Ask a Painting Question

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46 thoughts on “Ask a Painting Question”

    • I’m going to be writing a full post this summer! For now, the key point is to work in a dust-free environment. If you can remove all doors and drawers to the garage and if you can enclose an area with plastic walls…a booth…that’s best. Please read my trim to paint post here. That covers primers and so on.
      Also, definitely remove all hardware and masking tape where the hinges were, so you don’t gunk it up with paint. I label each door etc that looks similar to others. No missing when they go back. they can all be somewhat different.
      Let me know how it goes or if you have a specific question.
      Good luck,
      b

      Reply
  1. Brad, I have ~ Dz. interior doors that need help. They are all the hollow composite wood with a textured look to resemble wood, white. My dry-run and my concern is that the paint is too thick. using BM Regal Semi Gloss/trim, and is timely. Wondering if i should remove them all from the hinge. TY

    Reply
    • Yes. You are right, these doors are made to look like wood but they have all kinds of non-wood materials and painting them can be a mistake. In most cases you will be ok with PrimeLock primer after a light sanding.
      A quart should do about 4-6 door SIDES.
      Then sand again after the primer then 1 or 2 coats of paint.
      Definitely remove and the hardware too. Put a mark for each door where the hinge goes and cover that with tape. Then re-hanging will be easy.

      Reply
  2. Brad,
    I live in a house built in the 1920’s with the majority of the walls being plaster. There is a room with plaster walls that has been previously painted using the crackle paint finish. I now want to paint over the crackle paint to brighten up the room. From what i can tell the walls are in good shape, there is some unevenness which I am fine with (gives the walls character). I am thinking prime and paint, but I am not sure this project would require any other prep. Please advise type of primer/paint best to cover the walls and other prep I should be aware of.

    Thank you,
    Debbie

    Reply
    • I doubt what we call crackle paint today is what you have, but maybe. In the old days they would add glue to make various cracked textures. People in the past were more conserviative with paint. Anyway while it is rare, if you have a real texture, like highs and lows as with weathered paint, you will see that come through many many coats of paint and primer. Paint cannot fill cracks.
      So to really remove it, and don’t shoot the messenger… you’ll need to do what’s called ‘skim coat’. A very thin coat of drywall compound. Applying is not so bad…it’s the sanding that is so hard especially on ceilings if you have that there.
      So since you are ok with some ‘character’ try just painting it with 2 coats (test spots) on different walls and look in various kinds of light.
      It sure would be easier than skim coating. In any case, you can do all this yourself. No pros needed. Start with this video if you skim coat.
      Good luck.

      Reply
      • Brad,
        Thank you for the advise. One clarification, the walls were painted with the crackle paint within the last 15 years. Not sure if that changes my options. I will probably do some test areas with primer and paint and see how it looks.
        Thanks again,
        Debbie

        Reply
  3. I need to paint or stain window and door trim, and the door itself. I’ve read the two posts you have on this (very helpful). All over the web, everyone says to use white paint. But that sounds to me like it would get grimy, even if I wipe them down occasionally. I really hesitate to paint doors white, especially. Is there something else you might recommend, something nice-looking and mainstream (not red, black, etc.)?

    Reply
    • I’d need to know if it’s a front door, basement …etc .. There are so many possibilities. If you get a quality white, you can wipe the hand marks with a wet cloth and the good paint won’t chip too easily. White is the thing, but if you just can’t do it, yes, stain and coat with a clear coat. Lots to choose from there too. You can even skip the stain if you like the natural wood look. No so much for the low grade SPF wood..spruce pine fir. They are soft and need something… don’t stain so well. but hard wood stains very well.
      If you send a pic, I could post here for others to see and we could do before and after….
      Good luck!
      b

      Reply
      • Thank you for the reply. The trim and the door are interior (a small bathroom). The door is wood, and not hollow, though I don’t know what kind of wood. Would I need to use high gloss paint to get something easily washable if I decide to go that route?

