Chalkboard Paint Tags in 5 Easy Steps!

Benjamin Moore’s Chalkboard Paint is a versatile product that can really bring out the “creative” in us! Here’s an interesting project by Betsy Thompson from our 17th Street Store that might get you thinking about some different ways you can use Chalkboard Paint in your own home!

Chalkboard Storage Tags

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STEP 1

The first step is to gather all your supplies. You’ll need some wooden tags from a local art supply store as well as some light-colored chalk designed specifically for chalkboards. Finally, you’ll want to stop at RepcoLite for some primer, a quart of Benjamin Moore’s Chalkboard Paint (in whatever color you want!), and a sheet of 180 grit sandpaper.

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STEP 2

The second step is to apply primer to the wooden tags. In our project, we used a spray primer to minimize brush strokes or roller marks on the tags and because it’s a little quicker!  Now, even though “Primer-and-Paint-in-one” products are very popular, we still recommend the primer step in a project like this. The reason is that bare wood can be exceptionally porous. The helps fill in the wood grain and creates a smooth surface for the Chalkboard Paint.

STEP 3

The third step involves a light sanding of the primed tags. Depending on how quickly your particular primer dries, you might be able to do this quite soon after application. At any rate, when the primer is sufficiently dry, lightly sand the surface to knock down any raised wood fibers. When finished, wipe the tags clean with a damp cloth. Don’t introduce a lot of water to the surface. We’re only talking about using a damp rag to get the dust that you created from the sanding step off of the surface.

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See Corona Excalibur Brushes in our Shop!

STEP 4

The fourth step is to apply the Chalkboard Paint. Once the tags have dried from step four, apply one or two coats of Benjamin Moore Chalkboard Paint. In our project, we used a high quality Corona Excalibur Brush for application. However you accomplish it, Whether rolling or brushing, make sure you use a high quality applicator. Cheap brushes will be more likely to leave brush strokes (or release bristles into your finish). Cheaper roller covers will provide you with a rougher, orange-peel, texture.

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STEP 5

The final step is to condition the chalkboard surface. After allowing the painted area to cure for at least 3 days, rub the entire chalkboard surface with a piece of white chalk. After you’ve erased that, you’re chalkboard surface is ready for use!

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Benjamin Moore’s Chalkboard Paint is available in any color in the Benjamin Moore spectrum. So, get creative! Think outside the box and see what you can come up with!

Some Hints:

  • For erasing, we recommend using a clean, damp cloth or paper towel. We do not recommend using a chalkboard eraser.
  • You’ll acheive the best results when using light-colored chalk designed for use on chalkboards.

 

 

The Fabric Softener Fix for Stripping Wallpaper!

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On August 28, 2015, we finally closed on our home in Fruitport, Michigan. Being a short sale, Patrick and I had been waiting since late February of that same year to sign the documents, solidifying the closure. I knew it would be months before we could move in, even after the closure, but that was the least of my worries. We were inching closer to our ultimate goal of remodeling a home. Standing two stories tall, half brick-half vinyl siding, attached garage, on just shy of an acre, seven bedrooms, and three and one-half baths, we were eager to start our adventure in reconstructing and cosmetically reconditioning a three thousand square foot, 1970’s retro home.

A twenty foot dumpster had barely enough space for all the garbage and debris we removed from the home. White ceramic tile and soiled carpet had been pried and stripped from the floors; drywall torn down in the master closet, living room, basement, and upstairs spare bathroom; three layers of shingles had been removed from the roof surrounding the fireplace. Yet, despite all this, the most agonizing and time consuming demolition project was still ahead: the removal of the wallpaper!

Throughout the whole process, my most valuable resource was Patrick’s mom, Phyllis, and her sister, Aunt Diane. Thanks to their much-appreciated help, we were able to remove the majority of wallpaper from six walls, including the kitchen, two bedrooms, a master walk-in closet, and two bathrooms in two days time.

However, even though we got the job finished in the end, it wasn’t without some complications. In fact, after many “oops” and a bunch of experimentation as to what solutions and tools to use, it occurred to me that stripping wallpaper was going to take a lot more time and patience than I had anticipated. Who knew that dogs of all shapes and sizes holding balloons could be so intimidating? (see the photos!) It only took us three walls of peeling quarter-sized paper pieces, one-by-one before I was found myself ready to defeat.

