Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
Friday, June 25, 2010
Well, I did it again. See, I've got a way of humiliating myself on a regular basis. I don't mean to--I honestly would love to avoid it--but I seem drawn to humiliation. For example, about once a week or so, I wander through some large, public area with my zipper down. Unintentionally. DEFINITELY, unintentionally. I'm not one of those people.
Anyway, another thing I routinely do that embarrasses me involves involuntary grunting. I don't know what is causing this or why it happens, but I think it's got something to do with old age. At any rate, apparently, I sit around and when I'm not thinking about what I'm doing, I grunt. Quietly. And, of course, with great dignity. But it's still grunting. And because of it, my whole family gathers around me at night, listening and laughing and making fun of me.
Another thing I do involves my voice. Oh, I know you'd never guess it if you listened to our daily radio shows . . . but in real-life, I have a nasally, sissy-voice. I understand that and I'm dealing with it. But for some reason, God didn't just see fit to leave me with this obnoxious voice, but He also worked in a state of perpetual puberty for me. See, most guys . . . their voices crack and break as they move through their early teen years. Eventually, they end up with a man voice and they move on with their lives. Not me. Nope. I'm in a state of perpetual puberty. My voice still cracks. All the time. I can edit it out of the radio shows, but I can't edit it out of normal conversation. Once it's out, it's out. Once you try to say something in a group of people--try to say something impressive--and your voice breaks . . . well, there's no chance to go back, clip out the girly-voice, and then have another go at it. Sadly, that's not how real-life works. And so I try to live with it. And everytime it happens, people snicker and giggle and then I get nervous and start grunting. Which doesn't help.
Anyway, the point is, my life seems to be one big long string of embarrassing actions. And last night was just another in a long line of humiliations.
See, my wife was out with a friend and I was home with the kids. So I thought I'd have some fun with them. We whipped out our Rock Band game, I plugged in the little fake plastic guitar, plugged in my microphone, cranked up the volume on our surround sound and started rocking it out.
Yes. It was like a rock show in our living room . . . . The sound was deafening . . . I was screaming out songs, hopping around the room, playing the guitar so hard I was sweating buckets. (Which is partly a testament to how hard I was playing but also an indication of how out of shape I am). Anyway, I'm hoping around, sweating profusely . . .almost obscenely . . . belting out rock song after rock song, rattling the windows, acting like a dope . . . but having fun. And then I noticed that my daughter was standing by the front door. She had pulled the blind up and was staring at our front porch. I figured she was just looking for my wife . . . wondering when she was coming home or something . . . so I kept going with my rock show.
I was saying things like "Everybody on your feet . . . put your hands together" and junk like that in between lines of the song. I was hopping around and my daughter kept trying to get my attention. But, I was in the middle of a song. I was singing. I was rocking. And EVERYBODY knows that you don't interrupt rock stars in the middle of a song, so I ignored her. But then, on one of my spins around the room, I happened to look up and there, standing on the front porch, staring directly at me with an open mouth and a clipboard in his hands, was a man I've never seen before in my life.
Well, naturally, I paused for a second . . . because really, this isn't something you prepare for--this isn't one of those situations that you plan out. You know, if the house is ever on fire, I know what I'd do--I plan for those things . . . . But I've never sat down and worked out a strategy flow chart about what to do when I'm confronted with a stranger on my front porch while I'm dancing around the living room singing songs loudly and badly while sweating like an animal.
So I paused and stared at him. And then, finally, I opened the door and tried to say, in my most manly and professional voice, "Why hello . . . how may I help you."
But of course, my voice cracked. And, of course, when that happened, I started grunting.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Alright, last time, I told you a big, long, sad story about my bathroom. I told you how I, in all my cheapskate wisdom, installed the most inexpensive beadboard I could find in my bathroom about a year ago. I told you how that beadboard was basically an mdf board--a composite, compressed, high density paper board. And while it all looked nice for a while, it didn't take long before the kids and lots of splashing water started to take its toll. In just weeks, I was looking at puckered spots and bubbled spots and areas where the board was flaring out because it had gotten damp.
Oh, I tried everything I could to fix it and make it look nice, but this past Wednesday night, I realized the battle was lost. It was like that moment in some television show when somebody stumbles on an accident victim or a heart attack victim and then starts doing CPR. You know, they work on the body for what seems like forever with no response. And then, inevitably, someone standing by tells them to stop. Oh, they don't stop--they keep going--they're going to bring this person back. But the other person grabs them by the shoulders, shakes them, sometimes slaps them . . . and then says, in a very dramatic fashion . . . "stop . . . just stop . . . you've got to let go . . . he's gone."
