Chicago Paint Crew: Featured in Architectural Design Digest –
4 Painting Secrets to Ensure Your Walls Stay in Tip-Top Shape
Including a foolproof tip to banish scuff marks for good
Paint jobs are a quick way to update and transform a room. Even though it is one of the easier DIY projects, slip-slapping paint over walls is not always a savvy approach. A shoddy paint job will need maintenance sooner than later.
Good paint, like HGTV Home® by Sherwin-Williams’s Infinity Paint & Primer, creates a smooth finish—the higher the paint quality, the more pigment particles are packed together—but it’s not the only thing that will give your paint job longevity. “Painting a wall may seem like a simple task, but there is more to it than just picking up a brush and putting paint on the surface,” says Paige Anderson, an interior designer at Nitido Design in Mumbai.
Think of painting as an investment from the beginning. It matters how much effort you put into the project from start to finish. Here, a useful guide—from prep to scuff-mark removal—to ensuring your paint job will last for years.
Select the right paint sheen
For busier areas of a home—like the kitchen, hallways, or a laundry room—a satin finish (a medium-shine sheen) is easy to wipe down, and offers excellent washability, scrub resistance, and more durability than an eggshell finish, says Ashley Banbury, senior color designer at HGTV Home® by Sherwin-Williams. The shiner semi-gloss finish is stain-resistant and withstands even more wear, making it a solid option for trim and doors.
Generally, the higher the sheen, the easier it will be to wipe away marks. “While the sheen does not have a huge impact on the overall appearance of the color, darker shades tend to appear shinier when painted in a higher sheen than a lighter color,” Banbury says. A flat sheen, on the other hand, can create a more subtle finish, but it can make scuffs more stubborn during cleaning.
Combine paint from the start
Large projects may require more than one can of paint. George Crew, a licensed general contractor at Chicago Paint Crew, recommends “boxing” the paint to have an even color throughout. “Paint color may vary slightly from one can to the next,” he says. “If you have to open a new can in the middle of a wall, the difference may be noticeable.” Pour all the paint into a five-gallon bucket and mix. Use a metal grate screen to rid the roller of excess paint to avoid uneven application.
Take these steps to prep for an optimal paint job
“Ninety percent of paint failures are a result of insufficient or improper surface preparation,” Banbury says. “Proper surface preparation will require at least 80% of your project’s total time.” The prep effort will pay off in the long run as it will actually help reduce the quantity of paint required and the frequency with which you need to repaint in the future. What’s more, the final paint job is guaranteed to look better than if you had cut a few corners.
Step 1: Protect the area
Drop cloths and furniture covers, canvas in particular, offer the most protection by absorbing any paint that may spill, Banbury notes. Use plastic to cover furnishings from random splatters.
Step 2: Patch up cracks and damage
Need to figure out how to repair drywall? Start by filling nail holes or other cracks with a lightweight crack-filling compound. For deeper damage, say an opening after removing a TV mount bracket, place fiberglass tape over the opening and cover with joint compound. To seal the deal, apply acrylic latex painter’s caulk around all cracks. Smooth the area out with your finger. Cover all patches with primer before you paint to prevent flashing (known as a shiny spot) that can come through in the final finish, Crew says. Sand to smooth out any rough areas.
Step 3: Clean the surface
Vacuum the dust if you sanded. Clean any other contaminants such as dirt, mildew, oil, grease, and chalk from the walls with hot soapy water and microfiber cloth. Check that the surface is dry before painting. Wait at least one hour before starting the paint job. Applying paint to a wet wall could result in poor adhesion and even peeling.
Step 4: Use the right tools
A thicker roller with a 3/4-inch nap will hold more paint, and you will push down less and avoid making lap marks. “If you use too short of a nap, the finish is a bit smoother, but you will be constantly adding more paint to the roller and still cover less area,” Crew says.
For corners and trim, Paige Anderson emphasizes that a quality brush or roller is a must. “A cheap brush will shed bristles and leave streaks in your paint job,” she says.
How to remove scuffs and scratches from painted walls
No matter how great the paint job, your house is not a museum. You’ll have contact with the walls, whether you want to or not. For regular upkeep, incorporate melamine sponges in your weekly cleaning routine to wipe away grimy gray spots left by dirty hands. A soft cloth, or sponge, dipped in warm water will also do the trick. Stubborn stains may require the use of all-purpose household cleaners for total removal. Keep in mind, anything with chlorine or ammonia can discolor the paint or leave streaks.
In the case of legitimate stains—say, a rogue marker wielded by your offspring—they may require a paint touch-up in the same product, sheen, and color, Banbury says. Touch-ups can get tricky with shinier sheens because the new layer can look blotchy while remedying a flat finish is a simpler process, Crew adds.
If scrubbing doesn’t work, apply a stain-blocking primer—like HGTV Home® by Sherwin-Williams’s Infinity Paint & Primer—to cover the stain and prevent bleeding through. “Keep a sample-size jar of your wall paint color and a small brush handy in a cabinet,” says Kate Albrecht, co-founder of lifestyle brand Mr. Kate, who is updating a fixer-upper with her husband in Hawaii. “It’s a concealer for your wall!”
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