It was around that time, at the moment of near despair, that we decided to shift gears and try something different.

After reading somewhere that fabric softener actually helped in the process of removing wallpaper, we decided to give it a try. After all, what was there to lose?

So, in a yellow garden Sprayer, we combined 1/2 gallon of SUPER hot water (though not quite boiling) with 1/2 gallon of fabric softener (we used the least expensive!) along with 1 cup of DIF Concentrate Wallpaper Remover.

Using a PaperTiger by Zinsser, I scored the wallpaper in circular motions. And here, I’d like to urge a little caution: I cannot stress how important it is not to press too hard when scoring. Using too much pressure with the PaperTiger can easily result in damaged drywall. Light to medium pressure works just fine.

To prevent damage to our sub floors, we used Blue Painter’s Tape to stick plastic sheeting to the top lip of all base boards to catch excess solution that dripped from the walls.

(On a side note: If you find yourself removing wallpaper in a room or setting where you’re concerned about using a garden sprayer, you can get the same effect by using a spray bottle filled with solution!)

Anyway, once we had all the prep work done, we sprayed our new solution onto the walls and let it sit for 20-30 minutes, then scraped it off using a variety of different wallpaper scrapers and putty knives.

The paper came off with remarkable ease and we realized we were finally closing in on finishing the project. A second application of solution was applied to clean what residual glue was left after the wallpaper had been peeled away. After a final wipe down using a sponge and hot water, the walls were left to dry.

Removing wallpaper isn’t typically an easy or fun project, but with the right tools, a little elbow grease, and the right team of determined women (in our case!) you can get it done in a short amount of time.

For us, when all was said and done, we celebrated our accomplishment with a well-deserved Mr. Scribbs pizza and I found myself considering the next step in this renovation!

Supplies Used:

  • Extremely hot tap water
  • Fabric softener (Any kind works: We used the least expensive)
  • DIF Concentrate wallpaper remover
  • Hand held 2 gallon garden sprayer
  • 5-in-1 Hyde hand tool
  • Bucket of hot water
  • Large yellow sponge and bucket of hot water
  • Painter’s tape
  • Painter’s plastic
  • Ladder
  • Gloves
  • Lots of patience!!

 

The Inevitable Forgetting of Important Things

and_baseball_web_030816My family and I just wrapped up another Little League season and among all the wonderful things that baseball season brings into our lives, there’s one thing that I could do without:  the Inevitable Forgetting of Important Things.

There are a number of Capital Letters in that phrase, so let me explain:  Whenever there was a baseball game on a week night, our evening would devolve into chaos quite quickly.  I’d arrive home from work five minutes after the time we should have left.  To get back on schedule, I’d typically eat dinner without chewing it while I changed my clothes and brushed my teeth. This was a multi-tasking miracle in regards to the number of tasks accomplished at once.  However, because of the diverse nature of the tasks, it was also messy and somewhat disgusting.  Still, it’s what was necessary to get to the game on time.  So I did it.

Once that strange combination of eating/teeth brushing/clothes changing was done, I’d run out to the van, hop into the driver’s seat, turn the key and then, for the first time in the entire evening, I’d pause. Turning around, I’d stare each of the kids in the eye, hold their attention for a second or two, let the import of the moment sink into their little heads, and then I’d ask:  “Do you have everything?”

It was a simple question.  A question meant to jog their little memories.  A question meant to make them ask the question in their own heads:  “Do I really, truly have everything I might need for tonight’s athletic event?”

Instead, every time I asked the question, they’d respond immediately, with absolutely zero thought (and with some exasperation):  “yes, dad”.

Well, I’ve got five children and the oldest two are 13, so this isn’t my first rodeo, so to speak.  And so I would never let them off that easily:  “You have everything?  Really?  How about your glove?  Your hat?  Your bat bag?  Your bat?  Your cleats?”  I’d rattle off every single piece of baseball gear I could think of as they answered with an immediate “yes” to each item.

