Friday, August 08, 2014

Painting Fort Max

I've painted with my father, mother, step-father, wife, and kids. I've painted in school, for fun, and for work. I wish I was an expert, but I am not. I'm not very creative and I'm very much a perfectionist. Because of this, I quickly learned that I should not paint with anyone else in the house. They disturb me and interupt my workflow.

So when it came time to paint Fort Max, it became apparent that everybody just needed to leave the house so I could get some work done. There were several times I painted late into the night just because I was alone, I could crank Eminem, and I could throw paint on the walls.

And sometimes that's how I felt, like I was just making a giant mess. But it got done and I'm happy with how it looks. There's still a few spots that need touch-ups but overall, it's done. Now to share a few things I learned along the way.

My son picked blue for his accent wall. Having the kids pick a color (for ONE wall) and helping paint that wall kept them semi-entertained.

Supplies. You'll need a lot more than you think you'll need. One brush per color per day. Don't try to wash out your brush or stick it in the fridge or re-use it the next day. Just use a new one. Same with pretty much everything else you use like tray liners, rollers, and more. The basic stuff you'll need to buy quality versions of are your roller holder (that thing with a handle), a nice wooden handle that screws into your roller holder, a paint can opener (you'll need one for the gallon metal cans and one for the 5 gallon plastic buckets), a hammer for the metal cans and rubber mallet for the plastic buckets, a pour spout that fits into your gallon bucket and one that screws onto your 5 gallon bucket, a metal paint tray for your roller, and a small paint container for your cut-in work. Phew! Quite a list. But trust me, that's just the quality stuff you want to buy.

For the cheap, disposable stuff, you'll need tray liners, a box of rags/paper towels, paint brushes, blue painter's tape/frog tape, and rollers. And expect to buy more paint brushes than you ever thought possible. So far, we've gone through close to 30 or so but that's mostly do to the doors needing lots of coats of paint. Anyway, plan on spending more on the disposables.

My daughter's accent wall is pink.

And plan on paying an arm and a leg for paint. We got nearly $1,500 in paint and that's just for most of the house, not all of it. We have some left over but we'll likely use that at the rental or in the kitchen. Either way, it's a ton of paint. So try to catch it on sale or when there's a nice rebate.

As far as your process goes, I found I worked best when I started at the top left corner of a very busy wall. By busy, I mean a wall that had the largest number of obstacles requiring cut-in work. By cut-in work, I mean working with a paint brush to cut-in or trim the area I'm painting. So windows, doors, vents, and anything else you need to paint around with a paint brush. Once I picked a wall to start on, I'd use the brush on the corners (the inside corners) and brush out the heavy strokes on the wall I'm not painting. Then, moving left to right and top to bottom, I'd cut-in along the ceiling, around windows, etc. Except for a very long wall, I could trim one wall before using the roller.

The rest of the house is a plain brown, although it has a touch more red/pink than I expected.

When it came time to use the roller, be prepared to use two coats. It depends on the paint, the wall, and your technique. What worked best for me was to use the roller to get the right texture on the horizontal lines, like along the ceiling and the floor, tops of windows, and doors. Then I'd do the vertical lines like corners, windows, doors, etc. From there, I'd again work left to right and top to bottom. I'd throw some paint on fairly thick, get a good 5 to 8 feet (horizontally) of the wall covered, then go back. When I went back, I'd add more paint, but I'd treat it as my finish coat. I'd go floor to ceiling getting the right texture but when I'd get to the end of the section I was working, I'd kind of brush it out like I would with the paint brush. Hard to describe in words but you're basically taking the roller (or brush) off the surface you're paining but without coming to a full stop. Kind of like a plane taking off, it leaves the ground gently, it just doesn't stop then take off like a rocket.

A few pro-tips. First, that light on the left will turn your room into a sauna and dry your paint faster than you want. Second, that coffee is essentially for late nights. Finally, that platform on the right is ideal for painting.

Once you finish a wall, you simply (ha!) repeat the process a million times until you're done. A small mini roller may help if you need it but I found a normal sized roller will fit above doors and windows and the mini roller only got used once or twice. Once the paint dries, go back with a nice light and see if you  missed a spot so you can touch up as needed.

When it comes to painting trim, especially windows, don't be afraid to lay down on the floor to get it all.

When it comes to clean up, this is where the disposable stuff comes in handy. Dump the extra paint back into the can/bucket, but don't scrape all the stuff that's dried back in there. Leave that scum right where it is. No sense contaminating that small fortune of pigment with crap. Using the tray liner as an awkward glove, grab the roller and muscle it off the holder. Then toss them and the brush into the trash. Now all you need to clean up is the roller holder and the pour spouts. Pretty easy.

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