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the problem with painters

As most of you probably know, painting isn’t particularly difficult, but it can be a gigantic pain in the ass.

I was feeling exceptionally unmotivated (more on this later), and also totally overwhelmed.  I also didn’t have the help of my painting dream team like last year, so the idea of painting the entire flat alone was becoming particularly daunting.  It’s especially overwhelming when you realize that every single surface of the place needs at least 3 coats.  Balls. (I say this a lot lately – sometimes it helps.)  Sam was working basically every hour possible, and hates painting anyway, so it was down to me.  Which meant not a lot was getting done.  Which was in turn holding up basically everything else: tiling, laying floor etc.

So, I confess: we hired a painter.  I’m even cringing as I write this.  The guilt!  The waste of money!  The admission of my laziness!

I feel especially guilty about this, as painting is the one thing I always felt I could do.  Screwing it up isn’t going to potentially kill you (hello electricity), or flood the house, or basically have any repercussions beyond looking like crap.  A big repercussion to be sure, particularly when you’re as anal as I am, but no one’s going to die.

Hiring a painter might seem simple, but as with, well, everything – it’s not.  Ok, it probably is if money is no object and you actually have a budget for it, but when you’re trying to get the cheapest painter in the province to offset the guilt of not doing it yourself while justifying how much it will be worth it, it’s tricky.  Throw into the mix an old house with plaster walls that are not, shall we say, perfect, and you also have to find someone who wants to actually take the job.  Unexpected dilemma.

I had guys come in who looked around in horror, their eyes going to the cracks, the exposed pipes, the tobacco stains, and would let out huge sighs…’well, obviously you’re not ready for us yet – right?’  ‘Oh no, we’re ready!’ I would say – as brightly as possible with a smile that tried to express confidence: ‘what are you talking about?  This is my awesome perfect house!’  One looked at me with authority (well, tried – he was way too young to rattle me), and said, ‘Well, obviously you’ll be moving all these pipes…right?’  He was off the list and out the door immediately.  ‘Go back to your perfect new suburban drywalled walls little boy!’

Other people were just weird.  Don’t volunteer that you’re not going to ‘case the joint’ because you work with inmates part-time (I know – makes no sense).  Don’t tell me about your American football superstar brother, and please stop repeating his name like I’m suddenly going to care.  Don’t try and advise me about colour when you’re wearing a baseball cap sideways and a purple tracksuit.  When I say white, I mean, white.  You, of all people, are not going to change my mind.

Thank god, I guess, that I don’t have the budget to hire people to do more around here.  I would surely lose my mind.

So, we ended up hiring the dodgy guy with the prison tattoos who was the cheapest – with predictable results.

But before I get into all that, at least the hiring of a painter got us in gear to finish patching everything – especially the dreaded stairwell.

Here’s the area that needed attention:

But it’s a little death-defying:

At least for me, who is not a friend of ladders or heights.  But luckily I have Sam, who loves climbing anything scary, and we had our friend Dave’s wonder ladder – one of those that folds into crazy configurations so you can do things like put it on the stairs and not kill yourself.  Awesome.

So it finally got patched, and now it has a bit of a half-assed paint job on it.  But it looks much better.

I’m wondering now whether to photograph all the screw ups to show you (and work myself into an angry frenzy again), or just let it go.  Most of the paint job is actually not that bad.  But then, most of it is just white.  We did decide to go with a soft grey for the hallway above the white wainscoting, and that’s where the problems occurred.

I really didn’t want to paint the wainscoting the same dark brown as downstairs, as the hallway is much much brighter upstairs and has a completely different feel.

I saw this photo on the Behr website.

They won’t let me copy the photo and put it here, but anyway, it inspired me to do white and grey.  I scooted off to Benjamin Moore to get some samples (they are within walking distance while Behr/Home Depot is not).  Actually, before that, I checked some of my favourite websites to see what they had to say about grey. Apartment Therapy had some ideas – of course.

So, as you can see below, I came back with Cement Gray on the left, and, as recommended by AT, Gray Owl on the right.

We chose Gray Owl as Cement Gray was looking too purple.

Unfortunately (I guess), I didn’t have time to faff about choosing any more options as the painter was due to start the next day.  We had to make a decision fast and rush to the paint store.  Benjamin Moore doesn’t stay open late so we were forced to ask Rona to match it.  Which they did – sort of.  I had an emergency call from the painter the next day (during the auction we were working) telling me that the grey didn’t look anything like the sample on the wall.  It turns out he was exaggerating and maybe really didn’t realize how paint darkens as it dries (not a great sign for a so-called experienced painter), but it was enough to give me a small heart attack.  I told him to go ahead anyway – what else was there to do?

But it turned out fine.  It is slightly different than the Ben Moore, but not dramatically (though it is true – their colours and their paint are just better – and no, I don’t work for them, I just sometimes feel like I do).

(sorry, no lights up there right now for a proper photo)

I’ll avoid showing the close-ups that need to be re-painted.  He said he’s coming back to fix it, but as Sam already paid him, I’m not exactly holding my breath…

Changed my mind.  I am mad, the paint job does suck, and if he does come back to fix it, I will apologize and remove these photos.

My faith in humanity is restored.  The painter came back.  The paint job is fixed.  I’ve removed the photos as promised.



2 responses »

  1. Call me for touch ups when I get home, I’ll try to help out as much as I can!!!!
    I hope it wasn’t too much of a headache, as I know people get freaked out about painting; it can turn into a horrible job.

    Looks good though, glad you guys are making progress!

  2. Thanks Len! It shouldn’t be a big deal to touch up, it just angers me that it wasn’t done right the first time!


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