Sunday, December 22, 2013

How to paint a straight ceiling line

I remember about 14 years ago when I was painting the first lines in some of Chicago's homes my hand was shaking and the lines were wavy. I was wondering why it was so difficult to do something so simple? The first idea that came to mind was how to be calm and I've found a way- I started to pray and it helped me at some point, because it balanced my mental state. These first steps I would compare with an artist going on stage. You are going to give performance and after that you are not able to take it back if you do something wrong. Drawing the line on the wall especially with the dark color does not have way back- you have one shot and you need to make it as good as possible. Of course you can paint the ceiling edge with the ceiling paint and try it again, but sometimes you only paint walls and you don't have ceiling paint for touch up. 
Over time it changed, because I've gained some experience and understanding of what things are important in the process of painting a straight ceiling line. I will list several important things in this process:

1. What concept is the most important in painting the line: sturdy hand, ability to focus your sight to the edge of the ceiling, understanding how the line should lay in that edge to have the best look (because sometimes you have not so straight edges) or having a good quality brush for that purpose. By my understanding all these things are important, but I would put them in this order:

1) A good brush is the most important thing here; you have to have a good tool to do a good job. It could be individual thing- if somebody likes one specific brush for painting the lines, that doesn't mean it is good for everybody. But I would recommend two brushes that I am using for that purpose today. When I started painting I usually used Purdy brushes, but later the bristles got too soft for me and I started looking for more firm brushes. A couple of years ago I found the Benjamin Moore Extra-Firm Nylon & Polyester 2 1/2" brush, and it works well for me.

And for my big surprise two weeks ago I unexpectedly found an even better brush and I am "in love" today. This is the Wooster PRO, 100% Nylon  2 1/2" brush. You can find it at a Home Depot store.

2) Second most important thing is the ability to focus your sight to the edge of the ceiling. I would compare it with the process of driving a car. We don't look at small details on the road (stones, curbs, bumps, etc.) when we're driving a car, we just follow our intuition and look in front of us with abstract sight, our goal is to drive straight and go smoothly through all the obstacles along the way. When you paint the line you should see the whole picture (do not concentrate to the small details of the edge), and try to imagine the straight line in front of you.

3) A sturdy hand comes with experience, but it is not always the rule. I have seen nice lines at clients' homes that they did by themselves. Maybe some people are just more focused and calm than others.

2. Existing paint on the wall is important in the line painting process. The brush will move with more difficulty on cheap flat paint finish surfaces, sprayed years ago. It will go smoother and easier on washable paint, like egg-shell or satin finish. When we paint the first coat, the line isn't ideal, but that's okay. When we do the second coat we can straighten the first coat and get desirable results.

So when you have good result from a closer distance, it looks even better looking from farther away J

3. Dip the brush into the cut bucket (can) and clean one side. I usually clean just one side of the brush after dipping it in to a cut bucket (can). I leave more paint on the side that is going into the edge.

4.Washing the brush. I got good advice from my friend about washing and leaving the paint brush wet. After the brush is dry it keeps its good shape- the bristles are not dis-shaped 

So this is it for this time. I wish you straight lines in your painting projects. By the way I always think, that main rule in the painting process is to have straight lines everywhere if it is possible; the room has a better appeal. Sometimes for people it is hard to tell why the room looks more appealing. I think these "invisible" things we spend preparing to do a higher quality job makes this appealing look. 
What do you think? Your comments are always welcome.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Touch up walls and ceiling in your home before Christmas

I know there is not too much time left before Christmas for touch ups, but it is definitely enough if you know what to do. About one week ago I worked in a clients house just doing touch ups and repainting some walls. In about nine hours I was able to do following:

1. Patch several small spots on the wall in a sitting room and paint one coat over the whole wall.
2. Fix two cracks on the wall on both sides of the fireplace in a family room, patch it and touch up spots.
3.Paint two narrow walls up to the ceiling in a kitchen.
4.Patch several scratches on the wall in a mud room and do paint touch ups.
5. Patch drywall hole hit by the door handle in a daughters room and to do paint touch up.
6.Patch several scratches and paint one wall in a sons bedroom.
7.Paint one wall over with seem dirt spots in a master closet.

