Once you’ve completed the arduous tasks of preparing to paint the interior of your home (recounted in a previous article), it’s time to have some fun. Painting can be a good time, provided that you have prepared the walls properly, have the right tools for the job and you have adequate time to do the job right. First, let’s get our tools and materials together:

l paint l drop cloths l paint thinner l brushes, 4, 3 and 1 ½ inches l buckets l ladder l rags l painter’s tape l aluminum foil l newspaper l paint edger l rollers l roller pan with screen l roller extender l roller handle l masking tape.

First, a word about different types of paint: latex, or water-based paints, are usually used where there won’t be much need for washing. Enamels, or oil-based paints are used for woodwork and other areas where there might be a lot of handprints. They are easy to clean because of their glossy finish. You’ll find a lot of enamel paint in bathrooms and kitchens for this reason. To estimate how much paint you’ll need, multiply the perimeter of the room by the height of the walls, which will give you the square footage of your room. For ceilings, simply multiply the length by the width. A gallon of paint typically covers 350-450 square feet. You’ll want to overestimate a bit to account for later touch-ups.

Also, it’s important to make sure that all the paint you’ll need in a given room is the same color. While paint stores mix their paints in lots, you’ll want to take all the paint you’ll need in one room and put it together in a bucket, mixing it thoroughly so that you’ll have consistency of color. If the paint is out too long and forms a “skin,” you can strain it through nylon pantyhose.

It’s time to start painting, but first, be sure your head is covered and consider using safety goggles as you’ll be doing the ceiling first. Remember: start at the top and work your way down – ceiling, walls, trim. Paint the ceiling’s width instead of its length to ensure a wet edge to work with. Paint until it’s completed. When you’re painting over your head, paint across your body as opposed to along it to minimize neck and back strain.

Next you’ll do a process called cutting in. With a trim brush, begin by painting a three-inch wide strip along the top of each wall where it meets the ceiling. Do one section at a time, and then use your roller to paint that wall’s surface. This makes it easier to blend between brush and roller. You’ll use this technique also around doors, corners, baseboards and windows before painting the walls.

Using rollers correctly is a tricky proposition as it’s easy to under- or overload the roller with paint. Pour the paint to a ½-inch depth and roll the roller several times to insure it’s uniformly loaded with paint, then roll it over the washboard area of the roller tray, removing excess paint to decrease drips.

After ceilings and walls, it’s time to paint the trim. After protecting floors and walls with tape (use tape on newly painted walls only after 24-48 hours), you’ll start with the edge closest to the wall. Using a 2- or 3-inch brush, apply the paint, being careful not to glob on too much. Keep plenty of rags handy with water or paint thinner to wipe up any drips or spatters. Remember to paint top to bottom, doing the baseboards last.

After you’re done, or at least done for the day, you’ll need to clean your brushes and rollers properly so they can be used again. For water-based paints, use plain soapy water to wash your brushes and rollers. For oil-based paints, you’ll need to use paint thinner and soap and water. First work the thinner into the bristles, squeezing the paint out as you go. After rinsing with plain water, apply more thinner to work out any remaining paint. Finish up by washing them with soap and water as many times as it takes to get out all thinner, rinsing thoroughly until all soap is out. Clean paint trays and roller hardware with thinner or soap and water. Hang everything up to dry.

Leftover paint can be stored successfully for years without degrading its quality. Cover the top of the can with plastic wrap then replace the lid tightly and store upside down. Don’t forget to mark the can with the room, color and date the paint was purchased.

Many people think that when a can is finished, all they have to do is leave it at the curb with the rest of their garbage. But proper disposal of paint is crucial to keeping your environment and ground water uncontaminated. When you’re done with a can, leave it open so that the remainder will dry completely. If there’s enough paint in the can that it won’t dry up, seal it up. Either way, get in touch with your trash service to find out the proper procedure.

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