Monday, May 24, 2010

How NOT To Get Cheap, Easy, White Coral Decor

This is the story of a great DIY project idea. Gone bad.

Somewhere out in blogland I read about getting a coral look-alike for way cheap at the pet store. So the last time we were there with Barley, I snuck off to grab the first aquarium coral I could find.

Tom (skeptical): "What are you going to do with that? We don't have a fish tank."
Me: "It's for decor."
Tom (raises eyebrows): "Decor? It's plastic red fake coral."
Me: "I know. I'm gonna paint it white."
Tom: "How much is it?"
Me: "6 bucks."
Tom: "Umm... why don't you put it back."
Me: "No, it'll look good! Really. You pay like, 30$ for these things in stores. I'll spray paint it white, and in the end we'll have a really cool white coral piece for like 7 bucks, instead of 30."
Tom: "Ummm..."
Me: "Really. It'll look GREAT once I'm done with it. It'll be EASY. AND we'll save money this way."
Tom: "Oh, alright. If you're sure..."

I think you all can guess how the coral project went, huh?

How NOT To Get Cheap, Easy, White Coral Decor

1) Don't buy a red plastic coral piece from the pet store.

2) Don't use primer. Skip directly to the spray paint.

3) Don't get frustrated at the uneven coverage, and decide to spray very heavily into the cracks and crevices.

4) Don't do 5-6 coats and then give up because the coral still isn't completely white.

5) Don't give in, drive to Lowe's and purchase spray paint primer.

6) Don't do another 2 coats of primer, followed by 2 additional coats of paint.

End Result (after roundabouts 10 coats of paint):

It actually turned out pretty impressive, I think. Although honestly, in the future I think I might spring for the 30$ piece of coral that's already white, because spray painting something like this was not fun. Or easy. 10+ coats of paint is not cool. Not. Cool.

But shhh, don't tell Tom that.

So what about you guys? Have you ever embarked upon a project that was doomed for failure? Did you stubbornly keep trucking, even though you thought it was hopeless? Did you end up surprised with your result? Ever spray painted something that was just not fun? We'd love to hear your stories - both triumphs and failures. Spill the beans!

Linking up to Between Naps on the Porch Metamorphosis Monday, The Thrifty Home's Penny Pinching Party, Blue Cricket Designs Show and Tell, House of Hepworth's Link Party and Room to Inspire's Be Inspired Link Party.

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  1. I think as DIYers we have a natural inclination to be stubborn. I find myself saying "No, I did NOT just waste $8 on this!" even though in good sense that would be preferable to the hours of frustration. I often wind up surprised in the end; through plain dumb luck it looks better than I intended. I like your finished result - so many coats makes it look more like a ceramic piece.

    I think in this particular project you should have gone with Krylon's plastic spray paint. I've tried other brands and it's by far my most fool-proof hands-down favorite spray paint to work with. No primer needed ever. I have a tutorial on spray paints if you would like to read here.

  2. It really IS impressive!! Love the end result but I agree 10 coats of spray paint is not fun or cool.


  3. Well, I don't think it was a complete bust- I like the end result! I actually kind of want to do one for my bathroom now...I'm a sucker for punishment I guess!

  4. It looks great! I find myself learning what not to do far more than doing things the right way the first time. I feel like everyone makes things look so easy online and on TV - thanks for being honest. Now I don't feel so alone!

  5. Young lady, what have I told you about plastic spray primer??? Seriously, it still came out cool, like a piece from Z Gallerie!

  6. Oh this was toooo funny! I got a piece of real coral similar to this for pretty cheap at you may want to check the place out.
    Had you not said you spray painted it, you could never tell from the final picture :)
    As for projects going haywire, I've been working on my friends kitchen for over 2 months now. It started out just wanting to paint the walls and cabinets, but one problem led into the next and it now feels like the project that will go on forever. It is looking so much better though and I know the wait will be worth it in the end. It's a 100 yr old house so we didn't expect some of the problems we had.

  7. well, it looks great even though it took awhile to get there! kudos to you for not giving up :)

  8. Hahaha, thanks, guys! It looks pretty nice now, but I will definitely NOT be repeating this sequence of events in the future.

    And yes, I totally should have listened to you guys - plastic primer spray paint all the way! *slaps forehead*


  9. Hilarious! Loved all the drama. Yes, I've had about a billion projects like that. Mostly having to do with spray paint, come to think of it. I must say it was worth all that effort, though. It is gorgeous!

  10. Oh yeah, I've totally done this before. It did turn out wonderful, though!

  11. At the end it turned out great! I had to laugh at the conversation with your husband. Hubby and I have had the same conversation many, many times.

  12. Great post! Great project; the end result was awesome!
    Blunders are expected in our world, but it keeps us original and that's what counts. :)

  13. What a great post - I think we an all relate to these types of projects! But I think it looks really great - even with 10 coats of spray paint! Thanks for linking up to Be Inspired last week.


  14. OMG, sooooo glad I just read this. Spray painting mirror frames tonight and thought, really do I NEED the primer? Totally skipping it.

    Ummm, now I'm not.

  15. Ha! This makes me giggle. I've embarked way too many times to count. It's usually when I get a whim and decide to follow through right then and there, without any preparations. Sometimes though, there are gems that happen.

  16. I found you on Better After. That coral is beautiful, your patience also! :-) Thanks for the tips.


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