July 29, 2015

How to Paint Laminate Countertops

This just sounds like one of those things that is a horrible idea and will never work. Ever. Who in their right mind would paint a countertop? *Raises hand.* Countertop paint kits available in stores are expensive, and for the price of the Rustoleum kit, I could have just bought new laminate countertops. If you can buy a paint kit, I knew you had to be able to DIY it. The countertops were blue, and nothing in the kitchen is blue anymore, and I just felt they needed an upgrade.
First, I cleaned and lightly sanded the counters. Not a ton of sanding, but enough to remove some of the shininess of the finish. 

Next up, I removed all the caulk on the backsplash and around the sink. 

Then the sink was taped off. 

For reasons that are completely unknown to me, I forgot to take a picture of the next step, which is the MOST IMPORTANT.

You have to paint the coutertops with oil-based primer. OIL-BASED. I use Zinsser, and it works like a charm. A stinky, smelly, barbecued-monkey-meat-scented sort of charm. 

Seriously, this step has to be done when you can open the windows and air the place out, because this stuff is rank. But necessary. It works to bond the laminate underneath with the paint you'll be applying on top. Without this stuff, any paint applied will peel off.

After it dried for 24 hours, I moved on.

Paint, mixing cups, and sponges. I didn't end up using the sponges on top, I used the ones underneath that you can't see. (Of course.) They were sea sponges, and gave the best result. 

The paint is just Apple Barrel acrylic from Walmart. I bought way too much; I think I used 2 large bottles of white, 1/2 a large bottle of black, and a little bit of yellow and metallic gray. That's it. I also picked up a few countertop sample thingies from a hardware store to give me an idea of the pattern to use. I wanted these counters to be lighter and brighter, and to resemble stone. 

Creating a faux-granite or faux-stone look is not necessary. If you try it and fail miserably, you can just apply one color with a roller and call it a day. That was my backup plan - in case of failure, they were going to be painted gray.

And then you just go for it. I used a sea sponge and literally just sponged paint everywhere. You will be working in layers, so the first bit I put down was a heavy coat of pale gray, just to cover the primer.

Then I added some darker and lighter splotches. I ended up cutting one of the sponges into smaller pieces, and used those to add color in random patterns. 

The paint needs to fully dry between coats, so I ended up doing 2 coats a day. One in the morning, one in the evening. After priming, it took 3 days for me to get the paint where I liked it. I just kept going over and over it, adding varying shades of gray. 

When I was finally happy with it, it was time to seal it. I used water-based polycrylic and a roller. All told, I did six coats of polycrylic, and lightly sanded between each one. Though polyurethane is stronger, you don't want to use it here, because it yellows over time.

I ended up not liking the roller. It was too textured, and left a bumpy finish on the counters. The last two coats were done with a paintbrush, and that helped to smooth them out a little. 

Ooh. Shiny.

The end result? Absolute love. Holy cow. I think they look so much better. And brighter. I finished them on June 4, so it's been almost two full months. 

How have they held up?

They are doing just fine, actually. There is one scratch, I dragged my KitchenAid mixer across one of the counters when the paint was only about a week old, and it left a one-inch scratch in the paint. And that's it, after two months of regular use. I *do* make an effort to not slide anything heavy across them anymore, though. The mixer now resides on a piece of butcher block.

I don't expect these to last forever, but I'm very pleased with how they turned out. Any scratches or other problems can be solved with a little sanding, a little paint, and sealing them again. 

In the end, this DIY ended up costing, I believe, about $40. Yes, that says forty. 

See you later!

Keep Reading "How to Paint Laminate Countertops"

July 24, 2015

Painting Kitchen Cabinets

I mentioned about sixteen years ago that I haven't been doing much this summer, which is why the blog is sort of dull right now. I haven't had time to do much because the husband and I have been remodeling the house. And now we're...done? *Looks around in the sunlight like a tiny baby mole.*

Seriously though. Done. There is one entire room that we decided not to redo, because life is short and money does not grow on trees, but the rest of the house is pretty much finished. And now that it's done I feel like I can finally share some of the projects. First up - kitchen cabinets! 

