Sunday, July 09, 2006

Wanted: Advice To Ignore, Until It's Too Late

OK. I need advice. I probably won't take it, unless it corresponds with what I've already decided to do, but I need it, none the less.

See, I've undertaken to paint the front porch. It's your basic railing with spooled supports, wood, painted white. It's been about 9-10 years since it was painted. Well, that's when the house was built and I'm positive that its not been re-painted since the day it was born.

It looks like this, if you are really interested.

{An aside. I love old houses. With painted exteriors. I hate to do home repairs, though. Having a house that needs painting is beyond me. All my houses have had siding and I've loved the fact that I've not ever had to paint a house. This porch is putting me over the edge.}

Ok, now is where you break into your favorite Monty Python character (mine for such a time is Terry Jones) and slap me for being such a whiny little punk, because, when you were me, you wished you had a house to strip and paint. Oh, yes! You'd have paid the neighbor for the privilege of stripping and painting his 4 story house! Each and every year! Yes! You feckin' ingrate.

Am I the only one to hold Monty Python conversations in my head during times of sweltering, dull drudgery?

So, as I understand, it's important to strip off the old paint, especially if it's peeling a bit, before slapping on the new. Yes? So I did what any normal, anal person would do, and went to Home Depot and asked the paint guy what to buy and how to do it. He smirked only a little and drug me to the correct aisle, away from the incorrect aisle ("No, you don't want that.") and loaded me up with paint stripper that is supposed to remove anything but acrylic surfaces in "15 easy minutes" (bollox) and a conditioner (haven't used it, so can't mock its undoubtedly misleading claims) and a gallon of standard, non-glossy white exterior paint (I'm dull. Like the paint.) He told me to use a plastic spray bottle to apply the stripper (smirk) and to use a stiff brush (Sold me one as I hadn't cleaned the garage at the time and had no idea that I already possessed an identical one in the corner, among the cobwebs and bits of beetle.) to scrub off any stubborn bits of paint.

Easy as pie, was his implication.

Soooooo. Thursday last, I did as the instructions said, right down to laying drop cloths and shaking before applying. I waited the full 30 minutes before spraying off the loosened paint with the hose. (HAH! '15 minutes' is for only a few things, like removing a dusting of dust from your dust colored patio.) I used a spray bottle. (The extremely toxic shit is the consistency of corn syrup. Do you know how well corn syrup sprays from a spray bottle? It doesn't. Trust me. It dribbles erratically.) After a few hours of valiantly trying to get the fucking paint off the fucking wood, soaking meself down to the delicates in the process, I took my pruned and covered-in-protective-clothing-in-the-80-degree-weather-self inside and had a shower and a very cold drink.

The amount of paint removed was less than 10%.

I was dismayed, to say the least.

Today, I girded my loins, again in hot protective clothing, and did another assault, this time with a paint brush. I figured that maybe the spray bottle technique just didn't get it where it needed to be. So I personally put it there, me and my 2" paint brush. (That I found while cleaning the garage. HAH!)

Again, I followed the rules to a 'T'. I did manage to get pretty much all the paint off the horizontal surfaces, like the top of the railing, but only about 1% (and that's an enthusiastic estimate, let me tell you) off the vertical surfaces.

Fuck that.

So, I posed the situation to my beloved and supportive husband, who agreed with me, that it's just not going to be stripped further. Clearly, the paint looooooves the vertical wood and wants to stay married to it fooooooreverrrrr. Who am I to get between that? No love lost, apparently, by the horizontal surfaces, though.

So, next, I apply a corrosive acid to 'condition' the surface. It's supposed to be applied with a spray bottle and you make it foam. I'll be wearing my head-to-toe hot and sweaty wear, complete with safety glasses that cover my cheekbones. I feel like an elderly movie star when I wear them.

Then, I will paint. I will paint over the paint.

Now. Here is where I need your input, dearest darlings, whether or not you know what you are talking about. How badly will I regret doing this and not, say, renting a sandblaster to get off all the remaining old paint? I need to know, as recrimination is all the better if it is in writing, so it can be used in the future as an "I told you so!" Roll your eyeballs liberally. Recommend products that actually work. (I used Behr brand.) That way, I can choose not to go get them now, but can get them next spring when the porch railing looks like a rotting, anemic gopher's kidney. Ridicule me liberally. Ridicule is a powerful teaching technique.

Let me have it. I'm ready and wearing safety glasses.



Anonymous Leigh-Ann said...

