3 tips for handling painted walls

Caring for your painted walls keeps your house looking fresh and vibrant for decades. Here are three tips to help you out. 

3 tips for handling painted walls

1. Seal in lead paint

  • Until recently many paints contained harmful lead. The most reliable way to test suspect paint is with a lab test.
  • Mail a chip of paint to the lab for a report (check the Internet for a source).
  • If you have lead paint, seal it off with two coats of high-quality paint. As long as the new paint remains sound, the lead is contained and presents no danger.

2. Saving leftover paint

  • When you paint a room, save the leftover paint for touch-ups. With care, latex will keep for up to 10 years and alkyd for 15.
  • Odds are, you'll decide to repaint before then. If you have less than half a can of paint left, pour the paint into a zip-seal plastic food bag. Squeeze out the extra air as you seal the bag; then put the bag in the original can and seal the can.
  • If you have more than half a can, just seal the can. Put a piece of plastic wrap over the can before replacing the lid for an extra-tight seal.
  • On the container's lid, write the paint's colour, number, and date of purchase, and the room where it was used. On the outside of the can, mark the level of the paint so you can tell how much you have without opening the can.
  • Store a can upside down so that any scab that forms will be on the bottom when you turn the can upright. Store paint where it won't freeze or overheat; a basement is better than an unheated garage.
  • When you reopen paint, stir vigorously; if it blends well, it's okay to use. If you encounter lumps, strain the paint through a piece of panty hose.

3. Touching up damage

  • To keep paint looking fresh, touch up damage as it occurs. Sand and touch up a scraped or chipped surface, feathering the paint over the surrounding area.
  • Fill holes first for wallboard or plaster and coat a recalcitrant stain with stain sealer before touching it up. If a leak has caused peeling and bubbling, fix the leak source; then scrape and sand the area and repaint it.
  • Whenever possible, use paint left over from the original job.
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