(Okay, so this would have been up an hour ago, but I had to snap a few more pictures. And then I discovered dust on my camera's sensor. Cleaning a camera sensor is a behind-clenching experience, by the way. But the dust is gone, and we can now proceed.)

These cabinets are from the '70s, and they used to be a very dark brown. I remember helping my parents paint them back in high school, so it's been awhile. The paint was a creamy yellowish color, and after all these years it was looking pretty dingy. 

Because homegirl don't play, the color I chose is a gloss white. Bright and easy to wipe clean. After taping everything off, I lightly sanded the cabinets just to rough them up, then cleaned them and started painting.

If you ever decide to paint cabinets and want your life to be 127% easier, use a 3-inch roller. Brushes leave strokes behind and are so much slower going.

This is the paint I used. I believe it took 2 quarts to do the cabinets, though it may have been three. (This was in early June, so I can't remember.) I don't buy it online, it's pretty easy to find in most hardware stores, and it's usually around $7 a quart.

You can't have fancy new paint without new hardware. These are old cabinets, and the doors had the hardware right in the center. Why, I don't know. I filled those holes in with putty, sanded, and painted so we could install new hardware in the correct locations.   

These are what I bought. Just as an FYI, that will maybe prevent you from having a heart attack when you go to the hardware store and price drawer pulls, ordering hardware online is so much cheaper. It saved us over $100. Seriously. These are the handles and these are the pulls we bought, both from Amazon. There were a few handles that had the inner threads messed up, so the quality might not be quite the same as what you could get in a store, but for the price, eh. We'll deal with a few problems.

Ugh. They look so much better. We are almost two months in, and they still look just fine. The gloss finish makes cleaning them easy peasy, and they are so bright that they make the entire kitchen seem larger.

Painting is magic.

See you later!

Keep Reading "Painting Kitchen Cabinets"

July 22, 2015

Favorite Free Printables

Hello. I am in the middle of decorating a big, ugly room in my house. This is my panicked voice. One of my favorite ways to decorate a room is with free printables. If you have a halfway decent photo printer, you are in business, my friend. Here are some of my current favorites. 

There will never be anything wrong with this. This one (and several other versions) is from Oh So Lovely. (Just FYI though, don't ever watch a nature documentary about flamingos. Nightmare-inducing, I swear.)

Feathers. Again from Oh So Lovely.

Staaaaaahhhp. Via Clones n Clowns.

Grown-up coloring book pages. Via In the Playroom.

More feathers. I have a thing for feathers, apparently. This one is also from Oh So Lovely.

Hipster deer. Via The Graffical Muse.

Watercolor unicorn, also from The Graffical Muse.

If you Google 'free printables,' there are a bajillion and twelve things to choose from. I've printed out a few of these to use as filler around larger artwork that I already have - like Mr. Parker, or photos of my own. Because I kind of have a lot of those.

See you later!

Keep Reading "Favorite Free Printables"

July 16, 2015

How to Add a Photo to a Painting, Part II

If you missed Part I, then go and read it forthwith. (Also, I think that's the first time I've ever used that word. Fist bump.)

Anyway. When we last saw Mr. Parker, he was glued to a canvas with Mod Podge. I let the canvas sit for 24 hours (fib - 23. I couldn't wait that extra hour, the suspense was killing me.) 

The next step is the weirdest. Get a sponge, or whatever, get it wet, and dampen the heck out of the image.

I mean really get it wet. The painted portion of the canvas will be fine, as it's underneath a layer of Mod Podge. The more you dampen the image...

...the more the color shows through. 

Use the sponge and gently start scrubbing away the paper. Yes, really. 

Continue gently scrubbing the paper away, and re-dampening it as necessary, until it's all gone. This is why plain old copy paper is used. It's a lot easier to wipe away the flimsy layer of paper; you're not struggling through a thick sheet of photo paper.

I still cannot believe that this actually worked. Look at it! It's so cool! 

