I Still Have All My Fingers…

Granted, I have burns on two of them, and twin bruises on my shins, but MysteryMan will tell you I can sustain those kinds of injuries making myself a bowl of cereal, so overall the weekend was a success.

Documentation of Injuries:
Two burns and two bruises

None of which show up very well on the iPhone camera, but suffice it to say there’s a burn below my index finger, a blister on my thumb, and I’m pointing to my shin bruises.

Any guesses what kind of DIY goodness causes these kind of injuries?

Here’s a hint…

Paint from stairs

One of my good friends called this weekend, and this is how our conversation went:

E: What are you doing?
Me: Stripping paint off the basement stairs.
E: …
E: Of course you are.

I guess I’m getting predictable.

This is a project I started, um, five years ago. And other than a lot of painting I’ll be doing in the coming weeks, it’s the last big hurdle to getting Garrison ready to sell.

Side Note: About two decades ago, when my mom was in her “country” phase she used to collect these little wood cutout buildings, and in each one there was a black cat painted somewhere. Some days I feel like that is my life.

Anyway, I have “before” pictures somewhere, but suffice it to say when I bought this house, the entire basement (floor, walls, ceiling, pipes, stairs, and doors) was painted with this gray epoxy paint. The stairs underneath that paint are truly beautiful, but it’s taking a lot of coaxing to get them come out of their shell.

Steps- stripping in progress

I still have 3 stairs left to strip (and the railing) then I’m going to hit the whole thing with a belt sander before I re-stain and seal them. Which begs the question… why not just sand them down as is?

This is what MysteryMan asked me today after I explained to him about the bruises on my shins from leaning up against the lower stairs while scraping off paint, and shortly thereafter recieved my second burn. (Lack of hand-eye coordination + heat gun = bad combo.) The answer is that I have no idea why I’m not just sanding them down, except for that my gut instinct is telling me that judging by how thick the paint is, and how pliable it becomes when heated up, it will just gunk up the sander instead of being sanded off. Anyone try sanding epoxy paint off anything before?

My guess is, not a lot of people would epoxy-paint wood, so there’s probably not many circumstances in which you’d be sanding it in the first place.

In any case, there’s something oddly satisfying about using the heat gun on paint. Like when we used to let glue dry on our hands in kindergarten, just so we could peel it off later.

I’ve had very good luck with it on the house so far, and that may be because the previous owners didn’t believe in priming before they painted.

Here’s my tip for anyone using a paint gun… keep it moving over an area of paint until it starts to bubble under the surface. If you keep moving the gun in wider circles, the bubble will become larger and larger. Take the heat off it briefly (2-3 seconds) before scraping it with a putty knife. What I’ve found is if you get it real hot and then try to scrape it, the paint just gets gooey, and you end up with smears.

It started happening on the railing a bit:

By letting the paint cool a second before scraping it, you’re allowing it to get back to a more solid consistancy so you can get it off in those big sheets like I did above.

(You can see in the background there, yet another object I began scrapin paint off of and need to finish. I’ve never tried chemical strippers before, but I might give them a shot on that door, since getting the heat gun too close to that glass makes me nervous.)

I haven’t found any really good articles on using heat guns for stripping paint. I mean, point gun at paint, keep it moving, scrape paint with putty knife… it’s not rocket science. (This one isn’t super informative, but it does have some pretty pictures, and a slew of safety tips… none of which I followed. Hello injuries.)

After the stairs are done I’m going to stick-tile the floor… I’m thinking something like this:

And you’ve just witnessed me cross the line of “things I will do to the house to sell it that I wouldn’t do if I was planning to live here for the rest of my life.” Because if I was going to live here forever, I would spend the time and money putting real tile down. I’m trying not to feel too hypocritical about that, but I also put around $20k into this house that I’m never going to see again, so to the future owners of my house: You’re getting a badass pergola, brand new plumbing and kitchen, hardwood and slate floors throughout the house, and stick tiles in the basement.

Also on the agenda: Painting the walls to hide that blue-gray mess.

4 Responses

  1. You are doing what I’m doing!! 2 mortgages and trying to sell one by any means necessary, which means VINYL STICK TILE. Haha, it’s amazing what a little motivation will bring as inspiration….

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