The Paint Can

Thoughts, Tips & Tricks from Accent Painting

Prepping your Wood Trim for a Smooth Paint Job.

by AccentPainting

Do you want your old trim to look fresh, smooth and crisp after you’ve painted it? These tips show you how the pros do it. They’re DIY friendly, so you can prep your trim yourself and still get professional-looking results.

The old adage,“ A good paint job is 90 percent prep work and 10 percent painting, ” is absolutely 100 percent true. A quick coat of paint applied over existing paint or stain may look good—but it won’t last.

The key to a long-lasting paint job is to prepare the woodwork so it’s clean and gloss free. In this story, we’ll show you how to achieve a mar-free surface that’ll hold paint for 10 years or even longer. Best of all, the new paint job will look like you hired it done by a nitpicky pro. Whether you’re repainting painted wood or painting wood that’s been stained and varnished, the steps and tips we show here apply to any woodwork—door, window or trim.

Real pro painters know they can’t rush a job. This story will show you key tips on how the pros remove a surface layer of paint to prepare interior woodwork for optimum adhesion of the new primer and paint. We don’t show you how to strip layers of old paint down to bare wood using heat or chemical strippers.

Step 1 – Wash the Woodwork: 

Have two buckets and two scrub sponges at hand (such as Scotch-Brite scrub sponges), one each for washing solution and clear water rinsing. Don’t wash with a cloth rag, as it may shine a flat surface or dull a lustrous one. The goal is to remove the grime so you don’t push it farther into the wood during sanding.

Use a non-soapy detergent (such as Dirtex, Spic & Span or TSP No-Rinse Substitute according to label directions. Regular TSP (tri-sodium phosphate) also works, but it leaves a white film that requires a lot of rinsing, and it can irritate your skin.

It’s not available in some states. Dip a scrub sponge into the cleaning solution and wring it out enough to keep it from dripping. Wash wood from the bottom upward with slow, easy up-and-down strokes so the solution has time to soften the grime .If you start at the top, the cleaner can run down the wood and create hard-to-remove streaks.

Only clean one section at a time so the wood won’t dry before you rinse off the cleaner (if directions call for rinsing). To rinse, dip the rinse sponge in clear water and wring it drip free, then wipe the surface clean in one pass. When you begin to wash a new area, start well within the clean area to avoid streaking.

Change both the cleaning solution and the rinse water often—whenever the water becomes cloudy. Spend twice as much time cleaning the wood in areas of high hand contact such as windows, door frames and around light switches and handles/knobs, and places that attract high airborne particles (all wood in kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms).

Step 2 – Remove stains with special cleaners: 
If stains from markers, ink or the like resist initial cleaning, remove them with a specialty cleaner such as Goof Off. Otherwise, they’ll bleed through the new paint. If all else fails, apply a stain-hiding primer such as Zinsser’s B-I-N to cover it.

Step 3 – Hand sand all wood work: 

Hand-sand all woodwork smooth with a fine, 180-grit paper until all shine disappears (right). A coarser-grit paper will remove more than necessary (use 80- to 120-grit to smooth imperfections such as heavy globs of old paint).

If the outside paint layer is gummy, use a “clog-resistant,” or “self-lubricating,” sandpaper (such as 3M’s SandBlaster paper). It has an anti-load coating that keeps the paper from clogging.

Step 4 – Scrape loose paint: Use a 2-in. carbide-blade scraper (the Maxx Grip Tungsten Talon by Hyde Tools is one) to eliminate areas of hardened grime, flaking or chipped paint, and thick paint globs.Buy one that fits your hand and features a replaceable carbide blade.

Pull the scraper in the direction of the wood grain, and use finesse and elbow grease to “rake” the paint away but not gouge the wood. Scrape until the remaining paint won’t budge and you have nice, crisp (but not sharp) edges in the details of the wood.

Step 5 – Dust and vacuum thoroughly : When the first sanding and scraping step is complete, dust off all areas with an old paintbrush and vacuum woodwork with a brush attachment.

