Quality vs. Quantity
You face this choice in almost every home repair, but it is especially true with regards to paint. It's an important decision. The best quality paints will cost a little more but often they will offer better and more uniform coverage -- and they can last much longer than ordinary paints. You get superior durability, smoother application, and more resistance to dirt and stains. That translates into long-term savings and greater convenience. Paint on a Budget
In tough economic times, everyone is looking for a bargain. Whether it is a single room or an exterior job, do it yourself if you can -- the savings over hiring a professional painter will be tremendous. Invite a few friends over, offer food and drinks, and you’ll be surprised how much you can get done in a day. (However, you may have some quality-control issues depending on how adept your pals are with a brush!) If you’re flexible on color, check your local hazardous waste recycling center for paint. Check your local hardware stores, and outlets too. They frequently offer bargains on perfectly good paint that has been returned. And don't forget Craigslist and eBay.
Light Makes Right
You won't find this in the ABCs of painting, but working with good lighting can make all the difference in a final coat of paint that pleases you for years to come -- and one that you continually spot flaws in for decades. Open your windows and remove the curtains to let all the natural light in that you can. Bring in lamps or additional lighting. If you can’t see what you’re painting, you’re making mistakes. And while you're at it, run a window fan if only to remove fumes. You'll feel better.
What Brush for What Job?
Sounds simple, doesn't it? It's not. Brushes work best for small areas, but remember that a cheap brush will often result in a poor finish. Quality brushes have a high percentage of bristles with split/flagged ends to hold the paint. Quality brushes also have filaments that vary in length. Use natural bristles with oil-based paints. Use nylon or polyester bristles with latex paints. When you're in need of precision, look for brushes that are tipped and have pointed ends so you can more accurately control your paint strokes. As for foam brushes, they are throwaways and use accordingly.
Some simple rules will get you started in style. Dip the brush a quarter to one-half the way into the paint. Paint from the top and work your way down. Work from dry areas into wet areas to limit the creation of ridges. On wood, follow the grain. Wipe the brush off on the can and only wipe one side. Watch for drips! When you finish a wall or section of the ceiling, take a moment to look back over your work. A few minutes inspecting wet paint can save you hours of regret after everything is dry. Where To Start
Start with the ceiling. Next, move to the walls, first painting around the edges, and then cutting in the edges and around windows, or trim one wall at a time. Don't paint too quickly and get ahead of yourself. For the paint to dry without the lines being visible, keep a wet edge. Finally, finish each wall with a roller. If you're in a hurry, ask a friend or two to help rather than rush, and remember: It's hard to improve upon a paint job if the previous one was done poorly.
Cleaning Up Water-Based Paints
You've done a great job, pat yourself on the back! But don't forget about cleanup. Cleaning a paintbrush well can add years of life to the brush. And it starts before painting. Slow the hardening of paint on brushes by lightly wetting brushes with water before using latex paints (or paint thinner with oil-based paint). After painting, choose a cleaning site where residue won't flow in a street or gutter. Wipe off extra paint with a cloth, and then wash the brush with warm water to remove excess paint. Next, fill a clean, old paint can or plastic bucket with warm, soapy water, and rapidly swish the brush in the water. Don't jam the end of the brush into the bottom of the can, or you'll damage the bristles. Repeat until the water is clear. Hang the brush to dry, and then put it in a zip-top plastic bag to store.
Cleaning Up Oil-Based Paints
Again, choose a site where residue won't flow down a drain. Wear gloves to protect your hands. Wipe extra paint off the brush with a cloth, and then pour around 1/2 quart of paint thinner or turpentine, and dip the brush and swish around. Comb paint from the bristles with a wire brush, if needed. Dip the bristles in the thinner, and swish again. Empty out the bucket responsibly, and repeat as necessary. Wipe the cloth to remove excess paint again. Hang the brush to dry, and put it in a zip-top plastic bag to store.
Thankfully, long gone are the days when it was acceptable to pour leftover paint and turpentine down a drain. For paint thinners, recycle it by storing in a closed jar until paint particles settle. Strain and reuse the clear liquid -- dry the remaining sludgy bits, wrap in plastic, and put in the trash. Note that in some areas, you may be required by law to dispose of leftover thinner through a hazardous waste program. For paint, begin by saving extra paint for another project. Read the label and follow the manufacturer’s directions for proper disposal. After using all the paint, dry up latex or water-based paints and discard in the trash. Do not dry up oil-based paints! Take them to a household hazardous waste collection site. For more ideas, visit Earth911.