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Spray Equipment

There are two kinds of sprayers used for painting houses. Compressors are large cylindrical tanks, pressurized by electric motors, which force paint through a long hose and out a spray nozzle. They are widely used by professionals because they are fast, durable, and adaptable for different kinds of jobs. But they are expensive and cumbersome. What's more, compressor sprayers generate a lot of stray mist, and they should be used with a respirator for lung protection.

Small, self-contained hand-held sprayers are a better choice for most homeowners. They are lightweight, easy to handle, and inexpensive, costing roughly $100 plus attachments, they may also be rented at equipment shops. Because they produce little stray mist, these sprayers don't require you to wear a respirator, and they can be used indoors. There are a few disadvantages to hand-held sprayers, however. They aren't as quick or as versatile as compressors; they tend to be fragile, with a number of plastic parts that wear out with use; they have a tendency to accumulate paint near the spray outlet, which causes paint spitting; and their paint capacity means frequent refills. Nonetheless, these sprayers produce excellent results and save you lots of time.

A sprayer's greatest value is in painting tricky surfaces, such as shutters, louvered doors, wicker furniture, picket fences, and fancy molding along the roof line of the house. It should be mentioned that there is some controversy in the painting profession over whether sprayed paint is as durable as brushed paint. My experience has been that, if applied properly, sprayed paint will last as long as brushed paint.

Spraying Siding

If you have never used a sprayer before, get the feel of it by practicing on scrap wood or news-paper taped to a wall.
Before getting down to work, remove outlet plates, thermometers, plant holders, and all other hardware that would be damaged by paint spray. Apply masking tape to vents, hose faucets, and other immovable hardware. Cover masonry and bushes with drop cloths.
Hold the sprayer with two hands at all times: one hand grabs the sprayer handle and pulls the trigger, and the other hand supports the paint cup. The paint cup clips have a tendency to come undone, dumping paint on your shoes.
With the sprayer at head level, pull the trigger and start moving the gun downward until it is level with your waist; then slowly bend at the knees and ease into a squatting position, continuing to hold the sprayer level with your waist. This technique enables you to spray continuously down the siding. Squat as far as you can without getting uncomfortable, and release the trigger just before you stop. Stand up and make another vertical pass to one side of the first.
Allow the spray to overlap onto trim boards to guarantee that paint covers the surface all the way to its edge. And overlap each pass of the sprayer by 1 or 2 inches to ensure that you don't leave vertical strips of unpainted siding. The spray should hit the surface at a slightly upward angle. Tipping the sprayer back so the spray shoots upward a bit ensures that the siding lips will be painted. Do not tip the sprayer forward. Paint will spill out of the spray gate opening.

Move the sprayer at a constant speed at all times. Uneven downward speed will result in uneven paint application: some parts of the siding may get so much paint that sags develop; other siding areas may not be fully covered and show bare spots.

Keep the sprayer a constant distance from the siding. I find about 8 inches is best; this keeps the paint flow as thick as possible while at the same time prevents sagging. If the trim boards and siding are to be the same type and color of paint, be sure to angle the spray so that their joints are fully covered with paint. Keep a 21/2-inch beveled brush nearby to smooth out spits and sags; these may be caused by holding the sprayer too close to the surface or by moving it too slowly.

Once you start painting with a sprayer, try not to let it stand unused for more than 30 minutes.Otherwise, the paint will begin to harden, which ruins the plastic parts. To minimize the number of breaks you have to take, organize your spraying sequence. Get everything ready to be painted, apply masking tape, lay drop cloths, and so on. Then fill the sprayer with paint, spray, and promptly clean all paint out of the unit. Manufacturers' recommendations for cleaning their sprayers do vary. But it is essential to clean the sprayer completely after each use. You should immerse all plastic parts in clear paint thinner, if you're using oil paint, or very warm water, if you're using latex. A gallon bucket with at least a quart of liquid will do. Rub off all paint accumulations with your fingers as soon as possible. Once the major chunks of paint are re-moved from the plastic pieces, scrub out remaining paint deposits with a hard-bristled toothbrush. Clean all parts as thoroughly as possible; be sure to get even the smallest bits of paint out of cracks and joints. Finally, dry off each plastic part with clean paper towels or rags. Thorough cleaning will help your sprayer last for years.

Spraying from a Can

The most likely candidates for spraying with a can of paint are iron railings and exterior lanterns. Iron railings take forever to paint with a brush, but hardly any time with a spray can. Wire brush the rust off the railing, place masking tape around the concrete where the railing post meets the walkway, lay a drop cloth under the railing, and spray. Work systematically. Paint the undersides first, then the sides, then the top. Or vice versa. This ensures that you do not miss any spots.

