Posts Tagged ‘professional’

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Spraying & Racking

November 8, 2008

Spraying Balusters Down
Spraying Trim & Doors
Baluster Spray Rack
Setup Doors to Spray
Split Spindle System
HVLP Dialing in
HVLP Maintenance
HVLP Transfer Efficiency
Clean-n-dip Review
Racking 5 1/2" Baseboard
Racking Trim
Full Sheen Ahead
Corrective Finishes

trim rack


November 6, 2008

Have you ever been experienced?


We’re acknowledged trade snobs, so we readily admit it takes something special to make us take a step back and say “Wow”. We’ll also admit that Benjamin Moore’s 65125 nylon brush made us do just that. Just when we thought we’d seen all there is to see from brushes, along comes this hidden treasure which by the way we kept to ourselves for years. We can’t remember the last time we heard someone say, “What the world needs now is a good paint brush,” but we’re glad this apparent lack of demand didn’t stop Benjamin Moore from designing the best paint brush we ever tested.

In pimp-speak, the 65125 spanks all other brushes we’ve tried (all of Wooster’s, Purdy’s, Sherwin Williams, Bestt Liebco and really countless others). Benjamin Moore’s 65125 Nylon brush is so-sweet because of its unique blend of filaments to spread all paints and its ability to keep form in humid conditions. This brush feels firm and balanced in the hand yet spreads coatings soft and smooth with brushless finishes. The brush stays together giving us a sharp precision edge to cut with. Cutting in wood cased edges to the wall has never been easier. We never once experienced the brush folding up or flip flopping off an edge. The brush performs well even on the skinniest of edges. The 65125 is so finely tuned that we can cut the ¼” side fillet edges of double hung windows quickly and flawlessly.


We’re not sure what your current brush is capable of but the 65125 can accurately do 7’ of wall to trim in under 8 seconds flat and 14’ of wall to ceiling in under 60 secs. We had our cameras rolling because we could not believe our eyes. No matter when we zoomed in or snapped random footage, the 65125 was always in sharp form. The 65125 never let us down.

What we liked the most about this brush is its ability to save time and I mean really save time AND gain quality. Achieving a balance of high-end finishes at production rates is purely a science and this brush is part of that mathematical equation.

If you consider yourself a professional paint contractor and are content with your so called store bought pro brush then you have no need to find Guido in the ally selling these from under his coat. But, it you want to launch yourself into the next generation of proism then I suggest finding Guido in the back ally and get yourself one. See for yourself in this video.


Model: Benjamin Moore Nylon Brush 65125 (code named Champ)

Model tested (MSRP): $13.95

Standard Equipment: Solid contoured hardwood handle, stainless steel ferrule, angled sash, unique nylon & polyester blend for stiffness retention.

Street Price: $10 bucks plus a forty (brown bagged of course)

Usefulness: All paints, proven performer with acrylics, heavy oils and it’ll lay down varnish and sealer like nobodies business.

Grade: For professional use only. Stop pretending you are and get one!

Layout: Flat or angular sash. We still don’t know why flat brushes exist. It’s angular everything for us.

Size: 2 ½”

Length out: 2 15/16”

Thickness: 5/8”

Stiffness: Firm but soft, not flimsy or limp.

Colors avail: Champagne

Dry weight: 4.2 oz.

Load capacity: 2.1 oz.

Loaded weight: 6.3 oz. can you say volume? One dip, one long 7’ stroke of genius

Speed: 0 -7’: 7.8 secs waterborne / 18.9 secs solvent base

Error Correction: none as tested, consistent accuracy and wet edge, won’t fold up under pressure.

STN clearance: Substrate-to-nose: 12”, sawed off version not yet available but easily achieved with hack saw

Trace Evidence: brushless capable

Accuracy: Sharp 90º +/-25 filaments

WOC: Width of cut – 3 ½” to a narrow ¼’ wide (tipd)

Warranty: If you cannot achieve a brushless finish with this brush then you might want to reconsider what you’re spreading.

