PAINT TROUBLES— Their Causes and Cures
MRS. ANDREWS, our neighbor, dropped in the other evening. “I’ve been saving these for you,” she cooed sweetly but with a roguish twinkle in her eye, as she unrolled a strip of paper that seemed about a yard long. “They're troubles!”
“Troubles?” I repeated.
“Yes. I've been doing quite a bit of painting about the house lately, going ahead of my own accord without asking any questions of anybody, and there have been things that didn't turn out right.” “Well, let's hear about them.”
“I was doing one of the bedroom floors with varnish stain, and it didn’t work well at all. At other times it had been just as easy to use as anything, but this time it pulled and dragged under the brush. I thought I would never get through. And, besides, it didn’t look very well either. The color wasn't nice and even. A big batch of color would stick in one place, and I would keep brushing away to spread it out evenly, but it wouldn’t spread very well. When I got through the floor was streaked—dark in some places and light in others.”
“A little turpentine was all that was needed,” I answered. “Some of the liquids had evaporated since the last time you used the varnish stain. If you ever have any varnish stain that works that way again, just add some turpentine and stir it in well, and you will find your varnish stain working ‘as smooth as butter’ under a brush again.”
Her next question had to do with the use of varnish (Continued on page 102) stain on the stairway and landing and the woodwork of the downstairs hall. The varnish was from a new can and went on satisfactorily. It looked fine but didn’t dry for about two weeks.
(Continued from page 101)
“We had an awful time getting up and down stairs,” she added, “and spoiled the finish in a few places where we had rigged up boards to step on.”
A number of questions on my part failed to furnish any clue, but a casual remark revealed what the trouble was—a mistake countless amateur painters make. It seemed that Mrs. Andrews, in her desire to do an especially good job, had taken off the old finish with a paint and varnish remover.
I THINK wre have your trouble,” I interrupted. “When you got through using the paint and varnish remover, did you wash up the surface with gasoline?” “No-o-o!” responded Mrs. Andrews slowly. “I remember now the directions did say to wash up thoroughly with a liberal amount of gasoline, but when we got through using the paint remover we had forgotten this. We wiped up the woodwork with a cloth, though, and it looked nice and clean.”
I explained that a paint and varnish remover gets into the surface, and it takes gasoline, benzine, or turpentine to cut the remover and wash it out. The best way is to take plenty of gasoline and use a scrubbing brush.
“What’s next?” I inquired.
“I am just doing the walls in that new room we finished up in the attic. I filled the cracks and imperfections with plaster of Paris and paint, after the first coat of wall paint. When I put on the second coat these spots all showed through much lighter in color. Why was this, and will the next coat cover them up?”
“That was probably due to one of two things. You may have put on the second coat too soon after filling the cracks and before the plaster of Paris mixture had a chance to harden clear through, so that these spots (Continued on page 103) absorbed the paint much more than the rest of the wall. Or else you may have mixed the plaster of Paris with wall paint just as it came from the can, instead of using some of the ‘fifty-fifty’ mixture of wall paint and wall size which you used for the first coat on the walls. If the crack filling mixture was made without any size, it would tend to be porous and absorbent. Seal over these spots in some way; otherwise the next coat also will sink in and the spots will still show through. One of the best ways to do this is with a thin coat of shellac. Shellac dries in an hour or so, so you won’t lose any time.”
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HERE’S another one,” our visitor went on, after making a note about the use of shellac. “It wasn’t due to anything going wrong in the work, but a little hard luck afterwards. You know the kitchen we fixed up so prettily? Well one of the kiddies left the water running in the bathroom; it overflowed, and came down through the ceiling. That's all speckled with dozens of blisters puffed out as big as hen’s eggs. It looks ter-ri-b-l-e.”
“That certainly was tough,” I commiserated. “Well, as long as it’s only the ceiling that is spoiled, it won’t take so long to fix it up. First, break all the blisters with a putty knife and scrape off all the loose paint—away back as far as the paint is the least bit loose. Then go over all these spots with a thin coat of shellac, being careful not to miss any. Make a mixture of plaster of Paris and equal parts of wall paint and size, using the same color wall paint as was previously used on the ceiling. Make this mixture reasonably thick and knife it on to the spots with your putty knife, smoothing it out nicely to fill up the depressions in the paint film, and make them even with the painted surface. Allow twentyfour hours for drying and then give the entire surface a brush coat of wall paint of the proper color into which some wall size has been added in the proportion of about two parts paint to one part size. Allow twenty-four hours for this coat to dry, or, preferably, forty-eight hours if you are in no particular hurry. Then apply another coat of wall paint as it comes in the can, and you'll have a new finish just as good as the old one.”
That’s all the ground we covered that evening, but Mrs. Andrews promised to bring us more “troubles” if she encountered them. And she is very apt to, because there is more to painting than the amateur ever realizes.
This is the first of a series of articles in which Mr. Elliot answers the questions that so often perplex those interested in home painting and decorating.
DISCARDED auto fenders and body panels, obtained from junk dealers, are inexpensive material for making letter boxes and containers of various kinds. With a little care the original enamel finish can be retained.—G.D.H.