Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Paint Rolling

Tonight I spent three hours painting. Some friends are cleaning half of a duplex they own, before renting it out to new tenants. I painted one coat of white paint on the living room and three bedrooms. This was easy painting: the carpet had been removed, and I was not only doing walls, not trim.

I've only used a paint roller once before, and only briefly. I had hoped my friend would teach me good technique, but the only tip he had was to roll the roller on the bumpy upper part of the paint-roller tray to make the roller more evenly coated.

So I had to develop my own technique. Here's the story, not because I think I'm now an especially efficient painter but because re-inventing the wheel can be interesting.

Initially I approached the roller use as if I were trying to spread a thick layer of peanut butter on a slice of bread. Hoping only one coat of paint would be needed, I worked slowly across the wall trying to be thick and even. After about 45 minutes, as the paint started visibly beginning to dry, I saw my goal was stupid. The wall absorbed paint unevenly. There was no way I could predict how thickly to apply the first coat to result in an even result. Two coats would certainly be needed.

After another hour I had developed a better technique. First I would just put paint on half a wall. The way I move my arms, it was quickest to do the top half of that half-wall first and then the bottom. During this stage I watched the roller, not the wall: as soon as it became low on paint I would replenish it. Then I went over that half a wall a second time to spread the paint more evenly. During the second stage I still kept half an eye on the roller, for unlike a knife spreading peanut butter an empty roller moves very little paint.

Now I'm home, waiting for my hair to dry after my shower. The paint specks washed off my hands and face; hopefully starting a load of laundry promptly will do the same for my jeans.

I search online for painting advice and find this article but no pro advice about roller technique to compliment my musings.

Buying paints in half-full 5 gallon buckets and using a bucket grid does seem good advice. The paint-roller tray worked well, but did spill a few times as it sloshed when I used the roller to slide it across the floor; in my case that did not matter, but it is nice to know there is a better routine for painting in rooms that still have their carpet or other floor material.

The inexpensive, disposable roller I used was quite satisfactory. It would have been nice if the handle was six inches longer, for better two-handed pushing; longer than that and the increase in weight would probably have been noticeable.

Next time I'll wear gloves. I don't think I developed any blisters, but my palms were getting raw in spots after three hours of repetitive motion.

UPDATE: Nope, paint specks stayed on my jeans. I used to have "grungy chore" blue jeans that were left over from high school, but I got rid of them a few years ago when my wife decided I look best in black pants and so I switched to only owning black pants. Now I have "grungy chore" jeans again. :-) On the other hand, I only own two pair of plain black jeans and I wear them a lot; I should stop by Target soon to pick up a new unpainted pair.

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