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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.


"Spot Priming" may be one of the most important skills of a painter. And its importance is overlooked. If you enter a room and are able to see where a painter patched surface defects, you know that the painter did not understand the technique of patching and spot priming.

When a surface has received numerous coats of paints over the years, it rarely needs priming—the surface is well sealed. However, when you patch surface defects, you are applying new plaster which is not sealed. Your paint absorbs into the new plaster differently than into the existing finish and leaves a visible spot.

Spot priming is meant to seal the patches and bring them up to a level of finish where the new paint will reflect light to the same degree that the old paint reflects light. While it's true that you could just keep painting the entire surface until it looks uniform, you might need to apply 5 or 6 coats of paint. This is wasteful of materials and time.

It's much better to simply apply primer/sealer to the patches. Depending on the existing surface and the paint you're using, you may need to spot prime the patches 2 or 3 times to assure hold-out of the patches.

Since I use Benjamin Moore Aura paint, which has high sealing and holdout properties, I usually spot prime generously with my paint brush after the patches are sanded smooth. Then when the paint is dry, I re-prime the patches again, often with a roller (so that I can feather the patch out a bit further into the existing surface).

After this double spot priming, I proceed to paint the wall normally.

Copyright ©2011 by Nathan Harms
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