Paint-By-Numbers, Only Bigger

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The entire day could be spent with me teaching you the basics of Behavioral Economics, getting you to the point where you could better negotiate some situation.  But that’s not an important life skill, not like painting a room.  I’m sure at some point everyone has tried and worked hard at perfecting their space, but let me give you a few tips that I learned form the two summers I spent working as “unskilled labor” during college.

Why painting?  My family thought I would learn something that wasn’t going t be picked up from sitting in an office all day.  And I’ll freely admit, it was hard work painting interiors and exteriors of businesses and residential homes.  The pay was better than I would have gotten interning, so that was a plus.  And I got a decent tan!

Materials – Don’t buy the cheapest thing you find at the local Home Depot.  The results won’t be right.  I’m not suggesting a cart full of tools, just think about spending about $3.00 U.S. for each roller cover.  The actually doesn’t matter, just something that feels comfortable in your hand.  Also that cut brush you’ll be using to do the edges, an simple angled brush made from natural material [cleans up easier!]  And don’t forget some edging tape for those window sills!

Did I leave out drop clothes, trays, liner for the trays and possibly a six pack of your favorite malty beverage.  Of course, but those you know.  I personally have never used a drop cloth and I have hardwood floors in my house.  But I can teach you a trick a bit later.

Getting Ready – Take your time putting the tape around the floor boards and window sills/door jams.  It can be annoying to anyone doing this, but If you have white trim and blue walls, life-saver.

Painting – Hold the brush you bought for the trim between your thumb and index/middle finger perpendicular to the floor.  Now when you place it in the paint, just go 1/4 of the way up then bristles, wiping just one side of the brush.  Place that brush against whatever surface and let it fan out just slightly as you drag it downward.  [Work in only one direction, top to bottom if possible!]  to that for all the edges and corners where the walls meet.

Now the harder part, that roller.  Get it good and wet with paint.  Not dripping as you walk towards a wall, just run it back and forth 3 or 4 times in the pan before each stroke.  Paint a “X” in front of you and fill in the area.  If you hear the roller making that slurping sound like velcro being pulled, stop and go get more paint.  Your undoing your own work at this point.  Obviously there will be a few areas where you can’t paint an “X”, just us simple strokes about the length of your arm and continue.

We pause now for that first malty beverage…just not the whole thing otherwise if you’re painting more than one room we didn’t buy enough and we’ll be falling down drunk by the end of the project!

Oh that boasting about not using a drop cloth, that’s why you bought a decent roller cover, they tend not to spray the world with little dots of paint.  But by all means if this is your first attempt at painting, spend the extra $10.

One of the other bits of advice, find something relaxing to listen to while painting.  I’m a big fan of baseball and it moves so slowly that I’m not getting wound-up unless the pitcher has screwed up his wind-up!  If you keep you mind duly occupied, you don’t get nervous.  I like my Hard Rock, but it only gets me jumping around and overly energetic to finish, like having too much caffeine for some people.

The other piece of advice, don’t paint a room with another person unless you absolutely have to.  When I was working at this for those summers, everyone picked a different area to work on.  It seems odd, but it only means you don’t trip over one another.  Plus it might let you keep speaking to your significant other later that day.

Painting is simple if you just let yourself go for a bit and relax.

Now I won’t tell you much about the lunatic doctor who bought a building but was too cheap to just replace the wood paneling with drywall.  I spent TWO WEEKS putting joint compound into little cracks and then sanding down roughly 10,000 square feet of offices.   In economics we have a word for people like that, idiots!


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