Paint, Lies, and False Optimism

We’re close.  We’re sooooo close…

You may think that first sentence should end with “…to insanity” but in truth, our sanity fled a long time ago.

No; we’re close to finally finishing our second floor renovation… if by ‘close’ you read “we only have to paint three walls and half the floor, install the shower doors, buy four sets of bifold doors and install them, hang a bathroom door, build storage shelves and a twenty-four-foot bookcase, and trim out six doors, four windows, and two skylights”.

Honestly, we’re almost done!  …Or we’re delusional.  It’s one of those D-words; but ‘delusional’ is so harsh.  I prefer ‘optimistic’.

You may recall that I confessed my antipathy to painting back in May when I ended up painting our exterior trim.  Shortly thereafter, we tried to hire a painter to do our interior work.

The original painter who did our addition was the messiest painter I’ve ever seen.  By the time he was finished there was paint everywhere, all over our new flooring and even on the door handles; and he seemed to think that was perfectly okay.  We didn’t call him back.

After a lengthy search we found a second painter who thought he could fit us in.  He showed up, gave us an astronomical quote, and then vanished after we asked when he could start.

So we found a third.  He showed up, gave us a reasonable quote, and said he could start the following week… and then vanished.  (I heard a rumour that he was fleeing three ex-wives and a soon-to-be-ex fourth.)

So we tracked down the second painter again.  We waited a month until he finally showed up and started painting… and then he had a tantrum and walked off the job after doing only two rooms (badly).

By then I was out of time and patience, so I did it myself (despite the fact that I REALLY HATE PAINTING).  It was a slow process, but it looked surprisingly good when I was finished.

So for the second floor, we didn’t even bother trying to hire somebody.  “I’ll do it,” I said to Hubby.  “Even though I REALLY HATE PAINTING.”

“Should we do the floor last?” he asked.  “Just in case you drip?”

“I never drip,” I said proudly.  “I’m a very tidy painter.”


I guess I can’t blame our ex-painters for being flaky, because apparently there’s something in latex paint that turns people into liars and/or nutjobs and/or destroys their hand-eye coordination.

Last summer I painted without a dropcloth and never had a problem; but now?  Good Lord.  I have paint on the floor, the ladders, my clothes, and every part of my body that isn’t covered by clothes, including my hair.  When I’m finally finished upstairs, I’m going to frame my jeans and market them as a modern art piece.  (On the upside, the walls and ceiling are pristine; and thanks to Hubby’s foresight we’re painting the floor last.)

But slow?  I’m positively glacial.  With emphasis on ‘positively’; as in ‘falsely optimistic’.  Before I started, I thought, “Ah, I’ll be done in a few days.”  I’ve been painting six hours a day for two weeks and I’m still not done.

But I’m close.

I’m sooooo close…

*cuddles into straitjacket and rocks back and forth, humming*


To be fair, that mess isn’t all from mistakes – I also clean the end of my small roller on my pants because it’s easier than finding a rag. But still…

30 thoughts on “Paint, Lies, and False Optimism

  1. Pingback: Doing It… Doing It… DONE! | Diane Henders

  2. I confess I am a sloppy painter and i actually love to paint. I was painting exterior trim this weekend and a white t-shirt I started with was tie dye brown by the end of the afternoon along with large portions of my hands and arms. The good news is I’m not sloppy with paint in reference to spilling or getting splatters anywhere but myself. My shirt was the “rag” I never carry when I need to wipe my sloppiness off myself. If you get an art exhibit going with your jeans, I can contribute a couple of “paint shirts” to go with!!


  3. Too bad I didn’t live closer, Diane. I AM a tidy painter and don’t hate it. At least if I’m not doing it a lot. (I was getting bit tired of painting after a summer job one year in my youth.) A few years ago, I painted my parents’ living/dining room and stairwell for them. Without a drop cloth, though I had to resort to painter’s tape to not paint over the wallpaper on the lower walls.


    • It’s too bad we’re on opposite coasts! I sure could have used a skillful and cheerful painter. But the best thing I can say about it is “it’s done”! Whew. On to the carpentry odds and ends, which I enjoy a whole lot more (and they’re a whole lot faster).


  4. I found the remedy for a great paint job — failing eyesight. If you can’t see it, it isn’t there.
    I always prefer painting a surface to wallpapering. I will NEVER wallpaper anything again. The torture of removing the wallpaper – some psychedelic pattern of the ’70’s – was only surpassed by the application of the new wallpaper. Years ago, I ended up wallpapering our very small bathroom. I would have rather painted Grand Central Station!


