Monday, January 28, 2013

Disaster, Tragedy, and Woe

Well, more or less.

First a photo of what makes it a tragedy.

. . . Well, good grief, looks like I neglected to take a picture of how my 1st floor hallway floor looked once all the painting and touchup was done.  Guess I was too heartily sick of the effort to  think of it.  Suffice it to say that by the afternoon of the 21st I finished getting the second coat of the brown color (Lowe's Porch & Floor Latex Satin, tinted to match Pratt & Lambert's "Brandywine" tone) onto the 2x6 fake tile shapes on the floor of my 1st floor stairhall. The yellow/buff attempt was covered, and the too-bright "Hot Pepper" tone on the 6x6s was supplanted by the more-appropriate "Barn Red."

It looked pretty good.  It looked even better that night when I peeled off the striping tape and revealed the "Slate Gray" ersatz joints.

(Got a cute squeeze ball out of it.)

Only thing is, in some very obvious places the brown didn't wholly cover the yellow. In fact, the yellow had seeped under the tape in several places, so I couldn't expect the brown to cover it.  To be frank, the red-orange and the blue had seeped here and there too, despite my best efforts to burnish the masking tape down, but they weren't so glaringly noticeable as the yellow.  The daylight of  Tuesday morning revealed that the yellow was showing a lot more than I'd thought.  The brown "tiles" had a nice build up in comparison to the "joints" which gave a nice, realistic effect.  But you could often see the yellow under the brown along the edge when the light hit it the right way, especially towards the front room end where there were two coats of the lighter color.

Thus ensued three, yea, four gruelling days of creeping along on my hands and knees with gray paint on a fine detail brush trying to cover all that yellow, trying to get a hair or two of the brush just to catch that thin but maddeningly visible edge peeking out along my nice gray joint, repeatedly thinking I'd got it all and what I still saw was just highlights and shine, and repeatedly having to go back and try again once the sunlight or the illumination from the ceiling fixture fell upon it.  In all, picking up spilled salt with one's eyelashes would have been preferable.

 By Friday the 25th the yellow wasn't completely covered, but the effect was good enough considering normal lighting conditions.  So I began applying my clear sealer topcoat.  Since I was using floor paint, you'd think four coats total over primer would be enough to stand up to normal use.  But I've used fhe same product in the basement, and after a year or two it does begin to wear.  I've put too much work into this paint job not to give it some protection.  Due to its non-yellowing properties (I don't want my blue squares turning green) and going on the advice of the paint counter guy at Home Depot and following the example of Jayne over at The Kelly House, I went with the Minwax Polycrylic finish.  I wanted a bit of texture to it; maybe I should say, a bit more texture added to what I'd already rolled and stippled on, so that night I applied the first coat using a four-inch long, 1/8" nap mini-roller.

Meh.  Didn't work.  The roller didn't hold enough of the liquid so it dried too fast.  Rolling it back and forth left visible tracks and they didn't level out.  Carp. 

So on Saturday after hand-scuffing it with 220-grit sandpaper,  I said, "Oh, all right," and used a brush, like Jayne did.  A good-quality, synthetic one, like the can recommended.  Focussed on getting the stuff down and not overworking it.

Well, the mini-roller tracks were no longer obvious, but I'd missed several places.  "Holidays," real painters call them.  So I went online to see what the forums said about rectifying holidays in a Minwax Polycrylic finish.

Oh, crumb.  Carpity carp.  Found a site that addressed the problem, but it was referring to furniture finishing.  All the forums were uniform in declaring that Minwax Polycrylic is not recommended for floors.  Including the Minwax website.  And the back of the Polycrilic can.  But what are we supposed to do if we don't want our painted finishes to turn yellow?  There's really nothing else out there that'll dry clear.  So I guess we're stuck.

Maneuvered over to a YouTube video where somebody had done a tromp d'oeil painted wood floor and coated it over with six (count 'em, six!) coats of clear acrylic.  And another one where a professional floor finisher was using the product to redo a wood floor.  He was using a paint roller on a pole.  It appeared that he was getting good, even coverage without premature drying or lap marks.  Hey, it might be a good idea for the next coat.  And it would have to be a whole next coat, because not only did I have holidays, I had brush marks as well.

