Painting tips can have you working like a professional

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DORIS A. BLACK
Ever wonder how professional painters achieve their wonderful results. Well, obviously they have a lot more experience than the average homeowner does, but they also know a few tricks of the trade. Here are some of their secrets.

First, you need to have enough space to maneuver properly. Crowded conditions equal sloppy work, so clear everything movable from the room. Additionally, any wall or ceiling repair will create a blanket of dust during the sanding process. The more surfaces there are to collect dust, the more cleaning you’ll have to do later, so minimize your work by removing furniture early on. Large, heavy pieces like sectional sofas or entertainment centers can be moved to the center of the room and covered with a drop cloth, if necessary.

The next step is to remove hardware, light fixtures and doors. Try to place the light switch and outlet covers in order when removing them from the room. They don’t always fit the same if replaced in a different location. Some painters even label the items, so they know exactly which cover needs to be installed where.

Use masking or painter’s tape (blue) to cover woodwork around doors, windows and anywhere else you don’t want to paint. Here’s a tip-don’t tape more area than you plan to paint in two days. When the tape is left for longer than two or three days, it is harder to remove. This step may seem time consuming at first, but it saves a lot of trimming time later. Lastly, cover the floor with drop cloths. Either fabric or cloth is acceptable.

Before you start painting, remove all nails from the walls and fill the holes with paintable spackle. Minor cracks should also be filled at this time. If you plan to paint wood trim, repair any damaged areas with paintable wood filler. For peeling paint, scrape the loose paint with a putty knife or sandpaper and sand edges to a smooth finish.

You’re not ready to paint yet though. Walls need to be cleaned of all dust and dirt, so the paint will adhere and last for years. Most painters use TSP (trisodium phosphate). Wipe down the walls with the TSP solution, then wipe the walls a second time with clean water. Allow to dry.

Now you’re ready to paint. Primers are designed to provide an even base for a topcoat of paint. Some are especially formulated to hide stains. Professional painters always prime first. It is the main reason they achieve those fabulous results-along with the two layers of topcoat they apply. Don’t spot prime the sanded areas or you will be able to see those areas beneath the topcoat. Always prime the entire wall.

Always buy the highest quality of paint you can afford. You may have to spend $25-$30 per gallon but the results will be evident. Latex paints are the norm these days. Seldom do professional painters use an oil-based paint. Flat paints are generally used for ceilings. Glossy paints serve well in kitchens and baths because they are easier to clean than flat, but most use a semi-gloss paint in almost all applications. A good-quality semi-gloss paint will hide wall imperfections, is easy to clean and provides nice highlights.

Specialty paints with mildewcides are available for bathrooms and will prevent new growth of mildew, but won’t kill the mildew already present. Mold and mildew spores can live beneath paint, eventually surfacing, so you’ll want to kill them before applying the new paint. Wash the walls with a bleach solution (3/4 cups bleach to one gallon of water), then seal the walls with a coat of stain-blocking primer such as Kilz.

Nine-inch rollers are the norm. According to experts, the longer the nap, the more paint the roller will hold. The more paint the roller holds, the more texture it will leave on the wall. A roller with a 1/2-inch nap is recommended for the best coverage and texture. Using an extension rod will make reaching ceilings and upper walls a cinch. They are inexpensive, easily screw on to the end of a roller and can cut painting time by one third.

As with paint, purchasing a high-quality paintbrush can make a huge difference. Don’t be surprised if you have to spend $20 for a top-of-the-line synthetic brush. Nylon is the most flexible and will give a nice finish. Tapered brushes are essential for trim work. For tiny trim work, a small foam brush works well in hard-to-reach places. The pros recommend doing the roller work before the trim, as careful rolling can cover within 1/2 inch of the ceiling, leaving very little space to trim. Before rolling the wall, the pros recommend painting the ceiling.

Rollers are impossible to clean completely, so most pros don’t bother washing them out for reuse. They buy new ones unless they are returning to the same job the next day. Latex dries slowly at lower temps, so brushes and rollers can be wrapped in plastic bags and stored in the refrigerator. Brushes can be used directly from the refrigerator, but rollers need time to warm up to room temperature, so don’t forget to take them out before you need them. Even the pros aren’t perfect and can have accidents, so keep some paper towels and sponges on hand in case of accidents.

These are just a few tips from the pros. If you follow them, you’re sure to have beautiful results.

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