Lengths cut: casing 540’, baseboard, 798’, ceiling 798’

Total length cut: 2,136’

Verdict: PROS: The accuracy and balance of this brush is purely unique. We don’t know who the guy was that pushed for perfection on this brush but we are sure glad he did.

CONS: Hard to find Guido.

We’ve been using these brushes for years day in and day out. If you clean, comb and keep these brushes you too will get years of use out of them. We had the opportunity to play Guido and have other paint contractors use this brush and the overall response was an overwhelming, “damn, that’s a nice brush”. Amen my fellow bruthas.

Our Top Pick for Latex Brushes is Benjamin Moore’s Nylon 65125”. – March, 2004

This review as well as all or our reviews are provided for you to review the comments and experiences by an independent paint contractor to assist you in what to expect with new or existing products.

MINWAX 2hr Sanding Sealer

October 22, 2008

IMG_0558 - Copy

Sanding Sealer is the single most important component to finishing stained trim and doors yet so many people know little about it. One of the more common methods people (DIY) are using today to finish woodwork is one coat of MinWax stain and 1-2 coats of MinWax polyurethane and often they don’t bother sanding between coats.

If you want nicely finished woodwork then after you apply your stain to the trim and doors the 2nd step to finishing them is applying sanding sealer. Most sanding sealers dry super fast and can be sanded the same day but for outstanding results its best to wait a day. The sealer becomes more hardened and sands so much easier and smoother a day later.

IMG_0559 - Copy

Use a White China or Black China brush to apply sanding sealer. The White China will provide better results and holds more vs. black china.

It is not necessary to apply sanding sealer heavily. It is important to be sure the area absorbed the sealer enough before you move on. I apply a nice load to an area and work it in quickly and move the rest of the load off into the next area. I want the area saturated but not left heavy on the surface.

6 STEPS to Smooth Woodwork

1) Stain your trim
2) Apply sanding sealer (wait 1 day)
3) Sand the sanding sealer smooth
4) Vacuum with a shop vac (some people like to use a tac-cloth too)
5) Fill nail holes
6) Apply your compatible clear coat.

More on Sanding Sealer here.

SPECIAL NOTE: If you are familiar with ICI Wood Pride Sanding Sealer, Sherwin Williams, Cabot or Benjamin Moore’s SuperSpec, the MINWAX Sanding Sealer is nothing like them. The MINWAX is more like sanding polyurethane. Its best to have your wood sanded smooth prior to staining because MINWAX Sanding Sealer will only allow you to sand what’s on the surface where the other sealers listed allow you to cut deeper than the surface.

Part 2. More on this Sealer here.

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.

Corrective Finishes

October 23, 2007

Wood Finishing Using Toner

You may come across a homeowner who might ask you to magically blend all their wood to look exactly the same. Well, magic is exactly what you will need for that. But, if you manage to compromise with the homeowner after the 60 minute lecture on wood, you might come to the following conclusion.

Let’s make the center plywood look more like the real solid wood around it. We are going to do this by applying several, (as many as necessary) toner coats over the plywood. You will notice the fireplace is otherwise finished except for the center 3 pieces.

We will be masking off everything but the plywood and using the HVLP, we are going to mix the stain directly into the clear finish and apply dusting coats of toner until the homeowner is happy.

This TIP is also useful for adjusting blotchy stained pieces or areas such as you see in the photo. Also a toner coat adds depth to the wood.

If you have a deep red mahogany color on poplar, you can  adjust color depth utilizing toner coats. Also effective on poplar when you want more solid uniform color cast like you see on furniture and kitchen cabinets. Toner coats work great for kitchen cabinet refinishing too!

