Painting Project Tried-and-True Tips
Cover everything you don’t want painted with a plastic or canvas drop cloth. Don’t skimp by buying the cheapest, thinnest plastic sheets, either. The thicker the plastic the more durable it is, and the better it stays in place without wadding up beneath your feet and exposing the floor or furniture beneath. If you’re painting a large room, cover the entire floor with thick plastic and seal the seams with tape.
Starting with a good primer ensures the truest color for your top coat, no matter the surface you’re working with—walls, cabinetry or trim. Beyond the truer color, primer offers stain- and odor-blocking properties and also provides a more enduring top-coat finish.
One thing to consider is that priming will never hurt anything.
If in doubt, prime it. And it definitely helps to use a primer if you’re painting a lighter color over a darker one. For darks over lights, you can use a tinted primer to reduce the number of topcoats you’ll need to achieve the desired color.
To load a brush, dip it only 1 to 2 inches into the paint. Gently tap the brush on the side of the container, first one side and then the other. The excess paint will stay in the container and leave you with a fully loaded brush for field painting or cutting in.
“Cutting in” is the art of drawing a straight line that separates two colors using only a paint brush—no masking tape or other aid. When cutting in, always keep a fully loaded brush. Using it parallel to the area to be cut, let the brush open up into a semi oval and bring it into the line you are cutting. Follow the line until the paint begins to break up. Repeat this procedure, working into the previously painted area.
If you find “cutting in” free-handed too difficult to maintain a crisp line, simply mask the lines with painter’s tape. However, avoid pushing paint into the tape with the brush, which can cause the paint lines to bleed.
Also, don’t paint out of a can. The brush picks up debris that will make its way back into the source can and create specks and lumps in the paint. Furthermore, the air interacting with the paint in the can will dry it prematurely. Instead, load paint into a separate lightweight container, working with a 1/2-in. pour of paint. Refresh the paint often to keep it in a fluid state.
For field painting, rollers get the job done quickly with a consistent surface texture. One often overlooked step in a painting project is prepping the roller cover. All synthetic covers require some form of preconditioning to improve their performance. Before use in latex paints, rinse the cover with a faucet or hose, then spin it to remove excess water. Before using oil-based paints, the cover should be lubricated in the solvent used to thin the paint. Mohair covers should also be preconditioned in the solvent used for thinning. Preconditioning prevents the lack of paint release caused by the paint attaching to the fibers. (Lambskin roller covers have natural oils and don’t require preconditioning).