DIY Q&A

How to paint without brushmarks

McClatchy-Tribune News ServiceJanuary 4, 2013 

  • Quick tip General Electric’s line of silicone caulks now includes paintable caulks that GE calls Supreme Paintables. One of the paintable caulks is rated for kitchen-bath-plumbing use, another for window-door-attic-basement. The kitchen-bath caulk is said to be mold resistant for up to 10 years and can be painted to match fixtures 30 minutes after application. The window-door caulk can also be painted after 30 minutes to match trim or siding. All of the silicone caulks are waterproof and are valued by many pros and do-it-yourselfers for their flexibility and ability to adhere to a variety of materials.

Q: What’s the secret of getting a smooth finish when brushing latex paint on cabinets and other woodwork? I get brush marks unless I use spray paint. –Pat

Buy high-quality paint intended for cabinets or trim – often enamel – and top-quality brushes to apply it. Brushes with nylon-polyester bristles should be used. For cabinets, a brush about 2  1/2 inches wide is a good choice. The brush should be immaculately clean; if it has been used before, there should be no dried paint anywhere.

When painting, dip only about one-third of the bristle length into the paint. Flat and semi-gloss paints often have a smoother appearance when dry than high-gloss paints. If you have the proper paint and tools, then consider a key causes of brush marks – the paint dries too fast, before it has time to flatten out. Painting in excessive heat speeds drying and amplifies the possibility of brush marks. Next, the paint must not be too thick. Test some on scrap wood and if it leaves marks when brushed, try thinning some by about 10 percent with water and test again. When painting cabinets, do the insides first; this will give you a feel for the best brushing technique. If you still get brush marks, buy a bottle of Floetrol, is a latex paint conditioner that slows drying and smoothes the finish, often leaving it mark-free.

I have encountered more messed-up spray jobs than brush jobs, however. Unskilled spraying can result in spatters, streaks, drips and runs, thick and thin areas, and of course overspray. If paint with flammable, smelly solvents is used, spraying inside a house can also be a fire and health hazard.

Window condensation

Q: We get condensation on our thermal windows even though we have checked the humidity in our 5-year-old house and it is fine. We have to wipe the sills and worry about mold, since we have small children. –Mark

Condensation occurs when the glass gets cold enough to reach the dew point, causing water vapor in the air of the house to condense on the cold surface. The glass can get cold for several reasons, including cold air inside the house and poor-quality thermal windows. If the condensation occurs when you have set back your thermostat to save energy, try cutting the setback by a few degrees. If the windows have drapes that are keeping warm air from reaching the glass, try letting the drapes open. Also, you don’t say what the humidity level is in the house; it should be no more than 45 or 50 percent. Your equipment to check the humidity might be inaccurate. If you have corrected the possible causes mentioned above , I would suspect the quality of the windows. They might lack such important features as low-e coating and an inert gas between the two panes of glass.

Austin: gaus17@aol.com

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