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Painting 101: Wake up a Dreary Room

Posted on Mar 4, 2022 in Blog

Nothing wakes up a dreary room more than fresh paint. Though it seems like a daunting task to many, the finished product is quite rewarding. So where do you get started?  


Properly preparing the surface can mean the difference between a good paint job and one that is mediocre at best. To properly wash the walls, a task absolutely necessary for a good paint job, use T.S.P. (trisodium phosphate) available in the paint section of any home improvement store. 

After washing and rinsing the walls, fill in any nail holes or cracks in the wall with spackle. Wait for the filler to dry, and then lightly sand the patched areas using a pole- or hand-sander. Remove any dust with a tack cloth and prime the patched areas to ensure an even paint finish.

Choosing Latex or Alkyd

If you are unaware what type of paint is currently on your walls, you can do a simple test by wiping a swab of acetone on the painted surface. If paint comes off the surface easily, the paint is latex (water-based.) Otherwise, it is alkyd (oil-based.) You can apply latex paint over latex paint. You can also apply latex over alkyd, but you must prepare the surface properly or the new coat of paint will peel off. Sanding is a vital step when painting latex over alkyd. A latex primer needs to be used prior to applying the first coat of latex paint to cover the alkyd. Latex is easy to wash off hands and paint tools, is more environmentally friendly, and contrary to what many believe, is durable and washable. 

Choosing a Finish

Your selection process is not finished yet. You need to decide on the type of finish. Flat paint has more “hide”, meaning it doesn’t show tiny flaws in the surface as readily as other sheens. The downfall of flat paint is that it may need to be wiped clean more often due to children’s inevitable hand prints on your walls.  High Gloss has a very polished look, is very easy to wipe clean, but has less “hide”.  Low Gloss and Semi-Gloss are the two finishes that fall between Flat and High Gloss. Each brand of paint may use its own terminology including eggshell or velvet finish.  

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Paint Tools

You need good quality, no-lint paint roller sleeves and a good polyester/nylon sash brush for trim. A tool I highly recommend is the Shur Line 2-wheel trim edger for easily cutting in edges around ceilings, other walls, and window and doorframes. It saves a lot of time and mess. Plastic roller trays are easy to clean and don’t rust. You’ll also need a roller cage, plastic drop sheet, and blue painter’s masking tape. 

Getting Started

Dip the trim edger into your paint tray, wiping off the excess paint on the edge of the tray. Make sure not to get any paint on the wheels of the tool as paint will transfer to the surface that you don’t want painted. Use the trim edger to easily cut in the edges. Roll the paint on in a “W” pattern and fill in the spaces in an up and down direction. Two coats of paint are generally required. Follow the directions on the paint can for recoat times. 

Between recoat times, wrap your wet brush, roller, and trim edger in separate plastic bags. Make sure the bag has no advertising with coloured ink that may transfer onto the paint. Twist-tie the bags and place in an empty crisper of the fridge. Tools keep well this way as long as there is a suitable amount of paint on the tool. Storing them this way saves a lot of cleaning time and you don’t have to wait for the tools to dry before using them to paint your next coat. 

For a simple faux finish, paint the first coat of paint in a dark colour. Don’t worry about missing any spots. For the top coat, use a lighter colour. Wrap a plastic bag around a roller sleeve, tucking the loose ends between the sleeve and roller cage.  Dip the wrapped roller into the paint and roll on as desired. The end result is a textured, two-toned effect.

Finishing Touches

Use your sash brush to paint the mouldings and baseboards. If you have a steady hand, no masking tape is needed to apply paint with this type of brush. Make sure to dispose of your paint can properly. Each municipality may have recommendations for properly disposing of even latex paint cans. 

Keep in mind that paint takes time to “cure.”  Don’t wash your walls for 30 days after applying the final coat.  Any leftover T.S.P. can be used to wash your walls.

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