Thursday, November 12, 2015

Painting Tips: "Daddy, Can We Help?"

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I used to be the remodel king. My wife would go on a trip, I would do a moderate to extensive renovation, and my wife would come back surprised. One time, when she was gone for a three day trip, I walled up the door to our family room, cut a hole in a different wall, and installed french doors. When she came home, she exclaimed, "That wasn't there when I left!" And then we had kids.

So as she left for a two day work trip this week, I decided that I would paint my son's room to surprise her. With three kids home. By myself. Yeah, I didn't really think that one through, did I?

The room was peach and orange and was definitely in need of being updated for a three-year-old. So here are some tips to painting with kids, with a couple of additional tricks thrown in.

1) Fill the holes. I use joint compound, and I use two putty knives - a small one (1-inch) to apply the compound, and a larger one (4-inch) to smooth out the edges. This was a great introductory experience for my kids. They helped me find holes and enjoyed helping with the easy to reach holes. Of course I just really enjoyed the way my 3-year-old says "spackle."
Even princesses can spackle

2) Get a good paint brush for cutting. In college I spent one summer painting dorm rooms. We didn't waste time putting up blue tape for the edges. Instead, we used a good angle brush to cut the edges. Of course it was easy with white walls butting up against white ceilings. I then spent a couple of years using blue tape for edges. Eventually I realized that this was a huge time waster, the edges were pretty crappy even with the tape, and I ended up with more paint in undesired places. I use a Purdy 2-inch angled brush for cutting, and it gets the job done. It's also great to see the paint splotches on the handle from all of the previous paint projects. Thank you Kim, my mother-in-law, since I believe you were the one who bought the 2-inch Purdy angled brush. Or inspired me to buy it. Or were here when I bought it.
Meticulous about her work

3) Let the kids "help" with corners. Where two walls come together that will be the same color, let the kids practice their brush painting skills. They need to practice someplace, and I would rather not have them practice along the bottom against the carpet.

4) Speaking of carpet, I hate painting the baseboards. I inevitably get paint on the carpet, even when I try to use blue tape. However, I found that using a wide putty knife does the trick. I use a 12-inch putty knife and stick it between the carpet and the baseboards. This acts as a barrier between the carpet and baseboard. Get the putty knife under the bottom of the baseboard, paint along the putty knife, being sure to brush up 5-inches or so, and slide the putty knife to the next section. I ended up with no paint on the carpet when painting Little-E's room this way.
Painting the baseboards

5) Let the kids practice rolling skills in the middle of the wall. Be sure that the roller is not dripping with paint, and let the kids roll back and forth. Show them how to go over the spots to make sure that the wall is properly covered, especially if you have plaster or deeply textured walls. Know that you will panic as they get close to newly replaced outlets, the carpet, or the dog, but remember that all of these things can be cleaned. Take some deep breaths and tell the kids that they're doing a great job.

6) If the kids get bored with painting and want to play outside, and if you happen to have a homemade teeter totter outside that you have previously blogged about, you might want to keep the window open. This will help you prevent injuries when you hear one of your kids say, "I'm going to stand on this end, and then the two of you jump on that end so I can catapult into the sky." Yes, windows should stay open not solely for paint fumes.
Look at that precision

7) Have patience. Numerous times while painting Little E's room I thought, "Why did I decide to do this with my wife out of town?" There were some things that were frustrating with the kids, but in the grand scheme of things nothing irrevocable happened, and as parents, that's usually the most important thing. Especially when one spouse is out of town. Enjoy the opportunity that you have to do a project with your kids.

 Like most jobs that I do around the house, while the kids add a certain amount of chaos, they also make me laugh and make the job more bearable. So take a moment and enjoy a chore with your children. You will have more fun, and you will teach them life skills.

Just call me "Tom Sawyer"
Just watch out for those catapults.

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