Salut! Ca va?
Greetings from the stormy Montagne Noire. So far we have had a thunderstorm every night for almost a week now and frankly I am loving it. Rusty the dog is not the biggest fan of thunder and lightning because it is very, very frightening, but my strawberries are sure loving life for the minute. Hot days and rainy nights – that’s not half bad, really. James has been away in the UK so I have had plenty of time to piss around in this great old house of ours and finish up a few bits and bops that have needed doing, such as treating every inch of wood with wood worm killer, waxing the parquet and painting random surfaces around the house, such as our back door.
Pegonia in the evening light
Pegonia in flower
The first strawberries of the season
Perennials in full bloom
Now you might think it doesn’t really matter what a back door looks like, but ours has been giving me some grief since we moved in. First of all, it is pretty damn unattractive and second, it soaks up water, especially during our wet winters, swelling up and becoming increasingly difficult to open. If the good old seventies shed-look wasn’t bad enough, there are random pins and nails sticking out of it, horrible scratch marks on both sides evidencing bad dog ownership by the past inhabitants, and to top it all off – most of the exterior side was covered in a sheet of fibreglass.
Dark and scary corridor
sheet of fibreglass that used to be attached to our back door
Tell me if I am wrong, but nothing quite screams derelict meth lab like a door boarded up with fibre glass. Like a great big neon sign to the thieves and charlatans, it just screams THIS HOUSE IS EMPTY, THIS HOUSE IS ABANDONED.
Abandoned by good taste, anyway.
OK, overreactions aside, I was tired of looking at this ugly door, so went and took it off its hinges one afternoon, removed all the pins, straggly bits of insulation tape, as well as THE F*CKING FIBREGLASS and started prepping it up for a fresh coat of paint. The door in question is heavily lacquered pine, which needed a thorough sanding to insure the best possible bond between the paint-to-be and the wood. As the weather was superb, I was able to use my orbital sander in the garden, starting with a rough 80 grit sandpaper to get rid of as many dog scratches and bumps as possible, followed by a twirl with fine 120 grit to smoothen things out. The old hardware was easily removed before sanding, but having rusted quite a bit, I gave both pieces a good wire brushing and a new lick of black paint. Once I moved the door indoors, just as the first raindrops were starting to fall, I proceeded to tape out the little windows and priming both sides twice with scraps of white Dulux Bathroom Plus.
Oil paint, white spirit and other painting tools
back door made of pine ready to be painted
back door made of pine ready to be painted
For once, choosing the colours was easy – we are bang on in the middle of Mazamets protected historic quartier that expands around 500 metres around the protestant temple in Rue Saint Jacques and were obligated to abide with the existing colours scheme for the exterior of the house. Our front door and shutters used to be painted deep indigo blue, now faded to buggery, and it was my pleasure to start riving the exterior woodwork. I am aware some owners of old and historic houses get all hot and bothered about needing to obey protection orders and regulations around listed houses, but this is what we bought into! I love the historic charm of chez nous and I see protecting the original character of it as my duty. To summarise, if you do not wish to adhere to regulation regarding a historic building, do not get involved with one. As simple as.
pine door being primed
wooden door painted blue
Details of a wooden door being painted light grey
Tin of dark indigo paint
Also – ignoring the fact how anything would have been an improvement to the old grandpa-shed-chic, I simply love a bit of indigo.
The interior side on the other hand called for something a bit more neutral as the corridor the door is located in can look incredibly dark. I did not see a reason to cycle into the hardware store in the blazing sun just to paint one tiddly door, ooooh no way Josephine, so I looked through the tins of paint I had left over from previous projects and from that ever growing collection I picked up a can of Nuance multi support in light grey. This one is a nifty little product and even if I would not run swapping all my usual oil based paints for water based multi support emulsions like this one, I have always found it silly easy to use, economic and durable. This little tin of mere 500ml has got me through several other projects before, including re-painting a dining room table, several door frames and baseboards as well as waterproofing the inside rim of a rusty enamel bucket for the garden – so little of it does go a long way. Almost worth getting off my backside to buy some more, but naaah.
Where it was too hot to cycle before, today the skies are weeping and the roads would be much too slippery for me on my beloved Motobecane… or so I tell myself while making another cup of tea to go with blogging.
All and all, it took two coats of each paint, Nuance grey and Dulux indigo, for an even coverage. I was working with scraps, but roughly calculating how much paint I used, the overall cost of this project would have stayed well under 20 euros – which is not bad at all when compared to buying another door. Painting one does not take too long at all, but waiting for the paint to dry… that’s a different story. The hot, humid weather did not grant me any favours in that regard either, so I waited a minimum of 12 hours between each coat of oil based indigo and up to 2 hours between coats of emulsion. Painting a door is still an easy little DIY project, even for an absolute beginner. Ordinarily, being an experienced painter, the most difficult part for me is taking the thing like that off its hinges and fastening it all back up again. This time, however, I was very fortunate, because the door would sit so close to the ground I could literally just prop it up against the wall and attached the hinges back on without needing to hold the heavy bugger up in the air. In theory you can just as well paint a door in situ, but I think you get better results when laying an object like that on its back.
A wooden door being painted blue
wooden door painted light grey
On the flip side, my first attempt in re-attaching the handles went tits up real fast as I did them the wrong way round preventing the door from closing. In the rain. But that little hick up was easily corrected and nothing was spoilt – except perhaps my image as a DIY goddess.
I am sure you, dear reader, won’t tell a soul.
In hindsight… and there seems to be a hindsight to each and every project I start, I should have perhaps thought about how to cover our garden entrance before taking this door of its hinges. Well – c’es la vie! Nothing spoilt. Our garden is fenced and backing only into other peoples secure gardens so I felt comfortable just propping up another loose door (because who does not have a few pissing around in the house at any given time!?) and calling it a day. Looks to me it did the trick, steering of rain, stray cats and flying ants for the few nights the real back door was drying in my atelier.
Dog shaped door stopper
Old door handle restored to its former glory
back door opening into a small garden
Wooden door recently painted light grey
Wooden door painted blue
So what do you think? Yay or Nay for this little painting project?
It feels a bit funny to be painting something having just spent literally weeks stripping paint from woodwork and restoring it to its original glory, but this is how the cooking crumbles chez moi. There are some wood purists around and I could see how some of you out there would prefer the knotty pine look over smooth, painted one, but not all woodwork is created equal in my view; painting over a century old door with lovely patina and stunning wood grain feels somewhat worse of an idea than blending in a relatively contemporary addition.
Ultimately, the most important thing is that I love the new look. Sans fibreglass, the house is looking immediately more up together from the back than it did before and the grey really lightens up our dark corridor. Job well jobbed it is then – I would even pat myself in the back if I was not sitting down so comfortably.
I am off to explore the rain with my little lad, until next time – au revoir! xxx