Painting and meditation
There’s a time to be actively creative, and a time to be methodical and patient.
The paint process reminds me of my experience in studying tailoring (as in: make a suit!) years ago. Old-world style, our European professor would exclaim with drama and flair…“Rrrripp it Out!” when we students made even a near-mistake. We were always watching out for her incisive eye. There was no room for shortcuts.
How does this translate to the wall-painting process?
As with many things we undertake, in painting, meticulous preparation is critical to the outcome. The better and more through the prep, the better your room will look.
Shortcuts in your paint prep often necessitate creativity. But you might not be in the mood to be creative or have the experience and tools at hand to remedy a shortcut error. Think about this: are you ready for the often-dubious benefits of immediate problem solving that sometimes does not give the best possible result?
Put another way: instant gratification vs. method and planning
We’re definitely not all experienced professionals…and are not quite like the ingenious MacGyver. Personally, I prefer to avoid those last-minute needs for being super-creative, that can be both frustrating and time-consuming. Taking the time to ‘do it right’ usually outweighs the perceived benefit of a shortcut. On the other hand, of course, there’s the benefit of “winging it” that can be the mother of great invention!
So, if you’re in the “careful” mode, here are a few tips from my own experience and from watching and talking to the paint pros:
- Do prep for all areas at the same time, while you have all prep materials at hand.
- Start with a clean wall: remove any surface oils, grease, tape, “stars” (from the kids’ rooms ceilings?)
- Careful patching and sanding of all needed areas
- Prime: use a high quality primer-sealer
- Sand, and Re-patch any areas revealed by primer that are not covered or that look funky
- Caulk edges
- Spot prime as needed
- Light sanding for a smooth base surface
- Apply the first coat of finish color
If there are gaps that need caulking it’s ok to apply caulk between coats.
Try to make it as thin a bead of caulk as you can do, for a crisp edge.
This will give your finish coats a nice clean, professional edge.
- Light sanding as needed
- Apply the second coat of finish color
One coat or 2?
It’s always best to do two finish color coats, as noted above. In the 2nd coat the color really comes out to it’s true, intended hue. It’s easy to miss some areas on the first coat, that you don’t notice until its dry.
- Work in smaller areas, around 3’x3′.
- Keep the paint the same thickness throughout.
- Try to keep a wet edge of each section to minimize roller marks.
- Work from the ‘new’ area filling back into the just-painted section. This will help you keep a more even thickness.
Two schools of thought
- Some pro’s like to start with the trim. You can save a little time this way because you can overlap a bit onto the wall. Then, when you paint the wall and ceiling colors you can cut up to the trim,going around the trim.
- The other school of thought is to do the 2 coats on the wall then do the 2 coats of trim, making a clean line where trim meets the wall. Caulk as needed, as noted above.
- Use high quality tools
- Keep all brushes and other tools clean during the process.
- Use a drop cloth
- Use high quality painter’s tape when needed: Not the tan ” masking tape!”
A note about exterior painting
Painting exteriors naturally includes a whole additional array of precautions and instructions. Pro’s will know this, but during a recent trip to my local hardware store I was reminded of this important tidbit: Be sure to remove all old wood particles from the surface. Sanding is a good way, and you might also check out other products that can help make a clean, fresh surface for your new paint color.
Last but not least
Always use the highest quality paint and tools that you can manage to get. You might even save money in the short or long run. The cost of a professional paint job is around 85% labor, so the best products will make the job go more quickly and you’ll be more confident in having the best possible outcome even if you do it yourself.
I like to look at this as a sort of meditative experience. After gathering all the materials and setting up in an orderly way, the focus is just on the wall as a surface. While Creativity might happen—as, in fact, it often does—it’s more of a happy consequence while I am working on the mechanics of wall prep. After all, I’d rather not have to “Rip it out!”
For tips about working with a painting professional, check out previous COLORVIEWS blog posts.