Thursday, November 21, 2013

House Painting 2013 (Monday Morning Quarterback Edition)

How glad am I to be done with exterior painting for the year? Well, I don't dance because the Lutherans beat it out of me, but if it's possible for readers to picture a sort of football end zone celebration dance, but holding paint brushes......that gives you an idea. That's how I felt in my Protestant-repressed insides.

It's been so good to do almost anything else that even routine housework seems pleasant, a feeling I hope sticks around as long as possible.

My life has been crying out for baked goods.

I'd like to get crafty.

Things we did not take home for fear they'd get loose in the wild. Read about it here. 

Well. Not that crafty.

And it's time to start thinking of the holidays (though as per my usual, I resist doing anything about Christmas until after Thanksgiving.)

Monday morning quarterbacking is unavoidable when things don't turn out like you planned. So let's extend that sports metaphor (at least to the end of this sentence) and review the video, shall we?

The Goal: 
Paint the entire exterior of the house.

The Reality: 
I got one full side (the front side) painted, not including the front door and shutters. I got the ground level of the south side painted, but not the gable.

Here's what I learned:
I was unrealistic about my limitations/expectations.
Somehow I very glibly thought that I could single-handedly paint the entire exterior of my house while working full-time and rearing four children. Either I'm not very bright or have huge lady-balls. I started the summer thinking I had tons of the latter. Now I think it's the former. I'm grateful I had help along the way, and realized I was wrong without freaking out...Okay, only freaking out a little bit...Oh--kay. Only freaking out to my sister on Facebook chat all. the. time. Okay. And beer. Okay?

I am not good at estimating how long a big project will take. 
Part of that is not factoring in the unpredictable, which any do-it-yourselfer should know. I mean, I am the original author of the Dumb Crap Margin (trademark pending), which is all the stuff that happens that doesn't actually include doing the project--losing a tool, running to the hardware store, the weather. And on a project of this magnitude, the dumb crap margin can be enormous. Estimates of what you think you should be getting done on any given weekend need to be reduced by 50 percent to account for rain, stupidity on the part of the foreman (that would be me), and pesky children who need things like meals and clean laundry. Then there's the fact that in places, the siding was in much worse condition than I realized, slowing my work pace down.

Perfectionism can be paralyzing.
I started this project working carefully along every square inch of siding, terrified that if I did it wrong I would have massive peeling and blistering paint months from now, and I was pretty sure I didn't want to endure this project more than once a decade. But a carpenter who came by my house remarked, "you're not refinishing furniture, you know," and that got me moving along at a brisker pace. Dad, who also worked as a housepainter when he was young, followed that advice up as well. Believe me, I'm not actually normally hung up on painstaking perfection. It was just the fear of having to do it over again that was keeping me sanding, sanding, sanding. My mantra now is buy good paint, prep within reason, caulk well, and trust your product. I hope it's true!

Mother Nature doesn't recognize weekends. Or your discomfort.
The weather seemed perverse most of the summer. In the spring it was rainy and cold. By June it was so blisteringly hot that it was difficult to put in a full day of work. In July the weather would be perfect Monday through Friday while I worked at my desk job, and it would pour rain solidly all weekend. Instead of getting a break in the heat in September, it was even warmer. The aluminum ladders were too hot to touch without work gloves, and my Dad and I had to take what he called "combat naps" throughout the day to prevent heat exhaustion. I got my best weather in October, as I frantically worked to finish up. My last day painting was so windy I didn't feel like I was up that ladder painting so much as battening down the hatches on the Edmund Fitzgerald.

No matter how big the project, sometimes it still isn't a priority. 
I've said it before and I'll say it again. No matter what state this house is in, family life is still going to happen, and it really does need to come first, even if it seems counterintuitive, irresponsible, and courting chaos. My second son's first rock concert playing lead guitar is only going to happen once. My oldest son's first season of college rugby will never happen again. Yes, the combination of uncooperative weather and family responsibilities put me far behind on this project all season. However, I doubt that on my death bed I'll regret spending more time with a can of exterior grade latex.

Sometimes "last minute" is the way it gets done.
My last day painting was Sunday, Nov. 10. Enough said.

Progress is progress. 
Yes, it would have been lovely to get another side or two done. The shutters up. The window face frames painted and new storms installed. That didn't happen. But am I further along than when I started? Absolutely. I'll take it. While I don't think I'll exactly enjoy getting out the paint supplies for a second summer (and a third, because there's also the garage), I know that I'll get it. The north and west sides of the house aren't in such bad condition as the south and north side were, and the work will move along more quickly. I hope to have chances to paint shutters inside over the winter, so I can start right away in spring installing them, an instant curb appeal booster with little grunt work. By the end of this summer, the house looked a little better than before. By next summer, it will look better still. Progress is progress.

What project did you do that took all summer? Did you finish?


  1. Replies
    1. I do too! So much better than fleshy beige. :)

  2. As you know, we learned all the same lessons with our own exterior painting project. And even though I know (I KNOW), I'm still so often unrealistic about my limitations and how long a project will take. It's like it's hard-wired into the fiber of my being.

    Glad you get such a well-deserved break. It's looking fantastic. I love your new color.

    1. Can I admit that you are probably the only reason I didn't fling a paint roller? There were plenty of flingable moments.

      I wonder if I'm an optimist underneath. You'd think I was by the way I estimate my project times.