Finally, a chance to get started on the painting

(Real time note: I’m back in Sacramento for almost four days now, thoroughly in this time zone and buckling down to all of the work here that I missed doing while I was away. I’ve spent a couple of days weeding, pruning, and picking up tomato vines from the ground in order to tie them to the trellis they were supposed to be clinging to as they grew. Odd cool weather here has meant few tomatoes have set, but the arugula I planted has already gone to seed, the chard is just ready for harvest, and the basil mostly succumbed to the hailstorm bombardment here the day before I left for Italy in May. Still, the blogs are all coming, fit into the mix of my other duties here. And so, I begin!)


One of the priority projects for me on this last trip to Spello was painting the main areas of the house, using a special paint intended to prevent the mildew problems that I had experienced last fall and winter when black “muffa” began to grow around the condensation-soaked windows. The addition of two dehumidifiers has ended the problem of water running down the window glass and driving up the humidity in the house, but that was just one of the permanent solutions. I started by preparing to paint the bathroom, knowing that the humidity there from the shower was probably the highest in the house on a regular basis. My friend, Pall, had delivered a huge bucket of special anti-mildew and anti-algae “breathing paint,” which also lets the humidity IN the walls escape through the paint, so that I could put up a chemical barrier protecting the walls from mildew problems in the future.

My first task was finding a ladder to be able to reach what I needed to prep and paint—one thing I could not possibly carry home from the distant hardware store on my own, on foot, and up the hill to my house. I have made a friend there at the Bricofer hardware store, and I asked her if there were a way to have a ladder delivered to my house if I bought one of their ladders, so she quickly drafted her son to cart me, the ladder, and all of the painting supplies I had purchased home, right to my door in Spello. Bless you, Rita!

My new heavy-duty ladder, as the sanding begins in the bathroom

I have done plenty of painting in my homes, over many years, and was utterly confident that I could do this on my own. I started with removing all of the nails and hooks in the wall, where mirrors or pictures or medicine cabinets had been hung by the previous occupants, and then filled the holes with “stucco,” and sanded all of the wall surfaces smooth. It took days of work, with my hair turning white from all the paint dust, but soon I was ready to mask off the woodwork and head for the paint bucket to begin painting.

Buckets full of used sandpaper, during the prep for painting

The bathroom prep mess spills out onto the kitchen counter, with all of the prep materials and the "stucco" handy nearby

Sanding dust accumulates on the floor, in my hair, all over the house

A tight working space, but I was anxious to get the bathroom finished and painted

The drop cloth goes up for the paint spills--along with the blue painter's tape I brought with me from Sacramento.

More masking tape, ready for the paint

Working on my own, I put in long hours of preparation, and was finally pouring paint into the tray with the roller and brushes, and applying the paint to the walls. It made such a difference in the brightness in the room, and I was pleased with the smooth, even-textured results.

This is just sad--me in my painting gear, caught by Paola with my own camera

In a few hours, as the paint began to dry, I experienced a major letdown. The previous painters had not used any type of primer over the concrete walls, and the new paint had only moistened the previous layer of paint, lifting off both layers in several spots on the wall. Not only had all of my prep been for nothing, I would now have to scrape off the peeling paint and sand the walls again, starting all over from the beginning. First, however, a trip back to my friend at the hardware store, and another trip home with her son carrying the “fissativo,” the primer that should have been used in the first place.

The new paint and the old paint peel up from the wall

More peeling paint in the corner

Even with a lot of experience painting sheetrock walls, and sometimes texturing them myself, I realized too late that none of that experience applied in the case of painting on concrete over thick stone walls. The old paint had not adhered to the concrete below, and it was “back to square one,” as they say, and a very disappointing loss of my investment of time preparing the bathroom for painting and putting on the first coat of the special and especially expensive new paint.

1 comment to Finally, a chance to get started on the painting

  • phototiff101@gmail.com

    What a bummer. I am so sorry to hear that. Hopefully it will turn out even better the next time around!

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