        Reply
        • Generally, yes, we put a gloss or semi-gloss on doors and window frames: anything we touch that gets grimey and needs cleaning. Eggshell today has some ability to be cleaned, but we don’t put it on doors etc.
          Good luck!
          Any pics would be nice for others (send to my email)

          Reply
  4. Hi. I couldn’t find any info herein about wood checking. I have an old painted deck. I was going to sand it down like a wood floor but may try your pressure wash/scrape method instead then convert over to a stain. But – a lot of the redwood is checked. No rot but not pretty. Will the stain work in this situation?

    Reply
    • Yes for sure wash well, but careful with the pressure…your wood may be soft. Use that rotating tip for sure.
      A stain with good preservation qualities will be the thing. I used this stuff … not flashy but it’s a natural rot preventative and now comes in colors.
      In any case, never use anything that promises ‘restore your deck’. These products are just thick paint and do nothing for you. THey are all being pulled off the market due to the hail of lawsuits.
      Good luck!
      b

      Reply
  5. Hi, I’d like to paint our old upright piano black. It’s stained
    dark mohogany. I don’t want to spend a lot of time prepping it, in other words if I can skip sanding and priming that’d be great. I have Tremclad High heat flat black enamel paint in the house and am wondering if it’ll work to use without sanding and priming. Any advice would be appreciate.
    Thanks!
    Angela

    Reply
    • Hi Angela. I think any paint will work, but as a musician, just wanted to mention that every coat will affect the sound. Best to strip it all off then paint of course. I think the best pianos use lacquer…no? Anyway on your plan… No don’t just paint without prep.
      The easiest way to get there without sanding is Liquid Sandpaper, which is a very highly toxic liquid that flattens the surface and makes it ready for paint.
      See this page about ‘deglossers’.

      What I would do: Sand lightly, just scratching, but not deeply sanding. Then wipe with many clean damp rags, then prime with STIX, then paint. I wrote about STIX here.
      Good luck!

      Reply
  6. Hey Brad,
    I want to paint the inside of my enclosed trailer to seal and preserve the plywood. I was thinking of priming & painting the walls and doing the floor and ramp with a garage floor epoxy chip flake coating. I understand the non-slip paint is not as easy to sweep or clean up. What do you recommend?
    Thank you for your expertise and all the great tips on your site!
    Mark

    Reply
    • It’s true that floors with texture are naturally going to hold dirt etc. Still, if you can hose it off…is it a ramp that gets wet?… if yes I’d go texture of some sort. Wet ramps are very dangerous. I did it myself on my trailer and it lasted for years of use.
      Plus you can vacuum or sweep, it’s just harder.
      My opinion: Epoxy or any floor paint with a dusting of silica.
      Read about it here.
      Good luck.

      Reply
    • Hi. I’m not sure what you mean by orange peel. Do you mean textured walls? The kind where they spray the mud and flatten the tips of the drops to create a texture?If so we call that ‘knock down’ and you can use any roller. I would always use the 50-50 poly wool for reasons I explain here. If that did not answer your question, just write back again.
      Good luck,
      B

      Reply
  7. Hi Brad,

    Love your site with loads of info.

    I have a question. What nap size do you use for roller of smooth plaster walls. Was told to use 1/4 but only could find 3/16. The nap with 3/8 says for smooth or semi-smooth. Would 3/8 be ok?

    Reply
    • Generally, the smaller (shorter) nap leaves a more uniform texture. But this is something nobody ever really sees. 1/4 is fine. People make too much of this size for that surface. I like the long nap becuase it holds more paint: less dipping.
      Good luck

      Reply
  8. Brad: Since Covid-19, I have found that I LOVE to paint and have painted the mud room, small powder room and my master bath. I am now ready to tackle a huge living room/sitting room area going from a dark color to a very light white/tan. The trim was painted 16 years ago and is oil based. I read your articles on ADVANCE and wondering what type of brush I would use if I go with this product (it is an old house built in 1845 on cape cod) and whether I would need to sand all the trim before hand. I read about OIL BOND on another site but I love your site and recommendations/tutorials. Thanks for your help and I look forward to hearing back from you.

