Every job is the better for being done systematically and painting is no exception to this rule. While, however, there are a few general rules which can be laid down, it should be remembered that there may be occasions when they cannot be followed. The weather, for example, is an unpredictable factor and this in itself may make a substantial difference in the order in which the decoration of a building is carried out.
It is usually an advantage to complete the painting of the outside of a house before the inside is done, but rain or heavy dew may make this impracticable. On big jobs which involve the use of scaffolding, cradles, and similar plant, which in the great majority of cases is hired, work should be so arranged that it can be dispensed with as soon as possible, in the interests of economy. As regards the use of long ladders, painters often take unjustifiable risks when working at heights. Care should always be taken to see that the ladder is resting firmly and evenly on both legs with both top ends evenly against the wall or other support.
Broadly speaking, on interior work, it is best to start with the upper .ooms and work downwards, although, if the house is occupied, this may mean too much interference with domestic routine to be practicable. It is hardly necessary to add that the convenience of the owners or tenants must be studied at all times. Few people like ‘ having the painters in,’ and the more unobtrusive they are the better. It should be their object to make and leave as little mess and disturbance as possible, and this applies not only to the house but the garden as well; much of the goodwill engendered by good workmanship will be lost if, in placing ladders or moving equipment about, flower-beds are trampled down or plants destroyed.
When the inmates of the building are in residence, they will naturally want to be deprived of the use of essential rooms, like kitchens or bathrooms, for as short a time as possible and every effort should be made to oblige them in this respect. It must be remembered, however, that atmospheric conditions in such rooms, when they are in use, are usually poor and may have an unfortunate effect on paint or varnish work before the latter is dry. Many a premature breakdown of a painted or varnished surface can be traced to the fact that the finish, before it had had time to harden properly, was subjected to steam, fumes from cooking, coke boilers, ^tc.
All fragments of old wallpaper, dust, and debris from stripping, washing off, and other preliminary operations should be cleared away, if not as the work proceeds, at least before the new painting, distempering, or papering begins, so that the redecoration can be carried out in an atmosphere as free from impurities as is possible. Do not forget that projecting ledges, such as those of the tops of architraves or picture rails, high up on the wall usually harbour a good deal of dust, which should be removed before operations begin.
Atmospheric conditions inside a building can often be improved by the exercise of a little forethought and the painter should do what he can to improve the ventilation, on which the drying of paint depends. Carelessness in this respect often leads to paint, which should dry overnight, remaining tacky for days. Doors can be kept open or shut, as occasion demands, and in long corridors, where draughts abound, it is sometimes possible to minimise their effects by improvising screens with clean dust sheets and other means. Full opportunity should be taken of lighting fires or using radiators to speed up the drying of the finish, always provided that there is, at the same time, adequate ventilation.
The practice varies in different parts of the country, and with individual craftsmen, as to which part of the work should be painted first and which last. For instance, with the old-fashioned type of four-panelled door, which was for so long a standard fitting, many experienced men prefer to paint first the rebate, next the edges, and then, in order, the panels and mouldings, stiles and rails. This sequence, however, is by no means arbitrary, and experience will soon suggest the most convenient and efficacious mode of procedure.
Before painting, the door should be stood ajar and wedged firmly while the handles, finger plates, locks, and other fittings should be removes.
A point which sometimes causes some perplexity is whether, in the painting of a door of which the outside is to be a different colour from the inside, the edge of the hanging stile should match the inside or outside. While no definite ruling can be given, it seems more reasonable that it should be finished in the same colour as the outside, so that, when the door is open, a uniform colour is seen from outside.
Another matter on which there is some difference of opinion is whether, in painting or distempering a ceiling, the work should be done towards or away from the light. No hard-and-fast rule can be given, but working away from the light would normally appear to be the more logical practice, first because the main source of light is usually from a window, placed at some distance below the ceiling level, so that there is more light on the area coated than on the uncoated part; second, because by working away from the light, the shadow of the painter is not cast on the area on which he is working, as would be the case were the light behind him. It is also easier to see defects and brush marks when working from the light.
All paintwork in a room should be completed and allowed to dry properly before the walls are papered. Similarly, paintwork on architrave? skirtings, picture-rails, or other woodwork adjoining distempered surfaces, should be completed before the distempering is begun; if the painting is carried out after the walls have been coated with distemper, the latter will absorb oil from the paint and show an ugly dark stain.