Now that you spent your winter down time to develop your paint project – time frame, budget, color selection and equipment purchases – it’s time to buy your paint and plan for your application.
Buying your paint.
It’s important to remember that all paints are not created equal; one manufacturer’s “Premium” paint line may actually be the same as or even inferior to another producer’s standard paint collection. Decisions about this can impact the amount of paint you need to purchase as a paint’s coverage can vary depending on its quality. In general though here are some guidelines for how much paint you should buy for your project:
To estimate the amount of paint you need in order to cover an object, or a room, add together the length (horizontal) of all the sides or walls and then multiply the number by the height of the object or room, from top to bottom (vertical). The number you get is the side area’s square footage. Do the same for the top and bottom of an object or room ceiling using the length and width instead of height. Add this number to your side square footage for the complete area needed to paint.
In general, you can expect 1 gallon of paint to cover about 350 square feet, double that if you expect to use two coats. If you’re painting surfaces that are unfinished, heavily patched, or dark in color, plan on applying two coats of paint.
Divide the paintable area (the square footage you’ve already calculated), by 350 (the square-foot coverage in each gallon can) to estimate the number of gallons of paint you need. You can round uneven numbers; if the remainder is less than .5, order a couple of quarts of paint to go with the gallons; if the remainder is more than .5, order an extra gallon. Of course, buying in bulk is usually more economical, so you may discover that 3 quarts of paint cost as much as a gallon and it won’t hurt to have extra just in case. Again, expect to double that number of gallons if you anticipate requiring two coats.
You want as much paint on the brush as you can control without making drips. Dip the brush about 1 1/2 inches into the paint, then tap (not wipe) each side of the brush against the side of the can. Tapping knocks off the drips and forces the paint into the bristles. Keep the brush moving or it’ll start to drip. For more delicate work, such as painting trim, you’ll want less paint on the brush. In this case dip and tap the brush but also scrape the sides against the can. This way the outside bristles are drier and more manageable but the brush still has enough paint.
Work from the top down: for rooms, start with crown molding, then do the walls and then paint the casement molding around the windows and doors. Do baseboard molding last. Painting baseboards last keeps floor dust and dirt from traveling onto the brush and then onto freshly painted casements. Between coats back-prep, sand off any bumps, before applying the next coat. Use a shop light or flash light to check surfaces for drips, roller flecks, or any imperfections.
Don’t bother cleaning brushes and rollers if you are going to use them the next day on the same job. For two-day jobs, wrap rollers and brushes in plastic grocery bags and sticks them in the refrigerator. Allow rollers to return to room temperature before reusing. Roller covers are almost impossible to clean thoroughly and it’s better to buy new covers for each job.
Accidents happen. Keep cheap sponge brushes on hand to blend a patch with the rest of the wall or woodwork; to mimic the look of a roller dab on the paint.
Color matching for touch ups.
Why is it hard to make touch-up paint match? Water leaves a paint film as it dries, how quickly the water leaves the film affects how good the final touch-up is. Wicking refers to moisture absorbed into the surface being painted. When touching up paint realize that the paint will wick at a different rate than the original coat. Matching the exact wicking rate each time you paint is impossible, but you can get better results. Slow down the amount of water lost by diluting the paint for touchups. Diluting paint adds moisture and slows the wicking rate and increases the time for the paint to set up. Dilute paint by 5 to 10 percent using water for latex-based paint or mineral spirits for oil-based paint.