"If you want a good finish you need a good start"
This is the second part in a series of decorating articles aimed at helping the home decorator get a professional looking finish with tips from the pro’s. Each section gives simple steps to take to prevent common decorating mistakes that are easy to avoid.
Decorating Over Plaster
If the walls have old plaster that is clean and dry then no further special preparation will be required before decorating but any residue should be dusted down before being sealed with an appropriate stabilising solution.
New plaster requires more attention as applying paint before it is ready will drastically affect the finish. How long it takes to dry depends upon the temperature and humidity of the room but can be judged by watching the colour turn from a dark to light pink across the entire wall with no patches. Remove any small bits of residue on the surface with hessian cloth or similar. Following this you will need to coat the surface of new plaster with a primer. Be careful to select the right primer depending on whether you are going to use a water based top coat or an oil based top coat.
Mask Off Separate Sections
It takes just a few minutes to lay some making tape to tricky areas before painting. People skilled in decorating hardly ever use masking tape but there’s no shame in the rest of us paying attention to fine details as sloppy edging between different areas looks shabby. Furthermore, drips of paint from the skirting on to the carpet board are even worse.
Take care to use tape with a low ‘stickyness’ on painted walls as you don’t want to undo previous good work by stripping the coat beneath it when you remove it later. When it comes to laying the tape on the carpet or floorboards try to get one edge actually under the skirting board as any drips down the face of the skirting board can pool underneath the tape. This last decorating tip regarding taking care with the skirting boards is particularly pertinent as these will more than likely be coated with a gloss which is much harder to remove than other water based paints.
Sand Down Surfaces
As with washing walls with sugar soap, sanding down old paint on wooden areas has two benefits. It not only smooths down the surface taking out any unevenness but it provides a better layer for the paint to adhere to giving a smoother finish overall. Use a medium grade paper for general areas with finer grade sand paper for sanding after each coat and the coarse grade for remedial work on rough areas. Using a sanding block makes the task easier, saving your hands getting sore and gives a solid flat contact between the wood and the paper.
Always sand with the grain of the wood to bring out the best surface for painting or varnishing and go the extra mile to sand narrow areas and mouldings where the previous coat of paint is likely to pool. If mouldings are left unsanded the distinct lines between panels become blurred. The edges of mouldings can be sanded with the edge of the sanding block or by folding over the sandpaper. In some cases wetting the sandpaper actually increases the sanding power, just dip the paper in a bucket of water, drip off the excess and use with a sanding block. One last very important decorating tip is to remember to wash off the dust with a clean damp rag or sponge after sanding and allow to dry completely before applying the paint.
Images courtesy of sxc.hu