Finally, after what felt like a 30 minute deposition, I’d turn around in my seat, ease the van out of the driveway, and begin the journey to the baseball field.  And every single time, after I was far enough away from home to make going back frustrating, I’d hear it start:  the scuffling of their little fingers as they clawed through their bat bags looking for something.

I’d hope against hope every time I heard this that they were looking for a Mento.  But no.  After about 30 seconds of frantic scuffling, someone would nervously clear his throat as happened several nights ago:

“Uh, Dad?”

“Yes…” (through gritted teeth).

“Ummm.  Funny thing . . . you know when you asked if we had everything and then listed off all the things?”

“Yes.”

“Well, you know what you forgot to list off?”

“No.  What did I forget to list off?” (through gritted teeth again).

“Well . . . and this really is hilarious . . . you never asked me if I was wearing my cup.”  At this point the kid usually breaks into nervous laughter and falls silent. No one else typically laughs at this point because they know trouble when they see it.

I try to keep my cool and clinging to a very unreasonable hope, I ask:  “Are you wearing your cup?”

“Ummm.  Not technically.  I actually forgot it.  We’ll have to go back and get it.  But don’t worry.  I’m pretty sure I know where it might be…”

Every time.  Every game. Oh, sometimes they’d forget gloves.  Sometimes, it was their bat.  Maybe their hat, their sunglasses, their Gatorade . . . it doesn’t matter.  Whatever it was they forgot, it was always something we’d have to go flying back to the house to retrieve.

And it drove me nuts, stressed me out, and got almost every single game night off to a rocky and uncomfortable start.  All because we weren’t organized.  All because we were starting something without having all the right equipment.

Well, the same thing often happens when we’re working on paint projects. We start the work and after we dip our expensive brush into a new gallon of oil-based paint, we realize we forgot to pick up paint thinner.  Or we pour our paint into a tray and realize that the roller cover we had isn’t the right one for the project. Or–and this just happened to me a week or so ago–we run downstairs to grab that paint brush we’ve got in the basement only to find that we didn’t clean it out well enough the last time.  Now it’s unusable and we’re standing there with our paint can open and no brush to apply it with.

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When we forget to amass the right tools for our paint projects, we find the stress level rises quickly.  Our schedules are thrown into chaos, and all too often (if you’re like me) we try to make things work using the tools we have, not necessarily the right ones.  And usually, the results are frustrating and disappointing.

The good news about all of this is there’s a fix.  At least for the paint project part of it (I don’t know how to fix the baseball stuff!).  Anyway, the way to make sure you’ve got all the right tools for your next paint job is as simple as using a basic “Project Checklist”.

We’ve got one that you can download by clicking this link.  It’s a simple tool that will help you mentally go through your project ahead of time.  The list will recommend certain items and most of the time, you’ll discover one or two things you would never have thought to gather ahead of time.

Tackling a paint project can be a very rewarding and fulfilling experience.  It can even be somewhat of a stress reliever–almost therapeutic in a way.  Just make sure you’ve got all the items necessary before you start and you’ll discover how smoothly a project can go!

Stenciled Dresser Project

green_furniture_web_030816Finding and old piece of furniture–something that’s seen it’s better days–and breathing new life into it with a little paint and some creativity is easily one of my favorite do-it-yourself projects. I love it because it’s usually inexpensive (if you’re a smart shopper), doesn’t take much time, and the results can be dramatic.

Today, I want to highlight and recommend a simple project we discovered on a great decorating blog called “Sophia’s Decor“.  (Check it out sometime–you’ll thank us later!)

This is a simple project that anyone can accomplish.  Please head to Sophia’s Decor for some great pictures and more detailed comments about the project.  But to quickly summarize:

Here’s What You Need:

  • A piece of furniture to paint (this is important)
  • Paint (main color and stencil color)
  • TSP
  • Sandpaper
  • Paint Supplies
  • Stencil or Projector

Here’s What You Do:

