A three-day weekend is no holiday from work

January 17, 2004|By Rob Kasper

THE TROUBLE with three-day weekends, such as this one, is that they often morph into three-day home-repair projects.

Just ask the guys and gals who work at area hardware stores and home-improvement centers.

They know that when some of us are faced with extra leisure time, especially on winter weekends, we are overcome with an urge to tackle "the project." Seconds after draining our morning cups of coffee, we are grabbing our measuring tapes and hightailing it to the store searching for supplies and advice.

These are times, said Chuck Crawn, manager of the Home Depot in Catonsville, when "kitchen projects start happening or somebody wants to put a floor down."

Glenda Hermes at the Lowe's in White Marsh knows that when an ill-wind blows, paint sells. "When it snows or rains, people buy a lot of paint," said Hermes, who for the last 21 years has sold goods to the roller-carrying masses, first at the old Hechinger's store in Bel Air and later at Lowe's.

A three-day weekend is also a time when floodgates open, and the reservoir of promised repairs descends. Jim Tupp, owner of Pikesville Hardware, told me that on long weekends he sees plenty of customers who are taking care of "honey-do" duties. These, he said, are "the broken light switch, the dripping faucet, the things that nobody wants to do and have put off fixing but now ... have run out of excuses."

Having an extra day off facilitates another part of the household-maintenance routine, namely drop-off and pick-up of mended goods. For instance, Tupp said that a typical scenario at his store during a three-day weekend is that on Saturday a customer drops off a broken window glass, then is able to return on Monday to retrieve the repaired window.

Having successfully completed the drop-off and pick-up cycle at my neighborhood store, Belle Hardware, I know the glow of satisfaction it delivers. You are filled with a sense of accomplishment, a feeling you have made some progress on the slippery slope that is home maintenance. Moreover, the hardware store owner is delighted that your old window is out of his shop and that he did not have to badger you to come fetch it. It works out all around.

While there are myriad ways to toil away a three-day winter weekend, painting seems to be an especially popular one in this area.

Hermes, of Lowe's, had a simple explanation. "People are trapped inside their houses," she said. So they start painting.

Bill Gorsuch , who has been selling paint over the last 10 years at the Catonsville Home Depot, described a typical timetable for the long-weekend job. "On Friday or Saturday, they pick up supplies. On Sunday, they come back for more. On Monday, you don't see them, unless something has gone wrong."

On the subject of jobs gone wrong, Gorsuch and Hermes told me there were some common mistakes weekend painters make. Chief among them, they said, were the issues dealing with gender, light, and wallpaper.

The gender issue usually occurs when the man picks the color of the paint only to have the woman in his life return the paint to the store, saying the shade is all wrong.

"I think a lot of men are color-blind and don't know it," said Hermes. "Or they just don't care."

Gorsuch said that most men he deals with don't like to spend much time staring at paint chips. Instead they want to buy the paint, get out the door and start to work. Gorsuch said he sometimes advises guys to take likely paint chips home and have the women of the homefront approve the tint - before buying gallons of the paint.

Another good reason to take paint chips home, Hermes said, is that color looks different under the store's fluorescent lights than it does under the incandescent lights found in most homes, or in natural light.

For years, Hermes said, she has told customers: "Don't pick the color in the store."

Finally, there is the practice of painting over wallpaper. Hermes said she steers clear of it. Gorsuch said it can be done, provided the first or prime coat of paint applied to the wallpaper is oil-based. If you put a prime coat of latex, or water-based paint, on wallpaper, he said, the water in the paint loosens the glue under the wallpaper, and the wallpaper sags.

I pursued the wallpaper question both because of my concern for the public's right to know such information, and because I happen to have some sagging wallpaper in my house. I could strip it off, but then, for the sake of appearances, I would have to remove all the wallpaper in the room, a job that would stretch well past this long weekend.

An alternative would be to mend the sagging wallpaper with glue, and if that did not work, hang some decorative art over it. I bet that could take all weekend.

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