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The Professional Touch in your Painting

There's no need to be a slap-happy Decorator when a little knowledge can help you produce a perfect finish to your work follow, By Ray Lewhite. advice, remember that good painting is a matter of 75 per cent preparation and 25 per cent finishing, and you'll be proud of your professional touch!!

If you want your paintwork to be a work of art, remember the importance of a first class "canvas". The desire to make that first, exciting daub of paint across the bare woodwork has spoilt many a handymans efforts. Patient preparation is nine-tenths of the professional's secret, so curb the artistry and concentrate first on producing the perfect surface to receive paint.
Follow this six-point plan for woodwork and you will have a surface that will keep your paint looking better, longer : The surface should be (1). dry : (2). clean : (3). smooth : (4). firm : (5). not too absorbent : and (6). with a slight "key," or surface texture, to which paint can grip.

(1) Damp woodwork is more of a problem on outside decoration but any that is wet indoors should be allowed to dry thoroughly before paint is applied, otherwise peeling and cracking will result.
(2) Existing paintwork should be washed down well with warm water and a little washing soda. Then rinse with clean water.
(3) While the paint is still damp from this treatment outlined above, rub down irregularities with a pumice block. Unpainted wood should be finished off before with a piece of No 1-2 glasspaper wrapped around a wood block, used across the grain and finally with the grain. Cracks and depressions should be filled with a quick drying woodfiller obtainable under proprietary after priming (see 5).
(4) A coat of paint is no stronger than the surface it adheres to. Weathered paint on the outside of the house almost always needs to be strpped completely and replaced. It happens sometimes that interior woodwork has become chipped and pitted, or has peeled, because the work was not done properly in the first place. If so it should be removed.
Indoors use a chemical stripper to soften paint, which can be removed from flat surfaces with a metal scraper, and from mouldings with a shave hook.
"Wet-or-dry" emery cloth, that can be washed to clear clogged paint, is useful for rubbing down stubborn patches. A turps rinse is usually recommended by the makers of a chemical stripper to neutralise it's effect. If you prefer it you can use a electric hot air paint gun, they do a most effective job. Afterwards, smooth with glasspaper.
(5) The suction that bare wood normally exerts on paint is checked by a coat of primer. If aluminium wood primer (not aluminium paint) is used it also serves to seal resin knots. Otherwise these should be treated first with knotting. Primer should be applied liberally and allowed to penetrate for a few moments before removing excess with firm strokes of a fairly dry brush along the grain. A second coat is advisable on the end grain of wood. (6) Glasspapering provide a "key" on new wood. Matt paint only needs treatment with sugar soap to provide the necessary grip. Gloss paints should be rubbed all over with a pumice block after the sugar-soap has been rinsed away.

The "Plan" for Metal

The professional touch to your painting
Paintwork in poor condition on metal must be removed with a chemical stripper, and a wire brush used to expose the bright metal beneath rust (rust remover or neutraliser may be necessary in bad cases). On smooth metal provide a "key" with a fairly fine grade of emery cloth or "wet-and-dry" used dry. Before painting iron or steel apply a red oxide primer.

Holding the Brush

The professional touch to your painting If you are using a new paint brush, work it in first on an old piece of wood to remove any loose bristles. Hold the brush pen-wise and use the flat of it, except if you wish to paint a straight line. When the brush is used on edge for greater control (see illustration)

Applying the Paint

The professional touch to your painting
Load the brush with paint to at least half way up the bristles and press out the excess against the inside of the container. Aim to apply just enough paint to obscure completely the finish below. If you fail in this, apply a second undercoat. A thick coat will probably run. If this should happen use a dry brush to redistribute the surplus paint to less well covered areas before it begins to set. Take as your guide an average paint coverage of 80 sq. ft. per pint (one coat only. Apply paint with a vertical stroke, work it in by spreading horizontally and finish off with light, verticle strokes. A feathery touch when applying the top coat will not prevent brush marks showing through from roughly applied undercoating : every layer must be applied with equal care. The quicker drying your paint is the less time there is to work it well in before the surface begins to set in a pattern of bristle furrows. With synthetic enamels, and lacquers in particular "fussing" on the surface. Each undercoat should be allowed to dry for at least 24 hours under reasonably warm, well-ventilated conditions, and then rubbed down with glasspaper and dusted clean, before a further coat of paint is applied.

