anything that might be said about painting should be prefaced with the statement that over seven hundred million dollars' worth of paint and varnish are bought in this country in the course of a year, and the greater part of it is used on the interiors of buildings. It should be added, that fully a third of the paint which is bought for use by homebuilders or homebuyers is not properly applied; and it should be further added that more than one-half of the brushes bought by homeowners are ruined by mistreatment, and rendered useless. All of which brings us around to the point; that if you want to do any painting, and want to have a few good brushes, ready for use at any time, it would be well to study up on paint and brush handling.
Spring and early Summer are the times during which the local hardware and paint-store proprietors rub their hands in glee, because they know that during those periods the average homeowner comes in to buy pints, quarts, and gallons of paint, and three or four different kinds and sizes of brushes. They also know that the same operation will be followed next year, and that half of the brushes sold will be as hard as a rock a week after they are purchased. You cannot blame any purveyor of paints or brushes, because every manufacturer of good paint has broadcast the correct method of applying his product, and has spent a fortune on literature which gives the proper procedure. The large manufacturers of brushes have also tried to tell the public how to handle brushes, so as to get the most out of their investment, but it seems to be an impossible task. It is a pity, because a good brush will last for a life-time and become better with use; and good paint can be used right down to the last fraction of an ounce. If the owner of a house is really interested in economy, and in doing his own painting, he might well start with a thorough indoctrination in the proper handling of both paint and brushes.
We will start with the correct handling and treatment of brushes. The average homeowner should have a 2", a 3" and a 4" brush, plus a 1" sash-tool. The 2" brush is for fine work around moldings, window-panes and other narrow surfaces. The 3" brush is for heavier work such as door-frames, window-frames and panels. The 4" brush is for large surfaces or areas where you have to cover a lot of ground. The sash-tool is not a tool at all, but a brush with a round handle and short bristles, and is usually used for painting the cross-bars of windows (technically known as the muntins and stiles) and for other places where a wider brush would be awkward to handle. When you have this equipment you have all the necessary tools that are worth any money, and should add a putty-knife and several sheets of assorted sand-paper.
As soon as you are through using a brush, you should work it out on a board or a piece of newspaper and then place it in a can of turpentine or linseed oil. You should "hang" the brush, by making a hole in the handle, and suspending it in the can instead of allowing it to lie on the bottom. By doing this, you keep the bristles from taking on a curve. Brushes which are used for white, light gray, light yellow, or other corresponding colors can be safely kept in the same can. Brushes that are used for blacks, dark greys, etc., should have separate cans, and all reds belong by themselves. If you have plenty of receptacles, it is better to thoroughly segregate all colors. If you really get into the painting business, you will probably work out your own system, but the main object is to keep the brushes soft, and ready for the next job. The more you pay for a brush (and the prices are usually honest) the better you will do. All professional painters prize their brushes as a surgeon does his scalpels, and treats them with corresponding respect. Keep a good brush clean, soft, and workable, and you have a tool which it is honestly a pleasure to work with. Have a brush that is semi-hard, bristling, and rough; and you have a tool that will disgust you with your work.
When brushes are hung in solvent while not in use, they ore not liable to acquire curved bristles or gum at the ends. A good brush is a very valuable tool for the homeowner, and should be treated accordingly.
When it comes to painting, either outdoors or indoors, there is one basic rule. The surface you want to paint must be dry, clean, and smooth. When you are sure of these points, you are already half-way to a decent job.
Exterior painting is entirely different from interior work. When you paint the outside of a house you have two things in mind; the first is weather resistance, and architectural effect or color. When you paint interiors, your main object is decorative effect; except perhaps in the kitchen and bathroom, where some degree of moisture resistance is desirable.
To prepare an exterior surface for painting, you must scrape off all loose paint, boils, alligatoring and dirt. As a matter of fact, many houses that appeared to need a coat of paint, actually only needed a good scrubbing with soap and water. Any good painting contractor will invariably wash a house exterior before he starts to paint it; and in many cases will decide that it only requires one freshening coat instead of a complete job.
Painting over an unprepared surface is a waste of both time and materials. loose paint must be removed and cracks filled.
The best time to paint is in the spring; when the sun is warm, the nights not freezing, and before gnats and other insect life are on hand to spot the new paint. At least three days of clear, dry weather should precede a painting operation. If you are lucky enough to pick out a good windless day at the same time, you are doubly fortunate.