Handy tips and funny stories
It seems that even professionals can have a bad day painting. Over time we have received various funny decorating stories and handy tips from trade painters, so we have gathered together a selection for you. Please note that these tips have not been tested by Resene and are included below as supplied to us.
We hope you enjoy these stories and tips and if you have a funny decorating story of your own to share or a handy tip we'd love to hear from you - submit your funny decorating story or submit your handy decorating tip.
Thank you to all those who have shared their funny tales and handy tips.
Coverage more or less
“A couple of years ago while painting a large block of flats – to get to the door of the property we had to go through one of the flats. We knocked on the door and the female occupier opened the door – ahh – no top on – aghast we told her we needed to go through to the rear. She led us through.
The following morning knock knock – I nearly fell over – the lady appeared totally nude; still in shock we went through to the rear of the dwelling.
Meanwhile the owner had asked me to paint a couple of rooms inside. Gladly I undercoated the bedroom trying not to look anywhere but at the wall.
The next day she answered the door fully clothed and went off for the morning. I worked outside for a while and then went inside to topcoat the room. As I was getting my paints ready the lady returned, stripped naked, and went about her house as if I was not there. Uncomfortably I topcoated the room.
That evening the owner phoned me and asked if I had been drinking – “no why?” “You painted the room three different colours!” I assure you I was a gentleman at all times.”
Short term memory
“I was about halfway down a service driveway at the back of several shops signwriting a wall, about three or four metres off the ground, on a plank supported by ladder brackets on my split extension ladder.
The driveway was asphalted and wide enough to get a car between my ladders and the tall wooden fence on the opposite side. At the far end of the drive was a dairy and the owner had carefully driven past me several times while I was up on my plank.
This particular time the dairy owner got into his car and started to back down the driveway as he had on earlier occasions. Hearing his car start I looked down and then watched in disbelief as he backed out, making a beeline for the nearest of my ladders. He had obviously forgotten I was there. With the realisation he was going to hit me I started yelling. He didn’t hear me. I yelled louder. He was oblivious. He got closer, I yelled louder. He got closer still, I yelled louder still. His rear bumper nudged and started shifting my ladder. The yelling became desperate screams. The ladder was being pushed over and one end of the plank started descending into a decided downhill drop. I started looking for a soft landing place to aim for when it became necessary to abandon the plank. The car roof, appearing a long way below in my heightened state of terror, looked the best option rather than the painfully hard looking asphalt. The thought flashed through my mind ‘it’s probably softer and will crumple when I hit it, it’s also closer’.
After what seemed a heart stopping eternity the driver heard my desperate screams and halted the car. The ladder had been pushed a foot or two out of alignment and was resting against his bumper, the plank was down quite a way at one end. I slowly inched my way back up the inclined plank to the second, still straight, ladder and gingerly climbed down as best as my shaking, jellied legs would allow. The completely oblivious, untouched by impending tragedy, driver emerged from his car with a cheerful, ‘sorry I forgot you were there’, just as I was still shakily clinging to the last rungs of the ladder. I assured him I was O.K. He got back in the car, went forward, then backed carefully around the ladders and took off for the street. After briefly pausing to reflect on the peculiarity of some people, and to settle down a little, I straightened my ladders and plank and slowly, carefully, climbed back up and started work again.
A while later, having regained my
confidence and carrying on with the job,
I heard a car speeding down the road
toward the driveway entrance. I looked
around because it sounded so obviously
fast and loud. I saw, you guessed it, my
dairy mate. He swung a wide arc into
the driveway, (going miles too fast), and
with an audible thump hit the kerb almost
bottoming the car and coming perilously
close to ripping his sump off. With a heart
lurching jolt of horror I realised the car was heading straight for me,
again! With what seemed a sudden, last minute realisation he saw my
ladders and swerved away. Unfortunately at the speed he was going he
over-corrected, shot across the drive and drove straight into the fence,
ripping the side of his front bumper off and coming to a sudden stop.
This time I could tell, he wasn’t cheerful. He got out his car, looked up
at me, said, ‘that was your fault’, picked up his piece of bumper and
disappeared down to his dairy. I don’t think I saw him again.’
I arrived back, the bathroom was all nicely sanded – well done I thought –
he was sitting down reading a magazine – and I asked him was he finished.
“Yes” he replied, “and I also did the two upstairs bathrooms as well”
Yes you guessed it, for some unknown reason he went
upstairs and sanded the nicely finished bathrooms.
He failed to notice the water in the shower or
the towels on the heated towel rack. I was
speechless to say the least…
I was halfway through recoating the upstairs
bathrooms when the owners arrived home…
luckily they saw the funny side of things…
Needless to say he finished with me the same day,
he is now doing very well as an electrical apprentice
and we hope he knows his red from green.
Watch that artwork
“We had a contract for painting a new double storied French Provencal concrete house. It was very elaborate with a very large foyer and the ceiling was at least 6-7 metres high. The owners had an artist paint a depiction of Michaelangelo’s painting of “The Finger of God”. It truly was stunning.
On the second floor landing above the foyer was a library full of shelving that had to be painted. I had to spray these shelves, so I set out to work with my spray gun machine. I turned the machine on and went to pick up the gun which was lying on the landing. As I picked it up I mistakenly pulled the trigger!! And yes the safety wasn’t on, and to make matters worse there was no tip in the holder!! So it shot out a stream of Resene Lustacryl right across the painting!!!
I went into a frenzied state of panic, and yelled out to my worker to grab some wet cloths. I had to wrap these around roller poles. As we attempted to wipe the paint off the artwork, it became smeared with off-white acrylic and the Finger of God was hidden behind clouds of paint.
At that moment the lady of the manor walked in as she was showing some friends around who particularly wanted to see this famous painting. I looked skyward and wished that somehow I could just disappear. We all looked at each other then up to the painting and all in the room were speechless.
In the end we managed to get this beautiful painting back to its former glory. The artist had coated it with a waterproof sealer, lucky for me! It was one of my closest calls yet.
N.B. What we learned from this is, always take extreme care, and check
tools or machinery prior to using.”
