Using a little paint and a lot of imagination

Posted Dec. 18, 2009, at 7:38 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:28 a.m.

An acquaintance of mine once had some sage advice related to child rearing: You should not think twice about teenagers wanting outrageous hairstyles or colors, since hair grows out and can always be cut.

I had a similar experience recently with one of our children who had just bought a house. There were color choices made that I winced at. Being outspoken when it comes to matters of the house, I am sure I made some comment but was not adamant about my feelings since paint is easy to paint over.

As we watch many of the vast number of TV programs related to young people buying their first homes, I am amazed at how many people will absolutely freak out over the color of a room. A room color will kill a house deal.

What happened to using one’s imagination to see what a room could be once you purchase a house and then actually paint or paper it? I suspect this is a California phenomenon, because the young people being featured are spending $400,000 on their first home. Where does a 20-something person get that kind of money for a house?

Perhaps if you have no imagination, you have a lot of money. Now I understand my lack of fiduciary security. A couple of gallons of paint and a trim brush and roller are all that is needed to do a decent job. Well, maybe some rags for cleanup, too.

I was blessed at age 6 to be handed a paint roller and let loose in a room. Flat latex paint can cover a multitude of sins, and with some newspapers or a drop cloth on the floor, even a child can produce a clean, newly painted bedroom in an hour or so.

When you couple that with the color choices that are available and the fact that it is socially and artistically acceptable to paint different walls different colors in the same room, big fun can be had.

I like to use flat latex paint since it hides a lot of sins related to drywall and plaster. As the paint becomes shinier, the flaws become more visible. I almost never use gloss paint for this reason.

I suspect some of the resistance to painting is due to the cleanup. It does help to have a laundry sink to rinse out brushes and other equipment.

I avoid paint cleanup for as long as I can. If you are using the same color in several rooms, you can safely store used brushes and rollers without cleaning them by putting them in a plastic bag or plastic wrap overnight.

Consider yourself blessed if you have never had to clean oil paint. Oil paint was the norm about 40 years ago, and after you painted a room, the windows were flung open to allow the fumes to escape. Those fumes lingered for days. Today people are upset about the minor odor associated with latex paints. Those oil paints were for manly men — all of whom probably generated some kind of cancer if they had any kind of regular exposure.

Ah, and back then there was lead in the paint. This is certainly a legacy that we will be paying for for a while.

In case you are not aware of it, in 2010, if you are a contractor working on a pre-1978 house, you will need to have an EPA-certified person on your crew who can test for lead paint and advise you before you start flinging dust into the air.

We do not want to expose anyone to lead paint dust.

Fortunately, if you can paint over old paint without flaking or causing airborne dust, no one is going to be upset and no one will be harmed.

The good news, as I prepare to paint our living room and kitchen, is that there is no lead paint I need to worry about. The bad news: It is not as much fun as when I was 6.

Questions for Tom Gocze should be mailed to The Home Page, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402-1329. A library of reference material and a home-project blog are at www.bangordailynews.com/thehomepage.html.

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