporium and purchased the highest quality semi gloss latex paint they carried, had it tinted to my specifications and brought it home.

I spent several hours washing the walls of the back bedroom.  During that process I discovered that the last person who painted in there had used some sort of exceedingly cheap paint.  While I was washing the walls to remove grime, I also was removing large sections of paint as well.  I scrubbed hard, using a green scotch pad, and rinsed dutifully.  When the area was dry, I got out my sand paper and I sanded all the area as smooth as I could to feather out the edges of the existing paint.  Jim put some primer on the area, and also in a corner where there had been some particularly dirty issues more recently.  While he was doing that, some of the existing latex paint bubbled up and separated from the wall.

We scraped that mess off, and discovered that the wall under the bubbling old paint had been moldy when painted, and definitely had not been washed.  Or anything.  Well, we thought we had identified all the problem areas and corrected them, and proceeded to put the first layer of paint on the wall last night.  No problems.

Today, it was time for the second coat and the ceiling. While I was painting the walls and the trim around the windows and the baseboards, Jim painted the ceiling, bless him.  A couple of hours later  we had finished the job and stepped back to admire our work.  I began to clean up, taking the brushes off to the kitchen to clean them, and the paint pan, and roll up the drop cloth.  All that stuff, you know, that you do when a big job well done is completed.

I stepped back to admire the newly painted walls and saw a horrible sight developing right before my eyes.  As I watched, bubbles were forming on my newly painted wall where the new paint had adhered to the old paint and that old paint had decided that being washed and rinsed and sanded was not enough to loosen it, but my $40/gallon paint was certainly able to do that job.

I know exactly what is under that brand new paint and the old paint.  More mildew and dirt.  Tomorrow I will have to take my scraper back in there and scrape off my brand new paint in all the areas it bubbled up, and then WASH that old wall clean, sand the edges to feather them out, prime the area and paint it all again.  I know I have to do this because the lovely guys at the paint emporium instructed me on how to address this situation.

We had an interesting conversation about it, actually.  Apparently, there are a large number of people who think that if you want to paint a wall you just buy some paint and paint the wall.  Then they come to the paint emporium and complain that the paint isn’t performing the way they expect it to, i.e. bubbling up and/or peeling off.  Cleaning the wall never occurred to them.  And apparently, hairspray is a particularly egregious thing to not clean off your walls before you repaint them.  Who knew?  Certainly not me, I never use the stuff.  In fact, the only time I have ever used hairspray in my life was to stabilize salsify seed heads so they could be used in flower arrangements.

I am pretty sure I know exactly what the scenario was vis a vis this situation.  This house was on the market, and the Realtor came by to look it over.

“Oh my goodness,” she exclaimed, as she looked around the back bedroom.  “This place will never sell with that mold growing on the walls.  You need to do something about that PDQ.”

And so, the lovely homeowner bustled over to Walmart and purchased the absolutely cheapest paint she could find, came home and slapped it up on the wall without any preparation whatsoever. Problem solved.

Until now.  I’m telling you, I am not harboring particularly loving feelings towards the person who provided me with this trap to deal with.  But deal with it I shall.

People just amaze me sometimes.

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