Posts Tagged ‘painting’

Drywall primers… again!

December 20, 2008
DSC_3833aI receive countless emails asking when to use a drywall primer with all the talk today about self-priming wall paints. Many paint contractors commented on my videos on YouTube saying I should use a wall primer on bare drywall rather than applying wall paint directly over it. What do they know that I don’t? So let’s take a closer look at wall primers and their purpose. What is a wall primer supposed to do? (Click any photo for larger views).

Bare Drywall

IMG_0078The objective priming bare drywall is to seal the porous paper and drywall topping (mud) to provide a nice foundation for the paint to bond with. What this means is achieving an ultimate seal and bond with the paint to the porous fibers of the paper and the porosity of drywall mud. We also want the wall primer to produce a solid uniform sheen for the top coat of paint.

Our goal has four parts:

1) seal the porous paper surface
2) provide a surface the paint can bond with
3) seal the drywall mud
4) prevent top coat sheen degradation

What can go wrong using primer:

What if the top coat of paint did not bond with primer? What if the primer didn’t bond with the drywall? What if you had a nice bond to the drywall but not to the drywall mud? What do you do now? You primed right? The paint isn’t sticking that well is it? Did you try the tape test or maybe you tried washing it and the paint and primer came off back to bare drywall? Did you remove the masking tape from the baseboard and it tore the paint and primer off the wall exposing bare drywall?

The label on the paint can says to use a primer. The paint store rep said to use a primer. You read online, you read it in a magazine, you always heard – ‘use a primer’ and you did. You even used the paint manufactures recommended primer.

So now what? Is it too late; you already have a coat of paint over the primer? Was the surface clean? Did you remove all the drywall dust left behind from sanding? Did you shop vac the walls and the paint still didn’t stick? Did you try wiping down the drywall with a damp sponge? Yeah, so did we. Did the primer fail? Yeah, so did ours. Did you do something wrong?

Lucky for you, we have all the answers and before you get discouraged we also have a fix so you can achieve that finish and bond that you initially tried for.

We tested a total of 14 wall primers over bare drywall and not one of them performed as well as a drywall sealer such as Zinsser Gardz. Let’s take a look at why this is.

The Test

2paintYou perform the test yourself. Let’s say for example you have a piece of bare drywall sitting on your lap and 1 tablespoon of water and 1 tablespoon of any wall primer of your choice, there are tons of them out there, pick one. Now, take the tablespoon of water and slowly pour it on the drywall. The water dissipates into the drywall right? Now take the tablespoon of primer and do the same. Not exactly the same result huh?

If you want to dive deeper into testing, try this test over bare drywall mud, it will provide similar results with a completely different effect with the primer.

Do this small test too. Take a sanded drywall patch, clean it, dust it, vac it, damp sponge it if you want and run your finger over it when its dry. I suspect your finger will have a white dusty powder on it.

So what does this test tell us? No matter how well you clean up new board for paint there is only one thing that will prepare it to accept paint. Apply a sealer that will penetrate both the paper and the mud and bond all of it together. Thinner material penetrates better – right?

Click the photo above. Notice the first 24" inches from the corner doesn’t look as nice as the next 24", then you see another 24" that doesn’t look as nice as the 2nd area. That 2nd area that looks best in the photo is 2 coats of eggshell paint over bare drywall. The first 24" is primer plus one coat of eggshell paint.

Sheen degradation

One huge set-back you get from using a primer is top coat sheen degradation. Some primers are better than others but nonetheless, you will lose some sheen that will get absorbed in the primer coat. The loss of sheen is very apparent in the photo above.

proform004Here is a photo of a drywall sealer applied directly over the drywall mudded horizontal seam. You can clearly see how well the sealer absorbed into the mud. The next photo shows what the horizontal seam looks like when you apply one coat of an eggshell paint over it.
proform005Again, you can clearly see the sealed portion of the wall and what was not sealed.

 Primer vs. Paint

Img00970001Think back to a time you applied a coat of paint over bare wood. Do you remember what happens with the paint? Do you recall how much of that paint absorbed into bare wood? Do you remember applying a second coat of paint and it too absorbed into the bare wood, even your third coat looked questionable? (Click any photo for larger views)

Well check this out… the same thing happens when you apply paint over bare drywall. Exactly the same thing but with varied results depending on the paint you use.

There are paints that penetrate bare drywall better than a primer and provide a better bond and also look great when you apply 2 coats over bare drywall. So here we have a classic case of Best, Better and Good options.

The photo above shows a coat of paint over bare drywall (the darker color). The window wall and into the corner is a tinted primer. So you can clearly see some finish paints perform nicely over bare drywall with coverage. The paint used in the above photo outperformed all 14 primers in coverage over bare drywall. How messed up is that? – paint performing better than a primer designed for bare drywall.