I think it is necessary to mention here, that the client was supposed to have the original left over paint by previous painters for touch ups. Later in the process, that paint did not match (walls are faded) or was completely the wrong color. So before starting all the touching up -here is the painting process:

Step 1 . Make sure that you have all of the paint needed: the right colors that are still in good condition. Be ready to go to the paint store if needed.

Step 2. Have ready all needed tools:
-painting tray and several liners for different colors;
-brush, and small painting brushes;

-small and big rollers with handles;

- 5 in one tool (scraper);

-drop cloth to cover the floor and plastic sheets for covering furniture;

Step3. Evaluate what paint finish you have on the wall; you will find this on the paint can. Typically on the ceiling should be Flat finish. On the walls it could be Flat, Egg-shell or Matt  finishes. Doors, trims, and baseboards are mostly semi gloss finish.

Step4. When you detected finish of the paint it is good to know how to handle each finish:

Flat- it does not have any sheen and it is not washable paint. But it is the best finish for touch ups, because touched up spots will be less likely seem. Unless it is painted for more than 3-5 years and possibly paint color might be faded from the sun light.
That is why landlords of the rental properties  like this paint. After tenant moves out often times it is enough to do just lots of touch ups around the unit and it is no seem Flashing spots after that.

Egg-shell- has medium sheen and considers a washable paint. Any touch up ,bigger than 1/4 of inch most likely will be seem as the Flashing spot, especially in a light room, where you have sun light . In a smaller bathroom without window or with the small window it might be seem less or not seem at all.

Matt-has less sheen and considers washable paint. Regarding touch ups is almost the same as the egg-shell finish. Any bigger touch up will be seem as the Flashing spot.

Semi gloss-has high sheen and it is washable paint. On the walls it could be used at the bathroom. Touch up on the wall most likely will be seem as the Flashing spot. On the door the touch up might work better, because typically door and trims will be white color.

For all finishes i would recommend several simple rules:

1. All small touch ups do with the very small painters brush. 
-Let's say you want to hide a nail hole (because you took off the picture). Just fill that hole with a caulk or putty carefully. Do not mess around, fill just in a hole and wipe with the wet and clean cloth around this hole. After that just do small 1/8" touch up (do not use roller in this case!)
-if you have small scuffs on the wall or the corner, do the same way. Take very small painters brush and touch up just tiny area.
2. if you have bigger repair, like a crack. Fix it, prime it and try to paint just locally at the start.

Let's say we have small crack closer to the fireplace , where the arrow  shows. After fixing it and priming , its enough to paint it from the baseboard up to the small window. I would stop at the both sides of the window where those narrow places are. If those colors would differ I would paint it up to the ceiling.
3. Follow this logic around the house. Try do small touch up. If it seems as the Flashing spot, paint whole section of the wall up to the narrowest place. If it does not work- than be prepared to paint whole wall.
4. If you don't have enough paint for whole wall, take old paint gallon to the store. They will scan bar code and you will have enough paint.
5. If you don't have any old paint- don't worry. Cut little peace of the top paper part of the drywall about 2'x2' square. After that just patch this spot, sand and prime. Any paint store (Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore) will match this color by using computer technique and you will come home with full gallon of the paint. Make sure you told them the right paint finish (Flat, Egg-shell or Matt, etc.).  And then "Paint It Easy!" Merry Christmas Everybody!
P.S. If you have specific situations needed for touch up, fixing or painting , send me a picture or the video I will be more than happy to help you.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Fix the drywall after the leakage on the ceiling

In my earlier blog I wrote about the ceiling leakage at my clients office. Today the plumbing problem is solved and I can finish my job by fixing drywall hole left by the plumber. I will guide you by steps needed to take to close the ceiling hole:

Step 1. Find ceiling joists around the hole. Make sure that drywall sides going along the joist are in a middle of it so every square peace of the drywall could be tightly fixed to the joint. For that reason we need to cut marked areas.  
On the right side (look at the picture) drywall hangs on the empty space. We will need to do some framing work to support this side of the drywall as well

For that reason I fixed one peace of 2" by 4" wooden stud  to the existing joist and other peace of the same size wood I fixed to the drywall itself with the screws. Make sure whole perimeter of the drywall is fixed to the wood so it wouldn't have any movement 

Step 2. Measure the hole and figure out how to cut the drywall. I decided to go with two peaces of the drywall. Fix the drywall withe screws and put mesh tape around perimeter of the hole.

