Painting, staining or clear finishing tips

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Inside and out - finishes are vital to the perceived value of one’s home. Durable and well-maintained finishes also preserve the integrity of the material to which they are applied. So keeping up appearances is not just a matter of cosmetics; it is essential to the enjoyment, preservation and value of your home.

Selecting the appropriate finish - and carefully preparing the surface and applying the finish correctly - will pay dividends in both the short and long term.

The range of possible finishes is huge. But overall, there are three general categories: paint, stain and hard clear finishes. This categorization can provide a manageable outline for selecting the right finish for the surface at hand. Let’s walk through each of them.

Paint can be used on most surfaces, both interior and exterior. Stain is preferred for pressure-treated wood or durable siding such as cedar. Clear hard surface finishes are limited to application where the inherent beauty of wood cabinetry, trim, paneling or doors needs to be revealed without “mediation”.

But always be sure that it is quality that is “revealed.”  Recently, I was observing a renovation project in the Grant Park area. I was struck by an elaborate built-in bookcase. The construction was immaculate but the bookcase was built out of inexpensive “paint-grade” finger joined millwork. Had it been painted, no foul. But it was finished in clear poly and the glaringly cheap material was what stood out, rather than the quality of the joinery.

Whatever the nature of the finish selected, you should always choose quality over cost. The determining factor should ultimately be value. A bargain finish is no bargain if time and money are multiplied by poor coverage or low durability. Careful surface preparation and correct application won’t help some save-a-buck paints to  give good coverage - even with multiple coats! Unless you just love to paint (or stain), it’s smarter to select a quality brand for years of durability.

It’s also key to follow the paint manufacturer’s recommendation for surface prep, including a good primer coat. Any primer may be tinted to match the final finish if the existing surface is in good condition. Oils and resins in knotty wood will often reappear unless blocked by a special “blocking primer. “

Matching the right tool to the job can make all the difference! In this case the best tools are brushes, rollers, sprayers, sponges or rags. Brushes are organized according to the finish they are most suited for. (This vital information will be listed on the cardboard wrap the brush is packaged in.) A quality brush, with proper care, will last for years. So don’t skimp. If you buy “bottom line” brushes you will spend more time picking bristles off the wall than painting. And don’t abuse your brush! Your brush is your friend; a companion in your finishing labor. Take care of it and it will take care of you!

 

The Bod and RodMan Home Show

Tune in to The Bob and RodMan Home Show every Saturday from 9 to 11 a.m. on 920 AM-WGKA to learn how to improve your house or apartment. RodMan is a certified home inspector, knows residential property appraisal and is a hands-on home renovator. Bob owned a roofing company, has reclaimed distressed properties for years and has master licenses as a plumber, electrician and HVAC mechanic. www.bobandrodman.com

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