Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Notes on how to paint a door

Back in October, Jeremy's parents came to visit, and Jeremy's dad installed a door to our den. "Installed" makes it sound so simple, and in some ways it probably was. This was one project that I, for once, stayed the heck far away from so I can't really tell you much about the process. It looked complicated to me and it made a lot of noise and dust.

But once it was finished, it was fabulous. The idea of a den is so wonderful until you realize that without a door, the sanctuary of quiet study and concentrated work is wide open to the rest of the house, where food is being cooked, washers and dryers are running, and little kids are running around making noise. With a door, the den is now pretty much a soundproof chamber of productivity.

Even though the door was installed, we still had to paint it. Between all the sickness and holidays, January was basically here and the door was still plain, unfinished wood with plastic wrapping over the glass panes. A couple of Saturdays ago, we finally went into "project mode" and decided to paint the door once and for all. I figured it would take all of an afternoon.

A week later, our door still looked something like this:

I'm reminded of that line from Finding Nemo where Nemo's dad says, "You think you can do these things, but you can't, Nemo!" Sometimes, we think we can do these things, but we can't! And then we do anyway.

For future reference:
  • Be sure to factor in drying times between coats of paint into your schedule. The can of paint or finish might say it gives brilliant coverage in just one coat, but that is a lie.
  • Do not, do NOT decide to use aerosol spray stain. This was our single biggest mistake. I'm sure you're all laughing at us and saying how obvious it should have been, but neither of us realized that the spray residue would float all over the house and coat everything in a thin, sticky layer of varnish. Weeks later, I am still scrubbing it off my tile floors and if you walk around in socks long enough, you get a nice red mahogany sheen on the bottoms of your feet.
  • Taping is a big pain and I hate it. I guess I'm just not one for precision jobs.
  • OK, really, it's just easiest if you paint the door before you attach it to any part of your house. Take it outside, lay it down on an old sheet, and paint away. I think that's what the aerosol spray stain is for.
  • Believe the instructions on the finish when it says to sand down the first coat before you apply the second one. With just one coat on, unsanded, it looked like the door was dripping in bumpy corn syrup. Still, sanding just didn't seem logical. We took a leap of faith, sanded - and still thought we had made a big mistake. Our precious door was covered in white, sawdusty scratches. But magically, after applying the second coat of finish, everything came together and it looked perfect. Phew!

Through the whole thing, there was one thought I just couldn't get out of my mind, much like Hugh Nibley couldn't stop thinking about elephants in the Book of Mormon even as he prepared to hit the beaches in Normandy on D-Day. In my childhood I read a novel about a girl whose new pet kitten gets loose in the house during the night and walks all over the family's newly finished wood floor, which had been left to dry overnight. To fetch the cat, the girl in the novel lays down sheets of newspaper to walk on and of course, they stick to the floor. For some reason, this stupid scene kept replaying itself over and over again in my mind as I scrubbed the floors with paint thinner to try to get the finish off. (If anyone knows what book that is, let me know. I thought it was Oh Honestly, Angela but I looked at a plot description and now I'm not sure.)

When we were done, our den door looked like this:

Lovely! I think it was worth all the effort, don't you?


Nancy said...

Sounds like an adventure :) But it does look nice.

Eevi said...

It looks fabulous!!

Amanda said...

Of all the times I've been in your house recently, I never noticed the door was unfinished. But it looks great.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

Oh my, we all learn the hard way, including me. In 1979 we moved into our brand new house in Meridian, bringing with us our almost new olive green fridge from our previous house. But the new house sported almond appliances. What to do? Paint the fridge of course--there is special spray paint made just for this purpose.

Problem was, it was still bitter winter outside and the directions required painting at indoor temps. You can guess what happened when we sprayed the epoxy paint onto the fridge, in the kitchen. I was cleaning up near-microscopic paint specks for months.

Liz Johnson said...

Very nice!!! And yeah, spray anything (paint-wise) is a waste.

Mikael said...

yes, potty training SUCKS!!!!!!!!!!
Anyway, I LOVE to improve and decorate my home. It is a hobby of mine. Then I actually realize how much work the ACTUAL WORK is to do it, and I almost always wonder "why am I doing this?". But shortly after 1 project is done I get the bug and want to do something else, then the cycle starts all over again
And your door is awesome

Bridget said...

Mom, I think your big mistake was actually purchasing an olive green fridge.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

The fridge color choices in 1977 were: harvest gold, avocado green, chocolate brown. Which would you have picked? (the vinyl flooring was light brownish w/ avocado greenish tint to it)

Kristen said...

That is a sad story about the spray varnish...but I have to admit I think you should have known better. :)

I don't doubt that avocado appliances will come back into vogue's in all our clothes and room decor already.

Great job on the door, though. It looks beautiful.

Julie said...

Bridget, just to make you feel better, we made a similar mistake. We used spray paint on some kitchen chairs. The good news is that we did it in the garage, so at least the thin layer of paint dust wasn't all over our stuff. The bad news is that it was all over our car (even though we pulled the car out while spraying). It was a lesson well learned for me.


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