So on Sunday I put my roller and pole together and went to work.  Aaaaggghhhh!!!!  Lacymosa, dies illa!!  It left lap marks.  Baaaaaaad ones.  They showed up white even after the finish had dried.  And even though I tried to be careful and not push it, the nap on the roller left bubbles all over my beautiful painted floor!

Lord, don't let me cuss.   Though I really, really want to.  I really, really, really want--!!

I don't know.  It looks so bad.  All that work, to come to this.  I don't see being able to hand sand that out.  I'm considering using the orbital sander.  Which might rip up the whole paint job, even with 220-grit paper on it.  Whatever happens, it'll need another coat of the Polycrilic afterwards.  This time I think I'll do what I should have done in the first place:  Lay the finish on with a sponge brush and apply it to the "tiles" individually.  And do it very, very, very gently.

Though gentle is not at all how I'm feeling right now.  Aaaaaaagggggghhhhhh!!!!  Disaster!  Tragedy!  Woe!!!!!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Choices, Changes

Continuing saga of the 1st floor hall tile pattern.  I tried to post Wednesday, to give an update on my progress.  But my computer wouldn't load the photos.  (Blzzzzt).

Let's see what luck I have today.

OK, above we have the view from the front room, quite over-illuminated and yellowed by the light sources. But you get the idea.

And now from the kitchen end:

These are as of early morning, Thursday the 10th, just after I completed the first coat of tile pattern.  Is anyone surprised that I think it's too loud and unsettled for a floor?

So that evening I called the Sherwin Williams store in Beaver Falls and asked Mark the manager if they were able and willing to retint as little as a half quart of somebody else's paint, and if so, for how much.  Sure, he could tackle that, provided I wasn't hoping to come out lighter or brighter, for $2 a can.

(I'm deliberately giving the particulars, so the Sherwin Williams people will get the credit.  The yellow color I originally chose was too greenish from the start, but the Lowe's paint department guy said they couldn't retint it to match another, toned-down color, even an untouched full quart.  I had to do that myself, by mixing in smidges of the red-orange.  And if you're wondering, the reason I didn't get the paint from Sherwin Williams in the first place was because when I bought it last fall-- thinking I was going to get onto this floor painting job right away-- the SW floor paint line wasn't on sale and I simply, simply cannot afford to buy it when it is not.)

I took the half-can of Valspar "Hot Pepper" porch paint and the three-quarters can of "Sunbaked" (again, tinted so by me) up to Beaver Falls and Mark the manager very skillfully added colorant to transform them respectively to "Red Barn," a deep-baked brick red, and "Ligonier Tan," a color that on the card looks almost khaki.  For convenience, I'm calling it "buff," in line with standard Victorian tile color names.

That night I laid the second coat on the first two rows, just to find out what the general effect would be, then let it alone till yesterday.  I got lots done yesterday.  Lots and lots.  Maybe too much.  Because the more I did, the more I wondered.  The new red color was good, lots better.  But the buff color . . .  I wasn't sure . . .  was it still too . . . ?  . . . I was afraid it was still too . . . .

Before I could cut myself off from getting upstairs, I maneuvered my way up to my computer and submitted the photo above to a little editing.  I came up with this:

I was concerned that I wasn't getting an accurate representation (Ha.  That's a laugh, considering my camera and my computer!), since both work lights were trained on the surface when I took the picture above.  So I shot it again in daylight, voilĂ :

Either way, with the brown it looks more like a floor and less like a flying carpet.  I posted them side by side to my Facebook page, and as of this afternoon the vote is unanimous for the scheme with the brown.  And here's precedent for it, from a British tile distributor's web page:

So now I've been to Lowe's ('fraid I have to continue with the paint I started with) and brought home a few card samples of possible browns, which I intend to study in all sorts of lights to see which one I'll choose.  That I shall change the buff to a brown is without doubt, as tedious as I find painting those 2x6 strips to be.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Stopping for a Bit

Here's where I'd soldiered on to by a little after 3:00 AM Friday morning:

Lightning-like progress, isn't it?

Worked all day yesterday, outside the house, for money (fortunately I didn't have to report for duty until noon).  Working outside again today, and I still have to finish writing my sermon for tomorrow when I get home.  So . . .  I might be able to get to the floor again Sunday after church and dinner, maybe not.  We'll see.  It's a little depressing, since I'd hoped to be nailing the 1st floor hallway trim back up by Monday afternoon. 

