Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Home Ownership & Painting: It's All Prep Work

We had big plans to paint and re-do just about everything when we first moved in to our house. We've done a few things here and there, but life has chewed up our to-do list and spit it out in some crazy order that we never would have chosen.

New boiler in 2010?

Slide the new garage door down a few slots on the list. And forget about re-doing the back porch for a few years.

We feel like we're still timid beginners in this home ownership thing. Yet, suddenly, we're at the ten-year point. The plans are still there. We need to stop acting like it's not ours to do with what we like. We CAN paint if we want to, darn it! No need to ask permission from anyone.

The downstairs family room in our finished basement is one of those neglected rooms we've vowed to get to someday. Well, someday is here! Sort of. It needs a new ceiling, new lights, a new carpet, a paint job and some of the trim needs repairing.

What's the hold up been?

Money mostly. Also time, but that's a lame excuse. I'm sure we could have found the time somewhere in ten years if we'd really wanted to. Probably the money, too.

Yesterday, I decided it was THE day to chip away at that particular to-do list. One trip to Home Depot and $60 later, I've started painting. Well, I've at least done the prep work. The actual painting will happen tomorrow and the next day.

This section of wall is taped, washed and ready to be primed.
I wanted to jump in and slather the walls in Pecan Sandie.

But, I've learned that impatience doesn't pay when painting.

Last year, I hastily primed and painted my bathroom cabinets, only to have the old stain bleed through my sloppy priming. Add that to the list of lessons learned the hard way.

The more you know, the better you do. Right?

The basement family room walls are heavily stained. This room houses our woodstove. I don't want any smoke residue bleeding through the fresh paint.

I covertly grilled a somewhat grumpy Home Depot paint counter guy to answer your (my) burning questions about primer. Here's what I learned:

1. Paint and primer all in one products are best for jobs that require light priming. If you're covering up a light color, a few greasy finger prints and general smudges, this is the paint for you. Also use it if you're not sure you need a primer. It never hurts to have it, but you might regret it if you don't.

2. Skip the all-in-ones and get a separate primer when you have projects with heavy stains (water stains, smoke stains, etc.) or if you're painting over dark colors. I'm using the Kilz oil-based primer for my woodsmoke tainted walls. Two coats is a must. It creates extra work when I'm dying to get to the fun part already, but it really is the way to go.

3. If you're painting over white walls that aren't stained, you can skip the primer altogether.

Painting is all about the prep work. If you wash, tape and prime before you paint, your paint job will be one you can be proud of. If you don't do it right the first time, you may not get to it for another ten years. Trust me, you don't want to be looking at a crappy paint job for that long.

If you found this post helpful, you might also like How to Patch Drywall.


  1. Have patch work to do. Saved the yellow point. Any thoughts on that? Do I have to get involved in the whole wall?


  2. Carol - I have a post coming about that! I started a patch job over the summer and am just now finishing it - lol. No need to get involved in the whole wall. Well, really it depends on how big the hole is. I'll try to blog about it today. I've got to sand and paint my patches still, but they're almost done.

  3. Just posted it. Hope it helps!

  4. I agree that the big part of a painting job is the prep work. Another part of the job that doesn't have to be big is the clean up. I was wondering if you have heard of a great paint cleaner that I use called 1000+ Stain Remover - you can find it in the Paint Dept. of hardware stores - great for cleaning paint brushes and paint spills and splatters on quarter-round, clothing, etc. - I love it. Claire