How To: Get Good Results With Zero-VOC Paint

How To: Get Good Results With Zero-VOC Paint

Jonathan B.
Jul 15, 2008

7_15_2008-painting-0.gifGetting a good looking painting job with a zero-VOC paint such as American Pride or Yolo Colorhouse is all about understanding flow... and going with it. Keep on reading for the step-by-step guide to getting good coverage without lap marks.

The key thing to remember is to keep a wet edge, and with zero- or low-VOC paint, this means you need to work relatively quickly. The VOCs in paint help to control the drying process, so taking them out makes it more difficult to to apply the paint. A nice thick coat of paint will extend the amount of time the paint stays wet, and that will help it flow out and eliminate brush and roller marks. Because you need to work quickly, painting works best with two or more people who agree to use the same technique. Here's how we do it:

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Step One: Cut In With the Best Brush You Can Afford


The idea is to get as much paint on the wall as you can without it dripping. For brushes, we have found Purdy brushes to work well: look for the ones labeled "for latex paint." They're easier to wash out.

Here's a tip: never let paint go more than halfway up the bristles. It will dry underneath the ferrule (that's the metal thing that holds the bristles to the handle) and become impossible to get out, and you'll end up with a ruined brush.

You'll also need good masking tape to keep all that paint where you want it. We use 3M Blue Painter's Tape.

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Step Two: Load Up the Right Roller and Paint a W



Our favorite roller is the Wooster Polar Bear. Purdy and other companies also make good rollers; consult a salesperson at a store that only sells paint for advice on the best one for your walls. You want one that holds more paint. This means fewer trips to the paint tray or bucket while you're painting, and it also means less of the paint will drip or spatter off while you're working. A paint grid in a five gallon bucket works well if you've got large areas to cover; otherwise, just use a roller tray. Don't be shy about loading the roller—you want it just shy of dripping.

Mentally mark off a grid on the wall. Work from top to bottom, and paint ceilings first using this same technique. We find that with the Polar Bear, we can cover a square about 4' on a side with one load of the paint roller. After you or a friend cuts in around the edges with a brush, start painting the wall by pushing the roller on the wall in a "W" shape. Zigzag in direction between the floor and ceiling and cover roughly the entire 4' square.

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Step Three: Fill In the W


Come back across the W at a right angle, filling in the gaps in the W. You are trying to distribute the paint evenly on the wall in this step. Once it's even, stop. Overworking the paint makes it dry too quickly.

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Step Four: Repeat


Repeat the above steps on the lower sections of wall until you have an entire section of wall covered from floor to ceiling.

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Step Five: Roll Off


As soon you have a vertical section of wall covered, take the roller and roll it in vertical strips, always moving from ceiling to floor. Don't add more paint to the roller before this step, and use very little pressure against the wall. Pressing the roller against the wall will make paint ooze out the ends and leave marks on your finished wall. This step will cover any roller marks and make the paint dry evenly.

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