“Some time ago I employed Lindsay, a classic old tradesman who was meticulous in work habits, particularly pedantic in cleaning gear, even roller sleeves past their use by date that would be more cost effective to be replaced. Lindsay and I were working on a house under construction with many other tradies. Cleaning a solvent roller sleeve at our workstation, tins and gear neatly in a semi-circle, he cleaned it perfectly and left it soaking in clear solvent on top of a texture coating bucket.
Later on I arrived at the workstation and plonked myself down on said bucket. Somebody had taken off the sleeve but left 40ml of clear solvent in the lid. Well, as you know these buckets are low and requires one to almost straddle to sit for a decent sized bloke. Holy mackerel! Burning hot solvent up my tender areas, got me jumping, yelping, threatening revenge on Lindsay. Tearing off my overalls I ran outside to the only tap onsite. So there I was shorts around my ankles bending over spraying soothing water on my burning butt when the chippies and plumbers came around the corner for smoko. One of the chippies laughed so much he dropped his pie which only made the others laugh more! The embarrassment was too much so with wet rag on my butt for relief I jumped in the car stripping off my soaked t-shirt.
Driving home for a shower was quite a feat as it burnt to sit down on the seat. Arriving home I decided to make a dash for the slider but my little girl, who was playing inside, had locked the door. Covering my private parts with my hands I was bending down to her level telling her to unlock the door. To my relief she came to the door but I realised she was looking past me. With trepidation I turned round – my mate’s religious and straight laced wife had driven up behind – she was just sitting there at the wheel wide eyed mouth open staring at this naked man bending over with a white rag covering part of his butt.
So I guess the tip is, sometimes it’s better to just buy a new sleeve!”
A prickly story
“My father and a number of other local farmers descended on the local rural community hall to give it a long overdue coat of paint. As we had one of the few high light front end loaders in the district he brought the old Farmall A along so the painting gang could reach the higher regions of the hall’s walls. Roy was duly lifted up the side of the south wall, which sported a bed of bracken and self-seeded blackberries below. The loader was lifted to its fullest extent with Roy in the bucket – paint and brush in hand. Unfortunately my father had not cleaned up the moss/mould off the surface of the bucket, which had remained parked out in the open most of winter. Roy slipped on the surface and to break his fall reached back with his free hand to steady himself on the back edge of the bucket. However he inadvertently tripped the tipping lever of the bucket which releases the pin enabling the contents of the bucket to be emptied! This resulted in Roy being dumped from some 4-5 metres into the bed of blackberries and bracken underneath. Not only this but Roy’s paint also ended up spilling all over his body and partially turning the Farmall A tractor’s loader (painted bright red) to a speckled white.
Roy struggled to his feet with paint
dripping from his hair complaining of
a bruised back where the back of the
loader bucket had caught him as he
headed into the blackberries. He
was also swearing rather profusely
from the pain and discomfort of
multiple blackberry vine prickles
now embedded in his legs, arms, back and rear end. My father’s initial
reaction of laughter was not well received by Roy but he recovered his
composure and went to Roy’s aid!”
They came to the last jump of the day, the first guy successfully did the jump and then stood to one side taking off his harness, the second guy jumped out... and found a fast spot on his rope!! He fell much quicker than anticipated, he flew past the canopy and plummeted downwards. He hit the ground before he could get his feet under him, causing him to land flat on his back... right on top of his roller tray!!! Limbs flailing and paint strewn everywhere, painting his back and the footpath a lovely Resene Double Spanish White!!
This was all in full view of his co-worker, passerbys and the whole intersection load of cars who had been sitting waiting for the lights! It took them a while to clean up the paint but apparently the pure slapstick comedy was worth it!!!!
Think before you leap
We had to paint an interior of a launch that was docked in a marina. We painted the whole interior in Resene Alkyd Gloss Enamel. On this particular day we packed up and decided to go home. We usually just jumped from the launch to the wharf, which was about a metre. My partner went first and made it as usual with no problems... But I decided to carry two paint pots of Resene Gloss Enamel half filled, one in each hand.
I jumped cautiously, but as I jumped the back of my foot clipped the rope that holds the boat, and I fell into the drink!! I can still clearly remember going down holding onto the pots of paint, thinking where the heck the bottom is! I ended up finally letting go of the pots that were dragging me down into a seemingly bottomless abyss!!
As I swam up to the surface I didn't give the paint a thought. As the pots filled up with water they floated to the surface causing a film on the top of the water that I had to eventually break through to get air! As I popped up through the paint slick my partner was in uncontrollable laughter as I was wearing bib and brace overalls and was white from head to toe.
Every orifice on my body had white paint in them, on them, around them - there wasn't an inch of unpainted flesh to be seen! There was a high pressure hose nearby thank goodness - when I was hosed down it got 85% off, the rest I left up to my wife to scrub off me. Bottle brushes had to come out. We managed to disperse the paint that was on the surface of the water with the high pressure hose.
What we learned from this, safety first, NEVER take shortcuts. And
always think before you do anything!
The joys of paint
Paint that bounces back
One Saturday a few months ago I decided to have a cleanup and take some rubbish to the tip. My son and I filled the work van up and off we went. It was all go when we got there, the truck was in the pit clearing all of the rubbish.
I backed up at a cleared area and we opened the back door of the van and started throwing the rubbish out into the pit. Along with the rubbish there was a can of oil based enamel that I had put aside but had forgotten to tell my son to leave in the van. Before I could say stop, I saw the can sailing through the air into the pit landing the right way up.
We both then turned around to get more rubbish out of the van when suddenly we heard a bang and felt a shower of spray come over us. As I looked over my shoulder I saw that a truck had run over the paint can and popped the lid off causing an explosion of paint spray that just happened to land all over us and gave the van a new paint job. The unfortunate thing is that I had just had the van signwritten three weeks earlier.
Watch where you put that pot
And now for the story - this one definitely brought a smile!
While driving along the road miles from anywhere my van so full I had to have the back doors open to accommodate my ladders etc a car came up from behind and proceeded to flash his lights. Thinking he was in need of something I pulled over to the side of the road. He driver got out of his car and came to me with an unusual request for someone so far from anywhere.
"Have you any clean rags and turps in the van?" he asked. I replied that I had. "Come and look at my car," he said. A tin of blue paint had fallen out the back of my van and splashed over the front of his car.
