6 important things to do before you paint

Repainting your house is a dramatic way to give it a new look. Although you can do it yourself, for the best results here are six tips for what to do before you begin.

6 important things to do before you paint

1. Look for quality paint

You're more likely to save money with a top-of-the-line paint, although it may not seem like it at the beginning. The real savings are to be had over the long term.

  • Cheap paint usually requires two coats to cover what's on the wall, thereby doubling your cost.
  • Low-quality latex paint also gets chalky as it ages and needs to be repainted sooner.

2. Choose the right paint finish

Paint is available in glossy, semi-gloss, eggshell, satin and flat finishes.

  • Use glossy or semi-gloss on woodwork. In areas likely to get dirty, use semi-gloss or eggshell on walls.

Generally speaking the glossier the paint, the more durable and easier it will be to clean.

  • On the other hand, flat paint (without a shine) hides wall defects and touched-up areas better.

3. Match but don't mix

To simplify your life, use the same colour paint on trim and walls even if they're not the same sheen.

  • You'll have to do far less masking. What's more, touch-up is simpler since paint splashed from the walls onto the trim (or vice versa) is virtually invisible.

4. Pick the right applicators

The right application tool will make the job a whole lot easier.

  • Select a short-nap roller for smooth walls and a longer nap for stucco, concrete, and textured surfaces.
  • Make sure the roller has slightly bevelled ends that won't drag paint onto adjoining surfaces.
  • Choose a nylon-wool blend roller for alkyd (oil) paint, but get an all-nylon roller for latex. Similarly, choose a natural bristle brush for alkyd and synthetic bristles for latex.
  • Look sideways at a brush. A good brush comes to a dull point; a cheap one is cut square.
  • Look at the bristle ends. Split ends help spread paint for a smoother finish.

5. Computer-match your paint colours

If you want to repaint a room the same colour it already is, you'll have to colour match. Slice through the paint on the wall with a sharp utility knife in an out-of-the-way area and lift off a good-sized chip.

  • Take the chip to a paint store or home improvement centre that has computerized colour-matching equipment, which will generate a recipe for mixing different colours of paint the store can use to match the existing colour.

Computerized colour-matching is usually free and it may save you from having to repaint the entire room for a few years.

6. Prep the wall well before painting

A well-prepped wall will look much better when the paint is on. Moreover, it will allow the paint to adhere properly and stand the test of time by staying fresh-looking and bright for longer.

  • Put on rubber gloves and wash the walls with trisodium phosphate (TSP) or TSP substitute. This strong, non-sudsing cleanser, available at paint retailers, dulls the finish so that paint will adhere better.
  • Rinse with a sponge and water until the water runs clear. Let the wall dry.
  • Wash off any mildew with a 50/50 mixture of water and bleach, and rinse well.
  • Repair holes and cracks in the wallboard or the plaster. Scrape off loose paint and blend in areas with chipped-off paint by sanding the edges of the surrounding paint or by skim-coating the area with spackling.
  • Fill dings and dents in woodwork with wood putty and smaller nail holes with glazing compound; then sand. Finally, lightly sand the surface.
  • Apply masking tape over mouldings and trim where they meet the wall; the newer blue tapes are easier to use than traditional masking tape. Protect the floor with a drop cloth.
  • To keep stains from bleeding through the new paint, seal them with stain sealer, available at paint stores and home centres. Oil-based and shellac-based sealers block stains better than latex ones.
  • Finally, coat the entire wall with latex primer, which is easier to clean up but just as durable as an oil-based primer.
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