Monday, April 21, 2014

How Not to be an Idiot...

Alternate title:  Simple steps for your next home improvement project

This is one of those posts that you are going to need some context to know why I am giving steps on how to avoid being an Remodeling Idiot.

Extra, Extra, Read all about it.. Get your Context, here.

The majority of today's post is sponsored by the National Sarcasm Society, of which I am a long time member.

Tip #1.  DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT paint over hinges.  Just say no.  Abstain.  Stay clean, your hinges, that is.  Take the pledge.  What?  You've never heard of the pledge.  I'll let you in on it.  Raise your Right hand and say the following resolutely, "I, (state your name), do so promise never, let me repeat, never to paint over hinges of any kind."  I promise you, your life will be enriched and my sanity saved, if you will just take the pledge.

Tip #2.  Agree ahead of time what you are calling your tools.  I believe the item below is a paint stripper, but others call it a putty knife.  Avoid confusion, talk before hand, it will save time in the long run.  FYI, you do not have to call them by their proper names, as long as you are in agreement of the name.
The tool in question....if you call it a stripper, refrain from tucking dollar bills in it...

Tip #3.  If for some reason, you encounter a hole in your wall, or thru accident or otherwise, you create a hole in your wall, DO NOT use cork to cover it.  Also, DO NOT use a mirror, painting, photographs, wallpaper, or any other flat item that can be hung on a wall.  Just to be on the safe side, DO NOT use non flat items as well.  After my adventures, I am not leaving anything to chance.  Your only acceptable option is this--Patch the hole.  I promise it is not scary, hard, complicated, or a 20 step process that only a genius with a PhD in home remodeling can do.

You can do it.  I believe in you.  And just as importantly, I am going to show you how.

Take that in for a moment, I, Melissa, am going to show you how to patch a hole in your wall.

And what is even better, you do not have to have a bunch of expensive, never to be used again tools to do it.

Are you ready?  Mentally prepare yourself for the steps in a hole less experience for your walls....

Step #1.  Swear, cry, and bemoan your fate at finding or creating your hole in the wall.  Let it out.  Remember that kid that made you cry when you were five, take this opportunity to let that out as well.

Step #2.  Feel better now?  Good.  It's time for a trip to the Home Depot, Lowe's, or hardware store of your choosing.

Step #3.  You've battled traffic and made it to the store.  Congratulations!  The hard part is over.

Step #4.  Find the paint area.  Locate the following items
              1.  A Patch, large enough to cover said hole.

Turn your head sideways and see the patch  I used.
            2.  A Spackling Compound.  It will be near your Patch.
Added bonus, this one goes on PINK!!!
             3.  Something to spread your spackling...  I used an old paint stripper and a spatula.
             4.  Sandpaper to smooth said spackling.
             5.  Oh, wait, you don't need anything else.

Step #5.  Read the directions on your patch.  Are you ready for what was on mine?  Sand around the hole and make smooth.  Remove the paper backing from the patch and apply over hole.  Press firmly.

Oh, the horrors,  it was awful.  I had to take multiple breaks.  I need therapy from the hardship of it all.  Truth be told, going to Home Depot took longer and was more trouble.

Step #6.  Apply your Spackling over the patch.  You do not have to apply it with the skill of an Italian Master working on a chapel ceiling, but on the other hand, complete lack of care does not work either, moderation is the key in this step.  The key is to cover the mesh on the patch and attach it to the wall.  It doesn't have to be pretty or even, in fact the more you mess with it, it will start to fall off, it does not have to be perfect.   My one tip, go at least an inch past your patch and taper as you go out.  After saying all of this,  Do not stress over this step.  I slather it on pretty thick, because I would rather have more to work with when it dries than not enough.

Isn't this just lovely.  Notice the pink!  It's ok it's not even.

Step #7.  Go to bed.  Take a nap.  Ponder your life.  Kill some time.  Call a friend.  But most of all, leave your spackling job alone.  It needs some time to itself.  Ok, it just needs to dry.  Minimum time of 24 hours drying. The one I bought turns white when it is dry.  Idiot proof.

Step #8.  Are you hanging in there?  Do you still believe you can do this?  I BELIEVE IN YOU!  Don't give up.  And prepare to get a little dirty.

It's time to sand your spackling.  Smooth it out.  Go slow.  Take your time.  When you are done, the area is ready for primer.  You are creating the illusion on a single piece of wall, but don't be intimidated, because it is not hard.  I promise.  And if worse comes to worse and you do not like your results, go back to step #6 and add more spackling.  It's ok, and I won't tell, and if it makes you feel better, it took me 2 applications to get it to look right.  I am still working on it because after I patched the wall, I realized that the area where the hole was was not level with the rest of the wall, so I am building it up, but the hole is done.

Step #9.  Celebrate your new status as a PhD in Home Remodeling.  Throw a party.  But then, paint your wall!!!!

Ok, it's time to end this tangent and go back to the tips....

Tip # 4.  Apologize for the tangents that you go on during your remodeling projects that drive your friends and family members to roll their eyes when they unsuspectingly ask how it is going.

Tip #5.  Do your homework.  Ask questions.  Find out how to do it right the first time.  I am not afraid to ask multiple and quite possibly very dumb questions at my home improvement store.   Stalk your family and friends who have tackled the project you are undertaking, actual experience is more valuable than any book or Pinterest (which probably gave you the insane notion you could do the project in the first place).  In asking a fairly simple question today, I got an amazing tip for the tile portion of my project and a time saving one for sanding.  Just ask.

Tip #6.  Consider hiring someone to do it for you.  If after asking all of those questions, making a plan, looking at your schedule, making a shopping list of EVERYTHING you need so you don't end up running to the store every 5 minutes, and figuring out your budget, you may find that this DIY project is not for not feel bad about hiring someone to do all of the project or parts of the project.  I am terrified to do anything involving electricity, so I am having a handyman install the new light fixture.  I also do not have all of the tools necessary to cut my mirror and build a shelf in my cabinet (it's going to be so cool, a way to use otherwise wasted space), so he will do those as well.  Sanity, time, and money saved in the long run.

Tip #7.  Do not ever forget that this is supposed to be an enjoyable experience.  Hard work, yes.  A little time consuming, you betcha ya.  But don't be miserable and become an Idiot by your behavior.

Tip #8.  Do not expect this to go exactly as planned.  I was having a frustrating day with this project yesterday and complained about it on Facebook and a friend of mine gave a great piece of advice.  Home improvement projects are like onions....they have many, many layers and not all of them are in great shape.  Keep your sense of humor....  Breathe... and write multiple blog entries about it....

Are you ready to call be Bob Vila now? or whoever is hot on HGTV?  I've got home improvement skills and I am not afraid to use them.

Finding humor in it all.


  1. It definitely appears that the more difficult the situation, the more your genius surfaces - both in writing and remodeling.


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