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Ramona Howey and Emily Rodrick help customers plan painting projects at Park Ace Hardware. Rodrick has been working with paint for 19 years and said while some aspects of painting have changed, some haven't, such as the importance of using a primer.1 / 2
Mixing paint colors has gone high tech with computers that measure the precise amount of colors to mix.2 / 2

Emily Rodrick has a motto she advises people to follow when painting: "You can do it the fast way or you can do it the right way."

Rodrick is a paint expert at Park Ace Hardware. She has been working in the paint department for 19 years and said she has seen many changes over the years.

"It used to be that paint was paint, was paint," she said.

One thing that hasn't changed is the need to use primer before painting, even though some newer paint brands have products that say they have primer and paint in one. The claim is somewhat misleading, Rodrick said.

The purpose of priming a substrate is to seal the surface to create the best possible bond and assure good adhesion and performance of the topcoat. When a primer seals the surface, it allows the topcoat to lie uniformly over the surface. This is particularly important for paints that shine.

Primers generally seal better than paint because they have more resin in them and less pigment. They penetrate the voids in the surface to create a secure bond.

"It's especially important to use primer on a new surface, sheetrock," Rodrick said.

All surfaces, such as sheetrock, wood, masonry and metals should be primed.

However, it's not always necessary to use a primer on a previously painted surface if it's in good condition. If the color isn't too dark it should work OK, she said.

"Cleaning is important, though, with any surface, before painting," Rodrick said.

Many paints used to be oil based but the industry has moved toward latex.

"The products claiming to be paint and primer in one state the customer should apply a second coat as needed," she said. Usually, at least two coats is best, though, she added.

Flat paint usually works better with fewer coats than satin or semi-gloss paint. Primer is the best option if working with paint that has a sheen, Rodrick said.

"Or here's an example," she said. "Your kid had their room painted black and orange and now wants it pastel. You will definitely need a primer so the paint won't bleed through."

If a room had wallpaper, before painting the walls need to be scrubbed and the adhesive needs to be removed completely.

All holes should be filled in with spackling, as well.

"It's not essential but it makes it look better," she said.

Tape is also important to use for non-professional painters. Tape is used along windows and door frames to keep the paint where it should be.

A new product available now is calking that matches the wall paint.

"It blends right in. It's great for kitchens," Rodrick said.

Specific paint needs to be used when painting a garage floor or metal, she said. Those surfaces require different mixtures of paint to hold up to the elements.

Color selection has also changed over the years.

"It's almost like clothing, it ends up coming back after a few years," she said.

In the spring, though, people are often looking for the pastel colors after a long winter, she said.

Mixing colors has come a long way and involves a computer adding the precise amount of color.

"Tans are real popular this year and last year it was green," Rodrick said.

Before starting a painting project, she suggests doing research and asking questions.

"The hardest part is really getting ready and cleaning up," she said. "The painting is the fun part."

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561