Archive for the ‘how-to’ Category

Painting rooms 101

January 16, 2009

Copyright 2005 -


I am a first time home owner and I plan on painting some rooms. I’d like help from you. Can you provide the dos and don’ts and gotcha’s I have to look out for.

1. What brand of paint should I go for? Big home improvement store or a local paint store?
2. What types of brushes will I need and how many?
3. What other tools should I arm myself with?
4. How many coats of paint is right to get the right shade?

thanks in advance


Hello Ryan,

1) There is no right answer for home improvement store paint or local paint store. The fact is this… each company makes one of two great products and everything else generally performs the same with the exception of the Zinsser Company. Zinsser makes all great products but more geared towards specific applications and a wide range of primers and sealers. There are good products sold at both places but few. You may be able to find the exact product at both places.

Paying $30-$40 or even $50 for a gallon of paint does not mean it is quality paint at all. You would be surprised. One of my favorite wall paints is sold at a box store and that same product is re-labeled and sold at a paint store, two separate prices. Obviously, I opt to save money.

2) You want one or two paint brushes for painting walls in bedrooms and around the interior of a home. A quality nylon/polyester blend is suitable for most acrylic paint. Choose a 2.5” angular sash brush and a 3” flat paint brush for cutting ceiling lines and longer runs like the top of baseboard. I suggest a brush without flagging. Choose a paint brush that is chisel tipped and tapered for a sharp, clean accurate cut.

3) You might want to purchase a 5-in-1 tool, it will come in handy throughout the year. You will need plastic or drop clothes or both, masking tape and rags.

The list:

Step ladder, deep-well roller pan, a 5 wire heavy gauge steel roller frame, an 2’ – 4’ extension pole will save you time and reduce fatigue and get you up to 9’ ceilings. Use a quality white woven roller cover. I recommend a 1/2” or 3/8” roller cover for smooth to lightly textured walls. A single edge break-away razor for scoring the masking tape prior to pulling the tape off the trim and molding. You may need a hammer to remove nails and some spackling or drywall mud and a knife to spread it with to repair any imperfections.

4) Most paint covers good in 2 coats so I would at least plan for that. The more intense wall colors often require 3-4 coats and sometimes more and some require a specific primer. Ask the representative at the place of purchase how many coats should the paint cover in.

Do not purchase cheap inexpensive roller covers, expect to pay close to $5 for one. Almost all roller covers shed fibers but the white woven covers shed the least if at all. Purchase a brush that will last throughout the years. Take care of it. A quality brush will save you time and make painting a whole lot easier.



Painting walls Red

January 16, 2009

ICI Color Pallet

Painting walls red is the most difficult range of color to get nice solid coverage.

Here are a few painting tips on how to get the best solid coverage when painting shades of red.

First, the quality of paint has little to do with coverage when it comes to painting red. The term ‘quality’ and ‘professional’ are two loosely used words in this industry. It would be foolish of me to tell you to go out and buy a quality paint because what defines quality?

Do you think you are going to pick up two gallons of paint at the paint store and compare labels and make a decision? No, you most likely wont and good luck having the store representative tell you why a particular paint is better than another.

Second, we want to take a look at the paint chip and determine if your particular color requires a tinted primer to be applied to the walls first. Often a shade of gray primer is required under many shades of red.

SW 6869 StopOn a Sherwin Williams paint deck or color pallet, the color chip will have a P printed  above the color number. The P indicates optimum color results are achieved using the designated Color-Prime system.


ICI Crimson RedOn an ICI Paints Color Pallet its not as easy to quickly determine if a gray primer is required. The ICI Color Pallet has each color broken down into 3 parts. The first portion is the HUE, for example looking at the color Crimson Red #31YR 10/591, the HUE is 31YR, the Light Reflective Value (LRV) is 10 and the last portion is Chroma, 591.

Hue: The color family

LRV: The lightness or darkness of the color. The higher the number the lighter the color.

