There’s a country song by Guy Clarke called “Maybe I Can Paint Over That”. I am particularly fond of it. It is a song perhaps dedicated to those who are not very intent on reforming their ways. They come up with an alternative – maybe I can paint over that... It’s how many people make their entire way through life.
Painting over that… reminds me of the upstairs bathroom that all three girls use. This bathroom gets a lot of shower time. It’s not unusual to put on a TV show, and to call one of the kids when it is over, and find they have been showering for up to an hour, or more. Such an onset of steam and warm air is not kind to paint. The bathroom fan just cannot keep up.
And so… my wife noted that the ceiling over the kids’ shower was peeling. That is what happens when paint is subject to repeated moisture and heat over a long period of time. It looks bad, but fortunately - you can paint over that. Turns out, that is what the previous owners did, flake off a few of the worst bumps and paint the whole thing over again. In fact, they painted over it quite a few times. A cursory inspection showed that they even went back and forth between oil based paint and latex, which is a no-no because they do not bond to each other. That might explain some of the peeling.
And so to really fix it, I had to remove all those layers of paint. I came equipped with a industrial duty heat gun designed for such a task. Turns out there was a whole lot more paint than I had figured on. Just like a Katrushka doll, under every layer of paint, just when you think you might be getting to the bottom of things, there was ANOTHER layer of paint staring you in the face. It started to become something of a comedy like the movie “Groundhog Day”. Those layers of paint just kept on coming. I had no idea a ceiling could contain that volume of paint. Eventually, what I gathered it up in swaths from the floor filled two garbage bags. Now that’s a lot of paint.
Starting fresh, I fixed the drywall and put on a strong primer, then topped the whole thing off with a good quality bathroom enamel, guaranteed not to peel. Back to business as usual.
After about a month, my wife came to me again. The paint was starting to lift and bubble yet again. That’s the inevitable result when the root cause does not go away. Too much showering. I could talk to the girls about their shower time again, but from previous experience I knew how that would go. They are girls. It’s what they do. When the underlying causes will not go away, the hope for any real change quickly becomes its own parody.
For such situations, there is only one answer. I looked at my wife, scratched my head, and offered up a well worn stock solution, the only thing I could say.
“I guess maybe I could paint over that.”