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Have you ever wondered how expert professional painters, like us right here at New Approach Painting, can achieve such amazing results painting a room in such a short time? Although in large part our quality is due to extensive and diligent practice of painting techniques, we also use a few special techniques that either save time, increase the quality of the resulting finish, or both! We’d love to share some of these tips with you so you can tackle an easy room yourself (and leave the tricky ones for us!).

Some people love to paint, but hate to prep! At New Approach Painting, we love both– OK, you got us. We love to paint better, but we still love to prep because that’s what makes the finished work worth doing. But poring over a whole entire wall for all the nicks, dings, pinholes, screw pops, cracks, smacks and whacks can be intimidating! Here are some tips and techniques for saving yourself time and getting your walls as smooth as you want them.

1. Pick your prep battles.

Don’t pore over the whole room, square foot by square foot! We’re willing to bet that upper left corner may have a cobweb or two, but wipe those away and you’ll find an unblemished wall section that doesn’t need any prep work. Pay attention to the following areas so you don’t get bogged down in spackling work:

  • Examine for pinholes and nail holes on walls between chest and head height
  • Look for nicks and dings at the bottom twelve inches of wall, in door frames, and along the lower half of hallway walls.
  • Check for cracks above door frames and at wall joints.
  • If you spot a drywall screw pop, check for others to its immediate North, South, East or West.
  • Spend the most time fixing walls along which natural light flows parallel. Glare from natural light directly on a wall will obscure minor imperfections, and make it hard to notice those same imperfections on the opposite wall containing the light source.

2. Fill twice, sand less

Use a wide, flexible putty knife and push your spackle into the repair. When you’re done, scrape away all the excess– this will greatly reduce your sanding time and mess later! If that didn’t fill the hole properly, repeat until it does. Then wait for the repair to dry, and if the spackle has shrunk into the hole, repeat again– the hole will be sealed and smooth for good, and your sanding will be minimized. We at New Approach Painting like compounds like Dap Drydex, which start pink but turn white when they’re dry and ready to sand.

3. Open cracks

Before filling a crack, use the sharpest corner of a painter’s tool to widen it. This may seem counterproductive, but you can’t get an appreciable amount of spackle into a crack at its thinnest edges– and that’s where a crack is most likely to reappear. The only time you shouldn’t open a crack is when it’s in an inside ninety-degree corner, like where the wall meets the ceiling. These you can repair by caulking over top.

4. Screw in the screw pops!

Screw pops look like someone painted over a thumbtack in the wall. They appear often in new homes and/or newly drywalled surfaces as the house settles over time, and can keep appearing as long as seven years after your home was built! To tackle these, take your Philips-head screwdriver (or “plus” shaped head) and poke it into the centre of the thumbtack shape. Don’t be scared of wrecking the wall! You’ll find the screwdriver sinks neatly into the head of a screw, which you can give a quarter to a half turn clockwise in order to re-tighten it. The hole you made will likely require two hits with spackle as described in tip two.

5. Sand with a sponge!

Use a sanding sponge rated medium grit on one side, and light grit on the other. Sand each repair with the medium side first, and check it by brushing your palm across it until you can’t feel the edge of the repair. Then smooth out the repair with the light grit side. Using a palm sander or folded paper can cause unwanted distribution of sanding pressure, which means possible scratches, gouges, or over-sanding; don’t make yourself start all over!

6. Prime your repairs!

Once you’ve cleaned up all the sanding dust from the walls and everywhere else, take a brush or a mini-roller and seal your repairs with the lightest coat you can apply that still seals the repair with no holes or pockmarks. You can use some topcoat paint if you like, but at New Approach Painting we like thick-bodied primer-sealer for the best results. Your repairs will absorb a greater amount of topcoat paint, and do so more quickly, than the surrounding walls, and painting over unprimed repairs can cause that spackling to “flash through” which in some cases can look worse than the unrepaired wall did! Sealing your repairs with primer allows the topcoat to cover as uniformly as possible.

Follow these tips to the letter and you’ll enjoy only minor worry during your minor repairs. Good luck!