Friday, April 27, 2012

Unintentional marathon

Yesterday was a good day.  Our softball team won our first game of the season (4th win in 4 years), the NFL draft was on (Titus' love affair), and our entire upstairs trim has been painted.

I was super pumped to get rid of the orange trim all over our house.  I figured painting it would be a real synch.  Trim is tiny right?

For this bout of painting I was scheduled to complete the upstairs window trim (for the duration of this post when I say "upstairs" I will mean our top floor and the room trio) and the front and garage doors.

Digression:  The previous owners had painted the front and garage doors the same color as the walls.  This is one of the many incredibly poor choices they made.  If you are unsure whether or not you are supposed to paint the inside of your exterior door the same color as your walls, you aren't, it is rarely attractive.  Not only did they paint the doors, but they painted the inside frame of the two windows on either side of the front door, as well.  Another a poor choice.  This meant when I made the equally bad decision to paint our trio neon yellow, I had to paint the doors and windows neon yellow because of the previous owners big mistake.  See what I mean?

Moving on... In total, I would be painting seven windows of trim, the sliding glass door trim in the dining area, and the doors in the entryway along with their trim.  This would cover all the trim in the upstairs other than the interior door trim.  Since the downstairs is closed off to the rest of the house, its trim was allowed to stay a orange a little longer.  Now time to pick a paint color, keeping G.I. Joe's advice in mind.

Late last year, I did a trial cabinet painting in our bathroom using Behr Ultra Pure White.  Somehow pure white was actually too white and created a plastic look.  With this in mind, we went off to the Home Depot paint department to pick up every single sample variation of white they had, which was about 100.  Over the next three days, we slowly narrowed down the whites while they incubated under the dining room ceiling light as we had learned to do.  Finally, we apprehensively selected Behr Swiss Coffee.  I don't even know why I attached this color example, because it doesn't even look like the color we used.

I learned later that Swiss Coffee is one of the four standard whites used for trim in houses.  I could be a contractor.

We went to Home Depot to visit my favorite paint guy who mixed us a gallon of semi gloss Behr Ultra in Swiss Coffee.  Apparently I failed to mention this before, but when we paint walls, we always choose an eggshell finish since a glossy wall paint is a little too grandma for me.  However, word on the street is that trim attracts all dirt, or in our case dog hair, so semi gloss is the way to go for ease of cleaning.

While at Home Depot, we also picked up a small foam roller which everyone claims has a totally smooth finish (they are lying, but it is the smoothest finish you can get with a roller).  You also need a brush for painting the trim, but we already had our beloved angled Purdy brush.

Then, we rolled down to Ace Hardware to load up on Benjamin Moore's Fresh Start All-Purpose Primer, which is the best primer I have ever used.  When picking a primer, you mainly want to verify that it has a stain blocker.  I've tried Kilz Original which is oil based and requires that you wear a gas mask if you want to continue living.  After that death-like experience, I went to the opposite extreme and tried Kilz Clean Start which has zero VOCs.  The "green" thought was nice, but "it's the thought that counts" isn't applicable to primer.  This stuff couldn't block a stain if its life depended on it.


At this point, normal people would move on to sanding the trim.  Sanding is dusty, it takes time, and I hate it... so I didn't do it.  Instead I used Krud Kutter Gloss-Off, which smells funny.  I just poured some on a rag and rubbed it on the trim.  It claims to grab the paint or something.  At the very least it cleaned my orange trim.

Finally I got to start priming.  For each window, I primed the outside window casing first with my angle brush.  Then, I primed the perimeter of the actual window inside the frame.  Last, I used the foam roller to paint the part perpendicular to the window. It is best to brush/roll the primer on and try to not go over it again, because the primer is sticky and this is what tends to cause brush/roller marks.

To do one coat of primer on the seven windows, one sliding glass door, and the exterior doors took me about four hours.  Maybe I should have expected it to take this long, but I didn't.  It wouldn't have been so bad, but once the primer had dried, I saw the gross orange leaking through the primer.  This meant I would need to do another coat of primer before I could even consider actually painting, and who knew how many coats of paint it would need?  

The bad news kept coming... As I looked more closely at the trim, I noticed that not only was the orange leaking through, but there were a bunch of spots where the trim was not completely flat against the wall, which had created paint caves.  It is hard to explain, but there were gaps between the trim and the wall, so when it was painted, it became super obvious.  I tried to get a picture showing one of these caves:

By this time it was Friday at midnight.  My bedtime is 9pm and  nobody would mistake me for a night person.  So, I headed off to have a couple priming nightmares.  I woke up around 7am and couldn't stop thinking about the gaps in the trim, so I got up and filled them in with some caulk.  Please pronounce that word correctly.  Just because it sounds the same as a naughty word doesn't mean it's OK to mispronounce it.

Two hours later the windows were caulked, and I was ready for primer round two.  Another four hours of life passed and the orange was mostly gone.  It didn't matter, the next coat was going to be paint.  

Following the same procedure as priming, I began painting a coat of semi-gloss Swiss Coffee on all the trim and doors.  Remember not to go over the paint too many times, because that will override the paint's self leveling attributes and you will have more brush and roller marks.  I nearly died of joy when the paint had dried and I discovered that, thanks to two coats of Ben, one coat of coffee was enough.  

The grain of the wood is still visible if you look closely, but at a glance you would never notice.   Plus, the fact that it is real wood and not MDF is actually a good thing, anyway.

Nothing is complete without a before and after:

Even though the yellow is fluorescent, the gray actually looks brighter.  Isn't it ironic?  Don't you think?  This transformation made my life happier, therefore the twelve hours of life I will never get back were totally worth it.


  1. HI Ash,
    Thanks for sharing your knowledge about primer. I may sometime need to know that information. However, I have found I like Zinzer Primer a lot. It has never failed me... so far anyway. I had no idea that there was actually a product made that could take the place of sanding... Now that is exciting and may come in useful in the future!!

    1. I haven't gotten a chance to try Zinsser primer, but I have seen many people who love it!