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Paint a Room, Painlessly

Step 3: The Patching and Texturing Ceremony

Building Smarts

There are dozens of “miracle” ingredients sold for patching walls. I've had good luck with Patch `n Paint and Spakfast, two nonshrinking patching materials that can even be painted (for a shallow patch) when wet!

By now, your room probably looks so grim that—if you're like me—you're wondering who got you into this mess. But take heart: Things will get better fast.

Before painting, you're likely to need to patch the walls. It's a rare room without any cracks, rot, holes, or botched repairs that call for attention. You'll see some slick drywall patching described in Install a Ceiling Light and Switch.

Before patching drywall, cut away any burrs above the surface. Otherwise the patching will make an ugly mound.

With the patching done, you're set to add a texture, either to match an existing texture, or to liven up some drab walls. You can buy texture paint, add a texturing compound to paint, or make a generic texture with drywall joint compound. As a rough estimate, 1 gallon of joint compound, softened with water, will cover a bit more than 100 square feet. As you dilute the glop, test it occasionally until you like the texture that the roller makes.

To mix the drywall joint compound, I made a hook from a metal rod and turned it slowly with a drill. A piece of 1 × 3 would also work for hand-stirring.

Step 4: Prime Time to Prime and Paint

Building Smarts

Here's a painter's trick: If you'll be painting again in the morning, don't bother cleaning the roller. Drip some water on it, put it in the roller pan, and wrap the whole thing in a couple of plastic bags. The same trick will also keep brushes overnight.

After the patching and texture are dry (use a fan if you're in a hurry), prime all patched or textured areas, and then paint. Having done a duly diligent job of masking, I can use a roller, mounted on an extension pole, for almost all painting. A telescoping roller pole saves stooping, reaching, and most of all, wrist rot. It also lets you work from the floor instead of a ladder.

Step 5: Cleaning Up

Trust me, nobody loves cleaning up after painting. But there are some tricks that make it easier: like not waiting forever to clean brushes. Get to them before the paint has a chance to dry. You can throw out rollers—many people do—but a roller-cleaning tool will recover a lot of paint from them and make it possible to clean them. Once the paint is scraped back into the can, add water to the roller pan, roll the roller back and forth. Then scrape the roller with the painter's tool under running water. A brush comb cleans a big brush fast.

After the paint dries, tear up the masking. Keep an eye out for paint that seeped under the masking, and sand or scrape it off. Touch up the paint as needed, and then restore electrical fixtures, art work, and furniture. Consider replacing ugly heat registers, hardware, or lighting that detract from the overall appearance. Latex paint should be dry in a couple of hours. Then move back in and enjoy the fruits of your labors!

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Simple Home Improvements © 2004 by David J. Tenenbaum. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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