Monday, May 16, 2011
Painting is a relatively easy and quick way of breathing new life into a room. The key to achieving a professional look on your own, however, is preparation. Taking a little extra time to ready a room for painting will pay off big time once you get started. And learning about the different kinds of paint and the kind of effects they can achieve is essential. There are so many ways to achieve paint finishes available these days, and each one will result in a different mood, texture, and reflective quality.
I love colors, and luckily there are many of them to choose from today. If you don't like the million plus paint chips in the store, you have the option of bringing in your favorite sweater or skirt, comforter, or vintage image for a computer color match. The creative options are endless. And once you have painted a room, believe me, you'll be bitten by the home improvement bug forever.
I'll spare you the scientific details of paint composition. Basically, paint is a combination of color (pigment) and a binder that allows it to be spread evenly on a surface. But there are certain terms you should know because they will help you choose the right paint for the project.
Here are the basic types of paint you're likely to encounter.
ACRYLIC: Acrylic paint is a water-based paint commonly used in small painting jobs and craft projects. You can buy it in small bottles in the craft store. It's excellent for painting small details on furniture and accessories. If you find a color of acrylic paint you love, you can have the paint store make a match with latex paint. Brush fuss: Use synthetic or foam brushes.
LATEX: Latex paint is popular for its ease of use. Latex paints are water-based and have low fumes. Cleanup can be done with liquid soap and water. And dried paint can usually be peeled off of a paint bucket and roller tray surfaces and simply thrown away. Manufacturers have improved the quality and durability of latex paints over the years for indoor and outside applications. Just be sure you are buying interior or exterior grade paint. You might choose to use gloss latex in bathroom and kitchen applications because it has protective water-resistant qualities. Brush fuss: Use synthetic or foam brushes.
OIL-BASED: Oil-based or alkyd paint is thick and sticky, making it somewhat difficult to work with. Oil paint also has a strong smell. You absolutely must work in a well-ventilated room when working with any oil-based product. It also requires special products for cleanup, such as paint thinner (another smelly and often dangerous chemical). Because manufacturers have made such great strides in latex paint quality and durability, I don't think you need to use oil paint for most jobs. But gloss oil paints, which were commonly used in kitchens and baths because of their water-resistant quality, have a sheen and reflective quality that gloss latex paint just can't match. So if you are dead set on a certain finish, oil gloss may be the only way to go.
You can also buy oil paints formulated for use on hot surfaces, such as ovens, exposed hot water pipes, and radiators (but make sure the products are heat-resistant). Many spray paints are made specifically for appliances, as well. And there are oil-based paints suitable for painting over tile and porcelain that simulate a ceramic finish. The upside to oil paint is its durability, especially on window trim and in kitchens and bathrooms. Today's oil paint is easier to clean, and newer formulations make it less likely to yellow over time. Brush fuss: Use natural-bristle brushes.
SPRAY PAINT: Spray paint is oil-based and perfect for painting garden furniture, wrought iron, and just about anything that's made of metal. They even make spray paint that will cover plastic without peeling. Spray paint is easy to use and does not require the prep work that oil paint in a can demands.
PRIMER: Primer is used to prepare surfaces for paint. "Raw" drywall needs to be covered with drywall primer before paint goes on top. Primer basically readies the drywall to accept paint. Primer can also be used when going from a dark to a light color or vice versa. In those cases, you want to ask your paint mixer to create a tinted primer with a color close to but not exactly like the topcoat. This will reduce the number of coats you have to give your wall or ceiling. Primer is also essential if you are covering an oil-based paint with a latex paint. A latex primer will create a suitable surface for the new covering. If you leave out that step, the latex paint will pull right off the oil-based surface. Ugh!
You don't always have to use primer: If you are painting flat beige or off-white walls, you can generally go right over the paint with your new color. One more thing: If you are using spray paint to cover old metal, buy spray paint rustproofing primer to cover the cleaned surface before you put on the paint.
Barbara's Best-Kept Secret:
If you are doing a painting job over a weekend and using oil paint, you can wait until the very end to clean up the brushes with paint thinner by using this simple mid-process storage trick. Wrap the paintbrushes in aluminum foil, place them in a plastic storage bag, and put the whole thing in the freezer. The brushes will stay pliant, and the paint won't freeze. You can go right back to painting and then clean the brushes out when the job is completely done!
These are the different types of paint finishes you have to choose from.
FLAT: This matte surface paint finish is usually used on interior walls. It helps hide small imperfections because it doesn't reflect light. (Shinier paint highlights bumps, dents, and patches.) Flat paint is generally hard to clean or scrub, but some manufacturers are making flat paints that are more easily washable. Still, you have to be cautious when going after scuffs and dirt on a flat-painted wall.
EGGSHELL: This finish has just a whisper of sheen. You could hardly call it shiny. It's good for interior walls, especially if you have kids running around, simply because you will have an easier time cleaning it than a flat-painted wall. However, an eggshell finish still looks somewhat matte, and any imperfections will remain subtle if not invisible.
SATIN: This smooth, somewhat shiny paint is perfect for children's rooms because it's so easy to clean. Kitchens, bathrooms, and high-traffic areas will also benefit from satin finish paints because they hold up under light scrubbing.
SEMIGLOSS: Semigloss paint is most often used on doors, trim, and cabinets in kitchens and bathrooms. It's easy to keep clean, and its subtle shine is rich looking and especially crisp on trim when set against a flat-painted wall. Surface preparation is important, though, because semigloss will show imperfections. So be sure to fill all holes and gouges, smooth surfaces, and sand trim to be painted. Get rid of built-up paint layers and dried drips, too.
GLOSS: Gloss paints are super-shiny. Most people don't use them on interiors, although I have seen ceilings in gloss, and the reflection is amazing. Light bounces off a gloss-painted ceiling, adding a glamorous feel to a room. But that's a daring and very modern look, so know what you are getting into before you go for gloss! Gloss can also look very fresh on bead board wainscoting and on cabinets, trim, and furniture, especially in contemporary settings. A front door painted in high gloss looks stylish and formal, especially when done in a dark color such as forest green or even black. A warning: Gloss paint highlights every surface imperfection, so be sure your plaster or drywall surface is completely smooth before using a high-gloss paint.
Barbara's Best-Kept Secret:
The only paint finish that you can spot retouch successfully is flat. When retouching shinier finishes, from eggshell to high gloss, you will need to repaint the entire area surrounding the imperfection. Otherwise, you will see the retouched spot because glossier finshes never spot-dry in a uniform manner.
Other Paint Terms
These are two more paint terms you need to know to be a painting pro.
CUTTING IN: This simply means painting around doors, windows, molding, and baseboards with an appropriate brush. After you've completed cutting in, you do the rest of the wall-painting job with a roller.
KEY: This slight roughness to a surface allows it to accept paint. For example, if you are planning on painting over a glossy surface, even if it's with more glossy paint, you have to prime it first to give the surface key, which will accept the new paint. Otherwise, the paint will peel off.
Copyright © 2005 Barbara Kavovit
Barbara Kavovit is CEO of barbara k!, a comprehensive lifestyle brand that offers solutions for women through innovative home enhancement/repair and automotive products. She is also the home improvement expert for AOL Coaches and author of the inspirational fix-it handbook Room for Improvement. Barbara has been featured in the New York Times, USA Today, Real Simple, and O, The Oprah Magazine, among others, and has appeared on numerous television and radio programs, including Today and Good Morning America. She lives in New York City with her son, Zachary. Visit www.barbarak.com
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