We painted our house!
Suddenly, a few weeks ago, we decided to paint the house this fall. It was less a matter of forming the plan than being seized by it. We realized that, if the weather held, we’d have just enough free days to pull it off before the cold arrives, and there’s nothing we like better than a ridiculous time crunch. So whee! Here we go!
Early wake-up and over the mountain to the paint store in Waynesboro, where we picked up a fourth color sample just to satisfy my curiosity about Solaria, even though we were already pretty sure we liked Butter Up better than Midday or Optimistic Yellow. Then to the hardware store to rent a pressure-washer. Once the beast was in the back of our truck, we blasted home and got right to work, hoping to slide in under the four-hour time limit on the rental.
But—but!—a number of problems ensued. One: the soap wouldn’t draw into the sprayer, and we definitely needed soap for our mildewed palace. John called the store, got the helpful suggestion to use a bigger nozzle, and soldiered on. Two: A less helpful suggestion that we could use the Simple Green soap straight, without pre-diluting, turned out to be Simply Wrong. We went through an entire $14 gallon in no time flat, and John had to run out for more.
Three: While standing on the deck to clean the peak of the north side of the house, John changed out the nozzles and then tested the new one, to make sure it was on tight, by pointing the sprayer up over the trees and pulling the trigger. Well, it wasn’t on tight. The yellow nozzle flew over the front of our yard, beyond the hedges, and disappeared. We walked around the front edge of our neighbor’s property a few minutes until I spotted a yellow thing among all the yellow leaves and aha! Back to work.
All in all, though, it went quickly and John was a trooper with that loud, dripping machine that got his feet and head all wet as he worked his way around the house. Meanwhile I cut back vegetation and cleared stuff away from the walls. One exciting moment came when I used a drywall knife to pry a giant hornet’s nest—which I was 99.9% sure was abandoned—off the west side wall. Anybody home? No, but the basketball-sized thing was amazing once it was down and we could see inside it.
We returned the sprayer and went back to the paint store, confident in our final choice of Butter Up. After going through numerous questions with the lone employee, we said “OK, mix us up five gallons of Butter Up in Satin-finish Super Paint” and he said OK and then looked at his computer and announced that the color we’d chosen required a light yellow base, which would tend to fade very quickly when used on an exterior.
It seemed like a threatening moment, but we thought we’d solved it when we all realized that the sample we’d previously bought (and painted onto a piece of drywall) was mixed using a white base, and since we liked that color, we could indeed use a white base (which is less prone to fading) and all would be well.
Off we went with our five gallons of paint.
We were making coffee and getting psyched up for a full day of painting when John remembered that we should test out the paint we’d bought and make sure it did, in fact, match the color of our sample. So I painted some onto the drywall and guess what? It wasn’t even close.
We drove back over the mountain.
Walked into the store. Same lone employee. He sees us coming and says “Didn’t match up? I didn’t think it would.”
That was only the beginning of the strange, circular conversations we had: with him, with the people at a different paint store, back to the original guy, on the phone, then more employees at a different location of the same chain. At one point we were contemplating rounding up discontinued paint from three different towns in Central Virginia separated by dozens of miles. My favorite moment was when we asked “But how long would it last before it faded?” and the guy answered, “Depends on the weather. If it’s sunny every day for the next year, it might fade in a year.” When's the last time we had a solid year of sunshine? I looked over at another customer in the store and he was looking back at me with a bemused, “better-you-than-me” expression.
Long story short: After several tense hours and yet another trip over the mountain, we exchanged our five gallons of wrong-color paint for eleven gallons of the right color, in a better-quality paint, for a low low price.
And finally, at 3pm on an uncommonly beautiful (i.e., perfect for painting) day, we were ready to begin.
We put the big ladder against the south side—not quite in the peak—and I climbed up and applied the first bit of cheery sunny yellow to our rainy-day house!
And from there, it was honestly just a lot of painting. We got about two-thirds of that big south side done that day. Then we feasted.
Day 3 was pretty much like Day 2. We finished painting the south side of the house, then we painted the back wall outside the bathroom, and spent the rest of the day into dusk painting the north side of the house. I started getting over my uneasy feelings of being up on the big ladder.
Day 4 was just like Day 3 and Day 2! This time, we painted the front of the house, and then Erika painted the sides of the dormer (using the chicken ladder) and I got to work on getting a second coat of paint onto the south wall. Then Erika joined me in the second coating business and we finished that wall up before dusk.
So what's left? Putting a second coat on the rest of the house and painting the back porch!