Lanterns should be removed from the house before spraying; do so only after turning off the power at the breaker or fuse box. Pop out the glass, take off the rust with a wire brush, lay the fixture on newspaper, and spray with rust inhibitive paint.

Spray only in calm weather, and keep an extra can of spray paint on hand to ensure you don't run out with only a few feet left. Don't bother painting gutters and downspouts with rust inhibitive paint, unless they are bare metal and require a metal primer. I've found that ordinary house paint adheres very well to metal surfaces as long as peeling paint has been scraped off. Remember that you can hide the marks of dry, spilled paint on roofs and drive-ways by spraying with flat black or grey paint.
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More than One Color

A multitone paint scheme can really jazz up a room. But it is somewhat more complicated to apply. You must be certain to let the first color dry before beginning to apply the second color. For example, if the ceiling is white and the walls are blue, paint the ceiling and let it dry. Then paint the walls. After the walls dry, paint the woodwork. This prevents you from mixing wet blue paint with white and getting a rainbow of dark and pale blues.

Because latex dries quickly, you can paint any room using any color combination without waiting for hours on end; because oil dries slowly, however, you may need to wait as long as 24 hours before being able to continue painting walls or woodwork without risking paint rainbows.
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Getting Ready to Paint a Room

Take the small furniture out of the room. Large items can be moved to the center of the room, or a minimum from the walls. Cover them with a clean drop cloth or, better yet, a new plastic sheet under a heavy drop cloth. You need to take everything off the walls, of course, including picture nails and outlet plates. Wall cracks and holes should be speckled and sanded smooth. Clean cobwebs out of the corners. Use masking tape to protect hinges, doorknobs, mirrors, built ins, and tile. Lay drop cloths to cover all of the floor.

Arrange lamps to provide plenty of light. For makeshift work lights, wrap foil reflectors around the shade harp of the table lamps, and use 100-watt bulbs if the lamps are rated to take them.

The Ceiling

When painting a room, the ceiling comes first, then the walls, and finally the woodwork. Cut out the entire ceiling, then roll it. To make things easier, try these ideas. First, rough cut out the ceiling perimeter so that the paint extends into the ceiling and overlaps about 1 inch down on the wall. By making sure that paint is fully covering the ceiling-to-wall joint, you'll make fine cutting out on the wall much easier. Second, when you're ready to roll, your first roller stroke can be along this rough cutout line, instead of beginning right away with the W stroke. This extends the cutout farther into the ceiling so that later on you can feather the roller into the ceiling-to-wall joint with-out slamming into the wall. Roll carefully along the cutout line so that you don't scrape the roller end on the wall.

Roll the rest of the ceiling. Rolling a W on the ceiling is sometimes awkward, because you have to work with an extension pole, so if it's easier for you, roll on the paint in straight lines. Leave small spaces between strokes, then double back to smooth out the paint.
The final strokes should all be in one direction and feathered into all previously rolled paint.
The Walls

Before cutting out the walls, allow the ceiling paint to dry, 30 minutes to 2 hours for latex, 2 to 24 hours for oil). Once the ceiling-to-wall joint is dry, you can start with the walls. If you are applying the same paint on the walls, you'll notice that the ceiling-to-wall joint is already cut out from your work on the ceiling. Now just rough cut out the wall-to-wall joints, run the roller along the ceiling-to-wall cutout line to extend it farther into the wall.

If you are applying a different color paint to the walls, you must fine cut out the ceiling-to-wall joint with the wall paint. To paint a crisp edge along the ceiling, I find it easiest if I first lay a thick strip of paint along the wall below the ceiling joint, then carefully draw the brush against the bristles for a second pass to bring the paint to that joint. Next, I pull the brush back along the wall to smooth and spread the paint. If this doesn't work for you, try the reverse: Draw the brush along the ceiling-to-wall joint against the bristles, then extend this cutout line with a broader second stroke. Finally, I cut out the wall-to-wall joints and above the baseboards, and I'm ready to roll the walls.

The best way to cover a wall quickly and evenly is by rolling "Ws." Note that the first W spreads a lot of paint over a large area, leaving V gaps. If you were to cover all of an area at once, the paint would be too thick where you first placed the roller on the wall, because progressively less paint is laid down as you move outward.

Work from top to bottom, starting at an upper corner. Next, backtrack to smooth out the thick paint. The finish strokes, in the last illustration, serve to smooth out the paint lines. Run the roller vertically, bottom to top. As the roller nears the end of the block, feather the paint by slowly pulling the still-spinning roller off the surface.

