6 things to do before you paint

Repainting your house is a dramatic way to give it a new look. You can do it yourself, but here are six tips for what to do before you paint.

Things to do before you paint
6 things to do before you paint

1.  What to buy

You’re more likely to save money with a top-of-the-line paint.

  • Cheap paint usually requires two coats to cover what’s on the wall, thereby doubling your cost.
  • Low-quality latex paint also gets chalky as it ages and needs to be repainted sooner.

2.  Get the right paint finish

Paint comes in glossy, semigloss, eggshell, satin, and flat finishes.

  • Use glossy or semigloss on woodwork. In areas likely to get dirty, use semigloss or eggshell on walls.
  • The glossier the paint, the more durable and easier it will be to clean. Flat, on the other hand, hides wall defects and touched-up areas better.

3.  Match, don’t mix

Simplify your life. Use the same colour paint on trim and walls even if they’re not the same sheen.

  • You’ll have to do far less masking, and touch-up is simpler since paint splashed from the walls onto the trim (or vice versa) is virtually invisible.

4.  Pick the right applicators

Select a short-nap roller for smooth walls and a longer nap for stucco, concrete, and textured surfaces.

  • Make sure the roller has slightly bevelled ends that won’t drag paint onto adjoining surfaces.
  • Choose a nylon-wool blend roller for alkyd (oil) paint, but get an all-nylon roller for latex. Similarly, choose a natural bristle brush for alkyd and synthetic bristles for latex.
  • Look sideways at a brush. A good brush comes to a dull point; a cheap one is cut square.
  • Look at the bristle ends. Split ends help spread paint for a smoother finish.

5.  Computer-matching your paint colour

If you want to repaint a room the same colour it already is, you’ll have to colour match.

  • Slice through the paint on the wall with a sharp utility knife in an out-of-the-way area and lift off a good-sized chip.
  • Take the chip to a paint store that has computerized paint-matching equipment, which will generate a recipe the store can use to match the colour.
  • Computerized colour-matching is usually free and it may save you from having to repaint the entire room for a few years.

6.  Prepping the wall before painting

  • Put on rubber gloves and wash the walls with trisodium phosphate (TSP) or TSP substitute. This strong, non-sudsing cleanser, available at paint retailers, dulls the finish so that paint will adhere better.
  • Rinse with a sponge and water until the water runs clear. Let the wall dry.
  • Wash off any mildew with a 50/50 mixture of water and bleach, and rinse well.
  • Repair holes and cracks in the wallboard or the plaster. Scrape off loose paint and blend in areas with chipped-off paint by sanding the edges of the surrounding paint or by skim-coating the area with spackling.
  • Fill dings and dents in woodwork with wood putty and smaller nail holes with glazing compound; then sand. Finally, lightly sand the surface.
  • Apply masking tape over mouldings and trim where they meet the wall; the newer blue tapes are easier to use than traditional masking tape. Protect the floor with a drop cloth.
  • To keep stains from bleeding through the new paint, seal them with stain sealer, available at paint stores and home centres. Oil-based and shellac-based sealers block stains better than latex ones.
  • Then coat the entire wall with latex primer, which is easier to clean up but just as durable as oil-based primer.

Here you are finally ready to paint your walls like a pro!

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