Like many professions, house painting is all in the preparation. If the prep work is not done right, it can make the entire job a struggle. That’s why experienced painters spend more and more time up front, so they can spend less time doing the core work, and at the same time, get a superior result.
So, what’s involved in preparation work? The first thing is to take as much out of the room as possible. Some things are easy to remove, others are fixed in place. For example, you can carry a beside locker into another room, as well as most beds, and detached furniture, as well as paintings, pictures, and all manner of personal effects. Very definitely, you should clear all of your person effects from the bathroom counters, if not for hygiene reasons, and all kitchen utensils from your kitchen if that’s where the painting will be done. You don’t want the taste of Benjamin Moore acrylic blue number seven on your toothbrush the day after the painting job is done, so protecting all of that is a great idea.
Some people decide to just cover the kitchen utensils and flatware for protection, but my strong suggestion to you is that you take every last spoon and fork out of the kitchen entirely. It’s also an opportunity to spring clean the insides of your kitchen drawers, and start afresh with all the containers there. Consider, too, running everything through the dishwasher after the project is complete, which ensures everything is fresh from first principles.
Not everything can be removed from the room. Some things are nailed or screwed in place, and are difficult and/or costly to move out and put back later. One thing that is relatively easy to do, and can result in a clean finish, is to remove all of the outlet covers and cover the outlet itself with masking tape. In many houses, those outlet covers have ‘yellowed’ with time, and it might be a good time to replace them with new white ones. But then, if the outlet itself has an old, jaded look to it too, consider swapping out the outlets, too. A complete replacement of outlets and outlet covers with brand new ones can make the room look like a room in a new house. The same can be said of light switches. They’re all pretty economical to buy in bulk, and might be worth considering. The thing to consider is, some objects in the room will look old simply because you’ve painted almost everything else in the room with a fresh, new color. If you’re painting a bedroom for a toddler, and you expect them to be living in that room until they leave for college, I would worry less about the exact finish in terms of electrical fixtures. Some people feel they want to use a flamethrower on their teenager’s bedroom when they’ve gone to college, so consider how far you want to go in the details in each room.
Without removing the switch and outlet covers, the seam between where the paint is and where the outlet is, is more difficult to keep sharp. In other words, if you simply use masking tape to cover the entire outlet, it’s more difficult to make that seam look perfect. By removing it, you can more easily paint the surface of the wall, and when you put the outlet cover back, the cover will sit cleanly atop the newly painted wall. It might actually take you less time to remove the covers and set them aside for the duration of the painting stage, than to try to fiddle your way through masking them out from the painting project.
It always amazes me where paint gets. I know from experience that no matter how steady your hand, no matter how careful you do the work, some paint will eventually splash where you did not intend it to go. Having everything covered, of course, means that that never becomes a problem. What’s more, when you know everything is fully protected, you can focus on the actual work of painting. If you’ve ever had to paint something where the floor and objects are not protected, you’ll know just how slow your work has to be. Even then, any splash – even a drop – means more work going into cleanup later.
There’s a new generation of bag-less vacuum cleaners that – unlike those vacuum cleaners our parents used – do not simply spew all the dust back into the room and into the air we breathe. Getting as much dust out of the room, or whole house, will reduce the chances that ambient dust particles will adhere to your newly painted walls as you proceed with the painting. Dusting down each room by way of a thorough spring cleaning will greatly reduce the chances of that dust in the paint problem.
People often ask which to do first, the walls and ceilings, or the door and window trim? Well, the answer is, to do the broad strokes first. It still might be a good idea to cover that trim first, though, because small paint splashes on the trim might later appear as slight bulges on the those splashes after you have painted over them. The other potential problem is, especially if the trim color is of a substantially different shade to the broad stroke work, the color of the splash might appear slightly through the trim paint. Perhaps a damp cloth on hand is enough to wipe off any slight splashes as you go, catching them before they have had a chance to dry and become a bigger problem later.
The secret is to take your time. Do the work in stages over the course of several days, and you will not fatigue of the project. You will also do a better job.
If you are planning to do the entire interior painting job after you get home every day from your regular job, consider breaking it down into one or two hour chunks. It will take a little longer, of course, but you won’t burn out and get to rue the day you ever decided to save a few bucks and do it yourself.
Or, you can call Rite Painting. We do all of this for a living, and we can do it in a fraction of the time it takes a homeowner.
More next week.