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New Wallboard Poses Painting Challenge


QUESTION: I have just finished renovating my living room and the wallboard work is completed. Can you give me some advice as far as painting is concerned?

ANSWER: Decorating newly finished wallboard can present a challenge for the amateur, because wallboard presents a problem surface for the painter. When painting wallboard you are actually painting two materials: the paper covering of the wallboard and the compound that was used to treat nail or screw heads, seams and corners. The paper face has a slightly rough or "calendared" surface, while the taping compound is glass-smooth. These two surfaces also present unequal absorption rates and will soak up paint and primer unequally.

Because of these problems, wallboard manufacturers have always advised that you use a latex or water-based primer as a first coat on a new wallboard. Oil primers may dry slowly, soak into the paper face of the panels and cause the paper nap to raise. Oil primers on wallboard will often cause very smooth spots where there is compound over seams or fasteners and very tough areas where the nap of the paper has been raised. Thus all wallboard manufacturers and the Gypsum Assn., a trade organization that represents all wallboard manufacturers, recommend a heavy-bodied latex paint as a first coat over new wallboard.

One major manufacturer, United States Gypsum, makes a special base coat for new wallboard, called First Coat. It is available premixed, or you can buy the primer in powder form and mix it with water. It is cheaper than ordinary primer and will provide the coverage of primers and sealers without the disadvantages of either of these two paint products. First Coat will seal the surface and contains enough fillers to act as a primer, so it equalizes the suction on both the taping compound areas and the bare paper areas.

The Gypsum Assn. advises professionals to coat the entire surface of the wall and/or ceiling with compound so that no bare paper is left. In effect, one just plasters the entire surface with painting compound, so there is no difference in texture between paper and compound. However, troweling a complete room can be a messy job if you are not skilled with a trowel, so we advise using First Coat as a wallboard under-coater. Once the surface differences have been eliminated with First Coat, you can re-coat with any type of paint finish.

Unlock Stuck Agitator Safely With Air Pump

Q: I would like to replace some worn parts in my washing machine, but the agitator is just about impossible to remove. I don't want to force and possibly break anything, so do you know a way to get out the agitator?

A: To remove a tightly fitted agitator or one that has become firmly glued in place by soap residue, first unplug the washer and remove the agitator cap. Then, if there is room between the bottom edge of the agitator and the tub bottom, work a completely deflated bicycle tire inner tube in underneath the agitator. Distribute the tube as uniformly around the agitator as possible. Leave the valve stem sticking out and attach a hand pump or mini-air compressor to it.

Gradually pump up the tube. It shouldn't take much pressure because the agitator's surface area is large. The agitator will let go with a pop. This method won't harm the agitator since the force is not concentrated and is fairly evenly distributed around its circumference.

Of course, this method can also be used to separate other stuck parts on appliances if applied carefully. Certainly, it is far less apt to damage parts than attempting to pry them apart.

Coming Clean About Painted White Walls

Q: Can you give me some tips on how to wash painted walls? The walls are painted with white washable paint.

A: If you are interested in just cleaning a dirty wall, you can use soap and water. A gentle liquid soap is good. Rub the wall down lightly with a towel or a sponge. Don't scrub too hard or you will create a slight gloss by removing the pigment.


Question? Write to Popular Mechanics, Reader Service Bureau, 224 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.

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