Thursday, September 10, 2009

Paint Me a River

Or maybe I've used a rivers worth of paint in my lifetime! Maybe a streams worth.
In any event, there are certain truths about painting I have learned over the years.

The first and foremost is painting is like driving. He who holds the brush or wheel is in charge and everyone else is just a backseat driver. It's okay to be as anal as you want as long as you are doing the painting, any comments on color, or skill are unwelcome unless of course you plan on taking over the job. Gene learned this lesson long ago and thank god.

I do not remove switch plates or outlet covers nor do I tape ceilings or moulding. I do tape the floor if I'm doing trim. I do not use drop clothes. If a little itty bit of paint bothers you on a switch plate, replace it, they are .24cents and we have a box of them
or you can take them off for me and put them back on.

It is both faster and easier to touch up the ceiling than tape it. Which brings me to another piece of painting info. Long ago, when they use to actually plaster, the craftsman would leave a nice little trough up by the ceiling. You could set the edge of your brush in there, the paint would flow and if careful and steady, it was rare that you would mar the ceiling. It seems that technique has been lost with the advent of drywall.
Now the guys who did our drywall did a pretty good job and there is a little tip of the hat to that wonderful wall lip, but they have nothing on the skill of craftsmen of old.

The same goes with moulding. If you leave just an bit of room there is a space to run the tip of your brush down by the moulding cleanly.

Don't mess with those silly awkward paint trays. Get yourself a 5 gallon bucket and a painters screen. It's more stable and easier to move around, plus it holds more. It gives you a handy place to put your roller and won't fall off a ladder without really working at it. When not in use it is an excellent place to keep your brushes, rollers and tape all together too.

Flies always drop and die behind big pieces of furniture. Nothing like having to move stuff away from the wall to drive home what a crappy housekeeper you are. And that night you thought you heard the cat horking up a hair ball or mouse guts, you were spot on! If you must have outside help to paint, pre check behind all the stuff to be moved and clean. No point in horrifying friends and family or having an EPA incident. If you have to have company while you work, pick someone non-judgemental, who understands that what happens in the painting room, stays in the painting room and is easily bribed with liver treats.

Wet/Dry vacs do a lousy job on spilled paint. You don't need to test this, just take my word for it. Now, a drop cloth would protect the floor but they also make moving the ladder around harder and those previously mentioned pieces of furniture. For clumsy folks like myself they also increase the chances of tripping with a roller in hand. I find a damp cloth kept handy works just fine for any small drip or splatter.

The ideal painting wall is dust and cobweb free and no higher than 5'8" and has wood that doesn't need to be painted from moulding to 3'. We don't have any walls like that but if we did, I would be in painters heaven.

Practice techniques before you apply them to any room over small closet size. I have done some excellent stenciling work but faux finishes for me come out simply like faux pas in my hands. I've been to Tuscany, and nothing I've ever done looked remotely like what I saw there. It's best if I leave Tuscany to the Tuscans. If they saw my paint job, they would certainly agree.

Lastly, start early. If you get going early, you can get that first coat on before noon and call time, rest on your laurels, moan convincingly that you've painted a WHOLE ROOM and what more could someone want. Isn't dinner out in order? :-)


  1. Great post...I love all your observations about painting........I am in total agreement.
    Nice job, btw.

  2. Great list of painting tips!!

    I especially like the "what happens in the painting room stays in the painting room" - which might only be possible for companions to whom liver is a treat!

    I also like the start early and demand dinner out. (OK, you said it in a much nicer way than that!) But I translated!!

    I haven't seen a painters screen, but it seems like a great idea! I'll have to try to remember it next time we're doing any indoor painting. I don't have anything planned....although our kitchen walls could definitely use new paint!!

    Sue - sitting in her "Tuscan" sunroom!

  3. That was laugh out loud funny. I'm just now out reading blogs after more than a week of our busyness - this was absolutely fun. Well, probably not for you but I laughed my head off.

  4. Sue, the bucket and screen worth a try. So easy and if you have more than a gallon, you can mix the two without a lot of headaches for uniformity of color.
    Your Tuscan room looks nothing like my Tuscan room, trust me. I've never been able to nail the technique
    and kudos to you guys for doing so.

    Hilary, the room will eventually be a nice soft cream. Not only was the technique off in that room but that coral/pinkish/brick color quite hard to live with.

    Sharon, glad you got a chuckle! All painting around here resembles something out of the Keystone cops.

    The first coat is complete on the walls, Sat. is second coat day and then, as Buzz Lightyear says, to trim and beyond......

  5. a real painter - no taping and the bucket with a screen. I worked for a union painting & decorating co in DC for years (we did Smithsonian, White House, etc.) I learned lots of painting tips.......although these guys did use drop cloths, not those plastic ones though, the heavy canvas ones. Good for you painting - want to come over here next???

  6. I don't know how I missed this post - I'm glad to hear of someone else who doesn't believe in taping off. I've found I get more pain underneath the paint!!! I've been known to buy artisit brushes to avoid taping off. One just needs a steady hand!