He was smiling as we proceeded to clean the grill lights, etc. I said
he was very good about the misadventure. "Oh you won't believe
it" he said "but it happened to me last week, I'm a painter
too." We had a laugh together and he went his way. I don't think
I even asked him his name. Goodness knows what people thought as they
drove by and saw two people polishing a car on the side of the road
miles from anywhere.
Never work with animals
She squealed as the paint tin refused to come off and she ran around the room backwards in a panic!
Paint was running out of the can all over the floor. By this time I had got down and was trying to help her but the more I tried to get her to stop the more she ran and as she was backtracking around she was also running through the paint and spreading that around with footprints too! Needless to say the place was a bit of a mess and no painting was done that day – only the cleaning of one distraught pig and our floor!
TimberLock to the rescue
The hose had burst sending the paint 40 feet straight into the air. It was bouncing pretty hard onto the eaves of the house as well. By the time I got there it was rolling down the side of the house about 500mm wide like lava.
No sooner had I turned it off and thought ”How am I going to fix this?” that I realised that the wind had also taken the paint onto the next door neighbour’s house.
Gosh! There were about a 100 drips on the house next door drying fast in the sun. But these weren’t just drips they were about 500mm long and some traversed four weatherboards. I chucked the ladder over the fence grabbed the wet cloth and over the next hour it took to get it off I thought to myself “This could have been much worse”. In the end it looked like I had never been there.
This was unfortunately not the case with the mother in law’s house however. By the time I got back the paint on the wall had dried significantly. Great big sagging festoons of paint adorned the wall that couldn’t be budged with scraping. Luckily there were no windows and I figured well at least that bit was well protected. I got there in the end and as far as I know she has never ever noticed the 3D relief sculpture of Niagara Falls down the far side of her house.
Alan’s rule number one when painting: Do NOT have a coughing fit.
Vary your sheens
He had an office downstairs with five staff that have their morning tea at 10am on the fourth floor. It was now 9.50am so I only had 10 minutes to clean up. I gathered all their tea towels using them to mop up the paint. When they were used I got the towels from the bathroom.
With my heart racing I knew any minute now the boss with all his staff would bust me. Sprinting down the stairs I threw the tea towels and towels into the washing machine in the garage. Just as I started to walk upstairs the office door opened and everybody followed me upstairs, luckily their meeting ran overtime. As I got to the kitchen I quickly scanned the area for any sign of the mishap – to my relief it was spotless… until I walked past the fridge and noticed where I cleaned with Scotchbrite pads that there were dull patches on the glossy surface of the fridge. So I strategically slid some fridge magnets around and placed a couple of post it notes over the patches until everyone left. I spent the rest of the day cleaning and drying the towels, as well as lightly buffing the entire fridge with the Scotchbrite pad to blend in the dull patches and get an even finish over the surface. From then on I have never used the bypass switch on my spray machines.
My tip is: I release the pressure from my hand piece.
Back in the old days
The Resene staff member asked the gentleman if he could wait a minute and copied a recipe from one of the reference books in case he wanted to make his own durable whitewash…
They both had a chuckle, he admitted that ‘times have changed’ and he bought the Resene Colorwood Whitewash and wished our staff member a Happy Christmas! It’s amazing just how much paint has advanced in just a century.
On arriving I got out my gear and did the big hard job first - hamburgers on the front shop window. I then proceeded to lay out and sign the menu and pricing board and then quickly in fast casual script completed the job.
That Friday night on the way back from a night out, I thought I'd shout
my mates a feed, so proceeded to the Hamburger shop to show off the
afternoon's work. The shop manager was very friendly but before making
our purchases kindly asked me to look at the price board. A customer
had pointed out a spelling mistake - HAMBUGERS. You did a great job
my friends still say but you need to learn how to spell!
I quietly giggled and promptly explained to her that MATT was actually
my name and not the sheen level of the paint. She quickly apologised,
had a bit of a giggle herself and apologised again.
The planks were directly over some big thick plants and I was all for giving the planks a shove when the householder took me onto the roof where he had a bucket of water he had prepared earlier. The student didn’t really have a chance. He was a wet lad. Up on the roof we had a good laugh. As for the student he went and hung out his stuff and later in the day said he had had enough and would I take him home and he also wanted to be paid. That was the second laugh of the day – I gave him $20 and told him to go away quickly before I changed my mind. It was $20 well spent to see the back of him.
Clean up time
At home I remove the gear and place it in my washtub. When doing the daily load of laundry I am then able to give the brushes and roller sleeves a really good clean in the grey water coming from the washing machine. It works a treat and the detergent helps maintain the softness of the brush bristles and the nap of the roller sleeve. A final rinse in clean water and you have pristine gear once again. I try to use collected rainwater for the final rinse.
And then for the dropcloths… when it’s raining I spread out the soiled cloths on clean concrete and give them a squirt of biodegradable dishwashing liquid. Then with a hard bristle broom I give them a sound scrub. For a rinse they’re put on a washing line to wash off the scum and residue detergent in the rain and then they eventually dry when the sun comes out.
“What the bleeding heck shall we do?” (or words to that effect).
Well this is what we did. Firstly we mopped up and scraped (with a spade) and scrubbed almost everything and were left with a great big whitish stain in the middle of the green carpet. Jimmy’s brain had a flash of genius and we mixed about 10L of turps with a can of Alkyd Flat and painted the whole carpet – man alive the smell was incredible.
Well nothing happened on madam’s return, the cheque arrived in the mail and around six months later I met the woman in the street - she said “You know Peter, I always knew you people did the best jobs - the paint you used in the bedroom was so good I can still smell it”.
Beware where you put your ladder
On one occasion I was painting a new hospitality room. This room was to be named for a parishioner who had passed on and an event was to be held to name and dedicate it. One of the ladies suggested that my wife and I might like to attend the official opening.
The day duly arrived and at the entrance was an official ‘meet and greet party’. There were a lot of people who my wife had not met before so I was busy doing the introductions when the lady, who had invited me, came over to be introduced to my wife. After I had introduced them to each other, the woman made the comment to my wife “I did not recognised your husband with his clothes on”.
Did that get the tongues wagging???... and YES my wife is now talking to me again. Perhaps that shows that people will recognise tradesmen in Resene uniform before civvy street fashion any day!
