Brushing up on paint
• Close all doors and vents to prevent sanding dust
from spreading to other areas of the house.
• Sand the patched area smooth using fine-grit
sandpaper (150 to 200 grit).
• Clean the repaired areas to remove dust.
FEW THINGS ADD new life to a home as dramatically as fresh paint. All experts agree that proper
preparation is the secret to a successful paint
job. These tips will help you save time and get
Before you start
• Turn off the electrical power to the room
you’re working in and remove cover plates
on switches and outlets.
• Remove window hardware (if the windows
are to be painted) such as sash locks
• Cover wall lighting fixtures to protect
them, or, better yet, remove them.
• Remove doorknobs and strike plates at
• Tape off the lock at the edge of the door.
• Protect furniture from paint and roller
splatter with a plastic drop cloth and, if
necessary, move the furniture to the center
of the room.
• Protect the floor with a cloth or plastic
Clean and tape the walls
Now that everything in the room has been
removed and/or covered, it is time to wash the walls
and remove dirt, grease, dust and other substances.
Wear gloves to protect your hands.
• Wash the walls from the bottom up using TSP
(trisodium phosphate), available in most hardware stores.
• Rinse the walls with clean water and a sponge.
• Allow the walls to dry before taping.
• Protect molding and windowsills with painter’s
tape. Make sure the tape is flush with the molding.
• Apply the tape in a straight line along the bottom
of the crown molding and along the top of the
base molding. Make sure the lines are level
Patch any holes
• Apply a wall-patch product with a putty knife.
Spread the compound over holes several times
using an “X” motion. Scrape off excess product
from the wall.
• Allow the wall patch to dry overnight or as the
manufacturer’s instructions specify.
Experts recommend using a primer before the
final color coat. Consult with a quality paint supplier about which primer to use and how many
coats will be necessary for your application. For best
results, paint room surfaces in the following order:
ceiling, walls, baseboard trim, door, door trim, window trim.—Will Fifield
SELECTING COLORS is complicated enough, but you should
also consider the appropriate
sheen. Here’s a look.
• Flat paint has the dullest
sheen, or shine. It’s best used
in low-activity areas, such as
hallways, living and dining
rooms, bedrooms and on ceilings. Of all the sheen options,
a flat finish is best at concealing wall imperfections.
• Eggshell (sometimes called
satin or low-luster) paint has a
bit more shine to it than flat. It
works well in kids’ rooms,
where easier-to-clean walls are
• Semigloss paint has even more
shine and reflective qualities
than eggshell and is great for
kitchens and bathrooms,
where moisture and cleanup
are major considerations.
• Gloss paint is just that—
glossy. It has the highest shine
factor, so it should be limited
to truly high-traffic areas.
Because it highlights imperfections more than a lower-sheen
paint, it’s best when used on
small areas, such as cabinet
doors or trims.—WF
Ten do’s and don’ts of home renovation
IF YOU’RE PLANNING a home renovation,
here are a few tips on hiring a reputable
contractor and setting realistic project
expectations from Jim Caruk (
carukgroup.com), host of Life Television’s
Real Renos in Canada.
1 Make sure you’re hiring a professional.
Check that contractors carry liability
insurance and workers’ compensation.
It’s even better if they are members of
one or more professional associations
(e.g., the National Association of Home
www.nahb.org) that help
regulate industry standards.
2 Ask for references, and check them out.
3 Go see contractors’ work—in fact, see
work in progress, or else a contractor
will show you only finished gems, not
how you can expect a project to go.
4 Don’t pick the cheapest or costliest guy
on the block. Some companies quote
low but nail you for extras, while those
with higher quotes may actually be
more honest in spelling out everything
right from the start.
5 Allow for the final bill to come within
10 to 15 percent of the original quote.
There are always additional expenses
along the way, but the final price
shouldn’t be more than 15 percent
from the budget set out.
6 Plan months ahead. It’s true of construction people too: All the good ones
are taken, so don’t expect to pick up
the phone and have someone start
next week. If they’re any good, they’re
likely booked solid.
7 Propose a retainer instead of a deposit.
There’s no need to pay one-third up
front, which some contractors typically
ask, unless it’s for things, such as
kitchen cabinets or windows, that
need to be paid for right away. For big
jobs just a monthly retainer should be
acceptable until the job officially starts
and you agree on a pay schedule; a
retainer isn’t necessary for smaller jobs
8 Know the scope of the work to be done.
The more you know about what you
want and the better you can communicate that to the contractor at the
inception of a renovation project, the
smoother things can go. Making up
your mind, or changing your mind,
along the way only eats up time and
drives up the final price.
9 Don’t get mad at Mother Nature.
Expect weather to affect the project’s
timelines and maybe even create
challenges and setbacks.
10 Check your ego at the door. Emotions
can flare up wherever there’s drywall
and nails, and some clients start to think
they should be directing the project.
People hire a contractor because they
don’t have the time or skills to do the
project themselves, so let the professionals do what they know how to do.
Be realistic, and keep an open mind.
That means setting a realistic plan, then
realizing that projects are fluid things that
change and that there are always labor
pains. Be ready to roll with the punches.