The right way to paint - Part III

One day this past week, when John wasn’t around, Mike said the smartest way to paint is to start with the ceiling, then do the trim, and then the walls. Then his voice dropped, he looked around, and, satisfied that John wasn’t listening, said “of course, if you ask John, he’ll tell you I’m all wet. We’ve been arguing about this for years.”

Mike was right -- John does think he’s all wet on this subject. While Mike was on vacation this week, John, standing in the back room, arms folded, head shaking back and forth, smiled and knew right away where this painting thing was going. John stood his ground and said there’s one way to paint -- ceiling first, then the walls, then the trim.

Each believes he is right, and perhaps a mud wrestling match later this spring in their parking lot would settle the issue. But in the meantime, they do agree on when and how paint should be applied so that you get the finish you envision; something you really like and can be proud of, rather than something you have to settle for. So, after you’ve prepped according to the instructions in our last column (if you didn’t see it, check the archives)

Start with the ceiling. Roll the ceiling -- nice, even strokes. John says if you think you missed a spot, go back right then, while it’s wet, and roll over it again. It will blend in that way. Even a day’s wait could mean repainting the entire surface to avoid having a repainted area stand out.

Say a small prayer for Richard Adams. He invented the paint roller in 1940, because during World War II our country was experiencing a shortage of brushes, which were being used to apply paint to parts needed for the war. Adams died in 1988. Imagine painting an entire room without a roller and you might want to put a little statue of Adams on your dashboard.

Yes, you can roll stucco. John does in his house. Just do it with the right paint and roller. 1/2" nap roller. Simi-Gloss paint.

How long to wait between coats? Both John and Mike agree that you’re going to use two coats of paint, even if you put on a primer before that, so don’t fight it -- just accept the idea. That said, John recommends no more than two coats applied in one day -- primer and a first coat, or two coats if you primed the day before. “Two is all you want in one day. Three, and you get sloppy and it screws up the job.”

When rolling walls, both agree vertical motion is the way to go. Horizontal, even in a small area, means the paint runs off one end of the roller and that’s how one gets uneven coverage.

Brushes are for trim and cut-ins, or small areas you don’t want to roll. Here’s how to keep the paint from drying with brush strokes visible: Use a good brush with more bristles; that pretty much guarantees a more uniform finish; forget about painting and concentrate on flowing the paint on (a foam brush is great for this, but foam brushes are really hard to use on intricate cut-ins). Mike says too much brush work makes the paint dry too quickly, another reason you end up with dried brush strokes. John ran across an interesting idea when he was rolling a ceiling and accidentally smacked a door with the roller as he was pulling it down. He finished rolling the door and then went right over it with a foam brush.

“Rolling and then working with a foam brush gives you a finish that looks like it’s baked on,” he says.