Painting 101

Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface. When it comes to painting the interior of your home, some people feel overwhelmed by all there is to consider. What type of paint will work best in your home? What tools/techniques to use? and so on. The truth is, painting is not the chore it used to be. A professional look is now easier to achieve. Whatever your project, talk to the paint experts where you purchase your paint. They are a valuable resource!

Start with a painting kit! Here is a list of things that will help you get started:

  • drywall mud (putty) or spackle
  • putty knife
  • drop cloth(s)
  • step ladder
  • rubber/plastic gloves
  • safety glasses
  • paint thinner
  • cleaning rags
  • paint can opener
  • painter’s tape
  • assorted paintbrushes
  • roller and roller covers (you may want to consider an extension bar to reach the ceiling)
  • roller tray with disposable liner
  • multi-purpose paint tool *TIP* this can be used for a variety of things, such as: clearing away caulk, pulling nails, cleaning roller covers, applying putty, and scraping away old paint.
  • primer
  • paint stirring stick

The next step is to choose your paint! Here are a few things to consider:

  • First you’ll want to consider paint types. There are two common types of paint: oil or alkyd and latex.
  • Latex paints are more popular because they are practically odourless, dry quickly, and clean up with soap and water.
  • Oil or Alkyd paints are suitable for multiple surfaces, and show fewer brush strokes, but it takes longer to dry. This paint is very durable and resistant to extreme weather conditions, which makes it suitable for indoor and outdoor projects. For cleanup, you will need turpentine or paint thinner.
  • The next thing you’ll want to consider is the finish. Flat finishes have a soft, even appearance. They mark easily, however, so you’ll want to use them in rooms that don’t get a lot of traffic. Eggshell and satin finishes have a low luster and are washable, making them a great choice for rooms that get more use. Semi-gloss finishes are the most durable and are perfect for rooms that take a lot of abuse. Glossy finishes are shiny and are typically used on trim work.
  • The best way to choose a color is to try it out first. You can never
    make a good decision based on looking at the color swatch in the store. Take it home and tape it to the wall to see how it works within the space and with your room’s lighting. The swatches don’t always reveal the actual color when it dries. You can test a few colors of paint on a spare piece of wood and place it against the wall.
  • PAINTING MYTH: Contrary to popular belief, you can paint over oil or alkyd paint with latex paint. To do so the walls should be cleaned, painted with a super adherent acrylic primer, then latex paint can be applied.To test if the paint on the walls is oil or alkyd some stores carry inexpensive test kits, or you can use methyl hydrate or non acetone based nail polish remover. Apply a small quantity of one of these products to a pad and rub vigorously on the painted surface. If the surface remains shiny it is oil/alkyd; if the paint is stripped it is latex.

The next thing you will want to think about are brushes and rollers! The type of paint you choose, will determine the tools you use to apply the paint to your wall.

  • Natural bristle brushes are made with animal hair and used mainly usedwhen applying alkyd or oil-based paints, stains and varnishes. Laytex and water-based paints will dry out the bristles.
  • Nylon or synthetic bristle brushes are best used with acrylic and water-based latex paints.
  • Before purchasing one of these brushes, make sure it has a thick head of evenly distributed bristles. Cheaper brushes may have gaps in the middle of the head. An angled sash brush is great for cutting in corners or for painting trim.
  • Foam brushes can be used for intricate work such as painting moulding or window casings. However, these brushes are normally good only for one use, as they’re hard to clean and easy to tear.
  • Paint-roller covers come in different naps and textures. For smooth walls you’ll want to choose a roller with a
    very short nap — 1/8″ to 1/4″. For more textured walls, pick something a little longer — 3/8 to 1/2″.

Your next step is to prep the walls for painting! Paint won’t stick to the wall if you haven’t taken the time to prep. The surface must be clean, non-glossy and in good condition.

  • Before prepping a room for painting, protect the furniture and flooring against splattering paint or accidents using drop cloths.
  • A good idea is to remove furniture from the room altogether, if
    possible. If this is not possible, then move furniture to the center of the room and cover with drop cloths.
  • Remember to wear safety goggles and older clothes in case of paint
  • Wash walls. Washing your walls from top to bottom is always recommended because paint sticks better to a clean surface. T.S.P. (Trisodium Phosphate) is commonly used to clean walls before painting.
  • Before painting, remove all wall plates and light fixtures, and tape off light switches and electrical outlets. To protect any light fixtures and trim that are unable to be removed from walls cover with plastic and secure with painters tape.
  • When painting a bathroom or kitchen, wash the walls with a solution of approximately three teaspoons of laundry detergent to one gallon of water.
  • Scrape any cracked or flaking paint with a paint scraper.
  • *NOTE* Lead in interior paint was taken off the market in 1979. Paint in houses or apartments built before that date almost certainly contain small amounts of lead paint. Exposure to large amounts of lead can cause serious illness. Infants and children are especially vulnerable to lead. However, lead paint is not generally a problem if it is not flaking, peeling or blistering. To check if the walls contain lead, you can obtain a lead paint test kit at most major hardware and some health food stores. Sanding or heat stripping lead paint requires safety precautions, including protective clothing, a mask, goggles and gloves. Lead paint in the form of sanded particles are a health hazard. Pregnant women and children should never be exposed to dust or fumes caused during lead paint removal.
  • If there are large imperfections or holes in your drywall, apply your
    patching compound, let dry, and sand away the excess until the wall is smooth and even. *TIP* Ensure the compound is fully dry before sanding or applying primer/paint.
  • Paint doesn’t always adhere to glossy surfaces. It’s recommended to use a light grade sandpaper to take the gloss off the surface so your new paint sticks like it should. Sandpaper is handy to take away other small imperfections on the wall such as plaster bumps.
  • Once all the old paint and imperfections are gone it’s time for primer. Primer not only provides a good surface for the paint, but it also brings out the paint’s true color. A high-quality primer will help to hide any small imperfections on walls. Use a good water-based primer on new drywall. Choose an oil-based primer for walls that have heavy stains from water or smoke damage, or if the wall has paneling.
  • Start in the corners of the wall and up near the ceiling, “cutting
    in” the paint with an angle brush. An edge pad can also be used for clean lines around doorframes, ceiling edges and corners.
  • A great tip is to do a “W” pattern to paint walls. Start in the corner of a wall and roll on a 3′ by 3′ “W”; then fill it in without lifting the roller. Repeat until the section is finished. This helps hide seams and any places where the roller has been lifted and put back on the wall again.
  • Once an area starts to dry, it’s best to leave it alone. Going back over
    it can leave marks and color streaks in the paint’s surface.
  • A common problem known as “hatbanding” occurs when painters
    use a paintbrush for cutting in and a roller to apply the rest of the paint, thus producing a different texture along the ceiling and trim. To prevent hatbanding, roll the paint as close to the cut-in areas as possible.

2 responses to “Painting 101

  1. Hi Kevin,

    Thanks for the informative post; packed full of information that everyone from the budding painter & decorator to the professional could do with printing out and keeping!

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