Roller Painting

The professional touch to your painting Paint rollers (made in broad and narrow sizes) are invaluable time savers, especially with emulsion paints which afterwards can be cleaned from the roller simply by rinsing in warm water and detergent. Inaccessible places, such as corners and edges of walls, should be filled in first with a paint brush. Load your roller with paint from a tray according to the makers instructions. Avoid parallel in roller-painting -criss-cross application works the paint in and gives a more even coverage. And don't press too hard on the roller or slap it up and down because tiny spots will fly all over the place.

Remove fittings

The professional touch to your painting When decorating a room first remove all fittings such as handles,catches and finger plates, unless these are to be painted the same colour as the surface to which they are screwed. Fittings that require painting are then dealt with at any convenient stage in the work.
Before painting begins it is a good idea to clean the room thoroughly with a vacuum cleaner as dust can be almost as big an enemy indoors or out. For the same reason, dust every surface just before you paint it.
Work away from windows, and from the top of the room to the bottom - ceiling first, skirting board last - thus ensuring that no paint can drip onto finished work. In a confined space, such as a cupboard, paint the far wall first. The tops of doors, pelmets and the like may never be seen but paint them just the same. It makes for easier dusting. Don't attempt to do any wallpapering until you have finish painting and the work is quiet dry.

Window Frames

The professional touch to your painting The paint on window frames should overlap on the panes of the glass by about one-sixteenth of an inch to seal the gap between glass and frame. Where condensation might penetrate and cause rust. A steady hand is needed if this is to be done without unsightly paint runs on the glass. If you do get runs they can be removed with a razor blade when dry, but there is a risk of scratching the glass, and it's a fussy job, It is best to mask the panes.


Masking is done with decorators masking tape, which is quiet cheap. This is stuck to the glass leaving the desired sixteenth of an inch of pane visible between masking and frame. When the frame is painted bring your brush strokes well over onto the masking. This is peeled off when the work is quiet dry to reveal a perfectly straight edge.
Alternaatively use a paint shield (you can make your own but it's hardly worth the bother) which although not foolproof as tape is, gives good results with practice. If paint run under the shield, wipe it off at once and begin again. It is important to keep the shield moving as you paint, and to use rather less paint on the brush than usual.

Selecting the Paint

The professional touch to your painting There is a vast range of paints to choose from, including some for special purposes such as checking condensation. Buy from a builders or decorator's merchant, and let the man-behind-the-counter advise you which is best for your purpose. Buy the best paint and brushes you can afford, for prices usually give an accurate indication of quality. Keep to one manufacturers range for each job. His undercoat may not be suitable for another makers paint.
Rather than apply paint direct from the tin in which it was bought, transfer a small quantity at a time to a separate container. A can, bored with holes to make a wire loop handle, will do admirably. a piece of wire stretched taut across the top will be handy to rest your brush on.

Storing Paint

Old paint should be strained through a piece of cloth or wire mesh into a can. Unopened tins are best stored upside down, making the vitally important job of stirring easier when they are used. Paint that is not required for some time may be stored after use with a little genuine turps poured on it's surface. This keeps a skin from forming and does away with the need for subsequent straining. Stir the turps in when the paint is required again. Any small quantities of paint left over are best kept in small screw top jars. (Remember to wipe the top of the jar before screwing down the cap). They come in handy for touching up scratches inflicted after the work is complete.

Preserving Brushes

The professional touch to your painting Brushes keep best suspended in a mixture of equal parts turps and linseed oil. Drill a hole through the handle of each brush so that when threaded on a wire the tips of the bristles are clear of the bottom of the container and not fouling the dissolved paint residue. Shake the brushes well before use again and dry on a rag, otherwise your first paint strokes will be diluted.

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