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Staining and Painting

How to Paint a Mailbox

Posted by on May 27th, 2013

Hope everyone had a happy and safe Memorial Day!  Thanks always to those who gave their lives in defense of the freedoms we hold dear.

This past weekend we had a small family get together for our daughter’s Christening.  Good times.  We also managed to squeeze in some gardening and DIYing, of course.  As much as I am a fan of outdoor projects, they beat me up.  Outdoor work is HARD!  If it’s not the heat, it’s the 400 lb wheelbarrow or the shoveling or the lifting.  Killer.  We decided to tackler a project that’s we’ve been dying to get to for some time now.  Here’s the inspiration pin we’ve been staring at…

mailbox flowers

(via Greengardenista)

We’re going to break this project up into a couple posts, although you’ll get a sneak peak of both in this one.  We’ll start with the painting the mailbox.  Although the pin doesn’t have a painted mailbox, we wanted to gloss ours up a bit.

Here’s how to paint a mailbox..

We’ll start with what our mailbox looked like before we started.

mailbox before 2

mailbox before

Nothing special here.  The mailbox and post are PVC and were installed by the builder.  We haven’t touched it since we moved in.  Recently it’s been covered in bird crap and has started to develop some cracking in it.  Now, we checked some new ones out at Lowes and there is a black version of this exact same mailbox for around $11.  Great deal, right?  Well, the low priced black mailbox isn’t as glossy as we were looking for, it was more of a matte finish and the glossy ones were metal and started at around $30 (a couple were $60).  We already had a can of gloss black spray paint, so we only had to spend around $3 for a can of primer.  Good deal.

After thoroughly cleaning the mailbox with some dish soap and water while it was still attached to the post, we removed it to paint it.   It was attached to the mounting bracket with four screws.

plastic mailbox

We also snapped off the front cover and the red flag.  It was much easier to paint them without them attached.

We primed the pieces in the garage over some cheap plastic tarp.  Here’s a tip: to avoid the mailbox (or whatever else you’re spraying) from sticking to the tarp, move the part in between sprays that way the paint won’t build up in one spot on the tarp.

painting mailbox

After two coats of grey primer and two coats of gloss black, we re-installed it onto the post.  The grey primer was perfect since we were going from a white to a dark color like black.

Here’s how it looks now.. you can see the flower bed as well, although we’re still working on that.

painted mailbox flower bed

black mailbox

If I knew it was going to be that easy, I would’ve done this much sooner.  It also helped that we worked on it during a holiday, so there was no mail delivery to deal with.  We still have to add a couple more plants, put in some weed screen and then mulch it.

What did you do this weekend?

Posted in DIY Projects,Outdoors and Landscaping,Staining and Painting. Tagged in ,, ,

Sanding and Painting Unfinished Furniture

Posted by on April 1st, 2013

Happy Tuesday! Sure beats Happy Monday, am I right?  We are just moments away from wrapping up our built-in project.  All the cabinet work has been primed and painted, I just need to add a second coat to some areas.  I don’t know if I’ve ever shared the basic process I follow when I sand and paint furniture.  I have a habit of repeating myself, which Lisa loves to gently remind of me from time to time.  So, if you know how to sand and paint furniture, just skim the photos and stop by later to see the finished built-in.

Sanding and Painting Unfinished Furniture

I start with my random orbital sander (ROS).  I picked this sander up last year when we were working on our sliding drawer project.  It was relatively inexpensive and works great.  ROSs are the most versatile of the electric sanders and work well with most projects.  The other options are the vibrating pad or reciprocating sanders and the belt sanders.  The reciprocating sanders aren’t bad either, but they only shake in one direction so they require more work on your part to use them effectively.  Belt sanders are better for bigger more aggressive sanding work and should probably be skipped for regular woodworking projects. ROSs are the Goldilocks of sanders.

random orbital sander

The sand paper for the ROS comes as a disc with either an adhesive or velco backing, which makes swapping them out a quick process.  For most woodworking projects, if I have wood that is in good shape and doesn’t have any gouges or scratches in it, I use a 120 grit paper.  The 120 is abrasive enough to take down sharp edges, but gentle enough that it won’t majorly scratch your work.  If I need to remove a lot of material or repair deep scratches I’ll start with a 40 or 60 grit paper.  The lower the number, the more abrasive the paper.

After I’ve sanded all the visible surfaces with the 120, I switch to a 220 grit paper and repeat the process.  Since this is a paint grade project, that’s as far as I’ll go.  Some higher quality or stain grade projects may require a 330 grit paper to polish the wood further.  While sanding I also make sure to take the sharp edges off all the corners.  A knocked down edge will hole the paint or stain much better than a sharp edge.  Plus, it feels better on your hand.

You know you’re done sanding when the project feels baby soft to the touch.  To prep the piece for painting, use either a compressed air source to blow the work clean or shake it and wipe it down.