Step 6 – Clean out crevices with a putty knife: For small, tight areas, scrape with a 1-1/2-in. flexible putty knife. Use a pushing motion to go under the paint—working from an area of loose paint to an area where paint is firmly adhered. This bevels the remaining paint layers to make a smooth transition between damaged and undamaged areas, and it renews the details in the wood.

Step 7 – Fill holes with lightweight spackling: Cracks, depressions and other surface defects before painting. Holes filled with a heavy coat or several layers of paint may look good initially, but the result won’t last. When the paint dries, these filled areas will often reopen. Fill all chips, holes and cracks with spackling compound. Use a lightweight compound that dries fast and doesn’t shrink. If you use a type that shrinks, fill anything 1/16 in. or deeper twice.

Apply more filler than is needed to each hole with a flexible putty knife, then smooth it by pressing down and pulling toward you. Then use the widest putty knife you have to feather out the filler—and keep sanding to a minimum.

Step 8 – Rebuild damaged corners with two part filler:  For damaged corners, use a two-part wood filler (like Minwax’s High Performance wood filler) or an automotive body filler like Bondo. Both are tough, won’t shrink and stick like glue.

Step 9 – Caulk between woodwork and walls: Apply a thin bead of paintable acrylic latex caulk only inside the crack where wood meets a wall for a smooth, professional appearance. Remove extra caulk with a putty knife. And buy a dripless caulk gun to save time and frustration. Cut the tip smaller than you think you need.


Step 10 – Feather out filled areas with fine sandpaper:  Use 320-grit sandpaper over all filled areas to flatten and feather them out. Dust off the sanded areas with an old paint brush, and vacuum with a brush attachment.

Finish by wiping down the wood with a damp cloth if using water-based paint or a tack cloth if using oil-based paint. Spot-prime filled areas, especially if you’re using gloss or semi-gloss paint, or else the paint will be dull in filled areas.



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The Paint Can

Thoughts, Tips & Tricks from Accent Painting

Perfect Exterior Painting Conditions

by AccentPainting

Waiting for exterior house painting ideal conditions may be hard on your patience, but it is well worth it to produce the best painting results.  The challenge is to match up the right conditions with the time you have available to start and finish the project.

Professional painters have a bit more room to maneuver in different conditions because they have the experience and special equipment to handle sudden changes.  Most homeowners, though, are much better off waiting for the right conditions.

Exterior House Painting Ideal Conditions

So what exactly are exterior house painting ideal conditions?  Weather is probably the biggest factor when deciding the right time to begin an exterior painting project.  When the temperature is too cold (below 50°) paint will not flow and go on smoothly, and it will not dry or be absorbed properly into the surface.

For best results, the air temperature and the temperature of the surface to be painted should be above 50° for the entire painting and drying time.  On the other end of the spectrum, you will not get the best results if the temperature is too hot (over 90°) because the paint can end up “baking” rather than drying.  If you must paint in hot weather, plan your work so that you paint in shaded areas rather than in direct sunlight.

Wind and humidity also have a huge impact on whether or not you should launch an outdoor painting project.  If the wind is too strong, it can blow loose debris onto wet or damp paint, and it can also dry things out too quickly.  Humidity is something that most homeowners think about in terms of rain. If it’s raining you should never do exterior house painting. However, it also important to remember that general air humidity is a consideration too.

If the humidity is high then condensation can form on surfaces in the late evening or overnight.  This can cause streaks, fading, or poor adhesion to the surface.  An excellent way to determine exterior house painting ideal conditions is to read the manufacturer’s recommendations on the label of the paint you plan to use and then act accordingly.

The Paint Can

Thoughts, Tips & Tricks from Accent Painting

So should you hire a pro? The final Assessment

by AccentPainting

Last week, we discussed whether or not you should hire a pro for you project, but we never really came to that final conclusion. If you’ve not already read last week’s post, be sure to do so before getting too far into this!

