One thing home inspectors see a lot of is unprofessional or poorly-applied paint.
There are many kinds of paints and each has its own application recommendations. YES, IT'S ALL ON THE LABEL! But who reads the labels!? Each paint manufacturer has its own website, also with application recommendations and tips. But who researches paints!?
As a home inspector, I see a lot of painting mistakes. How about a list of Do's and Don'ts!
This is Part 1 of 2 parts. IT IS THE DO LIST!
This list is by NO MEANS complete! And things are listed in no particular order. But I hope it is helpful nonetheless.
- Before a paint project is begun, always research what you want to do, what kinds of paints work best for what you are painting and what colors work well with that kind of paint.
- What kind of base is needed for the color you want to apply? For instance, reds require a NEUTRAL BASE, which means that it is formulated to receive more tint. A neutral base has to be applied in many coats because it is naturally thin. Some other colors require neutral bases. Ask! Blue needs a DEEP BASE and covers very well. Ask at the store what kind of BASE the paint color you want needs to use. And plan accordingly.
- Different grades of paint and their colors have different Light Reflection Values (called LRV). You want one with 50% or more. Vibrant colors usually appear more vibrant when on a wall. Keep that in mind!
- Determine the amount of square footage and buy the amount of paint accordingly. The label will tell you about how many square feet that a particular paint will cover comfortably. Ceiling white can cover as much as 400 square feet per gallon. A deep color around 200. Read the label!
- Pick a paint with low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC's). VOC's are gases that are released when the paint is first applied and as it degrades over time. If your paint has a high VOC content (alkyds and urethanes) air the place out accordingly.
- Be sure to clean the surface(s) very well! Dust, spider webs, dirty hand prints, outdoor goops affect paint appearance and coverage. Clean well!
- Prep the surface! Prepping can take more time than painting. It includes spackle, joint compound, caulking and making sure the surface is free of bumps and lumps by general scraping. Also scrape and sand loose paint completely.
- BIG TIP - if you spackle or apply joint compound, before your final coat, "seal" those spots first with a separate coat flat paint or primer. If you do not, the spackle absorbs the paint, particularly the various glosses (velvet, semi or gloss), and you will have a dull spot which is reflected on the wall. That makes for an ugly final coat.
- If you need to prime first, tint the primer 1/2 the color of the final color. There are those who say that the final color will be truer over a primed white base. I have experimented with this and I cannot tell the difference when the primer is tinted. BUT I DO KNOW THAT WHEN THE PRIMER IS TINTED, THE FINAL COLOR COVERS BETTER AND HAS FEWER LINES.
- If you are using a color and have two or three gallons, be sure to BOX your paint. Boxing paint means to mix all of the paint into a single 5-gallon bucket. Mix them well. While each gallon will be fairly close in color to each other, they are never exact. Boxing them creates one true color. And when you save the left over it will exactly match your wall for touch ups.
- Strain your paint. Paint is full of what painters call "junk." And that stuff will dry and leave those unsightly bumps and weird spots on the surface.
- If you are using new rollers, clean them first. They are full of hairs what will detach and end up on your surface. Foam rollers work best with latex, but only for small areas and thin trim details.
- Choose good materials- paints and supplies. The paint looks better. It lasts longer. Good supplies last longer. They apply paint better. Pick the right brush and roller for what you want to do. Man-made bristles work best with latex and acrylic paints and natural bristles with oils. Thin rollers, 1/2" and less, work best with semi gloss and gloss.
- Cut the edges first. Roll as close to the edge as you can. That leaves a nicer-looking finish. It is more uniform. Be sure to apply enough paint when you cut. An angled brush works well for cutting corners and edges and leaves a good coat.
- Protect what is around and below what you are painting! Drop clothes are cheap and essential.
- Work from top to bottom. The only exception to this is floor molding. It is best to paint floor molding first, let it dry completely, then tape it with painter's tape to get a nice, straight line with your final color. Sadly duct tape is not recommended.
- Let the paint dry completely between coats. At least 24 hours for latex and 48 or more hours for oil. Drying time depends on humidity and temperature. Paint dries more slowly when it is humid and cool.
- Clean up when you are done and protect your brushes and rollers. That is my little paint bucket, brushes and blades. They are all well over 20 years of age! And if that 4" drywall blade was to break, I think I would cry. It bends and bows true and is sharp!
- You can't paint? How do you get better at painting? By painting! How do you get better at typing, singing, piano or long-distance running? The same way you get better at painting. Just paint!
- If you hire somebody, ask questions! See if he knows his stuff. Now you might just have a list of questions! Don't be shy. OH, WATCH HIM - NO PREP GOOD, NO PAINT GOOD. FYI.
My recommendation: plan your work and work your plan. I find painting to be therapeutic. In my house I am not the decorator, I am the grunt. Find the division of labor in your house that works best, and, trust me, DON'T VARY FROM IT! Peace is important! Give peace a chance.
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560