And then our hero . . . still sitting on his knees beside the body, looks down, comes to term with the fact that death has won . . . and then breaks down in tears. The scene ends and we all feel like we just watched good television.
Anyway, that's what it felt like a few months ago in my bathroom. I'd tried everything I could think of to save that room--to bring it back from the dead--but Wednesday night, I realized it was done. It was over. Death had won--at least in terms of my bathroom. And so I ripped all that beadboard off the walls and threw it in the firepit. $70 dollars worth of "fake wood", $20 worth of paint, $2 worth of nails, $30 worth of trim and hours worth of time . . . all dragged and dumped in my firepit. All that money and time gone because I was too cheap to by good materials to start with--I thought I'd save money, but as is typical, I ended up wasting both time and money.
That's where we ended last time. And really, the connection to RepcoLite paints isn't really all that tough to make. Many folks--I'm not naive, I know how people think--many folks think the same way about paint that I thought about that paper beadboard. I figured, "what does it matter? Beadboard's beadboard. I don't need to have the cadillac of beadboards . . . I'll be happy with this stuff as long as it looks good."
I know that people go through those same thoughts in their head when it comes to purchasing paint: they make the same justifications: I don't need the cadillac of paints . . . after all, paint's paint . . . right? As long as it looks good, I'll be happy.
Well, as I learned with the beadboard incident--and as tons of folks through the years have learned about paint--quality does make a difference.
Buy a quality beadboard and spend the money once, do the work once, spend the time once and enjoy the results for years. Buy a cheap material and end up spending more money, doing the work at least twice and washing all that extra time and energy. Same is true with paint: buy a quality paint and sure, you'll drop maybe $5 - even $8 more a gallon--but really, when the average household paint job uses 3 - 4 gallons, you're looking at a grand total of $15 - $32 dollars extra. Oh, that's not chump change . . . I love those old sayings . . . that's not chump change . . . but it doesn't break the bank either.
Especially when you consider that a quality paint is going to apply better, quicker, easier. It's going to cover better and will likely need fewer coats. It's going to hold up better and longer. It's going to be more washable and cleanable. It's going to hold up to use and wear better. It's going to function like the premium product it is.
Sure, the cheap paint may save you money at the initial purchase, but it's not going to be long before you start to see problems. Before long, you'll be repainting--way earlier than you thought--and you'll be frustrated. You'll end up spending more money, wasting more time, buying more tools, wasting more weekends . . . than you would if you'd just buy a quality product right at the start.
Oh, I'm not blaming you . . . like I said, I do the same thing. I'm just trying to encourage you to learn from somebody who apparently has nothing better to do than to spend tons of extra money and re-do work he's already done. Learn a lesson from me and don't do what I typically do. Bite the bullet, drop the little bit of extra money now . . . and save yourself some money and time and frustration in the future. You'll be happy you did. Think about it.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
I've talked about this before on our daily radio blurb, Another Day at RepcoLite, but I'll say it again here: I'm a cheap, cheap, cheap person. When it comes to spending money, I don't like to do it. Oh, let me rephrase that. I don't mind spending money on FUN things. But when it comes to home improvement projects or things like that, I'm always looking for a way to save some cash.
Well, this money-saving binge I go on during home projects usually ends very badly for me. Most recently, I experienced this in my bathroom. See, I wanted to install beadboard, but I didn't want to drop the money that was necessary to buy regular wood strips of beadboard. That was too expensive for my little bathroom project. So, I looked around at all the home centers until I found the perfect solution: High Density Fiberboard Beadboard. (Basically, that translates into highly compressed paper with primer on it.)
This stuff was half the price of the regular wood and it was already primed. I was saving 1/2 the money I would have spent AND, I wouldn't have to waste time priming. This was exactly what I was looking for. So I bought it. And installed it. And that's when I first noticed the problems.
See, in pounding the nails into this stuff, I found that they created little puckered spots in the fiberboard. It was impossible to sand smooth (because it was really just paper) and I had a hard time patching them in with spackling. But still, I persevered, and before long, finished the project. And it looked great. GREAT. For about 3 weeks.