Repeat these steps to cover the wall with paint, feathering each W in turn for a smooth job. After allowing the wall paint to dry, use a brush to paint the woodwork, windows, doors, baseboards, ceiling, and chair moldings.
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Rolling, Cutting Out, and Spraying

Rolling and spraying are two techniques that really speed up painting. Imagine how long it would take you to paint four living room walls with a brush alone using a roller saves you many hours and leaves a smoother finish. And think how many Saturdays it might take you to brush paint on porch railings or attic vents, like those on the house shown on the jacket. An inexpensive hand held spray gun paints intricate pieces like these quickly and easily. In this chapter you'll learn how and when to use rollers and sprayers to your best advantage.

Using a Roller

Rollers are terrific. They spread finishes quickly, easily, and neatly. You can use them indoors and outdoors, on ceilings, walls, and floors, and with both oil and latex paints. You need to match the surface texture to the roller nap—long nap for painting rough surfaces such as brick and cinder block, medium nap for painting textured surfaces such as drywall, and thin nap for polyurethaning smooth surfaces such as hardwood floors.

Indoor painting goes quickly with a roller. You start from the ceiling and work your way down. Cut out and roll the ceiling, then cut out and roll the walls, then paint the woodwork.

I recommend using latex paint indoors. It dries quickly, doesn't emit annoying or toxic fumes, and leaves no lap marks. You just cut out and roll, cut out and roll, all at your own pace, taking breaks whenever you wish. For example, you can cut out, allow the paint to dry overnight, then roll the following morning.

Rolling with Oil

You may use oil paint, but it requires a different application technique because it may leave lap marks. This requires you to plan a painting strategy and to work quickly. Although oil paint does not dry as quickly as latex, you are apt to create these shiny marks when you apply paint over any area that has already been done and allowed to dry. This means that you cannot cut out a large room and then leisurely paint the ceiling and walls: the cut-out paint will have dried enough to create lap marks along the corners.

To keep a wet paint edge at all times, cut out only as much of the room as you can roll in 15 minutes. Then roll within that section. Next, cut out a another modest-sized section immediately to the left or right, and roll that. Be certain to feather the roller into the previously painted section, both to keep the edges wet and also to smooth out paint lines. You must continue painting until you either finish that particular ceiling or wall or reach a natural break such as a chair molding.

Cutting Out

As efficient as a roller is, it can't reach joints between ceiling and walls. The job of painting these joints with a brush is known as cutting out. This strip is then overlapped with the roller.

There are two types of cutting out: I call them rough cutout and fine cutout. A rough cutout is filling the joints with paint as quickly as possible with no regard for neatness or accuracy; a fine cutout is carefully guiding the brush along the joint so that paint does not overlap onto the other side. Only when there are different colored paints on either side of the joint do you need to fine cutout. To cut out, use beveled brush.

For rough cutouts, paint an inch or two out onto each surface, so that the roller can get close enough to overlap. Don't try to run a tidy strip, because the roller overlap will cover the rough cutout edge. You can brush either vertically or horizontally.

We find that a doughnut roller makes the rough cutout a lot easier. Just dip the doughnut into the roller pan, and run it up and down along the joint. By attaching an extension pole to the doughnut roller, you can cut out with little ladder climbing.

When you're cutting out along trim that will be painted another color or with enamel, you should overlap the wall paint. Wall paint that overlaps the trim will be covered by a careful job with the trim paint. So, there is no point in cutting out the wall paint to a razor edge. Moreover, overlapping the dark wall paint onto the trim makes fine cutting out much easier because it creates a smooth surface over which to paint.

When fine cutting out, put paint on your brush in order to avoid dripping. This requires many more dips into the paint bucket, but will enable your brush to leave a sharper cutout line on the molding because you can control the paint flow.

Be your own worst critic when it comes to fine cutouts. It's a painter's paradox that the smallest areas grab the most attention. This care separates the pretty good job from the superb job.

Getting a straight fine cutout line is much easier if your first pass totally covers the molding edge. If you miss, and have to go back and touch up, this puts extra paint on the molding and increases the chance of drips and an uneven edge.

If you have trouble holding the brush steady, drag your pinky finger along the wall or apply masking tape to the wall when painting either molding or contrasting colors on walls and ceiling. Be aware, however, that paint may creep under the tape despite your best efforts; at other times, some of the new wall paint may come off with the tape. To touch up these spots, make a touch-up brush for very delicate work by cutting 20 or so bristles off brush with a utility knife and taping them together.

