Painting Tips: Painting Applications

Choosing the Right House Paint Applicator

It is always a good idea to choose good quality paint applicators, not to mention use the correct painting applicator for the specific project being done. This will produce a better looking end result.

Paint Applicators: Brushes

Here is a list of common brushes and their uses:

  • Natural long-bristle brushes - These are suitable for acrylics and water-based paints.
  • Natural short-bristle brushes - These are recommended for alkyd gloss enamels and polyurethane finishes.
  • Synthetic-bristle brushes - Good for acrylics and water-based paints. They are also well suited to rough work, such as brick and masonry work.

Good quality paintbrushes are a wise investment. When finished painting, never allow the brush to dry out. Soak the brush in the recommended solvent, and then wash in warm soapy water or mild detergent. Finally, rinse in cold water, comb natural-bristle brushes straight with a brush comb, and hang from the handle to dry. Brushes should be stored hanging.

Paint Applicators: Rollers

In most cases, a roller is better than a brush for larger surface areas, such as walls. The correct type of roller cover should be used for the type of paint you're working with. Read the label on the roller cover for specifications.

  • Synthetic roller covers are suitable for latex paints.
  • Natural materials, like sheepskin or lambswool, are good for oil-based paints.

The nap, or thickness of the roller cover will also be important, depending on the texture or roughness of the surface being painted:

  • 1/8" to 3/16" - Smooth surfaces like untextured plaster, smooth wood, wallboard, drywall and metal.
  • 3/8" to 1/2" - Medium surfaces like sand finishes, lightly textured plaster or wood, paneling and acoustical tile.
  • 3/4" to 1-1/2" - Rough surfaces like brick, concrete, stucco, textured ceilings or walls, Spanish plaster, concrete block, corrugated metal and rough wood.

Painting Applications: Ceilings

Painting Ceilings

First, use a 2-4" trim brush to "cut in", or paint the edges of the ceiling where it meets the walls. Begin painting the ceiling immediately with a roller, working the shorter dimension of the room. For example: if the room is 6 feet x 10 feet, work across the 6-foot length to help maintain a wet edge. If the room is large, cut in small areas then roll. This will help maintain a wet edge and prevent lap marks.

Note: It is always best to prime ceilings before painting. Ceiling paints are typically flat and porous. Rising heat adds to this porosity, making ceilings very dry and likely to absorb paint quickly. A primer will seal the surface and allow for better coverage and uniformity of the ceiling paint.

Painting Applications: Wall

Painting Walls

Begin any time after the ceiling is thoroughly dry, making sure to paint one wall at a time. "Cut in" (paint the edges) where the wall meets the ceiling or other walls, around door and window trim, and baseboards. If there is a lot of cutting in required, cut in and then paint only a section of the wall at a time to avoid seeing lap marks where the rolled sections meet the brushed edges.

Once a section has been cut in, begin painting the walls immediately, rolling as close to the edges as possible to blend in where you've trimmed. For best coverage, plan to roll out a section about 3 feet x 3 feet with one roller load of paint. Within the square, apply the paint in the form of an "N": straight up for the left side of the N, then down at a 45-degree angle, and up again for the right side of the N. Fill in the center of the N with horizontal strokes from side to side, then lightly smooth with vertical strokes, staying within the 3-foot square. Reload the roller and repeat the N pattern in the next 3-foot square below the first. When a 3-foot wide section is completed from floor to ceiling, move to the next 3-foot wide section, again working from top to bottom.

Painting Applications: Doors

Painting Doors

Before you begin, remove or cover the hinge, knob and latch with masking tape. If some paint does get on the hardware, wipe it away immediately with a soft, damp cloth.

Painting Applications: Painting Paneled Doors

Begin by painting the top panels of the door, painting the molding edges first. Next, paint the center of the panel. The final strokes on vertical panels should be vertical; the final strokes on horizontal panels should be horizontal. Upon completing all panels, paint the raised areas (stiles and rails) between panels. Then paint the vertical stiles and the edges.

Painting Applications: Painting Flush Doors

Paint flush doors the same way you would paint a wall or other flat surface. Paint the edges first, and then fill in the large area. Complete the job by painting the frame and jamb.

Painting Applications: Floors

Painting Floors

The techniques for painting porches and floors are the same as for painting any other large flat surface.

  • First, remove all the furniture from the area.
  • Be sure to remove all traces of wax, and sand the floor lightly to roughen its surface, improving its paint-holding ability.
  • You can use a porch, deck and floor paint.
  • Cut in around the baseboards with a brush, then use a wide wall brush, a medium-pile roller, or a paint-pad applicator for the rest of the floor. If you use an extension handle on a roller or paint pad, you will be able to do the job standing up. Start at the wall farthest from the exit and paint your way out of the area. On most wood floors, plan to apply at least two coats of paint. Let each coat dry to absolute hardness before reentering the room, and wear soft-soled shoes until after the very last coat to avoid marring or scarring the surface.

Painting Applications: Trim

Painting trim is one of the many ways you can liven up interiors or exteriors. Use an accent color that complements the main colors of your wall and ceiling surfaces, or paint your trim white to embolden and emphasize the other colors. Typically, working with trim requires a brush and is more time-consuming than painting large surfaces such as walls. Take your time - it's worth the patience. Again, work top to bottom, and use an angled brush for better control, especially in corners.

Protect your wall and floor surfaces with a wide wallboard knife, a plastic shielding tool or masking tape.

Be sure to wipe the paint off your wallboard knife or shielding tool each time you move it to keep paint from getting on trim and surrounding areas.

Paint deep-patterned surfaces such as ornate trim and moldings with a stiff-bristled brush, like a stenciling brush. Use small circular strokes to help penetrate into the recesses.