Tips on painting your woodwork

The Associated Press
Friday November 24, 2000

Painting woodwork can be a relaxing hobby.  

For things like quick touchups, use a small, inexpensive foam brush. Avoid the wide foam brushes because they tend to drip when loaded with paint. 

Consider brush shape when you’re buying your supplies. A sash brush with its bristles cut at an angle is designed for painting thin areas and getting into hard-to-reach corners. It’s your best choice for cutting in (painting up to a line) and painting windows. A square cut brush is best for painting door panels or wide trim. Brushes with a long pencil-style handle give you a good grip and provide balance. 

You should own at least three brushes: a 1-inch and a 21/2-inch sash brush and a 21/2-inch straight brush. Buy the best brushes you can afford. Properly cared for, they will last indefinitely. 

You can use a paint roller to work wide sections, such as flat doors. Use a roller with a nap length recommended on the paint can. 

Open paint cans by prying around the lid with a wide-tip screwdriver. Pour the paint into a paint pail or a clean paint can and stir it to make sure it’s evenly mixed.  

You can pour some of the paint back into the paint can and work out of that, or work out of the pail. If you use the can, don’t fill it back up right to the rim. It’s a messy and inefficient way to work. Also, puncture the lid of the can in several places using a 4d finish nail to help drain the paint back into the can. 

In preparing the woodwork, keep in mind that paint sticks better to a dull surface. One way to remove its gloss is with a chemical solvent deglosser. Rub on the deglosser with a clean rag. This is strong stuff, so allow plenty of ventilation. 

You can also use 120-grit sandpaper with a sanding block or an electric palm sander to dull a surface or smooth out chipped areas. Feather rough areas smooth. 

Remove several layers of deteriorating paint with heat guns or chemical strippers. Your paint store should have a variety of these strippers, among them low odor and water-soluble types. Stripping is a messy job, so protect the floor and surroundings with a dropcloth. Wear old clothes and protective glasses. 

Let the gun heat up and hold it about a foot from the paint. When the finish bubbles up, scrape it away with a paint scraper. Move the gun slowly forward, and you can keep the paint hot without burning it. Keep a fire extinguisher handy when using a heat gun, and never set it down on a flammable surface. 

Apply chemical strippers with an old paintbrush. When bubbles appear, use a scraper and steel wool to remove it. Clean off the residue on the scraper using the sides of a sturdy cardboard box.  


A second application is often required. Let the surface dry, then sand lightly. 

Most trim has some cracks and holes in it that should be filled with spackle or wood filler before applying paint. Spackle, premixed or 2-part fillers are applied with a small putty knife. Just overfill the hole or crack, smooth the filler and let it dry. Sand the filler flush, and it’s ready for paint. You might have to use two coats on large repairs as some fillers shrink.