Give me another week.  I figure I have at least five-sixths of the job still to do, though that doesn't include the time it'll take to get the red color retinted more brown, if I can.  It's not as bright in person as it appears in the photos, but the floor's upstaging my pretty William Morris wallpaper and I'd like to dull it down a bit.  The yellow color probably needs a bit of the same.  Have to finish the first coat in the original colors, then I'll decide.

While we're at it-- a very happy Twelfth Night to you, and may you get the bean in the cake.

*Edit-- Hmm.  Maybe the problem is the yellow.  Maybe if I painted it over the second time with a brown, and left the terracotta red alone?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Inching Along

I'm in the process of painting the faux tile effect on my 1st floor hallway floor, and oy vey, is it ever going to take awhile.

Here's where I started at around 1:30 this afternoon.  (Please absolve me for the rotation fail.  I tried, I really did, but the codes in my camera have a mind of their own.)

Here's where I've gotten to now, at a little before 8:00:

True, I took a break of 45 minutes or so to help my friend Hannah* figure out something on her new laptop and to eat the Wendy's chili she brought over, but still.  The only reason I'm up at my computer is because I've faced the fact that I'm going to have to spend the night on the couch again and I figured I'd better go fetch the electric blanket and my pillow before I cut myself off from the stairs.

One "benefit" of my being so short on cash these days is that it's breaking me of my old habit of going out and just buying new materials and tools without checking to see if I have what I need already on hand.  Initially I wasn't sure I had the mini paint rollers I wanted to use to get the right texture on the fake "tile."  Looked a little harder and there they were in my workshop, on the shelf in the stack of mini roller trays-- right where they belonged.

Well, better get back downstairs before the rollers dry out.  But here, just for fun, here's today's progress.  Please consider all apologies for rotation issues duly made.

I think the final result will be worth it . . . even though it'll need a second coat (groan!).

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


I began 2012 at the top of my stairs, shellacking the landing of the 2nd floor hall.  I ended it at the bottom of the same stairs in the 1st floor hall, laying down 1/16" car striping tape to mask out the "joints" of the tile pattern I'm painting on the stairhall floor.*

Lo these many years ago I always thought I would be laying down ceramic tile in this space, but unless and until I get the money to drop the subfloor between the joists, that's a no-go.  I don't have enough height at my bottom riser to avert a tripping hazard.  So, since I can't find solid color vinyl or linoleum in the colors I want, a faux tile paint job is Plan B.

I've meant for months to take care of it over the school Christmas vacation, and here I am.  With apologies for the bad quality of the photos, here's the saga.

Wednesday, December 26th:  Rigged the baby gates to keep the dog out.  Vacuumed everything and divested the hallway plywood, which I filled and sanded down last August, of the plastic drop cloths,old sheets, and heavy cardboard that had protected it since then.  Started taping off the woodwork.

Thursday, December 27th, just after midnight:  Damn.  Should have realized this gap at the foot of the stairs wouldn't get covered by the quarter-round.  What was covering it before?  Oh, yeah, the boring sheet vinyl.  Cut a piece of wood for backer and shoved in a first layer of Zar wood filler.

 December 27th, early evening:  The patch has received two more applications of wood filler, it's level, dry, and sanded. 

 Time to roll on a coat of primer!

 December 27th, still early evening:  Wait a minute.  What's this?

Not only is it a bad rotation code on my crappy camera, it's another gap I should have filled last night. And there's another one just about as wide on the other side of the doorway.   There was never any quarter-round here and no chance of any.  What was I thinking?

I begin filling them both and that's all I can do on the Thursday.

 Friday, December 28th, early afternoon:  The latest patch jobs are done and ready to touch up with primer.

Much later that evening:  First coat of Valspar latex Floor and Porch paint, tinted "Slate Gray."  Can says light foot traffic after four or five hours.  I spend the night on the couch in the front room.

December 29th, noon:  Second coat of the Slate Gray is on.  I go out for the afternoon and evening and let it dry in peace.

 Monday, December 31st, early evening:  The fun begins.  Time to lay out the faux tile pattern.  It's not going to reproduce the 8 x 8 modular ceramic tile layout I drew up back in 2008, but being a 6 x 6 plus 2 x 6 repeat I figured it could be adapted to work in the space.