If you have never painted before, even an interior surface, an exterior is probably not a good place to start. If you have painted an interior and had many problems or hated doing it, this is probably a good sign to call a pro.

Just like any job, there are techniques and tricks to learn along the way. Prep work is like being a dental hygienist, carefully cleaning and probing for problems. Once problems are discovered, it’s vital to know or be able to find out how to remedy them. One example would be choosing a caulk and knowing how to apply it. Put it on too thin and it expands and tears, leaving an opening for water.

If painting is more your speed than prepping, consider hiring someone for just the prep work. Check for handyman services in your area for someone experienced in such work, or ask local painting contractors if they ever handle just prep work and can provide an estimate.

Have you painted before? Knowledge of painting techniques is important. People tend to overbrush, extending paint too far and not putting on a thick enough coat. Sprayers can put on a lot of paint in a hurry but require skill to use. If a house incorporate several colors, that design feature requires more skill in “cutting in,” where the colors butt up against each other.

Do you know your paint needs? Estimating paint needs will be more difficult for a DIYer. Homeowners can use Valspar’s online paint calculator. Experts also suggest talking with knowledgeable paint retailers. They can provide advice for many painting problems or direct you to experienced pros.

Can you physically handle the job? Being able to physically handle the job is a consideration. The mind may be willing, but painting an entire house requires a certain amount of fitness. It’s physical work and takes arm and upper body strength. Climbing up and down ladders for prep and painting also figures in.


Your DIY estimate depends on your skills and experience in assessing the project. For a large project, it also depends on how much reliable, qualified help you have. If enlisting family or friends, learn if they have had previous experience and whether their time restraints could leave you with a project half-finished.

Will you have time for needed prep work? Expect to spend 30–50% of the time on proper prepping. You won’t want to skimp on surface preparation. Most failures of exterior paint are due to poor surface preparation or structural defects that lead to water damage. Extra time spent on stripping the exterior surface is almost always worth it. If the house has signs of water damage, the damage must be repaired and the source of the water corrected before painting. Check caulking around windows; replace it if necessary. Check the gutters and roof. Roof leaks, ice dams, and plugged or leaking gutters can lead to moisture problems in the exterior walls that can affect paint.

How much time do you have? If you will only be able to handle a project for a few hours a day, a longer timetable will be necessary. Also keep weather and change of seasons in mind, since you might be mid-project as the air gets damper. A project should be clean and dry. Typically, paint needs to dry for 24 hours.

Time available away from a job, time away from family and family duties, and household budget also should be considered.


If this evaluation has left you feeling confident, a DIY project may be in your future. Painting the exterior of a home can be a rewarding and effective way of getting the most from your money. But do think it through and avoid shortcuts. In the end, your home is probably your most valuable asset, and it pays to protect it.

If you’re not sure, there is no harm in getting a couple of bids. The cost of hiring a pro may not be as high as you think, especially if you value your leisure time. I’d suggest getting two or three bids. Evaluate not only on the dollar but on how confident they seem. Get references and follow up on them. Ask those homeowners how long the project took, the professionalism of the crew, if they stayed on budget, and how happy they are with the results.

Best of luck to you!
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The Paint Can

Thoughts, Tips & Tricks from Accent Painting

Painting your house: Hire a pro?

by AccentPainting

If you’re used to taking on your own renovations, painting your home’s exterior might be a natural money-saving project. But before you start positioning that ladder, here are the equipment, safety, and stress factors you should review.

What type of home do you have and what features does it have? 

Some houses are easier to paint, others more difficult. Which is yours?

How tall is your home? Older, taller homes are honestly best left to a pro. Dick Seitz, Director of Communication and Training for Valspar, one of the largest global coatings manufacturers in the world, agrees. “A one-story rambler is relatively easy. A three-story Victorian with multiple dormers is a big challenge.”

Try this as a guideline: Straight exteriors on a simple, box-shaped house make for easier work. Irregularly shaped homes of two stories or more with dormers, gingerbread, or turrets, for example, tend to make for a more time-consuming and complicated project that may suggest a professional is needed.