Ladder on wheels
Those were my apprentice years. The painting firm I was working for didn’t have a car. Everything got done on pushbikes. We were doing a job at a farmhouse and a big farm barn outside the village where we needed our very long and heavy 20 foot extension ladder.
My boss got a bright idea of how to get the ladder to the job. He said ‘we put our arms through the rungs on the ladder. I hold the front and you hold the back’.
So off we went on our bikes down the street. My shoulder was already sore and we still had about 5 kms to go. Here we come sailing around a corner and there was the village cop, watching the traffic. We needed both our hands on the handlebars to keep ourselves upright and straight. The cop saw us coming and yelled out to my boss ‘eh, can’t you indicate?’.
My boss yelled back ‘yeah yeah I’ll do that when I come back’ and carried on, the village cop shaking his head after him.
Imagine that same scene today and the chaos that you could create.
Quick door painting
Handy time saver
Tip: what looks like the cheap option is often false economy.
When the contractors (Laloli) on this job went to paint the roof they found a bird nest in the corner. Keen to get the job done without upsetting the wildlife, one of the contractors held a waterblaster (not turned on!) pointed at the bird, while the nest was placed in a Resene box so the roof underneath could be cleaned. They cleaned the roof, then put the nest back… then had to repeat the process when it came to painting – no mean feat when you consider the size of the bird.
The roof is now clean and painted and the bird is back on its nest, albeit in an environmentally friendly Resene cardboard box!
Little Master Painter vs Big Master Painter
I was casually going about my business plastering patches and preparing the ceilings for painting... out comes this little curious man and he starts hanging around watching my every move. His mum then informs me that he won’t be a problem and that they would spend the time in his room playing with his toys so they wouldn’t get in my way.
I was ready to start painting and decided to put all my gear and paint in the garage away from little hands… well was I wrong...!!
I finished sealing the patches and while I was preparing for the topcoats I put my brush down in my paint bucket out in the garage as I didn’t want the brush to dry out. Unbeknown to me within half an hour disaster would strike. Carrying on with my job in the kitchen I noticed the mother was in the lounge. Mmm I thought to myself... but no worries the young fella was in his room playing.
A minute later I heard a funny noise and little footsteps coming into the entry foyer. Feeling sick from shock there was this little man in his ‘little blue overalls’ just like mine standing there looking at me covered head to toe in paint and holding the wooden end of the paint brush in his mouth!! Oh no!!! I looked at the mother to see what her reaction was going to be as I thought ‘O boy I’m in trouble now”… she just burst into laughter. Phew… I thought!
She grabbed him and threw him in the laundry sink and I thought I better go and check out the disaster. I retraced the little paint foot steps from the entry tiles back to the hall carpet, all along the hallway to the laundry wooden flooring and into the garage where my paint was. I was right about the disaster. The little painter had climbed into the paint bucket to get the brush and must have tipped it over. Paint had gone everywhere so he must have decided to proceed and paint the guard and wheels of his Mum and Dad’s parked Camry… and then came to show us his proud handiwork.
Thank goodness it was water based sealer and his Mum was a good sport.
I quickly ran and got some wet cheesecloths and cleaned it off everything.
Lucky for me and my client it came off reasonably well. The lesson I learnt that day was… never leave your paint and never turn your back on a two year old!!
So off I go walking up the street in search of a store. Then I saw the sign ‘The Den’ (for those not in the know it’s an Adult shop). The light went on in my head. Up the stairs I raced. There were a few people up there who took a sideways glance at me. I headed for the assistant and said “Ok you’re going to think this is odd but do you have any stockings?”
She looked at me and said “of course, what size and colour would you like? We have a huge range.”
“No I need them to strain some paint with lumps in it.”
She looked at me and laughed. “Oh yes she said, we do get some odd requests but that’s a new one.” Anyway we started looking to find something suitable. The fishnets were no good as the holes were too big. “How about this nice pair she said at $48.00.”
“Yeah right, how about your cheap and nasty pair? It’s ok if parts are missing I don’t need much material.” Looked like my luck was turning. We found a pair for $20. Sweet that’s great.
By this stage people were looking. Being the typical saleswoman, she said in a loud voice “Now would you like something to stir the paint with sir. I’m sure you will be able to find something here over in this glass cabinet” as a big grin appeared on her face.
Yeah right… Well I raced back to the job had a good laugh with my painter and what do you know they worked perfectly. Job all finished, packed the gear away and left. Hey I said to my workmate “What did you do with the packet the stockings were in?” He replied he left it on top off the builder’s rubbish. “Oh no, we have to go back and get it.” Can you imagine what the office staff, let alone what the builders, would have thought we were getting up to when they saw a sexy stocking packet with a naked women on it and they knew there were only a couple of painters (males) working alone?” The mind boggles.
He’s a winner
On this particular job I was using a paint that required cellulose thinners (a very strong solvent) for thinning/cleanup. As I was carrying a 10 litre pail of the paint up the customer’s immaculate tarmac drive, I tripped, fell and ‘decorated’ the surface with most of the contents of the tub. In my panic, I rushed and grabbed a large tin of thinners from my van, and doused the affected area in the vain hope of dispersing the paint. It only took a second or two to realise my mistake, but now the damage was done. By the time I’d found a garden hose to try and wash it off, the tarmac had started to dissolve in front of my eyes! Further attempts with detergent and water proved a waste of time and effort, and I finally gave up, resigning myself to my fate.
Needless to say, when the customers arrived home they weren’t overly impressed with my attempt at modern art, and I could only apologise and try and reassure them that my insurance would cover the damage done. Well, I finished the job, got the drive sorted, and parted company with the customer expecting to never hear from them again. Long story short, not only did I hear from them again, but they became one of my most loyal customers. It turned out that they were impressed with the way I dealt with the situation and were happy not only to put more work my way, but recommend me to others.
The freshly painted colour on his new house was wrong. He insisted the colour he had chosen was definitely not what was on the walls and he wanted it redone. The builder reluctantly agreed to get the painter back to put things right. It would be done while the client was on holiday overseas for the next fortnight.
I was on site again two and a half weeks later when the client arrived back from his holiday. He was very happy, said that the colour was perfect and thanked the builder for sorting it out. As he happily walked away the builder told me the colour had not been changed because the painters hadn’t been back as he had forgotten to contact them.
