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These tips and tricks for summer painting projects are perfect for your next big masterpiece...or just a small piece of furniture that's been on your to-do list for a bit. Summer is my favorite time to knock a boatload of painting projects off of my own to-do list...but with the heat, there's a few tricks I use to stay on track and still create a great piece.
I love refinishing furniture pieces. Shortly after I graduated from college, I had a small side business refinishing pieces here and there. I learned a lot in that time...and in the 15 years since. Painting is definitely my outlet. I tend to paint a lot more in the summertime than any other part of the year. With my kids home, I can stay in my paint clothes all day long while they play and lounge. We tend to live a bit tidier in the school year, so painting and having multiple projects going at a time in the summer works out best for me. Check out my best tips and tricks for your own summer painting projects below.
I do the majority of my painting in our garage, which has a small attached workshop. Since we just moved in March, I'm still somewhat getting used to my new painting space. The workshop is a pass through to the backyard, so I'm able to open that door, along with the big garage door, and get a nice cross breeze going. It's still brutally hot though. This past weekend, it was over 100 degrees every day. Painting in these temperatures isn't the most fun...but it truly is the time of the year when I can bang out the most projects.
My first tip for summer painting is to invest in good brushes. For years, I painted with fairly inexpensive brushes. Some of the paints I use get tacky so fast after being applied in the heat and humidity, that I constantly lost loose bristles in the finish...and then saw them once it was too late (gah!). Using good brushes that retain their bristles is life-saving for this.
This can be applied year round...but also investing in nice drop cloths is a great idea. We used to make do with old bed sheets, but once we started investing in the heavier canvas drop cloths, there was no turning back. Paint can't seep through these like it can with sheets. And in hot, sticky weather, paint on a sheet went straight through to the floor...adhering the sheet with it. Good, heavy drop cloths are worth the investment.
I also use plastic wrap on breaks. I take breaks really often in this heat. If I don't immediately wrap my brush, it hardens fast. Plastic wrap is a lifesaver. I don't leave them like this overnight...only for breaks. Be sure to thoroughly wash your brushes with soap and water at the end of the day to keep them in good shape. I store my wrapped brush in the refrigerator, too.
It may seem like a no-brainer, but a tower fan is also a must have. A box fan blows air that is concentrated in one spot...not ideal if you're working on a large piece. The fan is for the painter's comfort, but will dry paint even faster, too. So using a tower fan that evenly distributes air on its oscillate setting is the way to go.
Soft cloths or cut up t-shirts are always at the ready for me. I use them for everything. I keep a damp one nearby for mess-ups. We always need them when we get sweaty (gross, but you know...), and then I use them in techniques, too.
One of my favorite techniques to use with these cloths is with stain or dark wax. In the summertime, it dries so quickly, you have to basically keep your wax brush in one hand and the cloth in the other. I've shared this before, but, to age a piece more authentically, simply apply stain or dark wax over a piece. Then wipe it off with your soft cloth.
I also have to have colored putty...the type that goes on pink and dries white. It's helpful to see how quickly it dries so I can get to sanding even faster. The nice thing about these ridiculous summer temps is that the waiting time between filling holes and imperfections with putty to where they're ready for sanding is almost nonexistent.
I also keep a stash of mason jars on hand. I paint with a lot of Milk Paint in the summer. The warmer weather makes the Milk Paint finishes really unique and fun. Since Milk Paint has caseins in it, it can spoil just like regular milk would. After I've mixed it up, I transfer it to a mason jar.
After it's in its jar, I paint with it for the day. Then it gets a tight lid. I also like to write the color and date mixed on the jar. And just like milk, it goes in the refrigerator. If I left this out all night in this summer heat, it would smell just like spoiled milk in the morning.
When we moved over to the new house, we actually left our previous refrigerator at the old house as a perk to whoever purchased it. However, when we sold the house, the new owners preferred their own fridge. So, we have a great garage fridge now (we almost sold it on Craigslist, but I'm glad we didn't). This is perfect for the summer painting season. Not only do I keep all of my spoil-prone paint in here, I also keep plenty of drinks on hand so I don't dehydrate while working (which is the most important tip for summer painting projects).
So many of us are chronically dehydrated...but don't even know it. CVS and The Coca-Cola Company are bringing about the "Life Quenching" movement to encourage Americans to stay hydrated and be aware of the benefits of hydration.
From Powerade to smartwater, we keep our garage fridge stocked for these days of painting from morning to night. Buh-bye, dehydration.
I keep a smartwater by me while I paint and take frequent drink breaks.
Drink up. Cool off.
My husband loves the Honest Tea when he joins me out here.
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What kind of painting projects do you tackle in the summertime?