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Painting tips

June 06, 1997

Here's a primer for an effective paint job:

1. Check your painting equipment.

Basic tools you'll need include brushes, a roller, a stepladder to help you reach high areas, spackling compound to fill in holes and a putty knife to apply it, sandpaper of various grades to smooth previously painted surfaces and a tray to load rollers with paint.

To protect surfaces you don't want to paint, use drop cloths for furniture and floors and tape for windows and woodwork.

Wade and Wolfensberger recommend using painter's tape, which is made of brown paper and has an adhesive that doesn't leave a sticky residue like masking tape does. The tape can stay on for about a week without drying out, paint doesn't bleed through, and it can be removed easily, Wolfensberger says.

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2. Buy the best paint you can afford.

Paints used around the home fall into two general categories: water-based latex paints and solvent-based or oil-based paints.

All top quality indoor wall paints have acrylic latex, Wolfensberger says.

Acrylic finishes are available in flat, eggshell and semigloss, he says. He recommends eggshell for all walls and semigloss for trims, bathrooms and kitchens.

Soft whites are the most popular interior paint colors because they work well with almost all draperies, carpeting and furnishings, Wolfensberger says.

To determine the amount of paint needed, measure the dimensions of the surface area you will be painting, then multiply the height by the width, according to National Decorating Products Association based in St. Louis. Do the same calculation with the areas that won't be painted over, such as doorways and windows, then subtract those areas from the overall surface area to get an estimate of the square footage you will be painting.

Look at the paint can label to determine the spread rate of the paint, which is the number of square feet of surface each coat will cover.

If you have any questions, ask your paint store dealer for assistance.

3. Prepare the room for painting.

Spread dropcloths, old bedsheets or plastic on the floor and over furniture to catch any paint drips.

Wash down the walls with a nonsudsing household cleaner such as trisodium phosphate and rinse well so no film remains, Wolfensberger says.

Use caulking compound to fill nail holes, cracks or other imperfections, then lightly sand the walls so the paint will adhere better.

4. Start with the ceiling.

Use a brush to paint around the edges, then do the center with a roller, Wolfenberger says.

Paint walls from top to bottom, Wade says. When using a roller on the walls, it's best to apply the paint in "Ws" and "Vs," then go back over the areas at an angle, he says.

A common mistake is not keeping enough paint on the roller, Wade says. This causes a lot of splatter and affects the finish.

Apply a second coat if needed.

When the paint has dried, remove tape from around windows and woodwork.

Paint the trim, doors and windows last.

5. Clean up.

Brushes and rollers used with acrylic paints can be cleaned with soap and water.

If you have some paint left over, wipe the top edge of the can before tightly replacing the lid.

Store the can upside down on a shelf so no air gets in, Wolfensberger says.

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