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Not about Art, or Writing or Politics, or Covid.

My friends,

             I haven’t said much lately, but feel I must speak out…no, not about world affairs, the current Covid situation, or any other earth-shattering, momentous subject. Mine I fear is a purely 1st world problem, even if driven by a lack of funds.

My problem is with my kitchen countertop ‘transformation’. Yes, you heard me. It is a piddling problem I know, but I want to warn you DON’T DO IT.

Look, I want you to know that even though I’m an, er, older woman I am not useless and not allergic to some hard yakka (that’s work, for my overseas readers). In recent years I have painted rooms, wallpapered rooms, laid floors, tiled floors and been reasonably pleased with the results, even if they weren’t perfect, even if it was a lot harder than I expected, even though I’ve wanted to scream and swear in the doing: I would be prepared to do it again if necessary. However, I will never do the countertop transformation again, unless I have a hoard of helpers off camera cleaning, the mess, re protective covering the floor and cupboards and supplying sets of look-alike clothing so I look fresh and unscathed every moment.

It is NOT as easy, clean and tidy, controllable, time-saving, or simple as the how-to video claims. Admittedly, they did suggest having two people working together (then showing only one person at a time working on it), but I live alone and am stubborn enough to think I can do just about everything. Despite being only one, I contend, I should still have had reasonable success.

Let’s go back to my original, small kitchen, I’d show you a photo of the before, but I didn’t take one. Silly me. It is L-shaped about 10 feet long. It was pink. Hideous. Not bright pink, mind, but euch. The cupboards are a kind of motely, pale pink. The handles were brass, but I painted them black in preparation for my shiny, new, black (sorry ebony) benchtops. The original benchtops were a brighter deeper pink toned down a little by grey flecks. Now, you may think that’s not so bad, but personally I HATE pink in my house. Pink is for wearing, not for plastering all over the inside of your house. Ahem, sorry.

So, months ago I bought the box of transformation; everything you need to make your easy transformation in one week-end, except for the other stuff you’ll have to buy like – dropsheets, tape, two different sorts of rollers, paint scraper, paint brushes x 2, paint trays, cleaning cloths, face masks, eye protection, gloves. Okay, I can and did absorb those costs; not without grumbling a little, but I gathered all needed tools and sat on them for months. I was nervous about trying (if only I knew, before I laid out the money), what if I screwed up – never mind it would still be cheaper than buying and installing new ones, right?

I watched the video a couple of times in the intervening months, and umpteen times on the appointed days. I thought in my hubris, I can do this. So, finally, I girded my loins and made a start. I cleared and cleaned the benchtops, taped and drop-sheeted the kitchen cupboards and appliance, put a drop-sheet on the floor (In retrospect, I should have taped that into place as well, you live you learn, I can cope with the fall-out from that, ‘course I can.) The fridge was easy enough, but the stove was too heavy for me, so I left it in place and taped plastic over it. (I can deal with the resultant black marks on its brand-new, white sides. I can and will. It’s my fault after all.)

Right, next using the specially provided diamond embedded scratchy thing-a-ma-jig, sanded the benches and back splash, using the specially bought PPE (We all know what that acronym means these days, don’t we?) I wore old clobber (clothes), unlike the man and woman on the video who wore nice jeans and attractive shirts. Thank god I did because, let me tell you, I am throwing those filthy, stained items out when I finish.

Anyhow, sanding back with diamonds, fine dust everywhere (I will have to do a full house clean, when I work up the energy.) Using, as suggested the ordinary sanding block on the back-splash and corners, which I had trouble reaching because I’m slightly vertically challenged. This was hard yakka (you remember that word, right?) The idea being to scratch the gloss from the surface so the stuff will adhere well. I made 3 passes before I thought I had it. The bloke on the video made it look easy with his distracting muscles and apparent sangfroid.

Not having a ‘Shop-vacuum’, I did, as suggested, and used a dust-pan and broom to sweep up the talc-fine detritus, causing a dust-storm; tried using a damp cloth, but there was just too much of the rotten stuff; resorted to my house vacuum. Thankfully, it stood up to the assault and did a pretty good job.

Time to wipe away and residual dust with a damp lint-free cloth, again, and again and again. Bugger any dust left after that. Seriously though, I did check that it was clean by wiping my hand across the area. The day passed in a haze of fine dust particles. Time to stop for the night and rise early to get the rest done.

