Monday, May 7, 2007

Weekend Wrap-Up, or Adventures in DIY

Home redecorating/update is not for the squeamish, especially if you are a do-it-yourself type. The cardinal rules of such endeavors are these:

1. Measure twice
2. Anticipate everything
3. Don't assume the people who did it first did it right
4. The cost will be twice or three times what you expect.
5. If the question on your mind is "how hard can it be," you should not be doing anything yourself.

The rules are evolving, but those are the first ones that have found application in this latest project, to be known from here on as "The Powder Room Ponderable" or "PRP."

How this started was, I wanted a change in my powder room. In some locales, this is known as a half-bath, but powder room is closer to the mark because it's only about big enough to powder one's nose. Literally or figuratively speaking.

I chose Ralph Lauren Light Sky, which is a nice shade of light blue with just a hint of green. It's not teal, but it's not a clear blue, either. Anyway, since the walls in said powder room were already about the color of french vanilla ice cream, I decided to put a coat of primer on them so that my "light sky" wouldn't look muddy. Yellow base tends to make blues look more green than blue, which would defeat the purpose.

Having watched 'way too many episodes of Trading Spaces, et al., I taped my little powder room with blue tape around everything. The light fixture, the towel bar, the tile baseboard, the vanity, the switchplate and the doorjam. Miles of blue tape for a room that is barely big enough for me to turn around in.

Taping accomplished, I opened, stirred and poured a can of Kilz (white) - not even realizing that it might not be latex paint!!! In fact, it was oil-based paint. Did I have anything to remove oil-based paint from any surface? No. But I move ahead of my story.

You know those commercials where they say "there's the two-trips-to-the-home depot..."? I did that with just one day of priming my powder room. Four trips to the Home Depot later, and I have .... primed it. Two weeks ago.

Why has it taken more than two weeks to paint a powder room?

Rule numbers 2, 3 and 5.

When I decided to paint, I failed to consider what I ultimately wanted to do with the powder room, such as replace the vanity. Having completed the priming, I thought, "If I paint this wall this color, and then I pull the vanity away from the wall to replace it, I'm going to have a mess - why not just replace the vanity now? How hard can it be?"

First, the original contractors did not put the itty-bitty tiles on the itty-bitty tile floor all the way under the vanity. Which means that the cool vanity replacements that would otherwise work in an itty-bitty space like my powder room would require redoing the whole floor because under the vanity is an 8" x 24" rectangle of black wire mesh (that forms the base for the goo you spread on the floor before putting the tile on it). That rules out pedestal sinks of any type, as well as some of those nifty ones that sit on top of the flooring like a table.

Second, the space within which the vanity must fit (so that the door will open and close) is 24-25" wide (looking at the wall), with only 16.5" out from the wall, and about 28 or so inches tall. As a result, the faucet is set in the corner, which means that the plumbing under the sink connecting the faucet to the sink and the water source are over away from the center of the sink.

Since I am NOT going to put another sink in with a corner faucet, I need to be very sure about the plumbing in the new vanity/sink and that I have enough pipe in case I need to put a new pipe under the sink for the drain and/or the water faucet. Do I know anything about plumbing? No.

Third, the vanity/sink combos that are available may say "complete" for $199, "complete" means complete as to the vanity and sink. It does not include the faucet. Faucets are more money on top of the $199 you were going to spend on the vanity/sink combo.

So, I decided to just paint anyway. The vanity/sink combo will wait, and since it is bigger and taller than the one I already have, painting the walls won't hurt anything. Except.

Remember the oil-based versus latex paint issue I mentioned? The original wall color was latex. The primer was oil-based. The new wall color is also latex. The walls now have, instead of their previous smooth surface, a slightly rough texture on them which may be the result of putting oil-based primer on top of latex.

According to the Home Depot paint guy (PG, for short), you can put latex over oil, but it doesn't work to put oil over latex because the oil-based paint can cause the latex paint underneath to lift. PG said that it could also be that the nap on the roller resulted in too much paint being applied, which is what I'm crossing my fingers over, but we'll see.

The point is, the wall texture is not supposed to be rough; it's supposed to be smooth. (Sigh!)

And, the part of my brain that was busy taping everything in sight forgot that paint spatters on things in bathrooms, such as commodes. By the time I figured it out, the toilet had white paint spatters all over the bowl area. Yes, it is a white toilet, but spatters will collect dirt and germs, and what was I thinking. Back to the Home Depot, where another PG helped me find something that would remove oil-based paint from porcelain without taking the finish off said porcelain.

All in all, it might have been cheaper/easier/less stressful to have just moved.

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