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Interior Painting

With the Right Prep, Painters
Can Make Old Walls Look New


Sure, anyone can slap some paint on the walls to freshen up a room.

But if you hire a professional painter, you’ll save yourself time and keep your hands out of the mess. And if you choose the right painter, you’ll end up with walls that look like new.

A professional painter can be especially important if the rooms that need to be painted are in an old house. Repairing plaster walls can be tricky, and the many previous layers of paint can pose special challenges. We’ve probably all seen an older home with paint peeling off the trim or trim that wasn’t properly prepared to conceal the blemishes of prior paint jobs.

“It’s very easy for anyone to paint,” said George Mera, owner of Independent Painters in Millburn, N.J. “The difference is the quality of the finish.

“A do-it-yourselfer will spackle, but a professional painter’s spackling job will be smooth. The application of the paint will be professional. You won’t see lines where the paint was rolled unevenly. The cuts, where the wall paint meets the trim or ceiling, will be straight and not wavy.”

Mera’s crews recently painted the entire interior of a four-bedroom home in Short Hills, N.J., and spent several days just preparing the walls for painting. This is their standard procedure.

They start with careful spackling and caulking of cracks and blemishes. Then they sand these areas multiple times so the repairs won’t show after the paint is applied.

Also key, Mera says, is selecting the proper primer, especially on woodwork. Painting latex as a first layer on wood trim is ill-advised, especially in old homes, because if an oil-based paint was used previously, the latex won’t adhere.

On these areas, an oil-based primer, which can accept many types of finish paint, is best, Mera says.

Sanding between layers of trim paint is important, as well.

Alan Paul learned the importance of all of these steps when it came time to paint rooms he added during a renovation of his Maplewood, N.J., home. Throughout the project, working with an architect, his main goal was to make sure the new rooms looked like an original part of the house.

It turned out that painting was one of the most important steps in meeting that goal.

“If you want it to end up looking good, especially mixing old and new, the prep really has to be good, and I thought they excelled at that,” said Paul, who hired Independent Painters. “They spent days just prepping and getting the walls ready before they painted, and that’s something I was really impressed with and made a huge difference in the end result.”

Finally, it is important to choose the right finish paint. In old homes, Mera often recommends a matte finish, which hides imperfections in old walls but can still be cleaned.

You should consider your lifestyle when selecting finish paint. A family with young children will need a paint that can be cleaned. A retired couple might be able to choose a different kind of paint. Your painter should be able to help you make the right choice.


June 20, 2011


Independent Painters' preparation of walls for interior painting is so thorough ...


... and the result so even and smooth that customer Alan Paul of Maplewood, N.J., says you can't tell which rooms he added to his house and which were there all along.

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