    Reply
    • Hi and thanks for the nice words.
      That oil-based trim paint must be de-glossed and that can be accomplished by sanding or by a toxic deglosser shown on this page.

      The brush is my standard #1 go-to brush, the Purdy Nylox. It sounds like you could handle the 3 inch. It’s heavy when loaded with paint. Most beginner painters start and go with the 2.5 for some time.

      BTW on that living room, you’ll want a primer before your 2 top coats. Two alone will show the dark haze coming through. I’d use a non-toxic drywall primer or whatever decent low-cost primer you can find. No need for stain-blockers.

      Good luck,
      b

      Reply
  9. Hi Brad – I’ve been spending quite a bit of time with you lately! Your website is very informative. I wish you were in my area (DC suburbs in Maryland). My husband and I are too old to clean, strip and seal our deck ourselves, and I’ve been having a hard time finding a company to use that is reasonably priced/willing to use my suggested (from your recommendations) products and do what I need.

    I was disappointed the last time our deck was cleaned a few years ago, because the contractor applied a very orange stain without asking first. Then, in trying to remove mildew/algae last fall, because the deck became very slippery, my husband accidentally removed the stain on part of the deck. Now, I would like the remaining orangey stain removed, if possible, and then sealed with a semi-transparent natural weathered gray stain. I am thinking that I would like to use the Defy product you reviewed. Would you say that we need to clean and strip first, then use a brightener and then stain? Whatever you recommend, I think I found someone who would do what I ask because he is vey short of work right now. And the other question is, would you trust someone to do this who doesn’t usually use this system? I think he usually only power washes and then uses Ready Seal (which doesn’t come in gray). Also, we need to replace a few boards — will the new boards ever match or blend with the old? Sorry for such a long question! Thanks so much.

    Reply
    • Hi and thanks for the nice words. Yes, just as you say, clean with water pressure, trying to strip off all you can, then a brightener which helps for stains as it neutralizes any acids on or in the wood.
      Brighteners are not essential though.
      I would not trust someone without much experience. I think it’s better to wait until you can find a good painter…look for an older guy/gal.

      No, the new boards won’t match, but in time the differences will fade. Make sure the new wood has time to age: you should not stain new wood.
      There are many good stains on the market. Ben Moore Arborcoat is great if you can find it locally. I have not used ReadySeal.

      Good luck.
      b
      ps, what’s up with a painter not asking and putting orange stain? You paid him? I would not have paid!

      Reply
      • Thanks so much for getting back to me. So, if I understand correctly, you are saying you don’t need to use a stain stripper product? The power washer alone will remove all of that orangey tone, even where it is still in good shape such as on the rails? (And to answer your question – I wasn’t home when the contractor put down that orange stain — and my husband didn’t realize it was wrong and paid him. Aargh.)

        Before I found you, I had looked at Consumer Reports which doesn’t give the Ben Moore semi-transparent Arborcoat very good reviews, so I guess I have that stuck in my head. Not sure how they test…

        Reply
        • I’ve read that too about Arborcoat, but I’ve always had sucess with it. I did hear they are re-formulating it which is why I like the ones on my site.
          For the stripping, you should test first. I cannot really tell from here obviously. I’d take my planning slowly if I were you until i found a method that works and is do-able.

          B

          Reply
  10. I am painting plaster walls with swirl design. Walls have been painted before. The last room I painted I used glidden paint with primer because I thought it would cover better. I used 3/8” roller. It was hard to get the whole swirl painted. Did 2 coats plus touch up trying to fill grooves. Should I have used a paint pad? Or different type
    roller which seems faster except for all the coats?

    Reply
    • I really have not done swirls, but I can tell you that the way to get what you want is to pick a wall or section of a wall and do lot’s of tests and make notes of what is what so you remember all your tests. Pros I know use a big sponge for marble effects etc.
      Sorry I cannot be of more help!
      Good luck,
      Brad

      Reply
  11. Hi Brad –
    I am in the process of making a decison on a semi transparent stain for my deck and fence. Both are made of pressure treated lumber and have never been stained before. I live in Northeast Florida close to the ocean. Looks like your top choices are #1 Deck Stain and Defy.
    Is that correct? Like everyone I want the stain to last and look good. What choice would you make? Appreciate your help!

