Out with the red!

Ever since we moved in, I’ve wanted to do something about the red walls in the snug. It’s supposed to be our warm, cosy and bright room for listening to music and/or reading while the open fire burns. It’s also our haven when the mains electricity goes off. For me, though, red walls are not conducive to quiet relaxation at the end of the day. For the OH, a nice room to winter in would be appreciated. As I recently unearthed several cans of ancient but still useable paint, I decided to do something about the red walls—until a test patch revealed the red would bleed through the white, pale yellow or pale green paints I have. 

So, taking a deep breath, I reluctantly opened the moth filled wallet and bought a tin of white base coat plus a new set of rollers. (Well, the old rollers were also 10-plus years old and covered in dried paint, dust and mouse droppings.) The blurb on the side of the can claimed that one coat would stop bleedthrough. It didn’t. It took two coats.

I didn’t mind that too much: I don’t believe any of the claims written made about any product but it would have been useful if the paint had gone further. No, the more irritating issue was that the Demon Bodger had applied the lining paper and it started to lift as the paint went on. I could see the paste marks where he/she had daubed it on instead of covering the paper thoroughly. I’d already stuck down the odd lifting corner before starting but hadn’t expected the whole lot to bubble.

I debated stopping, then stripping the whole lot off and starting afresh. However, we’re in the expensive part of the year and, while many people will undoubtedly tell me lining paper and paste are “cheap”, spending more money on redecorating is not justifiable. So I continued, resigning myself to sticking down lifting edges and slicing through the bubbles to glue them down. With one section of the room done, I pressured washed the radiator to remove several years gunge from its innards, refitted it and moved everything back to the left side of the room. I work in stages as the OH prefers things to be at least slightly ship-shape at the end of the day.

I’ll spend another day doing the next wall and a quarter, then I’ve have to dedicate most of a third day to renovating, reinforcing, filling and painting the Demon Bodger’s bookcase. The top coat won’t go on the walls until the chimney is relined, which could be this year. Or next. Or the year after. It will, hopefully, be sooner rather than later as white walls are almost as bad as red walls, although they are considerably brighter and reading is much easier. It should also be much nicer when the morning sun shines through the window. And yes, those are vinyl LPs and that was a turntable in front of the white wall.

12 Responses to “Out with the red!”

  1. Ah; painting houses, what a task. There is always something that will upset the applecart (plans). I rather like the blue colour Stoney.
    As for the vinyl records I continue to use my own collection. I went to sleep last night to the sounds of Burl Ives singing Riders In The Sky and On Top of Old Smokey, among other classic songs.
    Beats a lot of the “stuff” that passes for music these days!

  2. the room will feel a whole lot larger without that red :)

  3. it was rather a bright red, not really cosy. You can always bring colour into a room with the soft furnishings.
    Sometimes just one wall in a deep colour can be enough!

    • I’m not keeping even a single wall in a deep colour. The dining room was worse—it had orange walls with a red ceiling. We repainted that immediately. The entire house needs decorating: almost all the woodwork has no finish whatsoever, some plastered walls only have a base coat, and the remaining walls are covering in peeling wallpaper, faded paint, and strange stains. But the house has been waiting for a coat of paint for years so it can wait a little longer. :D

  4. They aren’t bubbles – they are texture. It’s traditional to have texture in a croft, innit.

  5. If the bare wood is pleasant, maybe you could get away with just lightly sanding it and a quick wipe-over with wax? My advising wood-workers are not keen on finishes at all. The most serious of them say that all you need to do with good wood is to keep it well-dusted and maybe a damp cloth once in a while if there are sticky marks, but failing that your choice is between a traditional hard-paste wax or a modern microcrystalline wax. They have religious disputes about it but broadly, the microcrystaline wax will do a good job of making an easy-clean surface on modern wood.


    The Briwax blog has interesting pictures of Maddison’s study which I think you would like. The blog argues that the one place you really need to paint wood is where sunlight is going to hit it repeatedly e.g. an outer door. Nothing you can do about it; UV breaks down lignum in months rather than years. Obviously they want to sell products but their advice is generally reliable.


    • Most of the woodwork is modern, fast-grown, low budget pine. Every bit of it that’s exposed to a south-facing window has turned a dull orange with raised grain. The wood is full of ugly knots, much of it has warped and, years after it was put in, it’s still bleeding sap. It’s definitely not nice wood. To make matters worse, it’s been tacked in place with a nail gun by someone who used vast numbers of nails and fired them in too hard. Even our cheap pine bookcases look better.

      The best thing to do would be to rip it all out and start again, but that’s not going to happen. The next best thing will be to sand and plane it down to get a relatively even surface, fill the numerous holes, stop all the knots and then paint it. At least it will look something like the interior of old croft house then.

      It’s not like the house I renovated in London, which had beautiful pitch pine wall panelling, panelled doors and deep skirtings hidden beneath 30 layers of old paint. It was beautiful wood. The stuff we have here is awful.

      Oh, and I prefer hard paste waxes. :D

  6. One of the things I’ve done in both our homes is to rip off the nasty 60s panels covering the original moulded doors. In our first flat, the doors went off to be dipped and stripped, and were then waxed, but an impending child (and the expense that brings) meant doing it myself, with a hot air gun, in our current home. Massive effort, but unfortunately, the wood underneath was so damaged I ended up glossing them anyway. Over the years we’ve had bits and pieces of ‘previous-owner vandalism’ rectified, but it’s still an ongoing job. The skirting boards and door facings need replaced at some point, but I’m waiting until I can afford decent wood. What’s there, although painted, is good quality and has so far lasted over 70 years. I’m reluctant to replace that with low budget pine.

    • Our house was burned out in a fire some years before we bought it and rebuilt, so it lost its original woodwork. A succession of owners then made various changes and additions, with varying degrees of success and quality. The result is a mish-mash that really needs a lot more money and resources than we have. It’s still habitable, though, and that’s the main thing.


  1. White, white and more white | Musings from a Stonehead - 9 November, 2011

    [...] meant picking mould out of one can of matt white vinyl and straining chunks out of another, and set to work covering up the red. There was still bleedthrough so a tin of heavy duty base coat went on last month’s bills. [...]

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