Painting Done Right
How to Astonish your neighbours and impress your spouse
Let’s start at the very beginning. You need to wash the walls. I know – you decided to paint because the walls looked old and dirty and you thought that a quick coat of paint would save having to wash them. Wrong! This is the biggest mistake people make. Paint will not bind properly to a dirty wall. Now it used to be that you would have to use powdered TSP (trisodium phosphate) which would then have to be thoroughly rinsed. But glory be and hallalooya you don’t have to rinse anymore if you use organic TSP. It costs a little more but the time it saves you is well worth it. It is also available at any good hardware or paint store.
Just as a quick aside for the ladies who think their house is spotless – with all due respect – no matter how good a housekeeper you are there is always a thin film of grease, cleaning fluid and disgusting as it sounds, skin and dander from the two legged and four legged occupants of any house.
OK – Now that we have taken care of the family dirt, take a look at the surface of the wall. And I mean take a close look. Are there small bumps sticking out from the last clutze who globbed paint on the wall? If so, take some medium grit sand paper and sand them down. Are there any small dents where the kids tossed off their boots? If so, fill them with a fast drying lightweight filler and when the fill is thoroughly dry, sand the areas smooth. There is no point in spending money on a new paint job that is just slapped onto a flawed surface.
There are a multitude of light weight fillers on the market but my favorite is Dri Dex from Dap. It goes on pink and when it is ready to sand it turns pure white. It is essentially idiot proof (and some days I really need that) and it is easy to sand using a standard screen type gyproc sander.
Now that you have a near perfect surface to work on its time to consider whether you need to prime the wall. Primer is not simply thin paint. It is chemically different from paint and it is essential in some circumstances. If you are changing from oil to latex you need to prime. If the wall or ceiling has water stains from some earlier disaster you need to prime with a laquer based primer to seal in the stain and keep it from leaching through your new paint job. In my area of the world we use products from a company called Binns which may or may not be available in your part of the world. So check with your local supplier. A work of caution. If you use a laquer based primer sealer make sure you have very good ventillation – the fumes are very strong but they do dissipate quickly. Finally, if you are using the same kind of paint that is already on the wall and there are no stains then you do not have to prime.
So you are now at long last ready to paint. You will need a few tools to do this right. First, you need a good cut in brush. Don’t cheap out on the quality of the brush. Discount store brushes don’t seem nearly as good a deal when they are shedding hairs in your beautiful paint job. A decent cut in brush will cost between $10 and $15 in my neck of the woods and they are worth every penny. The bristles on a cut in brush are angled and this allows you to paint a straight edge along ceilings and baseboards. For those of you with less than steady hands, use painters tape along all the edges. This is a low tack tape that will protect adjoining surfaces and then peel off easily without hurting the underlying surface. Personally, I don’t use tape but I have been painting for many years. There is no shame in using painter’s tape.
Don’t be afraid to load your brush with paint. There is nothing worse that finally reaching that really tough spot only to find that you do not have enough paint on your brush to cover properly. Dip the brush into the paint about a third of the way up the bristles and then wipe one side on the edge of the container leaving paint on the side of the brush that will be nearest to the edge you are painting. Paint using strokes in one direction. No slapping back and forth (its fun but it doesn’t make a good job).Cut in the entire room top and bottom and then turn to your roller.
Again, cheap roller cages and covers are no bargain. Cheap cages do not roll smoothly and cheap refills shed and spatter paint. So spend the extra.If the walls are high or you are doing the ceiling you will need to attach the roller to a stick. A broom handle will do but if your budget allows a proper painter’s extension handle will give you much more control.
Now, I have always been told that you should roll paint on in a W pattern. If you think this gives a better finish then by all means do it. Personally, I have never seen what difference it makes. Good coverage is the main thing and this is where many home owners go wrong. There is an understandable tendency to try to make the paint go as far as possible. However, this is false economy. Load your roller up with paint and load it often. Don’t press hard in an attempt to squeeze every last bit out before reloading. You won’t get a nice even finish and you will get a sore back.
A FEW LAST TIPS
1/ Cover all floors and counters with tarps before painting. It makes clean up much simpler.
2/ Always have good ventilation
3/ Always take great care on ladders and if possible have a second person present when climbing a ladder.
4/ Modern latex paint is just as durable and far easier to work with that oil paint.
5/ Buy quality tools and paints to achieve a quality product.
6/ Take your time and do it right – you’ll have more fun and be happier with the results