Quick Tips on Painting and Varnishing


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Painting and varnishing are necessary aspects of house construction. These not only make houses more aesthetically pleasing, they can also serve as protective coating. Read about the eight classes of surfaces and their appropriate finishes in this document reproduced by Omega Secrutity Solutions.

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Quick Tips on Painting and Varnishing

  1. 1. Painting Painting and varnishing are done to protect a surface as well as give it a more pleasing appearance. There are various kinds of finishes to suit many tastes and to serve many purposes. Surfaces that must stand a great deal of wear need a very durable finish, whereas some surfaces such as ceilings need merely to look attractive. We shall consider eight classes of surfaces and the finishes appropriate to them:  Interior walls and ceilings in bedrooms and living rooms  Interior walls in kitchen and bathrooms  Interior woodwork that is to be finished in an opaque finish  Interior woodwork that is to be finished with a transparent finish  Exterior woodwork such as siding and cornices to be painted  Exterior woodwork such as front doors to be varnished  Stucco and exterior masonry Hardwood floors Sometimes the colour is put right in the plaster for the walls of bedrooms and living rooms. Since this gives a somewhat finished appearance, people can get along with it for a few years, but eventually most walls get painted. A coloured plaster wall does not have as elegant an appearance as one that is properly painted. Photo owned by Luke Roberts
  2. 2. A finish called calcimine that once was widely used and is still in use in some places consists of a mixture of glue, whiting, and colour. It is too easily soiled by finger marks, water stains, or almost any sort of thing that could cause a mark, and is almost impossible to clean. Its principal claim to usefulness is its low price. Oil paints are used on walls where a permanent, washable surface is desired. Care should be used to select paints that have a dull non-glossy surface, sometimes called a flat surface that will reflect light, but will not have a shine. In a child's room it might be better to get a semi-gloss paint, as this will be much easier to wash and will look almost as attractive. Be sure a wall is thoroughly dry before attempting to paint it. First inspect the surface carefully to make sure that there are no imperfections in it. Rough places should be sanded smooth, and pits or low places should be filled in with plaster of Paris or water putty. Then give the surface a coat of primer and sealer and let dry until the next day. Apply one or two coats of flat undercoat of the approximate colour you wish the final finish to be and observe the effect. If you are satisfied with the colour and the overall effect in the room, you are ready for the final coat. Go over the entire surface lightly with very fine flint sandpaper to remove any possible imperfections, and then apply the final coat of flat-finish wall paint. A wall finished in this manner should retain its attractive appearance for many years, as it can be washed when needed, and it does not soil easily. Some people omit one or both of the undercoats, but the finished result usually shows it. A more recent wall finish has a synthetic rubber base which is easily and quickly put on with very pleasant results. It can be applied to plastered walls or wallboard without any prime coat. Just roll or brush it on and the job is done; while one coat is said to be sufficient, two coats will give a much better looking and longer lasting job.
  3. 3. After this material has been on two or three weeks, it can be washed if necessary, the same as a painted job. One caution is necessary: this material cannot be tinted with oil colours. If you wish a different colour from that which you can buy, merely mix two cans of the same kind of material together. Often a quart of coloured rubber base paint can be mixed with a gallon of white to get a soft pastel effect. Or two colours can be mixed together to make a different colour. In applying any kind of paint to a large flat surface such as a wall or ceiling, a roller will be found to be much easier to use than a brush. Not only will you cover the area much more quickly, but you will get a better and more uniform job with less paint. A brush will probably be necessary in the corners and in some small places. Kitchen and bathroom walls, because they are always getting splashed with water and are otherwise subject to being soiled frequently, present a more difficult problem than other walls and require a more durable finish. Inspect the surfaces carefully, correcting any defects, before you apply a coat of primer and sealer. Follow this with two coats of enamel under coater, sometimes called flat white. Sand lightly with very fine flint paper, making sure the surface is as nearly perfect as it is possible to get it. Then put on two coats of semi-gloss enamel of a pleasing colour, and you will have a wall that can be washed as often as is necessary and will still look good for a number of years. Full-gloss enamel is not good because it gives too shiny an effect, and flat paints cannot be washed frequently without damage to the surface. Make sure that no one ever puts a glue size on walls in the bathroom or kitchen as it introduces a weakness between the plaster and the paint that permits the paint to peel off under the influence of moisture. Use only a primer and sealer with an oil base.
