Painting a room or house with a few years under its belt can make it sparkle in a way that no amount of vacuuming, dusting, or power washing can. A new coat of paint makes a place seem new again, and sometimes that just feels necessary.
Of course, painting a wall isn’t as simple as it used to be. Nowadays, we know about VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that emit fumes and threaten our health. We also think about how chemicals affect the environment at large. Who wants to make themselves sick and kick a tree in the groin?
With that in mind, perhaps it’s a good idea to clean and care for our paint jobs as best and long as we can. But, when it does come time to paint the house, there are some sensible steps we can take to do it properly and conscientiously.
Source: Practical Painting/YouTube
Choosing the Right Finish
While color is more or less an individual expression, there are a few universally applicable guidelines for choosing the right finish for your paint.
- Gloss finishes are highly reflective and easily cleaned, so they work great for adding shine to things like trim and cabinetry.
- Semi-gloss works well for places—kitchens, bathrooms, doors, laundry rooms—where the paint might be cleaned more often.
- Satin finishes are toned down into something comfortable, perfect for bedrooms, sitting areas, and places with a lot of uninterrupted surfaces, such as hallways.
- Matte and flat finishes do away with the reflectivity and help to hide walls with imperfections, such as rough or uneven surfaces.
Green Tip: Greener paints without VOCs (a must in painting responsibly) and toxicity come in all of these finishes. In general, water-based paints are going to be much cleaner and safer than oil-based paints.
Pro Tip: Never paint over oil-based paint with water-based paint. The water-based paint will simply peel off of it. To transition from oil-based paint to water-based paint, a layer of oil-based primer will need to go between them.
Protect the Other Stuff
Drips and drops on the floor or in places where the paint isn’t supposed to be can quickly make a new paint job look like a hack job, taking away the oomph meant to come from all the effort. The effort to use drop clothes and tape can mean the difference between the job looking like a kid’s art project and a competent adult having gotten some serious work done.
Green Tip: Buy reusable canvas drop cloths rather than disposable plastic ones. Also, a wide drywall or putty spatula with a thin blade makes a good, reusable protector for painting trim.
Pro Tip: Painter’s tape and masking tape are not the same things. Most masking tape is made to stick and stay whereas painter’s tape is designed to peel off easily and not damage surfaces.
Prep the Surface for Painting
Perhaps the most (seemingly) unrewarding and painstaking part of painting a wall properly is prepping the surface. This is important, however, for ensuring the paint job holds strong.
- Clean the surfaces with a sponge and warm water. Oily surfaces might require a bit of dishwashing soap as well. Then, it needs to dry fully.
- Remove any mildew or mold. Green Tip: Hydrogen peroxide or vinegar are great natural ways of doing this.
- Fill any cracks or nail holes and sand away rough surfaces if necessary, especially where the previous paint is cracking or flaking.
Green Tip: Natural plaster is easy to make and works great for filling in cracks and little holes in drywall.
Pro Tip: Primer is necessary when a painting surface is porous, glossy (from previous paint), or stained. It’s also a good idea when changing the color drastically.
Source: Benjamin Moore Paints/YouTube
Once the painting is finally taking place, it’s a good idea to go about it in an orderly way. That can mean several things.
Some painters like to do the trim first and cover up any smudges or mistakes on the wall later. Others do it the opposite way, painting walls and covering up accidents with trim paint. It might make the most sense to use lighter paints first because darker paints will conceal them better.
Another approach is to work downward, painting the ceiling first, the ceiling trim, the walls (one at a time), the floor trim, and then the floor. Cutting in the edges of the walls with a paintbrush first and then rolling them also helps keep things tidy.
The main idea here is that having a sensible plan for how the painting will be done helps to eliminate and cover up mistakes that might happen. No one wants to go to all this effort and finish with blemishes.
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