From Sunny to Funny (Looking): A Tale of a DIY Fail

Gang, I've got a very startling piece of information for you: I'm not perfect. I know, I know - I can hardly believe it myself! But truth is from time to time I mess up. And while I like to think that all my little projects I attempt will turn out flawlessly, ready for the pages of House Beautiful magazine, sometimes they don't.

Case in point: The time I completely ruined the main focal point of our entire gosh-darned house.

You see, while I absolutely love the interior and backyard of our house, the front, well, could use a little pizzazz. A few weeks ago (just before Labor-Day weekend), I thought just the pizzazz it needed was a fun, bright, welcoming front door. A bold front door can really make a home stand out, and I thought the perfect hue to give our home some sunniness was, well, a bright, sunny yellow.I'd been imagining a yellow front door for a long time, and when it came down to actually tackling the job, I think we got a little too excited about it.

When we went to pick up the paint, Behr's "Center Stage," the man at the paint counter mentioned that yellow takes a few coats to really hold a smooth, deep color - kind of like working with red paint. He recommended using a yellow-tinted primer to help make the process go faster, so we took his advice.

After bringing the paint home, we began to prepare the door to be painted.

We taped off the windows and the metal lock and doorknob fixtures. To ensure to paint dripped onto the lock or door, we covered them in tinfoil prior to taping.

Then, skipping any sanding or de-glossing process, we just busted right in and started with the primer. 
We thought nothing of it, because primer doesn't need to look even and perfect before painting. So after the primer dried, on went Coat #1.

Pretty thin, very uneven, but hey, we were warned yellow paint needs more than just one or two coats for an even, finished look.We were willing to give it three to ensure it looked perfect.

We let Coat #1 dry overnight, and applied Coat #2 more than 12 hours later (as recommended).
Hmm... not much difference....

Over the next two weeks, we applied Coats 3, 4, 5 and 6, and while the paint got a bit darker, you could still catch a little unevenness in a few spots. Eventually, we just got tired of devoting nearly every evening after work to painting the door, so we let a lot of time go by (maybe a week or so) before attempting to apply another (the 7th, and eventually the 8th) coat. 

However, we couldn't just keep the front door open all day, every day. Every time we opened the door, we noticed it was pretty stubborn - the side of the door by its hinges would stick to the weather-stripping running along the inside of the door frame. All that paint on the door (about 8-9 coats over the course of probably a month) was not adhering well, obviously, so as it kept sticking to the rubber weather-stripping, the paint began to pull and tear. And so, we were left with a horrible eyesore/seam running along the hinge-side of the door.

Ugh. I shudder.

After we noticed the tearing, we threw our hands up, waved the white flag and surrendered. The door and the yellow paint had beaten us. It was beginning to get a little too cold outside to strip off the paint, sand down the door and start all over again (you know, because we have to keep the door open for hours while painting and letting it dry), so we decided to live with this eyesore of a door over the winter and start over again in the spring.

We started taking off the Frog Tape, only to reveal those eight coats of paint didn't necessarily leave the cleanest lines around the window area of the door. Not to mention, the tape had been on the windows so long, when we ripped it off, it tried taking some of the paint off, too.

It also did not come off cleanly around the doorknob and lock fixtures.

Sigh... At this point, we just didn't care - we just wanted the green tape off the door so we wouldn't look like we were going for a Green Bay Packers theme on our house.

The thing is, you really only notice the unevenness and sloppy lines from very close up. If I didn't point them out, it might take you a while to even notice.
And, from outside, when our door is shut (which it will be all winter long, until we start over nit he spring), it's even less noticeable under the glare of the storm door.

So my hopes for a perfectly welcoming, sunny yellow door have been slightly dashed. While yellow is a difficult color to paint with, I know I'm the one to blame for this project ultimately failing. 

I'm not 100% certain of what I could've done to make this painted-door project go - well, literally - smoother, but here is what I think would've helped:
1. Before even applying the primer, we should have used a de-glosser on our the varnished wood finish of the door.
2. If we didn't want to use de-glosser, we should have sanded the entire door's surface so the primer and paint would have had a rougher, better surface to adhere to.
3. After pre-treating the door, we probably could've gotten away with two coats of the yellow-tinted primer. And when priming, we could've probably made sure to make the paint strokes were more even.
4. Instead of starting out with traditional paint brushes, rollers might have made the flat surfaces' coats look a bit smoother.

So, I've identified four big issues that might help once we muster the courage to undertake this project again in a few months. I'm not looking forward to it, but I can't live with this chipped, terrible paint job that adorns our home's threshold at the moment.

This is just a lesson in how important it is, especially with paint jobs, to research and make sure you do all the pre-work before getting to the actual meat of the job. It's also a lesson that maybe you shouldn't start a major project while slightly hungover from a fun night out on a three-day weekend. We all know hungover projects = half-assed projects. In the spring we'll make sure to start this project over on a completely-sober weekend.

And then maybe we'll finish it before a couple months pass by, as well.

What was your biggest home-makeover mishap? Have you had a major fail you just decided to live with for a while before starting over?


  1. It's so refreshing to read a DIY post gone wrong - I keep seeing these perfect little finished projects on various blogs, and I'm always amazed at how patient and detail oriented people are. So not me - oh gosh, I would have given up after the 2nd or 3rd coat. Seriously. And truth be told, I don't think I would have even noticed the uneven lines, etc.unless you pointed them out and took close-up photos. Looks like a sunny welcoming door to me! :)

  2. Nice information and nice paint color


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