Turning Gray & Choosing Paint

Since last weekend, I put a 2nd coat of primer on the bathroom walls, this one was tinted gray to ready the walls for the final paint color.

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At this point, both the walls and ceiling are ready for paint!

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So it was time to select the final paint colors. I basically knew what I wanted, but I have the unique ability to choose 50 paint samples (that anyone else would say all look identical) and mull over just how different they each look!

But our local Sherwin-Williams store was having a sale this weekend only – 40% Sale on all paints meant I had to make a decision! Although I considered almost a dozen wall colors, I decided to go bold or go home – Black Magic is the color name. For the ceiling, I chose a very pale gray named First Star, because I want the ceiling to be a bit in contrast to the white crown molding around the room. Both the ceiling and wall paint are Duration in Satin finish, which I’ve used in the past and really enjoy painting with. It’s like painting with whipped cream – it rolls and brushes on smooth and covers really well. And rather than white right out of the can for the trim, I went with a soft-white titled Snowbound, which I think will look a little less stark. For this, the store manager recommended ProClassic for trim & woodwork. It’s their best interior enamel, and supposed to dry to a super smooth but very hard finish. I like woodwork to be just 1 step shinier than the walls, so I purchased a full gallon in Semi-Gloss knowing I might use it in other rooms as well.

I put the sample board together to show what all of the room finishes will look like together:

bathroom paint samples

The wood represents the dresser I will transform into a vanity, as well as the bathroom door. I went through my stash of salvaged doors – (what, doesn’t everyone have a stash of salvaged woodwork, doors, light fixtures, and other random antique home parts and pieces?) – and I have a 5 panel door that should work great. It will need cut down about 2 inches in height, but the width is almost perfect. I’ll probably have to re-align the hinges, and perhaps the striker plate too. A few dings and chips, but it will look great with a little patching, sanding, and some stain to even out the imperfections. Almost all of the hardware in the bathroom will be brushed nickel – silver with almost a pink/gold hue. And how about that light bulb? I had a very successful shopping trip to two different architectural salvage stores in Fort Wayne. I mixed and matched some vintage light fixtures and cylindrical globes to assemble what will be an awesome pair of wall sconces once refurbished. Not exactly what I was picturing, but $15/sconce feels so much better than $100/sconce – and they will give much the same effect. But for now they are safely stored away until the walls are ready. Now begins the week of bathroom tile!

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Optimus Prime-r

Tonight after work I swung by our friendly local Sherwin-Williams store to ask which primer would be best for fresh drywall. There’s nothing worse than spending hours prepping and painting a room, only to see each and every patch once the paint is dry because the primer didn’t prepare the walls like it was supposed to. Drywall paper will absorb paint differently than sanded joint compound, and I wanted to make sure I used the right primer so that these areas wouldn’t be noticeable with the final coat of paint.

Although they do carry a primer specifically for drywall, the friendly saleswoman assured me their Multi-Purpose primer would work great for the drywall and the existing ceiling both. Sure enough, the can lists that it will work on everything from glossy surfaces to patched surfaces to fresh drywall. Winner.

I already had roller covers and brushes, so I immediately went to work. I was a little apprehensive to prime the walls, because there is no hiding the imperfections of my drywall seams and patching once the primer goes on. Not to say I couldn’t fix those spots later, but it would point out any areas I hadn’t paid enough attention to.

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But in reality, I had very little to be worried about. If I do say so myself, I am quite the drywall master! I barely did any sanding, yet the seams turned out almost invisible, and there are just a few tiny little areas of bubbles or lines that I might go back and put a thin layer of joint compound over. But even if I don’t, the areas are so small and hidden that probably no one except me would ever notice them.

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I did not tape the seams between the walls and ceiling, because I know I will line the room with crown molding, which will end up covering this gap. That also means not having to prime all the way up to the ceiling.

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The perimeter of the attic opening looks a little unfinished, but that’s because I removed the trim pieces since they were so caked with thick ugly layers of paint. I’m not going to strip them down to natural wood, but simply sand them a bit so they aren’t so crude looking. The attic opening will be painted white to look the same as the rest of the trim in the room.