Looking at the photo above, would you honestly say a primer is needed over bare drywall if I can achieve both coverage and tight bond with a paint that is far better than if I used a primer? I’m saying… knock yourself out. If you feel that you have the desire to waste money and labor on a primer coat, then do it.

But let’s take a look at what is best because that’s what this site is all about.

Best

eggshellThe best product known to me for bare drywall is Zinsser Gardz and thankfully we have that product because it makes me never want to use a wall primer again. I say this because I see primers fail all the time, hence the abundance of people writing me about primers. Apply Gardz directly over bare drywall and then for best results – 2 coats of paint. Remember this is new board and you need to build a foundation so use 2 coats of paint. Think about this, even with one coat of Gardz, and 2 coats of paint, your total dried mil thickness is still minimal at best.
gardz2Gardz is a thin clear sealer and most of the product will dissipate into the fibers of the board and mud. This product is similar to injecting glue into the drywall and mud. This is why in the photo above you see a very nice uniform finish with one coat of Gardz and one of finish.

Better

UH1412_01aBecause there are paints that I know adhere better than all 14 primers we tested I am going to say straight quality paint is better over bare drywall. The only problem you may experience is a need for a 3rd coat – prime plus 2 coats is a total of three coats anyway but you can achieve better stick this way. Ok, to be fair the other argument to this method is achieving a uniform finish with paint like an eggshell or semi gloss. But think about this, 1 primer and 2 finish is 3 coats too.

In the photo above the long wall is split half way with two different wall paints and the photo was taken after they dried. Notice in the front most left portion how one product covered and dried much nicer than the other closer to the window.

Good

barrington 24 027aThe cheap and less expensive route is using a primer over bare drywall. You have an advantage utilizing this method but it also disadvantages. The advantages are – you can do one tinted coat of primer and one coat of finish but you lose the stick or bond some of us need to tape off walls, hang wallpaper over and even wash or scrub depending on what your paint allows.

Remember when you got the job, she told you she was hanging wallpaper at a later time. So, do you shortcut her at this point or prepare the job for what is to come? What if its you hanging that paper? Too many guys are doing the "right-for-now" work instead of what is best for down-the-road work.

Primer is generally less expensive than paint. So if your intent is to never wash or touch the walls then do this method but what you might find is what you see in the photo. It looks like it needs another coat of paint.

Primer also requires MORE attention to rolling than wall paint. If you roll primer on any old way – you will never get the finish to look right no matter how many coats you stick on it. Here is a clip on rolling. Utilizing the last stroke down method will provide a level of finish that is consistent. The finish in the Best Method was done with last stroke down.

Something to think about

Here is something else to think about for those of you shooting commercial work. Think about how much you can save on materials utilizing a better method. What is that high-build primer suppose to be shot at??? 20 mil thick? That is crazy!!! Actually its ridiculous. If you are shooting walls – you are already wasting materials and damn near twice as much vs rolling it on.

Here is an interesting tid bit. Same two houses done two different ways. One guy sprayed the walls with 60 gallons and the other rolled it with 15. The guy spraying had a guy back rolling too. What a huge waste of time and money and an extra guy. Guy spraying spent $1,380 on materials and the guy who rolled it spent $345 There was no difference in workmanship.

Funny how a certain manufacturer makes an executive decision to create a primer that requires such a heavy layer of it to cover bare drywall. But that same question also begs the question, was a product like that designed because guys don’t know how to paint or does the manufacturer not know how to make a product that works without laying it on so heavy. If you apply anything at 20 mil, it better look good!

The argument

440i My argument with using a wall primer is the lack of a fail-safe method and I need that in my business. While I enjoy the 440i I received from a paint store due to primer failing, I am not going to have another homeowner come back to me complaining she washed the paint and primer off the wall and obviously this has happened to me otherwise I wouldn’t be posting a fix to this problem online. I have a ton of information and previous test on wall primers. Do a Google search on jackpauhl+wall primers or click this link.

The Fix

So let’s say you too fell sucker to the “use a primer” method and you are in that same situation where the paint washes off the wall or you had to apply masking tape to do some wild painting scheme you found on TV. There is a fix and leave it to no other than Zinsser to have your back! Zinsser Gardz can be used to apply over a paint that was previously undercoated with primer utilizing the Good method above. Gardz will assist with penetrating the paint and the primer and help with bonding them to the drywall beneath and not only that but moving forward with a new coat of paint will give you the ultimate finish you see in the Best method above.