When the cow comes home
I rang our local ColorShop for the name of a top tradesperson. Bob made a first class job. When the house was finished, carpeted and ready to move in the owner was shifting the cows when one ran across the new lawn through the lounge into the hallway and turned around putting its rear end through the wall also smashing some wooden panelling, then it dropped a couple of deposits on the floor and ran back outside. Surprisingly No. 387 hasn’t ended up on the barbecue and still roams on the farm.
This time we were painting the maternity ward. The colour scheme was a screamingly original blue and pink. Smoke time and our young decent man is tasked with making us morning tea.
Presently whilst enjoying the break the sound of raised voices is heard. The altercation continues. It seems someone is accusing someone else of theft. The charge nurse bursts into the room and demands to know if one of us has been in the kitchen fridge. All eyes turn to the decent naïve young man. I shall never forget the words she spoke next “Do you realise the milk you took wasn’t Anchor milk, it wasn’t Meadowlea milk, it wasn’t Pam’s milk, it was Belinda’s breast milk.” Silence.
Cheeks blushed in unison and sincere apologies all around uttered forth. She smiled and suggested the young fellow might like to wear a dummy for the rest of the day. No one finished their tea that morning. (Belinda’s name changed to protect her!)
Close to home
I didn’t know what to do so I needed some unusual advice. I knocked at my front door. My wife opened it to find me standing there looking very nervous and holding what appeared to be a vibrator. Her reaction was to tell me indignantly “I don’t think so” but intrigued she asked me what had happened.
I explained: Spike, my fox terrier who goes to work with me, often spends time fossicking around various jobs hunting for rats, sticks, balls and what not. This particular day he had returned to me wanting to show his latest find and engage me in a game of fetch. Of course I went to oblige but was mortified to find the item was actually not a toy or a stick. Having no idea where it came from and not wanting to be faced with asking the customer if it was hers, I, naturally returned home to ask my wife’s advice.
After some discussion it became apparent that Spike the dog had been inside the lady’s home, found a ‘stick’, taken it outside and began playing in the back garden with it. Then deciding it was fetch time he wanted it thrown for him.
She advised me to just take it back and leave it somewhere. But where could I put it? I couldn’t leave it anywhere in the house because it would be in a different spot to where she had left it and I’d be suspected of foul play. Quite possibly an embarrassing situation all round. And of course not wanting the dog to find it to play with it again. What a dilemma!
Unconvinced and not wanting to be caught in the act of returning it I reluctantly went back to work. My wife never did get out of me what I actually did with it until a number of months later. In a state of near panic I simply buried it in our own backyard. It has since been dug up and thrown in the rubbish!
Moral of the story: Don’t let your dog run about in someone else’s house unattended – there may be strange toys about!
Attention to detail
One tradesman up the ladder cutting in, apprentice armed with roller pole and tray. Neck is bent backwards rolling the ceiling. Apprentice moves tray into position that was not ideal. Tradesman steps off ladder not into but onto side of paint tray. The tray full of paint goes catapulting through the air. Oh #### panic! As if frozen in time we watch the paint cascade down the front of the new kitchen drawers.
After lifting the covering sheets we discover a huge clean up job. All down the front of the drawers, handles etc. A long time later the clean-up job complete we breathe a sigh of relief. Yay we are out of the woods... BUT NO! Tradesman opens up drawer to reveal beautifully velvet lined cutlery drawer full of paint. PANIC!
Tip - never take your eye off the job in, on and around you!!
One splendid day however he got a little more than he bargained for. Upon silently parking and slipping around to the rear of the house, he quickly zipped up the back steps. The only problem was the awning style kitchen windows, that were a little lower than usual, were wide open as I was preparing to apply some paint to them. From inside I saw the top of a head out of the corner of my eye, and there was an almighty BANG! Just as quick as he appeared he then disappeared, in a scowling use of very colourful language, which we’d never heard from him… so it must have hurt a fair bit!
To this day I’m still not too sure whether he went flat on his back or not, as I was too nervous to put my head out through the window to have a look. I did however very gingerly pull them a little bit more shut… just to be sure that nobody should walk into them by accident.
When the woman said “oh just like my gynaecologist” I probably looked a bit confused and the other males in the room looked downright embarrassed. Until she explained “like my GP says, I do all the boring stuff then send you off to the gynaecologist for the interesting bits!”
Materials: 2 x 600ml container – one for the container and one for the scrubbing pieces. The plastic scrubbing pieces should be roughly cut irregular shapes with many points. Bend and fold the points opposite ways until each piece is about 40mm in size. The bends and folds will help keep them in the bottle.
Step 1: Take a 600ml bottle and place six plastic scrubbing pieces (cut from another bottle) into the bottle.
Fortunately being the waterborne version and having a hose handy all was cleaned up fairly quickly except for the blue painter - need I say he needed new overalls. If only I had a camera...
One day when the farmer went to town for a stock sale curiosity got the better of us and we went 'exploring' in one of the old sheds. This one had been used as a general store shed and on a bench in one corner was a collection of partly filled paint tins. One that caught our eye was a 1/2 gallon tin in a very rusty state, which was bulging at the seams and top under great pressure.
Being young and naive, I commenced to prize the lid off with my putty knife when lo and behold, the lid disappeared towards the heavens at a great rate of knots and the seam split spraying us with an unsightly white gooey emulsion substance that stuck like peanut butter on carpet. But the worst was yet to come. The stench was something out of this world. It was worse than a Turkish camel driver's armpit or even the inside of a septic tank cleaner's gumboots - it was putrid.
We staggered outside only to be greeted by the sight of cows in the adjacent paddock showing their disgust by walking away with their heads bowed and waving their tails in the air and watched in awe as one of the free range chooks laid the same egg three times. We had to discard our overalls they were in such a mess.
When the farmer returned we told him what had happened and he just laughed and said a lot of the stuff in the shed belonged to his grandfather who had been attached to a stores unit during the First World War and there will be all sorts of things there.
Six months later we returned to the farm to redecorate the interior
of the house and the farmer told us that since that day, his cows had
not contracted mastitis, his apple trees were clear of codlin moth and
his wife was pregnant and due to give birth at Christmas!!!