For the painting process, I start with a spray primer.  I’m a stickler for this part of the painting process.  Most paint grade projects I work on will get about four coats of paint, 2 of primer and 2 of the finish coat.  I try to spray the first two coats of primer.  The reason being, brushes and rollers leave marks, however well executed and subtle.  Spray paint leaves a near perfect finish.  So, it’s better to have a smooth base and some brush marks on the last couple coats than four coats of brush marks.  Get it?

primed cabinet

If you don’t have a spray system with an HVLP gun like we used on our wainscoting project, you can use a regular can of spray paint/primer.  I used a few cans of Valspar primer from Lowes for this project after my HVLP spray paint ran out.  The more coats of spray paint you use, the smoother your result will be.  To get that Ikea-like candy coating, if that’s what you’re after, use the spray primer followed by several coats of spray lacquer including a few clear coats of lacquer.  Be sure to sand lightly with a 330 grit or higher paper or steel wool in between coats.

Since this project is a built-in, we want it to match our baseboard molding and look like it’s part of the wall.  To get that look, we’re following the primer with a couple coats of regular semi-gloss latex trim paint from Sherwin Williams (Shell White).  Regular latex paint is not ideal for book cases or anything where you’ll have inanimate objects sitting on it for long periods of time.  Reason being, the latex will get stuck to whatever you rest on it eventually and peel off.  Ideally, we should use a high quality furniture paint that resists that sort of sticking, which is called “blocking”.  You want a paint with good “blocking” resistance.  Enamels and lacquers are great for that feature, latex paint not so much.  So why are we using it?  Well, as I mentioned, we want the built-in to match the house trim, so that’s what we’re stuck with.  I’m hoping the primer we used will help prevent some of that sticking nastiness.  Time will tell.

What’s a good product for furniture painting that resists blocking?  We used Benjamin Moore’s Satin Impervo on the kitchen cabinets from our first home and we loved how it came out.  Ask around though.  Professional painters seem to have some strong opinions on their favorite products.

So that’s my two cents on sanding and painting.  Hope you got something out of it. 

Baby #2 is not here yet, either just in case you were wondering.  Anyone else suffering through some painting projects at the moment?

Posted in Carpentry,DIY Projects,Staining and Painting. Tagged in ,, ,

Painting Our Toddler Bedroom

Posted by on January 27th, 2013

Hey guys!  We finally finished painting our daughter’s new toddler bedroom this weekend and we’re very happy with the color we chose.  I’ve also started assembling some of the Hemnes Ikea furniture that she will probably use until college (yikes).  Looking good so far.  We’re planning on at least a few more posts on her bedroom, so I’m not going to show you everything today.

Here’s how the room looked before the paint..

white walls in bedroom 2

and here’s how it looks painted…

sherwin williams popular grey

one more time..

wall sticker of tree

and after…

sherwin williams popular g

We went with Sherwin Williams Popular Gray (6071).  It’s a touch lighter than what I wanted to go with and a touch darker than what Lisa wanted.  We compromised and met in the middle.  It’s a hue or two lighter than “Perfect Greige,” which is 6073, but it’s definitely in the vein we were aiming for.  Big fan of it so far.  I wasn’t sure how it would look against the darker beige/light brown carpet, but I think it looks fine.  Ideally, we’ll be ripping these carpets out eventually (couple years yet) and installing some dark hardwood to match the rest of the house.

In case you haven’t seen our planning post, we were inspired by this pic from pinterest..

greige and hemnes bed

In terms of wall color, I’d say we’re pretty close.  Plus, if you look closely, you can see a light brown carpet under the night stand.

I’m still banking on Lisa giving me the go-ahead for some custom shelving, but it may be a while.  We’ll need something to store her toys and shelves for books.  I really like this option we found on Pinterest…

built in bookcase and cabinets

I’d have to re-scale it to make it more kid friendly, but that wouldn’t be too hard.

Are you painting or planning to paint?  Are you more into the neutrals like we are or do you prefer louder tones?

Posted in Home Decor,Staining and Painting. Tagged in ,, , ,

Our Hall Bathroom Painted

Posted by on November 25th, 2012

Hey everybody! Hope all of our American friends safely and joyfully slept off their turkey induced comas. Lisa and I had a great holiday with our family. Thursday we drove up to Northeast PA and had dinner at my mom’s house. Driving for two hours back home after eating turkey can be dangerous, but luckily we made it back safe and sound. Friday was shopping and turkey round two with Lisa’s family.

A couple weeks ago, we finally got around to painting our upstairs hall bathroom. It’s been plain builder grade white since we moved in over two years ago. Since its our hall bath upstairs, it’s reserved for our daughter and the occasional overnight guests.

