Saturday, December 04, 2004


Today we pulled all the furniture out of the kitchen and I painted the parts of the floor that still needed to be painted.* This is creating a massive inconvenience for us. I'm a foodie, after all. Cooking is what I do! So we have stowed leftovers from tonight's dinner, plus a carton of milk and a 12-pack of beer, out on the screened porch where it's fridge-like in temperature. I have my organic Kashi red berry cereal and a loaf of wheat bread and some peanut butter. We are planning on eating out, mostly, for the next three days while the two coats of paint dry.

Anyhow, I thought I'd take this opportunity to share a few of the things I've learned about painting floors:

(1) If you can spare a room for an entire week and a half and have infinite ventilation and don't mind working with paint thinner, oil-based floor paint is the sturdiest stuff you can get.

(2) Otherwise (and this is my preference), buy a latex porch and floor paint. Don't even think about buying the Satin. Semigloss or Gloss is the way to go. The less porous the finish, the cleaner you'll be able to keep it.

3. Sand the entire floor before you paint. Yes, the entire miserable thing. If you happen to have one of those giant commercial sanders, more power to you, but the same result can be achieved with a hand-held orbital sander and a lot of time and effort. You may wish you were dead when you're slogging your way through it, but believe you me, you'll wish it even harder if you skip this step, paint the floor, and then find out that the paint hasn't adhered.

4. After you sand, vacuum the entire floor, using the brush attachment for the corners. Then use a Swiffer or something similar to go over it once more. Swiffers are godly at picking up tiny particulates.

5. When you paint, give it at least two coats two days apart.

6. An artist's flat brush is nice for doing edges when you don't want to mess with a paint shield. I'm not much into taping things off; my experiences with this house have taught me that there are easier and more effective ways to paint neat edges.

7. Have a plan in place for painting yourself out the door and turning the light off. A broomstick can come in handy for distant light switches. Don't leave paint can lids, brushes, etc. on countertops and then paint yourself away from them.

8. Don't rush to walk on the floor. The more drying and curing time you can allow, the better. Latex will need at least two days after the final coat. You'll know you've screwed up if your socks leave little cloudy heelprints.

9. Be even more generous in the time you allow before placing furniture and other heavy items on your new paint job.


* When I bought the house, half of the kitchen floor was new wood and the other half was old wood covered with incredibly nasty, tarry tile adhesive from the 1960s. I spent days and weeks of my life with a respirator on my face, belt-sanding that shit off. The end result was fairly convincingly uniform, but still not quite nice enough to stain. Thus, the paint. Initially I went for what I thought would be a nice blueish-gray, but it turned out to be the color of auto primer, which is why I'm repainting it in a lovely dark blueberry color at this extremely late date. There's a history to every damn thing in this house. *sigh*