Painting with my Girlfriend’s Girlfriend’s Dad

It pays to pay attention to old guys when you are working.

One of my girl-friend’s co-workers shared that her father was in town to help her paint her apartment. The co-worker explained that she hoped the job would be finished quickly, so Dad would go home and she would get her life back. My girl-friend graciously volunteered my services, because I “love to paint.”

Now that is not quite a lie, but a bit of an exaggeration. Painting is something that I do because it has to be done, and I can’t bring myself to pay someone else to do it. So I was not overjoyed at the thought of losing a Saturday in someone else’s apartment. But the tricks that Dad taught me more than paid me back!

On Saturday morning my girlfriend and I head over to her friend’s apartment. Of course I had on my “paint clothes”, but left my brushes and rollers in my tool closet. If it’s Dad’s project, we might as well get his tools dirty and not mine!

When we got to the apartment Girl-friend and her friend immediately disappeared into the bedroom for “girl time”, and Dad offered me a cup of coffee. I guess that was Lesson One- Painting isn’t a great deal of fun, so relax and make the best of it.

The pictures had been removed from the walls of the living room, and the light switches and outlets had mostly been masked with tape. We just had to move the TV and stereo off the entertainment center, and move the big piece away from the wall. I asked Dad if we needed to mask the baseboards and ceiling, but he said he was pretty sure he could paint a straight line, so he would do the cutting in.

While I opened the paint cans (sort of an apricot color, not my first choice, but not my apartment!) Dad said he needed to clean his brush. Oh no, I am thinking, he’ll never be able to paint if that brush is still dirty from the last time he used it. But when I saw the brush I could see it was old and used but the bristles were clean and shiny. Dad went on to explain that cleaning the brush has to begin before you dip it in the paint. He went into the bathroom and gave the bristles of his brush a good soak, then tapped most of the water out, straightening the bristles before using the brush. Next he stopped me when I went to pour the paint into the roller tray. He pulled a bathroom sized trash bag out of his tool bucket, and placed the roller tray in that. When he poured the paint over the bag it took on the shape of the tray. Now rather than spending time cleaning the tray, we would just have to throw away the bag after pouring the extra paint back into the can.

The painting went rather quickly, like it always does when the prep is all done already. When it came to the dreaded clean-up, Dad’s brush that he had presoaked came clean in a matter of minutes. I had never seen a brush come so clean so fast. Dad explained that the reason brushes are so hard to clean is that the dry bristles soak up the solvent- water in the case of latex paint that we were using, so the upper ends of the bristle near the ferrule of the brush get hard with paint while you are still using it. If you presoak the bristles, the paint can’t go up the brush, so the bending action of the bristles move the paint out of the brush and onto the wall. If the paint doesn’t get trapped under the ferrule, the brush is very easy to clean and so it is worth the effort to make it last.

Keep an eye on old guys. They know things!



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