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Faux painting preparation and application basics

by Tom Typrowicz

As with all painting projects, proper surface preparation is essential to achieving a high-quality finish. Be sure to read and follow the instructions provided on your paint can's label.

You may need to patch nail holes, sand a few rough spots, caulk some cracks, and scrape old paint. If walls are saturated with cigarette smoke, wash them using a mixture of 1/2 cup of ammonia to a gallon of warm water for general cleaning. Increase the ammonia to perhaps a 50:50 solution and even use it full strength for tougher jobs. Test your solution first in the worst areas to determine the proper mix for your project. When the surface is clean, use a sponge and rinse with fresh water. If you are concerned about the possible bleed-through of nicotine residue and cigarette odors, apply a stain killer before priming to seal them with a solvent system such as Zinsser's B-I-N, a shellac-based product.

All surfaces must be sound, clean, and dry before you apply primer or your base coat. New surfaces and some old surfaces may need priming. If you need advice, see your paint supplier.

Your project will require two or more colors. Although it is not necessary to apply the darker of the two colors as your base, many interior decorators recommend that the darker color be your first coat because it is easier to blend in lighter-colored top coats. Remember also that a dark color can make a room appear smaller.

After you have prepared the surface, apply your base color in a low-sheen or semi-gloss paint. Either of these two types of paint will give you more time to work with the coat of glaze (the next application) because flat paint will cause the glaze to dry faster, limiting your working time with it.

Glazes and Reducers

Glazes offer tremendous flexibility in faux painting. If you wish, you can purchase a glaze and add paint to it to achieve a specific hard-to-find color or you can purchase glazes that are already tinted.

Glazes are also sold in two forms: water base (latex) and oil base. Each form has its advantages, and your paint supplier can help you decide which type of glaze is best for your project.

When you are purchasing glazes, be sure to read the label about the length of open time as this will vary from glaze to glaze. The amount of humidity in the air may also be a factor in open time. In general, it is better to have as much open time as possible to work on your decorative design. If you have questions, ask your paint dealer for specific instructions.

Reducers are glaze additives that will give you more working time. Some reducers may add as much as 10 to 15 minutes to the life of the glaze.

Most water-base glazes will give you about 15 to 20 minutes of working time. Read the manufacturer's instructions on the can label for an explanation of working time for the particular glaze that you have chosen. It may be helpful to keep a small bottle of water with a pump sprayer handy to help keep the glaze wet while you work. You can spray a fine mist of water on the surface just prior to applying a water-base glaze. Also, as you roll your Decorative Roller, you may feel the glaze getting sticky; a light misting of water on the surface will help prevent the roller from sticking.

If you select an oil-base glaze, you'll have about 45 minutes of working time. Be sure to work in a well-ventilated area as the paint odor will permeate throughout your work or living area. Remember also that you cannot use soap and water to clean your tools if you use oil-base glazes. See your paint supplier for advice about clean-up supplies and read and follow the clean-up instructions on the label of the paint can.

We believe these painting preparation suggestions will be helpful as you plan and create your own unique decorative finishes. As always, we recommend that you carefully read and follow all the instructions provided by the manufacturer(s) of the products you select.

Copyright © 1999 & 2006 LAF/C.R.S., Inc. & Worktools International, Inc. All rights reserved.
The previous article, in whole or in part, appeared in Unlimited Creations
How-To-Booklet for Use of Decorative Rollers by Whizz Roller System.

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