Saturday, August 16, 2014

Things Worth Knowing: 08.16.14

Success is all in the preparation.

Overdue painting projects finally made their way to the top of the “To Do” list this summer. Each of them is a re-do of a project from some years past.

On the plus side, latex paint has improved considerably since the last time these projects were done. It is thicker. It has low odor. It is guaranteed for longer. It is offered as paint and primer in one.

On the down side, it is pricey.

To ensure that new paint will adhere well, it is essential to remove any loose paint, to patch and prime any holes, and to get the surface smooth and clean before painting. The high cost of the new premium paints is one more reason to do a thorough prep.

In the past, paint labels advised washing down the walls with something like TSP (trisodium phosphate), rinsing well, and letting the surfaces dry before painting. TSP is a powerful cleaner that can cause burns to the skin and eyes. Furthermore, the user is advised to keep gray water from a session with TSP from entering the sewer.

The US Geological Survey cautions: “Phosphorus is an essential element for plant life, but when there is too much of it in water, it can speed up eutrophication (a reduction in dissolved oxygen in water bodies caused by an increase of mineral and organic nutrients) of rivers and lakes.” Such conditions can lead to algae blooms. 

Over the years manufacturers have come up with various “TSP Substitutes,” some in a powder form that required a rinse, others in a liquid form that you sprayed on and wiped off. 

This time around, I opted for a totally chemical-free solutionUltimate Cloths®. and water. 

Ultimate Cloths® are often sold as fundraisers, but anyone can buy them online. I had already been using them to wash windows, get the grime off cupboard doors, clean computer screens and eyeglasses, and make stainless surfaces shine.

I decided to see if they worked well enough for paint prep. I got out a bucket of water and my “Bad Boy” (the large version of the cloth designed for use on washing a car) and got to work on the light pink wall in the hallway vestibule. With a damp cloth and a bit of elbow grease, two decades of grime washed off. As the wall became bright pink once more, my cloth and the rinse water grew ever grayer. 

The prep was much easier, cheaper, greener, and less hazardous to my health.

And the new paint went on really well. 

I imagine there are other similar products out there, but Ultimate Cloths® are the ones I know. Give ’em a try and get busy. I guarantee you will find many uses for them. 

If they seem a bit pricey, factor in that you can use them over and over, and that you will not require any other cleaning products besides water. 

Granted, once you use them a couple of times they may not look white any more. The instructions say that you can bleach them, but I have let this go. And I note that they are available in colors now. You can read more about the cloths here

I hope you find this a “Thing Worth Knowing.” Check for more stories like these as time goes by.

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