I was a student painter for about half a summer one year (I believe it was after my first year of university). Late that winter, a high school acquaintance called me up and asked me if I wanted a job for the summer, and I did (even though I was working part time already at Business Depot, I needed something full time). He had signed on with a Canada-wide organization that helps young people set up their own business as semi-pro painters. I’m sure he received some intensive training, which he passed along to us, using his parents house as guinea pig for us to learn on (unpaid, iirc) as well as rented a host of ladders and painting equipment for us to use for the summer. He enlisted mostly his own friends, but also did some free advertising and got a lot of young people around our age (18 - 22 ish) on board. Before our school year ended we did some trade shows, which I loathed, and a lot of door to door leading, which I loathed even more. Once the summer hit and we were all trained up we landed some gigs and got to work. Only thing was, the “bossman” had under-valued the amount of work that needed to be done, time and time again, to the point that our wage wound up being just over $3/hr.
I didn’t mind doing the work, but the working conditions were utter shit. The fact that the “boss” was completely incapable of managing people (he was young and inexperienced in that realm, so not a lot of fault there) made him a bit of a slave-driver, and never heeded our concerns about how poor an assessment job he was always doing. On one house we had only finished scraping (never mind priming or painting) only one side of the house in the time that he had given us to do the whole job. We could have cut corners (generally did when it came to clean-up time) but we liked our clients - who often gave us a lot of trust, leaving their houses unlocked while they worked during the day, one was even a high school teacher a couple of us had, and he brought us drinks and regaled us with stories of his youth - and we wanted to do a good job for them.
I wound up quitting after about seven weeks (as most of his other initial recruits did before me) as the Depot promised me more hours, and better treatment. I didn’t care much for retail, but it was a cakewalk comparatively. I never did talk to the “boss” again.
I learned a lot about painting that summer, and I didn’t realize until this weekend that I’d also forgotten a lot about painting. Thankfully I have a couple home maintenance books that put me back on the right track.
Getting the baby’s room prepped required putting a lot of plaster on the walls. When my dad and I were doing the wiring back in May, we had to plaster all of our holes we made, only dad did all the plastering so I wasn’t really familiar with what to do (except how to clean up). It’s a delicate art getting plastering right, especially on old plaster walls which are cracked and wildly uneven. A flat scraper winds up scraping away the stuff you want to keep on the walls more often than not. A light touch is needed and you can always sand it down (although it is bloody messy).
I washed down the walls first, then applied the plaster to all the cracked areas I could find (it was evening and you can’t see a lot of cracks without natural light). I had all the furniture in the center of the room under a tarp that was magically the exact dimensions of the room (sweet). The next morning I sanded down the plaster with a 150 grit sandpaper and made it all smooth (although noticing all the hairline cracks in the walls I didn’t see, derp).
After sanding, i had to wash the walls again. I’m not sure if washing was necessary before plastering, but it certainly was after sanding. Vacuuming was needed as well, because that plaster dust gets everywhere.
I put Green Painters Tape (as advertised on Hockey Night in Canada) around all the frame edges and floorboard lips just as added security. People have said, snidely, “professionals don’t use tape”. Well, I’m no professional, and frankly the security of the tape and the time spent putting it on was worth it (it actually took longer to take it off, but anyway).
Finally getting down to painting I did my brush cuts in 3 foot sections on the upper side (wall/ceiling corners, around frames) and then did the rolling in V/W shapes as I had learned so long ago. I would do the cuts on the lower half (wall/floorboard corners, around frames) and then do the lower half. I always like to trail off with the slight bit of paint on the roller on either unpainted edge, so that there are no distinct lines if the paint dries quickly.
After finishing two of the four walls, JJ entered the room, changed into grubby clothes and proclaimed he was ready to paint. JJ is sometimes the most reluctant kid to do something, and sometimes the most eager… both can be frustrating, as sometimes when he’s excited to do something, he doesn’t take the time to learn properly and he wants to do it on his own without any coaching. But a 7-year-old’s motor skills just aren’t up to the task of proper wall painting and there was a lot of ziz-zagging, rolling in one spot, or out of controll rolling onto the floorboards. There was paint spills and leaning on walls and a lot of trying to reserve my frustration to keep it an enjoyable experience for him. I would try and help him out but he would always say “You can let go now”, and whenever i did it would wind up in an “Ooops. Sorry, Graig” situation. I thanked him for his help a number of times that day and the day after to at least try and express appreciation for his enthusiasm, although when it came time to do the second coat, I turned down his offer for assistance.
The thing I forgot about first coats is they look like ass. They just do not look good at all. You can see all the lines and streaks, but when you get to the second coat, especially after it dries, it does look pretty spectacular. I was worried after the first coat that I was going to have to apply two more coats, but I had forgotten how great the second coat usually turns out. There was a spot here or there I wasn’t happy with, but they would be hidden by furniture and by the time they’re discovered, it’ll probably be time for repainting anyway.
The first coat took about two hours, and five hours later (it was a warm day, the room well ventilated, with a ceiling fan going), the second coat took about another hour. Physically, though, it was like taking two lengthy step classes, as I went up and down the step stool more times than I can recall. Hell of a workout and deserving of the steak dinner Aden had made. The one thing I noticed after the second coat had dried, though, was the areas that had been plastered were noticeable… not because they were bumpy, but rather they were smooth. How odd.
The yellow we chose for the baby’s room looks lovely (certainly much richer and creamier than the pale yellow that was there before) and really resembles the “butter yellow” Aden had in mind, I think. I cleaned up the drop cloths and removed the tape, cleaned out the non-baby stuff that was in there and started putting together the to-assemble furniture (crib, change table). Aden came in and helped me, and we put up some pictures, laid out some blankets, hung a “growth chart” and made the place look ready (punching holes in my newly plastered and painted walls, though, felt like a brutal proposition).
It does look ready.