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Protecting yourself: gloves, goggles, and respirators

You are vulnerable to particles and fumes when you are sanding, painting, or working with solvents.

To Protect Your Skin:

• Wear cotton gloves when using sharp or abrasive tools.

• Wear latex gloves when working with paint.

• Wear neoprene gloves when handling solvents, strippers, and harsh chemicals.

To Protect Your Eyes:

• Wear safety glasses when working with tools.

• Wear goggles to protect against dust and aerosol droplets when sanding, spraying, or painting over your head.

To Protect Your Lungs:

• Sand, paint, and strip outside, or cross-ventilate with at least two open windows or doors.

• If there is a danger of breathing dust, aerosols, or solvent fumes, filter the air with a respirator. Check product labels for the recommended type.

There Are Two Types Of Respirators: Dust masks, also called particulate respirators, filter out dry particles and most non-oil-based liquid droplets. Use a dust mask when sanding bare or painted wood (except lead-based paint), drywall, and rusted surfaces. Special-purpose particulate respirators are available for spraying latex paint and sanding (not burning) lead-based paint.

Cartridge respirators contain both particulate filters and chemically active canisters for absorbing solvent vapors. Use a cartridge respirator when spraying solvent-based paints and working with solvents and strippers.

Note: Unless specifically stated otherwise, no homeowner-type respirator protects against lead fumes, asbestos fibers, or sandblasting.

Fitting Respirators: A respirator must form an airtight seal around your nose and mouth. Respirators don’t work with beards. So if you have a beard and you’re going to be working with hazardous chemicals, consider shaving.

To Fit A Dust Mask:

• Position the mask under your chin.

• Pull the top and bottom straps over your head and position them just above and below your ears.

• Mold the soft metal tab to fit your nose.

• Test the fit by covering the mask with both hands and drawing a sharp breath; it should be difficult to breathe.

To Fit A Cartridge Respirator:

• Place the respirator loosely over your face, low on the bridge of your nose.

• Fasten the straps for a snug but comfortable fit.

• Test the fit by covering the air inlets and breathing out gently. The mask should bulge slightly, and you should neither hear nor feel any leakage. If you smell fumes or feel dizzy, either the respirator doesn’t fit or the canisters are the wrong type or are used up.

Always read the warnings on paint, solvent, and stripper containers, and compare them to the listed capabilities of the respirator canister.

Accept No Substitutes: To protect yourself from toxic fumes, wear the mask that's recommended by the manufacturer for the job. A garden-variety dust mask may look better and you may feel protected, but it's not made to block fumes. Asbestos and lead are potentially very dangerous, and sometimes even an organic respirator won't do the trick. If you’re dealing with large amounts of either substance, get guidance from the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) or consider hiring a professional removal company.

Protecting Surfaces

Paint always ends up where you don’t want it. You can stop and clean as you go, or you can protect vulnerable surfaces before you start, saving you time in the long run. Remove as much furniture as possible; protect floors, windows, doors, trim and baseboards, and light fixtures. Protect yourself with a long-sleeved shirt and pants, or purchase painter’s coveralls and hoods. Spatter-proof the room: To protect large surfaces and furnishings, invest in a good drop cloth. You will generally find three types:

- Polyethylene sheeting (poly) is inexpensive but slippery.

- Canvas is the toughest and most expensive, but it can leak water-based (latex) paints.

- Paper/poly (fuzzy paper on one side and plastic on the other) is waterproof, less slippery than poly, and less expensive than canvas. It’s a good solution for interior projects.

To protect trim and other margins, use blue painter’s tape—a low-residue masking tape that won’t mar or damage finished surfaces when you remove it.

A Painter’s Cap keeps the spatters out of your hair when you're painting overhead.

When Sanding Or Spray-Painting, cinch your sleeves and cuffs with masking tape.

Paper Masking Combined with self-adhesive blue painter's tape is perfect for protecting baseboards and trim. Various widths are available.

Blue Painter’s Tape can remain for up to a week while prepping but must be removed immediately after painting.

Slip A Paper/Poly Drop Cloth under the baseboard masking for complete floor protection.

A Painter’s Coverall offers neck-to-toe protection and "breathes'' to keep you cool.

Three Types Of Drop Cloths

Poly sheeting, the least expensive, is waterproof. It’s slippery underfoot but great over furniture.

Canvas will last longest but is not waterproof; water-based (latex) paints will probably soak through it.

Paper/poly is a good compromise. It is waterproof and less slippery than poly sheeting.