Painting highly visible walls

Let’s say you get a call and their house is a few years old with builder grade flat paint on the walls and they want you to paint the 16′ high foyer wall that extends to the back of the house (windows on both ends). You go to the basement and see the left over paint and know putting an eggshell over that flat paint might require a certain degree of finesse to make a highly visible wall look right. Your best bet here is to apply Zinsser Gardz over that flat and proceed with one or two coats of eggshell paint.

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Load Balancing

December 13, 2008

superfab What is Load Balancing?

Years ago I conducted a study on how far various roller covers can carry a load of paint. You can see an example in the photo. I wanted to know how much more distance can I get out of all the 1/2" covers available to me and find the best one. Then I wanted to compare the 1/2" covers against 3/4" covers of the same brand to see how much more distance I can get using a 3/4" cover assuming a desired roller texture. The same study was conducted on brushes.

Load balancing is gauged on the capacity of the brush or roller and the amount of paint you load them with for optimum results. Each load (amount of paint) is predetermined before taking the load based on for example where it will be placed on the wall or trim.

Load Balancing is one of the more important aspects with efficient painting. It’s a combination between the right paint brush or roller and the amount of paint in which you load them and how it impacts performance more than anything else.

Load Balancing allows me to paint ridiculously fast because each (next move) or next load of paint is thought out. What this does is eliminates unnecessary brushwork and/or more effective results with each load of paint.

In the video where the side of the casing is painted in about 8 seconds, Load Balancing plays a huge role in allowing me to do that. 1) The brush needs to be capable of holding a load of paint to go the distance of 7’. 2) I also need to know how much paint I will need to travel 7’ and put that amount of paint on the brush.

Look for more on this topic soon along with video demonstrations. For now you can see more on this topic here.

Suck Less at Painting #101

November 9, 2008

HowTO: Freehand Cutting against any single edge source.

cut-in006

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.

cut-in004

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.

cut-in001

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

cut-in002

Paint on right side and a bit on the bottom.

cut-in003

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.

cut-in007

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.

cut-in008

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.

cut-in009

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 paint increases humidity

November 7, 2008

IMG_0728a

This is just an FYI piece.

The project was to paint one 12×12 room with one coat of paint. I took a humidity reading prior to starting and again when finished. The humidity in the room before I started was 44% so as you can see just how much humidity painting one room with the door open can increase. In just 7 minutes of rolling the walls, the humidity jumped 14%.

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.
IMG_0574

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.

Wooster PRO CLASSIC Covers

October 21, 2008

IMG_0547 - Copy

This cover is unique, but its performance is nothing special.

When I first purchased one of these PRO CLASSIC 1/2" covers I didn’t see any difference between these and Wooster Super Fab covers besides the color. I wrote a nice review about the PRO CLASSIC covers awhile back and how similar they were to a Super Fab. Well it seems as with all good things they come to an end and this is no exception. Recently I purchased a 2 pak of these covers and I was shocked at the difference in quality from when I first used them years ago. I was able to reuse them over and over for months before but with the recently purchased covers I am lucky to get past the first job. No joke! The older ones used to be full and thick but these new ones are more like a 1/4" covers in comparison.

IMG_0552 - Copy

I guess I’m amazed when products change they don’t call them something different because with this product, the cover is nothing even close to what it used to be. Thumbs down on this one Wooster! I wrote about how manufacturers do this all the time. It’s not right. I liked them when they first came out but the covers are no longer what they used to be. You can clearly see from the photo these covers are skinny for 1/2". What a shame. On a side-note: shedding is minimal and the wash easy.

About MDF Trim

October 21, 2007
Who cares how MDF is made – let’s just skip to how to paint it. Think of MDF trim as a super stiff smooth sponge. If you place a piece of MDF trim in water it will pucker up to the point you may not recognize it, no joke.

Let’s say you put MDF in your bathroom and the water from the shower drips onto the floor with a puddle near the baseboard. MDF if not properly primed and painted will absorb that water and the baseboard will be destroyed. It’s really as simple as that.

Another scenario, let’s say your basement floods and your baseboard and trim gets wet, your MDF trim is ruined. It’s as simple as that.

So, if you know your MDF will come in contact with water (melting snow from boots) or (spill something in the kitchen), your MDF MUST have an oil based primer applied to ALL edges, front, back, top, bottom, the saw cuts, everything or you leave yourself open for damage to your investment. It’s as simple as that.

If your trim or molding is already installed, well then you learned a valuable lesson just now, if it’s not installed, take the time to dry cut your pieces and prime the pieces entirely with an oil-based primer. Do this for any area you feel might come in contact with water even 1 table spoon of water will destroy MDF. DO NOT think for a second putting oil-based primer on the face of your MDF will prevent any damage from water, it won’t.

