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posted: 2/21/2014 12:01 AM

Important tips for do-it-yourself painting

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Painting is the least expensive way to upgrade your home. Even a small project can make a big difference. Here are some of our favorite tips and tricks to help your next paint job turn out like a masterpiece!

• Cleaning the walls before painting is very important. It may take time, but not much money at all.

• Repair any small holes with Spackle and cracks with tape and drywall compound.

• When choosing a paint, a primer-and-paint combination will save you time and give you really good coverage. Choose a paint that also cleans up with soap and water, which will save you time as you work and, after you have finished, when it's time to clean up.

• Do a large-enough test area and live with it for few days until you are sure it's the right color.

• Take accurate measurements and buy a little more paint than you need. You can save the extra for touch-ups later on.

• If you are using more than one can, mix a little of each can together so that it won't show when you switch to a new can. Make sure you thoroughly mix each can before using it.

• Use the best tools you can afford.

• Wear protective clothing so cleanup will be confined to other things, not yourself.

• Mask off areas that you don't want to get paint on.

• It's smart to paint the ceiling before the walls, if you plan to do both. And woodwork or trim gets done last.

• Do the cutting in first and try to get to the roller before the paint has a chance to dry. Try to do one whole wall at a time so that you don't have paint drying as you work.

• If you take a break, close up paint cans and place brushes and rollers in sealable bags. Don't forget to stir the paint again before returning to painting. If breaking overnight, place sealed brushes and rollers in the refrigerator.

• While painting, keep heating and air conditioning vents closed so dust won't get stirred up.

Drywall repairs

Drywall repairs are pretty easy with a little practice. With a good drywall knife, you can spread it evenly. Several thin coats, drying between each one, usually will give you good results. One way to avoid a bulge on the surface of the wall is to use a straight edge, like a firm ruler, to draw over the drywall compound to keep it level with the rest of the wall. This also can save you time with the finishing part, because there will be a lot less sanding.

Super hints

• If you want crown molding but can't fit it into your budget, just install a thin strip horizontally about 6 inches below the ceiling and paint the trim and area above it a different color than the wall. You'll have to take a second look to see that it's not actual crown molding.

Q. I am so tired of the fluorescent fixtures in my kitchen. They don't look that bad, but they make everything else look funny. Is there a way to make them give off a better light, or do I just have to replace them?

A. You can try replacing the old bulbs with newer bulbs that cast a different color of light. Depending upon the type of fixture you have, you also might be able to replace the cover that is over the bulbs, if possible. Replacing the fixture is not a hard project and might really update your kitchen for not a lot of money.

Q. I have a couple of chips in my bathroom sink. I have seen repair kits for white sinks, but not for beige. What can I do to fix my beige sink?

A. Look on the sink to see who the manufacturer is. You might have to do a little searching online, but you should be able to find a kit made just for your brand and color of sink. They do make them, and they do a pretty good job of covering those little boo-boos.

Reader tips

• We converted an extra bedroom into a home office. The closet was set up nicely for a bedroom with shelves and clothing rods, but wasn't working for office storage. We installed extra shelves, which can be removed if we turn the room back into a bedroom. We left the closet rods in place for the same reason. We also bought a nice chair that turns into a twin bed in case we have an overnight guest.

• We put up a whole wall of family photos. It looked great for about 15 minutes, but then I started having to straighten the pictures almost every day. I'm not compulsive, but they were just always crooked. I finally took each one down, wrapped some masking tape around the center point of each hanging wire and then put them back up. This little "cushion" sits right on the hanger, and now they stay straight. I wish we had done this initially or used different hangers.

• I clean my house in small steps, one area each day, since I have a full-time job. I've started adding the garage into the schedule. I've discovered that it's not very hard to do, and it makes it so much easier to find things when we need them. I even have found room to store a few things from inside the house outside in the garage now. This makes the inside closet look neater, too.


• Vinegar is one of those everyday, household products that we all have in our homes. It has tons of uses there, as well as in the shop and even outdoors. It's really inexpensive and can save you money in many cases. We have put together a list of some of our favorite, tried-and-true uses for the stuff. You also can get this information as well as a lot of other interesting tips on our website at

• You have to see the WORX JawSaw in action to see what all the talk is about. This jaws-of-life-looking tool is amazing! The electric chain saw is more safe and efficient than a standard chain saw. The special design protects the chain and bar from damage, as well as the user. The steel teeth hold the wood in place while cutting through it at the perfect angle. The easy-to-install 5-foot extension pole gives you extra reach, and the Auto-Tension features makes chain replacement quick and precise. It even has an automatic oiler, and is covered by a limited three-year warranty. Check it out at

• Write to Al and Kelly Carrell in care of the Daily Herald, P.O. Box 280, Arlington Heights, IL 60006 or visit the Carrells' website at

© 2014, Cowles Syndicate Inc.

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