Any intricate designs? On the more ornate homes, such as those of Queen Anne style, accessibility is an issue. Ladders won’t get you into their many high nooks and crannies. Homeowners need experience and the correct equipment to be able to inspect, remedy, and paint in what can be awkward positions. If your home has delicate detailing on the first floor, decide if you are the type of person who enjoys doing detail work. If you do have the patience, a first-floor project should be right for you. Those who prefer the broad strokes might be better off leaving the detail work to a pro.

Flat or sloping ground? May we also suggest looking at the grade (the finished surface slant of ground ) around the house for ladder positioning. It’s a plus if all sides have flat ground up to the house. Walkouts with slopes make it difficult to safely position ladders. Also check to see if obstacles like trees, shrubs, decks, fences, vines, or electric wires will be in the way.

How much prep-work? Examine your house for potential problems that may require extensive prep work. Wood rot, mildew, severe peeling, or alligatoring are typical siding problems. Cracked window panes, crumbling glaze, and loose caulking around trim are other issues.  If you’re familiar with solving these problems, just be prepared that you might need a few extra days to remedy the situations. Talk with an experienced paint retailer about the problem for some potential solutions. Another option might be to consider hiring a pro to fix any extensive issues before you get started.

Do you have lead paint?  Homes built before 1978 have a good chance of having paint containing lead. If you decide to paint your home yourself, you will have to learn about how to handle and/or remove it safely.


Each home project will vary. If you have determined your needs and already own the equipment, your decision may be easier. But be sure to price out the rental or purchase of tools and equipment. Then compare the price of everything you need to rent and buy to estimates from at least three local professional companies who will bring all of it with them.

Lifts and Ladders. Do you need ladders, scaffolding, planks, or lifts? While a one-story home may only require a ladder, a multi-story house may need not only larger ladders but perhaps scaffolding and planks or a lift. While you may be able to rent needed equipment, consider if you will be comfortable working at heights, says Lyster.

Prep materials. Preparing the house is the first step, and cleaning it is the number one job, says Seitz. Basic cleaning supplies include scrub brushes, pails, bleach for mildew, a cleaning agent such as TSP (trisodium phosphate), and a hose with spray nozzle.

Tip: Consider power washers to clean exterior surfaces. They do a good job of removing loose paint and surface dirt, but they don’t usually remove heavy chalk, which is created by oxidation of the previous coatings. Check into hand and eye protection for this equipment and follow the guidelines.

Have drop cloths, rags, and masking tape for around critical areas such as windows. Lyster suggests canvas drop cloths instead of plastic so the grass or flowers underneath are not cooked in the sun.

Paint removers. If you have many areas of blistering or peeling paint, a good amount of scraping may be ahead. Carbide blade scrapers will be needed if a fair amount of scraping is involved. Also try using an old, dry paint brush to sweep dust away. Just be sure to use dust masks to protect your lungs. “Pressure washing should never be used to take off paint because it can ruin wood siding,” says Lyster. Chemical removers may be necessary if the paint has to be softened to be removed, as is the case with many older homes with coats of paint. Power sanding? That can be dangerous because it can release many toxic ingredients into the environment. After getting rid of the loose paint, sandpaper will feather the edges smooth.

Caulking. This is a must to seal up cracks around windows and doors and to maintain flexibility and adhesion over many years, says Seitz. There are many types of caulks available. Discuss your project with your paint retailer. Before purchasing any caulk, check the manufacturer’s instructions for recommended surfaces. Make sure the caulk you have selected is paintable and remains flexible to expand and contract with your home. Caulks that are 100% silicone, for example, are not paintable.

If you’ve discovered that your home is easy enough for you to paint alone and you have all of the necessary tools, you’ll next need to access your skills and experience to see if you’re right for the job. We’ll talk about that bit more next week.