    • I like your solution – it’s elegant in its simplicity! And wallpapering sounds like a total nightmare. Fortunately I’m too cheap and lazy to even consider it. Also, I’m a pretty decent drywaller so painted drywall is easy to repair after the movers have rammed a bookshelf into it… unlike wallpaper, where I would have to strip off and replace all the wallpaper that had been damaged by the bookshelf and subsequently stained with arterial blood from the recently-deceased mover. Not to mention the annoyance of finding a place to hide the body. Nope; paint is much, much better…


  5. The last time I painted, I didn’t mind it too much. But I’m pretty sure if I tried now, right now, I’d dislocate/break/tear something vital and it’s just not worth it, medically speaking. We have a deal here: husband does the re-decorating (a one-shot deal every fifteen years or so) and I do the cleaning (unending drudgery but it doesn’t leave me broken). My hat is off to you for the work you are doing. It will be worth it but it may take a few months for you to fully grasp and appreciate that fact 🙂


  6. Painting is like a horror movie: the end is right there, peace and safety within reach. But the harder you chase it the faster it recedes. And then you realize, there is no finishing. As someone who works in a DIY industry, paint in particular, I can tell you that nobody likes to paint! If they say they do, they’re probably lying. Even those who do it for a living don’t like it, but they make good money at it and it allows them to work independently so they stick to it. Makes most of them a little cranky though….or maybe that’s all the paint fumes they’ve inhaled over the years, LOL! Oh well, I wish you a happy ending to your painting days.


    • Thanks, Michelle! I just painted the LAST WALL upstairs about an hour ago. HOORAY! I’m hoping I won’t have to touch painting tools for at least a decade now. (But I probably shouldn’t jinx it by saying that.)

      And it’s nice to know that even the professionals don’t like painting. That actually explains a lot… 😉


  7. I feel your pain. We were in the middle of painting and wallpaper renovations when I had to leave unexpectedly for New Hampshire to help my mom. When I return next week, I’ll be returning to chaos. I need to start deep-breathing now…


  8. Yeah, seems like we keep having this conversation, doesn’t it? The whole “I don’t use drop cloths because I never make a mess,” thing is perfectly valid. I mean it is absolutely, totally legit…usually. Or, well, *currently,* I should say. I’ve discovered that some brands of paint behave differently in that regard. And I know it’s the paint and not my much practiced, flawless technique.

    I mean, we’re talking best practices here!

    I’ve tried many brands of paint. Not all, certainly, but many, with prices from cheap to ARE YOU SERIOUS?? And I can say categorically that at least three of those are, without doubt, instruments of the devil. Proof offered herewith:

    The paint is color-mixed and shaken properly at the store. At home, the can is opened carefully, and one of those snap-on plastic pouring spout things is installed equally carefully. That way, I don’t have to deal with wet paint on the outside of the can and dribbles down the side and all that mess. Then the paint is stirred thoroughly with a procedure that includes scraping around the bottom of the can and up under the lid flange with the stir stick to make sure all the added pigments are completely incorporated. This is what I do EVERY FREAKING TIME with paint that’s going on the walls.

    For trim paint (usually in quart cans unless we’re doing the whole house with the same color trim), I do exactly the same thing except that I use a snap-on plastic brush scraper thingy for painting directly out of the can. Again, no wet paint on the outside of the can, and no dribbles and drippies.

    Have I mentioned that I hate dribbles and drippies?

    Okay, that’s my pre-paint ritual.

    Equipment? I use the GOOD stuff. Expensive brushes that I clean frequently and thoroughly during the job. Every. Freaking. Time. The good stuff will last for YEARS. Treat it right, and accept no substitutes.

    The preceding is how I know that the only variable is the paint.

    Okay, good paint. Good paint clings with an absolute DEATH GRIP to whatever it touches. Dip a paint brush into good paint, and the paint CLINGS to the brush. Touch the brush to a section of trim, and the paint FLOWS SMOOTHLY to the trim while still clinging to the brush without any untoward shenanigans.

    Load a high-quality roller cover with good paint, and the same magic happens. The paint clings to the roller until it’s rolled smoothly onto the wall or ceiling, at which time the paint transfers is affections and greedily clings to it’s new life-mate, er, location…without any intermediate displacement; no drips, runs, or sags, in other words.

    Okay that’s the good stuff. Everything else, e.g.THE CRAP falls into two categories. The first, obviously, is the kind that half the paint falls off the roller between the tray and the wall. Manufacturers of drop cloths make their fortunes from this junk. And even if you manage to get some of the paint on the wall instead of the floor, each roller load ends up being a slightly different color. And it streaks so badly that your guests think you’ve re-textured your walls. That’s the first kind.

    The second is even worse! It’s the kind that lulls you into a false sense of security. You bought it thinking that by spending THAT much money on paint it HAS to be the good stuff. Right? RIGHT?? Well, no. Wrongo. But it doesn’t spring the trap right at first, does it? Oh, no. It WAITS! It waits, insidiously biding its time until you think…”It…it isn’t dripping! I did it! I actually got the paint I’ve been dreaming about for all these years…!”

    SPLOPPP!! Dribbledribbledribble…splop splop splop…!

