by Leslie Patterson
When it comes to painting a room, or many rooms, the average homeowner is faced with a sense of defeat before he or she has even selected a paint color. Yet, with a little patience and thorough preparation, interior painting is a home improvement task that can refresh one's home in as little as a day.
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The Tools Of The Trade
Stopping in the middle of a paint job for forgotten supplies can negatively affect the outcome of your project. To avoid unnecessary breaks, it is important to gather everything you need:
- Paint and primer - Interior paint is available in a dizzying number of colors and brands of both oil and water-based paints. Seek out the best paint for your project by asking questions to home decorating professionals and exploring customization options. Certainly take your time with color choice, and remember to inquire about appropriate primers for the chosen paint and wall surface.
- Brushes - Paintbrushes are available with natural (oil based paints) or synthetic (any paint) bristles. Wall brushes are flat-bottomed and wide, approximately 3-6 inches, while trim brushes are flat-bottomed and narrow, approximately 1-2 inches. Sash-trim brushes are cut on an angle and 2 inches or less in width.
- Rollers - Rollers work especially well for large surfaces. Plastic cores are sturdier than cardboard cores and last through many uses. An optional extension pole will remove the need for ladders and make difficult spots easier to reach. There are various covering "naps" to chose from, though the ?-inch is the most popular for a smooth finish.
- Hammers and screwdrivers - These tools are handy for removing nails and other objects from walls, as well as assisting with cleanup and paint maintenance.
- Plastic bags and wrap - Plastic bags and wrap are used to protect fixtures as well as aid in the cleanup process.
- Rags and drop cloths - Even the tidiest painter has drips and spills. Keep these materials on hand to cleanup and protect unpainted objects.
- Painter's tape - Regular masking tape could be used to protect trim but is much stickier than painter's tape. This could make later touch-ups problematic and could even damage the walls underneath, so be attentive to which tape you use.
- Five gallon bucket and paint trays - When it comes time to paint a large area, a five gallon bucket with multiple cans of paint stirred together will ensure even coloring. Smaller paint trays are great for dipping brushes that will be used on smaller sections. Both tools will be helpful for your interior painting project.
There are a few essential steps one must take to prepare the painting space once your materials have been gathered.
- Begin by removing as many furnishings as possible from the room. Anything that cannot be removed should be placed tightly together in the center of the space.
- Cover the floor with plastic drop cloths underneath canvas drop cloths. Though the canvas will most likely not be penetrated by any paint spills, a layer of plastic underneath will ensure there are no damaging leaks. The items in the center of the room should be covered as well, with the edges taped to the floor to prevent the drop cloths from slipping.
- Fixtures that cannot be removed from the walls (for example, lamps) should be covered with plastic and sealed with painter's tape. If possible, remove as much of the hardware as possible. Doorknobs, hinges, and light plates can be removed and kept in individually labeled plastic baggies. This will make the painting process much smoother.
- Designate an area as the "Tool Spot" where you will keep unused brushes and other materials. An assigned place will make it easier to find a rag to clean up a quick spill.
- Walls should be washed with a mixture of mild soap and water to remove grease and other buildup that may prevent paint from adhering.
- Cracks and holes should be patched prior to priming and painting to ensure smooth coverage.
- Edge trim around doors, baseboards and baseboards with painter's tape so you can paint freely without worrying about damaging these areas.
- Though not always necessary, it is often a good idea to prime the walls prior to painting. Walls previously covered with oil-based paint will require priming before coating with latex or water based paints. Any walls with stains remaining after washing will also require a stain-blocking primer for evenly colored paint coverage.
- Make sure your space is properly ventilated. If it is a humid day, crack open windows for fresh air and use a large fan to circulate and help the paint dry.
- Place a rubberband over the open paint can or a piece of mesh in the 5-gallon paint tub. Both of these will allow you to wipe excess paint off the brush or roller while keeping the container edges clean.
- If brushes are new, break them in by slapping the bristles on a table edge. Then roll the handle between your hands to cause any loose bristles to fall out before entering the paint can or sticking to walls. It is also a good idea to clip any bent bristles.
- Dipping brushes in water (water based paints) or paint thinner (oil based paints) will keep paint from building up in bristles or the brush base. Do not forget that brushes should never be dipped more than 1/3 into the paint.
- Give the ceiling attention first, if painting that area. This will allow easy application without fear of rollers ruining the work completed on the walls.
- After the ceiling, use brushes to move onto the corners and around the trim. Paint two to three inches in from the edges to make rolling the rest of the wall simpler.
- When working on the walls themselves, chose one wall to paint at a time. Paint a 3' by 3' "W" on the wall, and then fill in without lifting the roller. Continue working in sections until the wall is complete.
- Trim should be painted very last, using an angle brush and a steady hand. Take your time here as uneven trim can draw the eye much faster than one may think.
Once the walls are painted, the bulk of the work is completed, but you can't quit just yet.
- For a temporary break, do not rush to rinse out the brushes and roller. Simply wrap the paint covered ends in plastic, tightly sealing away any air. Place in plastic bags and set aside until used later in the day. To keep brushes and rollers for up to a week, place the wrapped tools in the freezer. Thaw out one hour before use.
- Take your time when cleaning brushes and rollers. Properly cleaning each tool will ensure a much longer life.
- Brushes should be cleaned thoroughly with the proper material (water or paint thinner depending on the brush and paint used), excess cleaner or solvent should be shaken out, and bristles should be swiped in an "X" pattern onto newspaper. Then reshape the bristles by hand, wrap in newspaper and tape closed for storage.
- Paint should be stored in the smallest container possible to keep out air. Plastic wrap under the lid can provide a tighter seal.
- Storage containers should be labeled: date used, where purchased, where used, color brand and number (name), and if possible, the original label and swatch should be adhered to the container.
- Place a small amount of paint into a separate touch-up container. This small amount will allow you to make little touch ups as needed without having to open and reseal the larger amount of leftover paint. Also label these containers with the room where used and the store where purchased.
- Do not pull up drop cloths until the project is completely dry and touch ups have been applied. Be careful when removing protective barriers; check that all drips and spills have dried and will not accidentally seep out as cloths are gathered.
- Remove painter's tape delicately. Though intended for use on walls, extensive adherence can still cause damage.
Following these tips will help the paint process go smoother than ever thought possible. Take your time, collect all the proper supplies, and seek professional input on such details as primers and paint colors. With a little effort and small time investment, your home will look as great as you ever dreamed!
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