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The Paint Can

Thoughts, Tips & Tricks from Accent Painting

Choosing the right color, Part 2

by AccentPainting

Warm or Cool?
Colors are often referred to as “warm” and “cool.” Orange, red, and pink are considered “warm” colors, while blues, greens, and violet are thought to be “cool.” Knowing the theory behind color can help you select the right tone for the feel you’re trying to achieve.

White is Not Always White
Trying to find the perfect white can be a challenge! Beiges and off-whites have subtle color, so compare paint chips to your fabrics and flooring to determine if a warmer pinkish or yellow-toned white — or a cooler, bluer white — is best for your room.

Keep Notes as You Shop
It’s a good idea to make a note on the back of the paint color cards, telling yourself the name of the store where you picked it up, and the paint brand whenever this information isn’t printed there already. Since most home centers and hardware stores carry more than one brand of paint, you may discover the perfect color, and then find you can’t remember where you got the sample! Then you’ll have to start over. Ugh!

Shed a Little Light
The best way to get a true view of a paint color is to look at it in many lights. Take the paint chip outside to see it in natural light. Look at in under an incandescent and fluorescent light. Best yet, take the paint chip, fabrics, and accessories to the room in which they’ll live. Check out the colors there.

Measuring Works Magic
Take your room measurements with you to the paint store or home center. The professional at the store will help you determine the correct quantity of paint to buy for your job. Or you might use your numbers to consult one of the handy online paint estimators to get an idea of how much paint you’ll need for your project. Remember primer and trim paints.

Ask, Ask, Ask!
For helpful paint advice, go both online and to your local paint store. Tell the paint professional about your project and goals for your decorating project. Ask which paint products they recommend, and why. Get information on specialty paints such as low-odor, stain-killing primers, chalkboard paint, washable paint, and many more.

Custom Color Matching
If you want to achieve a perfect match or find a truly unique color, your paint store or home center offers custom color mixing. This makes it possible to bring in a fabric swatch, painting, or other color reference, and have a paint color created to be a perfect match. Visit Home Depot or Lowe’s or call a local hardware store to inquire.

Look Up to the Ceiling
Light colors are usually most pleasing for a ceiling, because ceilings are seen in shadow. If you’d like the ceiling to match the wall color, buy ceiling paint one or two shades lighter than the wall color (on its color chip). Or, dilute your wall color with white paint in a ratio of 25% color to 75% white.


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The Paint Can

Thoughts, Tips & Tricks from Accent Painting

Choosing the right Color, part 1

by AccentPainting

When it comes to decorating, choosing paint color can really be a challenge. While you may feel that there are so many choices you’re bound to find the right one, you may end up feeling that there are so many choices you don’t know where to start!

The tips here will really help you if you feel stumped by this important choice. After all, the paint color will set the tone for the room.

Be Patient
It’s great to collect paint chips when planning a room, but hold off making final choices until you’ve developed an overall room scheme. Paint is available in literally an infinite array of colors and is the most versatile element of your room decor, the easiest to change, and the least expensive. Get ideas but make the final decision after rugs, wallpaper, and fabrics are finalized.

Coordinate Decorating Samples
When you go shopping, you’ll need to refer to your fabric, carpet, tile, wallpaper, and trim samples constantly. Be sure to take everything with you wherever you go. No tellng where you might see something wonderful.

Really Study the Colors
You’ll find clues about the underlying tones of different shades of a color on a full sample strip of coordinated colors. Even if you’re not even considering using a darker tone, look at all the colors carefully. Decide if the family of colors is the direction you’re headed with your color selection.

Tried and True Formula for Colors
If you’re working with a print fabric, you’ll probably be happier if you select the coordinating wall paint color from the background of the print. Use the deeper or brighter tones for accents throughout the room or adjacent spaces. Learn more tips here about how to choose a color scheme.

Trim it Out
More often than not, you’ll select a shade of white or off-white for the moldings, doors, and windows. If you’re feeling brave, consider the palest shade of color to coordinate with the walls. For a really striking look, try lighter walls and dark tones or bright color for trim.

