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Secrets of a professional paint job

If you're an avid do-it-yourselfer, you know the value of a simple can of paint for sprucing up walls and revamping tired rooms. But you've probably also experienced the love/hate relationship that seems to be a part of painting, so here are a handful of tips that should make your next paint project a little easier and more enjoyable.

Get organized: Painting is more than just opening a can and grabbing a brush. If you take the time to gather up all your paint gear, paint, rags, ladders, tools, aspirin and everything else you anticipate needing before you start, the job will flow much smoother.

Mark the cans: Use clear tape to cover over the name of the paint color, as well as any custom-formula markings put on the can by the paint store. This will help keep them from being obscured by paint drips. To simplify paint touchups, put a blank white label on the can's lid. On the label, write the name of room(s) where the paint was used, put a small dab of the actual paint on the label to simplify color identification, and then cover the label with clear tape to protect it.

Tint your primer: If you are priming your walls or woodwork prior to painting, have the primer tinted to a color that's close to the finish color, rather than leaving it white. Primer, which is less expensive than paint, provides good adhesion, and having it tinted may save you from applying a second coat of paint.

Intermix your paints: If you are using multiple gallons of paint, open at least two and intermix them in a clean 5-gallon bucket to ensure an even color blend.

Skip the roller tray: Many professional painters don't use paint trays for their rollers, which are easy to knock over or step into. Instead, use a roller screen that hooks inside your 5-gallon bucket.

Cover your brushes: When you need to get away from the painting for a while, wrap your brush and your roller cover in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. This will keep them from drying out while saving you the hassle of cleaning them before the day is done.

Be prepared: No paint job is without drips and other minor problems. Keep several clean rags close at hand -- one in your back pocket, one hanging on the ladder, etc. Rags are your best friend for getting little messes taken care of right away.

Also, keep a bucket close by with a little clean water in it (for latex paints) or paint thinner (for oil-base paints) to aid with cleanups.

Proper cut-in: Do your cut-in work with a brush before grabbing the roller. For best results, you want to overlap your painting while it's still wet, so work in one area at a time, and then roll on the paint before the cut-in has dried. This "wet-lapping" helps blend the paint better.

Top to bottom: Start with the ceiling first. Paint the walls next, working from top to bottom. This allows you to better handle and drips.

"Push" the paint when brushing: When painting against a corner or an edge, such as a piece of trim, don't put the brush all the way against the edge -- paint on the bristles can leave small marks on the adjoining surface. Instead, touch the wet brush to the wall slightly away from the edge you're painting up to, then use the brush to push the paint -- not the bristles -- up to the edge.

Watch the grain: When painting wood trim or doors, always paint in the direction of the grain.

Brush cleanup for latex paint: Run warm water in a sink or bucket. Add a small amount of dish soap and a small amount of fabric softener. Soak your brushes for five to 10 minutes, then finish rinsing and cleaning under running water. Twirl the brush handle back and forth between your hands to spin out excess water. Allow to air dry, and then store the brush in its original cover to help maintain its shape.

Rinse and dry roller covers: Use a roller scraper, which looks like a putty knife with one concave-curved side, to scrape excess paint off the roller cover and back into the can.

Soak the cover in the above solution, and then insert the cover into a roller spinner, which is an inexpensive hand-operated device that spins the cover quite rapidly. Spin the cover under running water to remove the rest of the paint and to rinse the cover, then shut the water and continue the spinning to remove most of the moisture. Air dry, and then store the cover in its original plastic cover.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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