So, I have been a faithful follower of several shows on the DIY channel for the past few years.  Some of the work they do is mysterious and complicated, some seems quite easy.  I feel like I could instruct someone in the proper way to lay tile in my sleep by now.  But when we were renting, we never had the opportunity to actually use any of this knowledge.  So when I decided we needed to paint our guest bedroom before my parents come for Thanksgiving, I could hardly wait.


The room was a very pale blue, with black tire tracks painted all over the walls.  The previous owners’ young son was living there, and there was a whole motor sports theme.  It was very cute, but not ideal for a guest room for grownups. 


To make things more complicated, the tire tracks weren’t put on as a stencil — it looked like they dipped some of the little boy’s toys in black paint and just ran them over the walls.  This meant that the tracks were often raised, with thick drip marks coming from them.  Even if I painted over them, you’d still be able to clearly see the texture.

I asked several people for advice, and decided that sanding the excess paint down would be my best bet.  Once I got to the hardware store on Friday afternoon, the older employee I spoke to recommended using a screen that they use to sand down drywall seams, instread of a sanding block.  He pointed out that, unlike sandpaper, they were washable and reuseable, and they seemed like they would work as well as anything.  They were supposed to be mounted on some kind of pole, but I decided to just use them by hand.


sanding screen

I started on Friday evening, sanding everything down.  There was dust EVERYWHERE.  I probably should have been wearing a mask, and my contacts would have been a lot happier if I’d had goggles on.  I was careful to not sand down into the drywall paper, trying to keep it to the point where the sheen was taken off the surface of the existing paint, or a few points of white were showing through, but no more.  The screens did clog up from time to time, but I could rinse them off and could keep going even when they were damp.  Plus, I was able to feel whether there was still a bump in the paint with my fingertips through the screen, which I wouldn’t have been able to do with a sanding block.

On Saturday, T had to work from noon to dark (yeah, I know, but it doesn’t happen often), so I ran out to the hardware store again once he left for work.  I had grabbed some paint chips while I was at the store the day before, and run the colors by T Friday night, and he had approved. I was going from a light blue with black tire tracks to a slightly darker blue on three walls, and a dark blue on the fourth wall, hopefully without any tire tracks.   Oddly enough, I chose a paint color for my feature wall that was approved by the National Trust for Historic Preservation! The woman in the paint department looked like she might have an attitude, but she was actually very helpful, especially when I told her it would be my first time trying to paint.  She gave me advice on painting techniques as well as which supplies I would need.  Even though I was going from blue to blue, I went with the paint with built-in primer, to make sure those tire tracks completely disappeared.


taped, tucked and gorgeous

So I got home, vacuumed up the paint dust, and started to work.  The first saleslady advice I followed was taping down the two plastic dropcloths to cover the whole floor.  The reasoning for this?  “If it’s your first time, you’ll make all the mistakes.  You’ll probably step in the paint and get it everywhere.  So just cover the whole floor.”  So I laid out the dropcloths, taped the seams together, and taped them to the baseboards all the way around the room.   I figured this was overkill, since I’m pretty good at staying clean and paying attention to details, but it couldn’t hurt. 

It was a windy day outside, but nice and warm, and T had opened the windows to air out the house.  Suddenly, I found myself in the middle of a Jiffy-Pop popper.  With my window closed, and the lower pressure in the rest of the house from the blowing wind outside, the plastic sheeting was billowing up thigh-high around me!  I closed the other windows and cracked mine, and suddenly the sheets were suctioned to the floor.  Problem solved.

I continued to tape the room to within an inch of its life.  I actually had to run out and get a second roll of painter’s tape.  I followed the saleslady’s recommendation and put a double row of tape along the ceiling, to make sure it was wide enough to protect the ceiling from my roller.  I also realized that, if I was going to do a dark feature wall, I should double-tape the corners of the walls, too, and I would probably have to split my painting between two days.  Considering my late start, and my obsessive taping job, it was evening before I even finished the first coat on the one feature wall.  I kept telling myself that spending a lot of time on the prep would ensure a better job in the long run.

feature wall, first coat

One thing I had not learned from the DIY channel over the years was the fact that paint has a nap, just like fabric, depending on how you roll it on.  While DIY says to paint a big W and then fill it in, the saleslady had insisted that you should just put the paint on in up and down motions, no matter what you see on TV.  But then she added a final step that DIY doesn’t: run the roller in a smooth pass from top to bottom once the paint is on.  That way you get a nice finished texture that runs the same direction all the way around the room.  She also made sure to tell me to work in three-foot sections, doing the trim with a brush and then rolling the rest of the wall.  If you trim the whole room and then go back to roll it, apparently you get a ribbon effect around the edges of the room because your trim work dries.  Both good things to know. 

done for the night

I did the first coat, waited three hours, and then did the second coat.  I knew that you were supposed to pull the tape while the last coat was still a little wet, to help it come off cleaner, but I decided I’d rather just keep the whole place taped until the next day.  I think I finished my second coat around 8 pm.  Then I stayed up until 1 am waiting on T to get home from work.

The next day, I pulled off just the tape on the sides of the feature wall, and realized that a lot of paint had leaked under the tape.  So I put tape on the other side of the corner, and made sure to really seal down the edge, hoping I could cover the previous day’s leaks without making any new ones.  The feature wall was my only unbroken wall in the room, which reduced total area on the rest of the room, but also meant I had a lot of things to work around.  I had a large window on one wall, sliding closet doors across the way, and a bathroom door on the third wall.  I also couldn’t figure out how to get the venetian blinds out of the window — it’s a four-sided box bracket on both ends.  I don’t even understand how they were able to install them, to be honest, since you can’t move the blinds enough to get to the screws that hold the brackets in.  The blinds are mounted to the inside edge of the window frame, which is painted blue, and there’s no molding around the frame.  I couldn’t paint the inside of the frame without painting the blinds too.  So I decided to run tape around the inside edge, and just leave the inside of the frame a few shades lighter than the wall.  I don’t think anyone will even notice, since it’ll just look like the difference in how the incoming light hits the edge of the frame.

can you tell?


I got the second coat done in the evening again, and again let everything dry overnight before I tried pulling off the tape.  I had a late morning on Monday, so I got up at my usual time and had an hour before work to get everything cleaned up.  The full-floor dropcloth?  Yeah, I needed it.  I stepped in a little bit of paint the first day and tracked it around.  As for my clothes, I got two small drops of paint on the toe of one shoe on day two, and that was it.  I did have a few moments of panic when blue paint ended up on the ceiling or the white bathroom door, but those were taken care of immediately with a spit-moistened bit of toilet paper. 

Once the tape was pulled, I could gauge how well I’d done.  There were several spots on the ceiling and trim where paint leaked under the tape, especially the darker paint, which seemed to be thinner than the lighter blue.  But there were also spots on the trim where the original paint color had leaked and mine hadn’t!  So I decided not to feel too bad.  There is also a little spot in the corner where I rubbed too hard when making sure the tape was well-sealed onto the fresh feature wall paint, and paint came off with the tape.  But I can patch that up.

As for the tire tracks?  Well, you can still see the texture of the tracks when you look sideways along the wall in the right light.  But I don’t think it’s going to be noticeable to anyone but me.  Overall project results?  Success!