  4. 4. Interior woodwork can be finished in a manner similar to that suggested for kitchen walls with good effect. Use the prime coat of oil paint that has been thinned a little with turpentine, and follow this with two or three coats of an enamel under coater, and finish with either semi-gloss or full gloss enamel. Interior woodwork that is to be finished with a transparent finish has a choice of two types of material, varnish or lacquer. To lacquer a surface, apply two coats of clear lacquer sanding sealer, and sand with very fine flint paper until the surface is perfectly smooth. The sanding sealer should have been thinned with about one part of lacquer thinner to two parts of the sealer. Then thin the lacquer about as suggested for the sealer and apply several coats, sanding lightly between coats to keep the surface smooth. The principal thing to learn about applying lacquer is that you must not brush it more than is absolutely necessary to get it on the surface. If you accidentally skip a place, let the coat dry a few minutes and apply the next coat. Lacquer dries by the evaporation of the solvent and is re-dissolved and made rough if you brush it too much. If you want a mirror finish, after you have put on eight or ten coats of lacquer, get some 600 grit wet-or-dry silicon carbide or carborundum paper and sand the surface thoroughly, using water to keep the sandpaper from getting clogged with the sandings, until the surface is smooth. Then wipe dry and clean, and rub with "rottenstone" (available at any paint store) and paraffin oil until the surface has the desired sheen. Although this is a lot of work, it will give a beautiful and durable finish. Lacquer can be sprayed on more easily and evenly if you have the equipment; practice until you can get it on properly and without runs which occur when too heavy a coat is applied. After spraying, rub as above.
  5. 5. A word should be said about keeping paint brushes and rollers clean. It is a very short task to clean up a paint brush when you have finished using it, but if you leave it until the next day, the job is much more difficult. I have known people to set a brush in a pail of water and think they had taken proper care of it. If you are using outside paint, it is true that a brush will take no harm in a pail of water for a day or two, but the brush would be better off just immersed clear to the handle in the paint itself for a day or two; the trouble is that other things come up and people do not get back to the job again for two or three weeks. By then the brush is practically ruined. It is easier and safer to clean up the brush immediately when you quit for the day than it is to hope to do it later. A paint brush should be pitied. From the time it is first dipped into paint it has a run for its life. Very few paint brushes are ever worn out. They are just left filled with paint and get so stiff that it is next to impossible to do anything with them. Care should be taken to clean a brush clear to the tops of the bristles, as paint has a tendency to accumulate up near the handle. Four kinds of material are used in painting, each with its own solvent. Paint, varnish, and enamel have an oil base and are dissolved in turpentine, mineral spirits, cleaning solvent, gasoline, distillate, and naphtha. Never use any of these to thin paint except turpentine and mineral spirits, but with care the others can be used to clean brushes. If you use gasoline or naphtha, use it outdoors and avoid prolonged contact of the skin with gasoline as it contains poisons that can be dangerous and irritating. Everyone should know of the danger of explosions when using gasoline or any similar material. Do not inhale the vapour of any of these solvents if you can avoid it. Shellac, a product from a tree in the Orient, is dissolved in denatured alcohol. Brushes used in shellac are also washed in alcohol. Shellac is not dissolved by the
