And now, for the dang paneling update. Hold on to your hats ladies and gents. This post = wild ride.
As you probably know, we’re no strangers to priming and painting paneling. Sure we could remove the paneling, but it would mean removing and rehanging all the cabinets since they’re hung in front of it – and revealing goodness knows how many scary issues behind it (they’re old plaster walls so that just felt like a big ol’ can o’ worms). And we could attempt to drywall over it (but it would mean drywalling around the existing cabinets and a lot more expense/trouble than just painting it). So we decided early on that we’d once again say yes to painted paneling – just like we did in our former den (which ended up being our favorite room in the house) when it (slowly over the course of 4.5 years) went from this…
… to this:
We never regretted the whole painted paneling choice – I guess it’s just like painted brick to us (we don’t mind the grooves that remain after it’s painted since they just add charming and subtle texture). But folks have caulked or puttied those grooves to hide ‘em, so you can always do that (or rip it the heck out) if it’s not your thing.
But this time there was a slight variation to the painted paneling process since the last time we tackled it. That variation: the time that it took to get ‘er done. Last time it took us an afternoon (more on that here). So we went into this whole priming and painting thing with high hopes that it would be a quick little project. Yessiree, an afternoon spent completing the paneling would have been awesome (as would seeing a unicorn on our front lawn or finding out that Burger laid golden eggs). Spoiler alert: that didn’t happen.
The time difference was all because we decided to attempt to prime and paint our paneling the no slash low VOC way this time. Just because we like the idea of avoiding as many harmful fumes as we can since we work so regularly with paint and caulk and primer (especially now that we have a baby around). We knew this choice wasn’t a short cut. Heck, it would crack our margin for error right open (since oil-based stainblocking primer is the only professionally recommended way to guard against nasty yellow-orange wood-bleed, which can ooze through as you prime and paint). But we thought it was a risk worth taking in the name of family health. And it was in the end… it just took a while to get there. So here’s how it all went down.
First, here’s what our kitchen looked like before we embarked on our little priming adventure:
Step 1: We wiped down the paneling, beams, and trim with a moist cloth. Some people use TSP for their wipe-down, but we didn’t (didn’t use it last time we painted the den paneling either – but it’s not a bad idea, especially if your paneling feels especially greasy). We also didn’t sand at all (didn’t last time either) but you can if your paneling is especially tough, splintery, or super glossy & shellacked.
Step 2: We removed the vent covers and outlet covers since we decided that we’d be replacing them all (they were bisque and we wanted fresh white).
Step 3: We spent about three hours applying a coat of primer to the trim, beams, and paneled walls with Olympic No-VOC primer.
After our first coat it looked like this (about fifteen minutes in we knew we were in trouble):
Primer never needs to be super consistent and perfect looking (it often looks uneven and rough but still totally does the job) but we experienced almost immediate bleed-through in a number of spots (when the orangey-brown stain of the wood seeps through the primer and threatens to ruin your paint job). Not good.
Step 4: We waited for that to dry a bit and tried a second coat of the same primer in certain obviously-bleeding spots, hoping it would block more nasty orange seepage. Nope. It did not.
Step 5: We noticed that we had a can of Behr Primer + Paint (in white semi-gloss) in the basement from a previous project (which is low-VOC and nice and thick) so everything got a coat of that (yup, the trim, beams, and paneling got another full coat).
We still had bleed through. Not much, but in certain places it was definitely still there. And it was maddening.
Step 6: We went to Home Depot and found Kilz Clean Start No-VOC primer. It said “stainblocker” right on the label so we gave it a shot on everything (yup, another full coat of a third type of primer went up on the trim, beams, and walls).
It worked. Angels sang and two white-haired Petersiks rejoiced in the privacy of their freshly primed (finally) kitchen.
Step 7: We painted just the trim and beams with our Behr Primer + Paint (in white semi-gloss) since leaving things primed but not painted for the long term can lead to a nasty and grungy hard-to-wipe-down mess (it’s a dust and dirt magnet since primer is intentionally sticky for paint adhesion). Happily the Behr stuff had great coverage over that last coat of Kilz and looked glossy and amazing. A sight for sore eyes (and arms).
