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Archive for the ‘Solving surface problems’ Category

Painting It: How to Paint Difficult Surfaces or Objects

There are different substrates in which paint can be applied. The most problematic are those not typically considered. However, when they are, it would be a good idea to know the proper finish so that the paint job will last. Any paint job, when done correctly, can last indefinitely.


The first question is: What types of surfaces are the most difficult to cover? And what are the requirements to produce a durable appearance?


But, before any finish is applied, sand the surface with an appropriate grade of sandpaper. Ultra smooth surfaces may not benefit from this.


Here is a list for you to consider:


  1. Glass – Clean with alcohol. Apply alcohol based primer; top coat with alkyd.
  2. Ceramics – Acid etch. Apply acid based or galvanizing primer; top coat polyurethane.
  3. Plastic – Apply alkyd primer; top coat with urethane.
  4. Rubber – Apply alkyd primer; top coat with alkyd.
  5. Formica – Apply epoxy or urethane primer; top coat with same.
  6. Fiberglass – Apply epoxy or lacquer primer; top coat with epoxy or acrylic enamel.
  7. Copper – Apply acid wash coat; top coat with exterior acrylic latex or oil base.
  8. Aluminum – Apply galvanizing primer; top coat with exterior alkyd.
  9. Brass – Apply acid wash coat; top coat with acrylic enamel.


And, of course, the method of application varies with the type of surface. I recommend that, in most circumstances, you use a fine spray finishing procedure. (HVLP preferred)


  1. Ultra smooth surfaces – They typically require applying a finish in multiple thin coats, with sanding (wet sand #400) in between each coat and tack cloth to promote a glossy, even surface.


  1. Medium smooth surfaces – These usually require mild sanding,(#220-#400) the filling of minor surface flaws with polyester resin, and then painting by thin nap roller (sponge, or mohair).


All surfaces listed in 1-9 are considered to be “smooth.” No products with a high viscosity and slow drying time are suitable for the above surface types.


Recommended products include: Bulls eye Shellac, Bulls eye alcohol based primer, Gripper latex bonding primer, Bin alcohol based primer, Aqualock primer, Kilz oil primer, Washcoat acid etch primer, Zinc primer, Glidden and Sherwin Williams specialty coatings.


Objects come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and designs. Some are for decoration and some are functional. Most of them can be painted in one way or another depending on your interests.


For our purposes, let’s look at household items which can be designed and finished for decorative reasons. Here is a list of some items you may want to paint:


  1. Electrical outlet cover – Sand cover, using #220 sandpaper. Apply shellac or Kilz primer coat. Top coat with any latex or oil finish desired. Apply multiple thin coats.


  1. Table top – If existing finish is clear, sand with #220 or #400 depending on how smooth the top is. Using spray or short nap roller cover, apply satin, semi or gloss polyurethane, varnish or acrylic clear coat. Apply several thin even coats, sanding in between and using tack cloth to remove dust. Paint requires similar application. Sand, fill minor imperfections and apply multiple thin coats.


  1. Sculpture – Smooth surface with a Scotch Brite pad or sponge sanding block with a #120- #400 grit. Apply coating by spray, including airbrush for even finish. Alkyd paints are most suitable for opaque finish. Bronze, glazed or metallic finishes may also be applied. Experiment with various tools for different effects.


  1. Light fixture – If wood or metal, sand surface with #220-#400 sandpaper. If metal, apply surface adhesion promoter. For optimum finish, apply coating using spray technique. Oil or polyurethanes or urethanes work best.


  1. 5. Vase – If glass, treat with alcohol wash. Prime using Gripper product; reduce with alcohol for thinning. Apply finish using spray methods. Airbrush or low CFM spray gun is best. Use oil or urethane and thin for multiple coats.


  1. Wooden Box – Sand to desired smoothness using #120-#320 abrasive. Apply oil or acrylic latex primer. Sand surface. Apply finish choice as desired. Stain process involves choosing a semi transparent or solid color stain and applying clear coat (polyurethane) in satin, semi or gloss sheens. There’s a lot of variation here.


  1. Candlestick – If metal, follow application for light fixture. Gilding is the most decorative process. Prime accordingly to manufacturer’s directions. Then apply artificial or genuine metallic leaf. Experiment first before trying to complete a finished product.


  1. Basket – Typically made of bamboo, it is best to apply a finish with some flexibility. I recommend using an oil primer, than an acrylic latex finish. Use spray method for uniform finish and ease of application.


What is most difficult to finish is an object or surface which does not offer a recommended application or does not specify which type of material to use. That’s where a paint failure comes into play. When a surface is peeling or cracking, or has bubbled, we don’t often know how to repair it without making it worse.


TOP TIP: Test your technique on a hidden part of the object. Follow all of the instructions as if you were finishing the entire piece.



Painting difficult surfaces or objects can take more patience than talent.


Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painter’s View: How a hotel can move more “upmarket”

It can take a big chunk out of the budget to move a hotel into a higher position in the marketplace. Usually, special funds must be allocated for that purpose. And, many independent operations don’t have that kind of capital to invest.


Still, they need to do something drastic to appeal to a clientele that will pay more and spend more. And, hopefully, return more often.


Thirteen ways that a painter can help move his hotel “upmarket”

1. Demonstrate to management what a color scheme change can do, even for just exterior accenting and trim.


2. Choose, say 20, rooms to start. And, decorate each with a specific theme.

Example: Countryside – Use template to stamp rose motif on walls, to create fake “dado.”

TIP: Coordinate each theme with the hotel’s overall image.

