Hubby has commented that I’m being a little over fussy with the preparation, but I know myself too well to settle for anything less than the best I can do. I know it’s taking ages, and a quick lick of paint would have had the house looking good enough, but if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well… And if it’s not worth doing well, then it’s not worth doing in the first place. (somebody somewhere has said this to me often, my Dad, my Grandad, probably both, but the grey cells are failing and I can remember repeating it more than hearing it now)
Apart from our house in Milton Keynes. We’ve always lived in either old, or uncared for houses and I’ve become accustomed to using textured wallpaper to cover up a multitude of sins, and for reasons beyond my own comprehension, in this house, with walls in possibly the worst condition I’ve encountered so far, I’ve been pursuaded to paint instead of wallpaper.
I’m a great fan of bath sealant, my friendly, flexible fixer. Middle Daughter once managed to get an extra six month’s wear out of her favourite pair of shoes because I stuck the rubber sole back on with bath sealant.
The toys which Pollyanna so loves to climb on are filled full of bath sealant squeezed into the tiniest of gaps to support the thin resin shell and make the toy both crush proof, and heavy enough for her to climb on.
I’ve used bath sealant to fill gaps behind the skirting board before now, my flexible friend lending itself well for the nozel to be pushed deep into a hole in the wall and by pressing hard on the handle I blocked the route for both a slug and ant invasion in my kitchen in one go.
However, bath sealant isn’t quite what the doctor ordered for the job in hand this time. At first glance I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out that the previous decorators had painted the walls using a dirty sweeping brush from the back garden. On closer inspection though, I’ve decided that they must have taken off wallpaper and then painted the walls. Quite an easy assumption to make since I’ve found little bits of wallpaper still stuck to the wall underneath the paint.
The previous decorators were the landlords, I can forgive them for taking off the wallpaper and painting the walls, I can even forgive them for not filling the dents, rubbing down any pollyfillerd holes or covering the old cracks above the doorframe, I understand time is money when business is involved, but what I will never forgive them for is not washing the old wallpaper paste from the walls before they painted them. Ten minutes with a damp rag is all they would have needed, but no, they just painted over the variety of lumps and bumps, preserving them for all posterity…
OK, it’s safe to come out now, not many things get me riled, but bad workmanship, as far as I’m concerned, just has no excuse.
One of the tools I have, and use far more than its original intention, is a simple wallpaper scraper. Yes, I’ve used one on many occasions to scrape off soggy wallpaper, but it’s shape and convenient size lends itself so well to so many more uses.
“And so it began“, I set about the walls with my wallpaper scraper, scratching off as many lumps and bumps as I could, pressing hard over swollen filler, hidden by the previous tennant by a multitude of little pictures, I had almost dispaired at the number of nails I was going to have to remove, but under the circumstances now, I quite understand.
Once the lumps and bumps were gone, many of them now appearing as little piles of powder on the skirting board and carpet, I set about the walls with my new good friend the pollyfiller. I loaded my scraper with splodges of the thick grey mixture, I pressed it hard into the holes and between the ridges, then scraped it flat, pressing and scraping until I was happy with the result. My poor walls looked like they had come out in a rash from some strange desease and Hubby, which is often the case, just shook his head slowly in despair and walked away.
The next day, I set about the wall with my scraper again, scraping gently across the surface of my filled dents, and circling with pencil the bits I wasn’t happy with, and then the whole process began again. My poor neighbour must have thought we had mice in the cavity walls.
This carried on for a week or more, my secret weapon was added next, a small dab of the matt white paint I’d used on the ceiling and coving, brushed up and down, back and for in a which way I could to seal the filler and blend in the brush strokes. Of course, this wasn’t the end, there was still the woodwork to be dealt with, the worst bits to be filled and flattened, then the undercoat and gloss, and again, of course, two coats of each because I wasn’t satisfied with the results of just one. But then the painting day finally arrived.
We’d picked the colours, not from the standard chart, but from the many, many little cards where they mix your colours for you. Unfortunately the price reflects that, it also reflected that we chose the scrubable paint with better coverage instead of just a simple silk but my theory is that the walls will stand whatever I want to throw at them from muddy dogs tails to sticky little fingers for many years to come.
Painting day arrived… The loaded paint roller moved up and down, back and for, and there was a happy feeling of immense satisfaction as my pollyfiller slipped gently out of sight with no sign of it ever being there at all.
Quite sad really, but as usual, the time, effort and pennies it’s taken to create my new surroundings, added up in the smiles they will leave behind over the years to come is going to be priceless. (and there’s still the second coat of paint and the chimney breast to come yet).
Move over bath sealant … pollyfiller is my new best friend.
More “Fixings and finishings” on the new house.