I once walked in a room of a house I was painting to find one of my workers had stepped into a bucket of paint so hard he was shaking his leg to get it off because he knew that stepping into paint means it’s his shout.
Never trust apprentices with holding your paint bucket. My apprentice and I were painting a roof in Upper Hutt when I asked him to climb down and grab a new roller. When he took too long I went down the ladder to see what was keeping him – when I stepped down off the ladder I found his paint pail around my foot. As you can imagine I caused quite a mess!
There I was sitting up on the roof hip and had just finished spraying the whole roof face overlooking the top Tournaments in progress. The colour at the time was a strong Burnt Orange - similar to Hi-Glo Twizel. Just then I started a major bout of sneezing and out shot my upper denture plate, which started skidding down the roof collecting not yet dried bright orange paint as it went. Down the roof they careered towards a group of very professional looking men standing around measuring the distance of a finished game from their kitty.
My fervent prayer was of course that it would hit and lodge in the spouting and that would be that. But no such luck - such was the force of the sneeze and the pitch of the steep roof that those blasted pinky whites (now covered in bright orange) jumped the spouting, hit the flexible canopy extending from it and launched right out onto the green among the circle of men in very serious contemplation. And further to my horror as I sat frozen to the spot I could see those dreaded choppers of mine °bouncing in among the bowls and coming to a stop (to my utter amazement) close to that dear little white ball in the middle.
Well - time seemed to stop still as this ring of white clad Doctors, Lawyers and Managing Directors stood frozen to the spot. No one - it seemed - capable of making a move for a very long time. Finally after an eternity one of them bent down and picked up my offending choppers and called out to me in loud Queen’s English (Stanley-Livingstone style) the overstated obvious "These are yours I presume?" he said.
And all I could toothlessly mumble back was "Yes they are - did I win?"!!
7.30am and the daily grind begins, as it does for many in the industrial coatings industry. From my second storey office window the view across the Nelson industrial area presents a vista of roofs sprawling over many acres. The contrast between the iron roofs capped by distant snow covered mountains never became monotonous. One roof in particular had always showed itself as the proverbial tall poppy with its orange hue of rust to which my eye was always drawn. How dare it interfere with my view!
As my foreman enters my office I point out the tall poppy that needs painting. The answer was simple in the end – ‘get it sorted’. After several visits to the owner of said roof who cries 'I don’t have any money to paint my roof', as familiar as this sounds, I’m sure, a deal is struck to my surprise. Before heading away on a business trip that would take me out of the country for a fortnight I explain the scope of the work and the intricacies of ‘the deal’ with my foreman who replies ‘leave it with me boss, by the time you get back it will all be done’.
Arriving back late in the evening I decide to go straight home and deal with whatever the office has lined up for me the next day. During the staff meeting first thing in the morning I am delighted to find all is in order and everyone is happy. As I walk upstairs to my office I am told by my foreman that the roof painting of my tall poppy was a great success. This statement said with chin held high of a job well done. Now I can’t wait to see my tall poppy in all its glory. You can imagine my confusion as tall poppy stands up proud and defiant with its rusty orange hue. Looking at my foreman as he proclaims ‘so what do you think?’ – what do I think?, I am speechless! Summoning patience from deep within and fighting down the knee jerk reaction… blind rage… I ask my foreman to point out this painted roof that looks so good.
As the fantastic blue roof jumps into view I am floored, not only by its size but the fact that it is the building next to tall poppy! Mild sweat and rising bile taking hold, I slowly take a seat.
After contacting the owner of this abandoned building who is just delighted with the job, I am informed that he has just purchased the building and wanted it painted anyway. I walk away with a contract to paint the rest of the building and a friend I continue to do business with to this very day. Tall poppy was eventually painted by another
contractor. I can only presume we lost the job because we never showed up. The blue roof still looks good some five years on and the colour matched New Denim Blue supplied by Resene continues to perform.
Hubby comes home very keen to see the progress of said loft. Now Joe is a jolly little man with a stature that can only be described as abundant, so negotiating the rickety builder’s ladder was a feat in itself. A visual symphony in fact. Very shortly after there was a loud crack, eerie silence and plaintive wail “P-e-e-g, P-e-e-g”. To say Peg is an excitable person is an understatement at the best of times but she excelled herself on this occasion with an Oscar winning scream - flushing out the entire trades force at lightning speed.
Well, what was on view will forever be etched in my mind. There above our heads was a pair of chubby legs dangling furiously through the ceiling. Poor Peg was in the sweet tea category, so the rescue mission was carried out by three builders. Two to climb up and extract Joe from the ceiling and the third to steady the rickety ladder (which survived).
It didn’t quite end there though - on his return from a medical visit in walked Joe wearing a neckbrace. The ceiling mishap resulted in quite a few bruises but the neckbrace was for the whiplash on the way to the doctors when the builder had to apply his brakes very quickly for a red light!
All part and parcel in the day of the life of an interior decorator.
A long weekend spraying
When two guys decided to give being in business a crack, we never guessed what one of our first contracts was going to be or what was involved. Over ten years ago now we set up our new business and our biggest obstacle was to leave on good terms with a boss who in previous years had re-employed Grant after an O.E. and helped me complete my apprenticeship. Leaving on good terms meant he offered to subcontract us our first major contract at a Pak N Save. The job was major but as we had already painted New Worlds for him in the past he knew we were capable.
The realisation of how big this job was going to be set in straight from the chemical cleaning. We spent two weeks on the roof of the building waterblasting it clean, but that wasn't going to be the only major cleaning we were going to have to do. With the vast mass of customers and trucks unloading all the food supplies, we knew the only way to get the loading bay docks and the front of the store painted would be when the store was closed. This was only going to happen when by law the store had to be shut Public Holidays, so we eyed the opportunity of a long weekend, Easter, to come in and spray the loading bay and front entrance, as any other time of the day there was always queues of trucks waiting to unload and an endless stream of customers.
Getting there early Good Friday we decided to make the most of the roller doors being down and closed in the unloading bay so we set up and loaded our airless spray unit with the door colour. There were three doors on the unloading ramp and one around the corner. As most painters would, we set up where we wouldn't have to move the airless unit again, opting to spray the smaller door first around the corner. The spraying of the first door was almost complete when just out of the blue the pressure completely died. First reaction was "Oh no power cut, just our luck!" but as soon as we walked back around the corner, a power cut would have been a lot luckier.