1 Start by scuff sanding your furniture piece with some 120-150 grit sandpaper.  This doesn’t need to be a complicated, lengthy, arm-breaking, sweat-producing sanding job.  You’re basically just dusting over the piece to dull the previous finish so your paint will bond.
2 After the scuff-sanding, wash the piece down with a TSP and water mixture.  This will remove the sanding dust and will also help to clean away any surface contaminants that might be left from cleaners and so on.
3 When the piece is completely dry, apply your main color.  Brush or roll it directly onto the furniture piece without a primer.  (If you plan to distress it, it’s important to skip the primer step.)
4 Once the piece is painted (it may take one or two coats depending on your color), go ahead and distress it.  This is a bit of an art project and takes a little bit of thought.  It’s not complicated, but you want to be careful to create an authentic distressed look without going too far.  Carefully run your sandpaper over the edges of the drawers and the top and the legs and you’ll notice that very quickly you cut through to the wood beneath.  Work around the spots that would see normal wear over the years:  the drawer pulls, edges and so on. Continue like this until you’ve achieved the look you desire and then wipe the piece clean with a damp rag.
5 When it’s dry, it’s time to apply the stencil.  This part will take some planning and some thinking and some searching to find just the right graphic.  In this case, the blogger at Sophia’s Decor used a projector to display the image on the dresser and then she traced it with a pencil, using an off white paint to fill in the lines.  You could also accomplish the same affect if you found a stencil to your liking.
6 However you put the design on, let it dry a couple days.  Once it’s dry, the last step is a light sanding over the letters.  (Don’t work too hard with this sanding or you’ll remove too much of the lettering!)  The goal here is to lightly distress the lettering and give the piece an aged look.
7 At that point, you can leave the piece as is, or, if you prefer, you could apply a light, single coat of polyurethane in a low-gloss or flat finish.  A solvent-based polyurethane will yellow slightly over time, so be aware of that before you top-coat anything that’s white!

Overall, this project will take you a couple days from start to finish–though most of that time will be just letting it dry in between paint coats. It’s fun, easy and, because the furniture piece is small compared to the room it is eventually placed in, you can experiment with colors that might be too strong for the walls.

If you try something like this, or have a project you think turned out really well, please post a pic on our Facebook page here.  We love to see what you’ve come up with!

The Fifth Wall

bigstock-Happy-Woman-Painting-The-Ceili-7960216_smaller_curl3Has this ever happened to you:  you walk into the paint store for paint and then spend the next three days or a week or more agonizing over the color chips you brought home?  You hold them up to every piece of furniture in the room.  You lay them on your carpet, on your end table.  You try to picture them large scale–covering your walls.  You debate between one shade and a slightly darker shade.  And then, finally, after all the debate and analysis and agony, you pick the perfect colors.

You make your way to the paint store, order a gallon of one and two gallons of the other and then, almost as a side note, you grab a gallon or two of ceiling white and call it good.

Do you see the problem here?  The mistake?  It may not be obvious, but it’s this:  we put huge amounts of energy and thought into our wall colors and don’t give our ceilings the time of day.

Next time you paint–change that line of thinking.  Your ceiling isn’t just a ceiling–it’s a fifth wall.  And, as such, you shouldn’t necessarily just roll white paint up there.

If you’re looking to make an impact in your home, putting color on a ceiling is a surefire way to do that.  And the reason is simple:  it’s extremely rare. apt-therapy_shadow_curlMost folks forget about their ceilings when it comes time to paint and as a result, most ceilings are forgettable.

Change that in your home by rolling a color up there.  Just keep this in mind:  the darker the color you put on the ceiling, the lower it will make those ceilings feel.  This can be great in big, high-ceilinged rooms.  Rolling a color on your ceiling that’s a shade or two darker than your wall color can go a long ways toward making your room feel cozier, warmer, more inviting.  A darker color on your ceiling will draw your eyes downward, bring down those big open spaces, and create settings that feel more personal, more intimate.

Lighter colors on the ceiling will make the room feel a little more expansive, a little more open.

white_ceiling_curlHowever, there’s something very interesting to realize here:  many folks understand this concept and they figure that painting those ceilings white will really serve to open the room up.  However, think about this:  if you’ve got a medium toned color on your walls, no matter what shade, a white on the ceiling can often produce a very sharp distinction between the walls and the ceiling.  This sharp distinction, this high contrast between walls and ceiling, can often lead people to conclude that their wall color doesn’t work–that it needs to be repainted.

