Brush Work
For old paint in good condition or primed, bare wood, you'll need about one gallon of paint per each 400 square feet. To determine how much you'll need overall, measure the space to be painted and calculate the area in square feet. Divide the area by 400 to get the number of gallons per coat. Rough surfaces like stucco will take more paint so use 200 square feet/gallon for this type surface.

Most paint jobs can be handled with a three-inch straight-edge siding brush, a two-inch angled sash brush, and a two-and-a-half-inch straight-edge trim brush. Good brushes of any size have long bristles with chiseled (tapered) ends and flagged (split) tips. The bristle depends on the paint: natural bristle (hog's hair is best) may absorb water from latex paints, ruining the brush, so they should be used only for oil. Nylon and polyester brushes do not release oil paint uniformly, so these should be used only for latex.

Always start at the top and work down so that any drips are erased as you go along. If you are using oil paint, work it into the wood; latex will level itself out. Paint sprayers provide coverage four to five times faster than brushes, but the finish tends to be uneven, and even with the airless version half the paint drifts away. If you decide to use a sprayer, apply paint sparingly. Two thin coats are better than one thick one.

Although summer, with its endless sunny days and warm weather, might seem like the perfect time for house painting, don't even think about climbing the ladder when the temperature is greater than 90°F. Wait for a day when the temperature will be above 40°F (4°C) for oil paints and above 50°F (10°C) for latex for the full 24 hours. (The number applies to the surface being painted as well as the air temperature.) Painting at low temperatures cause trouble too, making brushing and rolling more difficult, retarding drying, and leaving wet paint susceptible to airborne dirt, insects and pollen.

When you find the perfect day, the best game plan is to "follow the sun around the house." Paint the north side first, the east side of the building late in the morning, the south side in the middle of the afternoon, the west side late in the afternoon. Leave at least two hours for the fresh paint to dry before weather conditions cool to the point where dew forms. If blistering on the wood surface does occur, allow the paint to dry for a few days, scrape off the blisters, smooth the edges with sandpaper and repaint.

You should apply two finish coats, applying each within two weeks of the previous one to avoid the formation of a slick soap-like or chalky substance on the surface. If more than two weeks elapse, scrub the paint with water and a stiff-bristled brush before applying the next coat.

After you've painted the body of the house, proceed to the trim. Oil-based paint is favored for trim work because of its attractive sheen. There is no substitute for brushwork on the trim; it gives you greater control in these small, often intricate areas.

A good paint job should last at least 10 to 15 years, but it's longevity really depends on the location of the house and how well it is protected from sun, wind, and rain. In the end, all of your brushwork will keep your house beautiful and safe. Not bad for a summer's work.

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