Saturday, August 1, 2015

A Prime Example

I'm just going to cut right to the chase here: there is a special place in hell for people who paint over oil based paint with latex without prepping first.  I know that sounds harsh, but after spending WEEKS on a project that should have only taken a few days, I'm fresh out of tact. And my anger is directed specifically at the people who owned the house right before us, because we are CONSTANTLY finding things that they did wrong, or where they took the cheap, lazy way out and created a lot more work and expense for us. The irony is that the guy apparently worked as a MAINTENANCE guy at UW, so there's no excuse for him- he should have known better!

As you may recall from my last post, we decided to re-paint one of the bedrooms so we could turn it into a master and add some clothes storage.  This SHOULD have been pretty simple.  We should have known better. Our house is old, so there are several layers of paint on the walls, most of which are oil-based.  If you're wondering how to tell if the paint on your walls is latex or oil, here's a way to test it.  Now of course latex is preferable, and you CAN paint latex over oil, provided that you take the time to prep properly. When you don't, the top layer of paint just peels right off like this:

And unfortunately, this was the case on all 3 doors in the room, as well as ALL of the trim (baseboards, windows, etc.). There are also metal baseboard heaters in the room, which were also painted with brown latex paint and no primer.  Here's what happened when we simply tried to vacuum it:

This meant that before we could start to do any painting, we had to painstakingly scrape off ALL of the top layer of paint.  And all of those little details on historic molding don't look so cool when you are scraping paint out of every nook and cranny. This whole process alone took close to a week, and all of my patience. 

Once we had the trim all stripped down, we had to use a chemical de-glosser (you can also sand, but this creates a lot of dust and we wanted to avoid that) to cut down on the sheen on the oil-based paint so the primer would stick to it.  Deglosser is a STRONG chemical that requires masks and gloves- we started off using one by Zinsser, but when we ran out of that we switched to Klean Strip, which was MUCH better. Far less noxious odor and unlike the Zinsser, you can prime as soon as it's dry (about 10 minutes). With the Zinsser you have to wipe it on, then give it 30 min to dry, and then you have to paint it within 60 minutes or the surface becomes glossy again and you have to start all over.  Either way, you can only do small sections at a time and it takes FOREVER.  In some cases, you can skip this step if you are using an oil based primer or a latex bonding/adhesion primer. We decided to double down so we deglossed AND used an oil-based primer, just to make damn sure we never have to do this again.  You can use ANY topcoat (including latex) with oil-based primer, by the way. We did use a regular water-based primer on the walls, since they seemed to have been done properly and weren't peeling. 

Here's everything (walls and trim) once it was finally painted:

Normally I am wholly against painting wood floors, however once we'd pulled up the carpet we found that the floors were in horrible shape. They'd been painted at one point, but the paint was chipped and there were gouges and rough, uneven spots everywhere.  As ambitious as we are, we had to admit the floors were just not salvageable.  So Lance sanded them down and then went through and used wood filler for the gouges and flexible caulk for the wider cracks between the boards (to allow for expansion/contraction when the weather changes).  Then we thoroughly cleaned the floors with warm water (using cleaning products can affect adherence of paint) and primed them with oil-based primer. 

Hopefully tomorrow we can actually paint the floors! I will go into more detail about what paint colors we used and how we chose them once everything is done.  Meanwhile, our painting woes are far from over, as we actually have a much bigger paint issue in the kitchen that is going to require professionals. Spoiler alert: it's the result of yet another colossal error on the part of the previous owners! 

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