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Professional Tips and Tricks

In my 40 years as a house painter and contractor, I've gathered many tips and practices that are now part of my every day routine. Some of these tips simply make my work faster or more efficient. Other tips help produce higher quality results.

I'm certain that homeowners painting their own dwellings will benefit from these suggestions. Less-experienced contractors may also find my suggestions helpful, so over the coming days and weeks I hope to provide this information freely via my Twitter feed.

Why am I sharing this hard-earned experience? It's my belief that generosity of knowledge and practice brings benefits to the giver and the recipient. I hope you'll call on me the next time you require a professional house painter.

You can access previous tips and keep up-to-date by "following" me on Twitter.


A "flash" is a word that painters use to describe an area on a painted surface that shows a different reflectivity than the surrounding area. This is most easily seen when you look along a wall towards a light source, such as a window. (A "flash" may occasionally look shinier than the surrounding area, but will usually look more dull.)

There are two main causes of flashing.

First, the flashing can be caused by a differential in the absorption of the surface, causing an area to be more (or less) reflective of light. This usually happens because a patch of repair compound that was applied to the surface was not sufficiently sealed before/during painting. This causes more paint to be drawn into the patch, resulting in less—or different—reflectivity.

Second, the flashing can be caused by a repaired area of the surface that was not sufficiently sanded down prior to painting. (This happens a great deal with amateur painters.) Because the repaired surface is slightly "domed" due to insufficient sanding, the light reflects differently than it does from the surrounding area.

Tip: Always sand (rub down) a new repair so that it is absolutely flush and level with the surrounding surface. (Close your eyes and run your bare hand across the patch; can you feel where it is?) If you sand down too far, you can always apply a bit more patching compound, but it is very hard to eliminate a patch that is overfilled and has been painted.

Copyright ©2011 by Nathan Harms
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