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Walls Ceilings Wood Tips and Tricks

For a really professional looking job you have to be willing to spend 80% of your time preparing the surface to be painted. Always buy the best quality new brushes and roller refills you can afford. Old rollers and brushes can never be cleaned properly for future use. Clean brushes and rollers for overnight storage but destroy them when the job is finished.

Concrete and masonry walls
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  1. Inspect the area you want to paint for damp and treat this before going further.

  2. Remove loose paint and any algae that may be on the damp patch.

  3. Paint over with a good damp-sealing product.

  4. Try to determine where the water comes from and cure the source. Often leaks between a bath and wall or leaks between the tiles of a shower can cause damp. If you have rising damp because of bad or deteriorated damp course there are products on the market to cure this. Drill holes in the wall at an angle of about 30° and fill them with the product.

  5. Remove all picture hooks, screws, brackets, lamps, switch covers, etc.

  6. Remove all loose or blistering paint with a scraper and/or sand paper.

  7. Fill any holes or cracks with a good filler. If you are using a dry powder filler mix just enough for the job and fill the cracks proud as powder fillers tend to shrink. When using pre-mixed fillers fill level with the surface. Large cracks can be filled by first stuffing newspaper into them to give the filler a base.

  8. Smooth the filler by sanding with fairly coarse sandpaper. Pre-mixed fillers dry very hard but by wiping them with a damp cloth makes it fairly easy to sand them down.

  9. Lightly sand the whole wall to remove any excess loose matter and to give the new paint a “key”.

  10. Wash the wall down with sugar soap to remove all grease and fattiness.

Painting interior walls

Always start at the window of the “window wall”, paint towards the corners nearest the windows and keep on working away from the light source.

Because of the dissimilarity of the finish between brushed on and rolled on paint first use a 50 mm paintbrush to apply paint into a corner before rolling on as close as you can get with a roller.

When painting along the top of the wall below the bottom of the cornice avoid getting paint on the bottom of the cornice. It does not matter if one paints slightly shy of the cornice/wall joining line as people looking up will not see this but will definitely notice the bottom of the cornice.

Similarly paint slightly shy of the skirting and avoid getting paint on the top of it.

Paint about a square metre at a time. Using the roller, lay on paint vertically and lay off horizontally. Although most modern paints are very forgiving and can be laid on and off in virtually any direction and still give a reasonable finish it is better to stick with the old ways and get a really superb finish!

Painting exterior walls

When painting exterior walls (in the southern hemisphere) paint the north and west sides in the morning and the east and south sides in the afternoon. This avoids painting in direct sunlight which causes fast and uneven drying and is a lot more comfortable for the painter.

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Remove all light fittings and drive home any nails that may have worked loose.

Dust well with a block or banister brush to remove dust. Lightly sand the ceiling to remove loose paint and dirt. Do not wash the ceiling. Watermarks from leaking roofs can be hidden by giving them a coat or two of aluminium paint followed by at least two coats of universal primer.

As most ceilings have no grain and are smooth, be consistent in laying on and laying off in the same direction all the time.

Problems with cornices

Most cornices are made from paper and gypsum and have not been painted at the back before being installed. So the back, over the years, has absorbed more moisture than the front and because the cornice is only nailed to the brandering supporting the ceiling, the bottom tends to pull away from the wall leaving a gap. It is easiest to fill these gaps with a caulking gun and acrylic paintable filler. If the gaps are very large force some newspaper into them giving the filler a “base”. These fillers, like other silicones, can not be sanded.

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On new wood to be varnished always use a sanding sealer to get that smooth professional finish.

Lay on varnish with the grain, lay off against the grain.

If wood is to be painted give it two coats of pink primer, two coats of a universal undercoat and at least two coats of a decorative paint, sanding lightly between coats. It is better to paint two or three thin coats than to paint one thick coat as thick paint will form a skin on top which will prevent the paint at the bottom from drying completely.

Tips and tricks
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Store partly used cans of paint upside down. If a skin is formed it will be at the bottom of the tin when it is turned upright again. Do not store tins upside down directly on permanent surfaces but place a thick piece of cardboard or plastic between the tin and the shelf.

Line a paint tray with aluminium foil to keep the tray clean. When you have finished the job simply throw the foil away.

It is easier to use an old kitchen table and two 3-step stepladders to paint from than from a single stepladder, one ladder to make it easy to get onto the table and one with an extra plank fitted to its top step to hold the paint tray. You can either clamp the larger plank to the stepladder with G-clamps or make a plank with two brackets to slide over the top step.

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