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Tips for Painting Trim: An Interview with Garen Patterson of Patterson Painting & Decorating

By Garen Patterson

Tell us about your company and it's foundation.

My business began in 1971, when I was a fine arts major, graduating from California College of Art in Oakland.

Because of my art background, I named the business "Patterson Painting & Decorating," (rather than "Patterson Painting") because the aesthetic aspects of my trade are very important to me: color schemes, decorative effects (such as faux finishes), wall covering and matching existing colors, transparencies and other effects as well.

I am also committed to accepting small jobs. I see each job as an opportunity to "win" a new customer! To service each customer I maintain consistent and qualified staff! And I keep my business small enough to focus on individual needs.

Although the bulk of my business is in Napa and Sonoma Counties, I am willing to work farther away, (especially for my regular customers!) We travel fully equipped for most any contingency. As an example, we can, when appropriate, mix colors and samples right on the job!

What type of paint do you recommend for trim?

Many factors are involved. In general, the glossier the finish the more durable and washable it is. However, aesthetically, a lower sheen is usually preferred. Hi- gloss is rarely used in residential settings and even a semi-gloss might be too shiny for certain decorative schemes. A top quality satin is a good solution.

With few exceptions, water base products have replaced oil. Premium quality water soluble enamel paints dry hard, durable and smooth (with quality application). Acrylics have an advantage in that they do not yellow over time like oils do. However, when working over oil base enamel, a bonding primer should be applied prior to application of an acrylic.

Most recent is the development of "hybrids." These enamels are chemically like oil but are soluble in water and flow as easily as a water base enamel. When dry, they are identical to oil. And, unlike acrylics, they adhere to properly prepared (washed and sanded) oil base enamel.

Do you recommend painting trim before or after painting a wall?

Typically walls should be painted first, then trim. If trim is being sprayed, however, the process might be best in reverse.

What are brushing tips you have for someone painting trim?

  1. Keep a wet edge! Work in sections and always start "from the inside." The general tendency for a non-painter is to start with the "big stuff," catching corners and grooves last. By the time one gets to the details the paint has already started to set up, so it's too late to give it that final even stroke.
  2. Reduce paint appropriately. Paints are usually not packaged for fine brush work. Additives not only make the paint level better (show brush strokes less) they extend the time before paint starts to set up.
  3. .
  4. Make brush strokes straight and "non-stop." When brushing wood trim, the brush strokes should be parallel to the grain of the wood. This is best achieved in two steps: first apply the paint to a section, working rather quickly. Once the paint is on that section and while it is still fresh, gently brush the paint ("laying off) in the direction of the grain. If the surface is too long for one brush stroke, start at an edge and "tip off" (gently and gradually, pull brush away from surface), repeating the same from opposite edge.

What size and kind of brush should be used to paint trim?

Brush size varies according to trim size. In principle, the brush should be small enough for best control to cut in edges and large enough to keep a wet edge. (See above).

Angel brushes are very popular because they are designed to cut into corners and still hold enough paint. A brush should be firm with a soft tip. Nylon bristle is suitable for water base paint, (as opposed to natural bristle, used exclusively with oil). And nylon has been developed and improved to meet the requirements of fine finish brush work!

What's the best way for someone to contact you or your business?

Owner: Garen Patterson
Office land line: 800 286-0115
Owner's cellular: 707 337-2313

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