Renew on the Cheap!
Let’s take a step backwards. One summer during graduate school I bid a job to paint an entire elementary school by myself. To my surprise, the Superintendent was up for it. So, for the next three months I scaled 14-foot walls and painted every room blue. It was the cheapest way to go because you could purchase five-gallon buckets for a lot less than one gallon at a time. If the color was all the same then there would not be much waste. When the job was done, I was paid a lot of money. But when the teachers returned in the fall, they were not happy with the paint. They argued with the Superintendent that they should have been able to choose their own color for their classroom. He never thought of asking them or, maybe, did not want to get into the fight! I still got paid!
Obsessed with Beauty!
Refinishing furniture, floors, and painting are in my blood. I am always on the hunt for an upgrade. At about eight years old my dad put a brush and a hammer in my hand and that is when the problem began!
Refinishing furniture is a great payback. While working on my Master’s Degree in Wheaton, I needed to make some cash. It was difficult to find a job that meshed with my classes, homework, and research. So, I decided to refinish and paint furniture–and then sell it. This eventually could create income wherever I lived. And it did, even during my first very low-paying teaching job as a professor. I sold refinished and painted furniture on the side to pay the bills.
Soon, I was buying old throw-away pieces of furniture, repairing them, and then painting them. I created patterns and often used two or more colors on furniture. It was great fun. And, I am still doing this with my own furniture today. All of the furniture sold quickly. (I am thinking about painting my coffee table yellow! Maybe? What do you think?)
Refresh and Enjoy
Over the course of my long-life, I have renovated several houses. Sometimes I hired sub-contractors to do things that I could not do, such as outside rock work or laying heavy tile. Only once did I tear out a kitchen and replace everything in it. When it was finished, I promised never to do that again.
Often contractors did not do a great job (and they still don’t), so I learned from them and began tackling lots of renovation projects. This taught me how to renovate or renew on the cheap! Today, I would like to share some of the commonsense things I have done and I am doing now to refresh our living quarters.
Brightening Hardwood Floors
Many people think that when their hardwood floors become dull or scratched that they need to hire a professional to sand them down. We have lived in our current home for over 20 years and have never had the floors sanded. The finish was stripped twice, once after a water accident.
Yesterday, Tom and I vacuumed, washed, and then, I applied gloss Bona Hardwood Floor Finish to the hardwood floors in the hearth room. It is also available in Satin. Shiny floors inspire us. To apply, use a soft applicator. (Read the directions carefully.) The cover on my window scrubber works well as an applicator. Afterwards, it can be thrown into the wash. Very expensive applicators can be purchased, but I gave that up long ago. But, unfortunately, my window scrubber cover failed to make it to the washing machine.
I found an old Stanley Home Products applicator that mom gave me decades ago in the garage. It worked well! How long will the finish last? It depends on where you use it and how many people and pets are walking on it. I would say that it has lasted five years in our hearth room before becoming scratched and worn.
Sealing Dull Tile or Stone Floors
A contractor installed Travertine stone floors in our lower level. Unfortunately, the team did not know how to install the tile correctly (As usual). They mistakenly sealed the stone while it was filthy dirty with cement dust and debris. Tom and I tried to clean the tile and ended up using a razor blade to scrape off the crud. Eventually the company had to return all of our money because they could not fix the problem. They even brought in specialists who could not clean it. After a couple of weeks of scraping I applied TILElab Sealer and Finish on it and the floor just screams excitement. It is beautiful! (Oh, by the way, the young man who installed the tile had just lost his mother. His brother killed her, so he had an good excuse.)
TILElab has some great floor products. I deployed their 4Care Gloss Sealer and Finish on the slate tiles in our front entrance over 10 years ago (refreshed). They were dull and I don’t think the previous owner had sealed them.
Renewing Furniture, Cabinets, and Anything that has Wood Scratches
When I first began my refinishing career, there were lots of products to enhance the wood. (I have used almost all of them from wax to ….) Many times, on antiques, all I had to do was use a furniture cleaner and then spread Old English Lemon oil on it, leave it on overnight. For darker furniture there was Old English Scratch cover. This was a quick way to renew and then sell furniture. The Old English Lemon Oil is still useful for me.
Pledge Revive It is a great product to renew laminate and no-wax floors (This doesn’t make sense because you really do have to wax them, sort of!) I have also used it on stone but the manufacturer does not recommend it. It is easy to apply and lasts a long time, for us, years. I have never used it on wood.
The top of the desk in the kitchen showed scratches and had become dull over the years. Also, cabinets, after cleaning were showing scratches. A product that I have used to fill and refinish the small scratches is a Varathane touch-up marker. I drag the end of the marker over the scratch and then quickly wipe off the excess. The markers come in different color finishes. I have used them on bedroom furniture, cabinets, and more. They work!
Back to that desk in the kitchen! After touching up as many holes and scratches as I could with the marker, I still wanted a better finish. I considered sanding down the top of the desk, (or other strategies) but that would have thrown sawdust all over the hearth room and kitchen–probably more. Tom suggested that I use my hardwood floor finish. What the heck, if it did not work, I could still sand it down. It did work and it has a wonderfully hard sheen on it now.
Painting on the Cheap. Hints!
Good paint brushes are expensive. My favorite is a one-inch very thin brush that I use on small areas. That brush can cost up to $9.00. These types of brushes have to be treasured. I don’t dip them in oil-base paint unless I have a large job that will take weeks. Then, I throw it away.
Dollar Tree is one of the best places to purchase painting equipment. Everything is a dollar. Even when I am not working on a project, and I am shopping at Dollar Tree, I always pick up a few brushes. They carry 1.5 inch brushes and larger. When you are finished using them, they can be thrown away. Why spend an hour saving a $1.00 brush?
Dollar Tree does not carry the very small paint rollers. A good place to snap these up is at Walmart, when they are in stock. Small paint rollers are much easier for me to use than those old-fashioned eight or nine inch rollers.
Save Those Bags
Painting trays can also be expensive. Instead of using new ones or buying inserts for expensive trays, I use a garbage bag. I pull the bag over the tray and tie it. When I am finished using the tray, the bag gets thrown away. The tray can be used for years. Keeping brushes ready for the next day to paint takes a little planning. I usually wrap them in a plastic bag or two bags and this keeps them from drying out. Also I save large cardboard pieces to use to protect the floors when painting. No plastic on the floors.
We have all had to find things to do during the lockdown. Please stay safe. So many people do not believe that there is a pandemic and are not social distancing. I was calculating today if only 10% of the seniors died from the virus, it would amount to 4.5 million people. You can do the math on other percentages. Take care of yourselves and stay safe. Hillary, Twinkers, Tom and I are fine!
As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge
Most of the product images were taken from the net. Tom told me to contact the companies and perhaps I could create some advertising revenue. Nope, that is for people who are not retired!