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Painting
The basics and beyond

Painting is a relatively quick and inexpensive way to freshen up a room. Like every other project, you will find preparation to be a critical first-step. Without proper preparation the project can become overwhelming and frustrating.

First, let's decide on the right paint to use. If you want an end result with no sheen you will want to buy a flat or matte paint. An eggshell finish will give a warm look, changing from a matte to a soft sheen depending on the angle from which you are looking.

Satin enamel is your answer if you want to be able to clean and scrub the surface and have a pearl-like finish. A semi-gloss enamel provides a sleek looking finish and is usually your best bet for the high-usage areas like bathrooms, kitchens, cabinets, etc. High gloss enamel will give you the same easy stain removal and cleaning ease as semi-gloss, but will have a more glass-like, shiny finish. Specific details of the paint and color to choose can be obtained from your paint dealer or your decorator.

To determine how much paint you will need, measure the width of each wall and add those numbers. Then determine the height of the walls, mutiply the combined width x the height. If your room is 10' x 12' and 8' in height you would add 10+10+12+12 = 44. You would then multiply 44 by the height of 8'. Your result is 352 sq. ft. One gallon of paint will usually cover 400 sq. ft. for a one-coat application.

You can decide if your project will require one or two coats by first determining what surface you will be attempting to cover. If you are applying a light paint to a dark surface, two coats will most likely be required. If you are applying paint over wallpaper with a pattern, you will probably want the second coat. If the surface is porous and has never been painted, the second coat will give you a better result. You will not be sorry with a second coat. You may well be if you decide to apply only one.

When you are ready to paint, have all of your supplies together. In addition to paint, brushes and rollers, you will need masking tape (in a variety of widths), scissors, a pencil and several rags for cleaning up spills. Remove all of your draperies, switch plate covers and hardware before you begin. If you can loosen your lighting fixtures, do so. If not, cover them with masking tape.

Cover all furniture with drop cloths. Be certain there are no spaces in the cloth - every inch should be covered. This applies to the floor as well, regardless of the surface of the floor. A canvas drop cloth is best, because paint will dry quickly on it without soaking through.

Be sure your surface is properly prepared. On bare wood you will want to be sure all nail holes, joints and cracks have been filled with patching paste. Then sand the surface smooth and remove sanding dust with a damp cloth. For plaster walls, be sure the surface is dry, cured and hard. If your surface is textured or the plaster is powdery, treat the surface with a solution of one pint of white vinegar in one gallon of water. Keep repeating this process until the surface is hard.

If you choose to paint over wallpaper, rather than removing it, be sure the paper is firm and even. Paste down loose sections and be certain to remove all dirt and grease. Your time would be well spent in removing the wall paper whenever possible.

Finally, if you are going to paint on a previously painted surface you must first clean off any dirt, grease or oil that may have built up over the years. Remove any loose paint. Patch all cracks and holes. After the surface has dried it must be sanded smooth and the sand dust removed with a damp cloth. Allow surface to dry again.

You've chosen the proper paint (and the proper amount) you have your supplies, your walls are prepped and the area is well protected. It's finally time to paint.

Work your brush back and forth gently across your fingers to remove any dust or unwanted particles. (See Paint Brushes for complete information). Your brush should have no more than half of its length covered in paint. Tap the brush on the inside of the can to remove excess paint, but do not scrape it off on the edge of the can. This removes too much paint and you will be back and forth to the paint can more often then necessary.

Brush with a smooth, harmonious, gentle stroke, lifting the brush up in a gradual swoop at the end of each stroke. (If you are using a roller, see Painting with a Roller for complete information). Always paint in the direction of the grain of the wood. In general, paint from top to bottom and brush into an already wet area.

If you will be painting both woodwork and walls paint the woodwork first.

Soon, all that will be left is the clean up. It is imperative that your tools be cleaned and stored properly if you want to be able to use them again. (See sections previously mentioned for proper care and cleaning methods).

If there is paint left over it is wise to save it for future touch-up work. Place a sheet of thin plastic wrap over the can before securely replacing the lid. Without the plastic wrap, a film may form over the top of the paint when it is closed in the can for a length of time. If this happens, the film or skin must be removed before the paint is used.

It is best to wait at least two weeks before washing your newly painted surface. When you do wash it, simply use water and a mild liquid detergent applied with a sponge or soft cloth. Be sure to rinse with clear water. Avoid the use of abrasive cleaners, as they may damage the newly painted surface.

Now that you've mastered painting, who know what projects you'll take on next!?!

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