The Correct Way To Paint Your Home
Relatively speaking, painting is one of the more user-friendly home improvements that a do-it-yourselfer can make. Consequently, everyone thinks he’s a painter. Wrong! While it’s true that a can of paint, a brush and a cap can make almost anyone look like a painter, the truth is borne with the results.
Aside from the person doing the work, a good paint job is influenced by many factors: the condition of the object being painted, the paint, the applicator and the temperature.
Enough can’t be said about using the right paint for the job. Many people believe that one type of paint can be used on all interior and exterior surfaces. Unfortunately, (or fortunately depending upon how you look at it), in most cases the paint that is most appropriate for interior doors, for example, is different from interior wall paint. Appearance, durability and lasting-quality are just a few of reasons why this is so.
The most widely used paint for interior walls in the home is latex flat. Latex flat is water base, easy to apply and can be cleaned up with soap and water. This in sharp contrast to alkyd or oil base paint which we suggest using for doors, windows, trim and wet areas such as bathrooms, the kitchen and laundry. Why? Simple. Oil base paint is more abrasion-resistant than latex paint. It is more durable, is easier to clean and, when properly applied, offers a stunning finish.
Many do-it-yourselfers choose not to use oil because, unlike latex, cleanup must be made using mineral spirits. Also, many find oil base paints more difficult than latex to work with. While this may be true to some extent, we believe that the benefits far out weigh the negatives.
Although paint has been in the spotlight thus far, equally important is the applicator used to apply the paint. Latex paint (flat wall or enamel) is best applied with a synthetic brush made from nylon, polyester or a combination of the two. Oil, on the other hand, should only be applied using a natural Chinese bristle brush. The solvents used in oil base paints will break down the fibers of a synthetic brush. Conversely, the water in latex paint will bloat the strands of a natural brush which will make painting difficult and result in an inferior finish.
The size of a brush will also have a great deal to do with the ease of application and the appearance of the finished product. We like to use a three to four inch brush for large areas and a two to three inch angled trim brush for trim hard-to-access areas. A smaller brush can be used for more fine work.
If you’re a regular reader of this column then you are no doubt familiar with our painting credo: at least three-quarters of a painting project is preparation. For example, prior to painting an interior door any loose or chipping paint should first be removed using a paint scraper and then followed by a thorough sanding.
Low spots, dings and dents should be filled using a high-quality interior vinyl spackling compound applied with a putty knife. Once the spackle has dried it should be sanded. More than one application of spackle may be required since it is prone to shrink. When dry the spackle should be sanded one final time.
After patches have been made the entire surface of the door should be lightly sanded using 120 to 150 grit paper. Once the sanding is complete all of the sanding dust should be removed using a vacuum or a tack cloth. A dry paint brush can be used to remove dust from corners and other nooks and crannies.
The door is now ready for a coat of primer. Again, like paints provide the best adhesion. Therefore, we suggest using a high-quality oil base primer. Most oil base paints can be a bit thick or gummy hence it’s a good idea to add an after market ingredient that will help the paint flow more easily. Only a light coat of primer is needed. While the prime coat will help cover the previous coat of paint, its primary purpose is to improve the bond between the old and new coats of paint.
Most primers dry in a relatively short period of time and can be sanded after a few hours. A light sanding with a 150 to 220 grit paper is enough to achieve a smooth, uniform finish on to which the first coat of finish can be applied. After sanding the door should again be thoroughly dust free using a vacuum or tack cloth.
For the finish coat we recommend using a high quality interior oil base semi-gloss enamel. Semi-gloss refers to the sheen. Semi-gloss is shinier than a flat or an egg shell but not as shiny as a gloss or high gloss. Semi-gloss reflects light nicely and is easy to clean.
As with the primer, the finish paint may be a bit on the thick side and can probably use an additive to make it easier to apply. Many folks think the thicker the paint the better in the hopes of getting one coat coverage. Not so. Thick paints are gummy, hard to apply and will leave a grainy and uneven surface. On the other hand, a thin coat of paint will flow more easily resulting in a smooth, glasslike finish. It may not cover as well, but if a second coat of finish is needed it will well be worth the effort to achieve an almost perfect finish.
In those instances when a second coat is required, lightly sand the first coat of finish before applying the second coat and do a thorough with a vacuum or tack cloth. This again will improve the bond between the coats of paint and enhance the finished product.
Although we used doors as the example, the process is the same for windows, baseboard, crown mold, chair rail and other interior painted trim.