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Home Improvement : Brushing Up on Ways to Ease Painting Chore : Proper preparation, materials and tools will result in a more satisfying result.

June 25, 1989|READER'S DIGEST | For The Associated Press

Painting a home's exterior is time consuming, but with the right paints and equipment you can produce professional-looking results.

Here are tips to help you select the equipment and paints best-suited to the job.

Brushes come in many shapes and sizes but good brushes all have the following qualities:

--Bristles are "flagged," a term that signifies splits on the bristle end. The more flags the better--they help retain paint. Hog bristle is naturally flagged, synthetic bristle, artificially flagged.

--Test for "bounce" by brushing bristles against the back of your hand. They should feel springy and elastic.

--When the brush is gently pressed on any surface, good bristles will not fan out excessively.

--Bristles should be solidly set to prevent fallout while painting. Jar the brush and fan the bristles--any loose bristles will be apparent. The metal band on a brush, the ferrule, is generally stainless steel or aluminum on better brushes.

--Both the area to be painted and the type of paint have a bearing on the size and style of brush. For painting large areas, use a flat 3- to 5-inch brush. For woodwork and other trim, a 1- to 2-inch brush is best.

--Calcimine brushes with very long, tough and elastic bristles are best for applying water-thinned paints to large areas. A special brush with very tough fiber or nylon bristles, ranging in width from 4 to 6 inches, is recommended for rough stucco or masonry surfaces.

Rollers and Pads

Rollers come in various sizes and with handles of different lengths. Special extensions help reach ceilings or floors without stooping.

--For average wall or ceiling work, a 7- or 9-inch-wide roller is good. Other sizes range from 2 inches up to 18 inches. Special roller shapes are useful for special situations. A cone-shape roller can get into corners and a V-shape will coat two sides of a corner at once.

--The roller cover should be compatible with the paint. Lamb's wool and synthetic fibers are excellent for latex and alkyd paints, while enamel requires mohair. Rollers made of synthetic fibers can be used with all flat paints indoors or out.

--The length of the nap of rollers varies from 1/16th to 1 1/2 inches. The smoother the surface being painted, the shorter the nap required. The rougher the surface, the longer the nap required.

--Brush pads apply paint quickly but tend to cause streaks. They are useful on siding, shingles, wide trim and similar flat surfaces.

Paint sprayers are most suitable for painting large wall areas, fences and railings. Spray painting looks easy when done by a professional, but it takes practice to lay the paint on evenly and without runs. Before spraying, mask windows, hardware and trim.

Choosing the Right Paint

Latex is almost everyone's first choice for exterior paint because it is easy to apply, cleans up with water and dries quickly. On top of that, it's long-lasting.

However, if you don't know what you are painting over, choose alkyd paint. Alkyd will adhere to most surfaces, including chalking ones. Latex is more finicky about what old paints it will bond with. Paint dealers can assist you in making the proper choice and buying the right amount.

Here are some additional suggestions:

Wood Siding: Use oil-based, alkyd-base or exterior latex paint. Latex is the easiest to use since it can be applied to damp surfaces and can be recoated in an hour or two.

Shingles and shakes: Use shingle stain or special opaque shingle paint.

Masonry: Use exterior latex paint or solvent-thinned masonry paint. On unpainted concrete, use Portland cement.

Trim: Use varnish or alkyd resin-base paints, which are enamel-like, glossy and very hard. Similar paints are used for decks, patio floors and terraces.

Gutters: Use asphalt paint on the insides and trim paint for the outsides.

Need help on a home repair or improvement project? Write Reader's Digest, P.O. Box 700, Pleasantville, N.Y. 10570-7000. Suggestions and tips will be offered in future columns. HOUSE PAINTING

Surface preparation and taking your time are keys to doing a good job on any interior or exterior painting chore. Page 15

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