If you hold the canvas to the light, you can see the difference in texture between the painted part and the image. I coated the image with another layer of Mod Podge to even it out. Word to the wise - if you haven't gotten rid of every little piece of paper, the Mod Podge will emphasize it. So before you do this, make sure all the paper is gone.

This was a nerve-wracking project, but a very fun one.

Go forth and copy.

Keep Reading "How to Add a Photo to a Painting, Part II"

July 14, 2015

How to Add a Photo to a Painting, Part I

In the interests of not having a tutorial with 20+ photos, I'm splitting this one up. This is a long explanation of something that's fairly straightforward - transferring a photo onto canvas. I didn't come up with this, and there are a lot of other blogs and YouTube videos that cover this same process. I've wanted to try this for a long time, but was finally spurred into it by seeing a large fabric wall-hanging thingy online that had Quanah Parker on it. (My love of Quanah Parker runs deep, and I will probably make my next installment of History is Not Dull and I Can Prove It about him. And that too will be absurdly long.)

Instead of calling the store and inquiring about the wall-hanging thingy that probably costs more than a bone marrow transplant, I decided to DIY this shiz, for about $20.  

You Will Need:
- a canvas, preferably one that's already primed (I'm using a 14x18 inch canvas)
- acrylic paints (yes, the little $1 bottles of craft paint will do)
- Mod Podge (I like the glossy stuff)
- paintbrushes
- a photo printed on regular copy paper by a laserjet printer, and the image has been flipped over or mirrored

The basic gist of what we are about to embark on is simple - apply a heavy layer of Mod Podge onto a canvas, slap the photo on it, let it sit 24 hours, then scrub off the excess paper. I KNOW. That does not in a million years sound like it's going to work.

Okay, first things first. Your image, whatever it may be, needs to be mirrored. That way, when applied to the canvas, it doesn't turn out backwards. I opened the photo in GIMP, clicked on the Layer toolbar, then clicked on Flip Horizontally under Transform.

Bam. Image flipped.

I should point out that I found this image online, via the National Archives. I have no idea who the original photographer was. If anyone knows, please tell me. If anyone thinks it's odd to have a photo of Quanah Parker in your house, well then. Let me find you a fainting couch.

The next step is to have it printed on regular printer/copy paper (not photo paper) by a laser printer. Any place that makes copies can do this, either in color or black and white. I already have a laser printer, so I'm a step ahead of the game.

Place the photo where you want it, and mark the space. Because I was painting around the image, I made sure to not get paint where the image was going. (Also, ignore the picture above. I forgot to mirror the damn thing at first, and had to go back and print it out again.)

I was an art class kid in school, and was always a very meticulous painter. It was very difficult to not be precise here. I was going for a free-form sort of thing. I used paintbrushes, my fingers, and blocks of wood to stamp the canvas. This is the fun part; you can do whatever the heck you want. 

And if someone ever asks "what's that supposed to be?" when looking at your artwork, you can punch them in the throat. Pretty sure that commandment is in the Bible.

When the paint is completely dry, scoot something underneath the canvas, directly underneath where the image will go. This just gives a stable, hard surface to work on. 

Apply a layer of Mod Podge all over the canvas, keeping it fairly thin everywhere EXCEPT where the image will go. There, get the Mod Podge nice and thick.

Then, IMMEDIATELY place your image onto the canvas. Mod Podge tends to dry quickly, and you want to move your tokus. 

Take a roller (foam roller, rolling pin, empty can, whatever) and get out any air bubbles. Air bubbles = places where the image will not adhere, so get out them bubbles. Any excess Mod Podge that gets squeezed out from under the image can be wiped away with a damp sponge.

When all the bubbles are gone, it's time to let the painting sit for a full 24 hours. I don't know why the wait time is 24 hours, but it is, and I'm not going to argue with those that have done this successfully.

So now we wait. This was, by far, the most nerve-wracking crafty thing that I have ever done. 

And for those wondering...I don't know if this will work with an inkjet-printed photo. Ink tends to get sort of murky and purple-ish when damp, so I'm not even going to attempt it.

I'll see you back here on Thursday, where we shall see the end result of this project.

Keep Reading "How to Add a Photo to a Painting, Part I"
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