    Reply
    • Well, since you have pressure treated wood, you are protected. I have a 20 year old deck and some footings have been wetted every rain and still are hard like new.
      So if you stain, it will be for looks only really. You will get some protection, but it’s overkill. For bonding, I suggest either stain, clean well and dry fully, then DO A TEST and wait and check the bonding. Often stain and pressure treated wood will not adhere.
      Good luck
      b

      Reply
  12. Hi Brad! I love that I found this site with great questions (and answers). I’m in the process of painting my basement which has fire engine red walls. I did not tint the primer (I used Kilz 2 All Purpose) because I didn’t read this site ahead of time. Anyway, the first coat is on and I’m wondering if I need a second coat of primer before painting. I am terrified the red will bleed through if I don’t! We are going with an Eagles gray color. I really don’t want to prime again if I don’t have to – the room is 30 x 30 so it took a while. How do I know if I need to prime twice? Will it affect how many coats of paint? Everything I’ve read, including here, says priming twice is rarely needed. Please help! 🙂

    Reply
    • Gray primer is key when you are APPLYING red. Would be nice for a gray top coat too, but not important.
      Just do a test in an area for your next coat.
      Since you primed, you should not need more than 2 gray coats.
      Test with the same roller you’ll use. You can wrap in plastic and keep in fridge to not let it dry out.
      No, you should not need more primer!
      b

      Reply
  13. Hi Brad

    We own a 1930 house that has horse hair plaster in the bedroom, years before we painted over the wallpaper that was on there and this time we decided to scrape off the wallpaper and just paint the plaster. We wiped the walls down with water to get dust and glue off and then let it dry for a day and then we primed with latex Kilz and and then let that dry for one day and then applied one coat of a colour and primer Behr Latex paint. This was one month ago and the room still smells very strongly of paint!!! We have had the windows opened for weeks and tried tricks like a cut onion or a cut lemon and even vinegar but to no avail. There was a tiny bit of spackling that was done on minor holes about 4 days before we carried out the priming. Any idea about how we can get rid of the smell or will it just be a case of time making it go away as we maybe did something in the wrong order or didn’t wait long enough to paint after priming?
    Thanks for any help with this, we have had to sleep in the spare room for weeks lol…..

    Reply
    • Hi. Hmm. Perplexing. Probably time, yes. No way someone spilled something and didn’t tell you?
      I doubt the old walls are to blame. Nor any old paint on the walls.
      Two ideas: one is a air purifyier with charcol…and or windows open as much as possible. Baking soda boxes can’t hurt too.
      The other is to re-prime with an oil-based primer that is designed to block odors.
      Still, I’m guessing someone spilled some paint thinner or …. gosh who knows what.
      Anyway, sorry I could not be of more help. Find a local painter to come by. Find an OLD one.
      Good luck,
      B

      Reply
  14. Hi Brad,

    I’m painting my living/dining area (plaster walls) and have repaired some cracks with mud, smaller holes with spackle. My question is whether I can just put primer on those mudded and spackled spots before painting, or do I have to prime the entire wall?

    I worry those areas will show through after painting if I don’t evenly prime the entire surface … but I’d rather not do the work if I don’t have to.

    I’m going from a medium beige colour to white.

    Thanks so much for all the help you offer people like me!

    Reply
    • No, just prime the spots. You say you used mud on big cracks… I hope you used tape. They’ll crack if very big without tape.\
      In any case, if you have doubts about priming, do a test with an area: prime some, the put 2 coats and use a light to see if you can see the difference.
      I am guessing that if you use good top coat paint, you’ll not see any diff.
      Good luck,
      B

      Reply
  15. Thanks, Brad.

    I definitely used tape on the cracks. I’m using Benjamin Moore Regal Select, so I expect top coat quality should not be an issue.

    I appreciate the help.

    Reply

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