The theory of MDF is to save the consumer or builders money but in fact, finishing MDF costs more than if you simply bought pine trim which is a hell of a lot more durable than MDF. Pine trim while still not the preferred trim of choice at least won’t chip apart when you whack it accidentally with the sweeper or pull the cord hard for that matter. Dogs love MDF too!

About the photo: Water damage on MDF from the carpet cleaner who dripped a little water on the floor. Sure he wiped up the spill but the water was underneath the baseboard and this is in an area where no water was expected.

See also: Painting MDF and issues with filling nail holes on MDF

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Archive Posts

May 5, 2007

It’s a new month and if you are new to blogs you can click the arrow next to April on the right column to see all articles posted for the month. Find what you’re looking for fast using the search feature on the top left corner.

Light Stain on Poplar

April 18, 2007

Poplar is perhaps one of the most difficult woods to stain evenly with a consistent appearance. In the photo, our job was to stain the poplar to match maple cabinets with a light color stain. For this project we used an oil-based paint that closely matched the cabinet color.

We then thinned the paint to make a penetrating stain and applied it with a brush without wiping. This process will eliminate any green or purple colors in the natural wood from coming through.
For our next coat, we applied sanding sealer toned with the actual stain that matched the cabinets. The toner coat allowed us to achieve an accurate match. Our next step is to apply a second coat of sanding sealer without tint. We sanded and finished with a semi-gloss varnish.
This process works well on oak too.

Painting MDF

April 14, 2007

Almost at the blink of an eye solid wood such as pine, oak and poplar was replaced by MDF (medium density fiberboard) in the new home market and quick to follow in the DIY and remodeling market. MDF is an engineered wood product molded by breaking down softwood into a powder and combining it with wax and resin forming panels by applying high temperatures and pressure. This inexpensive substitute to the real McCoy has its disadvantages and advantages to solid wood.

Advantages:
Less expensive vs. real wood
Trim packages sold pre-primed
Disadvantages:
Messy cutting (dusty)
Very soft in comparison to even pine
Chips and dents easily
Absorbs moisture
Absorbs paint quickly
Inadequate factory applied primer
Shrinkage and swelling
Requires longer acclimation
Nail holes require alternative filling methods
Swelling may occur around nail holes after filling
MDF is marketed to builders as a cheap alternative to wood and the word “cheap” is all it takes for many builders to jump on the wagon. So what does this all mean for the paint contractor? In two words, “more work”. The professional paint contractors find MDF as a challenge for producing professional finishes, the other mainstream contractors see it as ” less work”.
Professional or not
Professional contractors must somehow for a lack of better words, ‘polish a turd’, as we like to say in the industry. The sole process of taking a piece of shit and turning into something it’s not. This is where the challenge comes in.
Mainstream contractors find working with MDF as less time on the job. MDF trim packages come pre-primed from the factory and all the contractor is required to do is fill the holes, caulk (or not) and apply a coat of paint, calling it done. Some methods for the mainstream contractor is spraying with an airless, brushing one coat and others go as far as simply applying the paint with a roller.
How to produce professional finishes on MDF
First things first, shop-vac the trim. Pay close attention to areas around nail holes where chips of primer may be stuck around the hole from the installation with a nail gun, sanding off or removing any protrusions on the surface.

The next three steps can be reversed or changed to fit your liking.
Fill nail holes with your choice of nail filler or putty, experiment for best results. Some guys use regular nail putty, others use a type of spackling and some use a combination of the two.

Re-prime everything with a slightly reducing quality oil-based primer. The goal here is to recoat the poor quality factory primer so the gloss paint finish will not disappear. A quality acrylic primer can be used as a subsitute for similar results but you are still at a disadvantage due to the fact the factory primer will absorb water-based primer and you may experience drag or heavy brush marks.
Caulk miters, door stops and all gaps even if the casing is tight to the jamb. MDF will shrink if proper acclimation did not occur.
Sand lightly and vacuum dust
Apply two coats of your finish product.
Observations when working with MDF
If you apply a coat of acrylic paint to MDF without priming first, you will notice your paint quickly absorbed into the factory primer and heavy drag, making it near impossible to achieve professional results.
Filling nail holes with putty is easier when filled after the new coat of primer. The fresh primer coat will help reduce putty from drying out and crumbling out of your hand. Also, the putty tends to break-off in the hole easier and cleaner after fresh primer vs. doing it over factory primer. You may experience shrinkage if the hole is not fully filled, pushing the putty twice firmly in the hole with help prevent shrinkage as the putty dries out.
Caulking trim after the first coat of finish will save your fingers. If you can caulk cleanly I suggest this method. Caulking over either the factory primer or your new primer will be abrasive not only to your finger but also the tip of the caulk tube.