Monday, 11 May 2015

I hate painting

I really do actually hate painting.  I hate anything I can't master and I really can not paint for toffee.  In real world my first attempt was to paint our back door.  We got up next morning to a door with rivers in it and pools of paint on the step.  Brush overload?  Fourteen years to the next attempt - I would roller paint my son's bedroom.  I was discovered by one of my children about four o'clock with pretty much everything but the walls covered in paint and me crying.  Chap next door nipped round to rescue me and had it done in a couple of hours.  I never lifted a paintbrush again in anger until I started with minis.

On the very first one I discovered I could not get anything like a reasonable finish using a brush.  I got a tolerable finish with a roller (the very small ones) and a bit of judicious rubbing down.  By this fourth project I am still struggling.  To add to my uselessness at the game I wasn't able to go at this one with nice flat-on-the-table pieces as I have done with all but one of my other builds.  Here I am struggling to paint an almost completed build and having to cope with gravity.

Do not let me put you off.  I have never met another human who can't wield a paintbrush.

Reading this you will get a lot of this is how things should be done alongside this is what I do - the two things may not be the same!  You get to choose.

MDF needs priming before any kind of decorating can take place.  It is hugely thirsty and will suck up glue or paint on its first hit so, basically, it needs at least one thin coat to 'feed it' ready for the real work.  You might get away with painting the bare wood with your finishing colour and papering it too but, now and again, you are going to see that the colour of the MDF leaches through the pale paint or light paper colours.  Also you will find it difficult to put enough paste on the paper to be sure it is firmly stuck.  As I said you can almost hear the MDF drink the paste. 

To prime MDF, I suspect that ideally, it should be coated with MDF sealer or a proper primer paint.  I know you can also prime it with wallpaper paste first before hanging the pasted wall paper.  I have never done any of this.  I have been told that primer (at a premium price) is just thin emulsion (?) and that MDF sealer is thinned down PVA glue (?).  I have no idea if those are facts, but it seems quite possible as far as my eyes and nose can tell.

ready to begin

I just buy a reasonable quality off-white paint, thin it down and use one thin coat of that.  It seems to do the job just fine.  Here you can see the old mixing bowl I use, whisk (better than a spoon) cup measure and, of course the paint and a one-inch brush.

You should always buy the most expensive brush you can afford - in a way this is actually economical as they genuinely last a lifetime if taken care of.  I have a couple of very good brushes from a previous lifetime but neither of them is a one-inch which is what was needed here.  This one is a cheap one from somewhere like Wilkinsons.

You can measure the paint with anything as long as you note the proportions so you can mix it the same way a second time if needed.  As a rough guide it is around 2 measures of paint to one measure of water but it will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and the quality of the paint you bought.  It needs to run like thin cream and not drag the brush when you are putting it on the MDF.  You also need to apply the thinnest coat you can - you don't want any warping.

The rule to prevent warping is always to treat both sides of the wood the same at the same time.  So, in this case, paint both sides of the wood.  I confess I don't do this.  I have enough anguish painting what absolutely has to be primed without doing the outside of the house and the floors.  So far so good, fingers crossed for this one. 

Ideally there should be two thin coats applied, allowing it to dry thoroughly in between and giving it a gentle rub down between coats.  I only do one coat and rub it down ready for whatever finish it will have.  

I began with the house in its proper upright position and within about three strokes decided I couldn't possibly paint the ceilings - all I was doing was dripping paint everywhere.  This is where, if you are doing this on your own, you have to wait for the window cleaner to turn up and slip him five bob to help you lift the contraption.  Luckily I have a bloke in the next room (aka husband) who is good about being interrupted with .... "I need to turn the house over"

house turned 90 degrees to the right

I decided that lying it on its side would do.  This meant the ceilings became right hand walls and the right hand walls became floors and they all became easier to paint.  Hoping to flip it tomorrow for the rest.

inner walls all primed

Prior to this I had painted the not-yet-fixed inner walls and am now trying to ignore the fact that I think they are 'warping'.......  assembly should be fun.

The surface finish is certainly not great, but for the purposes of it being a priming coat it is doing its job.  The first coat of anything - paint, varnish etc, will always make the surface nib - the wood gets wet and throws up fibres.  This is why every coat should be rubbed down before applying another.  This is one of the rules I do obey.  I didn't when I first started but I soon learned there is no way to achieve a decent finish if you are not prepared to do two, preferably three, thin coats and fine sand them in between.

The lines you can see are my inevitable brush-strokes - I have no idea how not to do that.  Yes, I do put on the right amount of paint, and feather it when I have finished but I always leave brush-strokes behind.

I have done about a quarter of the area that needs doing - maybe less.  I have all the back walls and the left hand walls and the pavement area to go at next.  When all that is done I will possibly need the house upside down, which is very worrying, so I can have a good go at a couple of coats on each ceiling.  This is a long haul. 

waiting for tomorrow
Another tip from the heart.... never leave a brush for more than literally a minute.  Today's paint very quickly forms a plastic coat.  Even if you manage to wash one where only the surface has just started to tack you will often still be left with little bits of solid paint threaded through the bristles and they will appear just when you don't want them to.  My brushes truly never get put down until they have been rubbed under a warm running tap until they run absolutely clear, it really only takes seconds.

When you are done for the day the remaining paint must be decanted to a lidded container preferably not half empty like this.  Indeed, seeing this, I have no idea why I didn't put it in the usual jam jar!

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