Spilled paint can be a nightmare. One minute you’re patiently covering your stairway wall with that beautiful new pastel yellow – with the almost-full one-gallon container open beside you on the ladder shelf – and you mis-step your footing for a second. In an automatic reaction, you reach out to grab something in order not to fall any further. What does your hand instinctively grab hold of? Why, the very ladder shelf that is holding all that nice new paint. Before you know it, the sudden extra weight of your body is transferred to that shelf, snapping it off its supports, sending the new fresh paint flying in multiple directions. It feels like everything now is going in slow motion. The paint can tips right over right beside you, it takes a second to reach the gaps in the stairwell, the carpet on the stairs, as well as some furniture below the stairs, and begins to soak deeply into everything. The exciting new home painting project has become a nightmare.Cleaning paint spills is not for the faint of heart. I’d recommend calling a carpet cleaning company immediately, if it happens. In this article, I will cover the steps you need to take in avoiding a paint spill in the first place.
Prepare to mitigate any accident, if it must occur
I remember laughing at how well my father used to prepare for any project he would take on. He was so cautious about, for example, making a final cut in wallpaper, mixing paint, drilling holes. Anything. It was only when I got to his age – and had kids of my own – did I realize how wise he had been. Perhaps he learned from one of his parents, or from first-hand experience. In any case, caution in home projects was his first priority, and in time, it became mine.
The best way to clear painting spills is to limit their chances in the first place. Safety preparation is Job One, as the phrase is often coined, and there is a lot you can do to reduce the chances of an accident.
- Open cans of paint are best kept on the ground. This is not always possible, of course, but at least, keep the open paint containers as close to the ground as possible.
- Have a minimum amount of wet paint in open containers. If you are, for example, using a paint tray and roller, don’t fill it to the brim where you might be struggling to keep it all contained, but put enough to work with at a time. It might take slightly longer to do the job, but if an accident does occur, there’s far less paint involved in the cleanup!
- Take your time. Give yourself time in the first place to get the job done right. If it take a few extra evenings to get it done right, take the time and enjoy seeing it all unfold. Being in a rush will increase the likelihood of an accidental spill.
- Keep young children locked out of the project area. If you can’t find anyone to take care of your young children while you are doing the project, consider doing it in stages every evening, right after they have gone to bed. Not only are young children a potential nightmare for paint spillages, you have to consider their own personal safety, and the fact that you are thoroughly distracted from the responsibility of keeping them safe while you are painting.
- Consider a painting contractor, instead of doing the work yourself. The big reason for hiring a painting contractor is, clearly, they will likely to a far better job, do in half the time, and you’re far less likely to have a paint spillage situation on your hands. If you’re worried about spending money, it’s still worth getting an estimate. Still not enough money to hire someone? Consider getting a contractor to do the ‘heavy lifting” – that is, the wall and ceiling painting – and doing the trim yourself after they have wrapped up their part of the project. That’s often also the more satisfying part of the job, and it’s usually not as back-breaking. Still, it’s probably better to get the contractor to do all of the work, and not just part of it. If for any other reason, you have one person to hold accountable for everything. Finally, you can also do some painting jobs in stages. You can’t realistically paint the exterior of a house in stages, but the interior can be done room by room if needed. You’ll probably pay a little more overall, as the contractor has multiple setup and cleanup duties in that case, but it might allow you to spread the cost over several months.
- Get the whole family involved. If you have teenage kids living with you, now is the time to perhaps get them to pay their way a little. Trade Xbox time for painting coverage, perhaps. If you’re nervous about having them paint parts of your house, consider having them do the prep work and cleanup instead. Masking out areas that are to be protected is a safe enough task to delegate to your kids, because it can be checked easily before anything is committed to the project. Cleanup, too, is another task that can be delegated, with the possible exception of the brush and related tools cleanup. To keep brushes in good condition, removing all the paint after using them is critical.
- Cover everything with the correct material, or remove it completely from the work area. You know those waxy, thick cloths painters cover furniture and carpets with before they start? They are mostly paint proof. That is, paint will not soak through them and reach your carpets, furniture or other valuables. Old bed sheets don’t work. They simply let paint run right through them. That’s another reason, by the way, to use a painting contractor. An painting contractor that’s in business for even a short while will have invested in excellent asset coverage materials. They can amortize that expense over many projects, and it saves them money in the long run, not having to call on their insurance after they might have otherwise damaged your property because of a paint spillage.
- Mask trim carefully. The time spent is worth it. I remember rushing a bit through an interior paintingproject in my kitchen many years ago. There was one spot where the masking on the window was not done quite right, and it resulted in an “Italy shaped” paint run on the glass. It wasn’t so bad that your jaw would drop in horror, and I could have (and should have) cleaned it up with a safety blade or something, but I never got round to fixing it for a staggering ten years. It might have been related to my own personal procrastination problem, but it used to haunt me every morning as I sat down from breakfast. No one else really noticed it, but I did, and it’s why I always do the masking trim right in the first place. After the project, the moment the paint is dry enough, I go over the windows again with a blade. I suppose I’ve gone from procrastinating to being neurotic about such details. Some people call that maturity. Or maybe not.
Be sure to visit next week for the next exciting blog posting on all things relating to painting!.