Painting your house is one of those maintenance projects that most homeowners undertake at some point, whether it's the outside or the inside. With the exception of hardened DIY-types (you know who you are!), just about all homeowners will hire painters at some point—whether to prepare their home for moving in, or for a sale, or perhaps to kick off a remodel with a new color scheme.
Spills and spatters happen, regardless of how careful you are. It’s a lot easier to pre- pare for them than to wipe them out of your carpeting or off your wood floor later. All it takes is canvas drop cloths in your work area (a 4-ft. x 15-ft. cloth costs $15). The thick canvas stays in place, so you don’t need to tape it, and you can use it to cover any surface. Plastic drop cloths are slippery to walk on or set a ladder on and don’t stay in place. Even worse, paint spills on plastic stay wet, and they can end up on your shoes and get tracked through the house. Canvas is slippery on hard ﬂoors, so rosin paper ($10 for 400 sq. ft. at home centers) is better over vinyl, tile and hard- wood. Tape the sheets together and to the ﬂoor to provide a nonslip surface.
A qualified exterior house painter can walk you through the process of getting your house ready for a new coat of paint, from scraping and sanding to patching and priming. A pro can also recommend the best exterior paint for the job, whether your siding is wood, fiber cement, stucco, vinyl, or even metal. When it comes to getting the work done, your painter will arrive with all the tools and equipment needed to get the job done quickly, correctly and safely.
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Ideally, you want as much paint on the brush as you can control without making drips or blobs. To do this, Doherty dips his brush about 1 1/2 inches into the paint, then taps (not wipes) each side of the brush against the side of the can. Tapping knocks off the drips and forces the paint into the bristles. "The brush releases the paint just like a fountain pen," he says. Weeks agrees, saying, "Just be sure to keep your brush moving, or it'll start to drip." For more delicate work, such as when you're painting trim or window sash, you'll want less paint on the brush. Doherty again dips and taps his brush, but this time he also scrapes the sides against his can. "The outside bristles are drier and easier to manage," he says, "but there's still plenty of paint on the brush."
To remove a bad piece of siding, you have to pull out two rows of nails: the ones in the bad board itself, and those in the board directly above. Siding is thin and splits easily, so the tricky part of this job is pulling nails without damaging surrounding boards. A cat’s paw is the best tool for digging out nails if damage to the surrounding wood doesn’t matter (Photo 1).
Sanding not only feathers out chipped paint but also provides "tooth" for the next coat of paint. For glossy trim, use a sanding sponge rather than sandpaper. Sponges mold to the shape of the trim and last longer than paper. When applying latex over alkyd paint or when he is not sure of the original finish, Brian Doherty, a painter in Richmond, Virginia, follows the hand-sanding with liquid sandpaper to make sure the surface is completely deglossed to prevent incompatibility problems. "I've seen homes where latex was used on oil-painted trim, and the paint started to peel in less than a year," says Doherty.
Before the scrubdown, protect nearby plants by misting their leaves and saturating the surrounding soil with water, pulling them away from the house, and shrouding them in fabric drop cloths. (Plants will cook under plastic.) Lay more drop cloths along the base of the walls to collect any falling paint debris. Walls should be wet down before getting scrubbed, then washed with a gallon of water mixed with 1 cup chlorine bleach and 1 cup of either a concentrated, phosphate-free cleaner, such as a trisodium phosphate (TSP) substitute, or Jomax House Cleaner. Working in sections, from the bottom to the top, will avoid streaks. Be sure to rinse walls well before the solution dries. Wood siding and trim should be ready to paint after a day or two of dry weather.
Filling gaps with a paintable acrylic-latex caulk cuts down on drafts and makes your trim look better than new. The secret to using caulk is to cut the tip smaller than you think it should be; too much caulk makes a mess. Also, instead of using a nail to break the inner seal, use a small wire so you don't stretch out the nozzle. Also consider buying a dripless caulk gun, which will automatically back off the pressure after each pull on the trigger to prevent unwanted oozing.
