Back to School: Painting 101

School is in session! As most Minnesota students are heading back to class this week, we thought now would be a good time to host our own little education session on something we love teach about – paint! So take some notes, this information will be on the test!

Before you get started on any painting project you need to understand some basics:

Choose your paint- there are five sheen levels for interior painting. Tim from Hirshfield’s in Lakeville explains the differences between the five levels:

  • Flat is the lowest sheen level and is best used for low traffic areas and ceilings.  Flat paints touch-up wonderfully but aren’t the most washable.
  • Matte finishes are relatively flat looking on the wall but offer an amount of durability and are commonly referred to as washable flats.
  • Eggshell is the most common sheen and is appropriate for many different uses. Its level of durability makes it washable in high traffic areas and bathrooms.
  • Satin finishes are great for very high traffic and high moisture areas such as busy laundry rooms and bathrooms where condensation is common.
  • Semi-gloss works well for walls that see abuse everyday and is very durable and washable.

Supplies – make sure you have the right brushes and rollers. The experts at your neighborhood Hirshfield’s can help you find the right one based on the paint you choose and the surface you’re painting.  You’ll also want to have painters’ tape to protect any woodwork. We have a series of videos to show you how to tape a room before you paint. We cover everything from taping a room the right way, taping around windows, taping around light fixtures, and removing the tape once you’re finished. And don’t forget drop cloths to protect the floor or carpet in your space.

Prime – Priming may be an important step for a successful job.  While there are many all-in-one “paint and primer” products available today (Hirshfield’s™ and Benjamin Moore Aura are examples) they should not be viewed as the corner-cutting panacea.  Glossy and slick surfaces, areas that have undergone extensive repair, and even when making drastic color changes are a few of the instances when you should consider the use of a specialty primer.  Consult with the staff at your paint store.   Taking the extra time to prime the walls first can actually save time by helping the finish coat develop its optimal color and appearance more quickly and in fewer coats. Primer can be white, gray or tinted. If you’ve chosen an off-white or light color a regular white primer should be just fine. Getting your primer tinted to be close to your final paint color is a great idea if you’ve chosen a dark, rich color. This will ensure an even coat and help you avoid needing what may seem like a million coats of paint to cover your walls. Gray primer is also a good idea for rich colors, especially red.

Paint – When you’re using a brush it’s important to hold it correctly. If you’re using a smaller brush for sash and trim work,  grip it like a pencil. You’ll want to hold a larger wall brush in your entire hand. Trimwork can be tricky – but it can go well if you follow this pattern: to cut in at a corner, paint out from the corner for five or six strokes, then smooth over them with a single, long, smooth stroke.  When using a roller, think of the letters M, N and W. Use your roller to make a large M (about 3 feet square) on the wall, followed by a backwards N or W pattern over it. Always start with an upward stroke so the paint won’t run down the wall and you’ll get good, even coverage. Fill in any spaces with crosswise strokes.

As summer turns into fall, you may also be considering starting an exterior painting project. Take advantage of the cooler weather to tackle an exterior paint project, but  make sure you know when it is too cold to paint outside:

Paint must set before the temperature drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, so it is best not to paint within two hours of sundown if temps are predicted to drop below that. Extremely high temperatures can also cause a problem, so avoid painting in temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (but we don’t have to worry about that for awhile now, do we!).

Moisture also affects paint, so wait several days after a rainfall and allow morning mist to evaporate before beginning your project.

Always make sure to check the label on your paint can for additional information or talk to your local Hirshfield’s paint expert.

When you are done with your painting project, be sure to properly dispose or recycle your paint:

Don’t throw away liquid paint in the trash or sink drain. Paint should stay in the original container. However, small amounts of latex paint can be left to dry in the can, and disposed of in the trash.

Only store paint in places that won’t freeze. Find cool, dry places to keep your paint and label containers well including the room you painted and the date, so you can keep track for touch ups. Remember, latex paint that has frozen cannot be used again or recycled. Excessive heat is also not good for paint.

Find out more about recycling with Minnesota’s Paint Care Program right here.

Find creative ways to use excess paint. Restoring old furniture is one way to use leftover paints, or allow your kids to use some for projects. You can also use fun colors for a closet repaint, or a basement storage area. Reusing is a valuable way to protect the environment.

Join Hirshfield’s Color Club. Let Hirshfield’s keep track of your paint color selections, including custom color formulations and stain colors. We record the color, the sheen, and even the room. You never need to save another old paint can. In addition, we offer an e-mail notice of sales, new products, decorating ideas, and other special offers…and a little Color Club discount. No need to carry a card, we’ve got you covered.

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