Wall Decals

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I mentioned in an earlier post how I’m painting my downstairs half-bathroom. Already it’s gone poorly, and I remember exactly why I hate home improvement projects in general and painting specifically - it always turns into a ridiculous menagerie of events-gone-horribly-wrong.

The previous owners of the house put this stupid decal border thing along the top of the wall. It’s ugly and totally not us, so while painting, we figured we’d need to remove the decal.

The decal doesn’t come off.

We tried all sorts of chemical removers, we tried rubbing it, scrubbing it, picking and poking at it… it’s on there, man. The best I could do was put on rubber gloves and run my hands over it; that picked up the high spots and made it less prominent.

We figured we’d just primer over the top of it and call it good. (You people who paint probably know what’s coming, here. I’m no Bob Vila, so I sure as hell didn’t.)

Primer doesn’t cover the motherfucker. It just gets darker, like a stain.

A stain… hmmm…

They make stain-blocking primer, don’t they?

I picked up some Kilz 2 stain-blocking primer.

Five or six coats into it (I only did a test spot; I at least wised up about that) I realized the Kilz was not doing the trick.

It was time to talk to the professionals.

I trekked over to the local Home Depot, where they have never done me wrong, and consulted the paint guy. It went down a little like this:

Trav: What’s your best stain-blocking primer? Paint Guy Bob: What are you trying to do? T: We’re painting the bathroom. The last owners left this… uh… decal… and… it’s been painted over… and I just want to block it out. PGB: I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings… T: [Seeing what’s coming] …no… PGB: …but you’re going to have to sand it off and retexture the wall. T: Retexture? PGB: Retexture. T: Seriously, you have to be shitting me. There is no way I’m retexturing my bathroom. PGB: You can paint over it to your heart’s content, but you’ll never get rid of it unless you sand it off and retexture. T: Shit… [sigh] Where’s the texturing spray? PGB: Right around the corner, over there.

Un-fucking-believable. I sort of want to hunt down the prior owners of the house and ask them what the hell they were thinking. Next time I get a house, I’m going to require that shit gets removed before I move in.

Went home, texture in hand, and went out in the backyard with some cardboard to adjust the texture spray to at least be something close to what we’ve got in the bathroom. I’m thinking since we’re doing the whole top of the wall, you might see that the texture changes from the bottom of the bathroom to the top, but at least it’ll be a uniform change, right?

So I’m out in the backyard, shaking the bottle of texture, and I go in for the first spray. It comes out a little smaller than I had hoped, so I adjust the nozzle to make the texture bigger and the fucker breaks off. Typical.

Went back to Home Depot, where this is apparently typical because the guy didn’t even look at the receipt, and got a new bottle of texture. Took it home, got it adjusted, then got out the sanding gear.

Now, I don’t have really any “grubby clothes” to do work in, and I figured I was only going to be doing a little sanding, so I stripped down to my underwear, put on my eye goggles and dust mask, and set to work.

Turns out I don’t have the right kind of goddamn sandpaper. The only stuff I have is fine finishing paper, and that doesn’t fucking work.

That left me standing in the middle of a half-painted half-bath, in my underwear, in eye goggles and dust mask, holding this finishing sander and ready to kill. I could feel my blood pressure rising. At that point, Jenn was all, “Look, go take a shower and make yourself a stiff drink before you have a heart attack. Seriously. I’ll vacuum this up and we’ll have some pizza.”

So I did. But, of course, that means I still have some work to do this weekend.

I hate home improvement. There’s a reason we have professional painters who get paid to do this shit.