Step 8: We removed all the painter’s tape while the last coat of paint was still fresh for the cleanest lines possible (waiting for everything to dry can cause the paint to peel when you remove the tape). In cases when it was stuck to the primer/paint, we used an exacto knife to carefully slice it along the line of the tape so the primer/paint wouldn’t get pulled off with it.
We’re usually happy to avoid painters tape when we can (I rely a lot on this little
miracle short handled brush instead) but since I’m short and I’m the resident cutter-inner/edger, I don’t have as much control up on a stool. So taping around the ceiling trim (and in this case tossing down a quick frame of tape around the baseboards) helped me go faster while I was happy to freehand around the door frames and fireplace.
About 48 hours after the beginning of our priming adventure, it finally looked like this. The trim looks whiter because it’s topped with that semi-gloss Behr paint and not just a flat finish white primer (which was more creamy and less snow-white-ish in color). Now we just have to paint those walls.
We’re not sure if the Kilz No-VOC primer worked because it was the best choice for the job or because it was layered with the other methods beneath it (perhaps on its own you’d need two or even three coats of it to get full bleed-blockage) but we definitely would recommend 2-3 coats of Kilz Clean Start No-VOC primer followed by two thin and even coats of latex paint if you’re planning to paint your paneling without messing with fumey VOCs. Fingers crossed that’ll work for ya. Otherwise one coat of oil-based stainblocking primer followed by two thin and even coats of latex paint should do the trick (find more step by step instructions on that method here).
It probably won’t take you an afternoon if you go low/no VOC (it took us two days with some babysitting help from John’s parents just to complete the priming stage). And we’re not gonna lie. It was not fun. But it was worth it as soon as we got through to the other side. You know, when we finally crossed that rainbow bridge from bleed-ville to clean-white-walls… hallelujah. It should be mentioned that in very rare cases bleed can come through weeks or even months later (which would make us want to stick paintbrushes in our eyes). Thankfully we painted the wood trim in the living room using the same no-VOC method (four coats of Olympic Premium Paint instead of with an oil-based stainblocking primer) five months ago and nothing has since seeped through. And because the baseboard and trim in the kitchen is the same exact wood, all signs point to: this should work. Of course we’ll tell you if something supremely annoying happens though.
So if somebody would be so kind as to do a nap-time dance for Clara, we’d really appreciate it. So far swinging her stuffed giraffe back and forth and saying “you are getting sleeeepy” isn’t quite doing the trick. Well it’s making us sleepy, but we’re not the target. Has anyone else tried to paint paneling without VOCs? Or been forced to apply four coats of paint or primer for any reason at all? Sucks right? Let’s commiserate.
Psst- Read more about the whole Phase 1 kitchen plan here.
We’re back with the fireplace update that we mentioned in yesterday’s post about removing our old not-baby-safe wood stove.
This next step is definitely just the beginning of our fireplace makeover (as in step two of probably fifteen). We figure we’ll tackle this baby in stages (just like we do pretty much everything else around here) so the first step was to spend as little as possible to get it looking better for the short-term (since it might be a while until Phase Two kicks in). So here’s what it looked like yesterday morning:
And here’s what it looked like yesterday evening:
I know, I know – the orange paneling makes it look craZy with a capital Z. But just scroll down a bit to the dark den from our first house (which also had paneling and brick) to see just how transformative paint can be (we didn’t remove the paneling in there, just primed and painted it). So try to envision some fresh paint in a soft color on the paneled walls with glossy white beams and trim to match the same semi-gloss paint on the fireplace. Can you see it?
And now for a word about the candles and the mirror that I tossed into the firebox. Those are definitely not Clara-friendly. That was just mommy psychosis (I wanted something cute in there for the pics, even if there won’t be a thing in there for a while during Clara’s waking hours). It was such a quick little addition that it gave me some baby’s-in-bed-let’s-have-date-night ideas (you know as opposed to baby’s-in-bed-let’s-upload-fireplace-photos-and-write-the-post-for-the-morning ideas). The latter won out, so maybe I’ll break out this look for anniversaries. Me-ow.
But when it comes to the day to day stuff, l fully expect to find pillows, stuffed animals, books, and whatever else Clara decides to put in there awaiting me when I walk into the kitchen. The girl loves hiding stuff around the house, so I’m guessing that she’ll appreciate this new little nook. Maybe we’ll even be able to sneak a picture of her chilling in her not-hot-and-not-sharp-anymore zone reading a book or snuggling with Gee (her stuffed giraffe that she named herself).