Choose the Paint Finish for the Job
Consider which paint finish might be best for your project. Matte or flat finishes hide wall imperfections, but glossier finishes will reflect more light.


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The Paint Can

Thoughts, Tips & Tricks from Accent Painting

Tips and Techniques: Make Clean Up a Breeze

by AccentPainting
Even if you’ve done a great job, some clean up will be required. You’ll have to do some touch ups and put things away. Read some simple tips to wrap up your painting project in style.

Keep Your Brush Ready

  • You won’t want to clean your paint brush or roller every time you need to take a break. Wrap them in plastic wrap and seal them in a plastic bag. They’ll be ready and flexible when you return from your break. For longer storage (as much as a week), put the plastic bag with brushes in the freezer– yes, the freezer! Thaw out the brushes for an hour before you use them again.

Have Plenty of Rags for Wipe Ups

  • No painter would be without a supply of rags. You’ll undoubtedly need to wipe off excess paint, catch drips, clean up spills, or wipe off your hands.

Razor Blades

  • Scrape excess paint or drips from windows, tile, or glass with straight razor blades. The drips won’t smear, and the surface will be perfectly clean.

Simple Clean Up for Latex Paint

  • When you’re done painting, take time to soak your brushes or rollers with latex paint in a solution of water and laundry fabric softener for about 10 minutes. Swish them around in the water, remove them, and rinse well with clear water. Wipe or roll off excess moisture, then air dry the brushes and rollers before putting away.

Extra Paint

  • No need to save a big can of paint to store just the little that’s left over. Use a glass jar or pint size paint can to store excess paint. Remove the paint can label or mark the new, smaller container with important information. Include the date the paint was used, the color name and number, where it was purchased, the room where it was used, and where (wall, trim, etc.) If you have it, attach the paint swatch from the paint store.

Be Ready for Touch Ups

  • Use small baby food jars or food storage containers to store small amounts of paint for touching up scratches or dents. Fill them with leftover paint, label where the paint was used (kitchen cabinets, master bedroom ceiling, etc.) and what type of paint it is (latex flat, oil eggshell, etc.), and place the containers in sealing plastic bags. When you need to make a small repair, shake the container well and dab on a spot of paint with a small foam brush or Q-tip.
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The Paint Can

Thoughts, Tips & Tricks from Accent Painting

Tips and Techniques Continued – What you will need

by AccentPainting

Always be sure when starting a paint job, that you have the most up to date tools to use. Every year, new products come on the market to help make painting more enjoyable.  Select from the following tools to complete your job:Natural or Synthetic Brushes

  • Paint brushes with natural bristles are meant for oil-based paints. Natural bristles will soak up the water and go limp in water-based paints. The newer synthetic bristles were designed for water-based or latex paints, but can be used for anything. Densely packed bristles that taper to a chisel edge help with painting a straight edge, cutting in or tipping. Split ends or “flags” hold more paint and spread it more evenly and smoothly. Choose the right brush for your job.

Foam Brushes and Rollers

  • Foam brushes come in many widths, are inexpensive, and are great for small jobs or touch-ups. Foam paint rollers work well, don’t spatter the paint, and are easy to use when you want a really smooth wall. Don’t try them on rough surfaces, though, as they will not hold up.

Pad Painters

  • Smooth pad painters offer simple and neat paint application and easy clean ups. Don’t apply too much paint to the pad, as it will drip. You’ll have to take it apart, clean it, dry it thoroughly, and start over.

Paint Rollers

  • A paint roller with a plastic core will last longer than one with a cardboard core. Select a roller “nap” (fullness of the covering) according to the texture on your walls. Use a flat, smooth roller for flat, smooth walls and a thicker, more plush roller for rough textured walls.

Water-Based or Latex Paint

  • New latex paints are formulated to be environmentally-friendly. Drying time is short (usually about 1 hour) and clean ups are easy with water. Apply water-based paints with rollers, pads, or synthetic bristle brushes. Latex paints tend to get a “skin” of paint in the can when they begin to dry out, so keep the can covered as much as possible. Pour paint into another container to work from and close the can.