I'm not lying. 3 weeks after the installation was finished, I started to notice things. I noticed that the fiberboard was bubbling or puckering or something wherever the kids splashed water from the tub. I mean WHEREVER they splashed water. Even a tiny bit of water on this stuff caused problems.
Well, I worked to repair those spots, coated the boards with more paint . . . but it was a losing battle. Finally, about 1 year after I installed the boards, I ripped them all out and reinstalled new stuff. This time, I installed the real wood. I dropped the cash necessary to buy real wood beadboard and I didn't try to skimp on the work: I bought the unprimed stuff.
I've installed it now and it's holding up great. I've had none of the problems I had with the cheap stuff and I'm finally happy with the way the bathroom turned out.
Now, I bring that up to point out something that I think a lot of people (not just me) do: we try so hard to save money that we end up spending more. See, if I'd just bought the good stuff the first time, I'd have saved over $120 on my project. But that's not all: I'd have saved all the money I spent on my first set of materials (which just ended up in a dumpster), but I'd also have saved all my time and all the money I spent on more nails, more glue, more paint, etc.
Basically, by being cheap, I cost myself over $120 and a couple Saturday's worth of work. What a waste.
The thing I'm getting at is this: when it comes to home improvement projects--projects you think are going to be long-lasting fixes or improvements to your home . . . don't waste your time and money on cheap materials. You'll save some money in the short term, but as I found out, you'll end up giving all those savings back (and then some) a year or so down the road when your cheap materials do what all cheap materials do: fail.
Buy quality materials. Buy quality woods. Buy quality tapes and tools. And (of course) above all else, buy quality paints. These things will cost you a little more money right up front . . . but you'll never regret that expenditure later. Don't "save money" by buying cheap stuff that you'll have to replace later. Save money the smart way: spend a little more up front and enjoy the results of your work much longer!
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
But really, that's only part of the reason I like this brush so much. In fact, it's not even the biggest part of the reason I like this brush so much. The true reason I think this brush is indispensable is because of how easy it is to clean it up.
Monday, June 21, 2010
- First, Oxygenated bleach is safe for the wood of the deck--it won't harm the lignin. It's not going to cause the wood to break down and fail quicker than it naturally would. Also, it's not going to bleach out the wood's natural colors. It will clean away the washed out, sun-bleached gray look of your deck and it will restore those deck boards to something much more like their original cedar or brownish, red color.
- Secondly, it's safe for all the vegetation and plant life around your deck. With Chlorine bleach, all your landscaping needs to be protected at all costs. Even a little Chlorine bleach can bring about rapid death to plants. Oxygenated bleach doesn't. It's biodegradable and perfectly safe for most vegetation.
- Thirdly, Chlorine bleach is a hazard to work with on your own account as well. It can bleach out your clothing, burn your skin, hurt your pets or kids. Oxygenated bleach won't do these things and it's safe around your pets and kids.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
A YEARLY THING...
- Start with a light sanding over the entire door. Dull the surface up and be sure to fully remove any loose or chipping areas in the finish.
- Wipe the door down with a rag dampened slightly with mineral spirits (paint thinner).
- Apply two coats of Sikkens Cetol Door and Window finish. (This is a UV resistant, high quality exterior wood finish. It's a little on the expensive side, but when it comes to a wood door, you've already made a huge investment . . . don't skimp on the protective coating!)
- Let the door dry the required amount of time and you're done . . . (at least for another year!)
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Monday, June 14, 2010
- BUILD YOUR OWN. Now, if you can't find some plantation shutters like the ones above, don't worry--you could still imitate the look with some very simple exterior shutters. And if you can't find any wooden ones for sale, you could easily build your own. Just take a look at the picture to the right for inspiration. The shutters don't need to be complicated. Just create some shutters, finish them in whatever style appeals to you and mount them.
- MIX and MATCH. Don't be afraid to combine headboard ideas into one. For example, an obvious combination would be to start with 1 old window and then install a shutter on either side of it. Go crazy and complete the look by building a small flower box underneath the window with greens or real potted plants.
Friday, June 11, 2010
- SCUFF SAND: Do a light scuff sanding of the door with some 120 - 150 grit paper. Even though the door is pre-primed, it never hurts to dust over it lightly with some sandpaper to level out any bumps in the primer coat.
