Friday, 20 November 2015

Organizing paint

When you set out to paint a whole house in a very short space of time with a large and changing number of people, organisation is pretty key. I'm not the world's most organised person  - I describe myself as chaotically tidy, in that I've a passion for a clean and tidy house, but I have never mastered the art of replacing everything immediately in its home location the second it is finished with. I have done project management for many years as a trade though, so I know that planning is key to success.

In an earlier post, I talked about the importance of having an idea of the character you want to build in a home, and what colors you plan to choose. I spent a lot of time in Pinterest looking for design ideas, created my own boards, used Design Seeds for color palette selection and used Evernote for co-ordination.

Having the color palette and design ideas early, meant that we could take advantage of flash sales on paint in DIY stores  and start to build stock up before we had people on the ground. It was also pretty vital to have a good stock of paints early : regular runs to the DIY stores are fun, but highly time consuming and definitely eat into your action run rate. We didn't avoid them completely - far from it, but we definitely improved on our ratio from the summer before at the old house. However this left us with a small mountain of paint tins, generally in exactly the same design bar a small printed sticker from the color mix machine.

I came up with the idea of making a couple of small binders  with room colors and instructions. Each page had one room :  the primary areas called out (ceiling, walls, wood, accent wall) and matched with the paint color details - and a swatch from the paint chips in the store taped to it. These were stored at strategic locations ( the kitchen, near the kettle & tea, near the coffee maker) so that people could check what their next color or task would be. It's a little battered now from being well thumbed, but it is still super useful for reminding myself of exact colors for touch ups and fixing small boo-boos that appear over time. So far, I haven't run out of paint, but in previous homes it has enabled me to go and get new pots long after I would otherwise have completely forgotten my choices. Each paint tin was marked with an outsized strip of masking tape on both the side AND the top, with a clear statement of room name, and what area it was intended for. Initially it was in big bold black, but as we ran through tins, and had to relabel, it was what ever writing implement we could find. It's important to have it on both side and top : they do get stacked and having to lift off 3 other pots to see if it's the right one at the bottom is a nuisance, having it on top makes it much more eye catching. Having a a common nomenclature for rooms and paint areas helped a great deal, although we still ran into the odd hiccup - mostly when I changed the room name on the fly!

 Paint brushes and trays were the next organisation hurdle. With a couple of professional decorators in the team, we took on board their advice that since we had colors that would span multiple rooms, and multiple coats of the same color, we shouldn't clean out the equipment at the end of each painting session, but instead to wrap in airtight plastic bags until the next use point. It saved us a great deal of time (and wasted paint) in clean up but we learned a few lessons along the way :
  • Don't forget to label the plastic bags with the color. They get moved around and it's super hard to identify the different tint shades the next day if you paint in shades of white as I do. And realizing you are on the wrong color halfway across a wall is super frustrating!
  • Do plan to have a lot more brushes, rollers and trays than you originally thought neccessary. I had assumed that one per person would be enough with a few spares, but with people painting multiple colors in a day, that number rocketed up. 
  • Do have a clear plan to decommission and clean up trays for paint colors which are complete : we had quite a few trays that could have been cleared up earlier hanging around, and since we ran out people would wander around grabbing bags that looked out of service in order to equipment themselves with the expected infuriated result when the original painter came back off tea break. 
Masking tape is important for stopping paint from travelling too much, and we used a lot of reels on windows and doors. But there is always a little bit of travel and clean up. I tried again to do accent walls in much darker colors, but I still can't get straight clean lines down the edges. I've tried all sorts of tiny thin brushes, and even masking off areas, but so far it's still smudgy. I've just heard that there is a new decorators masking tape by Frog, which stops the paint from running underneath it - maybe I'll try to do some touch up with that. How do you get straight lines in paint? What is your tip for success?

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