DIY Q&A

Cover problem walls with texture paint

January 18, 2013 

Q: Some of the walls and ceilings in our older house have tiny cracks and other blemishes that make them unsightly. Is texture paint a lasting remedy for this?

Texture paint, which usually deposits a thicker film than ordinary paint, has many valuable uses, and can sometimes give an attractive finish to problem walls and ceilings. The paints vary in consistency – some are like thick cream, some are close to the thickness of drywall joint compound. In fact, joint compound is sometimes used for texturing. However, it is not a cure-all for wall orceiling problems.

Some texture paints have enough elasticity to cover up and prevent the reappearance of so-called hairline cracks. It will not cover up cracks wider than hairlines unless they are carefully patched.

Wide cracks, holes, and gouged-out or crumbled areas should be completely filled with spackling compound or patching plaster and sanded smooth before painting. Wider cracks are best taped and spackled like drywall joints.

Texture paint will also not work well over peeling paint, wallpaper or dirty walls. Since it usually covers less area per gallon than regular paint, it is often sold it 5-gallon pails, which can be very heavy.

Stir the paint thoroughly and pour some into a paint tray. Most textures are applied with a roller, often a special long-napped roller that will leave a textured finish in the thick paint. Some painters are satisfied with the rolled-on texture; others like to form patterns in the wet film using various tools ranging from trowels and stiff paint brushes to sponges and balled-up newspaper.

Follow directions carefully, and be forewarned: Virtually all the paints are messy to use. Cover furniture completely. Floors should be covered and the edges of the drop cloths taped at walls to hold them in place.

Choosing a space heater

Q: We spend a lot of time in a couple of rooms and think we could save fuel by using small electric space heaters in those rooms, keeping the central heater set relatively low. What type of heater is best for this purpose?

If you want to heat a specific area quickly, choose a radiant heater. The heat is produced by electric elements (basically hot wires). Some radiant heaters have fans; others have reflectors.

Convection heaters, typified by the oil-filled radiators sold at many home centers, heat the air around them and can warm a sizable area. Convection heaters are excellent for smaller rooms where some delay can be tolerated (I have made a 12-by-14-foot bedroom warm on very cold days in 20 to 30 minutes with one of these heaters operating at half its capacity).

Most portable electric heaters draw a maximum of 1,500 watts, which is equivalent to burning 15 100-watt light bulbs or the combined wattage of a typical refrigerator-freezer and sump pump. That’s a lot of watts, but many heaters can be stepped down to half-power, and many have thermostat controls that turn them on and off periodically.

Safety features are as important as efficiency. Make sure the heating elements are well covered. Fires are a hazard, and heaters must be kept a safe distance from any flammable material. Make sure any heater you buy has a UL label (Underwriters Laboratory). Most heaters include a guide to safe operation, and more information is available at such sites as energy.gov (search for Portable Heaters). Consumer Reports magazine is another excellent source.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Austin: gaus17@aol.com

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