Step 3. Now it is time to put first layer of mud on the patched area. Make sure that with the first layer all gaps are properly filled with the mud. 

Step 4. For better quality and smooth finish we have to put two more layers on the top, after each layer is dry. Then we will sand the surface with the sanding handle, put one coat of the primer and one or two coats of the ceiling paint on the top. Make sure every coat is completely dry before you are doing next coat.

So the ceiling hole is fixed and we can move forward. We will see what interesting situations we will have tomorrow and in coming days. One of the next themes I would like to write how to do touch ups around at home before Christmas. Few days ago I worked at clients home doing touch ups, fixing drywall, repainting several  walls in different rooms. I was surprised by myself how much you can do in one day if you organize work properly and you know what you do. I would like to share this experience with you. Stay tuned and Iwill talk to you next time.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

How To Get Rid of Striped Wall

Several days ago I worked in a kids bedroom. One wall had stripes and client wanted to get ride of them. The main problem we need to solve before painting over this wall is to sand the lines between the stripes made by taping each stripe separately in the painting process.In this video we can see these lines even they are modest in this case.

By using a sanding machine along these stripe lines we can sand them off; for this I would use 120 grit sandpaper.

In this video you can see how the wall looks after sanding it.

The next step is to sand unreachable spots by hand using folded sand paper: sand up by the ceiling and down by the baseboards.

Now it's time to vacuum clean the wall or wash it up with the water and sponge. After its completely clean and dry you can prime it with the primer, especially if you paint the wall with a lighter color or just paint 2 coats with the self priming paint (paint and primer in one).

Good luck!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

How to detect and fix drywall imperfections 

The best way to detect drywall imperfections on walls and ceilings for me is by using a portable work light with 500w halogen bulb. You can find it at any store: Home Depot, Lowes, or Menards. I use it all the time before starting wall or ceiling preparation, whether is sunny or rainy day outside; because typically you would think that in a sunny day you can see every imperfection on the drywall. Unfortunately it is not the case. At any time of the day you have darker places in the room and it is hard to detect a nail pop on the upper part of the wall closer to the ceiling, or a small crack above the window or door trim.

I always joke that this light is not for clients because if you put it in a certain position by any wall, you will be able to see the whole "story" behind that wall: was it sprayed by the builder (if the house is still several years old), or did the roller have a  smaller or bigger nap, depending on how rough texture on the wall is. So when the client approaches you better turn this light off J! You don't want to make a client worry about the state of the drywall around the house. They may never see those imperfections, because in the day light or in the existing room light they is not able to be seen. The halogen light is mostly for professionals to use. Although if you are a home owner and you are reading this post, especially if you are going to paint your house by yourself, don't worry about it - you are a professional! In this video I will show the view of the wall imperfections with the light on the floor, directed up to the ceiling.

First of all  by using scraper (in this case 6 in one tool) I will scrape everything above the wall surface as possible. In this way will be easier to hide it with the mud patching over imperfections. For the screw anchor holes you can push in everything around that hole. To get ride of the plastic screw anchor  you can cut it with the scraper and hammer rest of the plastic part in to the hole.

Nail pops are important part of imperfections. You will find it often and in every room on the walls and ceilings. I will have separate post about nail pops and cracks, because it is important part of wall preparation. Typical reason of the nail pop to appear is loosen drywall around the nail or screw. In a house settling process wooden constructions have the motion and makes drywall in some places loose. It is not enough just to scrape the nail pop from the drywall and patch it over it. It's better to take away the reason why it happened in a first place. After scraping the nail pop I always put extra screw, because it makes drywall tighten to the stud again.

