Repainting the Porch

14 Apr 2020

We've been painting the front porch, my elder daughter and me.

Well, it's only been twenty years since it was last painted, so it could probably do with it.

Like so many jobs, however, the thing you think about – brushing the bright white gloss onto the wood of the columns and crossbeams, is only the very final bit.

The first stage was for me to put on old clothes (it won't surprise you to know I keep a set of special clothes for dirty jobs and decorating), tie a scarf over my hair, and then take my trusty telescopic cobweb brush and vigorously wield it to some purpose. Legions of homeless spiders scuttled for the garden, claiming refugee status, and great ropes of web drifted through the air, doing their best to invade my nostrils and fill my mouth when I sneezed. For some reason, I had to do this part alone – my daughter politely declining my invitation to help.

Next, we got hot water, sugar soap and scrubbing brushes, and started to wash down the old paint. At this point it became clear that some of the paint had been holding on simply by tradition and inertia, and, on being challenged, quietly dissolved into tiny feathers of white, floating like grubby snowflakes on top of our dirty water.

The next day, we started to sand everything down. Isn't it amazing, how sanding down woodwork seems to involve sanding down other things as well, like fingernails, knuckles, and elbows? (Not to mention tempers!) I seem to have sanded off my fingerprints too, as my mobile phone no longer recognises my biometrics. I spent an anxious few moments staring down at the "Too many failed attempts" message trying desperately to remember my password for the thing!

Then we wiped away the sanding dust, used sixteen miles of masking tape on all the walls and the front door, and draped dustsheets over the garden paths and doormat.

Only then did we start on the first layer of undercoat.

"Mummy, you're making drips!"

"You've missed a bit. Go back and do it again."

"There's a cat hair stuck on that beam: get it out!"

A piece of advice for you: never do a painting project with a perfectionist. Unless you are a perfectionist yourself, that is. I meekly smoothed out the drips, painted over the bits I had missed, and removed the cat hairs. I know my place.

Then we rinsed out the brushes, reshaped them and put them carefully to dry in the airing cupboard.

The next day, we did it all over again.

Only yesterday, did we carefully apply the gloss.

We are so proud.

It's just a wooden porch, painted white. But she and I know the work involved and will remember with fondness (I hope) the time we spent together this spring, cleaning, sanding and painting.

Our porch is a thing of beauty and a joy forever - or at least for the next twenty years!


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