  6. 6. solvents mentioned in the preceding paragraph. Do not inhale the vapour too much. Lacquers used now are mostly synthetic, and have their own solvent which is called "lacquer thinner." It is a strong solvent, which will help to get a brush clean after it has been washed in other solvents. Never use it for thinning paints; use it with lacquer only. It is also dangerous to inhale the vapour from lacquer and its thinner. Rubber-based paints are easily thinned with a little water, and the rollers and brushes used in it can be cleaned up under the faucet, but this must be done immediately. It is even a good idea to clean a roller in the middle of the forenoon and afternoon as well as at noon and at night when you are applying rubber-based paints. Varnish also makes a good finish on woodwork. A few precautions are necessary to insure perfect results. The wood surface must be sanded smooth. Always sand lengthwise of the grain of the wood, as crosswise sanding cuts the fibers, and the scratches will show through the finish. If the wood is open-grained as ash, oak, mahogany, or walnut a paste wood filler should be thoroughly worked into the surface of the wood and wiped off crosswise to leave the pores of the wood full of the filler. Do not leave any of the filler on the surface of the wood as it gives a messy and untidy appearance to the finished job. Close-grained woods such as pine, fir, cherry, birch or maple do not need filler. After the filler is dry, and directly on the latter group of woods, apply a coat of white shellac to seal the grain and to keep it from rising and getting rough as it would do if varnish were applied directly to the bare wood. Sand the shellac lightly with very fine flint paper to get a smooth surface. Then apply a coat of varnish, brushing as much as is necessary to get the desired effect. If the last strokes are taken with a downward motion, it will do much to prevent runs that are sure to develop if the final brushing is done crosswise or in an upward direction. Sand lightly between coats of varnish and apply perhaps four coats
  7. 7. altogether. In applying varnish, too much stress cannot be placed upon absolute and almost surgical cleanliness in every phase of the operation. The surface should be free from dust, and the brush must be clean, as well as the container. It is usually wise to strain the varnish before using it, and the best readily available strainer is a silk or nylon stocking that has ceased to be of value for its original purpose. Be careful also of dust and lint from your clothing or hair. The best thing for cleaning the surface before applying varnish is a "tack rag" which is made by applying a mixture of linseed oil and varnish to a cloth and letting it get half dry. This "tack rag" will pick up the dust from a surface without leaving lint as a cloth often does. Sanding between coats, absolute cleanliness and brushing in all directions, ending with a downward stroke, are the secrets of a good varnish or enamel job. Exterior woodwork should be painted as soon as possible after it is put up. If left too long, resins and dirt accumulate on the surface of the wood. The first coat usually consists of outside paint that has been thinned with linseed oil and turpentine to make a so-called "prime" coat. This should be well brushed into the surface to insure good contact between the wood and the paint. The turpentine helps to dis-solve the resins in the wood, and the linseed oil soaks into the wood and gets a good hold on it. Do not compromise with the quality of this first coat; use pure linseed oil and genuine turpentine. Mineral spirits may be all right some places, but not here, and shingle oils, log oils, etc., are a menace. The principal pigments or solid parts of outside paint are white lead, zinc white, and titanium oxide. Since the somewhat elastic white lead can stand the strains of expansion and contraction caused by heat and cold, it formerly was the principal
  8. 8. pigment used in outside paint, but the addition of zinc and titanium makes a whiter and better paint. At least three coats should be applied to all outside painted surfaces. If you use coloured paints outside, be sure to get those that are guaranteed against fading, as strong sunlight will fade many paints. The most important things about outside painting are a good clean dry surface and first quality paints. Thin coats of paint and more of them are better than the same amount of paint applied in thicker coats. Exterior woodwork to be finished in natural colour requires special care. Be sure the surface is sanded smooth, always sanding lengthwise of the grain, never crosswise. Since there is a tendency for shellac to turn white in the presence of water, it is better not to use it on outside work. If the wood is of an open grain and needs filling, fill it, taking special pains to wipe all the filler off the surface, leaving it only in the pores of the wood. This filler is not a repair material, and no attempt should be made to repair small defects with it; for repairing use plastic wood of proper colour. After the filler is dry, apply a coat of a mixture of linseed oil and turpentine in equal parts, letting this dry for a day or so. Then apply genuine spar varnish or marine spar varnish to the surface, using at least three or four coats, taking special care not to let runs develop by applying too much at one time. Woods that do not need filling will, of course, have the filling omitted, otherwise will be treated the same as suggested above. If stains are desired in any wood to be finished with a transparent finish, they should be applied to the bare wood. Oil stains are the easiest to apply and probably the
