Sunday, July 5, 2009

Paint It!

In the last posting I included a picture of a tabletop that I had painted---reuse, recycle. I have painted many surfaces in my house and thought I would post some examples, as well as a few of my more conventional paintings. I designed my home with a home computer program and hired a Menonite building group to put up the structure and dry it in. Serving as contractors, Larry and I hired a plumber for the rough in, HVAC guys, and sheetrockers to rock, mud, and tape the place. We built all of the interior walls and insullated; our son, Brian, did the wiring; and Larry did the finish plumbing, installed electrical fixtures, and ,as he says, followed directions. We also took a cabinetmaking class out at the local Votech center and built our cabinetry. It's a homebuilt home, which is not so tough to do when living in a rural setting. You see, there are no requirements for building permits or inspections out here. Everything meets code when it comes to mechanicals, but no one had to approve anything. It's like the old days when folks just decided what they wanted and built it.
Because we were on a very limited budget, finish work was done over a period of time. When we moved in, we had temporary kitchen and showering facilities and no interior doors. With the use of Home Depot and Lowe's six-month-no-interest credit, we went every six months and got about $600 worth of supplies. We paid it off as we used the materials and then went back for more. Our 2,653 square foot home was built with proceeds from the sale of our previous home, a $30,000 bank loan, and pay-as-you-go finishing. It was also paid off in 5 or 6 years.

So much for background... on with the painting aspect. Of course, we painted all walls in a more or less conventional way, but there was a need to finish the floors. The house is built on a concrete slab. I saw a Christopher Lowell Show on which he painted floors and thought "Why not?" It wasn't as if very much of the house was conventional, so...
Let's start with the bathrooms. The tub was across the road with a bunch of junk, and the owner let me have it for $10!

The wainscoating was a gift from a friend who had a sawmill in Wyoming and brought a pickup load of Ponderosa pine tongue and groove paneling. We used it here and there throughout the house until the last of it went into this bathroom. The floors are painted, as they are throughout the house. Because it was new concrete with no finish, I didn't use any primer on the slab first. It is porous material, so I didn't foresee any problems with paint adhering. I determined what I wanted as a pattern and colors and laid it out on the floor. I used 1/4 inch masking tape from an autobody shop to tape off what would represent grout lines. The original concrete appears to be grout. I just used interior latex wall paint, although the man at a Sherwin Williams store told me I couldn't use that as floor paint. I hate it when someone tells me I can't do something! After painting the desired pattern, carefully pulling up the masking tape before the paint dried, I applied 6 coats of high gloss water-based polyurethane. I did have a bit of a problem because there was fiberglass added to the concrete for strength. Strength is good, but the little hairs of the fiberglass became prickly with the addition of the polyurethane. Not good for bare feet. I did have to sand it off after three coats. That was the only way I came up with to get rid of the prickly stuff. The finish has been down for 8 years now, has never been waxed, and remains just like new. What was originally meant to be temporary until I could put down tile or something has become permanent. It is attractive, I think, and easily maintained. I have just a bit over $500 invested in the flooring finish for the entire house!
The other bathroom had its own issue. No problem on the flooring...just paint it! But the shower was another matter altogether. I have a 3'x8' walk-behind shower. How to finish it out.... Fiberglass panels? No- would have to be custom and wasn't the look I wanted. Tile? No! would have to clean grout lines! What to do, what to do....
Paint it! The floors were painted the same as before. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" But, the shower walls had other challenges. I decided to start with greenboard to cover the walls of the shower. Of course, the helpfull guy at Lowes told me I couldn't use greenboard in that application. OOOOOH! I hate being told that. I just told him, "I think I can!" and hauled it home. I installed the greenboard and taped and mudded the joints. Then I painted it with Dry-Lock paint. Hey, if it can be used in swimming pools, why not a shower? After the Dry Lock, I painted it all a lovely sky blue with regular latex wall paint. Then I got out the acryllics and painted clouds, trees, and flora. Why not? Add about 8 coats of polyurethane, caulk the joints in the corners, add poyurethane molding pieces to finish, plumb, and shower!

It has been in service for about 7 years now.
I have had to repaint the
floor of the shower. Too much standing water,
I guess. I repainted it using marine, oil based paint. So far so good. I clean with vinegar and water solution and it seems to holding up well. Not bad for a $250 investment. I figure it's an acceptable risk to try something unconventional that costs little more than a few dollars and some time. I'll get tired of it sometime and do something else.
The rest of the floors in the house vary in color and design, but the process is the same. I have decided that what was intended to be a stop- gap sort of thing until I could afford floorcoverings will become permanent. It is so easily maintained. When you live out in the sticks, a lot of stuff gets tracked in, particulary when it rains, and a little sweeping or mopping makes it as good as new. I have recoated the high traffic areas with more polyurethane since the original coats, but that costs no more than applying a quality wax. There have been a couple of nicks in the floor because of small pebbles coming in on shoes, but a little touch up and poly takes care of that. Kitchen flooring has worked out well too...just paint!

I have really enjoyed the entire process of making my home my own and recommend it to everyone. You have to know that people have made their own dwellings for centuries, and they weren't all geniuses. I say "go for it!"

I have also painted furniture. Buy something dirt cheap at the swap meet (rural folks' garage sales) and paint it. The lamp table was the base of an old desk, I think, that I got for $1.50; and the dresser was more expensive--$20.

I also do more conventional painting. Here's a small gallery...

As a hobby, painting isn't very expensive to get into, doesn't take much space, and is FUN!
Even if you live outside of Podunk, as I do, there are instuctional programs on educational TV. I have found programs on PBS, BYU, and local university channels. I set the DVR to record them and paint along when I have a chance. Once you have some techniques down, find your own subject matter and go for it. I like acrylic painting, but you can find shows on other media and adapt to whatever you want to do.

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