The best thing about this little fireplace facelift is that it took us about five hours (on and off with drying time in between coats) and it only cost eight dollars (and three cents, to be exact). We just used primer that we had leftover from painting the guest room (Olympic Premium No-VOC primer), some white semi-gloss paint that we always have around for trim touch ups (Olympic Premium No-VOC paint) and a quart of Benjamin Moore’s Temptation in satin that we picked up from Lowe’s (color matched to, you guessed it, Olympic Premium No-VOC paint). Primer isn’t always necessary (we’ve gone without it while painting brick before) but we had it on hand so we figured we might as well use it.
You guys know we’re no strangers to painting brick fireplaces since we tackled not one but two in our first house. Remember this guy who went from this…
… to this:
And this one that went from this…
… to this:
You can check out our original fireplace-painting tutorial here, but since we’re nothing if not even chattier these days, we thought we’d recap the steps we took when it came to prepping our current fireplace for paint. First we:
- Closed the damper and declared the fireplace inoperable (we never used the woodburning fireplace in our last house and plan to either install a double-sided gas or electric insert down the road).
- Scrubbed the heck out of the firebox, exterior brick, mantel, and hearth with soap and water to cut the grease/ash (we used Dr. Bronners + water).
- Let everything dry.
Then it was time to prime and paint. Here’s what we did:
- Primed the firebox with Olympic Premium No-VOC Primer (remember, we’re not going to use this fireplace for wood burning, so if you’ll be using your fireplace either leave the firebox unpainted or hunt down high-heat options that are meant for the job).
- Painted the firebox with Ben Moore’s Temptation in satin (color matched to Olympic Premium No-VOC paint).
- Taped off the wall around the fireplace (since you have to smash a paint brush into craggy brick, it’s hard to stay in the lines).
- Caulked the big crack between the tile hearth and the firebox so it would look seamless when painted.
- Caulked other especially cavernous holes in the craggy brick so it looked less shadow-y and chipped when painted.
- Primed the brick fireplace surround, wood mantel, and even the tiled hearth (yup, the tiled hearth… more on that in a minute).
- Painted the brick fireplace surround, wood mantel, and tiled hearth with two coats of Olympic Premium No-VOC semi-gloss paint in off-the-shelf white (some folks like more contrast when it comes to mantel and hearth color, but we’ve always loved the all white look – although later when we build out or even tile the fireplace & surround we might add more varied colors and materials for fun).
- Applied three thin and even coats of Safecoat Acrylacq (a low-VOC non-toxic alternative to polyurethane) to just the tiled hearth on the floor. Be warned that certain polyurethane types will leave a nasty yellow tint so the only two that we trust are the Safecoat I mentioned above and Minwax Water-Based Polycrylic Protective Finish in “Clear Gloss.”
You think we’re crazy for painting the tile on the floor huh? Check this out. We did the exact same thing to the exact same heart floor in our first house. See the same little smashed up tile?
The whole prime, paint, and poly technique was meant as a very very temporary solution (we planned to replace the tile pretty soon thereafter). But it stuck. Literally. It still looked mint four and a half years later when we sold the house! Even with foot traffic (in shoes) and small nephews of ours ramming it with metal matchbox cars. Here’s where I’d add a close up shot, but sniffle, we don’t live there anymore. So here’s the last wide shot we took of the room (you can see that it still looks glossy and white):
So although painting ceramic tile, especially tile that gets walked on, is nothing the pros recommend, we’re totally cool with doing it as a temporary fix (although doing it in a bathroom is probably a terrible idea because it can get slick when walked on with sopping wet feet). I should mention that in both cases the tile was terra cotta which is really matte and porous (and not slick and shiny), which might be why it grabbed the paint and held the heck on for such a long time. Who knows, it could inexplicably show a lot more wear and tear than it did in the last house (you know we’ll tell ya if things quickly go south). But either way we’re pretty sure we’ll bring in some awesome new tile for the hearth and maybe the entire fireplace when we get down the road a bit (read: save enough loot to tackle the kitchen in a more major way).
Have you guys painted any brick lately? Or ever primed, painted, and poly’d tile- just to see what would happen? Has your husband ever taken terribly unflattering photos of you painting something to get you back for sharing pics of him scrubbing brick in his high school gym shorts?