Heritage Restoration, Inc.

Why Painting Is A Craft Trade

I recently attended a conference with some of the most diverse international craftspeople in the world.  But what did they all have in common?  A desire to learn AND exchange trades knowledge and techniques. They put the company shirts aside and stand as a group of passionate craftspeople, where the goal was to learn and return to do their best work on every job, every time.  There are good people out there; it is just a matter of sifting through all the muck.

 

Like every skilled trade, some aspects of painting can be picked up rather quickly, but can take a lifetime to master.  I spoke with many painters and the consensus was that one couldn’t adequately write techniques, you have to do it AND learn it from someone who knows.  But there are some basic techniques that can make every job look better, last longer, and in the end, cost less.

 

Preparation

Same old song, good painting is all in the prep.

  • Sanding- Glossy surfaces must be sanded with at least 100 grit sandpaper or a sanding block.  There are some chemicals that kill the gloss, but they should be reserved for soft or paint that peels when you sand it.   Sand or scrape off nubs, bad brush marks or drips.
  • Fill holes- There are hundreds of fillers, depending on inside or outside use, big or small holes, quick or slow dry, before or after primer. If you have a wood hole bigger than a dime, move up to a two-part filler.  For smaller holes, I like the “fluff” one step spackle, it shrinks less and dries fast.  Have a variety of fillers on hand, or you will end up using the same one everywhere, which may not be good.  Plaster should be repaired with plaster, not joint compound.
  • Caulk- Inside, caulk everywhere where trim meets wall, it looks good and seals out moving air.  Outside, be more cautious, since it keeps water in better than it keeps it out.  Caulk outdoor vertical seams the top of horizontal pieces, but always leave the horizontal bottoms open for drainage.  If the gap is bigger than 1/8”, stuff backer rod in the seam then caulk over it.  It prevents wasting caulk, as well as provides a better bond.  Cut the tube end to release as much as you need, wipe with finger or a wet rag, then wrap a wet rag into a flat putty knife and square off the edge.
  • Prime- Primer is necessary on all bare wood and suspect finishes.  Primer is designed to bond to a well-prepped surface.  The finish paint provides the protection.  The primer acts as a “bridge coat”, ensuring the topcoat finish becomes even and has a proper bond to the primer.   Quick dry shellac based sealers are not the same as a primer, and should be reserved for sealing bleeding knots, or hitting things quickly that were missed.  They do not act the same as a full-fledged primer.

 

Painting

Painting is said to be the easiest part of painting, which is true for a professional.  A practiced painter uses a drop cloth, has clean clothes, a paint free body and set-ups are neat and splatter free.  While you are painting, be sure to keep your hands, brush and area free of wet paint, since it becomes a nuisance and can quickly spread to places you do not want to paint.  Here are some tips:

  • Pour about ¾” of paint into a bucket.  That is all you need.  The brush should sit in the bucket without being covered to the metal heel.
  • Dip and Slap- The idea is to load the brush as much as you can without it dripping.  Dip the brush in the paint and slap it against the side of the bucket.  If you need less, dip it less.  If needed wipe against the top of the bucket, but then you get paint all over the edge, and eventually on you.
  • Brush with the grain of the wood.
  • Cutting- Do not go right for the cut with a loaded brush.  Spread the paint away from the cut area first, and then go for the cut.  Watch the farthest bristles towards the cut.  Then go back and spread the paint evenly.
  • Paint as much as the loaded brush will go.  After applying, complete brush with a full stroke, from dry to wet.
  • Paint until the brush is “dry”.  Don’t overload the brush.  Wipe off the brush’s excess paint on the edge of something then brush it out.
  • Work with a wet edge.  It prevents “flashing” or an uneven gloss.

 

This just scratches the surface.  Slapping paint on is easy, and most of the time most people do not see what a professional sees.  But you can be a better painter; you just need the right experience.

One thought on “Why Painting Is A Craft Trade

  1. tinagleisner

    You did a nice job of covering a big list, in a very concise way that I certainly appreciate … and hope homeowners wanting to do the work themselves will rethink the job & either learn more so they can do it right, or hire a pro.

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