I can't speak to the issue of painting over old paint, as I don't know if I have experience with it. We used to have to "re-stain" our backyard fence every summer when I was growing up, but we just brushed over the old stuff. However, if I was you, I would just paint over and see what happens. If it works, great. If it doesn't, go rent the sandblaster (which will remove the paint without using any "corn syrup" -- this I know because I blast stone in our garage using a sandblaster). The other thing I'd consider would be replacing the railing completely with a "wood composite" (the stuff made from recycled plastic) which doesn't need painting, or even consider putting in an iron railing. I'm all about hiring people to do the work for me :)

Oh, the other thing I'd do (because I'm lazy) is either use spray paint for the railing, or buy a spray bottle designed for paint, then pour your paint in. Brushing is so tedious.

6:51 PM  
Anonymous Susan said...

I am not an expert in painting, but I have painted alot, mostly inside. I would have scraped it good to get the old paint off and anything peeling, or you could have used a pressurized sprayer to clean it off real good, then I would have primed the surface with primer, then I would have painted it with porch paint. Thats what I would do.


8:48 PM  
Anonymous Leigh-Ann said...

rotting, anemic gopher's kidney

Ironically, that's what we ate for dinner.

1:16 AM  
Blogger brooksba said...

I have absolutely no clue. My lazy, not willing to put in enough answer would have been "Hire someone." Or, "Tear it down and put up a different railing." I seriously have no clue. The closest I ever came to any type of stripping paint was when our family decided to refinish the cabinets and I was 8. Mom & Dad did most of the work. I played with the dog.


4:53 AM  
Blogger Babs said...

I WOULD give advice BUT I am still recovering from the (all too recent) memory of helping fucking Sylvia paint a bunch of fucking rooms in her new fucking house.

Each room with two different fucking colors, because they think they're Martha Fucking Stewart, thereby extending the hideous process of fucking taping and doing the corners and hearing the shrill cry of 'Babs!! WE need to finish this!!' and discovering that part of 'we' was NOT herself and the mouse in her pocket, but me. And can you guess who always got tired and left their brushes and paint trays filled with paint leaving me to ponder 'Well, should I do her fucking dirty work and clean the fucking brushes and rollers etc?? Or should I leave them so I can hear the shrill cry of 'we have to go to Home Depot NOW because my brushes got stiff overnight because I was SO tired and didn't clean them SIGH!!' at 8 AM.

Oh god!! I'm sorry, I ranted and this was not meant to be.

Paint. Solidarity. Spray peely-stuff and ultra-hot heat blowie-gun thing (looks like a hair dryer but should NEVER be mistaken for one unless you'd like your scalp melted in 10 seconds or less). In fairness, my Old Man did this once on a pair of pocket doors. He got one door completely peeled after a week or so. The other lay forlornly in the basement while my father thought up new and creative expletives until the day he said fuck it and hung it back up half-peeled.

So, yes, just paint over the fucker.

{My especially liberal use of the 'f' word here was to show my solidarity with you and the horrors of fucking painting, by the way}

5:34 AM  
Blogger karmic_jay said...

I can't help. No experience, we just boughtour first home and haven't yet felt a need to paint as it looks ok. But am gonna follow your story here regrdless. I am sure there are lessons here for me. :)

7:41 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

Perhaps I'm stupid in the ways of painting, but why wouldn't you just paint over it in the first place?

If you wanted to strip it back to wood and stain the wood instead, I'd get it.... but stripping paint in order to add more paint? I'm lost.

And yeah, the chemical solutions have never worked for me. Stripping the wallpaper in the hallway with the chemical stuff was just an exercise in futility.

Anyway, at this point, I'd just sand it all down so there's no discernable line between what came off and what didn't. Then wipe all the sanding dust off, prime, and paint.


7:44 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

Leigh-Ann- I was dreaming of such a composite railing as I was glowering at the thing. It's too new to replace, but when we do, that's at the top of the list. I am all about the staining. Just slap it on over the old and pat yourself on the back for a job well done. I stained our deck last year but put off 'the easy job' for this year. Fool.

You've blasted? Cooooool. The guy did sell me this paint glove thingy. You put it on your hand and stick it in the paint in the can then just grab your railing and paint it in one fell grip!

Susan- Primer. I debated this, but The Guy didn't say anything about primer. I'll probably be sorry. But I do have porch-type paint! And I blasted it good with the sprayer for a long time when trying to get the paint stripped.

Leigh-Ann- Was it tastier than the dog stew?

