My First DIY Project

(Cross-posted from The Mystery House, the travel/DIY/house blog I’ve started with my husband and our good friends)

I didn’t grow up in a household of DIY-ers. Well, we did try, but after having to pay for a professional to repaint over our own house painting efforts, I grew to believe doing-it-yourself was for crazy people or people with way too much time on their hands.

But after discovering this guy and this blog, I started to rethink my anti-DIY sentiments. Maybe it wasn’t so crazy to want to save a bit of moolah. Maybe, with a bit of research, some elbow grease and a great deal of care, not all DIY projects end in disaster. Maybe we might just get something unique and all our own out of it.

Being the total n00b that I am, I figured I should start small  – with a bookcase and a tin of white paint.

I was given this bookcase for my birthday two years ago, and as you can see, it needed a little customisation.

So why white paint? Why not stain it? Fred and I have a bunch of wooden furniture in a range of shades, and we’re honestly not sure what look we will be going for in our future house. This particular bookcase will end up in my study, next to a desk I haven’t bought yet, and it would be nice not to have to find a desk that colour co-ordinates – white goes with everything, yes? Plus, I love how bright and bold white-painted wooden furniture looks. It’s exactly the feel I want for my future office.

So off we went to Bunnings to buy some paint, some primer and a paintbrush (yes, we are such total newbies that we don’t even own a paintbrush).  We looked at a variety of paints, and paint/primer mixes but we ended up buying Taubmans semi-gloss white and a separate Taubmans primer. Anything less than an eggshell or semi-gloss can end up looking chalky on wooden furniture, and the glossier paints are much easier to clean, which is important when we’re talking about white paint.

Because I was starting off with a completely bare surface, I was able to skip the sanding step, but if the bookcase was pre-stained or painted, sanding would have been a must. Instead, I started off by giving the shelf a good wipe-down with a damp cloth, and then waited until it was completely dry to apply the primer coat. Taking the YHL advice that several thin coats produces a much better result than a couple of thicker coats, I was very careful to get a very small amount of paint on my brush, and then used it until it began to feel ‘dry’. Of course, I had no idea if I was doing it right, but I was choc-full of that DIY give-it-a-go spirit.

This is what it looked like after the primer coat:

Not much, right? I wasn’t worried, though. I had a whole can of white paint to use and the guy at the store told us that an extra coat of paint can make up for a lack of primer, in case I used too little.

After each coat I waited 2 hours before I applied the next. Even if the paint feels dry, it can still end up looking ‘streaky’ if you don’t want long enough – or so I’m told. I wasn’t sure how many coats I would end up needing. It’s really a personal preference thing. It looked fine after the second coat, but I figured one more couldn’t hurt and it would allow me to go over those bits I may have missed the first couple of times (believe me – it happens!).

And – tada!

One coat of primer and three coats of paint later… my masterpiece.

I completed this whole project on a learn-as-I-went basis, and here are some things I figured out around the second coat of paint:

–       Paint the hardest to reach surfaces first – underneath each shelf and the inside walls in particular. Trying to reach these after you’ve painted the shelves themselves can produce a messy, drippy result. Plus, these areas are harder to see, and if you accidentally cut into them later it isn’t as big of a deal.

–       Paint in full daylight, if possible. Yes, this is basically just common sense, but I painted the second coat of paint at around 5 o’clock, and even with all our outdoor lights on, I felt like I was painting blind. Another reason why I decided a third coat couldn’t hurt.

–       The rough edges of the wood will require twice as much paint as everywhere else. It’s almost as though they just drink up the paint. I’m still not completely happy with mine, but, as I say to myself: “That’ll do, pig. That’ll do.” (I hope you get that reference).

Rough edges

I’ve totally caught the DIY bug, and it seems my fellow Scoobies have, too. Here are the projects we have planned, or are already in the process of completing:

–       Fred and I are planning to re-purpose an old lounge set to create some outdoor furniture we call all enjoy at the new house

–       Fred and Shaggy are planning on building an outdoor table to go with the above

–       Velma and I are planning to build a dog house for our future Scooby

–       Shaggy is currently building a bed frame using his hands and… pretty much just his hands. Tools are for the weak.

Stay tuned for more DIY geekery and some progress on our travel plans.

My First DIY Project

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