Prepare properly for painting.
All About Applicators
Brushes, Rollers, Pads and Specialty Tools
The quality of your paint job depends as much on the applicators as it does the paint so don't skimp here. A first-time painter with high-quality brushes and rollers can do a better job than an experienced painter with cheap ones. And, since you'll have to live with the results for years to come, the better products are worth a little extra money.
For most jobs the following should be sufficient:
A 2'' angular or straight-cut brush for woodwork and windows.
A 2'' sash brush for "cutting in" around odd angles, corners and thin detailing. The tighter the space, the narrower a brush you'll need.
A roller frame and cover with extension pole. Use for flat, unornamented expanses such as walls, ceilings and doors.
You may want to consider:
Narrow rollers for trim and tight areas (e.g. behind toilet tanks and radiators)
Painter's mitt for pipes and contoured surfaces like railings
A paint shield for protecting walls while you're doing the woodwork
A paint edger with guide wheels (an alternative to masking)
Brush With Greatness
Better brushes hold more paint and hold their bristles, too. This is important to help your job go more quickly with better results. Brushes use either natural or synthetic bristles, or a blend. Natural bristles work only with alkyd paints; synthetic bristles work with both alkyd and latex.
For most walls and ceilings use a paint roller. The best generally have a steel frame, a metal cage and a threaded handle that can hold an extension pole. When selecting a cover, choose a short nap (3/16'' or 3/8'') for smooth indoor surfaces and a longer nap (3/4'' or 1-1/4'') for rougher surfaces including textured walls, masonry and stucco.
For edging, cutting-in and painting flat trim, foam pads provide a convenient alternative to brushes. Because they're flat, they leave less surface texture in the paint and tend not to drip or spatter. Their flexibility also makes them ideal for reaching inside tight areas like vents of heat registers.
Quicker Paint Stripping
Whether you're stripping paint from small parts or much larger surfaces (like window sashes, shutters and doors), it's often faster and easier to bring the painted parts to the stripper rather than the stripper to the painted parts.
Just make a 2' x 4' frame large enough to surround your work and line it with heavy plastic. Pour in the stripper and put items in face down (the work will remain "wet" for faster action). Cover any exposed surfaces with plastic wrap to slow evaporation and speed the chemical process.
If you scrape, sand or remove old paint, you may release lead dust. Lead is toxic and exposure to can cause serious illnesses, such as brain damage, especially in children. Pregnant women should also avoid exposure. Wear a NIOSH-approved respirator to control lead exposure. Clean up carefully with a HEPA vacuum and a wet mop. Before you start, find out how to protect yourself by contacting the National Lead Hotline at 800-424-LEAD or visit www.epa.gov/lead.
Wood Stripping Made Easy
Try this time-saving idea when using chemical strippers to remove paints and varnishes: After applying the stripper to the surface, stretch a layer of thick plastic over the wood. This redirects the stripper's rising fumes back onto the wood increasing the effect of each application. It also keeps most of the fumes out of your breathing space. (But still wear a filter mask if the product's warning label advises it.)
Don't lay the plastic directly on the chemical stripper. Rig it so that the plastic "floats" just over the surface. This prevents the stripper from eating away at the plastic and prevents a big mess. To make the plastic "float," lay two thin strips of wood at either edge of the surface being stripped, then stretch the plastic across the top of both and secure the plastic with tape or small tacks so it remains taut.
If you scrape, sand or remove old paint, you may release lead dust. Lead is toxic and exposure to lead dust can cause serious illness, such as brain damage, especially in children. Pregnant women should also avoid exposure. Wear a NIOSH-approved respirator to control lead exposure. Clean up carefully with a HEPA vacuum and wet mop. Before you start, find out how to protect yourself by contacting the National Lead Hotline at 1-800-424-LEAD or log on to www.epa.gov/lead.
Make Sure Your Caulk Sticks
How Compatible is Your Caulk to Your Paint?
If your caulking project coincides with painting or staining your house, make sure your caulk is compatible with your paint or stain. If the paint or stain contains wax, stearates, silicones, paraffinic oils or similar materials, there is a great risk that the caulk will not adhere very well. (You may have to do some "detective" work to determine this, but it's worth the effort to avoid this potential problem.)
If you use a coating that is compatible with the caulk, it's usually best to do all your painting first - including the joints to be caulked - before caulking. That way, the coating acts as a primer for the caulk, usually improving the overall adhesion.
Unclog Spray Paint
If you are up to some home improvement touch-ups using old cans of spray paint, you may be in for a problem. If you haven't used the cans lately, they may not spray but don't be quick to toss them and buy new ones.
The paint inside is probably fine. It's most likely the nozzle that's sealed shut. Here's what to do:
Remove it and try clearing the nozzle with a pin. Never try this while it's still on the can.
If that doesn't work, soak it overnight in what the manufacturer suggests to clean or remove this type of paint.
If it still doesn't work, your local True Value hardware store sells standard replacement tips.
Stay a step ahead. Next time you empty a can of spray paint, turn it upside down, give it a blast (to clear the nozzle), then remove and save it for use on another can another day.