Tuesday, July 29, 2014

ORB Fail

As I've noted before and will no doubt note again, Brian and I tend to take a slow and steady approach to remodeling/redecorating our house. We spend a lot of time deliberating over what we actually want to do in each rooms, considering lots of different options, weighing all the pros and cons, and making sure that we're actually happy with what we've chosen before we plunge in. For instance, it took over a year from the time I first considered installing a brown-paper floor in our basement to the time we actually started the project, and it took another full month before the project was finished. Likewise, I first posted about our plans to redo the small bedroom back in April, and so far, all we've actually done is to acquire a new futon—and even that was mostly a happy accident.

Thus, it will probably come as no surprise that my idea for redoing the handles on our kitchen cabinets by spray-painting them in an oil-rubbed bronze (ORB) finish took 18 months to come to fruition. I first settled on ORB back in January of 2013; in April, we actually took the plunge and bought a can of the ORB spray paint; and it was over a year later that we actually applied it to any of the handles. The main reason it took us so long is that we initially assumed we'd want to take all the handles off all the cabinets at once, clean them thoroughly, spray them with at least two coats, and then reinstall them—and while that's not a huge project, it's one that will noticeably disrupt the kitchen for at least a day or two. We also knew that some of the cabinet doors themselves, which we stripped completely and refinished when we first bought the house, were in need of a little touch-up refinishing, so we had it in mind that maybe we should do that job and paint the handles at the same time, "to save time." The result being, of course, that we turned the project into such a big hassle that we just kept putting off tackling it at all.

Eventually, Brian hit on the notion that we didn't necessarily have to do all the doors at once; we could take down just the two that were in worst shape, refinish those, and spray the handles at the same time. Perhaps it wouldn't be as efficient as doing everything at once, but it would be a much smaller project that we could easily handle without having to set aside a whole weekend for it. So back in June, Brian took down the two most heavily used cabinet doors and transformed them, with sandpaper, water-based finish, and ORB spray, from the "before" picture you see on the left to the "after" on the right.

I quite liked the result and was eager to get the rest of the doors done too, but what with one thing and another, it was a few weeks before we got around to tackling the next pair of doors that needed work. This turned out to be a good thing, as it had become apparent by then that the painted finish on these handles wasn't all that durable. Within a week or two, the paint started to chip and peel—not completely, but just in tiny little flecks that let the underlying finish show through. Take a look at the extreme close-up below, and you can see it quite clearly.

So, as is so often the case, our endless procrastination actually worked in our favor, as it saved us the trouble of ORB'ing all 23 of our cabinet handles only to find that the finish didn't hold up. The bad news was that this failure meant we'd need to take the plunge and buy new handles after all. But the good news was that it took me just a quick search to locate a quite nice-looking set of ORB handles on Overstock.com, which cost only $45 including shipping—and, since I had cash in my PayPal account from survey rewards, it actually cost us nothing at all out of pocket.

Those new handles are winging their way to us now, and when they arrive, installing them will be a simple matter of undoing and replacing two screws on each handle. That's a job I can easily do all by myself during the day, which means it will probably get done much faster than a job Brian and I have to set aside time for on a weekend. And we'll even have nice, clean doors to attach them to, since after all this dawdling and delay, we finally got around to sanding and refinishing the damaged sections of the cabinet doors last night. After all that pussyfooting about, it turned out to be quite a small job that only took an hour or so.

As for the $8 we spent on the can of ORB spray, I don't think that will go to waste, either. We can still use it on the cabinet hinges, which probably won't wear nearly as fast as the handles did because we hardly ever touch them directly. That will save us the expense of replacing all 23 pairs of hinges to match the new handles.

Of course, at the rate we usually go, it will probably be a year before we actually get around to the job of ORB'ing the hinges. But at least we'll know we have a plan.
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