Look at the picture above.  The green on those walls is a strong color.  However, the room works because the ceiling is a soft tan. It’s not a dark ceiling–definitely not dark in comparison with the walls–but it’s dark enough to create a nice balance in the space.

tan_ceiling_curlImagine the same room with a white ceiling. In fact, you don’t have to imagine it, look at the picture below.  That’s the same room with  a standard white on the ceiling and the whole mood of the room changes.  The stark white on the ceiling makes the green on the walls feel harsh.  Many times, folks would paint a room like this, think they love that green, only to be back later for new paint because the color’s just too strong on the walls.

Now, I admit, the green truly is a strong color–but you can minimize it’s strength, tone it done, control it a little better, by putting a color other than white on the ceiling.

All that to say:  don’t forget about the fifth wall in every room–your ceilings.  You can put some color up there to make a room feel more inviting, to make it feel cozier, or even to tone down the visual power of a wall color you really love.  Keep it in mind.

5 Tips to Help With Touch-Up Painting

bigstock-Couple-painting-home-5695270I received a question in my email the other day regarding touching up some paint on a wall. The question was a good one and I thought I’d spell out a few simple tips here that will help make your next touch-up job go a little easier.

1. MAKE SURE IT’S THE RIGHT COLOR

It happens often: you paint the walls a certain color and then pick up another gallon of paint in a slightly darker color. It looks great. Until 2 years later when you grab that darker color by accident and use it to touch up spots on your lighter walls. Suddenly a quick touch-up project becomes a repaint. If you’ve worked with multiple shades of similar colors, never assume that the gallon you grabbed is the right color. Always test a sample in an inconspicuous spot before proceeding!

2. EVEN IF YOU’RE “SURE” IT’S THE RIGHT COLOR, CHECK IT

What I mean is this: even if you never used multiple shades as described above and you’re absolutely, 100% positive that you are holding the can of the paint you originally used on your walls, you should still check that color. Yes, it was originally the right color, but things have changed. The paint on your walls typically darkens and deepens over time. And even in the most immaculate households, it can sometimes get a little dirty. What that all adds up to is that the paint on your walls may no longer match the paint in that original can. So don’t do what so many folks do and touch up 27 silver-dollar-sized spots on your wall only to find out the next morning that every single one of them is lighter than the wall paint. Instead, sample a small area first, allowing the paint to dry down adequately, before you begin touching up.

3. IF THE PAINT’S TOO LIGHT, FIND A SWITCH PLATE

This tip is pretty self-explanatory but sometimes folks don’t realize just how many options are truly open to them. If you check your color before touching up and discover that it’s too light–don’t panic. All you need to do is look for something in your room that has your wall color on it. This can be a switchplate, a piece of trim, a picture frame or anything along these lines. If you can’t find anything like that, another option is to simply cut a small, shallow hole in your drywall and remove a quarter-sized sample. Take this sample and bring it to RepcoLite and we’ll custom match a color for you so you can accomplish your project.

4. PAINT CORNER TO CORNER IF POSSIBLE

OK, once you have your color figured out, it’s time to actually do the work. And the ideal way to do any touch up is to look for an obvious breaking point in a room and paint a larger section. What I mean is this: ideally, don’t touch up 25 quarter-sized spots on your walls. Rather, paint that one wall corner to corner with your new color. Or paint from your built in cabinet to the doorway. Basically, look for a breaking point and paint a larger section. This will help your new paint blend in visually much better and makes the whole process of touching up much easier.

5. APPLY SMALL AMOUNTS OF PAINT USING THE ORIGINAL APPLICATION TOOL!

Sometimes, you just don’t want to paint corner to corner. Sometimes you simply want to do the little touch-ups. When that’s the case, here’s the best way to tackle it: First, make sure you use the application tool you used to originally applied the paint. If you brushed the paint onto the surface originally, then use a brush to do your touch-ups. If you rolled the paint onto your walls, then use a small roller of similar nap to do your touch-ups. And, when you’re doing these, use small amounts of paint and put some care and effort into feathering them out.

Touching up our walls doesn’t need to be complicated. But it does take a little effort to do it well. If you follow these tips, you should have no problem pulling it off!