I Fought The Wall and The Wall Won. (Stairway Saga #5)
My life has become consumed with my stairwell. I haven’t had or taken the time to post any tutorials on various kitchen projects or finish any other projects in a few weeks. Seeing friends is bittersweet, for how dare they monopolize my time when I am in the midst of battle.
It’s just me and the walls. Those ugly textured walls and my attempts to cover it all in mud to make them smooth again.
It was necessary to do the walls before replacing the treads and risers, unless I wanted to berate myself later for messing up the newly finished stairs with clumps of mud and careless paint splatters. Which, let’s be honest, would happen after a few diligent minutes of making sure the tarp was in place before losing interest to more pressing matters of getting the job done.
This was my third attempt at mudding something. I really never want to do it again. Though I know I will. There’s no hope for me. I clearly need to prove my dominance over a bucket of clay rather than retain any sanity. Sanity of which I lost more of this week.
Remember last week when I told you I was all set to paint. Yeah. Well. Not so much. I did paint. I did what I said I was going to do and I put that cheap gallon of Glidden 3 in 1 on the walls, because the paint tech said it could seal up newly mudded walls. As a paint, I guess it was fine. The stuff was as thin as water so I didn’t even attempt to fill in any holes with it. As a primer, the stuff failed me big time.
I painted the ceiling with it and then used some to mix with my hallway gray to lighten it a bit, as I had planned. I got it a shade lighter, but decided it was still too dark. What I also decided, is that my mudding job was crap.
I bought some spackle to fill in the little pin holes, dents and trowel gouges I found. Things were looking up. Spackle is easy and stress-free to use and was doing its job.
I also had really good luck with my second attempt at mixing a color that I would like. I bought a quart of Behr Ultra White in eggshell, same sheen as the gray. Mixed in a 1/2 quart of the gray and ended up with a beautiful color. A color which ended up matching EXACTLY one of the swatches I picked up to guide me to the shade I was aiming for. The color is Burnished Clay. I realized a friend of mine painted this in her condo, so I knew first hand how the tone and shade read on the wall.
What I could never have imagined was that my dark Benjamin Moore gray, color matched to Behr eggshell, halved with Glidden and then mixed with Ultra White, would make the exact color on the swatch. Crazy. Crazy lucky!
I did end up going 1/2 darker, which is still about four shades lighter than the original.
I really wanted nice contrast between the white wainscoting and the wall. I tend to prefer medium tones throughout the house. Strangely, at night when the hallway and stairwell lights are on, the grays look very close to the same shade. Apparently, for closed stairwells, one should go about four shades lighter than they think they want.
So, yeah, I love the color, but this is just about the only good thing that came out of last week. Because after I began painting the new color over the spackled wall something very disturbing happened. Something I would find out minutes later via google, called flashing.
Every single spackled area shone like a beacon. Shinier than the rest of the wall. And let’s just say I had a least a hundred spackled areas on each wall. This happened, I read, due to the spackled areas becoming more sealed than the non-spackled areas.
Now, let me explain the scenario for you so you can get a sense of the trauma, so maybe then, I can also muster some empathy for my impending tantrum.
From the bottom of the stairs, before I spackled, the walls looked very wavy to me. If you felt them, they felt smooth. I wondered if it was the light playing tricks with me. Two bare bulbs blaring down on the stairwell creating bouncy shadows. I didn’t really believe it, so the first knot of worry began to form. With the spackled areas highlighted and the wall looking mottled AND wavy now, the light playing an even meaner game of shadow puppets, I began to decline into downright panic.
I read that to correct the flashing problem you needed to use a quality primer. Ok, what the deuce? I was using primer and paint in one. Wasn’t this suppose to do the same job? Apparently not.
I lost sleep. I convinced myself at three in the morning that I had to mud the walls again. I almost started right then. But I somehow held off til morning. No breakfast, still in PJs, whipping up a bucket of mud in the tub, I began to trowel on the mud and then quickly knew it was a mistake. I was probably going to do more damage than good. Like in highschool, when my art teachers would snatch my canvas from me, worried I would overwork the piece to death. I needed to stop.
Frantically, I started scraping off the wet mud while
yelling calling down to Edmond to bring me a sponge and paper towels to get it off before it set. It was smearing, streaking and setting. I went into full-blown tantrum. Cursing and throwing the trowel on the stairs, stomping off while proclaiming my complete and utter failure at everything in life.
Edmond did what any mild-mannered sweet guy would do when living with a temperamental, masochistic, perfecting lunatic- He made sure the new mud was off and the wall was smooth then he got me out of the house under the guise of taking me to get primer and more wood for the wainscoting. When we got home, he began to prime the walls for me.
He was probably afraid I would take a sledge hammer to the walls if he didn’t create some distance between us. And, yeah, my brain feverish with fury and failure, was thinking that a nice spontaneous open-stairway concept may be the perfect solution to this mess of mine.
Now don’t get your hopes up, this battle wasn’t an easy one. He primed but Zinsser Bin Primer did not work.
The spackle was still Flashing.
Through clenched jaw and stifled screams, I sent him downstairs to look for the Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3.
I knew we had some somewhere, though he couldn’t find it earlier. Lo and behold he found it the third time (you know how this is ladies, right?). THIS stuff worked BEAUTIFULLY. Small victories.
If you learn anything today from my troubles, I hope it is this: PRIME, PRIME, PRIME newly mudded walls, don’t rely on paint and primer in one. Maybe and most likely, you already knew this. *sigh*
Everything was now, white and sealed. The walls seemed a little less wavy. Edmond checked many areas on the walls with a four-foot level; placing it flat on the wall and looking for gaping so we could see how much dipping and hilling was actually happening. Each wall only had one area each that gaped about 1/16 for a few inches. To me, it looked like 1/4 inch or more and everywhere.
We put up 12 foot pieces of wood to start the wainscoting and it went up evenly, with no gaps against the wall.
But then what. am. I. seeing? AHHH!
I decided it was going to have to be good enough. It is what it is. I am trying so hard to be Zen about my 157 year- old- plaster- under- texture -under- amateur- mudder walls. Peace.
I painted the new gray on. I painted the chair rail and the lower part (I can’t add the wood there until I switch out the treads and risers). I even posted a sneak peek on my Facebook page. Moving forward. The heck with perfection.
I couldn’t live with one of the walls. Edmond painted it and I tried not to look too closely at it for fear of another meltdown because I knew it was the worse of the two. But I did today. And I got the spackle back out to make the necessary corrections before Edmond got home and before we left for dinner. He didn’t get mad. I promised this was my last attempt to make things acceptable.
Here is how my battle with the wall has played out: Two coats of mud, hours of sanding, a coat of Glidden, a coat of dark gray, spackling, primer one, spackling and mud, primer two, 2 coats of light gray, spackling again on east wall and over door opening….
It’s now eleven o’clock Monday night, the night before this is to publish. Edmond bought the wrong primer while I was at Michael’s. He got the Zinsser Bin, because I said Bin 1-2-3, when I meant Bulls Eye 1-2-3. He only heard Bin and didn’t look for the large 1-2-3.
So the wall is once again spotty. I don’t dare paint over the spackle before re-priming….
I think Edmond might be dreaming of a DIY-free mate. Can’t say as I blame him. I am not liking myself much these days either.
Well played Wall. Well played.