- WASH THE DOOR: After you've sanded the door, be sure to wash over it with TSP (TriSodium Phosphate). This will remove the dust you created while sanding AND it will remove any contaminants that could be on the surface (body oils from installation, airborne dirt and grime, etc.)
Thursday, June 10, 2010
- REMOVE THE DOOR and THE WEATHER STRIPPING: If possible, you'll have your best success if you can completely remove the door from the frame and set it in your garage or your basement on saw horses. If you can't remove the door, don't sweat it--you can still do a good job, though you'll need to be a little more cautious with paint runs, etc. Also, many doors allow you to remove the weather stripping. This is ideal. Remove it (paying attention to how it will go back on) and store it somewhere safe.
- REMOVE THE HARDWARE: Whether or not you can remove the door from the frame, the next step is to remove the hardware. Remove the hinges, the door knobs, and the kick plates. You can paint around them or tape them off, but leaving them on makes all the subsequent steps more complicated and more time consuming. So, remove them if at all possible!
- SURFACE PREP: As with any painting project, failure or success is usually determined before you even open a can of paint. If you're painting over a previously painted door, you need to make sure that you sand and scrape at all the paint to ensure that what remains on the door is stuck down well. Sand the door with 120 grit paper (you're lightly sanding it--not trying to leave visible grooves). And then, after sanding and scraping, wash the door down well with a solution of TSP (TriSodium Phosphate). Quick Tip: When using the TSP, scrub the door down with a 3M Scotchbrite pad (a little green scrubby pad you might use on dishes). This will serve to dull and etch your previously painted surface and will aid with the bonding of the new paint!
- PRIME (if necessary): After you've sanded and washed the surface, you should prime any bare metal spots with RepcoLite's 449 Grey Metal Primer. This is an oil-based, rust-inhibitive primer, that's perfectly suited for these situations.
- BRUSH or ROLL YOUR DOOR: Either using a high-quality brush or a small, quality 4" or 7" roller, apply your paint to the door. We recommend applying RepcoLite's Acri-Glo Acrylic Latex Paint for the most durable, longest lasting finish. Work evenly and quickly, starting with the inserts and then finishing up with the remaining flat surfaces of the door. Apply coats as needed.
- LET IT DRY and RE-INSTALL: Let the door dry at least 8 - 12 hours (longer if possible) and carefully re-install it. UNDERSTAND: Latex paint will dry to the touch in a matter of hours, but it doesn't reach it's full hardness for about 30 days. You don't need to leave the door off the hinges for 30 days, but keep in mind that just because it's "dry" that doesn't mean it's as strong or durable as it's going to be . . . so go easy!
- RE-INSTALL WEATHER STRIPPING LATER: If you can leave the weather stripping off for 10 - 30 days, that'd be in your best interests! As mentioned earlier, the latex paints will dry quickly, but if you close the door and press it against the weather stripping too soon, it's entirely possible that the paint will peel around the edges when you next open the door! If you can leave that stripping off for a couple weeks or so before re-installing it, you'll minimize your risks.
- COLOR MATTERS: Dark colors fade quickly. Red can be especially bad. Also, reds can cover poorly.
- NO SHORTCUTS: One of the worst things you could do when painting a door is try to make a coat of paint cover in 1 coat when it probably needs 2 or 3. The best advice we can give you on this one is to apply EVEN coats. If you're color needs 2 - 3 coats of paint, then resign yourself to applying 2 - 3 coats of paint. If you try to make it cover by applying it too heavily, you will have all sorts of problems on your hands. The paint will run and sag; it won't cure or dry well and you'll find it sticking to your weather stripping and causing all sorts of other problems! So, don't rush it.
- GIVE IT TIME TO DRY: Latex paints dry to the touch very quickly, but don't let that fool you into applying too many coats too soon. Apply a coat and let it dry for an hour or two before trying the second one. Sometimes you could apply those coats as quickly as 15 - 20 minutes after each other (it dries that fast), but in the end, you'll only run into problems. So give it the dry time the can recommends.
- LATEX IS BETTER THAN OIL: Latex Acrylics (like RepcoLite's Acri-Glo) will outperform oil based products. They'll hold their color better and they'll endure the constant expansion and contraction a steel door experiences much better as well.
