Friday, July 10, 2009

Paint Basics Part 1

Like they say with most things, "always start with the basics", which is why my first couple posts are going to go over all the basics of paint and painting techniques.

In Paint Basics Part 1 we are going to cover:

  • Paint... What the heck is it???

  • How to pick the right product for the job

  • What you need for a basic paint project

  • How to pick the right tools(I mean equipment not paint contractors...)
(Shoo.... lots to cover, so let's get started!)

- Paint... "What The Heck is That Stuff Anyway???"

Well I will tell you.... There are many different types of paint out there in the marketplace but the two main types of interior/exterior paints are water-based latex acrylic paints and oil-based paint. All paint consists of four basic elements which are solvent, binder/resin, pigment, and additives.

  • Solvent - Basically the best way to think of solvent is it keeps the paint wet so you can take it from the can to your brush to the wall. Some pros even put a bit of their own solvent in paint to make it "smoother". Retailers sell similar products like Floetrol which is a paint additive with solvent to make the paint "wetter".

  • Binder/Resin - Binder or resin is the glue that makes paint stick to itself and to the wall. The more binder in the paint the better adherence it will have to the surface.

  • Pigment - Pigment is very important for paint because it determines how your color will come out the way you intended. The whiter the pigment the more color options you have and the more accurate the color will turn out on your wall. Titanium dioxide is the main pigment used to make paint white so the more titanium dioxide the whiter the paint which equals better color!

  • Additives -Additives give paint its characteristics such as mildew resistance, nano particles for a less porous coat of paint, additives for high and low temperatures, etc.

The better quality these four elements are the better quality the paint!

- How to Pick The Right Product For The Job...

Depending on what you're painting and where you're painting makes a difference in what paint you should buy. Interior or exterior should be obvious but some things less obvious but very important to note are:

Is it a wall with a lot of moisture such as a kitchen or bathroom? Will you be wiping down this wall frequently such as again the kitchen or a kids room (probably every room if you have kids)? You might even want to think about the type of light that hits the wall like whether it is natural or florescent which could change the color slightly to your eye depending on the sheen (we'll talk about sheen a little later). You will also want to consider the current wall color and if you will need primer to cover a bold color or to help a bold new color come out accurate.

* You will need to use primer if you are painting over oil paint with a water-based latex paint.

- What You Need For The Basic Paint Project

In future postings I will go into some advanced tools and ways to set up some unique projects that you might run into but for now we are just going to go over the very basic tools you need to get started. A must tool for painting is a drop cloth or plastic to place on the floor because you WILL drip! You will also need painter's tape to tape off corners and the trim. It won't leave the residue on surfaces like masking tape will as well as it will keep paint from seeping under the tape so you will have clean lines.

You will of course need a paint brush, a couple rollers, roller cage, and roller pan. I will get into how to pick the right product in the last section. Some other useful tools you could look to acquire could be a paint key to open the paint can without denting the lid and causing air to get in during storage, and an edger tool that can help with straighter lines.

- How To Pick The Right Tools...

Using the right tools for the job will save you time and money so it is very important. If you are only planning on painting twice a year or less I would suggest to not buy the top of the line equipment as you will be fine with using the middle of the road. It is better to use synthetic bristle brushes for water-based paint while natural brushes are better for oil. I would also suggest that if you plan to only buy one brush that you buy an 1 1/2" - 2" angled brush as it will be the best for cutting in paint lines and corners. There is an endless variety of brushes out there to choose from in all different price ranges so choose one that will fit your budget and your style.

The majority of your wall will be painted with a roller so you want to one make sure you buy a couple just in case you leave one out in the open and it gets dried out (you will, believe me). There is also quite a variety of rollers to choose from in all different price ranges but I suggest ponying up a few cents extra to make sure you get a roller that won't leave fuzz on your walls.

The third and last tool that I feel you should pay a little more for is your painters tape. You might feel compelled to buy the good old yellow masking tape that you have trusted through all these years and has been pretty good to you, however, this tape isn't made for paint and your color will seep under the tape line making you feel like you're tipsy looking at your finished, wavy lines on your wall. Painters tape will give you crisp, clean lines as well as you can leave it on for multiple days without leaving residue or coloring your wall underneath. I suggest buying at least 1 1/2" width tape as any smaller and you can accidently paint the other side of the tape when edging.

So there you have it folks, the basics of paint and products to get you in the mood for your first project. In Paint basics part 2 I will go over the set up and take down of your project, basic painting technique, and proper cleaning and storage of your equipment so it lasts for years (not days).

Again if you have any questions that I haven't covered in Your Paint Pro please feel free to email me at and I will get back to you within 24hrs.