A WHITER SHADE OF PALE

If you’re like me, you never look at ceilings in your home unless something is crawling or, as in my case, a couple of brown water spots appeared.  A new roof later, I was ready to touch up the ceiling with paint.  And thus, this blog:  There is no such thing as “Plain White Ceiling Paint!”  I did not know that because every house I’ve ever lived in, the color white on the ceiling when we moved in was the same color white as when we moved out.  No painting ceilings in my repertoire.

I soon found out how naïve I was about ceilings when I drove to the paint store, and asked for a can of ceiling paint.  “What color?” asked the salesclerk.  What color?  Duh!  “Uh, white,” I smiled.  Poor guy.  Did I look like someone who would paint her ceiling anything other than traditional white?  He pulled out a brochure with paint chips and opened it to show me.  They were all white. Or were they?

There was Off-white, Shoelace white, Misty white, Sandy white, Marshmallow, Frost, Bright white, Cotton, China, Pale white and Snowdrift, just to mention a few.  Nothing was labeled “Just Plain White,” much to my dismay. All together they looked like a soft pastel rainbow.  Whites with undertones of pink, brown, green and blue blurred my vision.  My jaw dropped, and the clerk smiled apologetically.  “Most people use a bright white.  And it might make a difference because of the age of your ceiling.  Maybe you’d better take this brochure home and see if you can match a color.”  Okay.  Geesh.

Once home, there was no match, not even anything close enough that wouldn’t draw attention to the fact that something got painted over.  Rats!  I was going to have to paint the entire ceiling in each room.  I headed back to the store and picked out one gallon of what looked like the closest color to the ceiling, just a shade brighter than my now dull-looking ceiling.

When I was sixteen, or 25 or 35 years old for that matter, painting involved spreading a drop cloth, setting up a ladder, and getting a brush, roller, and paint tray.  It would take me maybe two, three hours tops to paint four walls, wash out the brushes, and put everything back, clean and neat.  At sixty-five, it took me a day and half, which included a trip back to the store for a second gallon of paint to paint the small amount of ceiling space in a sunroom and a tiny bathroom.  Half the time was spent resting my tired feet, taking Aleve, finding a rag to wipe off a few drips or an “oops,” washing the paint specks off my glasses, moving the ladder, and re-rolling over the “knock-down” texture of the ceilings which absorbs paint only on the non-recessed part.  The recessed part of the texture got skipped until I climbed off the ladder, looked up and saw that the unpainted spots looked like old putty.  I don’t know how I ever thought the ceilings were white.  Not next to the “whiter shade of pale” that the new “Bright White” was. I won’t write down what I said, but the dog crawled under the bed and hid for a while.  Actually, once I started singing the theme from the old “Rawhide” television series and kept on rolling, rolling, rolling, I managed to finish up before an entire second day was wasted.  Finally!

I’m planning on living in this house until I die, which hopefully will be at least another 20 or more years. I most likely will change the colors on the walls to keep up with new trends, or because we get new carpet or furniture, but never – I repeat, NEVER – will I tackle a ceiling again.

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