Painting Tools For Your Next Project
Although it was more than 30 years ago, we can easily visualize our folks, Morris, Sr. and Alvera, perched on ladders meticulously painting the ceilings in the living room and dining room of the old family home that we grew up in.
The Mediterranean-style home, built by our contractor grandfather at the turn of the last century, had 12-foot coved plaster ceilings with intricate plaster cornices and a decorative wood picture rail. What a sight! And what a nightmare to paint – especially since the cornices and picture rail were painted a different color than the base color of the ceiling.
It wasn’t, however, the daunting task that one might think since mom and dad had plenty of experience painting and performing many home repair projects around the old house. It was amazing to watch them transform the dingy ceilings – tainted with soot from the oil burner in the basement – into a work of art. Thus, we credit our fascination with remodeling to our folks – a couple of dyed-in-the-wool do-it-yourselfers.
Although mom and dad are no longer with us, they taught us early on that a top of the line paint job is the result of good planning and job preparation along with top quality tools and materials. After over 20 years as remodeling contractors we couldn’t agree more.
When it comes to painting, preparation (cleaning, scraping, sanding, patching and priming) accounts for well over three quarters of a good job. Taking your time and using high quality patching products will lend the most professional results. Remove as much loose paint as possible (down to bare wood if necessary) using a scraper. Fill uneven surfaces and damaged areas with a high-quality exterior grade vinyl spackling compound, let dry, sand smooth and spot prime with an oil base primer-sealer.
When choosing paint, let price be your guide. The less expensive the paint, the harder you will work. If you enjoy painting go for the bargain basement stuff – you’ll get plenty of practice. The notion that you can end up with one-coat coverage that will last five or more years for $5.99 a gallon is wishful thinking at best and ludicrous at worst. Plan to spend $20 to $25 dollars per gallon for a top quality acrylic latex paint.
Water-base latex paint is the most popular choice for interior and exterior walls and ceilings. It is user-friendly and makes for easy soap and water cleanup.
An oil-base paint is your best bet for painting exterior and exterior doors and trim, the laundry, kitchen, bathroom and other damp areas. Oil-base paints are more moisture resistant, have a tougher finish and are easier to keep clean. They typically cost about 20 percent more than their latex counterpart, but are well worth the investment. Unfortunately, most do-it-yourself painters shy away from oil-base products because of their strong odor and the fact that mineral spirits are required for cleanup.
Irrespective of the type of paint you choose, the tools you use to apply the paint (brushes, rollers, paint pads) can mean a better-looking job with less effort.
Brushes come in many shapes, sizes and materials. The elements to consider when choosing one are the type of farrow and ball paint (oil or water), the desired finish (smooth or textured), and the size of the object being painted. The latter will determine the size of the brush or roller to use.
The drill is simple. When painting with oil (or solvent thinned paint or stain), use a Chinese Bristle brush made from natural animal hair or hog bristle from China. These brushes tend to be more expensive and should not be used in water-based finishes. When using water-based paints or stains, use a brush made of man-made synthetic bristles such as nylon, polyester or a combination of the two.
If you will be painting a large, flat surface such as a flush door, cabinets, baseboards, woodwork, beams, fences, gutters, stair steps and shelves, a 3-inch brush is the best choice. Use a 4-inch brush for even larger flat areas such as siding, walls, ceilings, paneling, floors, and fences.
When painting windows and trim, and shutters use a 1-inch to 2-inch trim brush. There are two types of these. One has bristles cut straight across and the other has bristles cut at a slight angle to the ferrule. The sharper pointed edge of the angular sash brush lets you do precise trimming or fine-line work. In addition, the brush handle is generally long for pencil-grip control.
Roller covers are used when there is a need to spread lots of paint over a large area. Though the standard roller cover is 9 inches wide, they are available in various widths to suit the project. When roller shopping, you will notice a difference in the length of the nap or fibers. Some roller covers have a short, smooth surface while others have a long, bushy look. A roller with short nap (3/16” to ¼”) is designed for smooth surfaces whereas long nap (1-1/4”) is best for rough or textured ones.
Aside from the size and the length of the nap, fabric type determines which roller cover is best to use. As with paintbrushes, a roller cover can be made of natural material such as mohair or man-made polyester. Mohair, woven to prevent shedding, works especially well when used with polyurethane, oil-base enamels and solvent thinned paints and stains.
A word to the wise – use a quality roller frame. Good roller frames have a compression-type cage, also called a “bird cage.” Compression frames are convenient because they grip the cover securely, yet covers can be removed quickly and easily. In addition, the roller handle should be “beefy” and have a threaded end in order to use an extension pole for painting walls, floors and ceilings.
Formed paint sponges and fabric covered paint pads have become popular in the last few years. We have found the foam sponges to work exceptionally well for minor flat wall touchup or for small craft projects. We don’t recommend them for serious painting jobs where quality is a concern. The same goes for fabric-covered paint pads. They are well suited for applying stain and/or varnish to smooth surfaces such as a deck or hardwood floor, but are not especially effective for applying paint.
A nifty tip: Save time and wear and tear cleaning up paint-covered brushes and rollers at the end of a day of painting by wrapping the brush or roller cover in plastic food wrap and placing it in the refrigerator. Remove the brush or roller from the fridge the next morning, allow it to come up to room temperature, and continue where you left off.
For more home improvement tips and information search our website or call our listener hot line 24/7 at 1-800-737-2474.
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