Chroma: The intensity of a color. The higher the number, the more intense the color.

Here is a fair rule-of-thumb. A gray primer is likely recommended for any Chroma value over 450. An ICI Store representative can assist you with the shade of gray to use.

This is what you need

You want to use a quality white woven roller cover, not any yellow or green colored covers – generally speaking. Do not be afraid to spend $5 for a single cover. This is not an area to skimp on. White woven roller covers are white in color and are more tightly woven providing a smoother more solid finish. White woven covers generally shed the least if any at all so you should avoid getting fuzzies in the paint.

Use a 3/8” roller cover for smooth walls and a 1/2” cover for slightly textured surfaces.

DO NOT use Lambs wool roller covers for intense wall colors.

This is how I recommend painting red colors.

When you are ready to paint, do not cut or trim anything in first. Simply pull out a roller pan, fill it with red paint and start rolling as tightly as you can to everything. If you use masking tape, then you should roll very close to everything. You  may even want to roll horizontally near the ceiling to get closer. Allow the first rolled coat to dry before you cut or trim it in.

Now that your first coat of red is dry, you can start cutting-in the areas you were not able to get with a roller. Allow to dry.

For your second coat, you want to cut-in first and allow it to dry before you roll the second coat.

If your red requires a third coat (likely) then again, wait until the walls are dry, and start painting the edges first and then roll.

Some paints will allow you to backroll and others will not. Back rolling is best described by rolling an area and before you get too far down the wall, you go back to where you started and lightly re-roll that area without adding more paint to the wall. The trick is to allow the paint to set-up a bit and then lightly pass the roller cover over it again.

To determine if your paint will allow you to do this, simply roll a small area behind a door and wait a few minutes and then lightly re-roll it. If the area looks worst than before you backrolled, then your paint is best left rolled and left to dry. Meaning, don’t go back over it until its dry.

More painting tips & techniques on my other site.

Painting Kitchen Cabinets

January 16, 2009

cabinet_001Painting kitchen cabinets is an inexpensive way to make your kitchen cabinets look like new again.

In the days ahead I am going to cover all aspects of refinishing kitchen cabinets.

Coming in January…

December 21, 2008

Painting over wallpaper

Including how to prepare the paper for paint, fixing lapped seams, how to repair loose paper, which products to use.


Painting Popcorn Ceilings

Which roller cover to use, which paints work best -spatter less and cover better, what brush to use, dealing with irregular ceiling-line edges and how to clean them up.

Patching Knock-down textures

How to make patches on knock-down so they match – replicating the texture around the patch -the simple and effective way utilizing a product that has nothing to do with paint. You won’t even know where the patch was when you are done! Don’t miss this one!

And so much more…

Coming in February: Repositioning the Standards

Suck Less at Painting #101

November 9, 2008

HowTO: Freehand Cutting against any single edge source.


We are using a 2.5" angular Benjamin Moore paint brush for this demo. Start by loading the paint brush. It helps to pre-wet the brush with water prior to painting, squeeze or kick it out. This will help keep paint from drying on the brush and will assist with cleaning the brush later. Be sure the brush is loaded about 1.5" up the brush as seen in the photo above.


Start by applying light pressure on the rim of the can to remove the paint from the right side of the brush but leave about 1/2" to 3/4" of paint as seen in the photo on the left. The photo taken after the paint was removed on the right side of the brush. Click any photo for larger view.


Your paint brush should look like this on the right side and bottom as seen in the next photo below.


Paint on right side and a bit on the bottom.


Flipping the paint brush over, here is the left side with all paint removed from this side because this is the side (edge) that will cut against your source object such as a casing or a ceiling line that you do not want wall paint on.


Do not paint like this with the paint brush flat against the wall. Also pay attention to how to hold the brush in the photo above.


Hold the brush like seen in photo and make your first pass above the object. Remember your paint is on the opposite side of the paint brush not the side near the wood.


