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Even before my dear daughter leaves us on Labour Day weekend to head off on her own adventure known as "college" I kinda figured we'd start with some smaller projects.

Like painting the man child's room.

The whole thing with painting is: a) it's a super cheap way to make a BIG difference in the look of your home b) if you screw it up - fixing it is also cheap and easy. Honestly, paint is just THE biggest bang for your buck.

So, the Man child is off in St Louis for the summer and not due back until late September. Time to paint. He picked his own colours when we moved in and painted all the rooms. Honestly, it wasn't a BAD blue, just a little dark. Time to neutralize all that dark a bit.

We're still waiting on some funds to come in so - an old trick of mine. Go through the cans of left over paint from other projects and see if we have something already in stock that'll work. In this case - 'Soft Wheat'. We're not sure what the previous owners used it for as I can't see it used anywhere else in the house. Ok, problem, we only have ONE can, and it's a very dark colour we're painting over. General rules say, 'buy a can of primer to cover a dark colour before painting with a light one'. This is true. However, we're not covering fresh plaster, or stains that could bleed through - so there's really no need for the sealing properties of primer. We have a can of base white, that'll work. (Do note, this works because it's what I have on hand - generally speaking you will find that a 4 ltr can of primer is a fair bit cheaper than a 4 ltr can of base white anything.)

Again due to the limited supply of paint, and the fact we don't want to completely destroy the man child's sense of self in his room we're only going to paint the top half and add a chair rail. It's all: looks architectural, saves paint, saves time, saves work, and solves the problem. We're all about the short cuts, BUT, ONLY AS LONG AS THEY WORK,. I know that sounds obvious, but it's not always. I try to save time and money and effort and reuse as much as possible; but, in the end, if it looks like it was put together using bailing wire and spit, or it's not safe, not to code, then it's time to think of a better solution. James and I work very hard at saving money (we don't have a lot to spend on this), but never at the expense of doing a job properly.

Prep Work:
Actually painting is about the smallest part of any painting job. The lion's share of the work is in the prep. What condition are the walls in? Do they need holes filled, cracks? If the walls are in truly dreadful condition consider re-drywalling them. For minor imperfections any plaster patching compound like Polyfilla will do. Things to consider. The higher the gloss level of a paint the more it will show imperfections, but the more scrubbable it will be. Flat paint won't show many wall imperfections, but will pick up every greasy hand print laid on it. This is why satins or eggshell finishes tend to be popular for general usage on walls and semi-gloss is traditionally used for trims, and kitchens and bathrooms - where scrubbability is important.

Now that the walls have any dings patched up and sanded, they need to be cleaned. In the case of this room the paint job on it was only 2 years old - but still general household dust and grime and cooking and ... well the walls still need cleaning first. I always use TSP, an excellent and inexpensive degreaser. Don't skimp on rinsing the residue off with a clear water and a rag after either. If you have had to patch with a plaster compound you will need to use a primer coat to seal the plaster.

There are a lot of methods one can use for doing the line on the wall for painting the upper half. Some are better than others, some are cooler than others. Me? I'm a bit of a gadget freak; a Rotary Laser Level Kit made the job exceptionally simple. However, if you don't have one on hand, and doing the job isn't sufficient excuse to go out and buy yourself an $80 laser toy you can always use a tape measure and a chalk line (helps to have two people available for this method). Last but not least a loooong level, a pencil and a tape measure, but this method is the most prone to error.

Cutting In:
Cutting in is the process of outlining the area to be painted to get the paint right into the corners, and to prevent your roller from getting paint on surfaces you don't want. The question, at least for me, is often, "to tape, or not to tape". I've done both, still often do, it's a matter for me of the size of the job, and my mood at the time. Tape is a bit finicky to put on and is time consuming of itself and a lot of professional painters do insist on taping. On the other hand, a steady hand, a bit of patience and some practice, it's not too hard to do freehand. I learned the knack of it from my older sister, a painting contractor who learned it from her painting contractor ex-husband. Generally speaking, I'll freehand the job if it's a smaller job overall, and I'm not feeling rushed about it. In some ways mindset has more to do with how neatly a job turns out than skill.

I use an angled brush for cutting in. Be careful not to overload the brush with paint, you don't want it dripping, then using the angle and holding the brush at about 45° to the wall, start away from the corner and draw a line into the corner noting at the tip of your bristles there is a small bead of paint. It's that bead you're actually painting with - your brush should never actually get tight into the corner. It does take a steady hand, and patience, and if it doesn't work for you use tape. No biggie.

Cutting inCutting in

The Painting:
You'd think that painting a wall with a roller would be a bit of a 'no brainer', but I've discovered the hard way over the years; it is possible to do it wrong.

Best advise, load your roller - but don't overload it. You want it saturated, but not dripping. Start your roll on in a wide W pattern - this prevents the first roll of the run from being thick with paint and the last overly thin.


Then work from left to right over the entire height of the wall keep the handle side of the roller to the right - the direction you're working in. The handle side receives more pressure, and thus releases more paint, if you work away from that you end up with lines in the paint, but if you work toward and roller over that area you end up with a much cleaner finish.

Base white

In the end painting the chair rail the same colour as the supper wall makes it hard to see in the photos and subtle in person, but trim touches like these do add a little something. You don't have to do crown moldings to give a ceiling a nice finished look - a bit of 1/4 round can give it the look of a nicely turned seam on a suit.

Paint finished

(In the end, we did a lot of patching the walls when we removed the baseboards for the purposes of redoing the floors - the remaining paint we had in his blue colour had spoiled and rotted. So again - we went with what we had - 4 ltrs of the blue from the Feychild's room. The final blue is a bit brighter now as well.)


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July 2011

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