Saturday, 27 June 2009

Tales from the Renovation Track: One Woman’s Experiences of Being a Renovator: Part 10

Collage: industry, people at work, paintingCollage: industry, people at work, painting
Credits: MS Office ClipArt - IN00412

Part 10 - Very Painterly
On one of my recent jobs I had the task of replacing the siding on the front wall of a commercial space.

It seemed a straightforward job at first, but as renovations go, the Construction Demon reared its ugly head early and threw a batch of carpenter ants into the mixture, necessitating the removal and replacement of the 4 front windows, and of the well rotted OSB. And of course most of the tunneled studs, along with the interior electrical components, door bell, outside lights, eaves troughs, insulation, vapour barrier and drywall and trim had to be removed as well. Did I mention I had to do the siding too? Goodness!!

The electrician came by to unhook everything, and out of the one wall plug box flowed the black and lifeless bodies of an exceedingly large number of dead carpenter ants. This happened right in plain view of the customer. Her shoes were close enough to the carnage that a couple of the small black bodies rolled to rest by her toe.

"I guess you’ll be needing a vacuum cleaner?" the customer remarked to the electrician. Well I just about laughed out loud when he shot back "NO! ... but YOU might!"

Well the rest of the reconstruction was luckily unremarkable until it came to the point where the siding had to be painted then installed.

Now let me tell you, you need intestinal fortitude to do construction for a living because you always have to be brave enough to try new things. And be prepared to fail as well during the learning process. Such was my relationship with spray painting at this point.

I was at the phase where I was bound and determined to get my spray painting down pat, and I decided that this would be the perfect job, as there were 3 coats to go on. There was a lot of siding waiting for an extreme makeover.

The customer had chosen a maroonish barn red, so I purchased the paint and got down to work. I obtained a whack of 2x4's for dunnage, and laid all the siding out on top of it in the gravel parking lot out back.

I added some Floetrol to the latex exterior paint because it gives the paint a better consistency to be sprayed. As I poofed the first few boards, I noticed with a kind of sick feeling that the color was a bit off. But since this was the first top coat after the primer, I decided I might just as well give one good coat to all the siding because then the color would be consistent throughout the siding. I would also consider it somewhat like a colored primer. So away I went.

That job finished, I then started the clean up. I tried to unhook the spray gun from the air line, but they just wouldn't separate. I pulled on it like a robin on a worm, but it stayed together. Buoyed out of sheer frustration, I gave it one final hard yank and suddenly the paint came spraying out of the severed connection and wallpapered me like a gunshot victim, all over my grey and white striped coveralls, or should I say coloralls.

Pink!! It ended up drying pink instead of maroon. That horrible so not siding pink! The arriving customer's eyes grew very wide indeed as the shock of the visual experience registered. And pink was on my colouralls! Remember ... discharge the airline first .......discharge the airline first……

Back to the paint store where the staff gazed at my coveralls with thinly disguised hilarity and pity. The more courageous one approached me and asked me what happened. I just told her the truth, that I had busted an artery, sewn it back up with rebar tie wire and was back working. Once the tsunami of laughter calmed it was discovered that the color had been incorrectly mixed. With my arms full of new maroon barn paint, it was off to do more spray painting.

Ah! That color was more like it. The spraying went fabulously well, and I spent more time cleaning the spray equipment then I spent painting.

All of a sudden, a crack of thunder roared its presence over my head. I looked up and saw the swelling influx of angry grey clouds collecting overhead. I was still not too worried for having grown up in this area, I was used to rains taking a while to manifest, and I thought by then, a skin would have formed over the paint and protected it.

Crack - a quick boom of thunder, a flash of lightening and down she came, not a mere 8 minutes later. I very quickly put my spray equipment inside and ran like the devil to the dryness of the customer's porch.

The scene before me is forever etched in my mind, as I watched white dots start to appear all over the siding, like colorless measles. They grew bigger as the siding got whiter and whiter down to the primer. The thin rivers of maroon paint flowed away and then disappeared into the thirsty gravel.

I just laughed ... nervously. There was simply nothing I could do but wait and start over.

I sprayed it again after it dried. Good! Finally! Yippee!!

I installed all of the siding, but the very next day I noticed begrudgingly that the brownish knots of the pine had started to appear through the paint. I had used the recommended primer, but it didn't work. And don't let those weekend shift hardware workers tell you that white shellac seals knots either because it just doesn't!!

After some experimentation, I found a primer that actually worked, and spot primed this new white primer over the maroon siding on the front wall of this main street business. Like a white-on-maroon impressionist painting, those dotted patches of primer advertised my misfortune in a big way. The other local painters would drive by with knowing pity and "had it happen" looks carved into their passing smiles. The patches were finally painted over, and no one but the whole town knew better. This trying renovation was finally over.

After that, the local Chinese restaurant down the street started serving misfortune cookies!

Happy Renovating!

Janice Bell
Bell Renovating
2009 © Janice Bell

Tales from the Renovation Track: One Woman’s Experiences of Being a Renovator
Part 1: All in All
Part 2: Weld on Fire
Part 3: They Were Nailed
Part 4: It Pays to Be Honest
Part 5: Rural Renos
Part 6: Messy Is Costly
Part 7: Door Hell
Part 8: Just Where Do I Stop?
Part 9: Dressing for the Trades

Part 10: Very Painterly

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