What I don't understand is how I could set my datum lines and start the first 2 x 2 corner piece on center at the south wall, and not have it come out even and symmetrical.  Is it the house being out of square, or my measuring?  All I know is that I longed to pick up the whole floor surface, slam it down on my drafting table, and knock the whole pattern out using my parallel bar and the giant 45 degree triangle I don't have.  But by a little after 10:00 PM,. the pencil layout was done.  And it's pretty uniform at the bottom of the stairs and along the long wall, so I tell myself it'll do. 

Now for the car striping tape.  The kind of Victorian encaustic tile I'm emulating typically has very fine dark gray joints.  My idea is to mask out the gray base coat with the skinny tape, carefully brush on the "tile" colors on either side of it, pull up with tape after it's dry, and hey presto! I've got my ersatz grout joints.  Except for the finicking business of landing the tape on the guidelines where they meet a vertical surface, I find it goes on more easily than expected.  But it has to be burnished down, and I hope the roller texture in the base coat (which I wanted), won't lead to bleeding.  Other things may lead to bleeding, but I hope not that.

I found it hard if not impossible to maintain a straight line, even with the guidelines.  Guess I'm laying down unrectified tiles, right?  Which you wouldn't do with 1/16" joints, but oh, well.  The effect will be organic.

Tuesday, January 1st, the wee hours:  I keep working until all the northwest-southeast lines are taped.

I have kept the dog and all but one of the cats off of this floor and I only walk on it when it's absolutely necessary, and then only in sock feet.  So I'm amazed how much gunk it's picked up just in the past couple of days.  Pet hair I can understand.  But unidentified crumbs?  The shop brush is in constant use.

Which leads me to the bleedin' casualty part of this post.  I was wielding the brush at one point and backed my hand into the point of the X-Acto knife I cut the tape with.  Laid open the second knuckle of my right ring finger. 

Artistic bandaging job, what?

Not content with that, my left hand had to get into the act.  That was a mere poke, not up to my previous accomplishment.

January 1st, evening:  I begin laying down the crosswise grout line tape.  Meant to get to it a lot earlier, but I slept till after noon and a little matter of a clogged upstairs toilet drove me out to buy some supplies I would rather not have had to invest in on a New Year's Day. 

I keep at it till after 10:00 PM, or until I run out of tape on the first roll.  I'm pleased with how it's holding out.  According to the take-off I did when I ordered the tape via, three rolls would just barely suffice.  But it looks like I'll have a whole roll to spare once the job is over.

(Anybody need something pinstriped?)

Took a break and made coconut macaroons.  Had some egg whites that needed to be used up.  While they were in the oven I did a few more stripes, enough to get me into the southwest corner.  Knocked off then, the idea being that I would get to bed at a sensible hour and get up and resume work in the daylight.

But as long as it's taken to write and illustrate this post, "sensible hour" isn't a term I can use.


 But there's no school in the county tomorrow, so a repeat of this morning's performance won't be entirely out of line.
*Well, OK, if you want to get technical, I was outside with the dog at the stroke of midnight, but for all intents and purposes . . .

Lack of Resolution

Maybe one of my New Year's resolutions for 2013 should be to post more to my houseblog.

Why haven't I, this past autumn?

A lot of it has been because I've been so heads-down busy working on the house that, outside of work, I don't have time for much else.  I've gotta a great deal done, and the work goes on and on.

Part of it has been because Explorer.exe has gone wonky on my eight-year-old computer, making it very difficult, if not impossible, to sort my photos so they can be conveniently found.

A great deal of it is that the digital camera I bought last March has never worked properly; it gets stuck on 100 or 200 ISO no matter where I set it and takes fuzzy, badly-colored, under- or over (with the flash)-exposed pictures with very poor resolution.  And even though I've been painfully aware of this since I bought it last March, I haven't pushed past the hurdles I need to surmount to have anything done about it.

And maybe my biggest reason for not posting these past few months has been lack of resolution in myself.  For all the above reasons and from a childish sense of "I'm s'posed ta do this and I don' wanna!" I've let the rebellious feeling in my stomach prevail and when I do get to my computer I do ten other things rather than post to my houseblog.

Well, maybe I need to grow up and overcome that.

And maybe doing something about that crappy camera should also be on my resolution list.  I'm too house-poor to buy a new one, but at least I can take advantage of the one-year warranty I purchased on it, can't I?

Meanwhile, here's a bone, a picture of my living room fireplace with the wallpaper up and the oil painting rehung above it for the first time in probably three years.  This was taken about a week and a half ago.  Happy new year!