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To Paint or Not to Paint

[First of all, thanks for all the encouragement I received during my panic attack last week.  I have decided to proceed with life as a mature and well-adjusted human being.]

It seems like there is always a debate with older homes: to refinish the original woodwork or to paint it? Our last home in the same neighborhood had pristine woodwork in most parts of the home, which I never considered painting.



Our new home has woodwork in fairly good condition, but I have decided to paint the woodwork on the upper level.  This project began on Friday evening, but I didn’t make much progress that night.  The prep work itself took about 3.5 hours.  This work involved scraping the top of the baseboard to remove the plaster/sanding mess; next, scraping the inner crevice of the baseboard, which has been compacted with years of grime; then, scraping the top of the base layer of molding to remove more grime; and finally, scraping the floor to remove the compacted dust and debris.  After that process was complete, I swept the mess away from the baseboards so the dust wouldn’t get into my paint job.

The “before” condition of the baseboards

After that job was done, then I moved onto removing the millions of hooks from the closet.  Some of the screws were badly stripped, which made the removal of the hooks, well, interesting.  Also, I removed the hinge plates from the door frames and put each hinge into a labeled bag so that I would return the hinge plates to the rightful door.


Then I was ready to paint.

I got the first coat of primer on in one part of one room and quit around midnight. The next morning, I returned to the mess around 8:45a and painting for 15 hours,  people.  Keep in mind that the house has no plumbing and no toilets.  But also keep in mind that Greg had taken the girls out of town for the weekend and I don’t know when an opportunity to work continuously like that will happen again. And also keep in mind that I am a woman in the middle of a severe nesting crisis and was bound and determined not to let little things, like hydrating myself, get in the way of the work that I was doing.  I made a lot of headway and by late, late Saturday evening, I had all the woodwork upstairs primed (one coat).  I felt proud, although my knees were bruised from kneeling and my hand that held the paint brush was swollen.

I decided to leave the window sashes unpainted.  I think that the wood allows the leaded glass to pop a bit more.  I have to sand and refinish the wood sashes, but that is a project for another year.  Here’s some shots showing one coat of primer:




I returned on Monday, armed with three children, a caulking gun, a laptop and a giant pail of animal crackers.  I was hoping to get all the gaps caulked before putting on the paint.  I put on a movie for the girls on the laptop, gave them the pail of crackers, and hoped for the best.  I strapped my two year old into a portable highchair so that she would be immobilized, but she figured out how to crawl around with the chair strapped to her back and bottom.  She is as determined as her mother, I suppose.  But all things considered, the kiddos did well and I got most of the caulking done.

Today, I painted some more with my mom and mother-in-law and we finished the second coat of primer on all the woodwork and began priming all doors.  I wanted to take the lazy way out and paint around all the doorknobs, plates, and hinges, but it just looked ridiculous.  So I removed all of the hinges, plates, knobs, and hardware because this is a job that I never, NEVER want to do again and I want to get it right the first time. As of now, most of the doors are primed with one coat and the second coat may be going on tomorrow.


One coat of primer

We took all the hardware home and cleaned it up. I am so glad we did because the knobs really needed a good scrubbing.  We also discovered that the hooks are solid copper after scrubbing the layers of tarnish off.  I love surprises like that.  I need to find a good product that will remove all the tarnish to expose the copper.   Here’s the hooks and knobs after a good scrubbing:


The carpenter was there today to patch the wood floors where the radiators used to be and also to fill in the back room where the floor was severely water damaged.  Here’s what it looked like this afternoon:

On Friday and through the weekend, the floors will be sanded.  This feels like the moment I’ve been waiting for:  the house will look so much better after a good sanding.  I am meeting the stain guy on Saturday morning to choose the stain color for the floor.  Also, the piano is now residing in the kitchen and is precariously balanced on blocks of wood to make way for the sanders .  (Let’s hope for the best).

It’s been a busy week and I am covered in paint that won’t come off my hands and arms despite my vigorous handwashing.  Color me happy.

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