Now it is time to patch imperfections. Usually I use SHEETROCK® Brand Easy Sand™ Lightweight Setting-Type Joint Compound with 45 minute set time. This specific material is easy to mix, patch and sand. Especially if you patching, sanding and painting walls the same day that's the product because its dries fast. By using mud pan and drywall taping knifes

It is time to patch imperfections on the wall. I like to keep joint compound in a 2 gal bucket with the lid. It stays dry, convenient to carry and to use it (you can use just cleaned up bucket from the paint and have plastic cup from laundry detergent)

First of all we make patching mud by mixing joint compound with the water. Do as thick as would be comfortable to work. I like thicker one, because I like to patch smaller imperfections with one or two layers. As thinner the mud is as more layers you need. Typically you need to put 3 layers of mud to get the best result, especially on the bigger spots or replaced drywall areas, where you are using mesh tape. Lets make a mud

It maybe helpful to check this video from youtube about mixing the mud
We have patching mud, lets get to work

Right now it is time to sand. I usually use sanding handle with sandpaper 100. After several motions actually it becomes 150 and it does not leave noticeable marks on the patched spot. I like to use more narrow die cut sandpaper which fits the with of the sanding handle. This way it is easier to reach closer to any corner with the handle.

In the patching and sanding process both operations are important. You can patch very good, but somebody can do bad sanding and make the patched spot seam (mesh tape can come off). In the opposite case you can have not so good patch, but somebody who knows how to sand still can make good final result. As I mentioned, that I usually try to save time on patching, making one or two thicker layers of mud, but I spend more time on sanding and focusing on good final result . I guess everybody has its own style. As I said at the start of the blog I respect my colleagues for dedication improving peoples homes and always took some good new ideas in painting process along the way. Same time I know that I've found new and convenient ways  improving my own work technique as well. 
First of all its need to sand around the perimeter of patched area, make it smooth transformation from the spot to the wall, make it look like a one surface. Than needs to sand middle of the spot. I typically sand until I start to see some signs of hidden imperfection. I means that I should stop here and it is "the line on the sand" where you can not to cross.

Drywall repair. Sometimes in a preparation process we have  drywall pushed in to the wall and  having a bump. It needs to check by pushing with the finger. If the drywall moves you can not to patch it over. 


By using the drywall saw we have to cut the drywall off.

It is always good to reach the stud even on the one side of the hole (as you can see in the upper video on the right side). Then we can put 2x4 wood on the left inner side of the hole ant fix it with the screws to the drywall.

Now we can put the drywall and use mesh tape around the hole.

Right now we can patch the drywall, but I should stop right here. As I mentioned earlier I'll have separate post on this theme.
Maybe somebody has some specific questions while working in a painting process at home. I'd be glad if I could help here. Do not hesitate to ask, questions always welcome. I will get in touch with you later. Have a wonderful week everybody!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Steps to take  after a ceiling leakage 

Last time I finished my post with  the idea to check the drywall leakage mark on the office ceiling. 

This time we are going to use the very important painter's 6 in one tool or scraper. Actually  the popular most known name of this tool is 5 in one. This means the tool has 5 functions. In my case this "Purdy" tool has 6 functions: spread putty compound, open/clean cracks, open paint lids, nail-set hammerhead handle end, clean rollers, scrape paint.

First of all we will scrape the peeled paint from the ceiling around the damaged area.

Next we will check if this spot is dry or still wet by touching spot with the finger. You can do it with the moisture meter as well.

We detected that the spot is still wet.One week after fixing the shower glass door seal it should be dry. We suspect that we might have another problem here.  So we need a plumber to open the drywall and to find the problem. By using a drywall saw we have opened the drywall. 

Now the plumber can inspect what is going on inside the ceiling construction.

After closer look we did find that the pipe has small leakage from the pipe and elbow connection. Later, when the plumber will fix the leakage problem we will come back and fix the drywall. In my next post I will focus how to detect drywall imperfections on the wall and how to fix them.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

What tools we need to prepare the room for painting

When working, painters use a lot of all kind of tools, depending on the situation.

Yesterday, I started working on a home office. I had to fix the damaged ceiling before starting any other prep work. Two weeks ago my client detected that the seal on the glass doors had deteriorated, causing water to leak and create stain marks on the drywall and baseboard close to the glass doors. The water trickled down, creating damage to the office ceiling. One week ago the door seal was replaced and now it's time to check the spot on the ceiling. If the spot is dry, I will be able to patch it up and paint over it.