Beth- It's such a small thing, this railing. I should be able to do this. After all, I live in the country and when one lives in the country, one does all ones own work, right? I certainly did consider tearing the thing out. My parents would have let me play with the pet, like yours. Hm. Maybe I'm neglecting Colin and Sara's growth by letting them play and not having them spray toxic chemicals while I sit and drink a beer.

Babs- Oh, good HEAVENS! You need that password protected blog because it's shit like that that you need to write down for your own sanity. The two different colors reminds me of the horrible walls in our clinic. Green or Brown, (dark and light).

A good friend of mine spent over a year using one of those paint-peely guns to strip her whole house before painting it. I swore those off on the spot.

Well, if it's good enough for The Old Man, it's good enough for me! Solidarity, sister!

Jay- Hey, no help is help in my book. I sense that this is a 'don't do as I do situation'. Just call me a life lesson in the making.

Karen- There you go, asking the obvious.

I don't know! I was told by someone, or someones (no clue who) that this is what you did for outside stuff. As it was flaking off, I figured that if I painted over it, the new paint would just peel off. I'm probably mistaken. I often am. The paint guy didn't correct me, but I'm guessing he just didn't want to expend the effort. Bastard.

8:39 AM  
Blogger listmaker said...

Your house is only about 10 years old? Chances are there's not much paint on those railings and they shouldn't need to be stripped down to bare wood. I'd scrape, sand lightly, prime, paint and call it a day. Heck, you don't even have the challenge of lead based paint.

I love my paint remover gun, but with it there's a fine line between melting the paint and setting your house on fire. For my current project my hardware guy (not a big-box store), recommended this super-heavy-duty stuff that brushes on. We'll see. It's non-flammable, so at least I won't set the house on fire, but it is poisonous, so there's still the opportunity to do some serious bodily damage. I'll let you know how it works, assuming that I ever actually start the project. :)

9:48 AM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

I'm lazy and would rather paint 5 coats than do any stripping! Or paint every year and never strip!!
We live in a house born in 1921 and their rule of thumb was do a million coats over everything, so why would I break with that tradition? I draw the line at their compulsive wallpapering the ceiling to seal up rotting plaster! We broke down and had people come in and repair and paint!

(BTW, Babs' comment was hilarious! I can so relate!)

10:34 AM  
Anonymous Ariella said...

I would say that it won't really cause any problems to paint over the old paint. As long as you're using a thick primer paint (are you using Killz or its equivalent? because it resists mildew and kills smells and mold, too. very good for porches and garages), it won't be a problem. Only if the paint was already peeling and you painted over the peeling paint would you end up with a difficulty.

If you want to give it another go, I would say to get one of those push brushes (like a mop; you could use an old mop, too) and leave the chemical stuff on there for an hour or the morning, but I don't think there's any need to.

If you want, call Erik: 732-770-7252. He knows more than I do!

Also: yes to the Monty Python thing. When we got the cats declawed, the first thing I said to them when I brought them home wsa, "What are you gonna do? Bleed on me?"

10:38 AM  
Blogger Teri said...

Scrape the paint, don't strip it. (or use a stiff metal brush on the moulding) Anything that doesn't come off with the scraper doesn't need to come off and you can paint over it.

That stripper crap - ugh. I'd only strip if if had 15 or 20 or so layers of god-only-knows-what on it.

11:13 AM  
Blogger Jamie said...

That paint stripper stuff is worse than useless. I know, because we have a nearly-full bottle of it that did us absolutely no good.

Normally I'd say to just scrape off anything loose, then prime and paint. Since we're talking spindles here, I'd say sand it, then prime and paint. If you've got enough paint buildup that you're starting to lose the contours of your spindles, use a heat gun (wear the maskiest mask you can get! very toxic fumes), which will very satisfyingly make it blister right off. Caveat: You have to make Beavis and Butthead noises while using the heat gun, because it's cool, huh-huh, huh-huh. ;-)

2:10 PM  
Blogger Lisa P said...

Scrape and/or heat gun, sand, prime paint. In that order. No stripping. Ever. Not even in the "Red Light District."
Oh and yeah on the Monty Python Thing... I've even got Leighton into it now...

3:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HI Dee,

From experience (see what age gets you!) I would:
1. pressure wash the railing etc. to get off as much loose paint as possible. Make sure it is dry completely before performing further steps.

2. Sand any spots where there is a definite difference between the painted and unpainted areas so the transition is smooth.

3. Prime the porch with the same color paint as your final coat. (I have never heard of the conditioner stuff.)

4. Paint a final coat with the color of your choice. If you have a problem with mildew type growth you can add a chemical to the paint that will help slow it down but probably won't stop it completely.

