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Mailbox Makeover Part 2: “Paint-ina”

A few posts back, I introduced you to our new mailbox:

OBVIOUSLY, she needed fresh paint… I wanted to go deep, shiny red. She insisted upon a faux copper patina.

“But I’ve never done patina paint!” I objected.

“Figure it out,” she shrugged.

So, I might have gotten some pleasure out of doing this…


What have you done, woman?!?!?

I mean, sure, it was ugly before, but…

Heh, heh, heh, psych!!!

This is only about halfway through the process. The actual results are far, far less “jungle camo”

But let’s start at the very beginning, shall we?

First, because it had a bland base coat already, I didn’t bother to use primer. I also didn’t bother to try to remove the existing paint.

(There could very well be lead in the old paint + I’m not trying to refurbish this to it’s original raw metal state + there were no thick globs or obvious drips = don’t bother.)

In the interest of full disclosure: I’ve never done patina paint before. I didn’t look up instructions. I just followed my instinct. And broke many, many rules.

So, I sprayed it with a base coat of textured-metallic-finish Rustoleum spray paint in copper.

Tip: Spray paint things inside cardboard boxes to control blowing paint. Use a box cutter to gain access to hard-to-reach spots, while also creating a nice, flat drying panel.

Then I started to lay on a nice, thin, uneven layer of the bluish-green spray paint, trying to create a subtle oxidation effect.

But it just wasn’t rockin’ me.

As you’ve probably guessed by now, subtlety ain’t really my bag…

So, I started laying the spray paint on a little thicker. Then a little thicker. Then I noticed how… kinda cool… it was starting to look. So I started laying it on super thick, and layering the colors as I went.

Unfortunately, this process goes really quick. Like so quick that I didn’t even have time to get photos. But I’ll describe it as well as I can, and post a how-to video in the not-too-distant future.

So, the basic rules of spray painting are as follows:

1) Don’t get too close — Keep the can a good 8 inches from the object you’re spraying. If you don’t, it will show: Once dry, your paint will look horribly streaky.

2) Don’t stay in one place — As one DIY diva I admire puts it, “If your-a-sprayin’, your arm should be swayin’!” (Or something along those lines. Forgive me, $herdog.) What it means is that you need to keep constant motion while spraying. Most ideally, you’ll want to use big, swoopy, side-to-side motions. If you don’t, it will show: You’ll get streaks, spots, corner clumps, etc.

3) Thin coats — Really thin coats. Four thin, even coats are better than one thick one. I know it’s hard to walk away, but you have to. If you don’t, it will show: You’ll get tons of drips, and it will take forever to dry. So when you impatiently touch it “just to check”  you’ll leave a nice, permanent fingerprint skid in your paint job.

4) Don’t paint over wet paint — Wait for each coat to be completely dry. (Which for me is harder than walking away in the first place. Impatient much, Amy???) Check the back of the can for manufacturer’s specs. Then apply the next coat. If you don’t, it will show: You’ll get patchy, uneven wet spots that just refuse to dry.

Of course, there are 1,000 “tips & tricks” for spray painting, but those are the big four commandments.

I accomplished Step 3 of this paintina project by simultaneously breaking every single one of them.

I sprayed thick into the corners with one color, then caught the drips by spraying thick from underneath them with the other color. I doused small areas, causing the paint to actually bubble a bit, then hit it with a ton of the other color and let them blend together. (Alchemy fun!!!)

I did this kind of thing over & over until I had created a really mottled effect.

I was kinda diggin’ it!!! It tripped me out that I could accomplish that with nothing more than a couple of cans of spray paint… I didn’t even use nozzles or anything.

Check out how the bubbles set in as the paint dried! (Usually a bad, bad thing.) I lurve them in this application. It makes the box look weathered — like it’s rusting away.

Liquid, baby. (“Liquid” — it’s the new “Solid”)

I really did like it this way, and had a couple of days to stare at it while the super-thick, uneven spray paint dried, but in the end, I decided it was just too 2-dimensional & “fakey” looking.

It photographs pretty well, but in person, it was just kind of flatly shiny. I know, weird, eh?

But, in the “pro” column:

1) I figured out a really cool painting technique all on my own. It probably already exists, but nobody told me how to do it, so I still feel pretty darn brilliant. I’m definitely gonna do it again (many times, methinks — it was darn fun) & I’ll get better at it with practice, so I’m calling it a win 🙂

2) I now have a much, much more luminescent, textured base upon which to move on to Step 4: Using a patina paint kit I got from the craft store.

Although the package did have basic guidelines on the back, I chose to forgo them for the blissful freedom of ignorance.

I did make a mental note that the patina kit paint is water-soluble — I chose to take this as an open invitation to slather paint all over the place & just wipe it off later.

So, using a sponge brush, I lightly sponged on some of the green-black paint in a totally random way.

Tip: Dab off excess paint before using a sponge brush, especially when doing detail work.

Then I used a wet rag to wipe off the excess.

Oh good, it worked. That could have been embarrassing. 

Painting it with the green-black paint from the kit, then wiping off the paint with a damp cloth before it completely dried had a 3-pronged effect:

1) Took a little of the obnoxious shine off of the metallic base coat by sinking into all of the little nooks & crannies.

2) Gave the piece a little dimension by adding contrast points to the bright metallic colors.

3) Counted as my upper back & arms workout.

Next, I did the same thing with the bright green paint:


That’s as far as we’ll get for today.

I was going to show you an “after” shot, but we’re getting SO close to the finished product that I didn’t want to ruin the big reveal!!!

She still needs a few “finishing touches”/ to dry/ to get a double-coat of sealant/ to dry completely before we hang her up. This series of steps is simple, but all the drying will take a couple of days…

So stay tuned for THE BIG REVEAL, complete with pics/details about how I brought ‘er around the final stretch!




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One thought on “Mailbox Makeover Part 2: “Paint-ina”

  1. Very good info. Lucky me I discovered your site by chance (stumbleupon).

    I’ve book marked it for later!

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