How To Paint

How To Paint Wood Or Trim

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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.

Once 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 surface.

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.



How To Paint MDF



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 top coats.

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 undercoating.




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.




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