Getting a handle on the fine art of painting

Getting a handle on the fine art of painting


Don't try to press every drop of paint out of the brush...
Although painting a room in your house isn't quite like forging a Rembrandt, there is a skill and technique to it if you want to have a high-quality finish.

The place where flaws are most noticeable is in the brushwork - the cutting in, the corners and painting around fixtures.
Since a good paint job should last many years, remember to take your time; you'll be looking at your work almost every day.
The steps involved in painting a wall are:

  1. Preparing the surface.
  2. Taping off and covering things you don't want to paint.
  3. Painting the corners and edges with a brush.
  4. Painting the large areas with a roller.

For painting trim, you simply skip Step 4.
Some people think that Step 2 is a replacement for careful painting, but this is not so.

Taping off electrical outlets and trim is to keep errant drops and the fine paint splatter from paint rollers off of them, not to define the border.

Also, the masking tape found here is of very poor quality.

The adhesive used on the tape will not block the paint from seeping underneath the edges, and when it's removed you will be left with an uneven paint line or worse, paint on your fixtures or trim.

The best place to buy masking tape is at a stationary store where it hasn't been exposed to constant heat.

Two-centimetre-wide tape is used around electrical outlets and door and window trim, whereas five-centimetre-wide is better for light switches and bathroom fixtures.

There are two kinds of brush - synthetic bristle and China hair bristle.

Synthetic bristles are for latex and acrylic paints, whereas China-hair bristles are for oil-based paints.

The two styles of brushes are square-tipped and angle sash. For detailed work like painting trim and cutting in, angle-sash brushes are better.

Square-tipped brushes are better for covering larger areas.
A brush that's 6-8cm wide is good for most jobs and is easy to control.

Do not buy the brushes with 3cm-long bristles, as you will not get good results. Make sure all of the paint is mixed thoroughly.

If you have a number of cans, you need to pour them all together into a 20-litre bucket and mix until there are no streaks of color running through it.

Pour about a handful of paint into a small container such as a plastic 'to go' tub or the cut-off bottom of a water bottle.
To hold the brush properly, hold like you're holding a dinner plate vertically.

The thin part of the handle should rest in the crook of your hand.

Dip your brush about 5cm into the paint and lightly scrape off the flat sides on the edge of the container.
Start in a corner with very light pressure and draw the brush along, allowing the paint to pull out of it.

Keep your eye on the edge of the brush that is making your line and try to keep a constant pressure for the entire stroke.
Don't try to press every drop of paint out of the brush; you'll need to reload your brush every 20-30cm.

The bristles should lay out evenly, as if you're writing Chinese calligraphy.

Once you've covered about 50cm, make one long stroke feathering the paint together. Your line should be about 3-4cm wide.

To get into corners, point your brush at a 45 degree angle to the corner and press down in a heel-to-toe motion, so that the tip of the brush fans into an angle and pushes into the corner.

Patience and practice will have you painting crisp corners in no time.

A good selection of brushes can be found at Tang Pheng Por Import-Export at #146 Monireth, near the Hotel InterContinental.


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