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RISMEDIA, June 30, 2011—(MCT)—An expectant colleague sent word to me that she and her husband had visited a chain paint store in recent weeks, searching for the right color for the baby’s room.

The salesperson told her that many homeowners, unable to come up with the money to hire a painting contractor, were resorting to doing the job themselves —often with unfortunate results.

Many were returning to the paint store, virtual hat in hand, seeking ways to extricate themselves from the mess they had made.

Experienced do-it-yourselfers must be asking, “How could they mess up something as easy as painting a room?” Think back to when all of this was new to you, however, and very few will be able to say, “I was the Michelangelo of the paint roller from Day One.”

Paint jobs will go relatively smoothly if you keep a couple of things in mind.

First, surface preparation is critical. Second, don’t skimp on quality. Top-quality paints and tools offer the best results.

If you’re thinking about painting the exterior, get to it before the weather gets too warm and sticky, which affects drying. Windy days also are not good, because you want the paint to set up properly before it dries.

It’s also best to avoid painting in direct sunshine, since the surface of your house can be 10 to 20 degrees hotter than the air temperature—and that can cause the paint to dry too quickly. By painting in moderate weather, you’ll get the best performance from your paint and efforts.

Before you begin to paint, inside or out, make sure the surface is clean and free of chalk and dirt. Use soap and water with a scrub brush, then rinse.

Remove any loose, flaking or peeling paint by scraping, sanding or wire-brushing. (You might also consider wearing a mask and safety goggles.)

Feather back rough paint edges by sanding. If you are repainting a glossy surface, be sure to sand it, so the new paint will adhere better. And spot-prime any bare wood.

Finally, brush off any dust or particles left from the sanding and scraping prior to painting. For durability, be sure to purchase the best paint you can.

For exterior applications, acrylic latex paint works very well. Its flexibility enables it to expand and contract with the surface when temperatures rise or fall dramatically. That also extends the life of the paint job.

Good-quality paint is less expensive in the long run. Superior hiding power— provided by the paint’s pigment—will require fewer coats (coverage guidelines are typically found on the can), and its better flow will make the job go faster.

If a paint has good flow, it can even out an application so that brush and roller marks are not visible, and there’s less spattering and reduced cleanup time.

I also lightly sand between coats. It tends to get rid of bumps of dried paint but it always seems that the surface will take the second coat better if it is a little rough.

As I said, don’t go cheap on tools. To get the best results, use good-quality brushes, rollers and other application equipment. Use synthetic-bristle brushes that are tightly packed and well-balanced and synthetic-nap rollers for latex paint.

Don’t thin paint unless you need to (for spraying applications, for example). Thinning reduces the solids content of the paint and prevents better hiding and durability.

Never use interior paint outdoors. Manufacturers formulate paints specifically for indoors or out.