A painter learns how to apply paint and how to prepare a surface professionally. There are tried and true methods of sequencing the job, to make the process seameless and the results predictable. The Painting Contractors Association (PCA) has documented sequencing standards and have always been a good resource for educating our painters.
The purpose of this blog is to share our procedures and content from our document: “This is how we all do it here at Ecopainting”. No painting sequence would be complete without some basics about prepping the rooms and surfaces before paint. We discuss moving the furniture, cleaning, patching, caulking and everything we do before even opening a can of paint.
When the jobsite is a new construction site, the procedures and sequencing will differ from the ones here. At a new constuction site there is no furniture to move and quite often there is no existing floors to cover. The focus of this article is the prep & paint sequence Ecopainting uses for residential interior repaints.
Start by Removing and Moving What You Can
The first thing to do is to move the customer’s property out of the working area. Preferrably the customer themselves removed their personal items before the painters got there. Next task is to carefully move the furniture to the middle of the room. Then to protect or remove any window drapery, taking care not to break any fragile hardware.
Our painters remove the electrical outlet covers and hardware such as door knobs, window handles, etc. If removal is not an option, we mask and protect hardware.
- Look for previous damage on surfaces and inform the job manager or customer.
- Test the masking tape on varnished floors prior to masking, to prevent damage.
- When moving a refrigerator or a water cooler, be careful not to damage the water supply line.
- Be careful with floors when moving heavy furniture or a refrigerator. Use thick cardboard, furniture sliders or a clean folded drop cloth.
- Photograph a room before you begin so you can return everything to its exact location.
Protecting What Can’t Be Moved.
A professional painter protects the floors with dropcloths and the furniture with plastic. When working in an empty home, we use construction paper on hardwood and dropcloths on carpet. Whenever there is extensive sanding, it’s a good idea to enclose the work area with plastic on the passage doorways. If working in a room, it’s a good idea to close the door and cover any cabinets and built-ins with plastic.
Complete all Caulking and Patching
Caulking Best Practices
- No gaps should be visible within the painted trim elements and adjacent surfaces.
- Caulking should be smooth without texture or ridges.
- The caulk material should not fill trim profiles.
- Allow the caulk to dry thoroughly prior to painting to avoid cracking.
For more information on how to caulk professionally read our blog on caulking.
Carefully examine the ceiling and walls before preparing the patching compound. Does the customer want the holes from picture nails patched? Re-use them if needed. Proceed with patching the holes and cracks and sand carefully before pole-sanding all the surfaces. Look for drywall screws, corner bead and joint tape failure and repair as specified. Depending on the job specifications, either spot prime the repairs or apply one full coat of primer.
- Use clean patching tools to create smooth finishes.
- Round off corners of patching knives to minimize scratches.
- The substrate should be stable so as to prevent further cracking.
- No ridges and bubbles from patching should be visible after sanding.
- The repaired area should be invisible.
Drywall repairs require certain skills and we occasionally use training events for patching and repairs.
Wash and Clean the Surfaces
A properly cleaned surface is free of dirt and helps the paint adhere better. Marker, pen marks and water stains do not clean well and the paint film cannot contain them. Depending on the type of stains and dirt, most jobs need a combination of cleaning and stain priming.
Water-based stains such as coffee stains, fruit juice and soft drinksc can be washed with soapy water. Solvent-based stains such as ink, lipstick, crayons, hairspray, etc can be washed with the appropriate cleaning agent. Such cleaning agents are alcohol and mineral spirits. For mildew, use a solution made of three parts water and one part bleach. Note: If a large amount of mildew is present, be sure to take safety and health precautions.
Finally! Let’s Paint!
Let’s face it, there are many “how to paint” videos that do a better job helping than a few paragraphs here. The role of this blog is not to instruct but to discuss the preferred sequence for a seamless work flow. Our standards and expectations align with the PCA standards about a properly painted surface. It is “Uniform in appearance, color, texture, hiding and sheen. It is also free of foreign material, lumps, skins, runs, misses.” At Ecopainting we employ and train painters to cut-in sharp and straight lines between differing colours and materials.
Paint the Ceiling First
Cut-in the ceiling to walls or crown molding. Keep the brush wet and avoid working with a dry brush. If the adjacent surfaces (walls or crown molding) are to be painted, overlap the ceiling paint onto that surface. Be sure to feather out any brush marks before they dry. When painting a textured ceiling, roll first as close to the corners as possible and cut in remaining areas after.
For uniform coverage apply paint on the ceiling in a “V” or check mark shape. Spread it evenly one section at a time, right to left or left to right and consistently keeping a wet edge. Repeat the process from section to section and blend them to eachother. Take care not to re-work the previous section as it is already drying. Additionally, avoid “snake lines”, which are lines left by the edge of the roller cover. Continue this process until the ceiling is completed. Do not stop or pause part way through.
Paint The Doors, Frames, and Other Vertical Trim.
We prefer to paint the door frames first because it is easier to cut-in the walls around them, instead of the otherway around. Another reason is that we may need to caulk the frame edges which is much easier to do when the walls are not freshly painted. Painting the doors and trim is not a beginners job but it is doable if you take your time with it. The following video by Expressions Painting does a wonderful job describing the door painting process:
Paint the Walls Next
As with the ceiling, cut-in the edges of the walls, aiming for sharp and straight cut lines. If you find this difficult at your experience level, use a good quality masking tape for help. For uniform coverage apply the paint using a “V” or check mark shape. Spread it evenly from top to bottom. Repeat the process to adjoining sections by carefully blending in. Take care not to re-work the previous section as it is already drying. As with the ceiling, avoid “snake lines”, which are lines left by the edge of the roller cover. Continue this process until you get to a natural break point (corner). Do not stop for break or even pause part way through a wall.
Before painting the baseboards clean the dust with a painter’s dust brush. Start painting from one corner of the room and work your way around, back to the starting point. Skilled painters can paint baseboards freehand but there is nothing wrong with using a good quality masking tape. Remove the masking tape as soon as the paint is dry, making sure to keep any dust away from the fresh paint.
The Clean-up After Painting Procedure
If possible, the finished area should be cleaned by the same crew wthat created the “mess”. First of all let’s remove the masking tape and plastic. If the plastic is perfectly clean we can save and reuse it at another jobsite. It’s always a good idea to reduce waste from our job sites.
Before moving the customer’s property it’s a good idea to wash our hands clean from paint and dust. With clean hands we re-install the outlet covers, hardware and anything that was removed at the start of the job.
When we remove the dropcloths, we are careful not to track any dust into the rest of the house. If they are dusty we shake them outside before putting them away folded, in the appropriate container.
At this point we check the floor one last time for paint and dustand clean as needed
As we wrap up the project, the leftover paint is labeled and left with the customer. We pick up our waste for disposal or recycling and go!