A paint job is as good as the preparation

Home Work

April 04, 1999|By Karol V. Menzie and Ron Nodine

WHEN IT comes to do-it-yourself items on a project, the most common thing people like to do is paint. Anyone can paint, right?

What people don't realize is that most of the work that goes into a paint job is in the preparation of the surfaces. This is especially true of old finishes. Preparing the surfaces correctly will have a great impact on the finished product.

When clients tell Ron that they want to do the painting themselves, he gives them some options: Do you just want to apply the paint, or do you want to do the whole job? People are often happy to have the scraping, puttying, sanding, caulking and even the primer coat done by a painter. That way, literally, all you do is paint.

If you do tackle the whole job there are some things you should know that will make it a better one.

With new unpainted wood, sand it first to smooth down the surface. When you apply the primer, it will raise the grain of the wood. Now is the time to apply the wood filler and/or putty to cover nail holes and defects in the wood. Allow that to dry and sand it smooth again. Caulking can be done before or after the primer.

Don't use caulk to fill nail holes; it will shrink and leave a dip. Painter's putty or wood filler will have little or no shrinkage. Where you use caulk, don't use cheap caulk, because it will shrink to the point where you can barely tell it was caulked, and caulking it twice won't save you anything.

Previously painted surfaces are, of course, more work. First remove any loose or peeling paint. Next sand it down -- though you don't need to go down to bare wood. The object is to rough up the surface so the new paint will adhere to it. If the existing paint isn't stuck to the surface below, the new paint won't be either.

Often in older houses, someone before you (or maybe you), painted over glossy oil-based paint without sanding it first. That's why a chip pops off every time you hit it with something. The only way to correct that situation is to take all the recent paint off so you can sand the surface before you paint again.

After the sanding is done, apply the primer, fill the cracks and holes and sand it again. Reprime any patchwork and it's ready to paint.

By the way, don't ever try to skip the primer. It seals the surface and makes the top coat go on easier. If you are using dark colors, tint the primer, and the paint will cover better.

Staining is a little different. Sand the surface lightly with 150-grit sandpaper first to smooth it. Apply the stain and allow it to dry. The stain will raise the grain of the wood. Sand lightly and apply a second coat of stain. This time the surface is sealed and the grain shouldn't rise.

Next apply the first coat of sealer, and after that dries, sand it with 220-grit sandpaper.

Depending on what type of wood putty you are using, this is where you apply it. If it is a stainable putty you should apply it here, let it dry, sand it lightly, and stain the putty with a small paintbrush. You can wipe off the excess without affecting the adjacent surface because it is sealed. When you apply the second and third coats of sealer you will seal the putty.

You can find colored wood putty that is applied after all the finish coats. It works great if the available colors match what you need.

If all this sounds fairly difficult, not to say tedious, it is. The easiest way to paint is still to hire a painter.

Pub Date: 4/04/99

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