Saturday, November 22, 2014

Tiles and Denial


Right after Christmas last year Robb and I embarked on the Sisyphean task of repainting our bathroom.  We had previously painted the ceiling and walls above the wainscoting with a buttery yellow color.

We set about stripping the paint from the woodwork and the 1920s plaster wall "tiles."  This was a tricky, and rather disgusting task.  We had decades of paint to remove, but we had to be careful not to destroy the layer of plaster that was at the bottom of it all.

I spent hours with my head wedged behind the toilet.  It was grim work, and the process of removal made the whole room look like a Dive Bar.

Once the loose paint was removed, I masked off individual tiles and delicately re-surfaced them with a custom made "schmoo" mixture.

We primed the repaired plaster "tiles" as well as the woodwork that we stripped.

And then it happened:  I oh-so-carefully removed my ridiculously expensive fancy painters' masking tape above the wainscoting.  And in doing so, I ripped the yellow paint right off the walls. The only part of the room that actually looked decent and finished was destroyed in an instant.

I'm a professional painter.  I have been for years.  I actually do know what I'm doing.  But this house is going to make me insane.  Every single paint project we've tackled has been a process of fixing decades-old messes.  In this case, some long-ago painter used incompatible paints on the bathroom walls and ceilings, and the bond between layers was so weak that I could pull it off with masking tape.

What did I do to fix this problem?


Nothing at all.

I was so disgusted that I let the project languish for almost a year before I found the emotional energy to face it again.  During this time, I painted numerous gigantic stage productions, and stripped and repainted our neighbors' peeling wooden garage.  I did all sorts of work, but ignored the bathroom, because it depressed me so badly.

Well the time has finally come to return to this project.  There's lots to do, and I'll be taking loads of pictures, because seeing the progress keeps me motivated.


Dianna Chabot said...

Great pictures, Lisa! I noticed that Smog wanted to check out the bathroom too!

Noreen said...

I'll follow this with interest. I figured something demoralizing must have happened because we'd not heard anything about this project.

To me, it looks like you have a goose or a duck waddling around in your bathroom. (But I see from the comment above mine that apparently it's Smog checking things out. Don't tell Smog I thought he was a duck.)

K said...

Oh how frustrating! I am glad you gave yourself some time. Plenty of time to build up fresh gusto is all one needs, right?
And, I had no idea you had to be careful about choosing correct paint that is comparable with old paint. Is this a modern paint problem as well, or primarily something vintage? It reminds me of the Bible and the whole new wine in old bottles, new cloth on old parable.


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