Before doing any painting make sure the wood is very dry so the paint will adhere to the wood and not peal up.

Good luck, have fun (?), and a big slug of something relaxing to look forward to at the end of the project.

Love, C.

6:49 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Ah, my friends, I could kiss you all. Really! So freakin' helpful, you are! OK. I am convinced. I will return the worthless conditioner and buy some primer in a savage white. Ok. Group hug!

Listie- Looks like only one prior painting, some now in the flower beds, the rest on the vertical surfaces. Worst of both worlds. The paint remover gun scares me. Damn strait, let us know how the stuff you got works.

MoI- I hear you, babe. I surely do. The use of wallpaper as wall repair medium is a new one for me. We, fortunately, have no wall paper. Wait, that's not true. There's this border around the top of the wall in the laundry room. I've blocked it from my consciousness. It has birdhouses. Babs makes me weep with laughter. If you think her comments are good, you should read her blog. I adore her.

Ariella- Now Erik will get all sorts of skeezy calls from us INTERNET freaks! We should all prank him. KIDDING!

Killz. Check. Will try to buy that very one when we go back to Home Depot, YET AGAIN, in a few days. Why, oh why, didn't I have you guys take a gander at the porch railing when I had you captive a few weeks ago and was dangling beers in front of you? Stupida.

Teri- Kiss, Kiss. Just what I wanted to hear. If there comes a point that there are 15-20 layers, I'll rip the thing out myself and install chain link, (or that groovy stuff that looks like wood that Leigh-Ann mentioned).

Jamie- Thank you. I kept wondering what the hell was wrong with me. Now I know. It's not me, it's the worse than useless crap. Guess I can't send you my leftover bottle. I promise to laugh like Beavis and Butthead, regardless, when I slap the final bit of paint on it.

Lisa- Honey! I should have never moved away from you. Looks like I just have to sand a bit, prime and paint. Leighton's a Python! Good going!

Cathy- Why the hell didn't I call you before all this? I'm an idiot. An idiot who thought she knew what to do for so simple a thing. I will never make that mistake again. I will also buy primer. Yessiree. Primer will be bought. And the wood will be dry. Which means that it won't be done in the next several days as the storms roll in. And then it will certainly be humid. Had I known, it would have been done by now with the lovely weather we are just ending. Pleh. Kiss dad.

7:13 PM  
Anonymous christie said...

I have no advice on the paint thing but would pay big $$$ for a photo of you in said mask and goggles as you rant, rave, and create new and improved uses for the word "fuck" during your task. But then, they tell me I'm weird.

10:26 PM  
Blogger Babs said...

Forgot to say---the Python-speak usually happens here of it's own will--most likely while cleaning etc. Ma will call me to get something, I won't hear her. She'll call again, I won't hear. All of a sudden she's next to me handing me said item going 'ere Mrs. Johnson!! I told you to do this 'ere AYYYGES ago, so I did'

'No you didn't, Mrs. Unsociable!! I was talking to that oversized mango tree and 'e never said a bloody word to me!!'

And we continue the Pepperpot theme for the duration or until Trash comes in as the 'It's' man and we end in a rousing chorus of 'I'm a Lumberjack'

You should see what happens if the niece or the neph get involved. Or, god help us, Paddy and his lot.

We are scary, scary people.

12:23 AM  
Blogger Babs said...

And Beavis and Butthead CAN backfire at times.

Like when my (then) three-year old niece decided to stand on the dining room table (clad in naught but a t-shirt and her Snow White underoos), pulled her t-shirt over her head partway and screamed out 'He He--I am the great cornholio!! he he--I need TP for my bunghole!!'

Then screams 'BUNGHOLEEEEEEEEEEE!!' in the fashion of an operatic diva holding a high note, hops off the table (t-shirt still over her head) and runs into the kitchen yelling 'great cornholio he-he CORNHOLIOOOO!!'

Right in the middle of our card game.

If I ever get a new scanner I'll send the picture LOL

12:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Dee! I used an excellent very safe paint stripper made by 3M called "Safest Stripper". It worked on an industrial urethane paint on a trailer I reworked after welding in a new deck. It had to sit overnight to get this stuff off, but it did work and it didn't smell bad at all. If the paint is peeling off the railing, you do need to strip it. Just read the directions on the bottle in the store so you can go around and buy all the other stuff you'll need to do the job. It's going to be a big bear of a job, so consider it a big motivator to repaint things before the paint gets so bad it starts to peel and flake. Ha ha! Like I should take my own advice and repaint the rental this summer!


