Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Potential Paint Tips

Andi and I have now painted about half of our apartment. We've used a spray gun, rollers, brushes, little detailed paintbrushes, fingers, etc. to paint different portions of the unit. As a result, we've learned a thing or two that may or may not help someone who is about to paint their own apartment and who may or may not be looking for tips. I am going to err on the side of too much information is a good thing and do my part to overload the information super-highway. Here are 10 painting tips that may or may not be useful. Or even applicable to painting.

Tip #1: Spray guns are finicky. Theoretically they paint a surface smoothly and quickly. Practically, they paint a surface. And not always smoothly and quickly. Most commonly, the paint is too thick and clogs the spray nozzle—especially primer. Primer usually contains filling and binding agents that make spraying through fine spray nozzles very difficult. I was told that you could “thin” paint and/or primer with water, but I also read water reduces the effectiveness of the paint and/or primer. What to do?!?! So I loaded the gun sans thinner and hoped for the best. That meant I stopped and cleaned the gun about every 50sf of wall area or so. Or about 5 minutes of solid spray time before the gun started spitting like a llama.

Tip #2: Spray guns cover a lot of stuff. Pipes, conduit, ducts, sheet metal, mouse traps, redwood siding, cloth and windows are no match for a spray gun. If the target surface is properly prepared, the spray gun will give you the best, and quickest, paint cover over odd obstructions. Painting nooks and crannies with a brush is labor intensive, and pretty much just sucks.

The painted pipes, duct, sheet metal and redwood siding.
Tip #3: Latex paint does NOT bind to oil-based paint very well. When we prepped the trim for new paint, the existing uppermost layer of latex paint pealed away in large swaths of failure and disappointment since it was applied directly to a layer of oil-based paint. To avoid this feeling of paint rejection you need to remove the top layer of latex paint with a scraper or your finger nails, sand the jagged edges or corners and areas where the latex was too stupidly stubborn to peel off, and prime. That is the only way you’ll get the final coat of latex paint to bind to the existing surface adequately. And look decent. Painting over areas where the original paint has peeled looks like you painted over areas where the original paint has peeled.

Tip #4: Oil-based paint works best on trim since it goes on in one coat and self-levels itself, removing any indication of brush strokes. We did not learn this from experience—I saw it on a 30-second infomercial on HGTV. That tip would have really come in handy when we painted our trim.

Tip #5: When using a roller, first brush the paint out 6” from any trim, corners, and areas where the color changes. This allows you roll away with little repercussions, kind of like high-roller on a hot craps table. In addition, a brush stroke looks a lot different than a rolled stroke. I prefer the aesthetic of a rolled stroke so rolling after brushing blends the two techniques better.

Tip #6: When painting with a brush, apply the paint in long horizontal or vertical strokes. Follow these directions:

1.     Apply copious amounts of paint to the brush but not too much that you’re dripping all over your hand, the floor, or anything else that you want to avoid getting paint on (maybe your Harry Potter book collection?).
2.     Apply the paint evenly in one direction (maybe a 3’ length).
3.     Flip the brush over and apply the paint over the same area in the opposite direction, starting just past where you ended your first stroke and extending just past the spot where your first stroke started.
4.     Repeat steps 2 & 3 about 1-2 more times until you need more paint on the brush.
5.     GOTO 1 (and move down, up or over on the wall).

Do not start a stroke in the middle of a wet area. Latex paint starts drying pretty quickly. You will just remove some of the paint from the area and will have to touch it up later.

And don’t forget to breath, Daniel-san.

Tip #7: This may be obvious to most but was somewhat of a surprise to us: rolling uses a helluva lot more material than brushing.

Tip #8: Paintbrushes and roller covers have a shelf life. They are not immortal, like the great Gary Busey, especially if cared for poorly. So take care of them! Wash thoroughly.

Tip #9: Everything always looks better after a second coat.

Tip #10: Blue painter’s tape does little to stop the paint from creeping under the tape. Touch up at edges is always necessary. If someone has a tip on how to seal the tape to an edge better, we’re all ears.