The gun had blocked, and under the pressure the airless hose line had split and the whole time we were bagging off power companies our airless had been pumping paint all over the concrete unloading dock. It was a scene from Mr Bean’s blow up the paint can episode - the line had whipped around enough to get paint in just about every direction - needless to say though none managed to reach the target of the doors. We had to clean out our airless, which we thought as soon as clean water was in the line we could use to clean the paint off all the concrete. But unfortunately we couldn't get enough pressure in our airless unit to cool our frustration, let alone clean any paint off concrete. We packed up, went back to our depot and loaded up our waterblasters and spent the rest of Good Friday cleaning the concrete. Needless to say when we did spray the other coats on the Easter Monday we wrapped that loading dock up like a crime scene! And the front had to wait until the next long weekend to complete our long weekend spraying plans.
Get in behind
I decided to finish the square he'd left by standing on the lead head
nails. Double whammy - I came off too. We were both cleaning ourselves
off when a neighbour came over to see if we were OK. A retired couple
had been watching us as they washed their lunch dishes. The lady couldn't
believe it - she said to her husband at the time 'Look George the painter
has fallen off the roof. Look George there goes the other one.' True
Another long day on the roof…
Top painting tip: Don't take up painting as a career!!
Having done a lot a DIY the hard way over the years I was thrilled when the (very generous!) boss at Cottages New Zealand let me borrow the new sprayer for a home job on the weekend. After numerous lessons from the chief painter on how to use his very prized tool, I took it home for the weekend to paint the house.
Having huge plans, and being such an efficient way to paint, especially after painstakingly using rollers for past jobs, I arrived home with a supply of Resene paint and the sprayer confidently telling the wife it had taken her longer to pick the paint than it would for me to paint the whole house! – if only that were the case!
The roof prepared, I tipped the paint into the bucket, fired it up and positioned myself on the roof. I called the wife out after the first 10 minutes to make her remark on my impressive job and as she did that she took her eyes off our darling 2 year old in the sandpit and reluctantly admired the work of the super sprayer. I carried on happily for the next few minutes while my two year old decided to quietly blend up a new kind of paint in the ‘spray cake mixer’ with her bucket of sand.
While I was momentarily, blissfully unaware, she made ‘Ironsand’ mud cakes in the bucket below me, giving a new meaning to the sand in the name and making my super speedy paint job a little less than super speedy!
Would be graffiti artist
Never tie the dog up near paint buckets…
Once a black labrador called Abby needed to be tied up for the day… but in our rush we didn’t shift all the paint or check to see how far her rope would stretch. We can only imagine how much fun she would have had tipping over the can of SpaceCote… sliding around rolling in it until her fur was covered, not to mention the state of the garage floor. We got home to find no longer a black lab but instead we found a white with shades of grey lab, and that wasn’t the worst part… It had dried quite fast in the breezy garage air. It took weeks for all the paint to come off her fur. We have all learnt our lesson and when Abby comes on to any job sites we make sure she isn’t left alone with any paint!
Check, check then paint
Some years ago my partner and I arrived at our latest job – a large new house in a subdivision, one of many we had painted in the area. The door was open as arranged and over the next few days we ripped into it – undercoat all joinery, remove doors and hardware, mask up windows etc in preparation for spraying. We put a nice coat of Resene Broadwall throughout with a brand new 15 thou tip – perfection – then sanded this back and vacuumed etc. We were just priming up the Graco with the first topcoat of Decorator Ultra Low Sheen (’Pearl Lusta’ back then!) when the owner walked in and asked what we were doing there.
We had the wrong address, his painters were due shortly, and our job was next door!! Needless to say we were gutted, but went off next door to start all over again. The owner was very happy with the job and kindly reimbursed us for the paint – but not the labour!!!
A marked man
I encountered a bit of a problem with the pump unit. A call to my supervisor and he organised our very helpful and knowledgeable Resene rep, Mark, to call in to see if he could help. After an inspection and power up we removed the pump unit and took it away for a clean up (no problems with that). By the time we got back to the job (an hour or so later), the Armourcote that was still loaded in the lines was near the end of its life. With the unit powered up all seemed ok until the unit was switched to recycle. The end result was a massive build up of pressure that eventually blew the tube to bits. This saw epoxy coating sprayed around a 4-5 metre radius of the spray unit.
I was very fortunate to be standing behind the unfortunate Resene rep so was not affected. For Mark, the walk back to his car covered in paint on a busy Friday afternoon in the heart of Dunedin was something he would not want to do again. He has reminded me many times of the strange looks from all the pedestrians on the long walk back to the car. We had unfortunately used up all my rags cleaning the unit up.
I would like to take this opportunity to humbly apologise to Mark for laughing at his predicament. It was very insensitive of me. I never thought to ask if his insurance covered all the clothing that was smothered in paint (I have an idea that the jacket/coat he was wearing was a favourite). The memory will stay with me forever…”
We came in and sprayed two coats of Resene Hi-Glo house and roof paint in Resene High Tide and had immediate success. As soon as the roof was painted the darker colour the flies disappeared, so if you or your client has a problem with cluster flies, check the colour of your roof before spending time on pest control.
Of course that wasn't the only time I ended up covered in paint. While
on an extension ladder with a pot hook (wire) I managed to hook the
paint pot handle right on top of the hook end. The first brushful saw
the pot of paint fall to the ground and the paint came straight back
up into my face. What a waste of good paint!
Roller, yeah right
I have been in the painting decorating trade for 48 years as was my father for 60 years before me. While doing my apprenticeship a paint traveller arrived with a new way of putting paint on – a roller! As we always used brushes then this was a new invention which impressed us all. My father was not on the job that day and so when we were having tea that night I told him about this new paint roller. To which he replied “Don’t be so bloody silly how the hell could you roll paint on?’ His imagination could not cope with this until later he saw it.
And yet here we are half a century on and most painters couldn’t imagine tackling many paint jobs without their trusty roller!
