Painting is one of the easiest home improvements that a homeowner can make. With a few tips on painting preparation, a good paint job can also totally transform a room. A good painting plan is key though, and so is preparation. That means paint product choices, surface care, and even choosing the right time of year to begin your painting project. Roll through the following painting preparation steps to come to a beautiful paint finish.
Step 1. Choose paint for your project
Paint comes in latex and oil based formulations and finishes ranging from flat to high gloss. The painting combination you choose depends on the how much you use the space you're painting. Flat paints work well for walls that may have some blemishes as flat paints reduce the reflection of room lighting that can highlight the blemishes. Ceiling paints are specially formulated to minimize dripping, and shiny finishes like satin and gloss work well for trim.
For long lasting painting results with any paint selection, you should plan on applying two coats of paint preceded by a primer of the same formulation. Once you've tallied the resulting quantities, add a bit more paint than you think you'll need. Many stores are actually willing to accept returns on unused paint, even if it's in a custom color, and having extra paint means you'll avoid color matching problems if you run short.
You'll also need the proper paint brushes for the job, and there are choices to be made there too. Bristle paint brushes are available with either synthetic or natural bristles, also known as china bristles. For the best paint results, use a synthetic brush with latex paint and natural bristles with oil based paint. Paint rollers make quick work of large surfaces, except when you've chosen the wrong pile height and nap for the paint finish, so follow the paint manufacturer's guidelines, taking care to remove any loose fibers that could mix with the paint and wind up on your wall.
Step 2. Clean the surface
The first step in painting preparation is to scrub away any accumulations of smoke, oil and grime that can keep your new paint finish from adhering to the surface. Use liquid sandpaper to remove buildup from trim, and wash walls down with a TSP (tri-sodium phosphate) solution, available at most home centers and hardware stores. Use a sponge head floor mop for TSP application to avoid a ladder - liquid mishap.
Step 3. Prepare the area for painting
Once cleaned surfaces are completely dry, here are some tips on how to smooth them out. This is where a lot of the work happens, so don't skimp or get lazy with the details, because a new coat of paint won't hide them. Take time to fill all holes and cracks, followed by a thorough all over sanding and removal of the resulting dust. Once you think you're done, and before you start with the paint, grab a really strong flashlight and hold it against and parallel to the wall you've just repaired. As the light bounces over the repaired area, you'll be able to see exactly how the painted surface will look when the sunshine hits it in that typically uncomplimentary direction. If this test reveals unsightly details, go back and smooth them before packing up the sander.
Step 4. Mask and protect surfaces
Protect everything you don't want painted and create a clean edge for every paint coat. Take your time, because whatever you leave to chance will only be defined by the new paint color you've chosen. Apply painter's tape along trim and glass edges. Use painter's tape in combination with plastic sheeting or masking paper to cover fixtures that can't be moved, and large surface areas to be left out of the equation. Also take the time to remove switch and socket plates, and all possible hardware. Put tape over remaining switches and plugs.
Step 5. Paint!
Before you start your paint job, check the temperature, because paint won't adhere if it's below 55 degrees and won't go on smoothly if it's above 90 degrees. Get started with your primer, cutting in around edges first and then filling in surfaces. After the primer has thoroughly dried, apply your new shade of paint in two rounds for a durable, beautiful paint finish.
By following these tips on painting preparation going forward, you can enjoy a beautifully transformed room, every time!