Spray Happy

I think it was Aerosmith that once said:  “Spray on, spray until your dreams come true.”  …Or something like that.  And, let me tell you, I had big dreams, involving a good deal of spraying, for this little beauty eyesore that we found on Craigslist for forty bucks:

More specifically, my dream involved taking the grungy black chairs and mismatched green table legs from boring/ugly to beautiful, glossy, and happy. On a side note, I also have dreams of living in an apartment with a deck that doesn’t overlook a gravel alley/parking lot with random trailers parked in the background, but we have to tackle one thing at a time.  I’m all about baby steps, remember?

I will now introduce you to my trusty assistant on this project, Mr. Exotic Sea by Valspar:

I had considered going with red or yellow, but when I went to Lowe’s to check out the options, this guy caught my eye right away.  I brought just one can home (Mistake #1), because I wasn’t sure how much it would take, and then the fun began.

First, I wiped down the chairs and the metal table legs with soapy water and let them dry…for approximately 3 days, while I waited for a nice enough day (not too humid or windy) to paint them. Then I set to work unscrewing the wood slats from the metal base.  I had thought about just covering the tabletop with a trash bag, but then I realized that the metal parts that showed through between the slats wouldn’t get painted and would have looked really strange still being dark green.  If this is confusing, the pictures later should help, so keep reading.  My next step was to take a fancy one-handed picture of myself unscrewing the wood slats, just in case any of my readers forgot what it means to unscrew something.  I am now going to show you this picture; please feel free to pretend that it is in some way helpful.

Finally, after much time spent unscrewing, I reached this point:

“Wait,” you say, “it’s not finished!”

Au contraire, my friend.  It was finished.  That last slat of wood wasn’t going anywhere.  It had a stripped screw that I simply could not get out.  I tried pliers, Vise-Grips, a square head screwdriver, and my sheer force of will, but nothing so much as made the thing budge.  Note:  After this incident, I came across a tip for removing stripped screws that suggested putting a wide rubber band between the screw and the driver…if anyone has the chance to try this, let me know if it works! 

So, what do you think I did next?  I’ll tell you:  I gave up.  Yep.  I let the stupid piece of wood win, but before it had a chance to gloat, I smothered it in newspaper (that sounded a little violent, sorry).  Here’s what I mean:

I covered the wood with newspaper and tape, trying my best not to block any of the metal that I wanted to paint.  Then I drug the whole set down onto the gravel (I guess there is an advantage to our current landscaping, after all) and got to painting.

Here’s what the chair looked like after the first thin (and sort of even) coat of Exotic Sea:

Not much of a looker yet, I know.  I let the first one dry while I worked on the second chair, trying to spray everything that would be visible when the chair is sitting out (it folds up, which would make the bottom of the seat visible, but that’ll probably only happen when it’s being stored over the winter, anyway – so I didn’t worry about that).

After that, when the chairs were mostly dry (but still sticky, because I’m a little impatient), I started on the second coat, making sure to get into all the little nooks and crannies.  Want to know where Mistake #1 comes into play?  Right here.  After finishing the first chair, I ran out of paint.  So, I let the chairs dry completely, and then hauled everything back onto our deck to wait until I’d have a chance to get more paint.  Of course, when I went back to Lowe’s they were out of one color of spray paint.  The color?  Exotic Sea.  Needless to say, our deck situation was a little embarrassing for awhile with that half-finished patio set lurking in the corner sitting smack dab in the middle.

Are you wondering what Mistake #2 was yet?  Well, I didn’t have any latex gloves laying around, so I went bare-handed.  Here’s why that was a mistake:

And that was after I washed my hands.  Spray paint doesn’t come off easily, which is great for our patio set, but not so great for my hands, which stayed that way for a few days.  Luckily, I came up with a better plan for the next round of spray painting.

My husband told me a few weeks ago how to work our charcoal grill (as if I’m ever going to grill something when he’s not here), and he explained his method for retrieving charcoal from the bag without turning his hands all black:  a plastic grocery bag “glove”.  Genius, right?  At least I thought so.  I borrowed the idea for spray painting, and it worked like a charm.

I’ll spare you the boring details of painting the rest of the set.  The gist of it is: spray as thinly and evenly as you can to avoid drips, apply two to three coats, and spray everything that’ll be exposed.  Do all that, and you’ll end up with something beautiful like this:

The cheery aqua color makes me smile every time, especially in that glossy finish (as opposed to the chalky texture the metal had before).  In case you’re wondering, those cushions came with the set, too.  As far as the tabletop goes, I think we’re going to leave it how it is.  We considered staining/painting/whitewashing it, but it’s in good shape and won’t take so much upkeep as the other options might (especially because it sits outside all the time).  I also really like the mix of the modern and bright aqua with the rustic wood.

And it’s a good thing I painted underneath those wooden slats, huh?

Anyone else been spray painting things lately?  Did you also not buy enough paint or turn your hands blue for a week?  I highly recommend the high-tech plastic-bag-glove technique, if you’re considering it.

Total money spent:  $7.18 (+$40 for the patio set)

Total time spent:  roughly 3 hours of active time