Get Rolling

A roller will perform for you much better if you take the trouble to properly load it with paint. Allow the roller to sink halfway into the paint pool. While spreading paint on the roller by moving it up and down the ramp of the pan, occasionally lift it and let it spin so that the dry areas on the nap do not keep coinciding with those on the pan. Paint should be evenly spread through the nap before rolling.
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Any surface you don’t want coated must be masked before you begin to spray paint. Although an airless sprayer can be controlled more readily than an air compression sprayer, they both create a mist of paint that can drift onto any nearby surface. Outdoors you need to shield shrubbery and protect your car. Indoors, carry out all the customary preparations, and in addition, mask all windowpanes with newspaper held with masking tape.

Set up your spray equipment according to the manufacturer’s directions. If you rent a sprayer, be sure to get instructions with it. Flush the unit with a solvent—water for latex paint or mineral spirits for oil-based. Then start pumping paint either through a suction tube and hose in a paint can or from the paint holder attached to the nozzle. Check that the spray tip you pick is the right one. Thin stains take the smallest spray tip openings, heavy latex paints, the largest. If you’ve never used a sprayer before, first load it with water and spray against an outside wall or a piece of scrap plywood. Without making a mess, you can practice using the controls until you are comfortable with them.

Hold a spray painter 25 to 30 cm from the surface and keep it upright. Try a sample spray to check the pattern. The ideal spray pattern is wide, finely atomized and even throughout. Three variables determine that pattern: the viscosity of the paint, the size of the spray tip and the pressure control. Because it is the easiest variable to adjust, experiment first with turning the pressure control knob. If changing the pressure doesn’t help, check the tip and the thickness of the paint. Too small a spray tip for thick paint causes heavy spatters in the middle of the spray and lighter coverage at the edges. Using too large a tip with thin paint produces a coarse spray. The design will be widely spattered and the coverage poor.

Arcing the sprayer as you swing your arm creates thin spots at the edges and too much paint in the middle. To overcome the temptation to swing your arm, move your whole body parallel to the surface. Cleaning up. Pump excess paint out of the hose first. Then use the appropriate solvent to flush out the sprayer. Clean individual components by soaking them in the applicable solvent. When the sprayer is reassembled, lubricate metal parts with an all-purpose oil for rust protection.

Spray it Safe

An airless spray gun must be used with great respect. Paint is forced through the tip at pressures up to 3,000 pounds per sq.-in. Such powerful propulsion can inject paint through your skin and into your body, causing serious injury that requires immediate attention in a hospital emergency room. When using an airless paint sprayer, at all times follow these safety rules:

Never point a spray gun at yourself or at any other person.
Keep children and pets well away when you are spray painting.
Unplug airless equipment before unclogging a spray tip or before any other disassemble or maintenance procedure.
Never leave an airless sprayer lying about unattended.
Always wear safety glasses and a dual cartridge respirator with the proper cartridge.
Spray Techniques

Keep the sprayer parallel to the wall. As you move along, flex your wrist to maintain the same 30cm distance from the surface. This will result in an even, consistent spray pattern. Make 1 meter horizontal sweeps across the surface you are spraying, slightly overlapping each strip of paint. Go beyond the edges of the area before starting the return pass. The secret to good spraying is multiple thin coats.

A viscosity test stick helps to gauge whether paint has been thinned enough for a sprayer. To be usable, paint must drain from a notch to a particular point on the stick in a predetermined number of seconds. Most paints need at least 10 percent dilution for spraying.

Straining paint through several layers of nylon stocking material or cheesecloth will prevent lumps and debris from clogging the spray tip.
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Brick, Concrete, Cinderblock, and Stone

Once it starts to peel, painted masonry is the worst surface you will ever prep. If you have large masonry walls with lots of peeling, consult a builder or mason for advice on how best to deal with the situation. Peeling paint is often symptomatic of crumbling brick and mortar, which means going beyond merely repainting to structural repair. Such a job is beyond the scope of this book.

How would you know if your brick is structurally deficient? First, look at the paint chips. If there is more than a dusting of mortar and brick stuck to the paint chips, then the surface itself is contribut-ing to your peeling problem. To check further, scrape into peeling spots on the wall with a putty knife or scraper. If you dig into the brick itself, so that chunks are loosened, then the brick is weak and won't provide a sound surface for a new coat of paint, no matter how well you prep it. If the surface is strong and structurally sound, then you can prep the wall yourself with a high degree of confidence that the new paint will stick.

If the painted wall is mildewed or chalking, wash it with TSP and bleach, allow it to dry at least 24 hours, and then scrape. This seems backwards, but moisture will help to lift the old paint from the surface, making your scraping job easier.