    And that’s just the part of the diabolical splattering that you noticed. Look behind you. A goodly blob crawled under your shoes while you were filling the tray, and you’ve been tracking it all over the floor for the last twenty minutes.

    Yes. I know paint. I am wise in these matters.


    • Oh yes! Preach it, brother! I, too, have dealt with the curse of cheap paint.

      The paint I’m using now is excellent – not so expensive that we have to mortgage the house, but it flows beautifully from the brush, stays mixed so consistently that I can even leave it in the tray overnight and pick up where I left off the next morning, and it clings perfectly to the roller and then to the wall when applied.

      But when I’m balancing on top of a ten-foot stepladder with a brush in one hand and a small finishing roller in the other, I tend to lose track of the hand that isn’t currently applying paint to the wall. I don’t think they make a paint that won’t transfer to one’s own person when directly applied with a roller.

      Also, I’m too paranoid to take the paint tray away up there where I will inevitably spill it from a great height; and I’m too lazy to run up and down the ladder every two strokes. So I load up the brush and roller with ‘way too much paint and then scurry up the ladder and gob it onto the wall like a palette. Then I use the gob to supply paint for my next several brush strokes, roll out the remainder into a smooth coat, and climb down the ladder again to repeat the process. Not even the best paint can compensate for my painting “technique”.

      Come to think of it, that explains why I had such an easy time of it in the summer – the main floor only has 8-foot ceilings, with a crown moulding that shortens the wall height even more. I only had to use a stepstool, not a 10’ ladder. Okay… so now I feel a bit better…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ladders? No more than absolutely necessary. For the general smearing of paint on large surfaces, I much prefer extension handles on my rollers. In our current digs, I’ve even used a four-foot extension on a paint brush to get a good line between an accent wall and the ceiling…in a corner behind a built-in entertainment center/book shelf. While standing on a six-foot ladder. Ten-foot ceilings. If the thing had gone all the way up to the ceiling as it should have, it would not have been a problem in the first place. But NOOOOOO… It didn’t actually take forever. It just seemed like it. I didn’t trust the top of the book shelf thing, hence the ladder.

        The next summer, Thus Missus decided she wanted crown molding in the room. I’ll leave the actual process to your imagination (yours is up to the task, I trust), but pin-nailers can be operated while they’re duct-taped to a broom handle. Just so you know. 🙂


        • LOL! Oh, my imagination is positively agog! A pin-nailer duct-taped to a broom handle just has SO many fine possibilities!

          But you lost me at “…a four-foot extension on a paint brush to get a good line…” I can barely get a good line with the brush in my hand and my reading glasses on my nose. If I tried it with a four-foot extension, I might as well just paint the ceiling the same colour as the walls. And the floor. And the entertainment centre/bookshelf. And probably the TV and any innocent bystanders who happened by as well.

          BUT: I just finished the walls upstairs a few minutes ago! HOORAY!!! We’re sooooo close…

          Liked by 1 person

          • Excellent! Just keep telling yourself how close you are. It helps you push reality away. Just sayin’…

            And painting with a brush extension? Hey, I *said* it seemed like forever. Basically it amounted to getting the line closer, let it dry, touch up the other side, let it dry, fix the screwups again, let it dry…

            See? Mystery solved. And you can operate a pin nailer trigger with Venetian blind cord with a slip knot, a Popsicle stick (for the return spring for the string–trust me, you need one), and masking tape. After you’ve propped the crown molding up with broken yardsticks (they’re springy) and dowels (they’re not). Remember, I’m a guy and an engineer. So you can guess just how much time my wife has spent rolling her eyes these last forty-eight years. Spoiler alert: pretty much forty-eight years. Just sayin’…


  9. Too bad I still work full time, otherwise I’d do it for a plane ticket from Thunder Bay and room and board. I have the skill set to do all of it. And some throw-away pants. Unfortunately, I have to stay in this frozen wasteland and work for money. Such is the sin of being born smart and good-looking instead of rich.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, man, if I’d only known you could be tempted by a free plane ticket and room and board! If we have another painting job coming up, I’ll have to remember to coordinate the timing with your next vacation from work. 😉

      And hey, two outta three ain’t bad…


  10. You know, there’s a great artistic possibility here with those jeans. I mean the hole in the knee really adds to the symbology of the piece and the fact that they’re not buttoned at the top adds many layers of meaning, that coupled with a hanger which more often reserved for dressy slacks creates a work that informs the viewer about the challenges of being an unwilling painter. Yes, do frame them and send them to a modern art gallery.

    and if you’d like to make more jeans like this, I have an outside wall that needs painting this summer … just say’n.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, what a generous offer! I hope you won’t be too hurt when I decline (which you may interpret from the way I flee screaming).

      And I’m definitely getting you to write my pitch letter to the Museum of Modern Art – after reading your blurb, now I almost want to hang them on my own wall. (But not quite.) 😉

      Liked by 2 people

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