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The primer I used is pure white. This will be ok for the ceiling, which will be a very pale gray. But for the walls, I’m going to apply a 2nd coat of primer that has been tinted gray. Painters recommend a gray tinted primer for most dark colors and even when painting reds, as it helps the actual paint color come through. I’m planning on very dark gray – almost black. Below is almost exactly the look I’m going for: dark walls, lots of white tile, black framed artwork.

white gray bath

It’s monochromatic, but in no way is it cold or dull. It’s masculine and bold,  minimalist yet timeless. The only difference is that I’ll warm up the space with a stained wood vanity – (because if I went with just a pedestal sink, this bathroom would have almost zero storage space) – more on the vanity cabinet soon  And maybe a stained wood door. Haven’t fully decided yet. And that is a whole separate conversation – I don’t have a bathroom door. The one I removed was a cheap hollow core door, with a few holes and about to fall off of its hinges. The one bedroom doesn’t have a door at all, so I want to find a style I can use for both. But more on that later. I mean, come on, without a working toilet why would I need a door yet?


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Mud Wrestling, and how the ceiling turned yellow

Not really wrestling, more like flinging. Because taping and mudding all of the drywall seams actually went pretty smoothly (no pun intended), but I did throw a little mud. There is definitely a knack to mudding drywall, flinging it from one trowel to the other to keep it manageable and at the edge of the knife. I watched several videos with tips and step by step instructions. The main lessons I took from the videos were 1) be generous with the mud first, then 2) scrape off as much as possible. Number 3), professionals use paper tape for seams. 4) Thin coats are the secret to a professional looking mud job. As are the correct drywall knives.

That being said, I started on the wall where I knew most of the seams would eventually be covered in tile. I figured that would be the best way to begin.

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Sheets of drywall are 4′ x 8′, so laying them sideways  in a typical house with 8′ ceilings results in 1 seam in the center of the wall. My house has 9′ ceilings, which throws off that whole system. Since I know I want to tile the walls from the floor to plate-rail height (about 4′-6″ off the ground – to match the wainscot in the dining room), I put the 12 inch stripe in the center of the room where the two seams will be hidden once the tile goes up.

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Even after the 2nd coat of joint compound, each coat is so thin that the tape is still visible. I cannot stress enough that scraping off the excess mud after each coat is the most important step. Lather on, scrape and scrape and scrape off. And all the joint compound scraped off can be thrown back into the bucket and used for the next seam.

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I’m not sure if I had to, but I went ahead and taped the seam between the drywall and cement board along the shower walls. I haven’t fully made up my mind about how tall the tile in the shower will go. I’ve seen some examples where they tile clear up to the ceiling:


and some other examples where they leave anywhere from 12 to 24 inches of drywall to be painted:

Liska Bathroom; Liska Architects; Darris Harris Job#1090

I’m leaning toward leaving drywall to be painted. There’s going to be plenty of white, so leaving that much wall space will bring the paint color onto all 4 walls.

I also like how in this shower, they part wrapped the window opening with tile, and then above the shower head height, they wrapped the upper portion of the window to look like the rest of the home’s trim. I’m thinking this is how I will wrap the window, except using the style of trim that matches my house.


Now onto the second half of the title. As the photo below shows, the ceiling in the bathroom is white  was white. The ceiling’s plaster is in really good shape, so I only wanted to patch the cracks and few small holes. But first I used a 3″ putty knife to scrape off the areas of chipping or peeling paint. And that’s where “areas” turned into a larger and larger section of peeling paint. Not just a small area either, a huge area. And it wasn’t just a few layers of paint, I’m talking like every layer of paint in the history of the house. It must have been nearly a 1/16 of an inch thick. Back to a really early layer of most likely oil base paint, possibly the original plaster coat.

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It just kept scraping off, I never got to a point where I felt comfortable leaving it. An hour later, the entire ceiling was scraped. So that’s how the ceiling turned yellow.

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But the good news is that I got all of the paint scraped off. Better now than down the road when steam from the shower might have caused it to peel or pieces to fall off. And although I did fill all of the cracks, I wasn’t all that particular. If the ceiling looks just a bit crackly and old, that’s fine. After all, every room should have something that helps show the age of the house. It will give it character. After just a light sanding on the ceiling and all the walls, the bathroom is ready to be primed.

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