Friday 09 Dec 2016

House Painting
Matt Seinberg

If there is one thing that most men are good at but hate to do is painting the house. When we lived in our apartment in Westbury, I painted every room at least twice in the 17 years we lived there.


I had our current home painted before we moved in.

When we moved to our current home, I had it painted before we moved in, by Al the painter. He also took down all the wallpaper in two bedrooms, the hallway, bathroom and kitchen. We're talking multiple layers of wallpaper in all those rooms.

In fact, in the master bedroom, he took down multiple layers as well, until he got to what appeared to be the final layer. That layer was stuck on so well that, if he took it off, it might rip off the top layer of the sheetrock. He fixed the seams, primed it and painted it.


Linen white was the simplest paint solution.

I had to pick a colour to paint the house. The simplest solution was linen white. We lived with that for about four years. Then we had vinyl siding and two new windows installed. At that point, I painted the dining room and living blue, with white trim.

When I completed that task, I did the hallway. Then I looked at the bedrooms, and decided those needed painting, too. Over the course of the next year, I did all three bedrooms.

That brings us to present day. Melissa had been asking me for at least two years to paint her room. I finally agreed.


Removing layers of wall paper is some job.

The biggest job was taking down the ballerina border we put up before she was born, in 2000. A friend of mine at work told me how to do it; I bought a cat’s claw, scraper and wallpaper remover.

The cat’s claw makes many little holes in the paper. When the remover is applied, the tiny holes allow it to seep in behind the paper and remove the glue. Then we use the scraper to get it all off the wall.

I started and finished one wall. Melissa then asked if she could it and I turned it over to her. She finished the rest of the room. I had to follow up, with the scraper; I needed to get those hard to remove little cling on's she missed.

What a mess there was, little pieces of paper and dirt everywhere. We had to vacuum her room multiple times to get everything up. I also had to fix all the little holes in the walls and repair the high corners where the border pulled off some of the sheetrock.

We went to buy the paint a week later; Melissa picked out the two colours she wanted. One wall would be a darker accent, purple of some sort, and the other three a lighter colour, called Ballerina Tutu. How ironic considering we had just taken down a ballerina border.

I had taken two extra days off from work just to get this room painted, and we had to empty it that Monday night when I got home from work. It's amazing how quickly the dining room filled up with all her stuff.

My plan was to paint her room Tuesday and Wednesday and, possibly, finish painting the living room on Thursday and Friday. I started that project last year, after I completed the kitchen, but never finished it. It was a new coat of what was already on there, so it's hard to tell the old from the new.

Tuesday arrives, and the first thing I have to do is sand everything down so it's nice and smooth before I paint. I also sand the bottom line where the border was, so it wouldn't be visible under the new coat of paint.

Naturally, it's raining and a little humid in the house. The paint was drying, slowly. I did the trim first in the white semi-gloss. When that was dry, I taped them up so when I did all the cutting, the lines would be nice and straight.


I didn't paint the living room Thursday or Friday.

I managed to get all the trim and three pink walls finished, and I was glad to be on schedule. On Wednesday, I tackled the accent wall and boy was that tough going. It was still humid, and this colour was taking forever to dry, and I ended up having to do three coats.

Melissa spent two nights sleeping in Michelle's room because the paint fumes were quite strong. Next time, I'm getting low VOC paint. We started to move her furniture in on Thursday and Melissa decided to move everything around. She did a good job of measuring everything, so the furniture ended up fitting very nicely in the new configuration.

Did I mention how much I hate to paint?


Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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