Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Painting basics for DIY projects

Painting is one of the most popular DIY projects to take on. It can help to dramatically change the look of a room, doesn’t require special skills or complicated tools and it can be fun too. 

Before you apply any paint at all, bumps, scratches, cracks, dents, and all other types of surface flaws must be scraped off, patched or filled, and sanded.

While all the above is true, some of us who have tried this particular home improvement project have found that things can go wrong in a snap. If you don’t prepare yourself, you’ll still be dealing with mistakes like paint splatters, irregular color and more, long after all the painting is done. 

One of the easiest parts of painting is the actual brushing of paint on a surface. For your project to end up looking like an improvement instead of a disaster, there are a few more things you need to do. 

If you’re a total newbie at this, it would be best to start small. Paint a piece of furniture, one accent wall or a small room in your home so you can get a feel for it. This will help you understand what to expect, gain some painting experience, and avoid getting overwhelmed. 

You’ll need your painting supplies: drop cloth a flat brush or an angle brush, roller brush, brush extension pole if you’re painting high walls and ceilings, paint tray and paint.

Preparation is key

Painting projects aren’t exactly just painting. Usually, they’re also cleaning jobs. You clean to prepare the surfaces to be painted and sometimes, you clean in-between steps. 

To prep a wall for painting you will need some materials such as: spackle and a spatula, metal scraper, sandpaper, soap and water, primer, and painter’s tape. 

The idea is, before you apply any paint at all, bumps, scratches, cracks, dents, and all other types of surface flaws must be scraped off, patched or filled, and sanded. After which, you need to do a quick soap and water wipe down to remove remaining specks of dust and dirt. 

Priming is a big part of the prep as well and is automatic for new walls. Why do it at all? Primer is important for adhesion; it helps paint stick better to the surface and lessens peeling. Primer also seals in darker colors and prevents it from bleeding through lighter paint. 

Once you’ve decided on paint finish and color, you can get your paints mixed at the hardware store or you can do your own mixing.

Painter’s tape or even just plain masking tape is not used here as often, likely because of the cost, or because taping is time consuming, or maybe most people just think they’re great at freehand-painting sharp edges. If you don’t mind the first two reasons and are iffy about the third, tape. 

After you’ve been introduced the other important component of painting, the prep work, you’re ready to move on to the next step.

Painting tips 

Now for the fun part, you’ll need your painting supplies: drop cloth (if you don’t have it, newspaper or plastic can substitute), a flat brush or an angle brush, roller brush, brush extension pole if you’re painting high walls and ceilings, paint tray (or a paint grid if you’re using a bucket of paint), and paint. 

There’s a little bit more to choosing paint than picking the color. For interior walls, most people go with satin or eggshell finishes for good coverage, ease of application, and durability. These two are good for high-traffic areas in the home because they’re easy to maintain. Both types are not overly reflective and can help cover up surface imperfections nicely.  

Once you’ve decided on paint finish and color, you can get your paints mixed at the hardware store or you can do your own mixing. If you end up mixing your own paint, remember your formula - tinting color ratio to plain white paint. Whichever way you go, make sure to get enough paint to finish your project. Going back to the store for more paint is a pain in the neck and attempting to match the previous mix haphazardly can have your project ending up with inconsistent paint color. 

As for the actual painting, that’s easy enough. Load the brush with paint then apply to the surface and remember the following: 

  • Don’t go overboard on extra tools; paint trays or grids are essential but hold off on special brushes, sponges, and the like.
     
  • Don’t overload your brush.
     
  • Drips and splatters will happen. This is why you did prep work so don’t worry too much about it.
     
  • Use roller brushes to cover larger areas faster and flat or angle brushes for edges (angle brushes when you’re not using tape).
     
  • Don’t go crazy using tape.

Again, we all have our schoolroom experiences to fall back on but this time, yes, please color within the lines.


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