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I have done a lot of online research over the years about some of the details and instructions for interior house painting. I'm putting it out there that a lot of the information that one would find on the Internet is just plain wrong.

This Painting Blog tries to help provide better painting information so hopefully it will be useful for both homeowners and other painting contractors alike.

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Zero VOC Paints Keep Washington DC Green!

Are you planning on re-painting the interior of your home but concerned about the toxins released through paint fumes?

Before beginning the process of painting the interior of your home and choosing paint, an important aspect to consider is the amount of Volatile Organic Compounds that are contained within the paint material. VOC’s are known carcinogens. Some VOC paints can also contain chemicals that have been linked to cancer. In addition, these hazardous chemicals that are released into the air of your home can put you or someone in your family at a greater risk of developing asthma or allergies.

Some studies have shown that the presence of these pollutants can be extremely concentrated following the application of interior paints. In fact, elevated VOC levels can persist long after the paint has dried in the room. Although lacquer and oil-based paints are more dangerous than water-based latex paints, many latex paints still contain some dangerous solvents.

The Ozone Transport Commission is a multi-state organization that was created as a result of the Clean Air Act. The Commission represents all of the Mid-Atlantic States in order to advise the EPA about ground-level ozone situations and possible solutions. In 2005, they implemented a series of VOC Regulations regarding paints, varnishes, lacquers, and paint solvents. These rules have been applied to all of the counties and cities within Northern Virginia, as well as, Washington DC implemented regulations

As a result of these new regulations, major paint manufacturers have responded and have re-formulated their paint products to be Zero VOC or Low VOC compliant. According to industry studies, these new Zero VOC paints perform better than the previous formulation latex paint that had high levels of VOC’s. They reportedly last longer, dry more quickly, and are safer to clean up than previously formulated paints.

The major paint companies like Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams, Behr, and Glidden have made great strides by offering paint products in every color and finish that are completely free of VOC’s. However, the downside is that a more complex energy-intensive manufacturing process is required to produce Zero VOC paint. Furthermore, even Zero VOC paints must always be disposed of properly at a hazardous material collection center in your community to prevent environmental contamination.

Davinci's Painting is excited that paint is now safer and becoming more safer for homeowners and painters in to consumers and painters in Northern Virginia. So do your family and the environment a favor, and ask us how we can use Low VOC or Zero VOC paints for your home!

Ideas for Painting a Bathroom

Sometimes the powder room in our Home is the area that receives the least attention when it comes to painting.  In reality, the bathroom should be given some consideration especially given the fact that most guests will more than likely enter the area.  Unlike other rooms of our home, careful planning should be undertaken most notably when it comes to selecting the right color. Determining color options should include variables like, the accessories and components that already exist in the bathroom. For example, designer sinks, marble handcrafted basins, granite countertops, and Jacuzzi tubs. On the other hand, the bathroom fixtures could be standard faucets and towel racks. The features of the Bathroom should determine the color schema whether it is a dramatic color or just something clean and functional.

If you would like to have an atmosphere that is warm and cozy, then most dark-toned color paints would be a favorable option. On the other hand, darker colors will usually make a space seem smaller. Lighter colors tend to provide the impression of a larger space than what it actually is. These days, paint manufacturers prepare palettes that can illustrate how lighter or darker shades can appear together. Davinci’s offers an interactive Color Selector Tool whereby you can test any variation of color with a given space or room background. Nevertheless, It's generally a good idea to buy a sample of the paint color that you like. That way you will be able to check out how the color will look compared with the room’s accessories.

Careful thought should also be given when deciding the sheen level of the paint. Since bathrooms are generally damp and humid, this sheen level should be a factor when determining what you will use to paint the walls. The accumulation of moisture on walls can cause mold or even damage to the drywall. Flat Sheen Paint is most appropriate for areas that are low-traffic, or areas where the walls are rarely touched. Flat paint absorbs moisture, which would generally not be a good idea for bathrooms. On the other hand, eggshell or semi-gloss finish type paints do a good job at repelling moisture, and this is the sheen level that we usually recommend for bathrooms and powder rooms.

To plan a room with a light color together with a dark color, one unique concept would be to install chair rail molding. Albeit, for a small space such as a powder room, it is important to contemplate whether there is enough wall space to justify the installation of chair rail molding. Basically, the molding can allow a horizontal separation for the wall. The top of the chair rail can be one color, and the color below can be a different color.  We offer a vast range of carpentry services including the installation of specialized trim.

In the past, most of our Customers have chosen to have the light color applied above the chair rail because it brightens the room.  The darker shade below the chair rail will normally cause those components, such as, the toilet and tub, to stand out more aesthetically. Sometimes people would consider this option if they strive to have those fixtures in the bathroom the focal point of the room. On the contrary, a darker color above the chair rail will give rise to a smaller feel in the room. This could be a good idea if your purpose would be to make those low-level accessories less conspicuous.

