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A New Coat

Prep and plan with painting tips from the pros for the freshest, most long-lasting paint job

Painting the inside or outside of your house with a fresh new color is a great way to put your personal stamp on your home. While it may look as simple as dipping a brush in paint and going to work, painting is like many other jobs, requiring preparation and a plan in order to get the best results.    

“People underestimate the painting process,” said Joe Helm, general manager and co-owner of Helm Paint and Decorating (helmpaint.com). “It’s one of the easiest home projects to do, but there are steps you have to take for it to work out.”    

Helm said a common mistake New Orleanian homeowners make is painting over oil-based paint that has been in place for decades with a latex paint. As a result, the new coat of paint will not stick; rather, it will peel easily and make a mess. On a more general level, many homeowners fail to research what kind of paint should go on a specific surface.

There are a few things you can do to make sure your paint will be long-lasting. Most importantly, the paint needs something to hold on to.

You can physically abrade the surface by sanding it, which helps the paint grip to the wall. You can also use a coat of primer paint. Selecting the right primer paint depends on the job. It’s a good idea to research whether solvent-based primer paint or water-based primer paint would work best.

Helm said another common error is people select a color they think will look good in their house, but don’t try out samples first. This can end up being a $120 to $150 mistake if a person buys a couple of cans of paint in one color and then decides they don’t like it. It’s wise to spend a few dollars on samples to be sure and then do the painting.

Another element Helm says aspiring painters should consider is lighting. Is there a lot of natural light in the room? Do incandescent bulbs provide the right kind of light? These are just some of the factors that can change how the color of paint can appear in a room.

“You need to get your color in your home in your light in order to make a good judgment,” said Helm.

On interior walls, Helm says it is not a good idea to use paints with flat finishes.as they’re not very durable. When people inevitably put hands or fingers on the wall, the paint will hold on to the oils and dirt and the wall will look grimy. It is better to use paints that are washable or wipeable, like those with an eggshell finish.

“Eggshell finishes are much more functional in everyday life,” said Helm.

Selecting a brush can also be an important step. The Ask Sherwin Williams website (sherwin-williams.com) says natural-bristle brushes are best for applying oil-based paints, varnishes, shellac, and polyurethane. Because the tips of these brushes are prone to splitting, it holds more paint and creates a smoother paint release and finish. Blended nylon/polyester brushes are easy to clean and work well with all kinds of latex paints. These brushes are also durable and able to handle multiple projects. They can last for years if cared for properly. Polyester brushes are also good for latex paints. They hold shape and stiffness in any paint and apply paint smoothly and evenly.

Like many things in life, doing your homework before you paint will go a long way towards finishing a successful project. It’s also important to know your limitations and not be afraid to admit you don’t know something.

“When in doubt, ask,” said Helm. 

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