Make your next pass cutting-in closer and tight to the wood. If necessary, wipe the brush lightly on the rim of the can before this final pass. The paint you need is already on the wall, Your second pass only needs to move it closer to the wood. You can see the full video from YouTube below.

How Do They Do It That Fast?

November 6, 2008


From zero to 7′ in under 10 seconds. Taken from the clip on YouTube, the video shows cutting-in freehand against a stained casing in under 10 seconds with one load of paint on the brush. So how do they do that you ask?

First off it takes a steady hand but there are a number of things happening in this video that doesn’t meet the eye so lets take a closer look at them.

1.) The wood edge of the casing is sanded smooth and varnished

2.) The 1st coat wall paint is sanded smooth next to the casing

3.) The flat wall paint used for 1st coat reduces drag when cutting over it.

4.) The 3" brush used is a precision brush that holds a ton of paint

Can you tape the side of a casing in under 10 secs?

Here is the TheSHCS video

How to stain Windows

October 22, 2008
IMG_0562Here is a quick How To for doing windows regardless if painted or stained. These are Andersen Windows. I first removed the window latch hardware and cleaned them up with a shop vac.
IMG_0563I first pull the back sash (outer most) down a bit and unlock the front sash and allow it to open into the room. I will be starting on the bottom of the back sash first.
IMG_0564Starting at the bottom of the back sash and working my way up on the right.
IMG_0565Continuing up on the left
IMG_0566Across the top
IMG_0567While the front sash is still down, run around the trim closest to the track so when the sash is popped back in place that area is complete.
IMG_0568Lift and hold the front sash and finish the top edge
IMG_0569Pop the front sash back in place and push down a bit to lock in (you will hear it) and slide the sash back up a bit
IMG_0571Finish off the front sash
IMG_0572Slide the front sash up to allow you to finish remaining area closest to the track guide
IMG_0573Here is completed area around track guide. At this point you can slide the front sash down and finish the casing areas. This is a good time to step back and look over your work.

Here is one portion completed. You can click photos for larger viewing. This method allows me to do one double-hung window in 7 minutes. I do them exactly the same every time.

Avoid painting 4-5 coats

October 21, 2008

IMG_0545 - Copy

A common issue with homeowners and even some paint contractors is getting stuck in the recoat ‘money pit’ cycle where you paint a room 4-5 times to achieve full color and coverage. Not only can that be a huge expense but it can ruin your day or tie up your weekend. If you are a paint contractor, this can jack up your schedule! and unless you told the homeowner a price per coat with no guarantees then you can lose your ass on a job like this.

Here are a few things you should know about how to avoid the recoat cycle. First things first, lets take a look at the yellow-gold (above photo) on the left. That is a color that would require 4-5 coats to achieve full solid coverage. Many paint manufactures are recommending a gray primer base coat for deep or bold yellow, red, blues, and greens. The only time I see a gray primer being most effective is under red, blue and green. As far as yellow goes, the gray works against you. In this scenario I have a medium gray color room to start with and I need to paint it the yellow-gold color above, ‘Valspar Swelter’.

IMG_0508bThe photo on the left is a good example of what happens when you use gray primer under yellow top coat. For this job I am using Zinsser Bullseye Primer tinted the color on the right above. Notice the gray showing through the yellow primer. Also notice in the center of the wall there is a second pass with the roller which dried more solid. If you were to prime like you see in the photo and apply your finish paint now, the paint will dry exactly as you see it in the photo except it will be the color you picked. You will still see that gray area through your finish and this is where some people get caught top coating over and over trying to cover it up.

What you need to do in this scenario is recoat the room with primer (2 coats of primer). The primer for this job was $12 vs. the top coat paint at $26. The primer coat needs to look as if its finished, nice and solid. Primer over primer dries faster than finish over primer so you will be saving time here by doing 2 coats of primer and one finish. Once the primer coat is solid, the finish paint will be too.


