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HOW TO PAINT WOOD OR TRIM
When it comes to painting woodwork or trim there are a few choices but it will
depend on if you are painting internal or external woodwork.
Internal woodwork generally needs to handle every day wear and
tear, it needs to be washable. External woodwork needs to
handle the elements especially the constant changing
temperature, so it needs to be
flexible. There are a few choices when choosing paint for wood
and this article will cover some of the issues when painting
wood or timber surfaces.
How To Paint New Wood
When painting new
woodwork the first things you will need to do is apply a
coat of primer but before you do you will need to check for
any really rough areas as it best to sand these areas first.
There is no need to sand all the surface unless it is
extremely rough, generally primer will raise the grain of
the wood slightly so itís normally a waste of time sanding
the complete surface before you prime.
the primer is dry go around and fill any nail holes or
imperfections you want filled, nail holes can be filled with
wood putty and there are other wood fillers that you can use for the
imperfections. When youíre happy you have filled every thing let
the filler dry then give the surface a good sand and try not to
sand through the primer but if you do donít panic. For any areas
that you have sanded through just touch them up, you donít need
to re prime the whole surface. If you have been using oil based
prime you could touch up any bare areas with a water base primer
just to speed up the painting process. This is one of a few
situations when you can bend the law about never using water
based paints over freshly painted oil based paints but you only
want to touch up the bare areas, donít go over the entire
Now youíre ready for the undercoat, make sure you dust the
surface off then apply a nice even coat of undercoat. The idea
behind undercoat is to help fill any small imperfections, sand
marks and it will also help fill the grain. If youíre wood work
is grainy and you want a totally smooth finish you will need to
use a grain filler, they are not as common these days but if you
ask an old painter they will remember using them, so if you want to grain fill do it before you undercoat.
When the undercoat is dry go around and inspect the surface,
this will be you last chance to do any last minute filling. If
you do find some more spots that need filling and you use a wood
filler it will need to be touch up and as before with the primer
you could use a water based undercoat just to touch up that bit.
Depending on what you
are painting will determine if there is any caulking to be done,
if there is, it can be done after priming or after undercoating.
I prefer to caulk after undercoating because at this stage the
surface should be smooth and it is easier to caulk a smooth
surface plus it looks much better.
Once youíre happy with
how your wood work looks its time for the final sand, now this
should only be a light sand. The idea is to remove any small
bits of dirt or dust that may have been picked up during the
undercoat process. When you have finished the sanding you will
need to dust off the surface and itís a good idea to clean the
surrounding area and have a dust free environment if possible.
Generally a good painter will do all the sanding and dusting off
then sweep out the entire house (when painting a complete
inside) the day before glossing wood work. When applying the
gloss or top coat it will be up to you on how many coats you
apply, generally if you are using high gloss enamel then one
coat is fine.
Painting MDF is not hard
to do, depends on if it is primed or un-primed will depend on how
you paint it.
For natural or un-primed MDF you will first need to prime
the surface, to do this you can either use an acrylic (water
based) primer or an oil-based primer. I generally use a water
based primer, it dries quicker and
can be over coated with oil-based top coats. When the primer has
dried go around and fill any nail holes or imperfections that
you want filled, when dry sand the entire surface then dust off.
Now youíre ready for the undercoat, once again you can use
either water based or oil-based undercoats depending on what primer
you used. If you used and oil-based primer then you will need to
use an oil-based undercoat, if you used a water based primer you
can use either. When your undercoat is dry it is time to caulk
any remaining gaps, caulking can be done at any stage but I find
it best left to near the end when the surface has been sanded
and is smooth. Let the caulking dry then sand the entire
surface, it should only require a light sand and do take care
around the areas that have been caulked. Dust the surface off
then apply your top coat, its up to you if you apply one or two
Painting pre-primed MDf is the same as painting
un-primed MDF except you do not need to prime
the timber but I would suggest you do sand it well before
Painting Interior Wood or Trim
All interior wood work should be
painted in either Semi Gloss or High Gloss Enamel, they are the best paints for
interior woodwork as they have the best durability when it comes to washing. With
every day living our interior woodwork gets dirty with finger prints and
general scuff marks. Our hands are naturally oily, this oil gets transferred
to the woodwork every time we touch it but it will take a while before it
becomes noticeable. Oil based paints won't absorb the oil where acrylic paints
will making them harder to clean.
There are some Acrylic Enamels on the market but I still prefer good old fashion
oil based paints, they are a little bit harder to apply but they are far
superior to acrylics for interior wood work.
I got my first loan because of this question, my bank manager ask me "what paint
should I use for my interior woodwork" and I told him enamel. He responded
with that's good because he had just painted all his interior woodwork with
acrylic and realised it was a big mistake.
Painting Exterior Wood or Trim
General this is where
acrylic paints (water based) are great, they are more flexible then enamels so
they will flex with the constant change in temperature. Enamels
dry ridged and therefore donít flex and will crack leaving a
gap for moisture to get in and this is when your paint work
starts to break down. Exterior acrylics come in a range of
finishes, Low Sheen. Satin and Gloss, there are some exterior
flat acrylics but I do not use them as you need some sheen
level (gloss level) so the dust can be washed off the surface.
For exterior doors you do have the option of either acrylic or
enamel but I would suggest you use enamel for the same reason as
using enamel for interior woodwork.
Enamel paints do go
chalky in direct sun light but they still do have a place on
exterior surfaces such as wooden sash windows and metal work.
Wooden sash windows (the type that run up and down) can be
painted with either acrylic or enamel, the issue they do have is
they can bind together when painted with acrylic making them
hard to open or close. The friction of opening the window heats
up the acrylic paint and it sticks, so if you do decide to use
acrylic paint on the windows make sure the runners are not
clogged up with any unnecessary amounts of paint.