Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Painting a Door Black

Tried and tested tips on color choice, prepping, and that unnerving scratch test. 
WE'VE BEEN REDECORATING these past few weeks. Just a few things here and there, and mostly DIY. The biggest To Do was to repaint the entire interior of our three-floor apartment. That's done, but there's still so much to do. And boy do I have a post for you.

I really hope you pick up a tip or two here if you've never actually painted before and are planning to DIY an upcoming project. I'll talk about several of the most important things I try to remember with paint jobs. I still remember the canary yellow my Mom and I (mostly her) painted on the walls of my first 'grown-up' bedroom. Painting can be a fun and completely satisfying thing and one of the easiest ways to make a dramatic change in your interiors. But it can also be a disaster. Case in point...

Our living room walls were previously painted a very clean Ivory which I loved. But lately, the whole thing just started to turn too yellow (after nine years). Everything else was painted in this strange beige that we all just got tired of. So first I decided to paint the whole apartment white (hired two guys to do this), with a few accent walls in gray. But thought that our main door needed to be different. So black it was. I was very excited and wanted to paint the door myself.

In the photo above you'll see a bit of the original dirty white on part of the door frame, and then a very bright white on the actual door. That's because I 'primed' the door with a flat enamel which I thought would help (even though this was never used on the other doors). I just wanted it to look more polished. I then went on to paint two coats of the black. Without doing a test area or a scratch test (more on that later). 

After hours of doing this and with the door finally done, I started to peel off some masking tape I used to protect the door stopper. The tape took some of the paint with it. I thought I could fix that, but then the WHOLE THING just came off in chunks. It was like peeling a large pizza crust off a marble counter while screaming.

The door was already pretty beat up, and me, I wanted to throw up.

Turns out I had the primer all wrong. I finally just consulted the man who paints our building and he said the same. I simply had to sand the original paint lightly with fine sand paper and paint the black on directly. So that's what I ended up doing. But first I had to peel all of the black paint off AND remove the enamel with paint thinner. What a waste of time, but lesson learned.

Now the first tip, which never fails me.

Always paint a bit of the color you like on the actual surface. Colors always have an undertone, including white and black. Never trust the color you see online or in swatches at the paint store. The color changes when dry and depending on the light. The best way to know for sure is to just buy a pint of the paint and brush two coats on a tiny part of the actual wall or door that needs painting and live with it for a day. Then you'll know for sure.

I used Davies---a local, lead-free, odorless, water-based acrylic latex paint which works for both concrete and wood, and even metal. I used White Smoke for the walls---a cool white with a gray undertone. Obelisk for the gray accent wall not pictured here (blue undertone). And Chasm for the black which is a rich, warm black with brown undertones. That's another thing...

Every color has an undertone. You should be able to pick the color from a swatch, and then look into the computer at the store mixing station, to see which colors are used to make the final color. Blues and some greens will make them cooler, while reds, browns and yellows will make them warm. Think about this well and save yourself from the horror of painting an entire room what you thought was a cool Lilac Pink and waking up the next morning discovering it's Peach. (nothing against peach, but yes, horrors).

Ask an Expert. I'm not an expert, and it's been years since I've painted a wall or door. I should have asked for pro advise before painting the door. Ask about whether and how you need to prep a surface and avoid having to backtrack like I did.

Lastly, the important scratch test. Prep your little test area like you've been advised and paint those two test coats. When it's dry, try scratching the paint off with your fingernails. I mean really put some weight on it while you do this. If the paint is wrong, it will come RIGHT OFF. If you've done it right, it might dent a little, and there might be some scratch marks, but the paint will stay. Just remember though that some paints typically take 2 hours to dry. So after a total of 4 hours for 2 coats, the paint will feel dry, but it might still dent. That's because some paints need weeks to a full month to CURE. So even though the paint might be dry on the surface, it would be wise not to hang a heavy piece of art or shove a bookshelf into a newly painted wall.
Back to the door. We love it. Jamon is very excited because black is one of his favorite colors (along with blue and red). Caroline not so, because she wanted it pink. But I think she'll love it sooner or later. 

The door is imposing, but not threatening. I was worried it would make the room look smaller but I was wrong. It pins everything down and the black looks great to me especially during the day. I can't wait to finish all this decorating.
Do you have a black door? Would you ever paint one black? Here's what Yohji Yamamoto and Amy Grant (yes, the singer), said about black.

"Black is modest and arrogant at the same time. Black is lazy and easy, but mysterious. But above all black says this: 'I don't bother you, don't bother me'" - Yohji Yamamoto

"Without black no color has any depth. But if you mix black with everything, suddenly there's shadow- no, not just shadow, but fullness. You've got to be willing to mix black into your palette if you want to create something that's real." - Amy Grant  

And thanks for reading.

*Some inspiring black doors herehere and here.

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