Maybe you've just moved into a new home, and you haven't got around to buying brushes and rollers yet. Perhaps you're worried that your brush-skills aren't that good, and you won't achieve that professional-looking finish that you’re really going for. Handy professionals will turn up with everything they need to get the job done, from ladders and brushes, to rollers and tarps. You just have to provide the interior paint and primer!
PSA: Color psychology is a thing. The right soothing hue can work wonders for your mind and soul. You might think that only works for pale blues, but the contrast of a light and dark color — or, in this case, off-white walls with chocolate brown and deep blue accents — has a powerful effect. "The darker color grounds the room, and then the lighter runs right up to the ceiling and makes it feel higher. It creates this serene atmosphere," designer Laura Bohn told us.
Most pros don't bother cleaning brushes and rollers if they are going to use them the next day on the same job. "Latex paint dries slowly in cold temperatures," says Maceyunas. For two-day jobs, he wraps the rollers and brushes in plastic grocery bags and sticks them in the refrigerator. "Just allow the roller to return to room temperature before reusing it," he says. Roller covers are almost impossible to clean thoroughly. Most pros buy new covers for each job.
Pros prefer 5-gallon buckets with a roller grid to roller pans. They hold more paint than pans and, says Doherty, "It's tougher to tip over a bucket." A bucket also lets you box, or mix, two or three cans of paint to avoid color discrepancies. To use a bucket and grid, dip the roller a quarter of the way into the paint and run it over the ramp to work the paint into the nap.
Many disagreed with James. Breezing Up, Homer's iconic painting of a father and three boys out for a spirited sail, received wide praise. The New York Tribune wrote, "There is no picture in this exhibition, nor can we remember when there has been a picture in any exhibition, that can be named alongside this." Visits to Petersburg, Virginia, around 1876 resulted in paintings of rural African American life. The same straightforward sensibility which allowed Homer to distill art from these potentially sentimental subjects also yielded the most unaffected views of African American life at the time, as illustrated in Dressing for the Carnival (1877) and A Visit from the Old Mistress (1876).
When the primer is dry, caulk all small joints (less than ¼-inch-wide) in the siding and trim. Most pros use siliconized acrylics—paint won't stick to straight silicones—but Guertin and O'Neil like the new, more expensive urethane acrylics for their greater flexibility and longevity. O'Neil stresses that it's shortsighted to skimp on caulk. "If the joint fails, you're back to square one." Guertin uses the lifetime rating as his quality guide. "I don't expect 35-year caulk will last 35 years, but it should last longer than a 15-year caulk."
Small random-orbit or pad sanders make this job go faster. (Wallis first covers these boundaries with Synkoloid patching compound so no edge is visible after sanding.) As shown, you want to make sure that there is a feathered, smooth transition from exposed wood to old paint. For areas that might get close scrutiny, you can follow up with a 100- or 120-grit rubdown to erase any scratches.
Primers aren't just diluted paint. They're formulated to establish a solid, even base, seal stains and ensure that the topcoats of paint go on smoothly and bond securely to the surface. "Most homeowners use latex primers, but the pros stick to alcohol and alkyd primers because they'll cover almost anything," says John Weeks, of John the Painter in Mobile, Alabama. Primer can affect the appearance of the topcoat. "It's okay to spot-prime the ceilings but not the walls, because primed spots will show," adds Span.
Whether you decide to do the preparation work yourself or have a professional do it as part of your project, proper preparation makes all the difference in creating a smooth and lasting finish. Sure, it adds to your the total time and money spent on your project, but it's certainly worth doing the job right the first time. Otherwise, you'll spend additional time and money down the line on maintenance and repairs. To ensure proper preparation, follow this process before painting your home's exterior (keeping in mind that the process may vary based on exterior materials):
A professional paint crew will have the right tools for the job. Quality tools can make a difference in paint application and bear noticeable results. If you are only painting one room or do not plan to paint any additional areas of your home, it might not be wise to invest in tools that will only be used once. Professional painters will also have enough drop cloths and other protective equipment to ensure the area is kept clean.