2:35 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

Oh yeah, flaking paint - I thought of that while I was writing the first comment but I was already on a roll...

That happened to me in my old apartment's bathroom. Not sufficient air circulation so the walls were getting wet enough to make the paint flake.

That makes sense - it's an outdoor patio, set back in the corner of an L-shape. It isn't drying fast enough so the paint flakes over time.

Anyway... you've already peeled as much off as you can. Don't sweat it that it didn't all come off.

Took me a year (poking at it now and then) of trying to peel the paint off the bathroom wall before I gave up. Sand down the obvious lines, prime and paint.

Others have already covered all that of course, I'm with them. :)


9:59 AM  
Blogger moegirl said...

Hi, I have no good advice to give you having not stripped and re-painted a porch area- but I will say this- keep your CDs away from paint stripping chemicals. Justin stripped and re-painted Allie's dresser and borrowed my Beatle's "Rubber Soul" CD and spilled paint stripper on it. He still hasn't replaced it.

I know perhaps not relevant to your project, but just a tip.

6:39 PM  
Blogger karmic_jay said...

You know I learnt a lot just reading all your comments. Thanks :)

8:56 PM  
Blogger Rozanne said...

Glad, for once, that I'm a latecomer. I would have had nothing to offer.

Except this: Hire someone to do it, but make sure it's not Ken Shabby.

9:38 PM  
Anonymous Leigh-Ann said...

Kilz is so great... I always have a can on hand for quick touch-ups. I really like it for covering scratch marks on the walls, especially in places like the bullnose where the metal shows through. I found out about Kilz when we had a leak in our garage, which was the only good thing about the leak in the garage.

I like the sounds of your "paint glove". I must look for one. I need to spray paint our backyard pool fence this summer, but it's always so windy. Yeah, that's my excuse.

3:21 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

Christie- And I, for one, would pay even bigger $$$$ to supress such a photo. If you saw me, you'd quite understand. Thankfully, there's little non-tractor traffic that drives by the front.

Babs- We often break out into the Piston Engine bit: "Hello, Mrs Gorilla." "Hello, Mrs Nongorilla." "Been Shopping?" "No, been shopping." "What'd you buy?" "A piston engine." "A piston engine? What'd you buy that for?" "It was a bargain!" Clearly you are not the only scary people. So... what are the prospects that Wednesday might become terribly successful and rich in a decade or 2? Like she might want the opportunity to support her favorite aunt in the custom to which she deserves in exchange for such a photo to never be released to the public?

Morris- Thanks for the info. I'd gladly exchange the toxic and worthless for the untoxic and useful. The paint was peeling a bit but I think not enough to warrant my full fledged assault.

Karen- You make me feel better, indeed.

Stacy- Ouch. (My, Allie has certainly inherited your fine taste in music, hasn't she?) I'm thinking that my iPod would like it just as well.

Jay- Aren't they the greatest?

Rozanne- Hah! Yes. Good advice.

Leigh-Ann- The one I got is called a painter's mit and lookes like a huge mitten made out of the same fleecy stuff they cover paint rollers in, with a plastic lining.

8:25 AM  
Blogger The Lioness said...

I can be of no help but I'm weeping with you babe, I'm weeping with you

9:03 AM  
Blogger CarpeDM said...

I have no advice. I vaguely remember peeling the horribly peeling paint off the back door and getting yelled at for it so scraping is a traumatic experience for me (sob). Okay, not really. I'm pretty sure that my Dad, whenever Mom decided that the house needed to be repainted, just primed the thing. I'm pretty sure he didn't remove all of the paint. That was a whole house! That would be nuts!

I say you accidentally run over the railing and then buy a new one. Who will know?

And wait, there's a paint glove? Seriously? You get to put your hand in the paint and then slap it all over the wall? Can I come over and play?

I forgot how effing funny Babs is.

4:16 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Johnny- The fact that you weep with me makes me feel not so alone. Tell me that no one in Portugal is stupid enough to strip paint.

Dana- (How dare they make you work at work.) Yes, there is such a thing, and it is very fuzzy, but it doesn't have sparkles. Surely you could improve upon it? Running over the porch railing sounds like a wonderful idea, except it would decimate the last few years of careful planting of, well, plants. Unless I ran over it on a moped?

8:28 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

Oh Diana, you are missing the entire point of the exercise. You should let your husband paint over the old paint, then you can't lose. If the new paint sticks forever, all is right with the world. Otherwise, well it's rather obvious whose fault that becomes, isn't it? You've got to think outside the brush...

12:27 AM  
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