  9. 9. best. Apply a liberal coat, wipe off the excess stain, and let dry until the next day. The filler should also be coloured to match the wood being filled. Stucco and exterior masonry are not usually painted. The colour is mixed in the stucco and applied to the wall in the final colour. Since water will stain the stucco, some sort of protective coat is needed. It is possible to buy a masonry sealer that will seal the stucco against water and still not change the colour of the stucco. If you apply this material in one liberal coat, it will do much to protect the stucco from the untidy stains that come from the rain water that splashes up on it after hitting the ground. Brickwork and concrete blocks will also benefit from a liberal application of masonry sealer, which can be bought at most lumber yards or paint stores. Paint on bricks seldom does much to improve the appearance, and the colourless sealer is just as effective in keeping the water out. Concrete blocks and stucco can easily be given a finished appearance by the application of a coat or two of the new exterior rubber-base paint, which can be applied with a roller in a short time. Spray the surface to moisten it slightly and let it dry briefly. Then you just roll on the rubber-based paint. After it dries for a few weeks, it will become waterproof, and you will have a much better looking building. Hardwood floors must be well sanded after being solidly nailed in place. There are two or three classes of finish that are used on them. The easiest and most widely used consists of filling the floor with paste filler, well wiped off crosswise of the grain of the wood, letting it dry, applying two coats of shellac, and polishing this with wax. This finish has the advantage of being easy to repair in the places of excessive wear.
  10. 10. Another finish is called a floor sealer, which is applied after the filler, by just being brushed on and allowed to soak into the wood. Two or three coats are often applied. This can be polished with paste wax. Although this sealer is similar in some ways to a diluted varnish, it soaks into the wood more and hardens the surface without adding a surface film. A successful floor can be made with three coats of floor varnish, but it will not stand too much hard wear, especially if people have nails exposed on the heels of their shoes. A varnish finish would be advisable if water or grease will get on the floor. A Few General Tips on Painting  Use only first quality materials.  A bristle or nylon brush is recommended.  Keep clean all materials, surfaces, containers, brushes, clothes.  Use drop cloths to keep floors clean; it is much easier to keep paint off a surface than it is to clean it up.  Stir, shake, or otherwise thoroughly mix paint before using it. The only exception is varnish, which should not be stirred or shaken.  Apply thin coats and let dry thoroughly before adding additional coats.  Sand lightly before each coat.  Be sure a surface is free from grease, dust, or resin before painting.  In repainting old work, be sure all loose material is completely removed before covering it with new paint.  Do not apply wax until you are sure that the painting is all completed because it is impossible to paint over wax successfully.  Use paint, varnish, lacquer, or shellac only in a well-ventilated place, as it is dangerous to inhale the vapors and they are also highly inflammable and even explosive.  Clean brushes and rollers immediately after using, and get them clean.
  11. 11.  Use the proper solvent with each kind of material.  Never put varnish or enamel on bare wood, for it will only soak in and not form a good surface. Seal the surface and apply the proper undercoats before applying the enamel or varnish.  Never apply lacquer over paint or varnish as it will soften and usually remove the previous finish.  Shellac is useful in stopping stains, and is used over knots and to prepare a surface for other finishes.  Do not paint over wallpaper. Remove it if you want to paint the wall.  Keep the ceilings light to help in the illumination of the room. This reproduction is made possible by Omega Security Solutions. Visit us for security solutions for your home.