Examples: nautical, Americana, oriental, European, southwestern.


3. A change in color scheme and application of a simple faux finish on one wall costs very little, and easy to do.

Example: Soft tones create a fresh, airy feel.


4. Apply a “frottage” effect over dado to team with wallpaper, or the plain painted surface on the lower wall.

Example: Soft green is restful and peaceful.


5. Stencil and paint special motifs in hotel’s current color scheme on the walls of children’s lofts or rooms in family suites.

TIP: Printed wallpaper borders work great, too.


6. Sand, then stain “distressed” wood furniture pieces in colors that blend with paint colors of walls.

Examples: Headboards, bedside tables, mirror/picture frames, desks, writing tables.


PROJECT NOTE: For one hotel, I sanded the heavily scratched and faded wood chairs in the family restaurant. Then I applied a slightly different color of stain on each chair. The effect: An exciting, fun look!


7.  Sand, then apply two coats of gloss paint on the tops only of older wooden tables throughout the property. Select complementary colors that, together, will brighten the day for guests and staff.

Examples: Front lobby, front offices, restaurants, foot court, guestrooms, meeting rooms.

TIP: Get very creative. Apply faux marble effect, paint checkerboard pattern.


PROJECT NOTE: For one art décor hotel, I decorated some small table tops with a wood inlay pattern.


8. Brighten up the pool/gazebo/bar area. Spray paint each table a slightly different hue or tint of the same color, from the hotel’s color scheme.


9. Or, keep the tables the same color. And spray paint one chair at each table a slightly different hue or tint of a color, used in the area already.

Example: If the area’s color scheme is “tropical” yellow, lime green, aqua, and melon, paint one chair at each table in a little lighter hue of one of these colors.


10. Do you have columns at the lobby entrance, or pool area entrance? On all columns, “wrap around” a stripe in a lighter hue of a color from the hotel’s signature color scheme. TIP: Paint the nearby entrance benches in a slightly darker tint of the same color.


11. Apply two coats of gloss paint onto the worn park benches around the property.

TIP: For great attention getters, paint each in a different color, from the hotel’s overall color scheme. The effect: Electrifying!


12. Create honor walls in public areas of buildings. Examples: “Hotel’s History,” “Staff Honors,” “Children’s PROArt Gallery.”

Example: Front lobby, corridor to a restaurant, conference center hallway.


13. Get hold of a lot of picture frames, different sizes. Paint each one in a striking color, that contrasts with the wall color where the frames will be hung. A different hue of the wall color works great, too.


Painter’s Power Point: Many of these touches can be achieved by tinting extra paint that you already have in the paintshop. When your budget is tight, or even frozen, look at what you have. Set aside what you need to keep for basic work orders and projects. And, little by little, liven up the place.


PROJECT NOTE: On one project, I actually enlisted the creative talents of two hotel staff members who loved to paint! A housekeeping supervisor and an online sales person. They helped a couple of hours, after their regular work hours, for at least five days. They had a great time, and did a great job!



Staff painters can help “upmarket” their property by treating surfaces to a change!

Stay cool and calm, everyone. Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”
Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painting It: Solving Surface Preparation Problems


A paint job continues to look good, as long as there are no failures in the surface or in the paint or coating material. The causes of such failures boil down to two main areas: moisture and sun related exposure.


A substrate – eg. drywall, masonry, wood, or steel – has limiting factors related to the type of environment it is able to resist. Typically, they are based on the substrates ability to repel the thing which can effect it the most.


Example: An improperly prepared drywall surface will absorb water and its gypsum construction will lose its strength.


Another example: A steel surface, etched and primed incorrectly, will start to rust more quickly and lose its structural integrity. Of course, with steel, prepped properly, it takes much longer.


To prevent this from happening, a specific coating can be applied. Also, this ensures a long life to the surface. Basically, it’s called the “prime and top coat system”.


If the surface hasn’t been prepared as best as it could have, negative results can occur. If there has been an environmental exposure of some kind, negative results can occur.




1. Rusting metal – peeling paint.

A. Invasive correction: Sandblasting, fiber glassing, metal replacement.

B. Superficial repair: Auto Body filler, wire brushing, sandpapering, naval jelly application. Priming surface with alkyd, epoxy, urethane or zinc coating.

2. Peeling Paint – wood.

A. invasive correction: Removal of loose, flaky dry paint by sandpapering, abrasive wheel cleaning, chemical paint stripper.

B. Superficial yet effective repair: Pressure clean surface. Prime surface with acrylic latex, oil based coating, alcohol based specific to interior/ exterior.

3. Bubbles – Usually localized, not invasive or widespread.

A. General repair method: Removal by sandpapering to feather edge, scraping, wipe surface with adhesion promoter.

B. TIP: Prime with oil based or fast dry acrylic latex.

4. Alligatoring – Paint applied too thick, surface overheated/overexposed to sun, problem with solvent evaporation.

A. Invasive correction: Sandpapering and smoothing out, or stripping entire surface. Then, if necessary, spackling of smoothing compound.

B. TIP: Use body filler for metals, joint-type compounds for drywall or plastered surfaces.


The final results of your project are dependent, inherently, on surface preparation. The time and method you take to properly prepare a surface will ultimately produce a beautiful and lasting finish. And, doing it the right way can ensure that the money spent is done wisely.


Remember: Follow your surface preparation procedures to guarantee the best quality job imaginable. And when you think you’ve sanded enough? Sand some more.



Every smooth, durable finish coat has a surface prep story to tell.


Thanks, everyone, for visiting “Painting with Bob.”


Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.


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