Another great idea to enrich the color combination for the bathroom walls would be to enhance the walls with a stencil design or unique faux finish.  Not only do faux finishes provide an opportunity to add your own personal touch to a room, but they can also contribute to the overall style and presentation of the area.  One such faux enhancement for the powder room could to simulate other surface finishes, such as stone or brick. If you are considering complementing the look to your bathroom even further, consider using a faux marble painting technique on one or more of the walls. Furthermore, if your bathroom has some minor wall imperfections, faux finishing is a great way to conceal those imperfections.

How to Remove a Popcorn Ceiling

For many decades, popcorn texture was the standard way to finish the ceiling of a room, and thousands of homes in the Reston VA area still have this outdated style. Most new homes are now finished with flat ceilings, and painted ceilings are have become popular. Fortunately, this type of popcorn texture on many ceilings can be completely removed and the ceilings can be re-finished to create a more modern appearance.

There are a few Painters in Northern VA that offer popcorn ceiling removal, however, some homeowners prefer to tackle the project themselves. While the procedure is not so complex for a beginner, be aware it is messy. For those who have not tried it before, please realize that working with your arms above your head for extended periods of time can be somewhat difficult.

Begin by protecting your room with plastic sheeting, which can be bought at any paint or home improvement store. First cover the floor, then tape plastic to the walls, right below the ceiling or the crown molding. If you are planning to paint the walls, the plastic process can be modified, but it is still important to contain the dust.

The key to efficiently removing popcorn texture is to get it wet. Most people prefer to do this with a pump sprayer, which can be controlled more easily. If you use water, spray small areas of about 4-5 square feet at a time.  Spraying the entire ceiling would not be productive because some areas would dry before you had the chance to remove the texture. Some people have tried to use paint to wet the texture but this technique isn't something that we would recommend.  Nevertheless, the goal is to wet the popcorn so that it is soft enough to remove.

Once the popcorn ceiling texture is wet, scrape it off using a 10 inch drywall finishing blade. The larger blade will help increase the surface area that is being scraped. Provide long scraping passes and try to avoid scraping immediately above your head. Continue to pass the sections of the drywall ceiling until all the popcorn texture is removed. Remove and discard the plastic protection.

Before you paint, your ceiling will probably need some repair. Use wide putty knife to apply drywall compound to any places where the ceiling has been damaged or otherwise has nail holes or imperfections.  Our Drywall Mechanics utlize an electric drywall sander that comes with a drywall dust collector.  A pole sander is less expensive, however, also requires additional manual labor.  In any event, it's important to sand the areas that have been re-finished.

Now you are ready to paint! Begin by priming the ceiling with a drywall primer and then paint your ceiling with two coats of latex based flat paint.

Davinci's Painting provides popcorn ceiling removal, and we are also experienced and trained to deal with lead paint and asbestos issues. We work in the Washington DC Area, including Reston, Fairfax, Vienna, Falls Church, Arlington, and Alexandria. Call us for a free estimate regarding popcorn ceiling removal.

Painting Exterior Stucco

I must preface this Article by stating that as a rule, you should never apply paint to stucco! What can happen is that moisture can get between the paint on the stucco and the moisture resistant backing that is attached to the structure's studs. If mold forms there, it can move through the moisture barrier and into the home. There are many contractors in the area who are not experienced with stucco and will indicate that painting the stucco is not a problem.  There is a small chance that you will never experience a moisture problem if you paint stucco, but is it worth that chance? Stucco is designed to breathe.

If your stucco is close to the bottom of your exterior wall, it's possible that ground moisture will come into contact with the surface. The moisture will dissipate through the stucco that is close to the foundation and become trapped between the paint and the moisture barrier. Then when that surface gets warm the moisture will expand and cause the paint to lift off of the stucco. Stucco needs to breathe!

We recently completed an Exterior Project in Alexandria for a Farm House that is 100 years old. To the Home Owner's dismay, the stucco was coming off in sheets. He indicated that the stucco was re-painted about 7 years prior. Our tests indicated that the original stucco was of an oil base form. What had happened was that the previous Contractor applied latex based materials on top of the oil based stucco. For those of you who don't know, this will never work. You can never apply latex paint on top of oil based paint, without extensive surface preparation. We provided a solution of a complete power-wash, oil base prime undercoat application, followed by a complete application of Sherwin Williams Marine Coatings Latex Bondplex.

We are confident that that Bondplex will provide adequate adhesion for those areas of the stucco that were beginning to fail. This was project was somewhat complex due to the age of the property and the condition of the stucco. Fortunately, we had the right experience to deal with these issues. If you are considering undertaking a project and would like a second opinion, please do not hesitate to contact Davinci's your Northern VA Painting Company.