1. The office floor is hardwood (oak). I will need to move some of the furniture in the middle of the room, away from the walls. I always use Sliders under each corner of heavier furniture to make the process easier. One brand that has worked for me are the Reusable Felt Sliders from Lowes (you can find similar products in other hardware stores as well)

2. When all furniture is moved we need it to cover with a plastic sheet. I usually use big plastic roles from JC Licht store , because of the best price and good product. 

Some painters prefer to use thicker plastic than 0.31 mil, but in my practice this particular plastic has always worked well. For furniture with a fabric finish, like sofa couches or seats, you drape them with canvas tarps (on the top of plastic sheet) to protect them, especially when painting the ceiling.

Of course, for cutting the plastic you are going to need a utility knife. I usually use the basic and simple ones, you can find in any store. I like it because of small size and it's convenient to carry it in a pocket

Do not forget to cover the light fixture! I prefer to take off the ceiling plate (that way I don’t need to worry about taping it or getting paint on it). It typically has a ring underneath the plate that is stuck to the ceiling. Just loosen the ring and take down the plate.

3. When you’re covering the room to prep for painting, make sure to lay the plastic sheets on the floor first. The canvas drop cloths will go on top of the plastic. This way we will keep dust away from the furniture.

 I prefer Benjamin Moore canvas drop cloths, because they are the thickest ones and even in case of accidentally stepping in a painters pan (yes!!! I know!!!J) The mess does not go through right away and allows you a few more minutes for clean up. You have time to put the plastic sheet under the drop cloth to contain the spill and enough time to clean the any paint that stuck to the drop clothing using a taping knife and a big towel. 
One more thing regarding the drop cloth- I always face the same side up (see upper picture), so the bottom part would always be clean. I keep the ‘top’ side of my canvas as the one with the letters in order to stay consistent (I write my initials on each drop cloth) and always put tarps with those letters up. Another way to remember which side is the ‘top’ or the messy side is to look at the side of the drop cloth with the right seam on the top.

This is the same way I fold tarps after a job is finished. The clean part is always hidden and painted part is outside. So when you keep them in your truck the clean part is inside and always ready to be placed on the clean carpet or floor.

4. When everything is covered we can start the work.

For 8' or 9' ceiling I use 4' or 6' foot ladder.

5.Oops! I forgot to mention my most important two tools: trash can and radio J

I like to use the box my paint comes is as the trash can because it's inexpensive, convenient and  "green" J

My radio is my energy and work speed. As you can see it has gotten a lot of use over the years.

Today, I pause my journey here. Stay tuned for next time when I will talk about drywall fixing of that home office ceiling. Have a wonderful weekend everybody! 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving Day to everybody in blogosphere!

My name is Virgil. It was a big challenge for me, to overcome my own obstacles and fears to start a blog about interior home painting. Everybody who started their own blog knows, that you have to answer a lot of questions to a “little man’s voice inside your head”J until you start such a big journey. But I finally did it!
I’ve been painting houses in the Chicagoland area for the past 14 years. Along the way, I have picked up techniques from my own experience as well as other professional painters I’ve worked with.
My goal is to share part of my knowledge and experience with others: home owners, beginners in a painting business and whoever will find this information useful.
I don’t claim to be a better painter than my colleagues in the business. I am grateful for the opportunities and people who have helped me along the way. I simply want to share my perspective on some interesting and important painting tips to help you achieve better results.
Painting requires hard work and dedication. Making people’s homes more beautiful and appealing is an art, and each of us has our own personal style. When I was starting out in the business, guys would joke and call the painters- PicassosJ So when I say that we leave our personal touch- I mean itJ.
I’ll be posting pictures and instructional videos about the painting process, starting with the basics. My focus will primarily be the preparation of painting surfaces to achieve quality results. Actually the expanded title of my blog would be: “Prep hard and Paint it Easy!”

Feel free to comment and ask questions. I hope for this blog to act as a vehicle to your painting success.