Priming is essential

Priming helps ensure a professional-looking paint job. Primer is fundamental to good-looking walls, not a way to sell you one more paint product. It is a specially formulated product designed to:

• Increase adhesion.

• Help the finish coat develop maximum sheen.

• Give the finish coat a uniform appearance.

• Increase the finish coat coverage.

• Prevent blemishes on an old surface from bleeding through the new coat of paint. These might be stains from water, dirt, smoke, etc.; tannins from aromatic woods; or resins from knots and pitch pockets.

• Add to metal’s corrosion resistance.

The Good Stuff Lasts - Well, maybe not forever, but quality tools and materials will always provide a better result, especially if you're not a professional painter. Always buy the best equipment you can afford. It’ll pay off in time saved and frustration averted. Plus, if you clean and store painting tools properly, good quality brands should last for years.

Prime New Drywall to conceal the difference between taped and untaped areas.

Prime New Wood, old bare wood, and pressure-treated lumber with a stain-killing primer to block resins and tannins in the wood and create a smooth and seamless finished surface. Let the primer dry thoroughly according to the manufacturer's instructions before applying finish color.

Prime Over Wallpaper using a high-adhesion wallpaper primer. Make sure the old wallpaper is firmly attached to the wall and that rips, gouges, nicks, indentations, bulges, and tears are repaired. Make sure the walls are clean and smooth before you roll on the primer.

Types of primer

1 Just as primer is different from finish paint, there are different primers for different problems and applications. Apply all primers in adequate ventilation.

2 Polyvinyl acetate (PVA) latex primer seals new drywall for painting. Both the paper face on drywall and joint compound are absorbent and would otherwise steal too much water from finish latex paint. PVA is not intended for trim or previously painted surfaces. Cleanup is with water.

3All-purpose primer is a general term for any primer designed for maximum adhesion to impervious surfaces, such as metal, glass, tile, and thermoplastics such as laminated plastic and melamine. It is more difficult to work with than a conventional latex primer, but the results are well worth the effort. Cleanup is with soap and water.

4 Latex, stain-blocking primer stops most stains from coming through the paint. For difficult stains, such as washable markers, use oil-based or alcohol-based primer instead.

5 Oil-based, stain-blocking primer effectively blocks crayon, permanent-marker inks, grease, and water stains. Even though it is a bit harder to work with, the results are worth the effort—it's one of the rare ways to prevent an unremovable stain from bleeding through paint. Cleanup is with paint thinner.

6 Alcohol-based, white-pigmented shellac is impervious, exhibits excellent adhesion, effectively blocks smoke stains and all of the tannins and resins in wood, and inhibits pet odors. It is brittle and damaged by UV rays, however, so it is recommended only for interior use. The exception is spot-priming knots on pine trim and clapboards. Cleanup is with denatured alcohol.

7 Enamel undercoat contains a higher percentage of solids and is used when maximum effect is desired in satin, semigloss, or gloss. When hard, it can be sanded to produce the smoothest possible base for the finish coat. Cleanup is with soap and water.

Alkyd-Based Paints Have Some Environmentally Friendly Competition - We're all concerned about protecting the environment, and paint manufacturers are no exception. Disposal of alkyd-based paints has become a popular environmental issue. As a result, Urethane Modified Acrylics (UMA) and water-based oil paints are replacing oil-based primers and primer sealers. They may be expensive at the moment, but prices are likely to come down as the United States moves to environmentally friendly paints that emit fewer fumes. If you can't find traditional oils, are sensitive to paint fumes, or would like to be nice to the earth, give UMA or water-based oils a try.

Stain-Blocking Primers And Sealers may still show the stain because they absorb, rather than cover, the stain. Use a stain blocker before you prime; allow it to dry thoroughly. This will help ensure that stubborn stains don’t bleed through, ruining an otherwise perfect finish.

Tinting The Primer Can Help With Coverage, especially when you make a dramatic color change. Ask a salesperson for advice. Remember that there are limitations on the amount of tint a primer can hold and still be effective. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations.

Prime Info On Dark Colors - It seems logical that darker colors hide better, but it's not true. When painting a dark, rich color, you've got to use a tinted primer and at least two coats of paint to get a good look.

Prime Mistake - Four coats of expensive designer color later, a friend finally asked me why he couldn't cover the stains on his wall. “You primed first, right?" I asked him. "Sure,” he said, "I used up some leftover latex from the garage." I explained that regular latex paint isn't primer. Primer provides bonding and stain blocking. Paint provides durability and color. You need both to get a good job.

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