Here’s a shot of the bathroom before we moved in.

hall bath

Actually, a while ago, we showed the bathroom as a sneak peak in our 5 Tips for New Home Builders. When we built, we opted to skip the large builder grade mirror and instead asked the builder not to install anything at all. They were totally fine with that idea. After all, it was less work for them. We installed a couple Ikea Kolja mirrors instead for a more personalized look.

hall bathroom before

You can see that greenish shower curtain we added after we moved in. In keeping with that scheme, we picked Sherwin Williams Tidewater for the wall color. Lisa originally wanted a neutral bathroom, but once she found that shower curtain a few years ago she changed her mind.

hall bathroom being painted 2

hall bathroom being painted

The light bulbs in these shots distort the look of the room a little bit. We had CFLs in the vanity light, but switched to a clear filament bulbs for most of the after pictures. It’s a much whiter light.

hall bathroom after

painted bathroom tidewater sherwin williams

painted bathroom tidewater

We’re very happy with the color! Even though the room is still builder grade, the paint plays well with the white vanity and tile. If we never do another upgrade in this room, I’ll be fine with it. I’ve been asking Lisa to think of some crafts or artwork to dress the room up (100% her department). We do need to add a little more character me thinks.

How was your Thanksgiving break? Get any projects done?

Posted in Home Decor,House Tour,Staining and Painting. Tagged in ,, , ,

Garage Shoe Organizer Finished

Posted by on November 12th, 2012

***UPDATE:  The woodworking plans for this Shoe Organizer have just been uploaded to our Plans page.  To get access, just subscribe to our free newsletter using the sign-up form in the sidebar or following this post.  Immediately after you subscribe, you’ll get an email with a link to the Plans page.***

Hope you all enjoyed your Veteran’s Day, especially if you were home from work like I was!  Big thanks to all those who served and those that continue to serve today.  With the extra free time this weekend, I was finally able to get the garage shoe organizer finished!  Jackpot.

After finishing up the build portion of the project, I brought the piece up to the garage for painting.  The plan was to spray on a couple coats of white primer and then follow that up with a couple coats of black gloss.  Those plans changed once I started spraying the primer.

garage shoe organizer

shoe organizer primed

I had a hard time getting good coverage in between those shelf areas.  It took some contorting.  It also took a lot of primer.  I went through 3 cans!  I couldn’t believe it needed that much.  So instead of repeating this process with the black gloss, I just opted for a small roller and a brush.  I’m kinda picky when it comes to painting.  Spray paint is almost always my first choice.  You get a nice even coat that looks professional.  Using a roller and a brush is nice, but it can leave brush marks and it never goes on as smooth.

But, you know what?  This piece is plywood and it’s going to be holding our shoes in the garage.  It’s not going to be in the Guggenheim.  I can roll the darn thing.

DIY shoe rack

You know what?  It didn’t come out too bad.  The roller and brush method worked just fine.  To install the shelves to the wall, I used toggle bolts for the top two holes and regular screws for the bottom set.  The bottom brace on the shelf coincided with some lumber in the wall.

The toggle bolts are great for holding heavier objects to drywall.  I trust them over molly bolts any day.  To use them, I just drilled two holes in the top plate with a drill bit just a touch bigger than the diameter of the bolts.

To recess the bolt a touch, I then used a bigger drill bit and only drilled the hole halfway through the wood.  Unfortunately, the plywood tore out some.  You can eliminate this tear out by either using tape over the hole or starting the drill before you engage the bit with the wood.  No big deal though.  I can touch up the paint or just cover the holes.  If I were using regular hardwood and not plywood, I wouldn’t expect this type of damage from drilling.  But, with plywood, those laminate layers can tear occasionally.  Oh well.  Lesson learned.

The toggle bolts are a two piece system.  You actually need to setup the bolt onto the piece you’re fastening before you insert anything into the wall.

The other catch with toggle bolts is they need a large hole drilled into the drywall.  These required a 5/8″ size hole.  That’s pretty sizable.  The biggest bit I have in that range is 1/2″.  To get to 5/8″, I just worked the hole a bit.  It’s easy to expand drywall.

Once the bolts are inserted into the wall though, they grab pretty good.  As long as no one really puts any major weight on this shelf, they should hold nicely.

close up of shoe rack

I like it.  More importantly, Lisa likes it.  It works pretty well too.  We put enough shelves in there just in case they start piling up out there.

shoe organizer done

So now more piles of shoes all over these steps.  Makes going in and out a little less of a hassle.

If you can’t tell from some of those photos, the garage overall still needs a good amount of cleaning up.  Trying to make some time to get to that, but it’s not easy.  It tends to be somewhat weather dependent too.


Planning on any projects in your garage?  How do you keep your shoes organized?

Posted in Carpentry,Garage and Tools,Staining and Painting. Tagged in ,, , , , ,