Everything I know about home repair

I'd really like to know if anyone else uses this cleaning solution.

I’d really like to know if anyone else uses this cleaning solution.

Most everything I know about home repair, I learned from my parents.

It’s not that they set out to teach me, mind you. It’s just that those were the days when parents had no qualms about enlisting their children as free labor. “Hold this,” “Get me that pipe wrench,” “Mix this while I run over and buy more Quikrete” were the songs of my childhood. And thus I know how to run a cement mixer, what a pipe wrench is, and how to assemble stuff.

My mother used a cleaning solution that she called “the Cornell cleaning solution.” It’s cheap and effective, but I’ve never found it online. In a gallon of warm water, mix:

1 cup of ammonia;
½ cup of white vinegar;
¼ cup of baking soda.

My mother would also tell you that you shouldn’t paint any walls until they were washed, and this was the best wall cleaner she knew. (It is good for anything grimy, actually. I like that I know what’s in it.)

Messy work by the last person I hired to paint here.

Messy work by the last person I hired to paint.

My father actually taught me to paint and draw. I’ve taken a lot of classes since then, but they merely build on a base that he provided. He and my mother were both excellent house painters, and they taught me:

  1. Primer is cheaper than paint, so if you’re going to end up doing two coats anyway, prime first. The paint will look smoother and wear better;
  2. Use the easiest tool for the job. If that’s a cheap sponge brush instead of a fine angled brush, don’t be a snob about it;
  3. A bad paint job is an expensive mistake;
  4. Clean as you go.
If it isn't done right the first time, it's gonna end up getting done again.

If it isn’t done right the first time, it’s gonna end up being done again.

I’ve found a delightful young man to help me this week. As we were cleaning up last night he asked me, “Are you OCD?”

“Well, um, I don’t think so… I suppose most artists are, actually.”

“That’s probably good,” he answered. “Most good renovators are. The bad ones are not.”

Carol Douglas

About Carol Douglas

Carol L. Douglas is a painter who lives, works and teaches in Rockport, ME. Her annual workshop will again be held on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park, from August 6-11, 2017. Visit www.watch-me-paint.com/ for more information.