Indoor painting can make a homeowner hit the wall

April 09, 2012

Probably everyone who has ever built a house — or more accurately, had one built for them — will at one time or another want to become “involved in the process.”

You know, just pitch in and take true “ownership” of the project by putting up shelving, building a deck or some other minor element of construction that makes you feel as if you have had a hand in providing for your own shelter.

Plus it might be a way to save a little money while you are enjoying a true DIY experience that seems so fulfilling to all those goobers on television.

Do not do this.

As a matter of fact, my advice is to sign the paperwork and then have yourself placed in a medically induced coma until the house is done and the grass is about 3 inches high. The first job you should feel qualified to do at your new home is mow.

I speak from sad experience because somehow we decided that we could save a little cash and that it would be “fun” if we painted the interior ourselves.

Along with being an excellent contractor, our builder Allen is very judicious; he does not stand in the way of customers who want to, in my case, make a perfect train wreck of themselves.

Beth is a good painter, but as for me — well, truth be told, anything that involves using my hands just never seems to work out. I don’t even like picking out paint, with all their stupid names these days like “Diseased Elm” and “Corduroy Fantail.” Like, what ever happened to “green?”

So early on, I involved myself in the painting project by not painting. I would spread drop cloths, tape up moldings and unscrew those plates that cover the electrical outlets. As Beth painted away, I would take up to 20 minutes just to unscrew one plate. I would just about have run out of reasons not to pick up a brush when I’d say, “Whoa, there’s another light switch I missed.”

Painting takes me back to an old turn-of-the-century monstrosity I was restoring some years ago. The contractor tried to teach me how to paint, without much success.

“You don’t have any paint on your brush. How are you going to paint without any paint on your brush? Here, dab it on the wall like a palette. Cut it in! Cut it in! What are you doing with all that paint on your brush? It’s going to go everywhere. Now feather it, feather it. You got too much paint; now you don’t have enough. Stab it in the corner there. Now feather it out ...”

I would wind up sitting in the corner, my arms locked around my knees, staring vacantly and swaying back and forth muttering “cut it in, cut it in, feather it, king in the castle, king in the castle, I have a chair.”

And if I don’t like paint, paint doesn’t like me. I guarantee, I can roll six gallons of paint on a closet wall and the primer will still show through. And don’t give me this hogwash about how some paints “cover better.” I paid for the best they had, and the only thing it covered was my forearm when I accidentally leaned up against the wall.

And why will my brush seem to have zero paint on it when I slap it on the wall — but when I go to clean it out, it takes 45 minutes to get what appears to be a tanker full of pigment out of the bristles?

Bitter? Darned tootin’. Ah well, it is done, so no use going on about it. Pretty soon I will have forgotten the trauma and will be able to go on with life. And for anyone who happens to come over, just don’t look too closely at the walls.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or via email at

The Herald-Mail Articles