Spray it don’t say it
Over the ensuing weeks however it became obvious that there was one tool that my husband still hankered after above all else and that was a spray painting machine. The virtues of such a machine were frequently extolled: it would do a much more professional job, it would be much easier on his hardworking body, it would get the painting done so much faster that we would have more leisure time etc etc. For some time I got away with answering ‘hmmm’ to these observations but finally when it became clear that having a spray machine would make all the difference between a dismal work life of almost unbearably tedious toil and an exciting and fulfilling challenge, I relented and gave in.
My husband raced off to buy the machine and immediately try it out. Early results were not as promising as I had been led to believe and ‘professional finish’ isn’t exactly how I would describe the results before my eyes but he reassured me that it always took time to master a new machine.
He went off to consult the Friday Nighters, a group of tradesmen who meet in a local bar after work on Friday and discuss such fascinating topics as ‘epoxy resin’. Then after a few beers they apparently move on to more philosophical topics, such as fixing the world (presumably with good management rather than epoxy resin).
They were only too happy to give my husband advice on what he was doing wrong with the sprayer and everyone put in his two bob’s worth: he was standing too close to the wall, he was standing too far away, his paint was too thick, his paint was too thin, he was holding the spray wand the wrong way, etc. I was rather peeved that this last suggestion was given serious consideration as when I had helpfully suggested that maybe my husband was holding his mouth at the wrong angle I merely received a scathing look.
Back on the job, all the suggestions of the Friday Nighters were diligently tried out one by one to no avail. Finally my husband returned to the shop where he bought the machine, where the helpful salesman told him he needed a finer tip. Once back at the site I could tell there was success at last by the tuneful whistling emanating from the room he was working in. My husband was a happy man at last and now I only had to listen to constant enthusiastic raves about how the spray painting machine had changed his life.
After the inside of the house was impressively sprayed, it was time for the roof. I was to provide the audience while my husband demonstrated how, with the new extension wand, all the previous back breaking drudgery of painting a roof could be eliminated in minutes by the sprayer. After setting up the system he braced himself and sprayed.
Within two seconds he was covered head to foot in copious quantities of paint. Three towels later he announced somewhat unconvincingly “No problem, I just need to tighten the connection”. This was after he had inexplicably declined my helpful offer to pour a bucket of cold water over him to get the paint off. He braced himself for a second time. Did I imagine it or was he really holding his mouth at a different angle this time? Anyway, tightening up the connection had obviously done something because this time it only took one second for him to be covered from head to foot in paint. I won’t repeat the words that came out of his mouth; suffice it to say that I suddenly remembered I had an urgent job at the other end of the property that I had to attend to immediately.
Eventually he took the whole thing apart and found that there were two washers in the hand grip connection where there should only have been one. Having fixed this he got the roof painted though I can’t honestly say I heard much whistling. That evening after only an hour and a half in the shower he was amazingly back to his old self, extolling the virtues of spray painting machines.
Eighteen months later, my husband has become an expert spray painter. I know this because I have been called on to admire 47 of his spray painting achievements. Also he has reached the point where he can go several consecutive hours without mentioning spray painting machines. This is definite progress!
Actually I count myself lucky. My friend’s ex-partner was a painter who bought himself a huge (and hugely expensive) spray painting unit which he insisted on parking in their bedroom every night so no one would steal it. It was also suspected that he just wanted it to be the first thing he admired when he woke up every morning. It’s not up to me to speculate why the relationship didn’t work out but if there are any guys reading this to whom ‘romance’ is a foreign concept, let me give you a bit of advice from a woman…
First, unbelievable though it may seem, there are not that many women who find spray painting machines an enthralling topic of conversation. Secondly, your chances of finding a woman who thinks a spray painting unit is an essential fashion accessory for the bedroom are virtually zero. Forget it guys!
Let’s face it, what woman wouldn’t feel humiliated at having to compete with a spray painting machine, curvaceous though some of them are?!!. I know it is a revolutionary idea but how about considering keeping spray painting where it belongs… at work!
Watch where you are going!
Early in the morning my boss, two other mates and I were driving around and looking for the building company as we hadn’t been there before. One of my mates said, “I think it’s over there”, pointing to the other side of the road.
The boss, who was concentrating on his driving, without thinking then jerked the steering wheel; we did an instant u-turn, hitting the curb, over the grass verge, over the footpath, back on the road again in the other direction.
At that time there was a man walking on the footpath watching us with open mouth. My mate, who always was the funny one, made some wrist movements and pointed to the driver. The man probably thought the boss had been drinking as he was shaking his head. After all, it was only just after seven in the morning!
The first open home was being held on a Saturday afternoon at 1pm and I only had the laundry door to paint. At 12.35 the last lick of paint was applied to the door and we were ready for the open home.
As I lifted the tin of near white paint from the jet black slate floor the edge of the lid caught the handle and the tin flipped. The remaining half litre of paint then proceeded to flow evenly down the slate hallway, filling up all the rows of grout along the way!!
Grabbing about 10 towels, 3 newspapers and 2 daughters, we started the clean up. One large plastic bag was needed to hold the towels and paper and the 2 daughters were on bended knees with boiling hot water and sponges trying to mop up.
At 12.58 when the last drop of paint was removed one very paint covered
mother and two daughters vacated the premises for the open home with
the prospective buyers having no idea of what had just taken place.
So the gaffer points out a pile of architraves on the floor (about 50 x3 metre lengths) and says to the ‘lad’, “ok son see all that timber, prime that lot and Knot the knots”. After doing his rounds the gaffer is about to leave and on the way out reminds the lad, “Don’t forget knot the knots when you prime.
The following day the gaffer shows up and sees all the timber nicely laid out on the floor all
primed with exception to all the knots in the wood. Off goes the gaffer at the lad, “what the $%@# is that?” To which the lad says, “you said don’t forget when I prime not the knots.” Ten o’clock break was always a riot after that day.
The first day allowed the roof to be waterblasted and primed. The second day caused concern. Farmer Brown had killed some sheep that night, drums of offal and waste smell created a sickening effect. Continuing with the job the smell seemed to linger around all day. I got brassed off with Farmer Brown being so inconsiderate and decided he'd be getting an earful. Sure enough the sound of his ATV motorbike coming down the hill and down the lane readied me for his blast.
Farmer Brown: Hi Painter, how's it going?
Don’t work with children or animals…
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