Paint Like a Pro

by Olivia Fox


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Passionate About Painting

Using Color on Walls

Several fellows worked on our old, quirky kitchen recently. Their advice and efforts transformed that room. I picked their brains for the below tips:

  • If you've removed wallpaper, make sure the surfaces are thoroughly cleaned of paste before proceeding with painting walls. Larry showed me a blotchy area, "See that? Some people put primer on it and still the paste bubbles through. Wash it down well before you paint."

  • Remove electrical faceplates and furnishings.

  • "You can't paint a crack," said Chuck. He introduced me to the joys of caulk. Make sure the surfaces are clean and dry. Cut the tube tip on a 45-degree angle with a smallish hole and run an even bead of caulk along the entire crack's length. Wet a sponge and use it to keep your finger moist. Using a wet finger, smooth the caulk into the crack. Remember to release the tube after each run to avoid a delayed "splurt." Clean up while it's still wet. Let dry about two hours before painting. The fellows like white ALEX PLUS by Dap, as it's paintable. Since the house is vintage with a lot of molding, we used almost four tubes.

  • Use dropcloths when painting walls.

  • Quick drying primer allows you to do the actual painting the same day. They recommended BIN by Zinnser. It's ready in 45 minutes. The smell isn't unpleasant but is very strong, so ventilate the place. It's a bit drippier than regular paint. Clean up immediately using ammonia.

  • I found out the hard way that a good quality sashing brush is economical. My $4 special did not paint evenly or precisely. Scott told me that he spends about $15 on one. He cleans it well after each use with an ammonia and water combo. (For latex paints, as well as BIN.) Make sure it's thoroughly dried.

  • Ceiling white is chalky and non-reflective and makes a smooth looking ceiling. Quality washable wall paint is a wise expenditure too. You'll get truer color, and it's more durable than cheap stuff. Pick one shade lighter than you like, as it seems darker over larger surfaces. "Cut in" first before filling in with a roller.

  • Chuck muttered, "I hate tape." After I pulled the blue edging tape up along with some of the wall paint, I found out why. He cuts paint in against the ceiling with his good angled paintbrush. That makes a clean line. Larry suggested that if I insist on tape, remove it immediately after painting. The fellows felt it works alright to protect flooring (for painting kickboards). From then on, I took it up right after painting. Splotches cleaned up easily too.

  • Dip the brush bristles less than an inch into the paint. Though the fellows didn't say outright, I noticed Chuck didn't load his brush as much as I would have. Rollers should be evenly saturated, not dripping. Choose a nap appropriate for the wall's texture.

  • "Every paint needs two coats unless the color's very similar," Chuck told me. Here I thought blotchy walls were from my amateur technique. He's right.

After the caulk, primer and second coat, the walls look seamless. Thanks guys for your help!

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