Oil-Based Paint

  • Most professional painters prefer oil-based paints, especially for cabinets, furniture, and trim. New formulations do not harm the environment and are not toxic. Because they dry more slowly, oil-based paints allow for better coverage and work well in warm, dry climates where water-based paints would dry too fast. Apply oil-based paints with pads, rollers, or natural bristle brushes. Clean up with paint thinner or other solvent.

Drop Cloths

  • The best material for a drop cloth is a heavy canvas cloth. It’s not as slippery as plastic and covers better than newspaper. Fold the cloth to fit any size room and tape down the corners to prevent paint from oozing over the edge. To prevent scratching, be sure to vacuum hardwood floors before you put the drop cloth down.

Tinted Primer

  • Most paint jobs work better when you use a primer or base coat. Have the primer or base paint tinted to match your surface paint color. You may be able to avoid a second coat of finish paint. For ceilings, try paint that is specially formulated for ceilings. Some brands go on light blue and change to white when dry. This makes it easier to see where you’ve already painted.

Painter’s Blue Tape

  • If you’ve never used painter’s blue tape, why not? It has a waxy coating to keep paint from seeping through, is available in several widths, and provides a perfect straight edge for painting. It will not pull up the paint on the surface it’s stuck to, and the seal is activated when you put it down onto a smooth surface. Its special properties don’t last forever, so don’t leave it on the wall more than a couple of days.

Next week we’ll be discussing cleaning up your workspace, keeping extra paint, and planning for those last minute touch-ups!

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The Paint Can

Thoughts, Tips & Tricks from Accent Painting

Tips and Techniques for a Great Paint Job – Start Right

by AccentPainting

In order to get the finish you’re looking for with a fresh paint job, it’s important that you take the time to prepare for your project. Follow our list of tasks here to start your project right.

Start Out Right

  • You’ll enjoy the job more if you get everything together at the start. Organize a tool station in the middle of the area you’ll be working in. Gather together your paint, brushes, rollers, hammers, screwdrivers, plastic bags, plastic wrap, rags, paint can opener, and drop cloths.

Plan a Day for Prep

  • Don’t try to get everything done in one day. Use the day before painting day to gather furniture in the center of the room, patch cracks and holes, put blue painter’s tape around doors and windows, and cover wall and ceiling light fixtures (light bulbs removed, of course!) with large plastic bags.

Clear the Decks

  • If you can, clear out all the furniture and accessories. Take everything off the walls. If you can’t move everything out, place the furniture and lamps in the middle of the room and cover them with a good drop cloth. Be sure that you tape the cloth around the furniture. Then put a second cover of plastic or old sheet over everything.

Remove All Hardware

  • It may seem easier to paint around door knobs or cabinet hinges, but unless you’re a professional, very experienced painter, you’re bound to get drips around. So carry around some zip top bags and remove all cabinet knobs and hinges, door knobs, light switch plates and outlet covers, and light fixtures. Place the pieces together in separate bags and clearly mark the contents and location (top left cabinet, bathroom door, etc) you took them from. This is a great time to clean the hardware! Put them back when you’re done painting.

Get Yourself Ready

  • No matter how hard you try, you’re bound to get drips (or more) of paint on whatever you’re wearing. So take off all jewelry. Reserve some old, but comfortable, clothes for your painting jobs. Slip-on shoes are easy to take off if you need to leave the room. You won’t have to worry about tracking drops of paint into other rooms. When you paint the ceiling, put a scarf, shower cap, or old baseball hat over your hair and some plastic over your eyeglasses.

Don’t Paint Over Problem Walls

  • If your walls have holes or cracks, fix them before you start with the paint. Any home center or paint store has knowledgeable personnel to guide you to the best products for the job. Wide cracks and large holes can be “bridged” with fiberglass tape, spackle will fill small holes and cracks, and texturizing products are available to match your existing wall finish.

Be sure to check back next week, as we’ll be discussing primers, blue tape, and paint storage!

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