When paint­ing, start­ing right’s half the job

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - MIKE HOLMES

PAINT­ING, from the point of view of peo­ple who may pick up a brush once ev­ery few years, is not a big deal. Pick a colour, in­vite over some friends, or­der a pizza, and paint away. It’s a no-brainer. But from the per­spec­tive of a con­trac­tor who does this on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, and for a liv­ing, there are a few other things to con­sider, be­lieve me. Paint­ing isn’t just black and white.

The pri­mary con­sid­er­a­tion in any paint­ing project is ad­he­sion: You want to make sure the paint sticks to the wall. You can buy the best paint money can buy, but if the sur­face hasn’t been pre­pared prop­erly, your walls and ceil­ing could de­velop a good case of dan­druff.

Buy your paint and primer be­fore you start the prepa­ra­tion process, then fol­low the in­struc­tions found on the paint can down to the let­ter. Paint man­u­fac­tur­ers want you to be suc­cess­ful with their prod­uct, so they de­tail what is re­quired. Even be­fore you open the can, what you do in the prepa­ra­tion process — as out­lined on the can, go fig­ure — will af­fect the out­come.

Prepa­ra­tion is the most time­con­sum­ing part of the process. The step you prob­a­bly won’t find on the in­struc­tions is what al­ways sep­a­rates the pros from the am­a­teurs: Pro­tect the sur­faces that won’t be painted. Use proper drop cloths to pro­tect floors and fur­ni­ture. Bet­ter yet, re­move all the fur­ni­ture, if pos­si­ble. Just spread­ing old news­pa­pers around won’t pro­tect your floor in the event of a paint spill.

The next step is wash­ing the wall. Cook­ing grease and cig­a­rette smoke are two of the main cul­prits you’re try­ing to re­move. Grease will pre­vent the new paint from stick­ing, and nico­tine can even­tu­ally stain the new paint. TSP has been the tra­di­tional cleaner of choice, but again, read the in­struc­tions on the paint-can la­bel to know what prod­uct can be used in con­junc­tion with your brand of paint.

So we’ve cleaned the walls. Ready to paint? Not yet.

Now you need to fix the flaws in the dry­wall, plas­ter or trim. There are two dif­fer­ent meth­ods to use here — ad­di­tive, or fill­ing in holes and cracks; and sub­trac­tive, sand­ing.

The trick is al­ways to start with the sand­ing. Let’s say there’s a pic­ture­frame nail hole that needs to be filled in. Ob­vi­ously that’s an ad­di­tive re­pair, but by ap­ply­ing a light sand­ing di­rectly around the hole, the fill­ing com­pound will stick bet­ter and the wall sur­face will ben­e­fit from that ex­tra thin layer of com­pound. Now I’m not talk­ing about sand­ing off the ex­ist­ing paint; just a quick and light sand­ing for a cou­ple of sec­onds — just enough to roughen up the sur­face.

That’s the big goal with paint ad­he­sion: cre­at­ing a sur­face that isn’t per­fectly smooth, so the primer has some­thing to stick to. It gets into the mi­cro­scopic grooves and grabs onto it. You want to use a fine-grit sand­pa­per, and there are sand­pa­per types that are pur­pose-built for painted sur­faces. The trick is to change the pa­per of­ten, be­cause the pa­per gets gummed up quickly.

So if sand­ing a pre­vi­ously painted sur­face will make the new layer stick bet­ter, why don’t we sand all the wall sur­faces? It would re­quire a huge amount of sand­pa­per, not to men­tion a lot of ex­tra el­bow work and time.

This is where primer comes into the pic­ture. Primer, at its most ba­sic, is sim­ply a paint that seals the sur­face and pro­vides the right ad­he­sion and tex­ture the new paint needs to stick. If you run your hand over primer af­ter it has dried, it feels the same as a painted wall, but rest as­sured, the paint now has a good foun­da­tion.

There are all sorts of dif­fer­ent for­mu­la­tions out there for dif­fer­ent re­quire­ments, such as stain and mould sup­pres­sion. There are even new paint for­mu­la­tions that have the primer built into the paint it­self. What­ever brand of paint you end up us­ing, it is very im­por­tant that you also use the primer that was for­mu­lated to work with that spe­cific paint. Brands that have a dif­fer­ent chem­i­cal make-up don’t per­form prop­erly when used to­gether.

I’m not go­ing to talk about spe­cific brands of paints. There are so many brands and a wide range of price points. A pro­fes­sional paint­ing con­trac­tor will tell you there are huge dif­fer­ences in the ease of use be­tween a low-cost paint and an ex­pen­sive paint. The ease of use can trans­late to a bet­ter-qual­ity job, and more ex­pen­sive for­mu­la­tions al­low for bet­ter ad­he­sion and bet­ter cov­er­age, us­ing less paint and fewer coats to get the de­sired re­sults. This is good for every­one in­volved, in­clud­ing the en­vi­ron­ment.

— Canwest News Ser­vice

Ad­he­sion is key if you want your paint job to last.

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