Painting: House Painting Basics - On the House

Painting: House Painting Basics

By on August 30, 2015

Mom and dad had decided to paint the upstairs bathroom. Mom, a fair woman, always made sure that the work was equally divided between her and our father. Mom was the artist of the family so she chose the paint color. It was called Dusty Rose. When it dried it looked just like plain old pink to us!

Although they did the actual painting together (20% of the work) dad’s responsibility was to do the preparation work (80% of the work). Mom figured that 80% for preparation and 10% for his share of the painting gave dad a solid 90% share of the total job. Mom never felt bad about sharing in only 10% of the painting. She was quick to explain that she had been the one who selected the paint color. Mom insisted that the selection she made (solely on her own) constituted 100% of the planning phase. Need we say more. Mom chalked up a whopping 110% on her side of the scoreboard (100% for planning plus 10% for her share of the painting). That’s right – 110%! Dad wasn’t much of a bookkeeper, but he really loved our mom a lot.

As we grew dad made sure to teach us that 80% of the work in just about any paint job is in the preparation. He also encouraged us both to take ART classes. We did. But it didn’t make any difference. OUR wives insist on picking the paint colors.

No matter who picks the color at your place you need to prepare for lots of work if you intend on tackling a big job like painting the exterior of your home. Dad was right 80% of the work is in the preparation. The number one cause of problems down the road (splitting, peeling, cracking, etc.) results from poor surface preparation. Getting it right involves several steps. Here are a few tips that we hope will help you to make the right decisions – from the get go:

First, check things out. Know specifically what you are going to paint. The kind of surface (wood, metal, masonry etc.) determines the specific type of paint that will be needed. Each surface requires a different kind of paint. For example: paint made for wood does not do well on metal. The paint store person will need to know which surface type(s) you will need paint for. Take pictures and bring them along. This is the stage where you determine color and sheen. When we were younger we painted everything flat. Then we discovered shinier finishes. If you aren’t sure what you want purchase small quantities and paint a section near a window or door and study it for a while.

Next, cipher the amount of paint that you’ll need. How many gallons of paint will you need to do the job? This is done by calculating the area to be painted. Here’s how:

  1. Measure the length of all sides to be painted.
  2. Measure the height of all sides to be painted.
  3. Multiply A and B to get the total square footage (area).
  4. Divide C by the “coverage rate” on the paint can to determine the amount of paint needed.

Don’t forget to calculate window and door trim, overhangs, gutters and downspouts. By the way, we figure 10% less coverage than the manufacturer suggests. They don’t include waste or spillage in their calculations.

With the amount of paint calculated it’s time to check your inventory of supplies and equipment. It may have been quite a while since you last painted and you may not remember exactly what you have to work with. Gather everything up and make a written inventory. Knowing what you have will make it easier to make a shopping list – caulking, spackle, sandpaper, primer, etc. Be careful, when it comes to using old paint keep this in mind – if it doesn’t look fresh it probably isn’t and shouldn’t be used. What ever you do don’t use paint that has mildewed.

As you are doing your initial preparation be sure that you have the time and energy to paint your entire home. You may end up spending most of your summer weekends completing the job. The good side – you can save thousands.

Be sure to buy from a knowledgeable paint person. This is one job that you don’t want to do a second time simply because the clerk sold you paint that ended up peeling two years later.

Now to the hardest part of the job – the part that we do – the surface preparation. Dad taught us that this was 80% of the work. He was right! Removing loose paint, putting, patching, setting nails, caulking and cleaning will take the longest time. Here are several steps that will help you remember what to do:

  1. Scrape (sand if existing paint is glossy)
  2. Wash
  3. Rinse
  4. Repair
  5. Prime

Priming is not as important when a good coat of paint already exists. However, there is a test that you can make to be sure. It’s called the wet test. First, sprinkle some water onto the area in question. If it soaks in the area definitely should be primed. If the water beads up priming is not required. Regardless, it can’t hurt to prime. Priming can only enhance the finished product.

Never try to “stretch” the paint. A coat that is too thin will not be durable. Also, be sure to paint from the top down. Drips from above can cause 3 times the work. And always keep a wet edge. Letting one area dry and then painting next to it can result in streaks. Yuck!

Painting should be done at a temperature between 60 and 90 degrees and should never be done if rain is expected. Low and high temperatures can effect curing (drying) and weaken the finished product.

Don’t wait till later to clean up. Plan ahead and a lot time for clean up at the end of each day. Drips and spills, dirty tools, brushes and rollers are easier to clean when the paint is wet.

Mom would be proud to know that our wives see splitting up the work – HER way.

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