Now, the fun part. Throw the dog out so he doesn’t get poisoned or put his hairs on the soon-to-be sticky surface, and close the windows and doors so dust doesn’t enter. What about me? Oh right, my face-mask. Here the video reminds me its no good if its not a proper, filter, re-breather. Too late now, I’ll just have to take my chances. Open the adherent, sealer stuff and stir with the thoughtfully supplied pine stick. There was thick, heavy gloop settled under a watery surface. I stirred and stirred until it became a slightly less heavy, gloopy whole. Poured it into the paint tray, painted the back-splash corners, and hard to get at places. Piece of cake. I can really do this. Time for the 3/8” nap roller, which soaked up a ton of the gloop and would not roll evenly. At this rate I’ll run out of gloop. Oh well, I’ll use the paint brush, no biggie. Had a little trouble around the stove area, no worries, she’ll be right mate.

Sprayed the wetting agent so the gloop wouldn’t dry out and so it would  collect the coming coloured chips. (Yes, I know I said ‘ebony’, but with colour chips to make it look like stone.) Oops the gloop on the back-splash has run a bit, more gloop needed. Next using the supplied chip sprayer thing, smoothly and evenly crank the handle and spray on the colour chips thickly, so thickly, have to make sure every speck of the gloop is covered. The container full of chips was okay for about 5 mins then became increasingly heavy, turning the handle became a jerky movement. My holding arm is going to break – bugger this I’ll just throw the stuff on. That was kinda fun but coloured, pretend-stone chips went everywhere. Thank god for the floor drop-sheet, right? Oops, not taped down. Oh well, the spill-over isn’t too bad, I’ll clear it up later.

Now, wait at least 12 hours but no longer than 24 hours for it to dry and adhere. Yes, it looked very rough but I was reassured via the video that that was how it should be. This timeline means I either stay up until 2am or wait a little later, being hyper aware of the 24 hour limit. (They don’t say why, by the way.)  Had a shower and went out for afternoon tea with friends, who assured me I smelled like a chemical factory.

Very early next morning, I swept off the extraneous chips, and there are lots of them. Oh no, some bare spots. Never mind, the video shows how to do a quick repairs, simples. Now wait another 6 hours. So, time to make it to the plant sale and exhibition at the local community hall. Oh no, I bought stuff.

Mid-afternoon and its time for the diamond treatment again, clean and do it again. Finally exhausted, I had a surface, which while not exactly as smooth as the supplied comparison tile, was I thought good enough. Oh no, now some spots where the chips and goop have lifted, or I sanded a little too vigourously. No worries, repair job again. Wait further at least 4 hours. I decide to do the last layer in the morning. The dog now thoroughly disgruntled at his exile is further confused by the inordinate number of showers.

An early start sees me sweeping the bench of further loose chips, sanding, sweeping, vacuuming and wet-wiping over and over. Open sealer tin and activator bottle pouring one into the other setting up a stink, stir them together for at least 2 mins but no less. (I did 3 – 4 just to be sure.) Pour into paint tray and proceed as before, using 2nd paint brush for corners etc, nice thick layer, thanks. Then using foam roller do counter tops, I hope that is going on thick and smooth enough. Dinner-time has come and gone, not that the chemical odour has whetted my appetite but by the time I’ve finished the legs are a bit wobbly and I need a feed, even if I don’t want one.

This morning I expected to be able to remove tape and plastic drop-sheets, but the counters are still tacky. I can’t take the plastic down for fear of ruining the finish with small chips that have adhered to the tape and pooled in places like on the plastic covering appliances, and tape protecting paint and windows. All of which is why I’m sitting at my computer writing this, waiting for the beautiful day outside to dry the surface properly. Then, I have to wait for 48 hours before putting even light things on the surface, and another week before commencing full use.

A week-end job that actually takes at least a week, thank god I’m now retired, and am not expecting any house guests, so I can live without a kitchen for a while.

My final words are – The shiny sealer looks a bit patchy and thick and thin in parts, but it is no longer pink!

My final, final words are – I WILL NEVER DO THIS AGAIN, and I suggest you don’t even try.

Ciao for now, Rosa.

P.S. Have just tried removing the tape and despite scoring where the tape and surface meet it is still pulling some of the surface away, just a bit, nothing a lick of black paint won’t fix, right?

By rosepoetartist

aka Percy Rose
Novelist
Poet
Playwright
Artist

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