Painting Prep: The Key to Success
All painting tasks are different, but using an efficient order of work will save time. The best ways to apply paint to achieve other finishes are also described here. It is important to protect surfaces you are not working on because painting, especially with rollers or sprayers, is a messy job.
Covering Up and Masking
Rooms should ideally be clear of all furnishings, fixtures and floor coverings before decoration. However, if this is not possible, ensure that you mask or cover anything you cannot remove. Plastic drop cloths are excellent for covering furniture, but have to be thrown away after a couple of uses and are slippery underfoot on floors. Fabric drop cloths will not protect against major spills, but they provide a safer floor covering and can be washed and reused many times. Use masking tape to protect any unpainted surfaces, especially around the edge of the floor, and use blue painter's tape at any junction.
Apply masking tape to the floor below the baseboards and lay a fabric drop cloth so that it overlaps the tape. For carpet, use a scraper to push half the width of the tape right behind the carpet edge.
Combining Paint With Other Finishes
As well as furniture and floors, any other decorative finishes in the room need to be protected while you paint, especially if you are using a roller or a sprayer. When combining painted surfaces with natural wood finishes, you need to consider which to apply first. Accuracy is impossible when applying waxes or oils with a cloth. It is usually easier to finish the wood before you paint and protect the woodwork with some tape (see below). Clean any smudges from the wall so that they don’t affect the paint finish. Otherwise, paint before preparing and finishing the wood. If you are going to wallpaper the room, do any painting first because even low-tack tape may mark the paper.
Ideally, use low-tack tape when decorating. Other types of tape may pull away the finish when you try to remove them or leave adhesive residue that is difficult to clean off.
Paint coverage varies considerably depending on the surface you are decorating. Very porous or rough surfaces will need a lot of paint, so use the smaller figure in the estimated coverage range given; smooth, shiny areas need less, so use the larger figure. Some solvent-based paints tend to cover less surface area than latex-based types. When planning how much paint to buy, don't forget to take the number of coats needed into account. Always check specific coverage guidelines on the container of the paint you are buying and overestimate rather than underestimate.
Order of Painting
If you are repainting a room, start from the top and work down. Cover the ceiling first, then the walls and finally the woodwork and other details. Complete the coats on one surface before moving on to the next, including the sealers, primers and first coats that are necessary. Overlap onto the next surface slightly to ensure continuous coverage, but brush out any thick areas of paint so they don't show through.
Order for Painting a Room
3. Doors and windows (radiators if you have them
4. Baseboard, molding and exposed pipes
Painting Windows and Doors
Wedge open windows and exterior doors while painting and while the paint dries. Start early in the day to provide sufficient drying time. For both doors and windows, remove any hardware before painting for the best finish.
Painting a Window Frame
The interior and exterior surfaces of windows are painted in the same order. The hinged edge of an opening casement is considered an interior surface, and the opening edge an exterior surface. Wipe sills with mineral spirit before painting to remove dust.
Order for Painting a Window
1. Rails of opening casements
2. Outer rails of casements
3. Hinged edge (if painting the interior) or opening edge (if painting the exterior)
4. Rails of non-opening casements
Painting a Door
Panel doors are divided into sections by their construction. Mentally divide flush doors into sections and complete one section at a time. Begin in the top left corner, then work across, then down. Finish by painting the side edge that is exposed when the door is open. If the door opens outward, the edge where the hinges are attached is seen. If the door opens inward, you see the opening edge.
Order for Painting a Panel Door
1. Moldings surrounding each panel
3. Central vertical stiles
4. Horizontal members
5. Outer vertical stiles
6. Door edge
If you need to take a break midway through a job, store your tools in plastic wrap. For long-term storage, thorough cleaning is essential. Latex paints can be cleaned off of tools using water and mild detergent. Clean off solvent-based paints using mineral spirit or thinner, then rinse tools in water and mild detergent.
During a break, you can wrap tools, such as a roller, in plastic wrap for up to two days before resuming.
When tools are clean and dry, wrap them tightly in paper so they stay dust-free in storage.
Reviving Old Brushes
If bristles of an old brush are stuck together with paint residue, use a brush comb to separate them.
Copyright 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited
Text copyright 2009 Julian Cassell and Peter Parham