73: As Seen on TV

73: As Seen on TV

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Home Sweet Home

As Seen on TV

The plumber came by this morning and the painter is due on Monday,
My checkbook’s open and ready, for I “did it myself” just last Sunday.

~Amy Newmark

The TV commercial made it look easy. All you had to do was use this product and your tired, old, worn-out deck would look like a brand new deck. No more splinters. No more cracks. No rotten boards to replace. This miracle product would take care of everything. You just painted it over the old wood and your deck was as good as new. And the people in the TV commercial, walking on their refurbished deck, looked so happy. My deck was old and I was sold. I don’t like to think of myself as cheap but I do like to save money when I can. And not having to replace the deck sounded great.

Now, I must tell you, I am not a handy kind of person. I had refinished redwood patio furniture when I was a teenager and I had helped my friend paint a picket fence, but I have never taken on a project like this. But how hard could it be? I mean you just open the can of deck paint and roll it on. I was ready.

I went to the hardware store and found the product I had seen on TV. I read the instructions and calculated that I would need two gallons. I showed my measurements to the man behind the counter and he confirmed — yes, two gallons would do it. “But what about the primer?” What did he mean… primer? Why would you need primer? He explained that I would need to prepare the deck for the miracle product so I would need a coat of primer first. Okay, that sounded reasonable. After all, when I do my nails I always use a base coat. Must be the same idea. So I added two gallons of primer to my order. And some rollers and a roller handle. Now I was ready.

Well, maybe not quite. He asked me if I wanted to rent a power washer? A power washer? What for? He explained that I would need to remove as much dirt and old varnish from the wood as possible so that the new deck paint would stick. The easiest way to do it was with a power washer. I was beginning to have doubts. This was a little more complicated than I thought it was going to be. They didn’t mention power washing the deck in the TV commercial. They just opened the can, rolled the paint on and invited their friends over for wine and cheese the next afternoon.

My car was loaded down with supplies and the power washer, but I got everything home and unloaded without incident. I followed the instructions on the power washer. I filled the tank up with water, and turned it on. Whooooosh! Water everywhere!! The hose had disconnected from the washer and the spray went everywhere! Finally I pulled the plug but everything was soaking wet… except the deck. None of the water had even gotten close to the wood but I was very clean after my shower.

I tried again. This time I turned the pressure down and was actually able to power wash the entire deck. I was pleased. Now I had to let it dry before I put on the primer. The next morning I started rolling primer. This went pretty well too. It only took me a few hours to complete the job. Now I had to let it dry.

The next morning I was ready to use the miracle product that would make my deck look like new. I was excited. I started planning the party I would throw to show off my accomplishment. I opened one of the gallon cans. But it was so thick. How would I pour it out into the roller pan? The product wouldn’t budge. I reread the instructions and it said you had to warm the product to get it to pour. How do you warm a can of paint? In the oven? In the microwave? Who knew? I finally put some towels in the dryer, heated them and then wrapped the can.

Rolling the stuff was a nightmare. It clumped, it dripped, it smelled, and it didn’t cover very well at all. The only thing it really covered was me. I could still see all of the cracks and splinters on the deck. I had to roll the same area over and over again. This was really stupid. I was sore, tired, angry, and covered in paint, but I was determined to finish. And hours later I was done. The damn deck looked awful but at least it was all the same color. Now I had to let it dry. Maybe it would look better then.

The next morning I opened the drapes to check out how things looked. Then I opened the patio door and put my hand down on the deck to see if the paint had dried. It was a little tacky in places but it looked like most places were dry. But something was weird. What was I seeing? Prints. Footprints. Not human footprints, but something had walked all over the deck during the night. And not just one something. That something had brought a whole bunch of friends along. It was raccoons! A gang of raccoons had invaded my deck, had a party, danced until dawn, and ruined my paint job. Paw prints were all over the place. The deck was a disaster.

Forget about the plans I had for that deck party. I threw all my painting supplies in the trash. How could I have believed that a paint product would make my deck new again? The only thing that would make my deck new again was a new deck. I called a deck building company. They came out and tried not to laugh when they saw my disaster. They took measurements, destroyed the old deck and built a beautiful new deck.

I wish I could say that was the last time I tried to “do it myself.”

~Leticia Madison

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