Here is one coat of the final color over 2 coats of primer. Total job material cost was $38 vs. $78 if you were to 3 coat it with finish paint or $130 if this job took you 5 coats. Not only that savings but I would prefer to paint a room 3 times vs. 4 or 5 times.

Final Time Saving TIP: When you first start applying your primer coat and notice immediately that the primer will not cover nice and solid, then blow through that first coat of primer and apply it fairly fast and thin. Let it dry and re-roll it and make your cut solid and do it once.

Take a look at Painting Walls Red too for more useful information on intense colors.

Dialing in HVLP

October 25, 2007

Some guys struggle with the HVLP. I think if more guys felt more comfortable about how they work, more guys would use them. For the purpose of this article I will be using the ICI Sanding Sealer only because I happen to be shooting it this week.

On the HVLP (top photo) you see two dials, one is the air flow (how much air goes through the gun) and the other is material flow aka fluid knob (how much paint goes through). The arrow on the upper knob (air flow) is set at about the 7 o’clock mark. Max air flow is at 12 o’clock. The knob only works from the 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock mark but you can turn it either way. So if we turn the knob to the right to 5 o’clock, it is the same as turning the knob to the left at 7 o’clock. Hope that makes sense.

The second photo shows how thin the material is. You know how when you pour a thick paint in a bucket the paint sort of accumulates on the surface before it levels out? We can’t have that happen with an HVLP. The paint when poured into itself should dissipate immediately into itself. I have my sanding sealer a bit on the thin side but not by much and only because I was shooting a light dusting coat of tinted sealer.

Once the paint is mixed up and in the cup, turn the fluid knob all the way in and then back it out 2 full turns. Start by shooting with the air flow at the 6 o’clock which should be ‘OFF’. Then while squeezing the trigger, start by turning the air flow to the 9 o’clock mark. It should produce paint at least air through the gun at this point. If not, turn the fluid knob another full turn out. If still nothing, your material may be too thick. You can at this point open the air control knob all the way to 12 o’clock to confirm. If still no material, the gun is blocked up or material is too heavy.

If all goes well, you should be able to shoot materials through the gun with the material flow open slightly and air flow set at 7 or 8 o’clock. I NEVER shoot anything at 12 o’clock, that’s when I eat lunch, no seriously 12 o’clock is over kill and does nothing but cloud up the room.

Assuming you have paint through the gun, turn the air off again and very slightly turn air pressure up a hair or until the paint is coming out like a fine spray. If you cut off the air flow the gun should spit the paint out. Dial-in where the minimum air is needed to shoot a fine spray from the tip of the gun. The knob is very sensitive, use very small increments for adjustment.

Once you get the hang of that, you can adjust the fluid knob more to move materials quicker.

See also: HVLP Maintenance and HVLP Transfer Efficiency

Rolling Techniques

October 24, 2007
How to roll walls

I’ve seen many rolling techniques in my day. Home shows generally show people rolling a W pattern without an extension pole. I’ve seen the X pattern etc., also there is some silly Z pattern floating around on YouTube for people who roll without poles and want to be sore for days.

That reminds me, mental note: make post of 101 silly things homeowners do when painting.

As far as I’m concerned, there is only one way to roll. This technique is certainly not anything new but it is simple and very effective for achieving consistent finishes but there is one exception to this technique. If you are rolling a 16’ high wall, I strongly suggest you roll this pattern on the lower 8’ and then do the same pattern on the upper 8’ with your last stoke from ceiling to floor. Be sure to put plenty of stuff in your way too as seen in the photos.

The photos are pretty much straight forward. Start in the middle of the wall; roll down then up passed the middle to the ceiling and finally finish the last pass from ceiling to floor.

See also: Rolling Duration Home for more info. Head on over to and search ‘rolling walls’ for video demonstrations.