Friday, March 22

Perfecting the art of painting

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After last week's A-M tips on decorating, today we look at the N-Zs ideas

I’ve put together an alphabetical list of things to consider when you’re about to begin painting. This is part two, dealing with the N-Z of painting. The list doesn’t cover all you need to know, but it does include basic tips and advice.

Neutral colours In the context of interior design, neutral means without colour. Neutrals such as beige, ivory, taupe, black, grey and shades of white appear to be without colour, but these hues often have undertones. Be aware of these underlying tones when you match colours or choose paint.

Oil-based paint This is more durable, but it takes longer to dry, and cleaning requires turpentine or paint thinner (mineral spirits). Oil-based paints are made with either alkyd (synthetic) or linseed (natural) oils. Alkyd paint is more common because it is cheaper and tougher.

Preparation This is the most important part of the job. If you don’t get the surfaces properly prepared it is a waste of time applying good paint. Check that all surfaces are dry, clean and free of anything that could cause the new paint to peel. Ensure you use the correct base coats.

Question Always question what you are told by so-called experts and buy paint from a proper paint shop. I don’t think it is fair to expect a salesperson to know about every can of paint in a general hardware store, where many different brands are sold.

Rollers As with brushes, there are cheap and expensive rollers, with different types for different paints and applications. Make sure you have the right combination and practise first. Have a well-secured tray that does not hold too much paint, and never overload the roller.

Choose the best roller for the job. There are different types for different paints and applications. Picture: Supplied

Stripping This not an easy task and one, in my opinion, best left to an expert you are willing to pay. It is labour-intensive and once started you have to finish. Paint strippers, heat guns, steel wool and blowtorches all come into play here, followed by hours of sanding.

Touch-ups This, too, is not an easy task, especially when using paints with a shiny finish – you will always be able to see where you’ve tried to repair a scratch or chip in the paint. It is best to stipple the affected area with a short-haired stiff brush. Never wash walls with creamy household cleaner – a soft cloth and a bar of Sunlight soap works best.

Under-coat The importance of undercoats is second only to preparation. Undercoats act as the go-between, between the underlying surface and the new top finish. Different materials require different primers or undercoats, so ensure you get the correct advice.

Varnish This is a transparent, hard, protective finish or film primarily used in wood finishing but also for other materials. Varnish is traditionally a combination of a drying oil, resin and thinner or solvent. It is mainly used indoors as externally we tend to use wood sealers, which penetrate and protect wood better against the elements.

Varnish is used mainly indoors. Picture: Supplied

Whitewash This is a great product to use on old external walls when you want the walls to breathe. It does tend to break down and powder easily but due to its lower cost it is more economical to use than having expensive paint coatings peel off.

Xylography This can be used as a painting technique: either carvings on wood are filled with different colours or the raised surfaces can be painted, and the block used as a stamp.

Yellowing White paint in particular is prone to yellowing, especially gloss and enamel paints. Eventually your walls get that nicotine patina, like walls did back in the day when we all smoked. When paint starts to yellow it is time to start again. Working over gloss paint involves some serious preparation.

Zinc primer Zinc-rich primers are used to protect steel surfaces from corrosion. Unlike regular paints or epoxies which resist corrosion by forming an impermeable barrier between the metal and atmospheric moisture, zinc-rich primers provide corrosion protection by electrical means.

*Handy Mac, aka Don MacAlister, is our expert on household DIY issues. If you have a question for him, please send it to or SMS only to 082 446 3859. Find Don on FB:

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