HVLP Transfer Efficiency

October 23, 2007

There is no argument that an HVLP [High Volume Low Pressure] Sprayer pulls its own weight. I recall the first day, first job I used my first HVLP unit. I had a stained trim house all prepared on the drying racks and all I had to do was shoot some sanding sealer on the trim. I suppose two guys brushing the trim for an hour and a half isn’t bad but the HVLP did the whole trim package in under 30 mins., nice. Needless to say, the HVLP paid for itself time and time again.

Besides its time saving abilities, the HVLP when dialed in properly will save on materials too. Take notice in the photo of the spindles above, that is the extent of the overspray. I shot 2 coats of Zinsser Odorless Oil primer on those bare poplar spindles before carpet and shot the oil finish after carpet. The photo shows the accuracy and transfer efficiency is incredible.

See also: Cleaning your HVLP

Full Sheen Ahead

October 22, 2007
Most everyone seems to appreciate higher sheen or gloss finishes when it comes to trim and molding, the shinier the easier to clean.

Personally, I prefer a true semi-gloss to semi-satin finish and I have been known to mix 50/50, equal parts to achieve the sheen I like. Sometimes I like high-gloss on stained stair systems then other times I like true satin finishes.

Regardless of your preference, this topic covers how to achieve a full sheen that holds gloss levels true to its formulation. There is no known paint to me that holds gloss regardless of 1 coat, 2 coats or 3 coats. Typically you’ll experience this, the second coat is shinier than the first coat and the 3rd coat is shinier than the second coat. So when does the sheen stop getting shinier and become true to its formulation?

The answer depends on what is under the finish paint. For example, if we paint a PVC casing with semi-gloss, the dried finish is going to be shiner than if you painted a piece of primed wood. The PVC will not absorb sheen but the primer coat will. Not all primers absorb sheen the same. Some primers if not sanded will not absorb any sheen and the same primer sanded will. I’ve been known to do one coat of an oil primer on bare wood and one coat of an acrylic primer prior to two coats of finish. Again, not all primers and finishes are equal. Generally primers dry flat, I know of one primer that dries like an eggshell and that is ICI Gripper. Because Grippers sheen is eggshell, you are already one step ahead over a flat primer to achieve a full sheen.

Regardless of which primer you choose, the absolute best finish will come from one coat of primer sanded smooth and a second coat of primer not sanded, and then apply 2 coats of semi-gloss. I know, four coats of paint is not realistic and many homeowners do not want to pay for it, but it looks great!

See also: Iridescent White Trim as seen in above photo along with SW Totally Tan.

Caulk. The act of caulking

October 16, 2007

Undoubtedly caulk is a one of the painter’s best mediums. The saying goes, caulk and paint will fix what a trim carpenter aint. Trim carpenters who do nice work can save a painter countless hours of preparation. I am very fortunate to work behind an excellent trim carpenter on our jobs, in the past I worked behind some of the worst; in the trade we call them hacks.

For example: we might use 4 or 5 tubes of caulk on an entire house with our current carpenter. A house of the same size with a careless trim carpenter may require over a case of caulk and all of our caulk is hand-laid.
So when, what, where and how?
We believe that any and all trim should be caulked where two pieces of wood meet or where the trim meets the wall. Even though a trim carpenter can install the casing tight to the door jamb, we believe that area should be caulked.
Here’s why, if we were to paint a casing without caulk that was installed properly with a tight fit (no gaps), that casing will generally be fine for the time being. All houses expand and contract, so while it might be tight today, it might not be in other months of the year. The other reason and it’s the main reason is shrinkage. In new home construction or any project that requires new wood materials, you will have shrinkage of the wood.

What caulk should I use? As far as painting goes, there is only one type of caulk, paintable acrylic with silicone and typically a 35 year caulk. NOT silicone caulk! We DO NOT use caulk to fill nail holes or imperfections in the wood.

When to apply caulk? On pre-primed trim we caulk between the two coats of finish. We simply do this because all our caulk is hand-laid and the first coat of paint allows our fingers to glide better over the surface, this method is best. On bare wood, we caulk after the primer coat is sanded and swept clean.

See also: Caulking TIPS