Monday, 25 April 2011

Everything I Know About Painting a Room

Well I'm still here. I haven't spontaneously exploded in a big ball of frustration. I'm still not a big fan of painting but after doing some research, I managed to do not a bad job of it this time. I haven't attempted to paint too many times in my life. The few times I have, I have not been very pleased with the results. That being said, I never thought of painting as a skill with certain theories to learn. This time ( and to procrastinate a bit longer) I spent some time online and with professional painters and got some advice on how to do it right.


This is what I learned.

-Use good quality paint. It does make a difference. I went to General Paint to get mine.

-Different types of paint (latex, oil etc) are used for different applications. Different finishes ( glossy, eggshell etc) are used for different applications. Ask questions at the paint store to make sure you get the right product for the finish and durability you are looking for.
In general:
 - These days latex paint is good for all interior and most exterior applications. Latex also has the
advantage of longer lasting colour that doesn't fade so much, and also doesn't become brittle and crack off the way oil paint will. Only metal or cement MAY (but probably not) require an oil based paint.
 - Flat paint on walls will hide flaws better than something with a shine, but is not washable.
 - Generally an eggshell finish is good for walls, and semi-gloss for trim, doors, kitchens, and bathrooms
    (all the areas that need more frequent wiping down)

-Use good quality brushes and rollers. It does make a difference.

-The rollers have different nap size for different applications, find out which one you need for your job.A 20 mil nap on the roller sleeve is good for most indoor work. For areas you want a super smooth shiny finish, like cabinet doors, use a thin foam sleeve or a 10 mil woven sleeve.

-A 2 1/2 inch nylon angled sash brush is good for all interior work. Brushes should be fairly stiff, not soft. This will allow you to draw straighter lines along trim or where walls meet ceilings or floors.
For exterior work on rough surfaces you will want 25 - 30 mil nap and a three inch brush.


-Brushes come in different kinds. Some are for the type of product you are applying and they can have different shapes and sizes depending on what you want to do with them. I used a brush wide enough to do my trim in one sweep. My brush for cutting in had a chiseled edge which helped me get closer to the edges without touching the other side.

Hold smaller brushes like a pencil, hold a wall brush with your whole hand


-Always lightly sand your walls first. ( if they are really greasy, I would recommend washing them with a mixture of TSP and water to remove all grease and dirt)

-Go along the walls and trim with a metal paint scraper and remove any lumpy things

-Always use a good primer first. It will save you paint in the long run and give you a better finish

-Remove as much furniture as possible, a completely empty room is the best

-Cover the floors with a drop cloth and tape or tack it down

-If your painting the ceiling too, start there first, then paint your trim, then do the walls last especially if you are using a trim colour that is different from the wall colour, paint the trim first. It is easier to draw straight down the frame with the wall colour after than it would be to paint that tiny edge without getting any on the wall.



-Before you start, take the brushes and rollers that you will be using and get them wet with the appropriate solvant( water for latex,paint thinner(mineral spirits) for oil base etc)squeeze out the roller, shake out the brush and dry them lightly on clean white paper or a brown paper bag( not newspaper, the ink can come off onto the brushes) (Rick who helped my write this article, doesn't do this step. The source I read said it helped the brushes load better when you do this. I did it and had no negative effects but it may not be neccesary according to Rick)

-Make sure you have clean cloths and the appropriate solvent handy to wipe up any spills or dribbles as soon as they happen ( don't wait until they are dry)

Ok, now your ready to start painting

-Place your paint can and tray on a drop sheet. You can place your paint can on a paper plate in case it dribbles and you don't want to track it around on the floor.

-Gently pry off the lid with a flat head screwdriver.You can take an awl and poke some holes around the inside lip of the can so that any excess paint from pouring will drain back into the can.

-After pouring paint, wipe out the rim of the can with your brush (don't let the paint pool and dry in the rim - that would interfere with sealing and opening the can again)


If you are not going to use the whole gallon, pour a small amount of paint into an extra empty can to use for brush work. Only pour about two inches into the cutting can so you when you leave the brush standing in the can the paint comes half way up the bristles.

Don't work out of the original can unless you are going to use all of it at once.




-Pour an appropriate amount into the roller tray(about half full) or a hand held smaller container and put the lid back onto the can IMMEDIATELY and FIRMLY ( go around the top of the lid with a rubber mallet to seal it)This keeps the paint from drying out, getting cooties in it and most importantly spilling everywhere when the can gets knocked over ( and karma says it will if you don't close it tight each and every time!!)

-Don't drench your brush or roller in paint

-Don't try to paint a large wall all at once. Break it down into sections ( I did sections about 5-6 feet across.)

-Start by cutting in. This is the boring,tedious part of the job. If you take your time and pay attention, you can paint your whole room without having to tape it all off( another job that can take hours and if not done with great precision will result in paint being pulled off where you don't want it to be) Don't try and cut the whole wall at once, do it in sections so that the wet paint will blend with the roller work. If the paint dries before you roll the middle, it will always be obvious.

-Dip your brush about one third of the way into the paint( not up to the base) and gently plunge it up and down a few times to load the bristles.Lightly scrape off the excess. You can't rush this process, better to
apply paint twice for good coverage, then try and load the brush too full the first time and have it slop everywhere. Paint slowly to avoid splattering paint.

-Place your brush on the wall an inch or so from the corner, press down gently on the bristles until they fan towards the corner. Just as they touch the corner, pull the brush across the wall. Continue in this method, making short horizontal strokes all the way up the wall, from the floor to ceiling. Go back over the horizontal stripes with a long vertical one, starting at the bottom and working upwards to avoid paint pooling.

-Along the ceiling edge do the same thing but pull the paint down, then across.

-Once you have marked out all the borders of the wall potion you are working on in this way, you can use the roller to fill in the middle

-For the roller, run it down the tray until it is half way into the paint and pull it back onto the rough portion of the tray. Do this a few times until the roller is nicely loaded with paint. Roll back and forth over the rough portion until it is evenly loaded without being saturated and rolls smoothly. If it slides without rolling , its too full of paint!

-Pick a spot in the middle of the wall and touch the roller to it and start to roll up and away from you. Make a large W or M on the wall, then come back and fill it all in with up and down strokes. Don't try and start at one end and just up and down all the way across, do the M thing and fill in, it gives a better looking finish!

There doesn't that look great! Now just continue painting sections of wall until you are finished, wiping up dribbles and splotches as they happen if necessary.

Hey wait! Before you go running off to have a beer to celebrate, there is one more thing to do.

Go clean all your equipment right away. Those good quality brushes you bought are meant to be used more than once. Give them and any paint trays etc a good washing with the appropriate solvent until all traces of paint are removed. (if you leave old paint in the paint tray and try to use it again, the fresh paint will soften the old and they will mix together possibly giving you an effect you weren't looking for)

-Gently dry them off on by squeezing them lightly in an old clean towel and store them back in the plastic sleeves they came in to keep them supple, clean and ready to use for the next time.

Update: here are a few more tips I've learned
-If you are using a can of paint more than once, you should strain the paint before using it as it will have dried bits in it.
-If you will be returning the next day to finish a painting job , you can wrap the roller in saran wrap and put it in the fridge overnight without washing it out. Always wash your brushes though, even half way through a large job is good to get a better edge.

Now go and celebrate your fresh new space.Happy decorating,

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