Paint it black: Just not with china bristles

Q: I've finished up my spring cleaning and moved on to summer painting. Any words of advice from an expert to a novice?

 A: Before you start an interior paint job, don't forget to clean and prepare the walls. If they're in fairly good condition, a simple wipe-down will suffice. Just use a rag and some diluted Clorox. If there are cracks in the walls, though, you should fill them in with caulk. A thin layer will serve as a protective seal and takes about five hours to dry.

If the old paint on your walls is peeling, scrape off and sand away as much of it as you can. Afterwards, if you think the texture of the peeled paint might still show through, apply a smooth layer of sheetrock compound with a sheetrock knife. Give it a day to dry and then sand it down. The entire process will delay your painting plans a little bit, but the smooth result is worth the wait.

When you're ready to paint, lay a cloth on the ground to protect the floor, and make sure you have the right kind of brushes and paints. Use polyester brushes (not china bristles) and name brands of water-based paint. China bristle brushes are cheaper, so a lot of people make the mistake of buying them in an attempt to save money. They're designed for oil-based paint, whereas polyester brushes are for water-based, or latex, paint.

For basic interior paint jobs, it's best to avoid oil-based paint altogether. It's messier than water-based paint, and the interior of most houses is already painted with water-based. Water-based won't bond to oil-based, so if you do have to paint over oil-based paint (sometimes used on trim), first apply a coat of primer.

Don't use cheap paint, especially if you're painting large areas. You'll have to apply more layers of paint if it's cheap, so you're actually not saving any money, and you're wasting time. You can also prime the wall first to save money (as primer is cheaper than other paints) and– in the long run– a significant amount of time.

When you're finished painting, clean your brushes as soon as possible. Water-based paint will rinse right off with soap and water. Be careful about where you dispose of your leftover paint. The Ivy landfill offers free paint drop-off, so that's a good option. Of course, if you'd rather hang on to your paint for future touch-ups, keep in mind that it only remains good for about two years, and it should be stored tightly sealed, between 50-90 degrees. A basement is ideal.

One final word of warning: beware of lead paint, which often gives itself away by excessive peeling. Although you'll find more lead paint outside the house than on interior surfaces, you will occasionally come across it in an older house. You can just paint over it with a primer and another coat of paint, but if it's peeling badly, you should wear a mask and eye protection while scraping and sanding the walls. Thoroughly clean your workplace and yourself when you're finished.

Micah Ruth



Holiday 36