Scrape all of the wall. Work top to bottom, left to right. If you scrape only those areas that are visibly peeling, you will probably miss spots that already have a loose footing and are poised to peel within a short time. Paint is notorious for forming bubbles on brick. These bubbles go undetected unless a scraper passes directly through them and breaks them off. Brush off all dust and mortar chips, and immediately spot paint the wall. Scraped areas that are outdoors become filled with dew overnight, causing, paint edges to lift and leave a small air pocket between the remaining paint and the brick. This means re-scraping the same spots. You can avoid this extra work by brushing on an exterior latex house paint (not primer) right after scraping to seal the paint edges.

If the wall is bare brick, to be painted for the first time, wash the wall with a 15 percent solution of muriatic acid. Do not use muriatic acid on painted surfaces.
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Iron Railings

Iron railings can be handsome ornaments to a walkway or staircase, but they rust like crazy. Metal paint helps lock out rust and covers the iron's naturally lackluster finish with a shiny and smooth coating. If your iron railing is now painted, consider repainting it.

Remove loose paint and rust with a wire brush attachment for a disk-sander or electric drill. Use a wire brush by hand in corners where the power tool cannot reach.

Brush off the railing, and immediately paint the stripped areas with a rust-inhibitive aerosol spray paint. Rust will appear on the railing over-night if you put off painting, possibly requiring you to repeat some prep work.

Spray paint manufacturers recommend using a primer spray paint on bare metal before applying a final spray coat of regular paint. My experience has been that a first coat of regular paint is just as durable.
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Wooden Steps

There isn't much to say about steps if you already have read the earlier sections of this chapter. The only stair parts you need to know are treads, the flat steps you walk on, and risers, the vertical boards between the treads.

The single rule to follow when prepping wooden steps is order: start from the top and work your way down. You'll need to angle the sander's wheel as much as 30 degrees in order to use the edge of the disk to chip away paint from risers. Risers are often too narrow to allow the disk to fit in enough to remove all of the paint. But any remain-
ing paint can be feathered so that risers look and feel smooth. Scrape the corners well, especially where hand-rail posts meet the treads. These corners harbor paint chips and dust that can prevent the paint from adhering, especially if exposed to direct rain-fall and sunlight. On treads, imperfections in the surface may cause the new paint to lift because of the wear the surface receives.

Screw or nail any loose treads or risers into the stair frame or into adjacent treads or risers. Creaking wood is a sure sign of a loose board. Screws and nails should be countersunk and puttied. Not only, will this solve the creaking noise, the step will no longer flex under foot, keeping the new paint coat from tearing away from the board in the future. You also can screw L-shaped mending plates to the underside of the creaking or loose step to provide additional support. Another out-of-sight technique is to hammer wooden wedges, just like those described in the section on shutter repair, into cracks between treads and risers from underneath the steps. This pushes separated boards back together. Molding strips can then be cut to conceal the gaps between the treads and risers on the visible side of the stairs.
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Prepare the Shutters

The storm window has long replaced the shut-ter as a guard against the elements. Only older and more expensive homes still have shutters that are actually capable of swinging. Nonetheless, shutters are an inheritance, reminiscent of a time when homes had more character and uniqueness. Mod-ern plastic shutters are no more than sturdy plastic sheets molded into wood-grained louvers. They are screwed directly into the siding. New wooden shutters are more expensive and are either hinged or attached directly to the siding with nails or screws. New wooden shutters are more attractive, but they require priming and painting, or two coats of stain, before installation. And in time they will split and peel.

To prepare a shutter for painting, you'll have to remove it. If the shutter is hinged, carefully lift it straight up to avoid bending the hinge pin. If the shutter is nailed, gently pry it from the wall with a pry bar or crowbar. Put wooden blocks between the bar and the shutter to keep from crushing the wood.

Place the shutter on the ground and remove all screws. Hammer out nails backwards until the heads pop out, then pull the nails out with a claw hammer. Use new screws and nails to re-install the shutter, but keep a few of the old ones for samples when picking out new screws and nails at the hard-ware store.

Don't neglect labeling the shutters if they are hung on pins. Each shutter has a unique pin and hinge placement, and it isn't likely to fit on every pin set. Even if shutters are nailed or screwed to the siding, it's still a good idea to label them, because most homes have windows and shutters of several sizes. As you take the shutters off the wall, turn them painted side down and note their locations on their backsides by either scratching the wood with an electric pencil or writing on tape. Labeling shutters is easy. For example, if you have four second-story windows in the front of your house, the pair of shutters belonging to the farthest left window can be marked FT1 (F = front, T = top, 1= first window, moving left to right), written on mask-ing tape stuck to the frame. Then the shutters for the window far to the right would bear FT4 and so forth.
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