Painting Pointers

A fresh coat of paint is the cheapest way to give your home a new look and improve its resale value – especially if you do the work yourself. To make the job easier, be happier with the results, and avoid accidents along the way, follow these tips.

  • Choose your paint wisely. Cheap paints use inferior pigments and binders, meaning their hiding capabilities are lesser, they fade and wear faster, don’t adhere as well, and are more difficult to apply, which means working harder and having to paint more often. If that matters to you, buy the best paint you can afford.
  • Use quality tools appropriate for the job. Good rollers have metal cages, plastic (not cardboard) cover cores, and dense fibers. Good paintbrushes have tightly packed bristles of varying lengths that are split at the ends. For oil-based paints, use rollers and brushes with natural covers and bristles; for latex paint, opt for synthetics.
  • If you can’t remove furniture entirely, gather it in the middle of the room, and cover it and the floor with drop cloths. Fabric cloths are preferable to plastic ones, which are slippery underfoot (human or ladder) and stay wet when spilled on. Whatever type of cloth you use, tape it down.
  • Remove hardware: switch and outlet plates, doorknobs, light fixtures, hinges, handles, etc. Professionals may be able to paint around such items, but you probably don’t want to take the risk. Keep screws and such with the items they belong to and label things as needed to avoid confusion when it’s time to put them back.
  • Smooth walls are critical, so surface preparation is important. Remove loose, peeling, or flaking paint; repair popped nails; and patch up cracks and holes. If you’re painting over a glossy surface, light sanding will be necessary so that the paint can better adhere to the wall. Allow patched areas to dry completely before painting.
  • Make sure walls are clean. They might not look dirty, but chalk, dust, hair, oil, and even cobwebs may be clinging to them, which can make it harder for paint to adhere and even show through the finished job. Use a sponge to wash walls with a mixture of water and mild detergent, rinse with plain water, and let them dry completely.
  • Mask the room. Tempting as it may be to skip it, masking will likely save you even more work later. Choose the right painter’s tape for the job – not all tapes can be used on or cleanly removed from every surface. Overlap sections by a couple of inches and make sure there are no bubbles or folds that could allow paint to seep in.
  • Don’t skip the primer, particularly if you’re painting a lighter shade over a darker one, if the walls are stained (use a primer designed for stain blocking), or if you’re painting walls that have been repaired (in fact, if you prime nothing else, spot prime areas you’ve patched or they’ll appear as shiny spots when you’re done).

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