The Venetian Fiasco

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

I thought I'd post a few thoughts (ok, a big long pathetic story) about my painting woes. Perhaps it'll encourage any other poor saps out there in the middle of the same thing (or planning to get into it).

I love to do faux finishing. I love painting and doing cool effects. I've even done it at a few other people houses and sometimes I even get paid. I think I do a pretty good job. I decided a while back to try out this Venetian plaster that all the decorating shows rave about. I went to Home Depot and got an instruction card that Behr paints puts out. I chose a colour (Tuscan Sun) and bought a can. I asked some questions while I was there--like did I need to do a base coat the same colour? No, they said. Cool.

So after my delayed painting start, due to all the sickness in my little family, I tackled the plastering. The home depot girl said to get a good quality steel trowel/scraper so I did that. I start troweling it on just like I've seen Doug on Trading Spaces. Seemed easy. Liked what I was seeing.

I chose to do the long wall that goes from the front of my house--the living room, through to the dining room. I figured out that the wall is 192 square feet. The can of Venetian plaster said it would cover 150 square feet with 2 coats. Dang. I'd hafta get another can. But, I estimated, I wouldn't need the whole second can. I scouted around to see if there were any other small walls that would look good in Venetian plaster.

To my dismay, however, it took the WHOLE can to do ONE coat. Ok, I thought, I guess I put it on too heavy. Didn't think that would be a problem. The instructions said to put it on and leave gaps, to be filled in with the second coat.

So I go out and buy my second can and start in on the second coat, filling in all the gaps. Again, it took the WHOLE can to the the second coat. Little annoying. Now there was none left for accent plastering somewhere.

To my further dismay, the next morning when I arrived (as this was the week before we actually moved in), I could STILL see thin patches where the previous wall colour showed through. Not dramatically. But I could totally see it. There was no way I could leave it like that--my eye would seek out those patches (and they were all over) every time I walked into the room.

I went back to home depot and waited an hour to talk to the guy who'd helped with the second can of plaster. I was also starting to get concerned that the finished walls would not be conducive to washing down, as my chillen's were already getting splatters on the yet-finished Tuscan Sun. He assured me that it would be washable once I'd done the final step--sanding and 'burnishing', or rubbing the walls with my scraper. Still, I bought a can of special top coat, but I think I'll be taking it back. He could not, however, explain why the product wasn't covering as it indicated it would. I told him how I had done coat one with gaps and coat two, filling in those gaps. He said he just does two thin coats, insinuating that that was my problem. Still, it didn't seem to make sense--I should have done two thin coats instead of two heavy coats and then I wouldn't have bare patches??? He told me to call Behr.

So I did. I have to admit, they are very friendly and helpful over there in Behrland, wherever that might be. The lady there told me to go by a third gallon and send in my receipt--they would reimburse me. Cool.

Everynight, we hustle as soon as the kids go down, to get a few more jobs completed. Last night James got the end panel on the kitchen cupboards, so now I don't have to look at the innards of the dishwasher. He also got some of the filler trim and the kickplates in, so things are really starting to look finished in the kitchen. It's real nice.

And me, I decided that after 2.5 weeks, I needed to get back to finishing this wall. The instructions said that coat one was to dry for 4 hours and coat 2 for 24 and then the sanding/burnishing step needed to be done within 7 days.

I didn't think there'd be any problem, since, I was now doing coat three and after 24 hours, I'd do the sanding/burnishing step on that coat and all would be peachy.

Hmmmm. Not so peachy.

I start doing the coat and suddenly I notice teeny-tiny little bubbles popping up all over the section I've just done. Large sigh.

So I get on the phone and call the Behr people again. (Their tech people are open really late--very sensitive to those of us doing all our painting after kiddies go to bed). He tells me that, oh dear, I should have done this third coat much sooner. Like, 2.4 weeks sooner. There's talc in the plaster, see, and after it dries, that comes to the surface. The talc causes the bubbles. So now, I need to sand down the wall and remove that top layer where the talc is, and then I can do my third coat.


Of course, I didn't have a proper sanding block so I made due with some other tool that I had to tape the sandpaper on. I think I ended up retaping about a dozen times over the course of 192 square feet. And at 11pm last night, I wasn't about to get the whole wall sanded, so that meant I had to finish this morning, and get the new coat of plaster on, since I'd already done a 3X3 foot patch in the one corner--bubbly as it was. In case you've missed it, in previous posts, I've made it clear that painting walls and three preschoolers is a BAD combination.

So now I sit, looking at my third coat. I'd better not find any bare patches when this dries. Still have to do the sanding/burnishing phase--tomorrow night after the kids go to bed. Verity already left her mark on this wall earlier (ooh, see that over there? That's her little hip, and that that there is the side of her head--for posterity you know)

It's gonna look great, I'm sure of that, but man, what a headache. So to anyone out there considering Venetian plaster anytime soon, allow me to give you some sage advice:

Pick a really small wall.


Carolynn said...

We feel your pain. We did the Behr Venetian plaster in our bathroom. I won't go into details but I TOTALLY recommend the top coat!!!

Anonymous said...

We did our bathroom a couple of years ago with the same stuff. It is a lot of work but is worth it. I just got a compliment on it again last night from a friend. It took a long time (weeks) before it was really hard and dry, now it's a beautiful and durable cleanable surface.

Marsh (Carolynn's Husband)

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