- PAINT IN THE SHADE: Paint when the sun isn't directly on the door. And ideally, paint before or long after the door's been exposed to the sun. Steel doors will heat up significantly on a summer day and if you get on it and start painting too soon, or when it's too hot, you'll have trouble with your latex paint. It will dry much too quickly and you'll end up with streaks and roller marks.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
- Prime and paint the doors with a white (or the predominant color in your scheme) Eggshell finish. Preferably RepcoLite's Hallmark Eggshell.
- After the doors have dried for 24 hours, carefully measure off and tape the different section that you want to apply the different color stripes to.
- Roll your colors onto these areas using a small roller and allow to dry for 20 minutes to an hour before carefully removing tape.
- Continue in this manner, filling in the doors with the differently sized and colored stripes until the doors look the way you want.
- Once you've accomplish this, let the doors completely dry and mount them. (Remember this, though: Latex paint dries to the touch in hours, but doesn't reach it's full cure or full hardness until about 30 days later. This means the doors/headboard won't be as durable as possible for the first month or so--so go a little easy on them!)
- Don't stagger the stripes--run them from one end to the other.
- Skip the stripes entirely and paint each door a separate color.
- Paint the doors a solid, consistent color--all three of them--and then run 1, 2, maybe 3 narrow stripes (1", 2" or so) across the doors from left to right. Clump these narrow stripes or spread them out.
- Run the stripes from top to bottom rather than left to right.
- Apply wallpaper to the doors instead of paint.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
- Clean the windows up and paint them a solid color and don't distress it--leave it clean and simple.
- Use the windows as picture frames. If there's no glass, you can mount new glass. If there is glass (and if it's old and wavy and dirty) LEAVE IT! Mount black and white pictures behind it for a very cool and interesting look.
- Fill the window openings with "Stained Glass". Your local craft store will usually contain small, 8x10 or so pieces of the glass that artisans use for crafting stained glass windows or mosaics. Buy a few sheets of this and either cut it (carefully) yourself or have a hardware store cut it to size. Then mount it in your frame.
- Mount the windows and then finish the look by installing curtains around them.
Friday, June 4, 2010
- Install some trim (or crown molding) around the edge of the door that will be the top of the headboard (see top edge of door in photo above). This will give it a finished look on the top and will also cover up the notches cut in the door for the hinges!
- Clean it up and scuff sand it (if you're going to paint it).
- Apply your latex paint without primer (if you're going for a distressed look as we see in the photo).
- After the paint has dried for a couple days, take some 120grit sandpaper and dust lightly over the entire painted door. Spend some extra time on edges and the panels to completely remove the paint in those areas and expose the original wood beneath.
- Once the door looks sufficiently distressed, wipe it clean with a damp rag and let it dry.
- After it's dried you can either leave it and hang it, or for a little extra durability, you could top-coat it with 1 coat of RepcoLite's Flat Polyurethane Varnish. (If it's white, you might want to leave it unvarnished as the varnish will yellow over time!)
- After it's dried for 24 hours, you just need to mount it sideways on the wall (door knob removed and hole down so it's hidden behind the bed) and you're done!
- Leave the door with a "stained" look. Either scuff sand it and apply a "freshen-up" coat of stain over the whole door (along with a couple coats of Polyurethane) to create a new, finely finished look; or, leave the stained door completely "as-is" for a more rustic look.
- Don't distress the door. Skip the roughed-up look and go for a nice, even, solid coat of paint. If you do this, I'd strongly recommend RepcoLite's Prime-all Primer as a great basecoat.
- Use those old wallpaper scraps! Cut squares of wallpaper that will fit the panels of the door and install them. Cut them from scrapes left over in your own home, or call RepcoLite and ask about discontinued wallpaper books you can grab for free!
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Others of us like the color of our rooms already. We think they look nice, but still feel they're missing something. They're a little plain or boring and we're not sure what we can do to spruce them up, to infuse some life into them, without completely overhauling them.
Anyway, even though those basic shapes can be creative, that's not exactly what I'm talking about today. See, I've never had the right room to do this in, but I've imagined a cool kids rooms where you take some stencils of letters and combine them with some square shapes to create letter blocks on the wall--you know those little wood ABC blocks kids play with and chew on? Anyway, paint the blocks in a corner--make them large (1-2 foot square)--and stack them. Stagger the stack or paint them in a tumbled heap in a corner. You could spell out ABC's on the letters or a child's name. You could craft some other message: Family or Faith or pretty much anything you want.
All it takes is a little time, a small amount of paint, and a helping of creativity.